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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Coverage of Hurricane Frances
Aired September 4, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Hurricane Frances, a massive, slow motion disaster inches its way towards Florida's east coast, pounding that coast with torrential rain, winds up to 100 miles an hour, more than a million people without power and the heart of the storm hasn't even hit the state yet. That could happen now.
Meanwhile, two dead, one missing in the Bahamas still being hit by the back end of the storm. That's how huge Frances is. We'll get all the latest with reporters and weathermen on the scene along the storm front.
We'll check in with Mike Brown, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and they're sending three times as many people for Frances as they did for Hurricane Charley three weeks ago, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's check in with Mike Brown, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. He's in Tallahassee. How bad is it, Mike?
MIKE BROWN, DIRECTOR, FEMA: Well, it's pretty bad Larry and, as your reports have shown earlier, the size of the storm, the slowness of the storm there's just so much water and wind with this storm that it's going to be a massive cleanup process once she finally gets across the Peninsula.
KING: What does FEMA do?
BROWN: Well, Larry, we are poised right now to come in massively into this state with all the lifesaving and all the life-sustaining equipment and manpower that we need. We're going to have to clean up debris.
We're going to have to get infrastructure rebuilt, get the schools up, work with the power companies to get the utilities back up and running. In essence, we have to rebuild Florida once Frances gets out of our way.
KING: And is this pre-built into budgets? I know all federal agencies have budgets. Does money come from somewhere?
BROWN: Well, of course the money comes from somewhere. It comes from Congress and we do have -- we have money built in but, because of the massive nature of these storms, President Bush and I were talking last week and he's going to go to Congress when they get back on Tuesday and ask for a supplement to put some more money into FEMA because our budget is getting a little tight right now primarily because of the double whammy of these storms.
But, Chairman Bill Young of the House Appropriations Committee has assured me that the money's going to be there, so we're not worried about the money aspect at all.
KING: Will you check in with the president soon?
BROWN: Actually the president called last night. He's been calling just about every day getting an update on this situation. You know as a former governor, he recognizes just how problematic these kinds of storms are for the state and for the individuals whose lives are just totally disrupted by these kinds of things. So, he stays in pretty constant contact about how things are going. He's a good taskmaster.
KING: What about the double whammy of Charley and then three weeks later Frances?
BROWN: Well, that's an incredible logistic challenge for us, which we're clearly going to meet but, you know, we had about 1,000 people in the state that were down here helping people get registered and making certain their homes were being repaired and that sort of thing.
And, because we did not want to have those people become victims, we did the same thing that we preached to everybody else. We moved them out of harm's way. Now, we'll move them right back in and continue to take care of those Charley victims at the same time that we start moving people in to respond to the new victims of Hurricane Frances, so we're going to have a ton of people down here.
KING: Now, do you run the operation sort of like the Secret Service runs the city? Like in New York, the police of New York answer to the Secret Service. Do all the agencies go in to help people coming from other states, Red Cross, do they coordinate with you?
BROWN: Yes, Larry, and actually that's a great question and I said earlier today that what Governor Bush has set up down here through his emergency management operation is something that I want to take across the entire United States.
We have a unified command here between the state government and the federal government. What you see behind me is this command center and the state and federal partners are together so that we know exactly what the other person, the other entity is doing and when they have a request that they need to have fulfilled by us, we're here to respond and vice versa.
This is the way to operate in a disaster. This is the new FEMA. This is the new Department of Homeland Security doing exactly what the American taxpayer should expect us to be doing.
KING: One other thing, Mike, and we'll be checking in with you again, with all the power off and phones out, should people not living in Florida not call? Do you have any rules on that? BROWN: There are no rules on it but I would just caution people as they start to make those phone calls and try to contact their loved ones that it may take time to do that. Don't panic. Don't worry about it.
Probably you can work through the American Red Cross and other volunteer agencies but it's going to be a long time before some of this power gets up and the water gets out and people can get back into their homes. So, I would also say to the victims of Hurricane Charley and Frances that they too need to be patient before they start coming back into these areas.
KING: Thank you, Mike.
BROWN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: On top of the scene in the capital of Florida, Tallahassee, Mike Brown, Director of FEMA.
Let's go down to Miami and the National Hurricane Center where Max Mayfield stands by. Max has been on top of this from the get-go. All hurricanes are a little unusual. What strikes you the most about this one?
MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI: Well, Larry, I'd have to say the large size and the agonizingly slow motion of this hurricane. It's going to still take another day or two to get through the state of Florida.
KING: Do you know why it slows down?
MAYFIELD: Well, sure. The steering currents just collapse, you know. Neil Frank (ph) used to describe it as that rib of air. That rib of air just, you know, very, very weak here but it is finally moving again and it will indeed move across the Florida peninsula and then we're going to have to talk about landfall in the Florida panhandle before this is all over.
KING: And that is definite? That's the way it's going to go?
MAYFIELD: It's going to go across Florida and it's such a large circulation that the wind field is so large we're going to have a lot of those big trees come down.
We're going to have massive power outages and with the slow motion we're also going to have a real concern with the rainfall and I think this is going to, you know, impact a lot of people here. I know my friend Mike Brown there has really been on top of this. In fact, we've been talking almost daily here since a week ago Friday.
KING: Can this all last, I heard you say earlier, one day, two days, can it last a week?
MAYFIELD: Oh, no. The end is in sight anyway. That's the good news on Frances here. It's going to go across Florida tonight and tomorrow and then by Monday it will be in the Gulf of Mexico and headed towards the panhandle.
Once it gets up in the panhandle then it will move up into Alabama and Tennessee and then move rapidly off to the northeast but it shouldn't be a real impact after that. The main impact is going to be to the state of Florida.
KING: And will there be a lot of damage in interior Florida?
MAYFIELD: Yes, Larry. We've learned that a hurricane is not just a coastal event. Those strong winds and heavy rains and some isolated tornadoes will be spreading all the way across the peninsula into the Gulf of Mexico and then it will eventually go over the Florida panhandle.
KING: What's the latest coordinates?
MAYFIELD: It's about 45 miles east/northeast of Palm Beach. I mean it's moving towards the west/northwest about five miles per hour. That's not very fast. The radar loop behind me here, in fact you can just now see the innermost eye wall. It's just now coming onshore.
Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, we had a gust to hurricane force at the Palm Beach Airport about an hour ago. Those winds will continue to increase. It's going to be a long night for a lot of people in Florida.
KING: And for you too. We'll check back with you in about a half hour. Thanks, Max.
MAYFIELD: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center.
Let's go to New Smyrna Beach and Tony Perkins, the weatherman for ABC's "Good Morning America." The weekend edition, by the way, of GMA launches tomorrow and it's going to include comprehensive coverage of this hurricane. What's it like for a weatherman to be out in it?
TONY PERKINS, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" FORECASTER, NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL: Well, what it's like is that we're getting blown around quite a bit out here, Larry. As a matter of fact, I'm here in, as you mentioned, New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
This is fairly far north of where the eye of the hurricane is going to hit but just five minutes ago I measured the winds that we're getting here. We're getting wind speeds of 41, sustained winds of 41 miles per hour, which means we're feeling the tropical storm force winds.
As I think Max mentioned, and it's hard for me to hear everything that's going on so I apologize in advance, but as Max mentioned this is a large storm. As a matter of fact, the tropical storm force winds have expanded. They're extending up to 205 miles out from the center of the storm, so we're feeling them here.
Those tropical storm winds would be anything 39 miles per hour or higher. We're getting them here now and we're seeing the wave action start to increase here as well.
KING: Is the power out everywhere you're at?
PERKINS: Yes, in fact, we thought we weren't going to be able to join you. Just before we went on the air we lost power to this building. We've actually seen power lines. We've shot some of the power lines as they've blown up and blown down.
That's a very dangerous situation. It's one of the good reasons why people have evacuated this area, the downed power lines. Numerous power lines have gone down while we've been here during the last two hours and we're on auxiliary power right now. We're crossing our fingers we'll be able to stay with you for the rest of the show.
KING: Thank you, Tony, hang tough.
Let's go down to Melbourne, Florida and Anderson Cooper, our CNN own anchor host. You don't have to do this duty, Anderson. You host your own hour.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I like it. It's interesting.
KING: You like it?
COOPER: Yes. I've only been in two hurricanes in my life. This is my second one and it's pretty interesting. What I didn't realize, I mean, is that you can go for, you know, 20, 30 minutes and the wind will die down.
Here in Melbourne, we haven't been getting as much rain as a lot of other parts of Florida but then all of a sudden you can actually just see the squall coming and it hits and the winds picks up dramatically.
We've clocked winds here. The highest wind was 81 miles per hour. That was a gust. It wasn't a sustained wind. But you have these very high sustained winds and they are just knocking down power lines.
They are ripping trees. A lot of the palm trees are being uprooted. You're also seeing the palm branches littered all over the ground. I'm actually at the marina. I'm not sure, you really probably can't see too much behind me.
KING: We can't.
COOPER: The boats are rocking an awful lot. There is white water coming over. I'm actually on the inner (UNINTELLIGIBLE) waterway but it looks like the Atlantic Ocean. I mean there are so many white caps on this inland waterway it looks like the sea. It's pretty remarkable, Larry.
KING: That's strange. We'll check back with you, Anderson, and we'll check with lots of other people as we forge ahead into this hour and CNN, of course, bringing you 24 hours of coverage of Hurricane Frances, quite a storm. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We have lots of people on the scene tonight. Let's check in, in Atlanta, with Rob Marciano, our CNN meteorologist. Rob, what causes more damage in your opinion wind or rain and storm surge?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Typically, Larry, we talk more -- we're more concerned about the storm surge but because this is slow moving and because it's not a major hurricane, I think we're going to -- the biggest damage from this is going to be sustained rain. It will easily be over 24 hours, so flooding is going to be a huge issue and then the winds as well.
With winds at hurricane force and with winds at a Category 2 status at such a long period of time, it's almost, Larry, like getting a Category 4 storm because structures, the trees, the telephone poles, the power lines just can't take that much of a beating over a long time.
It's like a -- it's like a boxer that can go, you know, 12 or 15 rounds and just peck away at you, you know. The number of punches will lead to devastating results.
KING: They delayed the opening of the LSU/Oregon State game tonight for an hour because of high winds and electric storms. Is that connected with this? That's Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
MARCIANO: Well, we've got a pretty strong pressure gradient from an area of high pressure that's to the north and this is a pretty intense area of low pressure, so winds have been gusty all the way up into the Florida panhandle.
So to a certain extent, yes it is associated with that particular game but obviously the biggest concern, Larry, is right around the Florida coastline, which by the way the eye wall of this thing is just about to come onshore at West Palm Beach.
We've had winds gusting to 74 miles an hour at last check. This, what's behind me, is actually a two-dimensional or three-dimensional level two radar, which is some pretty cool stuff. It's actually live radar.
And the northern tier of this thing and the western flank, this is where the heaviest rain is and the strongest wind is now moving into West Palm Beach and up through Fort Pierce.
KING: Are you saying, Rob, that is happening as we speak?
MARCIANO: Yes. This is actually live data. Typically when we show radar data or satellite data it's something that's taken, shipped to a vendor. We get it, you know, via satellite and it's at least a five minute delay. This is actually what you're seeing.
You're seeing the radar beam go right up through the cloud, not only from Melbourne but also from Miami, so this is a composite shot and we're getting some amazing data from this and this, obviously, the eye wall, Larry, very impressive no doubt.
KING: Ross Cavitt, what are you experiencing on the scene? He's from WSB-TV in Atlanta but he's on the scene in Fort Pierce. And, Rob Marciano's just reported it's really officially come on land now. What are you experiencing Ross?
ROSS CAVITT, WSB-TV, ATLANTA: And we're on the north side of that, which is getting the flow directly off the ocean. The winds are gusting. The rain is driving. It's been a roller coaster day here in Fort Pierce. We've had an afternoon full of tropical storm force winds but it's been peeling roofs off of buildings, knocking down power lines, putting trees on roadways.
That seemed to have been the preview for the main event, which is just now hitting the Fort Pierce/St. Lucie County area. Power is out everywhere and now we're getting the strong winds that were advertised earlier up to hurricane strength here lashing this area.
Throughout much of the day, very eerie on the streets, the conditions so bad that even police, fire and ambulance workers have taken shelter and were not responding to calls for the vast majority of the day.
They don't even know what the extent of the damage is yet as they eye hits just south of us here. The winds wrap around and lash St. Lucie County and Fort Pierce with those winds right off the ocean. They're very strong right now with the driving rain.
KING: Thank you, Ross, on the scene in Fort Pierce. He's with WSB-TV in Atlanta.
Let's go to Adam Landau. He's in Daytona Beach, north of Fort Pierce. He's a reporter with WJXT Jacksonville. We have the reports, Adam, now officially that hurricane has hit land. What are you experiencing?
ADAM LANDAU, WJXT-TV: Well, right now, Larry, we're actually getting a little break. We had some stronger winds a little earlier but don't let this calm fool you. We can tell you more than 5,000 people here in Volusia County are at shelters.
We know there are power lines down but the good news right now is power is only out to about 1,200 people. The fear is, of course, that that number will continue to rise dramatically as the winds and the rain keep coming.
One thing here, Larry, is of course Charley blew through here about two weeks ago and a lot of people are now getting that double whammy. They were hit by Charley and now they're going to get hit by Frances.
In fact, we were down the road and one house was pretty much destroyed by Charley. They covered it up with some awnings and some tarps. Well, that was completely blown off just a couple of hours ago and now that house is getting pounded again -- Larry.
KING: And that scene right behind Adam is a live scene from West Palm Beach, Florida getting a lot of the brunt of this.
Now, New Smyrna Beach, we'll got back to Tony Perkins at ABC's "Good Morning America." What's the latest there, Tony?
PERKINS: All right, Larry, he just tossed it to me right? Larry, hey I love you man. I can't hear anything you're saying, so let me just tell you what's happening here. We're getting the outer bands of the storm. They're moving through now just clocked the winds at 42.5 miles an hour. Those are sustained winds.
There's a little bit of rain. We're going to get more rain a little bit later but you can see we've got the ocean lit right now behind me. You can see the waves as they're pushing onshore now. This is one of the things that they're going to be worried about further south, the storm surge.
But really as far north as the mid-Atlantic we're going to be concerned about rip currents. I don't know if Rob talked about that earlier but that's going to be one of the problems here, dangerous rip currents.
People don't want to go out into the water. There are heavy surf advisories in effect not just for Florida but for much of the southeastern coast of the United States up to the mid-Atlantic near the Chesapeake Bay. People need to be very careful about that. You can see the action here. It's much worse to the south. It's going to get bad to the north as well.
KING: You get safe, Tony.
We'll take a break. When we come back, I hope Tony doesn't get blown off the screen because it's getting pretty close.
We're covering Hurricane Frances and we'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: Let's check in down in Juneau Beach with Rosh Lowe of WSVN. That's Channel 7 in Miami. Juneau Beach is part of the Palm Beach County. The storm has come on north of you. I know that's no small measure for you Rosh. What's happening there?
ROSH LOWE, WSVN TV: Well, we are feeling some of the strongest rain and strongest winds here we have felt since we've been here about a day and a half right now. In fact, you can't see it right now but behind me is a home. The roof is coming off of that home.
The frightening thing about this storm is that earlier in the day here we were experiencing some of those rain bands that were coming in, saw some damage in the area here but people who were living in this community were saying to themselves that the hurricane wasn't even here yet. Can you imagine what the damage would be after the hurricane actually arrived in the area?
Now it seems the Hurricane Frances -- that Hurricane Frances is finally here in the West Palm Beach area. What was concerning for people here is that they waited for days.
They actually had time to think about Hurricane Frances, a very different situation the psyche than Hurricane Charley that just seemed to speed into southwest Florida. But with this storm, people had a time to really think about it and now, now Frances is arriving in the Juneau Beach area -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Rosh Lowe, excellent reporting. We've got great journalists on the scene here tonight.
Anderson Cooper, you mentioned earlier that this is only your second hurricane. Having lived in Florida for 20 years, I've experienced a lot of them. What about it has surprised you the most, if anything?
COOPER: You know, to see the wrath and the power of Mother Nature is a pretty awesome thing. It can be terrible but there is, is just -- it is remarkable to see it up close. You know you can hear, you can see it on the news. You can see it on TV.
You can understand intellectually about the power of these winds but to actually be here and experience it is a completely different matter. You know you hear about 120 mile an hour winds. You hear about 70 mile an hour winds. It really has no meaning until you actually stood here and felt yourself getting blown away. It's quite remarkable.
KING: Rob Marciano, our CNN meteorologist in Atlanta, would you rather be out in it?
MARCIANO: You know, ever weather guy would rather be out in it but this particular storm, Larry, is of such long duration, no matter how cool it may be at first I'm sure the novelty is wearing off rather quickly as this thing not even really officially onshore, just scraping the shoreline. So, yes, I would be but not for very long. How's that for an answer?
KING: How bad is it going to get?
MARCIANO: Well, now that the eye wall is beginning to scrape the coastline...
MARCIANO: ...we are getting wind gusts of 74 miles an hour, so hurricane strength wind gusts and along this eye wall we'll continue to see that, not only on the western flank but the northern flank as well.
I should probably also point out that the northern flank of this thing is where we typically see the threat for tornadoes and we just had -- we had one tornado warning that was out for Cape Canaveral. Now we've had another one for Indian Harbor, which is just north of Melbourne.
So, that is a threat as well. Also to the north of this system is the storm surge and the heavy rain and the pounding, pounding winds and rain and it's making landfall now and will continue to do so, slowly overnight tonight and tomorrow -- Larry.
KING: And what we're seeing, Rob, explain again. That's a -- that thing behind you is actual, right?
KING: That's the way it is right now this second.
MARCIANO: Right now. You're seeing -- this is the Melbourne radar site and you're seeing the Doppler radar out of Melbourne. That's the radar beam actually shooting up through the eye of this storm.
We're not actually waiting for the whole composite to come to us, which would take another five or six minutes. This is the actual live data as we see it. So, every time you see that little beam go through you're seeing fresh data and a fresh picture of the precip and the winds and the eye of this particular storm.
KING: And, Tony, are you OK by the way? Only one quick break. I got to get a break here. Tony, are you doing all right, Tony Perkins?
PERKINS: Larry, I do hear you. I didn't hear the question. What was the question? Are we wet?
KING: How are you doing?
PERKINS: Are we OK. OK, yes, we're fine. You know the trick to -- I heard you ask Rob about would he rather be out in this and I think most weather people, you know, you get a little bit of adrenalin being out here and you want to bring the story to everybody and show them exactly what's happening here.
What's happening here is I'm trying to hold on so I don't get blown away. The thing about this is obviously we stay as safe as we possibly can and the main thing that concerns me, and I'm watching Rob's radar very closely, is because as these outer bands move through the northeastern quadrant of the hurricane that's where you tend to see some of these tornadoes spawn.
So, we're paying very close attention to that. We're staying as safe as we can. Yes, it's a little hairy out here but if we get a tornado warning or we hear some type of siren go off or something like that...
PERKINS: ...we head indoors. We get out.
KING: Good move.
We'll be right back and when we come back we'll leave the hurricane for a couple of minutes and talk about an incredible world tragedy. Matthew Chance of CNN is on the scene in Beslan, Russia. We'll check in with Matthew right after these words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What have these little eyes seen today? At the heart of this horror is that they did it to children fleeing from death, explosions, bullets and bodies in their own school gym.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's spend some moments going to Beslan, Russia. Matthew Chance of CNN is on the scene. On Wednesday, Chechen rebels and their allies took a school hostage and now the result more than 1,000 students and hostages held, 330 dead. What's the latest, Matthew, on this horrendous tale?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, people in this town of Beslan in southern Russia are still trying very much to come to terms with the magnitude of the tragedy that has befallen them.
Those official figures you've just given about 323 people now confirmed as dead, 156 of them are children between the ages of seven and 15. Another 450 people are in hospital. Doctors in this town of about 45,000 people, so it's a very small place, saying that, you know, the best part of 70 people are very seriously injured.
So, it's an incredibly big tragedy in this small place. It seems that virtually every family here knows someone, if they haven't lost a child themselves, knows somebody who's lost a child or a brother or a sister -- Larry.
KING: The Russian forces, we understand, have launched a security crackdown in the Republic of North Ossetia. What can you tell us about that Matthew?
CHANCE: Well, North Ossetia is the republic of southern Russia where we are right now and, you're right, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has said that the whole republic has got to be sealed off to make sure there are no other of these rebels in the area.
And there have been a big security presence on the streets of Beslan with security forces, tanks even, on the streets, troops lined along the main roads in Beslan, people, security forces conducing house-to-house searches because there is this belief and this fear that a number of the hostage takers may have actually escaped the school where this eight-hour gun battle took place on Friday resulting in so many casualties and actually may still be in hiding amongst the community that has been so badly affected by the killings.
KING: Matthew, how do the Russians that you've talked to, how do they explain this to themselves? Why all this killing? How do they deal with it?
CHANCE: It's really tough for them. You know, we were at the morgue yesterday afternoon and that was a really tough thing to do as well because hundreds of bodies have been laid out, all of them unidentified, some of them to be frank unrecognizable as human being.
And it was a terrible scene because what the government has done is organize coach tours there, not tours but coach parties there for relatives to go and try and identify the bodies so they can get this matter wrapped up.
But it is a terrible thing for people to try and comprehend and there's a great deal of anger been brewing in the town of Beslan as well amongst the families of the victims, anger at the Russian government for failing to live up to its word.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said very clearly that he wanted to end this hostage siege in a peaceful fashion because there were so many children involved and it seems the complete opposite happened.
Almost every one of the 1,000 people or more that were inside the school seemed to have been either killed outright in the gun battle and the explosions that ripped through the school or were very seriously injured and so there's a great deal of anger about that amongst the people of Beslan.
KING: What does the government other officials make of the fact that of the 26 hostage takers who died ten were from Arab countries?
CHANCE: Well, I mean this is -- this is an incredible fact if it's true. I have to say at this stage no proof has been given to us by the Russian government this is the case but certainly it's what the security forces are saying that at least ten of the 26 or so hostage takers were of Arab descent.
That obviously underscores the position of Moscow, which is that this is part of a much wider, bigger war on international terrorism but the fact is that even though there are international terrorist elements within the sort of Chechen nationalist struggle, this is still about very much a local conflict that has been going on between the Russians and the Chechens for the best part of the past ten years.
And, it seems that within that conflict the sort of Islamic radicals, the Islamic militants, components of the Chechen sort of nationalist struggle is very much coming to the fore, which is perhaps why we're seeing these terrible terrorist attacks that have been taking place just in the last few weeks.
Two Russian airliners have been brought down by suspected Chechen suicide bombers. There have been Chechen suicide bombers in the streets of Russian towns and cities across the country and now this where so many people and so many children have been targeted and have been killed.
KING: Unbelievable. Thank you, Matthew, for great reporting, Matthew Chance on the scene in Beslan, Russia as he has been for all these many hours and days for CNN.
A couple of program notes before we take a break and then check back in with Max Mayfield at the National Hurricane Center. Tomorrow night we're going to repeat our last interview with Bill Clinton.
We'll also repeat the phone call that the former president made to this program last night concerning his upcoming heart surgery. If that surgery takes place on Monday, we will do a special program dealing with it Monday night. If it does not, we'll have a pre-taped interview with Tim McGraw that we taped earlier this week.
And on Monday morning when the telethon is on, Jerry Lewis can't do the 24 hours anymore, so I'm going to be the host of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon from 11:00 until 1:00 Eastern time, 8:00 until 10:00 Pacific time and they're honoring the late Mattie Stepanek.
And we'll be right back with more on the hurricane right after this.
KING: We're going to be including phone calls in this half hour, so before we go to Max Mayfield, let's take a quick call, Memphis, Tennessee hello.
CALLER FROM TENNESSEE: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Thanks for taking my call.
CALLER: I'm going to direct my question to Rob. My name is Frances. I hate it when they name these hurricanes after us people. I have family in Orlando that I haven't been able to reach. They decided to I guess either go to a shelter or stay at the house but I was wondering how things were in Orlando, if they had anybody covering the Orlando area.
KING: Rob, what do you know?
MARCIANO: They have had tropical force winds so far in Orlando. We have Orelon Sidney, one of our meteorologists, is down in Orlando right now but obviously still pretty far away.
I should mention, Larry, that because this thing is so large in scope, tropical storm force winds extend up to 200 miles from the center, so that would include Orlando, Titusville, even north towards Daytona Beach.
This thing is going to go, it looks like, pretty close to Orlando but not for several hours to come, so that nice lady that called in there's still plenty of time for them to hunker down and protect themselves. It won't be near Orlando for about 12 hours.
KING: Her name is Frances but it wouldn't be surprising if they're getting rain and some power is out. MARCIANO: Oh, not at all and I expect in not only Orlando but through much of the central part of the state for power to be out. Larry, a lot of the state could see power outages because of the sustained amount of wind and rain and the duration that this is going to happen over.
KING: Safe bet that Disney World is closed.
MARCIANO: Yes, I'm pretty sure Disney, yes, it's been a rough couple of weeks for Mickey and the gang that's for sure.
KING: Let's check in with Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, like we do every half hour around the clock it seems. It's now hit shore. What does this mean, Max?
MAYFIELD: Well, they're really getting clobbered there, Larry. On the radar you can see the eye wall itself here coming on the shore, the northern portion of Palm Beach County, Martin County and St. Lucie County. I'm sure they're getting sustained hurricane force winds in those locations.
And we just talked with the emergency management director up in Palm Beach County, Bill O'Brien, who said if this is a Category 2, he doesn't ever want to see a Category 4.
KING: So, this is -- this may be a Category 2 but it's pretty, pretty bad, right?
MAYFIELD: It is pretty bad and as Rob said the core is still, you know, a long way from the central part of the state but these outer rain bands out here do have some very strong winds in them and they're, you know, getting through the land area right now.
When those bands come through those folks are going to get tropical storm force winds and we need to remember that you don't have to have hurricane conditions to cause loss of life, so people really need to be careful tonight and during the day tomorrow.
KING: Is it possible, Max, that a smaller contained storm that's rated a three or a four could do less damage than a two with a wide territory?
MAYFIELD: Absolutely and I think we're going to see that example right here and this hurricane has such a large wind field it's not going to be just a coastal event. We're going to have trees down and, you know, just massive power outages, I suspect, from the wind as it moves across the peninsula and then we have to worry about the rainfall on top of that.
KING: This is God forbid but are there any other tropical disturbances at the moment?
MAYFIELD: Well, yes, I'm afraid there is. There's tropical storm Ivan well out here in the Atlantic. That is getting very close to hurricane status right now. We're expecting it to be near the eastern Caribbean in about three days' time and in five days' time likely near Hispaniola here, so we're watching that one also.
KING: Hurricane season lasts until when?
MAYFIELD: Well, the season goes until the end of November officially but the peak of the season is really the middle of August to the middle or the end of October, so we've still got a long way to go -- Larry.
KING: Are all the airports along the eastern coast of Florida closed?
MAYFIELD: I -- well I don't know for sure but I suspect most of them are within the hurricane warning area for sure.
KING: Do you expect a lot of injury?
MAYFIELD: Well, that's what, you know, this is all about. If people are just very careful here, there's no reason to have that loss of life. You can have loss of life from the storm surge, from the batting waves, from the wind and from the rainfall.
You know the winds get really bad. When that core of the hurricane moves over your area, you should do the same thing for wind in this hurricane that you would do for a tornado. If you have to, get into that inner room, that closet with no windows. If you need to put a mattress over you, do that, and you'll survive.
The rainfall, you know, most of the Florida peninsula is so flat that even if we have ten to even 20 inches of rain there's no reason to lose your life if you're careful. The National Weather Service has a program that says, "Turn around, don't drown." If you can't see that road out ahead of you just don't drive there.
KING: Thank you, Max as always, Max Mayfield on the scene, Director of the National Hurricane Center.
MAYFIELD: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Thank you.
We'll be back with more phone calls as we cover Hurricane Frances around the clock on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We got weather folk everywhere. Let's go to Fresno, California, hello.
CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Yes, hi.
CALLER: I have a question for Anderson.
KING: Sure. CALLER: He looks so nonchalant when he's out there in the weather, great coverage by the way. I've been watching all day, Anderson. How do you really feel out there? You look great but I've been watching you all day, you and Pat, and how do you really feel and who makes the call when you've had enough of being buffeted around when you're going to get out of there? But you're great. You and Pat are great.
KING: Good question. How do you feel, Anderson?
COOPER: You know, as I said, I mean in one sense it's exciting to be out here. You know I haven't done it very much. On the other -- on the other hand, I really feel for the people who have been spending the last two nights in shelters.
There are some 60,000 people in this area in more than 100 shelters throughout Florida and they have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this storm to hit. It's one of the hardest things about this storm. It is moving so slowly.
It has finally made landfall. Larry, I can tell you, in the last 20 minutes or so the winds have really picked up here in Melbourne. It is really, as you can tell, getting very windy indeed and I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to stay in this location.
COOPER: Yes, Larry.
KING: Anderson, go get some relief somewhere, Anderson. You don't die for the network, OK. Go, go get shelter.
COOPER: OK, Larry.
KING: Now, Tony Perkins we don't care about because he's with ABC, right so let's -- only kidding. Let's check in with Tony in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. What's happening there?
PERKINS: All right, here we go.
KING: Tony, do you hear me?
PERKINS: We're getting the -- we're getting the rain bands moving in now in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. They just started to move in just about one minute ago literally, so we've had the winds. The winds have been at over 40 miles an hour, pretty much sustained, although they died down for a little bit there. Now we're getting the outer rain bands.
Again, the big concern in the northern section of the storm is the threat of tornadoes so everybody's keeping their eyes open for that. I don't know how Anderson feels but we feel pretty wet and pretty windblown out here.
Larry, I should mention that, as you mentioned earlier, we did start a new weekend version of "Good Morning America." Tomorrow morning we're going to have more coverage of the storm and we'll be out here showing some of the after effects. It's going to be pretty devastating as the storm is moving so slowly across central and southern Florida, as Max Mayfield said earlier.
KING: And you stay well. We hope you're well.
Let's get another call, Gainesville, Florida hello.
CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Hi. This call is for Anderson Cooper.
KING: Yes, well I hope he's still there. Go ahead.
CALLER: As long as we're having a hurricane I'm thrilled that Anderson is covering it. You're great. My question is my house is just about a half mile north of you on the Intercostal, the community there, and I was just wondering if you can see if any lights are on in my neighborhood there.
KING: Gainesville isn't on the Intercostal.
CALLER: Well, my son and I evacuated to Gainesville early Thursday morning. Our house is just on the Intercostal just a half a mile north from where Anderson is.
KING: All right, how's her house, Anderson do you think?
COOPER: Well, I think it's probably OK. I mean most of the houses around here are pretty sturdy. They're made pretty well. It's not like the Punta Gorda area where you had a lot of trailer park communities.
I can tell you though that if you look across the barrier island that's behind me, believe it or not there's still some electricity on the barrier island. But what we have been seeing over the last half hour or so are several explosions lighting up the sky and those are the transformers as they explode, so gradually the electricity on that barrier island are going out.
The electricity here in Melbourne is largely out already but unfortunately I can't see much to the north or south of me along the Intercostal, so I can't look directly to your neighborhood.
But I can tell you at this point it hasn't been too much rain. It's really been these winds, these high, sustained winds and, as I said, the winds have really picked up in the last 30 minutes or so.
KING: And we'll be back with our remaining moments and check in with some more phone calls and do a round robin of all of our correspondents right after this.
KING: Vero Beach, Florida hello.
CALLER FROM FLORIDA: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: Thanks for taking my call.
KING: Sure. Go ahead.
CALLER: Well, this has just been such a devastation for us down here even before the storm. It's just taken psychological tolls and when I left Vero Beach the other day and came to Ocala, it took me ten hours. I'm just basically am saying...
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: I'm wondering what you're projecting for Fort Pierce because my husband at this hour is with Fort Pierce utilities trying to do his best.
KING: Well, hold right on. I'll help you. Ross Cavitt is in Fort Pierce -- Ross.
CALLER: Oh, wonderful.
KING: What can you tell us?
CAVITT: Well, Larry, within the last half hour the conditions have really deteriorated here. We have hurricane force winds plus and they've been battering the area. This is what has been advertised for this area since Frances began creeping toward the east coast of Florida.
It's a cruel irony that it's happening after dark. That makes the situation even more dangerous. Power is out now in nearly completely the entire area. We've heard they've just turned the water off as well, as a safety precaution. It's going downhill here and will likely be rough in the next three to four hours.
KING: OK, thank you for that.
What's the latest from Anderson Cooper in Melbourne? What's your wrap?
COOPER: Larry, the wind is still blowing very strong here and rain is picking up just a little bit but it is -- it just continues about the same as it's been and there's really not going to be any let up in this storm here.
We are told the eye of the storm, as you know, is further south around Fort Pierce, West Palm Beach. We are going to be getting just sort of the northern wall of the eye and maybe one of those two outer bands around that wall, so we are just going to continue to have these sustained winds really all night long.
We're going to continue to stay on the air all through the evening, all until tomorrow morning. I'll be on probably until 6:00 a.m. but we anticipate these winds maintaining this speed really for the next 12 hours or so.
KING: OK. Dallas, Texas hello.
CALLER FROM TEXAS: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. My mother's in Juneau Beach, Florida. Her power is still on. She's one quarter of a mile off of Highway 1 and I wonder why everybody else's power is out all around that area and she still has power. Is there anybody there who can tell me anything about that?
KING: We'll get -- Rob, can we guess why?
MARCIANO: Why there's no power in Juneau Beach? Winds of 75 mile an hour will easily take down tree limbs, if not trees alone and then knock down the power.
KING: Did you say there is power, ma'am, or no power?
CALLER: Yes, power in her place, yes there still is.
KING: Oh, why is that is the question? We had this happen once in Miami. How can there be power on one block and not on the next?
MARCIANO: Well, it could just be an isolated wind gust or an isolate area where it may be protected from a sturdy building where her transformer may very well be or that block that still has electricity. So, just be happy you have it and say your prayers tonight and maybe when you wake up in the morning you'll still have it.
But it is making landfall. I do want to mention right now, Larry, throughout this hour it's been making landfall from Port St. Lucie down to just north of West Palm Beach and that's why they're getting hammered right now.
Although it's entertaining to watch our reporters out there get blown around in the wind, probably the other less glamorous threat is going to be the flood potential when we see the rains pile up over the next 24 to 36 hours in areas that no only were devastated by wind from this storm but also from Charley just three weeks ago.
KING: And, Tony Perkins, how are you doing? I want to check one more time with you.
PERKINS: What was the question? Yes, OK. I'm doing fine, Larry. I have to say considering I'm being stung by rain and sand and wind, I'm a little disappointed that no callers have a question for me. But I have a question for Anderson. How's he keeping his hat on?
KING: Yes, how are you doing that, Anderson?
COOPER: Actually, I don't know. I'm just holding it on I guess.
KING: Let me get in one quick call, Woodland, California hello. CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Hello, Larry. There's a scientist out in San Antonio, Texas that's trying to develop a way to dissipate the hurricane before it gets to land. His name is Kid Chris [ph?] and he's trying to dissipate it with (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Have you heard of that, Rob? There have been many experiments with trying to dissipate hurricanes. You heard anything new?
MARCIANO: Nothing, you know, they pretty much gave up in the '60s and '70s, Larry, when they tried to cede the outer rings of the storm and try to knock it down that way. And then during the '50s they actually talked about dropping atom bombs in there and that obviously would do more harm than good.
So, I'll tell you one thing, with all the power and all the technology we have there is no way of beating Mother Nature with wind, water and fire. There's no way around it. You just got to get out of the way and protect yourself.
KING: Hurricane -- one hurricane is more than all the atom bombs there are in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MARCIANO: Ten megatons actually is the average.
KING: We thank all of our guests and all of our correspondents for participating in the up-to-the-minute coverage on CNN.
Bill Clinton tomorrow night.
Right now we'll turn things over to Carol Lin and Miles O'Brien in Atlanta and they'll be right on the scene as Hurricane Frances plows into the Sunshine State, which ain't having a lot of that tonight. Thanks for joining us.
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