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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Special Coverage Of Hurricane Charley
Aired August 13, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, GUEST HOST: Tonight, Hurricane Charley is slamming the state of Florida. Right now, the president declares the state a federal disaster area. It's a category 4 storm, packing winds up to 150 miles an hour, waves up to 10 feet high, two million evacuated as of now. And tonight, we go live inside the hurricane zone. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, I'm Nancy Grace in for Larry tonight. Thank you for being with us here at LARRY KING LIVE. We are going straight to the hurricane zone.
Let's go to Tampa, Florida. Standing by, CNN's Anderson Cooper. Anderson, what can you tell us?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Nancy, I'm here with Chad Myers. We have been tracking this all day long. The storm was supposed to hit here in Tampa. It veered off to the east, and that is what is so frightening about this storm, really, is the unpredictability of it. For all our technology, for all the monitoring that has been done, and some amazing work has been done over the last several days following the track of this storm, late today it veered off eastward, and it hit in areas in central Florida on the west coast of Florida, really not anticipated.
It was supposed to hit in Tampa. That's where all the predictions were. It veered off. It hit in the Fort Myers area. It is now heading really straight to Orlando. Straight over the Disney theme parks. It is going to be heading to the Daytona Beach area. No one predicted that.
I actually flew into Orlando today because the city was so calm. The airports in Tampa were shut down. It is now a complete reverse. We had a beautiful sunset here in Tampa, and Orlando is facing some very heavy winds and some very heavy rain right now -- Nancy.
GRACE: You know what's so scary is that it's so hard to predict. We've been showing you shots, live shots of Orlando, where Charley is hitting hard, hard, as of tonight. The president has declared Florida a disaster area.
Let's go back to Tampa, Florida, CNN weather anchor and meteorologist Chad Myers.
You know, Chad, with all the technology that we have, I mean, for Pete's sake, there's an entire station that's nothing but the weather station. We still really can't predict where a hurricane is headed. CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's because the upper level winds are so unpredictable, and they're so light. Another thing, Nancy, is that there's no one out there in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico to send up weather balloons. We don't even know what the winds are like.
We think we do. We have satellites that can try to figure out which way those winds are going. But what we had today was a wind out of the west that no meteorological balloon predicted, because there weren't any out there. It's a weather black hole. The satellites didn't see it. The satellites didn't put it into the computers. Million dollars worth of computer programming, it just didn't work. The storm was missed by 50 miles.
Now, I will say the Hurricane Center had this storm in this area for five days. We knew it would be within 200 miles one way or the other. And this storm never got out of what we call the error cone. There's a cone, north and south, east to west, depending on which way the storm is going, and that is it could -- what we always say, it could turn left, it could turn right. That's the error cone, because things like this happen.
And unfortunately, I don't think Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda were prepared enough for a Cat 4 hurricane. They were ready for Cat 2 winds, not for category 4 winds.
GRACE: Joining us right now is the director of the National Hurricane Center to explain everything to us. We are watching devastation as it is being heaped on the Sunshine State. That's right, the president has declared a national disaster area. Let's go to Max Mayfield. Welcome, Max. Thank you for being with us.
MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: You bet.
GRACE: What can you tell us? What's the latest on Hurricane Charley?
MAYFIELD: Well, the center of Charley right now is still pretty well defined. It's actually right now passing over Orlando. They're getting hurricane force winds, in Orlando as we speak. It will continue towards the north/northeast very quickly and will likely exit the Florida east coast shortly after midnight in the vicinity of Daytona Beach, and then head up towards the Carolinas after that. We have a hurricane warning out for the East Coast, from Cocoa Beach, Florida, all the way up to Cape Lookout, North Carolina.
GRACE: You know, Max Mayfield, we were talking earlier with Anderson Cooper and Chad Myers, talking about all the millions of dollars worth of equipment, the scientific technology. For Pete's sake, there's an entire station devoted to the weather, and you still can't predict what a hurricane is going to do. But you feel firmly that it's going up the eastern seaboard?
MAYFIELD: We do. Actually, I heard you talking about the forecast a little bit before you came to me, and this is just a really good forecast. The track changed maybe 15 degrees its direction of heading there. And that was the difference between Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor. If you have a hurricane coming in perpendicular to the coastline, it's much, much easier than one recurving and sort of paralleling, easing into the coast like Charley did.
GRACE: You know, earlier today, Max, you said this is the nightmare scenario we've been talking about for years. It's going to be bad, real bad. What do you anticipate? And why did you say that?
MAYFIELD: Well, it strengthened to a category 4 hurricane. We've been very honest with people on the uncertainties both on the track forecasting and the anticipate forecasting. That nightmare scenario I was referring to was having people preparing for one category and have it strengthen rapidly, right before landfall, which is exactly what Charley did.
This came in, at least we think, as a category 4 hurricane. And I'll be very surprised if there's not just extreme damage in some areas there, both on the Florida west coast, and inland as it moves across the peninsula.
GRACE: We have people in Tampa, in Orlando, all over Florida. We'll be taking you all over the Sunshine State tonight. Right now with us, Max Mayfield. He is the director of the National Hurricane Center. Max, what do you predict, and what goes into the president's decision to declare Florida a disaster area tonight?
MAYFIELD: Well, there's some rules on that that I'm really not familiar with. But I know the emergency management folks, and the emergency operations people in Tallahassee have some equations that they use, and they send that to the president, and they make that decision based on that.
GRACE: Well, from the footage we're showing right now, a lot of this is live footage, Charley is blasting the Sunshine State as we speak. Winds up to 150 miles an hour. Evacuations going down as we speak. A lot of people bunked in and refused to move. At this point, I don't know what choice they have.
Let's go now to Orlando, Florida. Standing by, Tony Perkins. You know Tony. He's ABC "Good Morning America" weatherman. Tony, bring us up to date from where you stand.
TONY PERKINS, ABC NEWS: Well, we're getting the worst of the storm, as you can see.
PERKINS: Right now here in Orlando. We're getting winds, we expect these winds to gust during the next hour, 80 miles per hour and higher as the storm center moves across the Orlando area during literally, it's moving in right now and it's going to be moving through here during the next two hours.
I've been covering this hurricane for the last couple of days, and obviously this is the worst that I've seen and the worst weather that I've been in during the last couple of days. Very strong wind gusts. Very heavy rain. It's knocked us out a couple of times, which is why I'm just joining you now. But we're going to try and hang in there for the rest of the hour.
GRACE: You said the winds are up to 80 mph at this point?
PERKINS: At this point, that's what they're saying. And we'll try and get what the latest gusts are coming up a little bit in just a little bit as we get this information as it's coming in.
GRACE: Tony, is everyone evacuated the area where you are right now, except for you, obviously?
PERKINS: We are here at WFTV television, the ABC station here in Orlando, who, I should say, did a great job in forecasting this storm and the track of the storm. They're the only ones who got it right.
The folks here in some of the area have been evacuated. We're in a hotel where a lot of people have left their homes and come to the hotel, because it's a big, sturdy structure. They have generators there, so if the power goes out there will be some electricity, there will be some food there. So a lot of folks have moved out of their homes, particularly in low-lying areas.
GRACE: Two million Floridians have evacuated; 700,000 without power. Tony Perkins is with us. They're in Orlando, where the eye of the storm has been.
Tony, what is expected in the next few hours overnight? What will happen?
PERKINS: During the next few hours, this storm is going to continue to speed to the north/northeast. That's its current track. The last wind speed that I heard in terms of how fast the storm itself is traveling was about 25 miles an hour. So it's moving very, very briskly.
Again, the Orlando area and the surrounding area is going to bear the brunt of the storm for the next hour or two.
And again, as you mentioned, those wind speeds will be over 100 miles per hour in some places. Very heavy rainfall. Several inches of rain. The most dangerous aspect of the storm, aside from the flooding, will be the tornado activity. There have been some reports of tornadoes. I don't know that we have reports of confirmed tornadoes nearby here. But the northeastern quadrant of the storm is where we're most likely to see that tornado activity, and again there have been some reports of that already to the east of Orlando.
GRACE: Tony, Tony, alert, you're in the middle of a hurricane, now you're worried about a tornado. What's the dif?
PERKINS: What's the what? Say that again?
GRACE: What's the difference? You're in the middle of a hurricane, friend. Now you're telling me your big concern is a tornado? PERKINS: Well, you know what, I'll tell you what. The hurricane, you know, we can kind of lash ourselves to a pole or something like that if we have to. If a tornado warning comes down, well, there are tornado warnings in effect, but if we see the clouds start to form tornadoes and that type of thing, we're running for cover. Because you know, that's a spiral. That's very, you know, those concentric winds going around. And that's not something we want to be in. This we can tolerate up to a certain level. It's not fun, but we can tolerate it.
GRACE: OK. Let's go quickly to Max Mayfield. He is the director of the National Hurricane Center. Explain the difference, Max. We've got Orlando happening. We've got Tampa happening. We know we've got a hurricane. Now we're talking about a tornado?
MAYFIELD: Well, most hurricanes have some tornadoes associated with them. Typically on these outer rain bands, and we certainly have a lot of rain bands associated with Charley here. We have had some reported, and I would expect some more, you know, during the night.
GRACE: You know, Max, apparently a lot of people have refused to evacuate. Why?
MAYFIELD: Well, there's always that, just human nature, I think, to think that the hurricane will hit up the coastline or down the coastline, but not hit their community. And this has been so long since this particular area of Florida has been hit by a hurricane. In fact, you really have to go back to 1960, Hurricane Donna that affected this area. So there have been a lot of people that have moved into this area that really don't know what a hurricane is all about, and I think that's one reason.
But you don't evacuate everybody. You evacuate people for the storm surge on the immediate coastline. And then also inland, if they live in a mobile home or not a very well-built structure.
GRACE: We're showing you live shots of what's going down in Florida as we speak. The Sunshine State taking a battering from Hurricane Charley. Winds up around 150 miles an hour. Take a look at this. We are all over the map tonight. Tampa, Orlando, we've got Max Mayfield with us, bringing us the latest. Max, that map behind you looks like a lava lamp, for Pete's sake. Where is Orlando? Can you pinpoint?
MAYFIELD: Orlando is right here. This is Orange County. And the eye is moving right up in there now. And it will continue on across the state here towards Daytona Beach, and I would expect a tremendous wealth of damage there, trees down, power outages, what you typically have with a major hurricane.
GRACE: Max, is the red dot there, is that the eye? Is that what you're...
MAYFIELD: Yes, you can see the eye, the yellow and the red wrapping around the eye there. It's not as well-defined. In fact, it's not nearly as well-defined now as when it struck the west coast. But it's still very identifiable.
GRACE: Man, looking at that map, and we all know that's the beautiful state of Florida. The president has declared it a disaster area. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also want to say something about those residents in Florida. I have been in touch with the governor, and FEMA Director Mike Brown, about the Hurricane Charley that is hitting the coast, the western coast of Florida. My prayers are with you and your families tonight. We have deployed resources to help. I have declared a emergency, and the process is now in place to aid, provide federal aid, to those whose -- may be affected by this hurricane.
And as I repeat, we ask God's blessings on those who are in the path of that hurricane. Thank you all very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Tonight, Hurricane Charley is battering the state of Florida. The president has declared the state a federal disaster. It's a Cat 4 storm, category form, 4 storm, and it's packing winds up to 150 miles an hour. Two million people evacuated as of right now.
Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV, in for Larry tonight. Thank you for being with us. Let's quickly go to Ross Cavitt of WSBTV in Port Charlotte, Florida. Tell me what's happening there, Ross.
ROSS CAVITT, WSBTV: Nancy, it is a sad night down here. A lot of devastation. A lot of damage done by the hurricane as it moved through several hours ago. Behind me, this is an Auto Zone store that was completely demolished by the hurricane as the eye passed over this area.
You mentioned that a lot of people didn't evacuate. Let me tell you, the folks here thought that this was a Tampa Bay event, first of all. And secondly, no one was expecting a Cat 4 with 150-mile-an-hour winds.
They also heard a lot about storm surge. There wasn't much of that. Most of the damage we've seen is strictly wind damage. And there is a lot of it.
There are casualties. When the first light tomorrow morning, we will hear about some fairly significant casualty numbers. We did get out here and get a good look around through the few daylight hours that were left and saw neighborhoods, business districts, completely leveled. They suspect there were some tornadoes involved in this also, as it moved over. It's a pretty bad situation here where the eye of Hurricane Charley came ashore, and made its trek through Florida. GRACE: You are seeing shots taken of that location, that's Port Charlotte, Florida, where Ross Cavitt is. The devastation is incredible. Many people asking earlier today why a disaster area, and now we see why. Ross Cavitt, I'm so sorry to hear about the casualties. What is the estimate as you know it now?
CAVITT: Well, there really isn't an estimate. One thing that I did notice as we came out here during the daylight hours, I didn't see any helicopters flying over doing any initial assessment. And that's how they get a good grasp on how bad the damage is. And I've been listening to some of the firefighters activity on here. They're simply overwhelmed at this point. They've been trying to figure out if there's anybody out there that still needs assistance. That's been priority number one.
Now the sun's gone down, the electricity is out in this area. They're simply trying to police. There's a large amount of people that are out on the streets, looking around, trying to get from point A to point B. And it's something they're not going to get a handle on at least until first light.
GRACE: Oh, man, what a nightmare. What a nightmare. Ross Cavitt is with us, from WSB-TV. He is in Port Charlotte, Florida. Our hearts are with you, Ross. Thank you.
Let's quickly go to Michael Brown. Michael is the undersecretary of homeland security for emergency preparedness and response.
Michael, welcome to LARRY KING LIVE. What are you hearing from your people in the field?
MICHAEL BROWN, UNDERSECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY FOR EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE: Well, Nancy, first, let me reiterate what President Bush just said earlier, and that is that our hearts and our condolences go out to all of the families and individuals who have either lost their lives or they're going to suffer this devastation.
The president and I talked earlier this evening. We're going to make certain that all of FEMA's resources are put in place as quickly as possible to help Governor Bush and the other people down there continue to successfully respond to this disaster.
GRACE: I mean, Michael, after hearing Ross Cavitt describe it, I mean, all the power's out, it's dark now. I know you've seen the photos of the devastation of the path of Hurricane Charley. You know, Charley came unexpectedly and intensified, and it changed course. I'm getting the sense that a lot of people did not expect this, and were very unprepared.
BROWN: Well, unfortunately many people may have been unprepared. But this is the nature of hurricanes. And this is why before these hurricanes make landfall, we're out in all of the media talking about listen to local authorities, you know, don't take these hurricanes for granted.
We often forget that Mother Nature has control of these hurricanes. She's going to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and where she wants to do it.
So we shouldn't be surprised that she veered off course and didn't go the way that we originally thought that she was going to go.
But nonetheless, this hurricane will continue to trek across Florida. My fear is that it will now get into the Atlantic, probably build up a little more steam, head into the Myrtle Beach area, and we may end up seeing some significant flooding along the East Coast. So we have a big job in front of us, which we're ready to tackle. That is to help Florida respond and recover from this disaster and get all the states north of her ready for Charley as she moves forward.
GRACE: Well, Michael, my concern is what's going to happen for the rest of the night. We're talking about the sun coming up tomorrow. I'm worried about tonight, after hearing from Ross Cavitt there in Port Charlotte, I mean, the devastation is incredible. With me is Michael Brown, who is the undersecretary of homeland security for emergency preparedness.
I want to find out exactly what FEMA is providing, what type of assistance, and he will be telling everyone what they can do tomorrow morning when the sun comes up.
Stay with us.
GRACE: It's a category 4 storm. Hurricane Charley is battering the state of Florida. Evacuations, the sun is going down. The conditions are getting extreme, as you know. It is now declared a disaster area.
Welcome to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV, in for Larry tonight. And I want to thank you for being with us.
Let's go straight to Punta Gorda, Florida. Standing by from WTVT is Glenn Selig. Hi, Glenn. What's happening there in Punta Gorda?
OK, unfortunately we've lost Glenn. I hope we get him back. Let's go now to Anderson Cooper. Anderson, from where you sit, it's my understanding the evacuation went the wrong way. Explain.
COOPER: Well, I don't know if it's fair to say the wrong way. But basically everyone thought Tampa was going to be the area that was hit. So the Tampa area was largely evacuated, a mandatory evacuation. Made complete sense. People asked to move to higher ground, move inland. A lot of them went to Orlando.
But you know what? The storm switched on us. People didn't expect it. The weather guys were tracking it very well. They told the instant it had switched, they knew it switched, but all those people who had moved inland heading toward Orlando, where they filled up the hotels, the storm is now right over Orlando, and it is hitting those hotels where all those people are.
So it's this ironic situation where the area that they fled from, Tampa, I mean it's a balmy night here. There was a beautiful sunset just a short time ago. Chad Myers and I, meteorologist, have just been sitting around, just talking about how amazing it is that these storms change so quickly.
MYERS: This morning I was out here at 5:00, telling everybody how there could be a storm surge right here behind us, 12 feet, 15 feet high. And look at the water. It's as calm as, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GRACE: Yeah, it's incredible.
COOPER: And so you have these hotels, you have these hotels now in Orlando that are filled with all these people who have evacuated to there, and now they are watching the storm hit them directly.
GRACE: Let's quickly go to Michael Brown. He is the undersecretary of homeland security for emergency preparedness. Again, Michael, could you explain to us what types of assistance FEMA is providing, and what are people supposed to do?
BROWN: Well, first and foremost we have an enormous amount of supplies moving into Florida right now. We're moving communications equipment. We're moving personal care goods -- cots, tents, meals. We have coordinated efforts with the volunteer organizations, the American Red Cross, the Southern Baptist Men's Convention (ph), the Methodist Community Association.
We're moving all of those folks in right now to provide immediate relief to individuals who are either in shelters, tomorrow morning will be out looking for places to stay, looking for relatives.
So our first, our first effort is to focus on getting their immediate needs taken care of, because people need to be able to get back on their feet before they start worrying about how they're going to recover from it.
Now, once that occurs, they can start calling tomorrow the FEMA recovery hotline, 800-621-FEMA. That's 800-621-FEMA. They can start calling that number after 8:00 tomorrow morning Eastern time. And we'll have people on the line ready to take their information so we can start getting people out to help them immediately.
GRACE: Michael, repeat, what time can they start calling?
BROWN: 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Starting at 8:00 o'clock tomorrow morning.
GRACE: Say, you know, Michael, there's something wrong with that. No offense, but you know, there's a hurricane going down right now, and they've got to call during business hours?
BROWN: But, no. Not at all. What we're doing right now is, we're putting people on the ground right now with cots, sleeping bags, meals, the things that people need to take care of themselves right now. This phone number is for to get the assistance they're going to need tomorrow, the day after, and the weeks after to get them back on their feet.
But we're determined right now to take care of their immediate needs. We've got people in shelters. We had people that are not in shelters that we have to get into shelters. And I know that Governor Bush and all of his emergency managers down there are working very, very hard to take care of those folks and those kinds of needs right now.
GRACE: Michael, thank you very much for being with us. And I'll reiterate that number, 1-800-621-FEMA. That's Michael Brown, with the government, telling everyone what to do come tomorrow.
Let's quickly try to get Glenn Selig from WTVT. He is in Punta Gorda, Florida, with the latest. Glenn, can you bring us up to date?
GLENN SELIG, WTVT: There is scattered damage throughout this county, Charlotte County. We rode out the storm with about 50 others at a Holiday Inn Express. This was some storm. In fact, at the Holiday Inn that we stayed at, part of the roof caved in while we watched that storm come in.
Behind me is some of the damage that we're talking about. That was a storage facility, inside is a boat and a Mercedes, and it is completely destroyed. We are talking about very serious damage here. And a man just came up to me a few moments ago and he said, I lost my home, I lost my car, and I've lost my business. And I have a feeling there is going to be a lot of those stories going around.
And I just spoke to somebody else. There's a nearby mobile home. In fact, we were hunkered down with some folks in a nearby mobile home park. They were smart. They got out. They listened to the warnings. Undoubtedly, there are always people who do not. They stay inside. And this one person told me that he would not be surprised if there were several deaths involved there, because he saw a lot of law enforcement and ambulances that were combing through the rubble of what used to be a nearby mobile home park -- Nancy.
GRACE: Glenn, were you there covering this when it hit?
SELIG: We were there. In fact, we were right where the eye of the storm came over. When it came over, right when the eye came over, right afterwards it was kind of eerie, because it got very calm. And then after about five minutes, all of a sudden, the wind picked up again, the rain picked up again, and it reversed direction. The direction of the winds reversed. So yes, we were there, we watched it, and this was some storm. One hundred miles per hour sustained winds, and up to 140 miles per hour gusts. So this was pretty strong.
GRACE: So, Glenn, you're telling me you were there when the eye of the storm went over, and true to story, it's very calm, and then after that, it hit?
SELIG: Yes. What happened was, at first it started off kind of slowly, although this did materialize the minute we knew that the storm was coming to this area. The winds picked up quite a bit. There were gusts, and then it did not take long for these to reach hurricane force winds.
Once the eye of the storm came over us, it was this eerie calm. The sun actually came out, and then we saw sea gulls in the sky. So it was like a very eerie scene that was going on there.
And if you didn't know better, you would think, oh, the storm is gone. But then after about five minutes, it kicked up again, not quite as much as before. If the wind shift reversed directions, but they were once again at hurricane force winds.
This was a very strong storm. And there is a lot of damage like what you see behind me throughout this county.
GRACE: What an eerie story. And so much damage. This is LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV. And we are bringing you the very latest regarding Hurricane Charley. It's plowing through Florida as we speak. Stay with us.
GRACE: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV in for Larry tonight. Thanks for being with us. We are bringing you all the latest on Hurricane Charley.
Right now let's go to Florida, FEMA person Craig Fugate. Welcome Greg.
What can you tell people listening tonight?
CRAIG FUGATE, FEMA: I think what's important for people in Florida to recognize is this storm is still moving through the state. It's still very dangerous and we're still experiencing damage as it moves up through Orlando and heads for our east coast.
The residents down in Charlotte County, probably not even hearing this. There's a lot of damage down there. But we have a lot of resources coming in tonight and tomorrow. Governor Bush, and the team of the Florida Division Emergency Management, state of emergency response team, we're there.
Mike Brown was talking about FEMA and his folks coming in. But the state emergency response team, our local governments, we are there now. We are responding with more people. And we are putting resources on the ground to assist our citizens that are in their time of need.
GRACE: Craig Fugate, what type of damages are you talking about?
FUGATE: Reports coming out about Charlotte County, as you heard earlier, we're getting a lot of damages to houses, we're getting damages to mobile homes, damages to buildings. It is widespread. Although it's concentrated if Charlotte County, we do have damages reported further inland.
This storm did pack quite a bit of damaging winds. We got a lot of damages that were coming up now as the storm continues to move across the state. More power outages.
So again, people have lost their homes. There have been significant damages. We are working to get teams to do search and rescue and reach those that may have been injured in this storm.
GRACE: Craig, is the aftermath just as bad as the actual winds because of the flooding?
FUGATE: Well, I think that the damages with this storm is pretty much going to be all as the storm passes through. We did get some rain, but I think most of the damages are going to be related to the initial storm surge along the coast and the heavy winds and the damage they produced.
So again, the teams are in there now, we're sending more teams in and we'll continue sending teams in until we are sure we have reached everybody that has been impacted by the storm.
GRACE: Thanks so much. Craig Fugate with Florida FEMA.
Let's go straight back to Max Mayfield with all of the latest. He's at the Hurricane Center.
Max, what can you tell us?
MAYFIELD: Not much more than my friend Craig Fugate has already said. People really need to treat this with a lot of respect, still and prepare for this just like they would for a tornado. They need to get into that inner room in their home, and a closet, a room without any windows.
We just had a report about 30 minutes ago from Orlando, I guess, of 105 miles per hour. So we're not done yet. Another two to three hours, and the eye will be exiting the coast somewhere near Daytona Beach.
GRACE: So we got two or three more hours of Hurricane Charley in Florida. My question is, what makes it a category 4?
MAYFIELD: The wind speeds are based on the different criteria there for a category 4 would be from 131 miles per hour up to 155. And anything over 155 would be a category 5 hurricane, which this was not.
GRACE: You know, Max Mayfield is the director of the National Hurricane Center. Very quickly, Max, is the fact that Charley followed so closely on Bonnie making things even worse?
MAYFIELD: No. Bonnie really had an impact, at least in Florida, up there in the big bend area to the northwest of where Charley is taking the state now. Some of the rainfall, however, from Bonnie up to the north there in Georgia and South Carolina. Charley will be moving over that same area and will likely bring other 4 to 8 inches and impact much of the eastern seaboard as it moves on up to the northeast.
GRACE: Very quickly, Max, behind you, can you explain to us what is on that screen?
MAYFIELD: Well, sure, this is the eye wall is definitely weakening. When it made landfall we had a very small eye. The eye is being a little bit ragged now. That's good news. Indicates that it is weakening.
But this is what is left of the eye right in here. Still moving right over the Orlando area. The red areas here represent the coldest thunderstorm tops, the highest thunderstorm tops and they still just to the northeast and center. And then there are the rain bands that are already spreading up into the Jacksonville area.
GRACE: Got you. Mike Seidel is with us from the Weather Channel. You know, Max Mayfield said what's left of it. There's still 105-mile-per-hour winds, Mike. Is there any way to predict what's happening tonight?
MIKE SEIDEL, WEATHER CHANNEL: Well, I could tell you that we just checked the observation, Nancy, at the Orlando airport. Winds sustained at 77 with those gusts over 100, as you mentioned.
Now, the storm will continue to weaken with the friction.
The question is, a lot of concern here in coastal South Carolina and North Carolina what happens to Charley when it re-emerges over the water? As we all know, tropical systems feed on the very warm waters, especially of the Gulf stream, 82 to 85 degrees.
We have a couple things working for us. Once it re-emerges it's still going to be hauling 25 to 30 miles an hour. So it's only going to be over water a short time. Also, there are very strong jet stream winds aloft.
So both of those factors, we think, will limit Charley from redeveloping like it could. And so by the time it makes send landfall, sometime midday tomorrow up around Myrtle Beach, up towards Morehead City somewhere in that area, Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, it will come in nothing stronger than a category 1 storm.
With that said, Nancy, there are mandatory evacuations tonight for Horry county and Georgetown County. Horry County includes Myrtle Beach, but only east of U.S. 17. And Nancy, that is the area primarily, where all the hotels and motels are in Myrtle Beach. So, that's what's going on there.
Again, the second landfall tomorrow not nearly, not nearly as bad as it was today in Southwest Florida.
GRACE: Well Mike Seidel, from what I can see of Hurricane Charley there's no way to predict anything about this storm.
With us now Mike Seidel in South Carolina. They are bracing, as well, as Florida has been for Hurricane Charley. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) GRACE: These are the very latest satellite images that we have of Hurricane Charley. As you know, Charley is battering the state of Florida with winds up to 150 miles an hour. The president has declared it a disaster.
The video we've been showing you tonight, much of it live, is a battered and beaten state of Florida.
Let's go straight out to Anderson Cooper. He's in Tampa, Florida. Anderson, you're pretty kicked back right there, buddy. It looks like the -- you're not having much of a quarrel with Hurricane Charley. But the reality is, a lot is expected to go down tonight.
COOPER: Yes. You know, it is so calm here, and so nice. It is so deceptive when you think that just a few miles south of here, 60 miles south in Fort Myers in towns like Punta Gorda, there are people really suffering tonight. There are people in need. There are possibly people dead. There are casualties, no doubt about it.
We have already seen these horrific images of buildings destroyed, roofs torn off. And I can't help but think about those people who, anticipating all day long as many of us had, that the storm was heading northward, that the storm was supposed to head here to Tampa, they're sitting in Punta Gorda and then all of a sudden they think I can ride it out. We're just going to get some winds off of the eye of this thing. All of a sudden late this afternoon, the storm veers eastward, and boom hits Punta Gorda and they have an hour or two to figure out what to do.
And what do they do? Do they stay in their home, hide in their bathrooms as many did? Do they try to go to a neighbor's house to seek higher ground?
That is where my thoughts are tonight with those people who are suffering. And those people who had to make that choice when they heard the storm had shifted and all of a sudden they realize, you know what, this thing is coming right for us.
GRACE: I got to tell you Anderson, two years ago I was down there during an evacuation and was trying to drive, the rain going sideways. I could feel it pushing the car across the street as we were trying to get out. So it is very scary. We are showing you shots of what is taking place in Florida today. Hurricane Charley not letting up but still moving.
Let's go to Chad Myers, CNN weather anchor and meteorologist. Even a category 2 storm can be devastating, Chad. Much less a 4.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It was a 4 when it made landfall. Some of the wind gusts down there, somewhere around 160 miles per hour. As the hurricane hunter aircraft was flying through the storm, they had a wind gust to 170. Now that's a lot. That's not at the ground. But you still get the idea. Those winds mix around in those thunderstorms.
Now down, as Max was telling you earlier, gusts to 105 reported at Orlando's airport. And that's obviously still doing a lot of damage. That's like an F-1 or an F-0 tornado on the ground. Different type of winds, but these straightline winds coming through Orlando right now, obviously a lot of folks there not expecting it to go that far inland.
Typically we think of a hurricane as soon as it hits land that it dies. Well, not a category 4. This thing is still a category 2 hurricane right now. And it's going to move offshore as a category 1.
So we talk about let's say what Bonnie was to the Panama City, was just a tropical storm. That was nothing compared to what the folks in Orlando, way inland, are seeing today. And nothing like what the folks in Arcadia, what the folks in Punta Gorda, what the folks in Port Charlotte.
I'll give you an idea of Port Charlotte. It's a very large retirement community. When those older folks, those retired folks had two to three hours to think about what they're going to do, are they leaving, are they staying? I'm telling you what, I know my father's a stubborn man, I know he'd be staying. And I'm afraid for a lot of those folks they stayed, as well.
And I don't know of too many homes in the Punta Gorda area that are not damaged in some way tonight.
GRACE: And Chad, then when you decide to leave you've got to decide what you can pack in your little car? What is so precious to you that you definitely want to save from a hurricane? It's devastating.
We are live all over Florida bringing you the latest on hurricane Charley. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Stay with us.
GRACE; The president has declared Florida a disaster area. People are evacuating, if they haven't already. Winds up to 150 miles an hour.
These are the very latest satellite images that we have. We're bringing it all to you.
Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace from Court TV, in for Larry tonight. Let's go straight down to South Carolina, standing by is Mike Seidel with the Weather Channel. Mike, what are you hearing there?
SEIDEL: Well, right here I think we're going to be OK. We'll have some wind and rain. Up around Myrtle Beach, a couple of counties, Horry County and also Georgetown County, evacuations now east of U.S. 17. That's where the second landfall will take place sometime tomorrow, either in northern parts of South Carolina, the Grand Strand, or up there towards Wilmington or Wrightsville Beach.
But again, expected to come in as a minimal hurricane, a category 1, a far cry from Punta Gorda. But I want to mention, we have two new systems on the radar. One is tropical depression number 4, Nancy, heading towards the islands, forecast to become a strong tropical storm. I believe that one would be named Danielle. And on its heels is tropical depression number 3. It formed earlier, a couple of days ago, and that would be called Earl if it does develop.
So we've got two systems. At least five to seven days away from any impact, if any impact of the U.S. coastline.
So this is the time to prepare your emergency kit, your hurricane evacuation kit. After what we've had, the terrible situation we've had in Florida, be prepared, and just stay tuned to see what happens.
The meat of the season, Nancy, is from generally mid-August to mid-October. So we're really getting into the beginning of the heart of a typical hurricane season in the Atlantic and Gulf.
GRACE: Mike Seidel, we're not even over Hurricane Charley and you're telling me about a hurricane double date, Bonnie, Charley, Danielle and Earl. We're still in hurricane season.
SEIDEL: Yeah. It's possible we could have Tropical Storm Danielle in the next 12 to 24 hours, heading towards the islands, the Lesser Antilles. So we still have a long time to watch that. But it just gives you an idea, even though we had a slow start to the season. We didn't have Hurricane Alex until about a week and a half ago, that it has ramped up, and there's no correlation between a slow start to the hurricane season and how busy it gets. It only takes one storm. With Andrew in '92, we had six storms, a considerably a slow season, but Andrew, a major hurricane, a category 5, did devastation over in South Florida.
GRACE: You know, Mike Seidel, just a quick question regarding you standing there. I'm amazed that people stand with a hurricane coming in behind them. You've always done this. How do you do it?
SEIDEL: Well, I love the weather, Nancy. They call me -- as we call people who love weather, weather weenies. And I really live to be out in the elements. You get an adrenaline rush. And I'm safe tonight. Our winds are only running 10 to 15 miles an hour. We expect the worst of Charley to stay offshore.
But I have been through Hurricane Floyd. I was in the eye of Floyd. A little scary there. But again, between the hurricanes and the snowstorms, you know, it's just like you love being -- covering court proceedings and trials. I love covering the weather.
GRACE: Well, you know, the irony is that you're telling people to go hide in the basement and hide in the bathroom, and you're standing out there with a mike strapped on your shirt.
Mike Seidel, you're great. Mike Seidel is in South Carolina...
GRACE: ... with the Weather Channel. Thank you, friend. Big thank you to colleague Anderson Cooper and of course Chad Myers.
You are tuned in to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Nancy Grace. And we are bringing you the very latest on Hurricane Charley. Stay with us.
GRACE: We are showing you footage of the devastation that has occurred in the state of Florida, due to Hurricane Charley. This is LARRY KING LIVE, I'm Nancy Grace in for Larry tonight. Thank you for being with us.
Let's go straight to Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center. Max, earlier we were talking to Mike Seidel, and he mentioned not only Hurricane Charley, but a Tropical Storm Danielle and Earl. So bottom line, it ain't over yet.
MAYFIELD: We're just now getting into the peak of the season that goes from the middle of August to the middle or the end of October. Tropical depression 4 is well out here over the east Atlantic. That's nothing to worry about at all for several more days.
This other one here, tropical depression 5 that we just started writing advisories on this afternoon, we certainly do need to monitor that. And it's going to be a couple days before it gets to the islands here. Can certainly be a threat to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And beyond that, we'll have to watch it very, very carefully.
GRACE: Max, tonight, what is the advice to people that are not only in the path of the storm, but are on the fringes?
MAYFIELD: Well, this is a wind event right now, primarily. So you really do the same thing in a hurricane for wind that you would do in a tornado. If the winds really do get bad, especially in that eye wall there, the region right in here, they need to treat it just like they would treat a tornado, get into that closet or some inner room with no windows.
GRACE: Man, though, you know, Max, we were just showing the footage of entire structures down, with a car sitting on top of them. So to tell somebody to go in their bathroom is a little scary. Evacuation is the best advice, right, if they can?
MAYFIELD: No. The evacuation is just for the storm surge. You flee from the water and you hide from the wind if you live in a well- built structure. Now, this is not the same hurricane that we had this afternoon when it hit the Florida west coast. It was a category 4 there. It's down to category 1 hurricane now
GRACE: OK, OK. I get it. My question now is, what about the long-term path of Charley in the days and hours to come?
MAYFIELD: Well, our track has it coming off the coast here, the Atlantic coast of Florida shortly after midnight. By 8:00 a.m. should be just off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, and by tomorrow afternoon, be up here very near the border of South and North Carolina. Continuing towards the northeast. We have a hurricane warning in place all the way out to Cape Lookout in North Carolina. That may well be extended northward at 11:00 p.m.
GRACE: Now, is it true, Max, that normally in Florida, the damage is on the panhandle and the east coast?
MAYFIELD: It's been -- it's really unusual to -- in fact, it's been a long, long time since they've had one this strong in this area. In fact, you have to go back to Hurricane Donna in 1960 to find another category 4 hurricane like this that impacted this area.
GRACE: Well, why now, though? That's what I don't get, because this is totally out of character for hurricanes on this side of Florida.
MAYFIELD: Well, it's a rare event. I mean, a hurricane is always a rare event, and a category 4 hurricane is an extremely rare event. We've only had about a dozen or so in the last 100 years, so it's a rare event for any place.
GRACE: Now, I've only got a couple of seconds left. But there are other concerns, as well. Tornadoes, thunderstorms that come hand in hand, right, Max?
MAYFIELD: That's on these outer rain bands, well in advance of the eye of the hurricane. And that really will be moving off the coast here (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in a couple of hours.
GRACE: Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center, you're fantastic. Thank you for being with us.
MAYFIELD: Thank you.
GRACE: Our thoughts and our prayers out to those in Florida, and those in the path of the storm.
I'm Nancy Grace, signing off for Larry King tonight. I want to thank you so much for inviting us into your home. Stay tuned, though. Coming up next, "NEWSNIGHT." Good night.
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