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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Hurricane Ivan Batters Gulf Coast; Panel Discusses Martha Stewart's Decision

Aired September 15, 2004 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Hurricane Ivan: it could be bigger than Frances, stronger than Charley, and it's already beating up the Gulf Coast. Expected to make landfall by 4:00 am somewhere between Louisiana and the Florida panhandle. We've got reporters live along the storm front with all the latest.
Plus, later, Martha Stewart makes a dramatic announcement: She's going to go to jail now! We'll get into it with Court TV's Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor, and defense attorney Chris Pixley. And it's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

CNN, your best network to cover a breaking story, is on top of this one. We'll be on top of the Ivan story around the clock. Let's first to WABC TV weatherman Sam Champion in New York, the safety of confines of being inside. Why aren't you out there?

SAM CHAMPION, WABC TV: Larry, for my opinion, and I've been down there and covered damage before, but you can't watch a storm work from out there. I think it's a great place to be for a reporter to show you wind and water and wave and interview the people. But if you actually want to forecast a storm, you got to do it from in here. We've got the satellites, we've got the radars, we're watching the pressures, we're watching the storm.

KING: In other words, you can't cover a war from a Foxhole?

CHAMPION: It's difficult to, because you only have that one perspective. And this storm, in particular, is going -- Ivan is going to affect so many people all over the southeast. It's not just landfall, where the storm, the impact will be big for the cameras. The impact is going to be heavy rain, heavy wind, flooding, tornadoes, and it's all over the southeast, every state and most of the communities throughout the Southeastern U.S. will be impacted by this storm.

KING: Let's check with Rob Marciano, meteorologist, CNN news and weather anchor, he's in Mobile, Alabama. Is Mobile going to be the hardest hit?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It appears so right now, Larry. That is the center point where -- we've been tracking this thing now for two days. It looked like we'll be right in the center of the eye of this thing. And it continues to pass to the north. Right now, it's just over 100 miles due south, moving north 12 miles an hour. We expect the eye of this to come right over Mobile Bay, Larry, overnight tonight, 2:00, 3:00 a.m. KING: Does that mean that New Orleans got a break here?

MARCIANO: Big time. Big time. They're probably seeing the worst off the action right now, because they have the east winds. And then they'll see northeast winds later on as it passes. But they certainly got a break with this thing passing to the east.

Any city that has this thing passing well to their East gets a break. If it passes just to your west, you're in the heart of the hardest part of the storm. And, well, right now, Mobile may just get a dead-on hit.

KING: Now, I know Mobile. I know that area of the country. And Mobile and Panama City are not far from each other. So, Dave Mattingly in Panama City, Florida, what's the story where you are?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, this storm turned deadly very quickly. There was a band of sever weather that came out ahead of Hurricane Ivan's arrival. It spawned five tornadoes in Bay County, killing two people. They're still assessing all the damage. They're calling it widespread and severe in some areas. Widespread power outages to report, already, here.

Now, mind you, we are very far east of where Ivan is making landfall. And we are not seeing that much rain, we are not seeing that much wind, and already the fatalities have occurred here.

So, this storm becoming very deadly, very quick for the people on this side of the storm, Larry.

KING: Let's check with an old friend, Robin Roberts, used to cover sports. It was a lot easier than this. She's a news anchor for "Good Morning America." Look at her. You lived through Camille, didn't you?

ROBIN ROBERTS, GOOD MORNING AMERICA ANCHOR: Yes. And sports is looking really good right now, Larry. And I'm glad you gave Sam Champion a hard time being inside the studio.

But, yes. I lived through Hurricane Camille in 1969. About 60 miles west of here in Biloxi, Mississippi, my dad was in the Air Force at the time. Luckily, his office was a shelter, so we got to stay in his office building -- his office. And I'm tell you, the wind was howling, 200 miles an hour winds, there was over 200 deaths during Hurricane Camille. But as the destruction -- the death really occurs after a Hurricane, Larry. That's what you have to be most concerned about is when people are going out after the storm. But it's really picking up here, as others have been saying right now.

KING: How bad is Mobile right now?

ROBERTS: We're seeing a lot of gusts. We're in downtown Mobile a short distance from the Mobile River that feeds into Mobile Way. And I'm tell you, it's a ghost town. There's a mandatory curfew. The only vehicles we're seeing out are emergency vehicles and police officers, everybody else is in. And if they haven't evacuated, they've been told to stay where they are and just batten down the hatches.

KING: Thank you very much. We've got correspondents all over the scene, as we said. CNN will be covering this 24 hours a day until Ivan dissipates. And that may not be that quickly.

Right now, let's got down to Miami, Florida. And we're going to check in with Max Mayfield. Max is director of the National Hurricane Center, another place I'm very familiar with. Max, how big, how bad?

MAX MAYFIELD, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: I've got it cranked way up and I can't hear.

KING: All right. Max, can you hear me now? They told me to check with Max at five minutes after, and I did what I was told.

All right. Sam Champion, how big and how bad?

CHAMPION: It's big and bad, Larry. It's been very rare for a category four hurricane to hit that panhandle area of Florida, or even the Mississippi/Alabama shoreline. We've watched this thing put together a beautiful shaped eye from above. It is big. It is well- defined. It didn't weaken very much at all in the past few hours, all the things you'd like to see happen.

You'd like to see that eye wall crumble a little bit. You'd like to see it look like it's going to weaken before it pounds on to a shoreline. It did not, today. Ivan really kept itself together.

So this thing extends, the clouds are already well into a good part of northern Georgia and all the way down to the tip of Florida. This is a monster sized storm. It is as big as Francis and as powerful as Charley. Plus, it's got the whole added problem of bringing all that extra added water along the shoreline.

So, as everyone's been saying, anywhere from Mobile Bay, kind of east into the Florida panhandle, that's going to be a tough zone, because there's going to be this wall of water. And the waves are 30 feet, at least, in the beginning of the head of the storm. And that's on top of the storm surge is what you've got to label it.

And the storm surge is 16 feet above normal tide. So, any building or any structure that's within that zone, and that comes into about 15, 20 feet above sea level, is going to get that extra water, and for the first few miles. And then this thing moves in, the topography of the land will make wind gusts even stronger, and then will create some bad weather in the form of severe thunderstorm and tornadoes.

We've already seen an afternoon full of them in Florida and also through Georgia, Larry.

KING: And Rob Marciano, how far does it go? Does it go through Georgia? Does it go to South Carolina? Where does it go?

MARCIANO: Hey, once this thing comes through Mobile Bay, Larry, it's forecast to actually slow down quite a bit. As we get through the Appalachians, we could see a ton of rain from this thing. It's going to go up through Alabama, it will skim northwest Georgia, and then up the Appalachians, slowly.

And with this, not only the wind, but once it gets inland, it's going to bring with it a lot of rain and we're going to see some flooding with this as well.

So, it's not going to be done once we get the eye passed us tomorrow, that's for sure. And on top of that, hurricane force winds may very well carry inland up to 150 miles. It's quite a storm. And it's going to be with us for quite some time.

KING: And Gary Tuchman, our old friend, is the CNN national correspondent. He's at Gulf Shores, Alabama. And I understand you're with us by videophone, I guess. What's the situation there, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, we're with you by videophone, because we want to be in a situation where we can get out very quickly. And using the videophone, we're literally able to pack it up in under 5 minutes and move out.

But we're near the beach town of Gulf Shores, which is about 50 miles to the southeast of Mobile. And it's to the east of where this eye wall is going to come in. The winds have been sustained about 40 miles an hour, Larry. I will tell you, that the town is completely abandoned. We have not seen one civilian in this beach town.

We have seen for the last three hours flooding start, even before the rain started to come down, the water was up to our shins in the middle of the main street along the beach, there were wood planks from the beach, other items floating around in the streets. We going to have a major flooding problem there. And Larry, many of the houses in this beach town are on stilts right by the water, they are extremely vulnerable.

KING: Robin Roberts in Mobile, are you in any danger?

ROBERTS: No. Well yes, there's a hurricane coming, Larry, everyone is in danger in this area. But we've taken all the precautions that we pretty much can. But I'm a little concerned, because having been in Hurricane Camille, I like to be in buildings that have gone through a hurricane. And where we're bunkered down has not seen a storm.

The last storm that came through Mobile of this magnitude was in 1974, also a category 4 in Hurricane Frederick. So, people around here are very familiar.

But I got to tell you, what's really scary, Larry, we know we're going to lose power at some point. And like when we went through Camille, it's in the middle of the night, you're hearing all these sounds. Even now, I hear something, and a tree branch will be falling, and there's a truck or something, and your mind is going crazy thinking it's something worse than it is.

But we keep thinking, we're still hours away from the eye coming across here. So we know it's only going to get worse.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more as we cover Ivan across as it heads right toward shore to Mobile, Alabama, and points west and east and then eventually north. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Before we get get back with our reporters on the scene, let's go to Birmingham, Alabama, and Michael Brown, undersecretary of homeland security for emergency preparedness and response, and director of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

How tough is it, Michael, how pressed is your agency when we have one on top of another on top of another, three in a row?

MICHAEL BROWN, DIRECTOR, FEMA: Well, that's the best way to describe it, Larry. It has just been a one-two-three punch and now we have got Jeanne out in the Caribbean right now.

But our teams are ready to do this. They're focused. They know what they need to do. They're focused on helping the victims. President Bush went to Congress on Labor Day and got additional money for us. He's doing that again today. Congress will coming through. So we'll have the financial resources. And the people are ready to come in here and help people in Florida and Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana.

KING: Having the finances is one thing. When can they get in?

BROWN: Well, you know, I have a mantra that I live by. And that is that I will send in the rescue workers as soon as it's safe to do so. Because I don't want them to become victims themselves.

KING: Naturally.

BROWN: So like we experienced in Florida, as soon as it's safe to get them in there, we'll go in and start doing our life-saving and life-sustaining efforts. So that's why people need to be prepared, they'll be without power a while. As big as this storm is, there are tornadoes breaking out everywhere, people need to be prepared for this and they need to be prepared to take care of themselves maybe for a few hours until we can get those teams in there.

KING: Of the three, is this the worst?

BROWN: Well, it's the worst right now in terms of its size. So far sitting here in Birmingham and watching the different news reports, I've seen tornadoes spawned everywhere. My good friend Max Mayfield at the Hurricane Center is reporting circulation in a lot of the outer bands. It has gotten closer to shore but has not weakened yet like we typically see. So this is just one huge hurricane right now that is not givinig up any strength.

KING: Now Charley and Frances hit more populated area, did they not? BROWN: They did. Of course, you know, what happened in Florida was, you know, Charley went through some very populated areas and some very rural areas. And as we go in and start responding to that, we had to pull out for just a few days because Frances then moved across and hit the very same people again in addition to new people.

Now Ivan is coming in, but he's coming in some populated places down along the Gulf Coast. But we don't worry about the amount of population because whoever it hits, it's really going to hit and hurt them. So we're focused on these victims right now, through Pensacola all the way to Mobile and over to New Orleans.

KING: Do you ever issue mandatory evacuations? And if so, do you literally force people to move?

BROWN: No. We don't do that. That's up to state and local governments because they are the ones that know best. We're basically coming here to help supplement the state resources, to fulfill needs that they say they have. But in terms of curfews and evacuations, that's a state and local government decision.

KING: And what's your determination to be where you are, say, as rather in Washington?

BROWN: Well, because I'm focused on making certain that whatever these governors need, Jeb Bush needs something or, you know, if Haley Barbour needs something, or Governor Blanco or, obviously, Governor Riley, if they need something, I want to be down here where the action is taking place, to make certain that I fulfill President Bush's orders to me, and that is do everything we can to help these folks.

KING: And finally, Michael, and we'll be checking with you frequently throughout the night, we know you're on duty all the time, what's your biggest concern right now?

BROWN: Is that people won't take this storm seriously. You always hear the stories of people that say, I'm macho and tough enough, I'm going to ride this thing out.

This thing is still a Category 4 right now. And someone asked me earlier today, what if it goes to a Category 3, that's not so bad. I asked them, do you really care the difference between 135 mile-an-hour winds and 145 mile-an-hour winds? Don't be silly. Get out of the way of this storm.

KING: Thank you. As always, Michael Brown, the director of FEMA. Let's go to Max Mayfield, in Miami, Florida, the director of the National Hurricane Center.

How bad, Max?

MAYFIELD: Larry, it's very bad, as our friend Mike Brown said, it's a Category 4 hurricane. This one caused extreme damage and if we're not careful, loss of life.

KING: And the reason is the wind, the wind surges, the area? What's the reason this is going to be so damaging?

MAYFIELD: Larry, all of the above. This hurricane, number one, is going to have tremendous storm surges near and to the east of where the center crosses the coast. We're forecasting 10 to 16 feet of storm surge. In fact, if it goes in west of Mobile Bay, we're probably going to have 16 feet of storm surge up there near the head of Mobile Bay.

But even out here on the barrier islands we'll have at least 10 feet of storm surge. One of the buoys offshore reporting 52-foot waves. And when those waves break on the coastline, they'll cause considerable damage too.

And that's going to go all the way eastward to the Florida panhandle towards Apalachicola. Even on the west side of the circulation, it's not going to be as high, but on those parishes outside the levees there in southeast Louisiana, they're going to get clobbered by storm surge, too.

And then the winds of the hurricane will spread well inland. This is not going to be just a coastal event. The red area that you see here represents the hurricane force winds that were forecast that go inland 100 to 150 miles.

In addition, we'll have 10 to 15 inches of rain along the path of the hurricane. And with a hurricane like this, coming from south to north, we'll also have tornadoes. And that's going to continue for another day or two. This is going to be a long, long night for some people here.

KING: Max, now what's this other one out in the Carribean?

MAYFIELD: Well, it's tropical storm. And when it hit Puerto Rico earlier, it was almost a hurricane. And it looks like it's going to turn to the west-northwest and will be in the Bahamas here in about three days' time. And we'll have to watch it whether it eases up to the north or keeps coming. Any time we have a developing system southeast of the United States in the peak of the hurricane season, we obviously need to watch it very carefully.

KING: What's its name?

MAYFIELD: Jeanne.

KING: Would you tell me, Max, what's going on this year that's causing all this back to back?

MAYFIELD: Larry, I can't tell you why back to back. I know there are a lot of people working hard behind me here that would love to have a day off. But we can't really say why they're all bunched together here. But the peak of the season goes from the middle of August to the middle of the end of October. And we still have got a long way to go.

KING: Yes. We'll check back with you. Thanks, Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Dave Mattingly, what's the latest in Panama City?

MATTINGLY: Larry, everyone's talking about storm surge. Well, Panama City Beach has something very valuable to lose in this storm, and I'm standing on it. It's the white sand beaches.

Yesterday if I was standing here you would be able to see about 300 yards of beach behind me. But right now you can see that it's already flooded. There is water here occasionally lapping up around my ankles and pushing them ahead of me here.

They're worried that this storm surge is going to come in like back in 1985 with Hurricane Opal when it carved out huge hunks of the beach. This is their livelihood, this is a huge tourism area. This is what people come to see. So everyone very nervous tonight, wondering what kind of beach they're going to have in the morning when Ivan is through with it.

KING: And we'll take a break and be back with more. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE in our continuous coverage of Hurricance Ivan around the clock on CNN. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's jet back in Gulf Shores, Alabama, by videophone, Gary Tuchman, CNN national correspondent. How long is there a period of time, Gary, where they may just call you back in?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Larry, we're prepared to stay here. We're in a relatively safe place. We have the shelter and the strong building right next to us. We feel this is a safe place. Of course, right now we just have sustained winds of only up to 45 miles an hour. You do the math, we have 94 miles per hour to go. So we take it one step at a time, one-half hour at a time and then decide if we're safe where we're standing.

KING: What's that thing that looks like fire behind you, to your left?

TUCHMAN: Actually, it looks like fire. It's a little red light on a transformer (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that we have heard and seen transformer explosions on different power lines throughout this area over the last couple of hours. So we're quite hopeful that won't happen in that particular one. Most of the ones that we've seen the explosions are the big tall ones at the top of the power line. That's just a light on the transformer, it's not a fire.

KING: Are you prepared to stay the night, Gary?

TUCHMAN: We're prepared to stay the night. We're in a safe place as I said, and we've covered a lot of these over the years, Larry, and one of the things the news media knows how to do is to look for safe places and to staying safe. Even though we're right on the southern tip of the state of Alabama where this hurricane is heading, we are very satisfied, the crew and I are that we're in a safe place right now to cover the story for our audience. KING: What about you, Rob Marciano in Mobile, how safe are you, how long will you be anchored where you are?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're going to stay in this hotel, anchored here through the night. Our truck may be underwater by the time this eye wall comes through, we may be off the air for a while but we're going to stay on as long as possible.

Right now, I'm protected by this wall. I'll step out just a little bit, may not be the smartest guy in the world but for you, Larry, anything.

Easily hurricane force winds on the other side of that wall out of the east. We're going to be here until we're blown off the air but we're pretty safe. According to the hotel manager, these windows can take winds of over 100 miles an hour and the hotel is built pretty solid with some concrete. So we picked out a good spot and we hope to remain on the air as long as possible and as safe as possible.

KING: What floor are you on in the hotel?

MARCIANO: Right now we're on the fourth floor of the hotel. Behind me is Water Street, beyond that is the Mobile River which dumps out into Mobile Bay. Water Street is expected to be underwater by the time tomorrow morning rolls around. We could see water up to the first floor. We don't think it will get much higher than that. The base of the hotel is at 12 feet above sea level. As you know, as Max has told everybody, the storm surge could easily reach 15, 16, or even 18 feet. So we expect the water to get up to the first floor but not the fourth.

KING: The aptly named Water Street. Robin Roberts, you're in Mobile. What is your location?

ROBIN ROBERTS, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" NEWS ANCHOR: Not far from Water Street. You're right about it being aptly named, Larry. We're not but a short distance from where Rob is and we have a shelter as well where we're going to be and stay throughout the night and report tomorrow morning on "Good Morning America." Of course, I had to get that little plug in there for my big bosses.

But I'm telling you, what's going on here is like what everyone is saying, you feel all right for a minute and then a large gust will come along and almost take you off your feet. But I'm just amazed at how well this area was evacuated and how people really took the authorities at their word and got out. They're not people -- we did see some sight-seers out earlier. But it's like the storm, Larry, that's just taking its sweet old time in getting here. But now that it's getting closer to shore, we're really believing everything that's been said about it. It is as advertised. And again, it's going to continue on in the coming hours and get worse and worse throughout the night.

KING: Sam Champion, do people get angry, like, let's say in New Orleans if they're asked to evacuate and it turns out they're not hit? CHAMPION: Yes, Larry, they do. Of course they do. What they have to do is that -- you know, it's difficult to pack up your home and have to make plans and then leave all that behind and then have to turn around and come back and it wasn't as bad as everyone said it was.

When that happens, you just have to understand the potential is there for a real problem and a real issue. And these days, we're better and better at telling you where the storms are big and where they're not and when it's a good thing for you to leave and when it's not.

Of course, they get angry. But the best thing to do is to pack up and leave if you're in an area that's below where the flood zone is going to be. And if you're in an area that's likely to be somewhere near the storm damage or near the center of that storm or even to the east of landfall, one thing I wanted to remind everybody who's out covering it live, Larry, there's a very big eye to this storm. And when it moves across, the rain will stop, the wind will stop and skies will likely open up a bit. What they need not to do is get out and start doing some coverage and folks need not to get out and start cleaning up their homes.

It's a big eye and that second side of the storm is going to slam in without notice. And unless you're watching it on a radar or a satellite vantage point you're not going to know how close you are to that eye.

So just stay in until both sides of that storms move across -- particularly that Mississippi, Alabama and the very far western edge of Florida is concerned.

KING: There's no general rule as to how fast it takes an eye to go through?

CHAMPION: I'm sorry, Larry, I didn't hear you. What was that?

KING: There's no general rule as to how fast it takes the eye to go through?

CHAMPION: No. The problem with that is that the eyes are always different sizes with these storms. This one has been running about 20, 30 miles wide. It's been changing, it's been shifting. Some storms are moving faster. This one is crawling to the north a bit at about 12 miles per hour, which means it's not moving very quickly in the first thing and it's got this big open eye.

So that's why I say -- you know, we use these things as points of reference for us, eye making landfall. As Rob just said, as Robin said, hurricane force winds are already on the shore lines. They're already in a hurricane right now. When the eye makes landfall, it's more for us who watch the storm to say, OK, boom, that's what time it hit. The damage is already being pushed well inland by that time.

KING: By the way, concerning New Orleans which is below sea level, even though they didn't get hit, what is it like there now? CHAMPION: Well, to those folks, you mean, who are to the west of where the storm is going to be?

KING: Yes. Say New Orleans.

CHAMPION: In New Orleans. Well, their biggest concern, because you know and a lot of folks have done it. I, funny enough, was watching you all's coverage this morning, and talking about the big dip of New Orleans which is well below sea level. Their biggest problem, and they'd really have a problem if the storm made landfall there, there's going to be that water that comes from a little bit of a surge or rainfall. New Orleans gets any amount of rain and they have got a water problem. They are going to get rain out of this storm even though they got very lucky and the big part of the storm is going to be well to the east of them. They will see some effects. There will be flooding. There will be some standing water in New Orleans and there will be some damage from that area.

KING: And Dave Mattingly, what's the situation now in Panama City?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a whole lot of tents now than there were before because of those deadly tornadoes, they caved through. The authorities here were actually fairly encouraged. They said they had an extraordinary response to the evacuation order. About 50 percent of the full-time residents evacuated. They felt like they had -- about 99 percent of the businesses were closed here so they felt pretty good that they would be able to ride it this storm with very few injuries and very few fatalities. But of course, that happened very early. So everyone is wondering what is going to happen later.

Just a couple of hours in fact before those tornadoes came through, we were on this beach with a family from this area, they decided that since there were no tourists around, they were going to come out and watch the big waves that were coming in.

And down the beach here there is a large county pier. There were cars lined up full of local residents. They had come just to watch the surf pounding in here right now.

But now everyone is starting to worry just a little bit more with that episode with the deadly tornadoes and with this surf behind me. They're wondering what's going to happen to their beach because right now the winds are coming from offshore, that's knocking the waves down. That's going to change.

And we're not at high tide right now. That's going to change as well, Larry.

KING: The ongoing story. We'll take a break and we'll be back with more on our coverage of Hurricane Ivan. It's a doozy. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: You're watching LARRY KING LIVE, part of CNN's continuing coverage of Hurricane Ivan. We're going to do it live around the clock. So if you're up, you'll be with us all night long.

We've got outstanding correspondents on the scene. Let's check back in with Gary Tuchman in Gulf Shores, Alabama, he's with us by videophone in case he has to get out real fast.

Do you have any idea how long this is going to take, Gary, or is that just too tough to call?

TUCHMAN: Well, we have a general idea, Larry. This is not as slow moving as Hurricane Frances. We were in Ft. Pierce, Florida, the Atlantic coast for that, and we got 10 to 12 hours of hurricane force winds. We anticipate that being reduced by about a half.

Right now, we're still talking about sustained winds. And we have wind gauges that tell us of 45 miles an hour tropical storm force. We expect the eye to come right now, it's 9:35 Eastern time, we expect the eye to come close about five hours from now.

So we still haven't reached that yet. But we surmise that it's five hours before the eye comes down. We won't have hurricane force winds five hours after the eye comes.

So it seems like if it's moving faster with, the damage may be lessened because of that factor. But the most important factor to consider is we're talking 135 mile-an-hour winds compared to the 105 mile-per-hour winds compared to 105 mile-per-hour winds that Hurricane Frances brought, so obviously that's a disadvantage.

KING: Robin Roberts, at the point of time when it hits is immaterial, isn't it? If you're getting whipped with wind and rain, you're getting hit whipped with wind and rain, it don't matter if they tell you it's still three hours away?

ROBERTS: You are correct, my friend, exactly what Sam Champion was saying earlier that in essence we already are facing some hurricane-like conditions. So I know there is a lot of concern. And that's one thing that we have to reiterate.

Yes, we're talking about when the eye comes across. But that is not just the storm. We're having those conditions now and we're going to have those conditions after the eye. But this storm has taken a long time to get here. And it has frustrated a lot of people. And they still -- they got out of harm's way.

I'm a little bit concerned because my parents, Larry, are in Biloxi, Mississippi, which is about 60 miles to the west of us, and they're riding out a storm. I have a sister in New Orleans, Louisiana, another sister in Long Beach along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so we have the whole area covered with the Roberts' family.

And it's just that moment of when you just want the storm to go ahead and get here and get on its way. But it's pretty immaterial to a lot of us as to when it's actually going to -- the eye going to go -- come across because we're already facing some really tough conditions right now.

KING: Rob Marciano, you're in that hotel, right, in Mobile? Are there any tourists in that hotel?

MARCIANO: The only folks in this hotel other than media folks are the people that work here and their families. So no, I haven't met one person who's just hanging out, taking in the sights.

KING: Any assessment yet, Rob, of damage?

MARCIANO: No, not really, Larry. The winds really started picking up as night fell. And we have had no reports of damage yet. I'm sure emergency personnel, if they are out in a situation, are busy taking care of maybe the safety of others.

So no word of damage. We just had a wind gust report down there on the coast of hurricane force strength. The thing about being in a storm, Larry, you always think it's a little stronger than it actually is.

I'm certain these are close to hurricane force, they always feel and look worse than they actually are. To get a wind gust over 100 miles an hour, I would bet barely anybody could stand in that.

KING: Now if you backed up again, you'd be blown around, right? You got your little...

(CROSSTALK)

MARCIANO: Are you asking me to do that again, Larry?

KING: Yes, I just want to see what happens.

MARCIANO: You're killing me. All right, for you, for you, because it's the Larry King show.

It's not so bad. You're right. It's not even hurricane force.

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIANO: There is no -- hey Larry, one of the reasons that we don't want to broadcast from there too much, one, because it's tough to hear you and, two, there are light polls, there are things that are attached to not only to this hotel, but other buildings around. There are a couple of cranes building a skyscraper right there. The main reason that people get killed in a hurricanes other than flooding is from not the winds that are blowing at 100 miles an hour but the things blowing in that wind at 100 miles an hour. You don't want to get hit by anything.

KING: No. Debris. Now Dave Mattingly, you are on the beach, right. How long can you stay on the beach?

MATTINGLY: Well, we can stay on the beach until the water actually chases us out. And at this point, we're keeping a very close eye on it. High tide is coming in at about -- in a couple of hours. And some local authorities came by a little bit earlier today and said they wouldn't be surprised to see us on the other side of the building in the parking lot at that time.

So we're keeping a very close eye on this beach right now. Of course, the tourists have been gone for days and the authorities made sure that no local residents were out here tonight. But of course, it's our job to be here to show you what's going on. So we're just going to stay just this much ahead of the water as long as we can.

KING: Good thinking. Sam Champion, I remember years ago as a kid when a hurricane reached New York City, you probably weren't born yet. Could this go up into Philadelphia, New York, Washington? Could it go that way?

CHAMPION: Well, we certainly, Larry, as you well know, from Washington up to New York, have been dealing with a lot of tropical remnants over the past couple of weeks and a lot of flooding rain in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and also in central New York State.

Here in New York City, the subways were shut down from what was remnants of Frances because we had about five inches of rain come through one morning there.

So we're watching this rain and I know it's going to work up into the Appalachians, as a matter of fact, I'm really kind of concerned about that western Tennessee area into -- or I'm sorry, eastern Tennessee into western Carolinas, where the mountain ranges will give a lot of lift to this tropical moisture and there is going to be some very heavy flooding rains there.

Our one saving grace may be an area of high pressure with this particular storm that's dropping out of Canada, and hopefully will contain this moisture down to the south so that New York won't go through with Ivan what it went through with Frances.

But these storms affect so many more people than just the landfall. So it's -- yes, we are going to see some rain out of it probably, I just hope most of it stays down to the south.

KING: Sam Champion on the scene. And a big Red Sox/Yankees series this weekend in New York. It may not get played.

CHAMPION: Well, actually...

KING: You wanted to ad something, Sam? Will it get played?

CHAMPION: Just that I hope it will, Larry. We want it to get played.

KING: Max Mayfield, is it going to get worse before it gets better?

MAYFIELD: No question about that, Larry. We're getting some hurricane force winds now in extreme Southeast Louisiana, and gusts to 81 miles per hour here at Dolphin Island here in the last few minutes. And it's going to continue to go downhill. And this is something that really needs to be taken seriously.

This will cause extreme damange and loss of life if people are not careful. And as that eye gets closer to the coast and the winds become some from the South and the East out of the eye, that's when that storm surge is really going to move inland.

So, people haven't even begun to see the worst part of this hurricane yet.

KING: Is there a particular area you're most worried about?

MAYFIELD: Well, sure. Just to the East of where the center crosses the coast, and if it goes inland just to the west of Mobile Bay, the high storm surge will be up here in the northern part of the bay. But even having said that, we're still expecting a tremendous storm surge well out to the east. In fact, this is all going to go all across the Northern Gulf of Mexico.

This water just has nowhere to go up here. It's going to pile up in the Northeastern Gulf. And we're going to have significant wave action storm surge from all along the Florida panhandle, up into the big bend area.

KING: Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center. And all of our correspondents, thank you so much. Again, CNN covers this around the clock, as we look at Hurricane Ivan.

Martha Stewart has decided to serve her time. We'll talk about that right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: After some consideration, Martha Stewart has decided, even though her appeal is pending, to go serve her time in jail as sentenced by the court.

I spoke, by the way, with Martha on the phone earlier today and she's pretty tough about it, and stalwart and looking forward to getting it over with.

Let's take a look at some of what she had to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA STEWART, MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA: The only way to reclaim my life and the quality of life for all those related to me with certainty now is to serve my sentence, surrender to the authorities so that I can quickly return as soon as possible to the life and the work that I love. I have labored long and hard to build this company, and I love the company, my colleagues, and what we create very much. I cannot bear any longer the prolonged suffering, while I and my legal team await vindication in the next step of the legal process, the appeal.

And although I and my attorneys firmly believe in the strength of that appeal, recent delays and extensions have now made it abundantly clear that my appeal will not be heard until sometime next year. So, I have decided to serve my sentence now, to put this nightmare behind me and get on with my life and living as soon as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining us in New York is Nancy Grace, Court TV anchor, host of "Closing Arguments." The former prosecutor is author of the forthcoming book "Objection." And in Atlanta, the famed defense attorney Chris Pixley. And also in New York is Henry Blodgett, contributor of "Slate" magazine. He was in the court throughout the Stewart trial. A former securities analyst for Merrill Lynch.

Henry was accused of civil securities fraud by the SEC. And without ever admitting or denying allegations, he settled the charge, agreeing to be permanently barred from working in the securities industry, and paying a penalty of $4 million. In retrospect, looking at what Martha did today, were they both smart decisions.

HENRY BLODGETT, SLATE: Well, I can't talk about my decision, unfortunately. But with Martha, I think, certainly it was a smart decision. I think that people had been expecting it. And I think, frankly, there were sort of some question as to why it took this long. But clearly, I think it was the right decision for the company, and certainly the right decision for her personally as well.

KING: Nancy, what happens if she serves her time and wins the appeal?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, you know, that's a conundrum, Larry. At first, it was reported early in the day that she was waiving her appeal rights. In other words, giving up on the appeal. When I heard that, that did not sound like the Martha Stewart I have come to know on the airwaves, anyway. And, in fact, she is not waving her appeal.

So, you're theory is dead-on. She can do her five months in Danbury, we think, which is a minimum facility prison for women, five months house arrest and pay her $135,000 fine.

Her appeal, she's right, is going to take well over a year before it's heard. So, she can get a new trial after she's already served her sentence in full, that's apparent victory.

KING: Wouldn't that be moot?

GRACE: Well, her name would be cleared, so to speak. But yes, in practical terms, totally moot.

KING: Chris Pixley, would you have advised her to do what she's doing?

CHRIS PIXLEY, FRM. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it depends on what point of frame of reference you're coming from. Obviously, if you're one of the attorneys that advises her on matters that have to do with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the company's best interests, I think this is definitely in the best interest of the company. This is that situation with a very unique company, that relies on the good name of a single person. I can't think of any other corporation, domestic or international, that is tied to the name of one person the way Martha Stewart's is. And so for her to actually get on with all of this, and end the uncertainty is a significant step forward for the company.

For her personally, thought, I think it's a difficult decision. Because she does have at least one issue I think is very relevant on appeal, and that's whether the perjured testimony of the government's ink expert ultimately effected her conviction. She was convicted of one count of conspiracy. And certainly, he and his testimony played into that conspiracy charge.

But, again, despite how young Martha Stewart looks, this is a 63- year-old woman. I think there's also some certainty she gets gains from all of this. It's five months in jail, she gets it out of the way, it's certainly no walk in the park and she's going to learn that very quickly.

KING: Henry, she's a convicted felon. Will the SEC allow her to work in an official capacity at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

BLODGETT: As I understand it, the fact that she's a convicted felon actually doesn't prevent her from being an officer or director. But, obviously, the SEC has filed a civil suit as well. And when this is all over, I think the SEC will probably revisit that and decide to go forward.

And if they do go forward and they win, if she doesn't settle, or they fight and they win, then they could bar her from doing that. And so obviously, that part of this really does have an effect, or an ongoing effect of what she could do with the company.

KING: We'll take a break, and I'll ask Nancy how she thinks the prosecution handled this matter. First, these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: I, as a person with rights, with a belief in the judicial system and fairness, think that an appeal is way to go. So what do I do? OK. If it weren't wrapped up with my company, and it shouldn't be, but it is inextricably, what do you do? What would you do, Larry?

KING: That's a good question.

STEWART: This is a hard thing. And when -- people say -- pundits are out there saying she should go in. Do they know what it's like to go to jail? I don't think they know. I don't know what it's like.

KING: There are a lot of people saying I'd go do it, I'd get it over with.

STEWART: Why? Why are they saying that, would they do it for themselves.

KING: They say it for you.

STEWART: Of course, it's easy to say what somebody else should do. But what to do is the problem here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: I know I have a very tough five months ahead of me, but I understand, too, that I will get through those months, knowing that I have the ability to return to my productive and normal life, my interesting work and future business opportunities, supported through the ordeal by my friends and colleagues and loved ones. I am very sad knowing that I will miss holiday season -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's -- always an opportunity to celebrate family, friends, and religious traditions that mean so much to many of us. And I will miss all of my pets -- my two beloved, fun-loving dogs, my seven lively cats, my canaries, my horses, and even my chickens. It's odd what becomes of immense importance when one realizes one's freedom is about to become curtailed, and it is frightening and difficult to have to grasp those realizations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Nancy Grace, how well did the prosecution handle this?

GRACE: You know, that's a real two-sided coin, Larry. Because I have no doubt in my mind, just strictly looking at the evidence, that Martha Stewart did make that trade on what I believe to be insider knowledge. She saved herself about $40,000, turned out to be about $200,000. The reality is though, Larry, I have always felt that had she not been Martha Stewart, she would not have gone to trial.

Number one, she was never charged with that insider trading. They didn't have the guts to bring that before a jury. Not only that, in my mind, the prosecution, whom I normally side with, contorted the law in count no. 9, when Martha Stewart proclaimed her innocence publicly, they said that that was somehow manipulating stock. And I disagreed with that.

But it's like, you got a tiger by the tail, Larry. Once they started it, they couldn't hold on and they couldn't let go, they had to go forward.

KING: Well put.

Chris Pixley, how well did the defense do.

PIXLEY: Well, I think there's been a lot of criticism that the fact they only put one defense witness on. The challenge now that she faces is that although she has an appeal ongoing, and certainly there's good reason to maintain that appeal, she talked in the piece that you just showed of the fact that she looks forward to getting back to her work. And there, obviously, is the question of whether the SEC will challenge her ability to act as a board member, or even an officer of her company which would essentially interfere with her ability to work in this case.

But ultimately, an appeal is not the way to go. Your best opportunity of success against charges at this time is defense at the trial. And I think there's been a lot of criticism of her defense.

Ultimately, the travesty here is that they were very successful, they were successful, ultimately, in challenging and defeating the principle charge against her, which is that of securities fraud. And the only thing that she's been found guilty of, is that she sat in a room, certainly with counsel at her side, but sat in a room at the receiving end of interrogation by the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and SEC, and ultimately may have misled them.

And if that is not the situation of duress, the situation that you find yourself in, that any of us find ourselves in, then I don't know what is. The idea that obstruction of justice alone is the basis for putting somebody behind bars for a period of time, any period of time, is wrong in my opinion.

KING: And Henry, we only got 30 seconds, what's the future of her company?

BLODGETT: I think it will be tough. Obviously, the company has taken a huge body blow here. But the fact you have a date certain when she will be back at the company, they can go out to that message to advertisers and shareholders and customers, I think that's very helpful. They have a lot of work to do, but the idea is to just stabilize it, and then start to build it. And they've already started to stabilize it. So, I think the prognosis is OK.

KING: Thank you all very much. Nancy Grace, Chris Pixley, Henry Blodgett. I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you what's ahead. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're going to be covering Hurricane Ivan, I imagine, tomorrow night as well, when it really hits. But right now, sitting in for Aaron Brown to cover us "NEWSNIGHT" and to take us for a 2 hour special edition, is my buddy Miles O'Brien safely in the confines of the studies, not out there in the hunt, Miles. No, no, no, just comfortable. Go ahead.

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