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Continued Reporting on Hurricane Francis; Russian President Putin Says Will get Tougher on Terror

Aired September 4, 2004 - 10:00   ET


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Sean Callebs reporting live from a dramatic situation there with this huge yacht in West Palm Beach, Florida. We of course will be following this and the storm with Sean and all of our reporters up and down the Florida coast.
BETTY NGUYEN CNN ANCHOR: We have continuing coverage of Hurricane Frances, which is bearing down on Florida. This is a slow- moving storm. So you want to keep it tuned to CNN. It's going to be happening all day long.

And right now, we want to send you off to Stephen Frazier, who's going to be picking up our coverage.

Good morning to you.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Betty, Drew, good morning to both of you. A long morning for you.

NGUYEN: It has.

FRAZIER: Great job here of covering it. A lot of drama there at the last few minutes.

NGUYEN: Lots of drama. And I imagine we're going to see much more of it throughout the day.

FRAZIER: Unfortunately, probably a lot like that, too. Well, thanks very much for your coverage. We're going to pick up now and give you guys a little relief. We'll see you a little later on.

Let's talk now about the threat of flooding and widespread damage looming over Florida as the leading edge of Hurricane Frances begins now to hit the state. The state has ordered the largest evacuation in history, almost 2.5 million people.

The Texas-size storm's forward motion very slow now, but is expected to hit the Florida coast a little later today, perhaps tonight. It's category 2 now. It has maximum sustained winds of little more than 100 miles an hour.

So far, the Bahamas have borne the brunt of the massive storm. Frances dumping tremendous amounts of rain on those islands, knocking out power, overturning boats, toppling trees. One young man electrocuted as he tried to prepare for the arrival of the storm. And because it's moving so slowly, forecasters think it could stay over the state of Florida through two full high tide cycles, which means there could be two rounds of storm surges, and each of those could be up to six feet above normal tide.

We have people station upped and down the Florida coast. But the most dramatic place we'd like to visit right now is West Palm Beach Florida, where Sean Callebs is standing by, and where he has been chronicling the distress of this very expensive pleasure yacht, which appeared to have slipped an anchor line when we first saw it, Sean, and where the crew on board -- probably not the owners, but rather the paid crew, have managed now to bring it up along a pier.

We don't know whether it is tied up or just pushed up there by the force of the wind and the waves against it. Sean -- let us know, Sean, what you've learned.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Well, Stephen, we know that the gentleman in the orange life jacket appears to be the pilot. The person in the yellow is someone who came by and saw this scene playing out. And there are three people that climbed the fence, ran down the dock, and came to help the skipper tie off.

We were able to talk with the other woman passenger or crewmember who was on the yacht. And she said that this is a vessel that simply lost an engine. And these are very punishing winds out here, sustained at least 30 miles an hour. Gusts that are much worse. And right now, a bit of a lull.

But they tried for some time to get this craft through the Intracoastal Waterway. You can see the anchor line apparently down in front. We saw it catch in several different occasions, appear to hold up, but only to lose its mooring and drift a little bit further.

Then we saw them make a couple of runs, trying to get out, but simply didn't have enough power against the fury of Frances. And then, in very dramatic fashion, was able to come down and turn the bow into the -- into the edge of that opening and slowly make the way in.

At one point, they were able to tie off on to one of these polls. But the ship just too large. It just ripped the pole right out of the ground.

On the other side of this, there were a hand full of gashes because the yacht making contact with the cement barrier here. You can see just in front.

And, Stephen, we've talked about this, but this guy did an amazing job of getting it in. Mike, let's span down this way. And you can see the bridge that connects Palm Beach and West Palm. If he hadn't been able to get it in here, there are nothing to stop him from drifting down into that way. And there were a couple sailboats in its path as well.

So this could have been a much, much worse situation -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: You're right, Sean. And you're giving us a good account here of what has happened. It was very dramatic seamanship. And we should point out, because I know Betty was asking how -- how this all happened, that we really have no sense of the origin of this yacht's trouble. But it's pretty commonplace for the winds to be too strong for the anchor lines, or even the permanent moorings that boats tie up to in advance of a storm.

This play simply have been ripped free by the force of the storm and set adrift. And then, as you point out, with only one of its probable two engines to help navigate.

CALLEBS: And Stephen, if I can point out -- Mike, quickly come back up this way -- you talked about how common it is for these boats to loose their moorings. There's a sailboat that is also coming down across the way through the mist. You can see just the top of what appear to be another luxury pleasure craft.

These two also making their way down through this area. We don't know if they have any crewmembers aboard, what their situation is. But this could be something that we see play out.

This is a very affluent area, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) south Florida, all the pleasure craft. You can get out and fish, but at a time like this you see just the KING: nd of peril that you could run into. And the wind, again, really picking up. So very tense situation.

We know our producer went in and tried to talk with the young woman who was injured. She's somewhat traumatized, as you can imagine. And she's a little bit cut up in the hands as she tried to climb over a locked fence. But apparently, she's OK, but really, really shaken up -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: It is worth pointing out, Sean, to our viewers that this is a great illustration of the power of this storm. Because this waterway is almost like an internal canal. This is not open water that you're standing by there, Sean. This is the Intracoastal Waterway.

CALLEBS: Exactly.

FRAZIER: There's actually a long barrier island on the other side of that canal which separates it from the Atlantic Ocean. So this, in effect, is like a river.

CALLEBS: Exactly. If you look over there, Palm Beach, that's the historic old Biltmore Hotel that has been converted into condos.

That, Barrier Island, long since evacuated. And earlier today, when the winds really kicked up, we saw on a number of occasions sparks fly up. And we can only presume those were power lines going down in that area.

Clearly, that Barrier Island feeling the brunt of the fury. And Royal Palms, you can see in the distance, really bending and swaying in the wind. But we are buffeted somewhat because of that Barrier Island. You're exactly right. This Intracoastal Waterway, an area a lot of boats tie up in before they go out into the ocean to fish or whatever. So this is a, in many cases, an area where people simply tie up at the beginning or end of the day.

But the Palm Beach Yacht Club, right over this way, a lot of the people moved their boats down to the Keys. We were able to talk to a handful of residents riding who are riding this out. And they said that they presumed the hurricane wasn't going to move south, so they tried to get their boats out as safely as possible.

But you're exactly right, we don't know exactly how these people got into this situation, if the boat came loose in the moorings and they went and tried to do the best they could to control it, or if they were trying to ride the storm out, or if they were actually out on the ocean in some capacity, trying to make their way in. But certainly a day they won't forget for some time -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Give us a sense, Sean, of what it's like on land. Some communities, I know, instituted a curfew overnight. The people just weren't supposed to be out moving around. They almost looked like ghost towns, we're told. What's your sense of it there where you are in West Palm Beach -- Sean.

CALLEBS: Well, anybody who has been through West Palm Beach knows there's a pretty active night life in and around this area. Last night, simply a ghost town.

This is an area of about 80,000 people. A lion's share of those people heeded the warning and headed out.

We were able to talk to a couple of people who were going to riding the storm out over this way. They basically said that they were going to do so because they had the aluminum -- or metal shutters that are protecting their windows. And they were, of course, concerned about the damage the storm could bring. But they said a lot people headed north, up I-95 or up the turnpike.

There is a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. And a while ago, we heard Governor Jeb Bush in a news conference say, look, the storm's been downgraded to a Category 2. It is still a punishing storm. And the last thing they want is someone to get injured by what he referred to as abject stupidity, anybody coming out.

And we are seeing more and more people coming out. And, you know, we go to great pains to ensure our safety.

We've done this on a number of occasions. We've spotted locations where we're safe. And in between our live shots, we get as safe as possible.

But there are a number of people out here. And the only thing, back to the governor's words, abject stupidity.

If any of these palm fronts (ph) blow off, there are some coconut trees, there are signs, it could end in very bad fashion. So it's -- it's not a good time to be out here. But this is what we have seen for hours and hours and hours.

And other thing we heard in that news conference, as opposed to 100-mile-an-hour wind for one hour, if you have 80-mile-an-hour winds for 10 hours, it's going to do all kinds of damage. And that's apparently what the people in this area are going to see. And pretty soon we presume that the tiles from roofs are going to begin to peel back and some of the signs are going to blow down.

The teeth of the storm still hours away from reaching this area. And we've already seen some high drama play out.

FRAZIER: It's drama borne of concern. Those are probably paid employee employees on that yacht there. It's worth well over $1 million, and they're responsible for it. So it may not be stupidity, but, rather, a desperate attempt to do their job.

But the outcome could be the same, Sean. And we're delighted for that update.

CALLEBS: Oh, I'm not -- I wasn't talking about the people on the boat. I'm talking about the people out here looking at the boat. They should be inside or they should be out of this area.

FRAZIER: Indeed. Indeed. But that's the sort of thing that tempts anyone outside.

Sean, thanks for that update. We'll be checking back with you.

We're going to head a little bit farther up the coast now, because, farther north, they're feeling that leading edge of the storm, too. Rain and winds up to 45 miles an hour, hitting much of south Florida. Bill Hemmer has been spending the morning, experiencing a lot of wind and rain in advance of the rest of the storm in Melbourne, Florida -- Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Stephen. Hello from Melbourne, Florida.

Some damage already. The shingles coming off the top of that roof there. Some of the piping along the outside of this hotel, as well, being stripped away slowly.

Sustained winds are tough for us to gauge right now because we don't have the instruments. At the airport in West Melbourne about an hour ago, they clocked winds at 55 miles an hour. They're saying offshore, there are gusts upwards of 80 miles an hour.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) feeling this breeze already that Frances is making her presence felt already. Now, in the last hour, Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, they stressed how Floridians right now are trying to brace themselves for this one-two punch.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE), and now Frances heading east and to the central part of the state. The governor was talking about that a short time ago. Here's Jeb Bush.


GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: We are ready to respond to the storm once it has passed the impacted areas. And that -- that response will be massive. We're not going to divert one penny or one ounce of energy for the folks that are still recovering from a devastating storm of three weeks and a day ago.


HEMMER: And again, Jeb Bush, earlier today. Also, Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, saying that FEMA has put in three times the number of people into this storm, even calling people in as far away as Seattle, Washington, to get ready for the effects of Frances. That is three times the number of people they had when Charley came ashore.

Frances, we know, is a storm that has essentially stalled over the Bahamas. And it appeared for the past two days that the state of Florida was essentially giving the storm the stiff arm. But apparently that stiff arm is weakening today.

We expect the winds to strengthen throughout the afternoon and into the evening hours. Landfall not expected until after midnight later tonight. But at this point, Frances is being felt here.

Off the coast, you can see the surf, white caps forever. We have watched this tide grow for the past three hours. It continues to get higher here. And essentially, the beach up and down is pretty much deserted.

People told to get out and clear out have all left, with the exception of one man who just came out here a short time ago. I don't know if you can see just beyond that palm tree here, the gentleman over there trying to get his own reading on his own wind measurement here.

We'll watch it, Stephen. Back to you now at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

FRAZIER: Bill, thanks so much. If the winds get any stronger there, you'd better set out an anchor for yourself to make sure you don't blow away.

HEMMER: Will do. You got it.

FRAZIER: Talk to you soon.

Let's go back to Sean Callebs now, who has learned some new things about the fate of that very large pleasure yacht that gave such a dramatic illustration of the power of the storm in West Palm Beach, a little farther south from Bill -- Sean.

CALLEBS: Well, Stephen, you're exactly right. It was a crew that was hired to maintain this boat.

The woman who came off was Australian. And she cut her hands pretty badly. An ambulance is now on the way. She wouldn't tell us exactly how they got into that position, only that the captain did lose the one engine and they fought for a long time, trying to get it back up. But again, some drama playing out here.

This sailboat that is again ripped from its moorings, coming down the Intracoastal Waterway as well, perhaps it could catch the tail end of this yacht. Or, if it misses it, it's going to go out beyond either to another area where some sailboats are tying up, or down to that bridge that connects West Palm, where we are, to Palm Beach, the Barrier Islands, just across the way -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: And as you may know, Sean, some of our viewers, too, sailboats generally carry a very small motor for auxiliary power only, and may not be able to generate enough forward momentum to beat the storm. Although it does look like he's trying to do exactly what you just were surmising, Sean, trying to make his way over to that large yacht, use that as something to tie up with.

CALLEBS: Well, we don't know if there's anybody on that sailboat. For all we know, that could have been one that was tied up.

And you can sense the wind now from Frances. It could have been ripped off its moorings. Because this was a boat that came down.

And you're exactly right, this guy has no control over exactly where he's going to be able to pilot it, because lack of engine and certainly he's not going to put sails up in these kind of conditions. But he looks like he's going to be able to skirt this area. But no one has come out.

You can see on the very bough of the luxury yacht that people came over to help that individual. They're now doing what they can to keep that as secure as possible. We're going to try and see if they're going to try to tie off to this as this boat drifts by. It's going to come perilously close to the stern.

FRAZIER: The first yacht, Sean, is going to take a pounding anyway. They don't have any kind of cushions out to keep it off that cement float and then the big pilings, as you mentioned.

CALLEBS: That's right. Exactly.

FRAZIER: So it's in trouble now. And it looks like the sailboat's headed down.

And you mentioned, you made a reference, Sean -- let's explain that -- to a bridge a little downstream there. There's a series of bridges for auto traffic to get over to the Barrier Islands. And they're draw bridges, is that right?

CALLEBS: Yes, they are. And the draw bridge you can't see probably from our vantage point.

Mike, see if we can get down this way a little bit more. We haven't -- we've only seen about one vehicle try to navigate across that bridge today. And we know the draw bridges are closed. They certainly aren't going to open.

FRAZIER: So from mariners, then, Sean...

CALLEBS: And the sailboat now is just drifting on past.

FRAZIER: Right. And it's headed to a bridge which is really just a giant obstruction. It may end up fetched up against there and smashing.

CALLEBS: Yes, exactly. And that's certainly not going to be -- we'll try to work our way around this a little bit to see -- to get a better vantage point of this.

It's going to be difficult. We're going to have to go. Mike -- be careful, Mike. We're out of cable at this point.

But give us a second, Stephen, and we're going to try to go back a little bit and navigate our way around.

FRAZIER: Well, we're grateful for those insights, Sean.

The point of all of this, of course, not that we're so desperately concerned with marine vessels, but, rather, with the people down there. But these boats do provide a dramatic illustration of just how powerful the wind and waves are, even in this internal bit of water whipped up by Hurricane Frances, stalled off the coast here now.

Frances has actually done quite a bit of damage a little offshore. Florida only getting its first taste of Frances right now, but the islands of the Bahamas have been getting pounded by the storm. We can go live there now to CNN's Karl Penhaul, with an update on what it was like in Freeport.


The eye of the hurricane has been passing over Freeport for the last couple or three hours. What that means is things have calmed down a lot. But over the last few minutes, the police and fire engines who were in this part of town, on this highway behind me, have all closed up shop and headed off again. They say that the winds are picking up once again as the tail of Hurricane Frances starts to pass over Grand Bahama.

Now, what was the impact through the night? Well, power across the island is all down. Some of the telephone systems have gone down.

There's also been extensive flooding. A lot of the island on the north and south shores is now under a meter and a half -- six feet of water. A couple of neighborhoods that were thought not to be at risk did, in fact, get flooded.

And so, overnight, people had to take to the roofs of their homes to escape that water. And large trucks, fire trucks and other four- wheel drive trucks have been making their way through those high waters to try to pull those people to safety. From what the authorities tell us so far, 200 people have been taken to safety. But as the winds whip up again, part of that rescue operation seems to have been put on hold. About 100 people still seem to be in one of the areas of risk. And again, as the tail end of this storm blows in, the tides could rise again, the six-feet waters could rise higher, and those people could be at greater risk -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Low-lying areas, all, Karl. Very good construction there, we understand, but still a lot of property at risk. And people may be tempted to try to save property, rather than think wisely about their own safety.

PENHAUL: And also, much so from what we've seen, Stephen, most of the people have pulled out from, initially at least, the areas that were suggested to be at risk, those closest to the ocean. Most people pulled back over the last two days into the interior of the island, either to shelters or the other hotels.

But as I say, the area is now under weigh water. Those that nobody deemed would be at risk -- and the flooring has gone that far. But we've seen no real scramble for people to save property, except for a few things that they could carry out of their homes, a mattress, a few bits of food as well -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: All right. Karl, we want to explain to our viewers that the delay in our conversation back and forth is occasioned by the use of our technology, which we're delighted to have up. We hope it will stay up through the force of the storm, and we look forward to talking with you as the day progresses.

Karl Penhaul, from Freeport, Bahamas. Thank you.

A lot to come this hour. Former President Clinton, as you may have heard, is in a hospital awaiting heart bypass surgery. We'll bring you an update on that.

Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the town of a deadly school siege in the southern part of his nation. We understand he'll be holding a news conference in a short time.

So stay with CNN. An awful lot happening, in addition to this big storm parked just off the coast of Florida. News of Frances all day today.


FRAZIER: And you see there a list of all of the possible outcome and the sorts of damage that a large storm like Frances can cause. I don't think our list includes setting large yachts adrift.

But let's go back now to West Palm Beach, Florida, where our Sean Callebs has moved his position to get a little closer to the action. And has now made contact with the skipper of that very large yacht which fought its way back to shore -- Sean.

CALLEBS: Exactly, Stephen. We're here with Henning Heineman. And you say that you were contracted to baby-sit thorough this -- this yacht through the storm.


CALLEBS: You got a little more than you bargained for, didn't you?

HEINEMAN: Yes. I lost a lot of systems, ended up with just one engine and no steering and no bough thruster. So did what I could. The anchors drug, did what I could to stick it in the hole here and try to save it as much as I could, keep us off the bridge.

CALLEBS: And for those of us who watched this play out, how did you get in this position? Was it ripped from its moorings?

HEINEMAN: What's that?

CALLEBS: How did it get out in the intracoastal? Was it ripped from its moorings.

HEINEMAN: No, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I anchored out two anchors yesterday. We sat there all night beautifully, and then a big -- when the big band lines came through, it gave us about, I guess, over 90- knot winds. And I think we broke loose the anchors and they never hooked up again.

Then I lost an engine. Then I lost the generator that runs the bough thruster. And the engine that I lost is the one that runs the steering. So I was just kind of, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CALLEBS: And you also mentioned that one of the props was damaged as well. So you were...

HEINEMAN: No, I don't think one of the props was damaged.

CALLEBS: So what were you thinking as you came down here? You made one run, to tried to tie off. And at the piling, the pole simply ripped out. Was there a point you thought, this boat is too big, the conditions are just too much?

HEINEMAN: No, I just had to put it in differently.

CALLEBS: You make it sound like it was so easy. But for people standing here, and all the other people who are familiar with it, they said you did an amazing job.

HEINEMAN: Well, thanks.

CALLEBS: A little too cool. Now, would you recommend anybody being in this kind of situation? What was -- there was no way to avoid what happened. I mean, basically...

HEINEMAN: Well, no, I mean, you can see all the other boats. You watched the boat go under the bridge, you see the boats sitting on the pilings over here.

I just wanted to get it in behind -- I saw this breakwater here, and I wanted to get it in behind the breakwater to protect it. And I wounded up facing west, because when the storm clocks up north, the winds are going to come out of the west. And now she'll be facing into the winds, and she's at least semi-secured.

CALLEBS: And the sailboat that we saw come down earlier, we should tell people it got to the bridge.

HEINEMAN: And it went under the bridge.

CALLEBS: The mast went under and then it plopped back up. And now it's going on down presumably for the next bridge.

HEINEMAN: It will head on down until it catches up on something.

CALLEBS: Now, who was your -- who was the person on board with you? Because she cut her hands kind of badly. An ambulance is now on the way.

HEINEMAN: Oh, OK. Lucy (ph). I didn't know she was hurt. That's my mate, Andrea (ph).

CALLEBS: Yes. If you want to go attend to her, she just went in. But an ambulance is on the way.

HEINEMAN: Yes, I would like to see what happened to her.

CALLEBS: OK. Henning, amazing job getting that craft in there.

HEINEMAN: Well, thanks.

CALLEBS: And be safe. Be safe.

HEINEMAN: All right.


CALLEBS: He's a little too cavalier for this kind of condition. Certainly don't want to recommend anybody else get out in these kind of -- this kind of weather and this kind of boat. But perhaps his coolness may be allaying the concern, the anxiety that he must have felt as he tried to drift (ph) that luxury yacht and put into that area -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: You're right, Sean. He's giving us that kind of super- cool, jet fighter pilot attitude. But what he did was pretty -- pretty well handled in very desperate moments. And thanks for that update, and for giving us a chance to -- to meet with him. Sean Callebs in West Palm Beach, we'll be back.

And now, we're going to talk to Rob Marciano, who is in our weather center, keeping an eye on the actual movement of the storm itself, and to give us a better sense of what kind of effects it is producing not only where Sean is, Rob, but up and down the coast. Good to see you.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good to see you, Stephen. We'll start where Sean is. He's a pretty large guy, and he's having a good time staying put. And a smaller man would get probably get blown around just a little bit more.

We've had a series of wind gusts well over 80 miles an hour around the West Palm Beach area. Jupiter inlet reporting wind gusts of over 90 miles an hour.

We'll zoom into the West Palm Beach area and where the yacht club is located, right around in through here. And, you know, you may ask, how can it possibly be that rough along the Intracoastal Waterway when you've got it pretty much surrounded by land? Well, the Intracoastal runs north to south.

Right now, the winds are out of the north, and they're driving south. So they've got a long fetch of water to go through, with winds gusting 89 miles an hour. You've got some serious seas, and banging around those boats in there.

So it's not necessarily a safe harbor right now. But as time goes on, and those winds begin to switch to the east, the actual shoreline will get battered. And you'll see that from our correspondents as well.

All right. This is some good stuff from our VIPIR Doppler. We also have the ability to estimate the amount of rainfall that we expect to see here in the next 24 to 36 hours. That, as we know, on top of the wind, is going to be a major player.

These arrows indicate the winds as of Monday in the morning. So the center of this thing will be here. Then we'll roll the animation, and watch how the rains begin to pile up along the shoreline and then move inland.

Just how much rain, you ask? Well, we'll bang it out for numbers.

Melbourne, for instance, over a foot of rain expected by Monday morning, 16.4 inches, according to this particular weather model. Even more so at Daytona Beach, 18.1 inches.

So a tremendous amount of water expected to dump not only from the clouds, but also from the wind driving those waves on shore. And that will come later on today once they turn easterly. Right now, they're going north to south, and the Intracoastal is a rough, rough area to be in right now.

All right. Back to the other composite, if we could, Dee (ph), and show me the other radar I have lined up for you.

And we can see the eye of this thing offshore. There's Grand Bahama. And the next batch of steady rain about to move onshore probably in about two to three hours.

And this is some serious steady rain, and also some serious wind. And that's going to be moving onshore. And you're going to feel the effects of that. I mean, it's just going to go on all afternoon.

Obviously, flooding is going to be an issue. Look at this. Almost the entire state of Florida is under a flood watch. And we showed you those numbers from our computer model estimates. Probably going to see a foot or more of rainfall as this thing slowly moves off to the west.

How about winds? This is our wind field estimation. Look how wide the wind field is.

This red area is hurricane-force winds, about 200-mile swath, until it heads inland late tonight and tomorrow, and then it will decrease in intensity. So we have hurricane warnings that are still up for the northwestern Bahamas, from Florida City, northward towards Daytona and Flagler Beach, and then tropical storm warnings up to the Georgia shoreline.

And I should mention, the Georgia shoreline, the South Carolina- North Carolina shoreline, they're going to see rough surf with this as well, with rip currents a big problem, not only across the Carolinas, but probably all the way up in through parts of the Northeast, including Long Island and Jersey -- and the Jersey shores.

Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, you're not going to feel the brunt of this system. You're seeing northwesterly winds, offshore winds. You won't see much of a storm surge at all.

But north of that, Stephen, especially north of West Palm Beach, up towards Cape Canaveral, Melbourne, they're the ones that are going to see the storm surge. But not for several hours, because right now the winds are to the north. The Intracoastal is the rough place to be.

And we saw that amazing, dramatic, live video from that guy trying to park that yacht. Amazing stuff. We'll keep you updated throughout the morning and afternoon, of course.

Back to you.

FRAZIER: We are glad for those updates, Rob. A very clear explanation of what's happening. And very powerful tools there to illustrate all of the points we were trying to make earlier.

MARCIANO: It's good stuff.

FRAZIER: So we're glad you're with us.

MARCIANO: Thanks, man.

FRAZIER: See you in a little bit.

We're going to take a little break here to try to catch our breath. And when we come back, we'll be going to Beslan, the southern part of Russia, where Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with the rescuers and with the families of the rescued at that school siege that has ended so badly. Just stay with us for details.


FRAZIER: Back now to West Palm Beach, Florida. And through the view of the pilings there, you can just see slipping southward another yacht which has lost its moorings, lost its anchor. Let's go to Sean Callebs, who is becoming our yacht salvage correspondent for the moment -- Sean.

CALLEBS: Well, Stephen, also, if we can point out -- Mike, if we can get up -- you can see on the bridge now there are a number of emergency vehicles up there. Apparently there are fire trucks, some kind of law enforcement officers. People -- a number of people getting out on there as well.

I'm going to stand up here, probably against my better judgment, to get a better view. And clearly, these people are trying to get a handle on the situation as best as possible.

There is a sailboat -- now I see why. There's a sailboat wedged -- if you look right through there, a sailboat wedged underneath the boat that connects West Palm to Palm Beach. They're trying to secure it, or trying to figure out if there's any way they can make it go under.

Stephen, as you know, the ballast on those pretty amazing. So this boat, theoretically, could go under with the mast and then pop up on the other side and continue going down the Intracoastal.

And the other sailboat is now just coming into view as it heads down. And it could be making a path straight on to that other one.

Clearly, the winds of Frances are wreaking havoc in this area of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. And Stephen, you talked about it earlier. This really shows just how powerful this storm is.

And we heard in the news briefing earlier today, rather than a hurricane that comes in, say, Category 3 or 4, with 100-mile-an-hour winds for an hour or so, if you have 80-mile-an-hour winds for 10, 15 or 20 hours, the amount of damage that is going to be done is going to be extremely significant.

But now, look. It appears this sailboat is indeed on a crash course for this bridge. Don't know if it's going to be able to take the mast under and pop up on the other side, or if it's going to make contact right with the cement block, right in the middle of it.

FRAZIER: Well, it may not be apparent to our viewers, Sean. Although these sail -- the sailing yachts are relatively light weight and fragile, they can do a lot of damage, even to a structure as heavy and as well built as a bridge, because they've got tons of lead in the keels, and that can smash up against a fixed structure. And then all that aluminum in the mast can tear things up, too.

Go ahead, Sean. CALLEBS: And we were able to talk with three passersby who have sailing experience, and they were able to go out and help this luxury yacht that's right out this way. And they said on the other side of the yacht, there's a huge gash on the side of it.

And right now, even though it may be tied off, you're exactly right, Stephen. There's no tires (ph), there's no cushion, there's nothing. That boat is going to continue to slam against the dock, continue to slam against the cement jetty, and continue to hit those pilings.

So while it may be safe and secure, the damage is going to be significant. And now the sailboat went under.

You may be able to see it. It looks like its popped up on the other side. The mast clearly broken.

So that boat to a certain degree is going to suffer some serious damage. But that one is still stuck. It looks like at least one of the emergency vehicles is pulling away from the area.

This is something, I'm sure, that authorities had the possibility that something like this could happen, but certainly didn't want it to play out, and doing everything they can to keep this as safe as possible. And we don't know if there are any passengers, any crewmembers on that sailboat.

But we talked to the skipper who was hired to oversea the Explorer One (ph) luxury yacht. He said it's very common for these kind of luxury crafts -- luxury crafts to sort of anchor in the middle of the Intracoastal Waterway and try and ride it out as best as possible. If they're anchored against here, you can see there are virtually no boats in the Palm Beach Yacht Club.

A lion's share of these boats made the run days earlier down to the Keys. And they are in relative safety compared to what these boats are going through -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: And, you know, we're presuming that there's nobody on board, because we don't see anything happens, Sean. But what a great fear on the part of the rescuers could be is that the owners of these boats anchored, went below, tried to get some rest below the storm, it blew in, and they might have gotten knocked around down below, with the boat all sealed up to keep them safe and dry, until they need to come up top sides again.

CALLEBS: Exactly.

FRAZIER: And there could be somebody on board those unconscious that they don't know even know about, who is in danger of drowning now.

CALLEBS: Yes. These boats are also extraordinarily buoyant. I mean, that's the one thing we've seen play out.

You've seen some of the movies and dramas that really highlight the various events that the skippers of these crafts crossing international waters, riding out tremendous hurricanes. In fact, if you go back to that book, "The Perfect Storm," there was one sailboat that was trying to make a run down from the northeast down to the Bahamas area, and it was able to -- to stay up through a large part of that storm.

But the problem with this one sailboat, it is wedged against the bridge. It is not able to go under and pop up on the other side like the other two sailboats we've seen. And the wind's really picking up.

Mike, if we can pan over this way, over toward the jetty, you can see just how fierce conditions are getting out here right now. And remember, the teeth of the storm still hours and hours away.

So as bad as the situation has been throughout the day, it's going to get a lot worse. And this boat is going to take a pounding for 24 hours or so. So the damage could be significant. And we can only presume that she's taking on water if the hole in the side is as large as the one rescuer portrayed it to be -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: I guess a lot depends on how high above the water line the hole is. Now, one thing Rob Marciano told us, Sean, is that these winds are more ferocious than you might expect at this point because they're blowing due south. And the waterway that you're showing us now with these views runs north and south.

So it's, in effect, like having a very powerful leaf blower aimed right down the chute here. And that may ease as the storm gets closer and the winds become more east to west.

CALLEBS: Yes, exactly. The wind was coming at a dramatically different angle earlier today. And now -- it was coming in from -- basically, if you look across here to Palm Beach, the wind earlier in the day was coming around and coming through that way.

Well, now, it's blowing in from this way. So you're exactly right. And the conditions are extremely fierce out here.

We want to go back to what we heard the governor and what we heard so many other people say throughout the day. Look, this is no place to be. It may have been downgraded from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2 storm, and it may be fascinating to see something like this play out, but it is dangerous.

And once this wind continues to pick up, more of these palm fronts (ph) are going to be coming down. In fact, that's a coconut tree right there. And you can imagine turning those things into a whole host of missiles, the damage it can do.

Signs are down. We're seeing a giant tree down on the street just down from us. So it's really starting to feel -- see the punishing effects of the storm. No longer just seeing the wind pick up on the coastal waterway and the trees bent. We are actually starting to see some damage now.

FRAZIER: Sean, you're making us nervous for your own personal safety. We're glad for these insights, and we hope you stay well so we can come back to you in the course of the day. Thanks very much for this stuff right now.

We're going to give you a quick update now on Hurricane Frances. South Florida watching, waiting as this massive, very slow-moving storm inches its way toward the region.

Right now, Frances is a Category 2 hurricane. Winds of about just 100 miles an hour, 105, moving at about six miles an hour only. And forecasters say that's trouble because it could strengthen as it hovers out there, moving toward Florida.

Most of the state's east coast under a hurricane warning. And we're watching the storm minute by minute. The next update from the National Hurricane Center coming at the top of the hour.

Ahead of the storm's arrival, Florida has already ordered the biggest evacuation in its history. It covers almost 2.5 million people told to get away from the coast. Some of those on the run are taking refuge in an unlikely place, the Florida Keys, an area which is far enough south not to be under a hurricane warning, even for this large storm.

Now let's head to Russia, where things played out so badly late in the week, with outrage building about the school hostage shootout in Russia, now known to have left over 300 people dead. President Vladimir Putin has just spoken on national television. He is telling his nation that Russia must unite to defeat terrorism. Our Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty, has more on the reaction.

Jill, thanks for joining us.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Steve, you know, some Russians have said that this past week, which has seen in just a little over a week three major terrorist attacks, is really almost like Russia's 9/11. And if there was a speech that was like a 9/11 speech, albeit short, that was what President Putin was trying to do today.

He made the speech to the public on television after he went down to the town of Beslan, where this tragedy took place. He visited the hospital where some 700 people were taken after, and some of them released. But many are still critically injured. And, of course, we have the very sad death toll, 322 people, and half of them are children.

President Putin trying to rally the country. He said in -- perhaps some cold comfort for the families that the terrorists, 26 of them, have been killed. And then he said, "The terrorists think they can paralyze our society. As president, and as citizen, I am convinced that there's simply no choice."


PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): In this unprecedented series of attacks by terrorists, this new call from the president or by the government or parliament. This was a calling out, a call out to all of Russia, to our entire people.

This was an attack on our country. The terrorists consider that they are stronger than us, that they can frighten us by their cruelty, that they can paralyze our will and paralyze our society. And it would seem as if we had a choice to give way to them, to resist them, or to agree with them, to go along with them, to abandon our will, allow them to destroy and to disperse Russia, so that eventually they would leave us in peace.

As the president, the head of the Russian state, as a man who gave his oath to defend the country and its territorial integrity, and simply as a citizen of Russia, I am convinced that in reality, there is no choice, simply no choice. We have simply no choice, because are we going to allow ourselves to be blackmailed and to abandon ourselves to panic? In that case, we will betray millions of people and we will get involved in more and more bloody conflicts (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and in the caucuses and in many other tragedies which are known to us.


DOUGHERTY: So President Putin, again, trying to rally the Russian people who are deeply shaken after this happened. And some new details coming out even this afternoon of how all of this went down. The Russian authorities are saying that some people, about 20 hostages, were actually shot, execution style, before that storming in which, after the roof collapsed, most of the people were killed -- Steve.

FRAZIER: Some of the analysts we've been talking to, Jill, say the worst-case scenario may have played out here. That they understand that some of the terrorists who were killed are not actually Chechen separatists but come from Arab countries, one from an African country. And they're worried that that means there now is a linkage between the Chechen rebels and international terrorism, and that that bodes very poorly for Russia's efforts here now.

Any sense of new intelligence on that?

DOUGHERTY: Well, that is exactly what they're saying, that they found 10 that they have identified of those terrorists who, they say, came from Arab countries. They have not given names, they have not said precisely where they're from.

But if this turns out to be correct, it would actually support what President Vladimir Putin has been maintaining all along, that there is a connection, both in terms of personnel and in terms of financial backing, a connection between international terrorists and especially groups like al Qaeda and some of the Chechen so-called rebel movement in Russia.

He has said there's definitely a link. Others have criticized that. But now the Russians are saying, "We have the proof."

FRAZIER: All right. That's very important on a geopolitical stage. Of course, the details coming from Beslan heartbreaking on a family and personal level. And Jill Dougherty, we're grateful that you're bringing us those today, and we look forward to hearing more from you.

And we are going to hear a little bit more about the fate of former President Bill Clinton, hospitalized over the weekend, preparing for open heart surgery -- or at least heart bypass surgery, to correct myself there. We'll bring you details from the hospital and from our expert here when we come back.

Stay with Headline -- sorry, CNN.


FRAZIER: Well, it seems his love of fast food in the past has finally caught up with him, or at least that's what he jokes himself. We wouldn't presume to say that ourselves. Bill Clinton will undergo heart bypass surgery early next week. CNN's Maria Hinojosa joins us now from New York City, where the former president is in the hospital this morning, and where she's been keeping watch for hours now -- Maria.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN URBAN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Since 4:00 a.m., actually, this morning, because there was some possibility that the surgery could take place overnight, that surgery has been postponed to some time early next week. We have not been given a date.

We have not been told who's going to be performing the surgery or how many surgeons will be there. And we've been told that the next update that we're going to get will be after the surgery has been completed. But there are still about two full blocks of live trucks here, sitting -- a kind of vigil here for the former president.

Now, he says that he is optimistic. His wife says that he is in good humor. And according to "The Washington Post," Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, called President Clinton last night. Jokingly, he said to him, "It seems like you're going to extreme measures to take some of the publicity away from the Republican National Convention."

The president then reportedly laughed. And at this point, even though he is preparing for this open heart surgery, he did take calls from President Bush and former President Gerald Ford. And then he took time to call into CNN.


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of this is genetic. And I may have done some damage in those years when I was too careless about what I have ate. So for whatever reasons, I've got a problem and I've got a chance to deal with it. And I feel that I've really got to -- let me just say this: Republicans aren't the only people that want four more years here.


HINOJOSA: Clearly, his humor is still working, even though he was calling from his hospital bed. Now, actually, if you're in good health, the risk of death with this operation is about one to two percent. It's the most common heart operation in this country. About half a million people have it every year in this country.

And once the operation is completed, the former president can expect to spend three to five days here at the hospital, and within a month be back to pretty much normal activities. Whether or not that means that he'll be hitting the campaign trail for Senator John Kerry, if he does, that would mean that he'd be just in the beginning of the month of October and able to stump for president -- for Senator John Kerry.

Back to you, Stephen.

FRAZIER: You know, that would be no surprise, knowing his stamina and his love of the campaign trail. Maria Hinojosa, thanks very much for that update and for the little bit of good news coming from there. It's also good to see a little bit of humor this morning.

About 300,000 Americans undergo this kind of heart bypass every year. It's fairly routine. And as Maria was mentioning, it is totally safe when the patient's otherwise in good health, as is the former president.

Our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is joining us now to give us a little bit more of a sense of the surgery and also of cardiovascular disease. We do know that the president, for example, had elevated cholesterol and slightly high blood pressure, and was overweight for a long time. So this is something that people want to learn a lot about, because a lot of us are in that condition.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, and sometimes that's all it takes, along with a bad diet and bad genes. Sometimes that's all you need to have heart disease, unfortunately.

Now, Steve just mentioned the president in good health. He's also relatively young for this operation, just turned 58. The average age of a person having this kind of bypass surgery is 65. So those two things put together means there's an excellent chance that the surgery will go very smoothly.


COHEN (voice-over): A few hours in the operating room, a few days in the hospital, and several weeks of recovery at home. That's what Bill Clinton has in front of him.

First, the surgery. After opening the chest cavity, doctors take healthy blood vessels, usually from the legs, and attach them to the heart, allowing blood to bypass the blockages in diseased arteries.

The arteries rarely clog up again. In fact, 90 percent of people who have bypass surgery have clear arteries 20 years later. According to the American Heart Association, the death rate for this surgery for someone who is young and relatively healthy, like Clinton, is less than one percent. After the surgery...

DR. HARVEY HECHT, BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CENTER: Typically, he'll be out of bed by the next day, starting to walk a little bit. And hopefully out the door of the hospital by four days, engaging in a cardiac rehabilitation program and feeling pretty normal, we would hope, by about two months after the surgery.

COHEN: But the recovery doesn't end there. Doctors give bypass patients strict orders for the rest of their lives.

HECHT: He will have to be on an appropriate diet, lose weight, be physically active.

COHEN: The recovery isn't just physical.

DR. LAURENCE SPERLING, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: We know very well from scientific studies that it's not uncommon for individuals to suffer some degree of emotional trauma related to the procedure.

COHEN: Depression and anxiety set in sometimes after bypass surgery because the patient all of a sudden is faced with his or her mortality.

SPERLING: And this is a major life event. This is a major wake- up call.

COHEN: And because patients like Clinton are told to reduce stress, sometimes type A people like Clinton miss being in the center of things, on the go all the time, and have a hard time following doctors' orders to slow down.

SPERLING: He's got to recognize that number one right now has got to be his own health and recovery from this procedure.

COHEN: Former President Clinton is one of the lucky one. Many people with sudden chest pain have heart attacks and die immediately. They don't get a second chance.


COHEN: Hospitals that do bypass surgery have former rehabilitation programs -- they're very structured -- to help patients learn how to change their lives after the surgery.

FRAZIER: And we talk about this as being routine and very safe, but let's not minimize just how invasive it is. This is the kind -- we don't know exactly what procedure the president is going to have performed, but normally, they saw through your breast bone and pull your ribs aside a little bit to make room. They really traumatize you getting in there to do the job.

COHEN: Right, absolutely. We saw in that animation that you -- I mean, you have to open up the chest, basically, to get in there, and you're operating right there right on the heart. So, you're right, we don't want to minimize it, even though probably everybody knows someone who has had bypass surgery.

But yes, it is a big deal. It takes months to get back to normal.

FRAZIER: Well, we are grateful for an insight on what that is like. And we'll be talking with you as this week progresses, one that's so eventful in the life of former President Clinton, and good guidance for all of us on what we may face.

COHEN: We can all learn.

FRAZIER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for joining us.

Getting late word now that we're able now to talk to Ryan Chilcote, CNN's correspondent in Beslan, southern Russia. This, of course, the site of the siege that ended after about 50 hours in -- just a horrible situation, and where the full ramifications of that are still being learned at this hour.

Ryan, what can you tell us now?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The official death toll now stands at 323. Nearly half of the dead, children between the ages of seven and 17. Of course, they were at the school for their first day of school. They were at a celebration. Many of these kids between the first and 11th grades.

Now, that number is expected to rise, because they're still pulling bodies from the gymnasium. That's where most of the hostages were being kept.

They're still pulling bodies from the debris of the gymnasium. As you may remember, the roof collapsed there. But it's one thing, Stephen, to talk about the number of bodies of children, and another thing, of course, to see them.

And when these bodies are pulled out of the debris from the gymnasium, they're brought to a morgue. And that's where the families then go to identify them.

We sent a crew there earlier today. And we have some very disturbing pictures. You see about 200 bodies inside this morgue. In some cases, entire families lined up.

Remember that there was a party that was going on because it was the first day of school. So a lot of the children came with their parents, their grandmothers, their fathers.

Very emotional scenes there, as people go through the body bags and the remains looking for their loved ones. Some, of course, can't be identified. They were too charred by some fires that broke out inside that school. In those cases, DNA testing will be done.

Also, Russian officials have allowed journalists to approach the school now to see the bodies of the militants. Russian officials are saying that there were 26 hostage-takers that were killed in yesterday's fighting. They say that -- that the entire group was made up of about 30, or perhaps a few more fighters.

They say that about 10 of those, they believe, were Arab nationals. But there's no independent way of confirming that -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Getting details, Ryan, that give us a sense of just how selectively and perversely this target was chosen by the terrorists. There were about 840 pupils and students, we understand. Normally they work in two shifts. They come -- half of them come in the morning, the rest in the afternoon.

Apparently, customary there -- fill me in here -- customary for the first day of school to be spent in a celebration in which all those relatives you listed come to school for a good part of the day to meet the teacher and get the year off to a big start. So the terrorists picked a particularly poignant moment -- Ryan.

CHILCOTE: Yes, it was -- it's practically a holiday in Russia, the first day of school. Everyone comes with their parents, or at least one of their parents, or their grandparents.

There's music. The teachers at the school officially welcome the students. There's usually a little bit of food and dancing.

It's a really big deal. And, of course, it was just as that was getting under way in front of the school when the armed men and women seized the school and started shooting at the people that had gathered out in front, the parents, the teachers, and the kids, and forced them in. Some people started to flee. That's when the hostage-takers used their snipers and actually opened fire on some of the fleeing people -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: Yes, it's our understanding, Ryan -- fill us in if this is correct -- that there were actually people up on the roof, hostage- takers, as you call them, snipers, shooting at the fleeing children from the rooftop.

CHILCOTE: That's right. That -- well, not on the first day.

On the first day, the snipers took up their positions immediately, right outside the school, as they seized it and started shooting at the fleeing children, killing about 20 people. And then when the siege -- siege ended, basically there were two explosions inside the gymnasium, perhaps accidental detonations by the hostage- takers themselves with some explosives they had in there.

A bunch of children tried to flee. And then the snipers, these hostage-takers, snipers that were on the roof, opened fire on the children that were fleeing. It was then when Russian forces returned fire. And seven hours later, that's how we -- the seven hours later, the fighting ended, and that's how we got to these absolutely horrific casualties. This is the worst terrorist act, the worst hostage-taking crisis in Russian history -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: And coming, Ryan -- and we're grateful for those insights from Beslan -- coming, of course at the end of a terrible week in Russia. Two civil aircraft knocked down, an explosion just outside a metro station, a subway station in central Moscow. A very hard time for people there.

Ryan Chilcote reporting from Beslan. We'll have more from him throughout the day as we learn more.

And, of course, we're keeping an eye on that big storm parked just off the coast of Florida, Frances. More details on its whereabouts and intentions when we come back.



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