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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Aftermath of Hurricane Ivan
Aired September 16, 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, Ivan's devastating punch: death, disaster, billions in damages. Though Ivan is no longer a hurricane, weather dangers are not over. We've got firsthand, on the scene stories, from all over the Gulf coast and much more, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We've got people everywhere. Let's start with Sam Champion, WABC TV weather man at ABC studios in New York. What's your overview now in retrospect on this storm, Sam?
SAM CHAMPION, WABC TV: Well, Larry, it's still -- and in this storm, I actually think the forecasting job was done pretty well. I know there's a lot of folks on the Gulf Coast who say, but we had to evacuate and we came back to dry homes. Well, I think that's kind of OK.
But in general, the strength of the storm ended up being OK. The track was just off a bit in the beginning, the wobbling part. But it still leaves us now, looking at an enormous amount of places that are yet to be hit by this storm. We've got a good part of the Appalachians into the Carolinas now, and you've got all kinds of flood warnings, flash flood warnings into Georgia tonight.
So, all of this begins to spreads in an awful lot of flooding and wind damage. When I look back at it, I guess what I'm left with is how much we still don't know about these storms and just how impressive they are, Larry.
KING: A couple of other quick things. We'll be checking with you, Sam. For the big baseball series this weekend, Red Sox and Yankees in New York, a lot of rain coming to New York?
CHAMPION: We think we'll get it in. We talked last night, there's a cold front coming in. I think our wet part here in New York is going to be Friday night into Saturday morning. It looks like the rest of the weekend dries up nicely and becomes a beautiful weekend here. We've got our fingers crossed for that one, but that's what looks like is going to happen.
KING: So, they may lose Friday night?
CHAMPION: I think Friday night, we may not be able to play well. That's our heaviest rain, but I think we'll get it in the weekend.
KING: A man who has done yeoman like work for us is Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor. He hosts "ANDERSON COOPER 360." He didn't have to go down there. Why he went, we will never know, but there he is in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He's was up all night with this. So, we're going to have one report from Anderson and let him get some rest.
Anderson, what was it like? Anderson, do you hear me? Anderson apparently isn't hearing me.
Let's check in with Jason Bellini. He's our CNN correspondent in Greenville, Alabama. He was in New Orleans last night. Did they miss it completely?
JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Completely, Larry. We woke up this morning. The streets were dry. It was actually a sunny morning. And we decided it was time to hit the road and head to Alabama, where we could do some news gathering.
But in the morning, we saw the buses on the roads. People hit the streets pretty early. There was one woman who came jogging by us and said she's never seen the place so peaceful. It was a really calm night in New Orleans to everyone's relief -- Larry.
KING: What's the situation now where you are now in Greenville?
BELLINI: Here in Greenville, nobody has power. And I think that's the case in large swaths of Alabama. We drove up the Alabama River today on some country roads, through some small towns. I can tell you, there were far more electrical poles that were down than were up. Trees knocking them down.
And trees seemed to have been, through the central part of Alabama, the worst casualty here, because they've knocked down the electrical poles, phone poles and have fallen into houses and shed, destroyed peoples property. And there are big trees in this area. When one falls on a roof, it goes right through -- Larry.
KING: By the way, we'll be check with Jason and our correspondents throughout the hour. We'll also be including your phone calls tonight, with any questions or questions you may have on the aftermath of Ivan.
Let check with Tony Perkins, weatherman for ABC's "Good Morning America." His counterpart Robin Roberts was with us last night. Did you have a rough night, Tony?
TONY PERKINS, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": We had a rough night, as a matter of fact. We were further north last night in Montgomery. It was the night that was so bad, but it was the morning. Because it was during the morning hours, and then during course of the day today, that Ivan, at that point no longer a hurricane, was making its move through that part of Alabama.
But here in Gulf Shores, Alabama, this was ground zero. Larry, let me show you something. I'm walking -- this is Highway 59 here, just beyond me, this is the Gulf of Mexico. It doesn't belong here. This is about three quarters of a mile, or a mile further north than it should be. This as a result of storm surge that some people are estimating it was about 15 feet when this storm hit in the middle of the night last night.
Again, this was ground zero, where the eye came across land. There are homes, businesses down there, flooded. People are not going to be able to get down there for quite some time. A lot of devastation here. A lot of sadness here as well.
KING: The devastation, did you get to go see a lot of it, Tony?
PERKINS: Well, we've not been able to go down there. The police are not letting anybody going go down there. In fact, we talked to the mayor of Gulf Shores a little while ago, and he said it's going to be days before members of the public, media, people like that, are allowed to go down there.
Right now, they're working on getting down, working on power lines and all of that. But there's quite a bit of devastating around us. Some of this washed up by the Gulf of Mexico as it came up. This water was actually further inland than it is right now a little bit earlier today.
You can see pieces of wood, portions of homes that were damaged, or destroyed. The odd item like a chair, looks like a lawn chair that looks like it's in good shape. It remained intact despite the strength of the storm as it moved through.
So, this business came through pretty much OK. The yard is destroyed and what was was out front here, the signs are blown out. A lot of damage here. It's going to take some time for them to clean this up.
KING: Thank you Tony. Hang with us.
Let's check in Greenbelt, Maryland, with Dr. Marshall Shepherd. He's a research meteorologist with the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. What's NASA's involvement in this?
DR. MARSHALL SHEPHERD, NASA: Well you know, NASA, we really are trying to improve understanding of these storms. NASA has about 19 satellites up studying the Earth, Larry. We explore the Earth just like we explore space. And hurricanes are really big monsters that we really don't understand as well as we can. And so that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to improve understanding, And in some cases, enable new technology for our partners that actually have to forecast these things.
KING: What boggles your mind the most, Marshall about hurricanes?
SHEPHERD: These storms, they're just like big heat engines, Larry. If you can look inside these storms, they're very efficient at taking that warm ocean water and converting that ocean water to energy. And that really is hurricane intensity forecasted the holy grail.
And I bet your viewers haven't seen this view of a hurricane before. This is from one of our satellites, we're taking a CAT scan of Hurricane Ivan, we're looking at the rainfall structure and intensity inside the storm from space, trying to understand those energy processes inside the hurricane.
KING: It's much, much -- there's more energy in that than in A- bombs, right?
SHEPHERD: That's right. Several, in fact. These are very powerful storms. They convert much of that water vapor and that ocean water into energy. And that's why, when they move over land, they lose their energy supply and they sort of dwindle down. And certainly, we see in this case, Ivan, sort of running out of steam. It's been running on about 93 octane this year, in terms of the fuel supply out there in the ocean. And now it's lost that full tank, and it's dwindling down.
KING: Those stories years ago, Marshall, about seeding these things, breaking them up. As a research meteorologist, scientist, do you ever see that happening?
SHEPHERD: Again, our role at NASA is to try to understand these things. I really don't see that happening. There have been all kinds of ideas that I've seen put forth. But what we really want to do is try to put the study of hurricanes in the context of understanding how they work, understand how the bigger picture of the weather and climate system enables these storms.
What you were just looking at there, was an image from space of the ocean temperature. And what we really try to do here at NASA, and also working with NOAA and our other partners, is so to try to understand the puzzle, these sea surface temperatures, the upper level wind shear, all of these ingredients that have to come together perfectly to breed these storms.
KING: We'll check with NOAA in a while. And you remain with us, Marshall. We'll be taking calls in a while.
Now I understand, we can check in with Anderson Cooper in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Anderson, you had a rough night?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It was a pretty rough night. Rob and I were there together through most of the night. It was a long -- it was about 12 hours or so we were out there. The winds, I was down in for Charley. I was there for Frances. I'd never seen anything like those winds.
The biggest part, really, when that eye wall of the hurricane came, it was just extraordinary. At one point, I was tethered to a rope, sort of hiding behind a potted plant that was, you know, about 600 pounds. We thought that would be pretty secure. After a while, that blew over. It was a wild night.
It was even stranger tough, as Spencer was saying, we're in Gulf Shores, Alabama right now. To be standing in a town which was under water, this part was all under water just a few hours ago.
And, you know, people's possessions are all around. You've got debris all around. You have got bird feeder right here. And you don't know who this stuff belongs to. You don't know if they're ever going to get it again.
It's really sad, you know. It's one thing to see it on TV, you know, exciting to be in the storm. It's great pictures. But when you see the aftermath, you realize this really is affecting people's lives and a lot of people are suffering tonight.
KING: We'll check right back with you, Anderson. And also with Rob Marciano, who is right next to you. And we'll be take your calls in a while. Lots more on Ivan and the aftermath. And maybe another one coming. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The wind has really picked up here just in the last couple minutes. I mean, you know you were talking to Rob just a second ago. I know you think, gosh, I think the winds are a little bit stronger right now.
I got some video to show. Man!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's check in with Rob Marciano, who bit the bullet for us last night as we saw Anderson doing the same a little later on. What's the situation there now in Gulf Shores?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's very calm, Larry. It's eerily calm. It's been a beautiful evening, quite frankly. Skies cleared out. The moon is coming up. And it's a beautiful night, should be a pretty nice day today. But obviously, the wreckage you see behind us, pretty much tells the story. They've been comparing this storm to Frederick, which came ashore 25 years ago. The storm surge came to about this point, but this is where the water is now. This storm surge from this hurricane, goes back about another block and a half. So much higher storm surge, more of a direct hit. Frederick kind of came on an angle. I'll toss it back to you, Larry. We once again have some technical (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: All right. We'll check back with Rob and with Anderson Cooper when things check in. We appreciate all their yeoman-like work. Let's go to Camp Springs, Maryland. Jim Laver is standing by. He's director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. That's the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. How good are you at predicting climates, Jim?
JIM LAVER, DIR., NOAA'S CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER: Sorry, Larry. How good are we at predicting what?
LAVER: Oh, climate, of course. For the last five or six years, we've gone a pretty good job here at NOAA, forecasting the level of activity that we expect. And in fact, in May and August of this year, we said that there was a 90 percent chance that we'd have a normal to above normal season. And this season has certainly come out that way.
KING: What about Ivan, if anything surprised you?
LAVER: Ivan was a bit unusual in the fact that it formed at about ten degrees north. In active seasons like we have in these active decades, we expect storms to form in this major development region in the south central Atlantic. But Ivan formed at ten north, which is just about as far south as they form, got a lot of momentum going. That's part of what contributed to its longevity.
KING: You're looking at these all the time. What about Jeanne out there?
LAVER: Jeanne, certainly, we're not surprised. We see another storm. Actually in some seasons, we see several weeks of activity and lesser activity. This year, things seem to want to keeping on going. Jeanne seems headed for the southeast coast of the U.S. Hopefully not as intense as Ivan, not a category 3, it doesn't look like it at this point.
KING: But you say it's headed for the southeastern United States like next week?
LAVER: That's right.
KING: I'm sorry I didn't hear what you said. When would it might hit?
LAVER: Well, shortly after the weekend.
KING: Let's check in Peter Teahen, spokesman for the American Red Cross. He's in Pensacola, Florida. What's the assessment, Peter?
PETER TEAHEN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: An incredible 30 hours for the people in Pensacola and along the panhandle. An incredible 30 days for the American Red Cross as we've responded to three major hurricanes that have swept through Florida, between Charley, Frances and Ivan last night. It's taken its toll on both the citizens of Florida and the American Red Cross.
KING: What's the number one role of the Red Cross in this?
TEAHEN: The number one role is always meeting the emergency needs of the families. Those who are most importantly touched by this disaster. We look at taking care of their emergency food, shelter and clothing. Last night, we had over 40,000 people in 275 shelters in six states ranging from Texas all the way up to Florida as people fled the powerful storm last night. Now, we'll move into feeding operations. As you know, with Hurricane Frances and Charley, we've served nearly 6 million meals in the last month and housed over 200,000 people in our shelters. So we're getting ready to take care of the people who have been touched by this disaster and making sure that their emergency needs are being met.
KING: Do you work with FEMA?
TEAHEN: Well, we cooperate with a lot of agencies such as FEMA and other nonprofit agencies that respond to disasters. Our intention is to work together in a partnership with as many agencies as we can so that the families are cared for and have as many resources available to meet their needs so that they're taken care of as individuals and a disaster response.
KING: Now people who might have to reach the American Red Cross, some people who may be watching haven't been reached yet, have some problems. What do they do?
TEAHEN: Two important numbers. Those who have been touched by disaster have a very easy access to the information of the Red Cross. That's by calling 1-866-GET-INFO. G-E-T-I-N-F-O. That number will put them in touch with all the resources available to the Red Cross, community resources so that we can find what their needs are and match up with sources to answering their question.
KING: Sam Champion, if Jeanne comes and hits Monday and Tuesday, is there a point here where there's just too much to take?
CHAMPION: Yes, Larry, there is. I'm glad you're giving me a chance to talk a little bit about Jean or Jeanne, depending on what you want to call her because this storm, as of last night, didn't get a lot of attention in Puerto Rico but a little island called Vieques on the eastern end of Puerto Rico got 24 inches of rain from it. We didn't give it a lot of attention because we were dealing with a hurricane. And it was just a tropical storm, then became a hurricane, then went back down to tropical storm status.
Tonight, it sits in the Dominican Republic and it's doing much the same thing there. These are very mountainous regions and the structures in these countries are not quite as strong as the structures we've been showing you in Florida and also in a good part of the Gulf Coast states.
So you're going to see a lot of damage, a lot of flooding and some death mudslides from this area, too, particularly as they come in with 10, 12, 18 inches of rain across the Dominican Republic tonight.
We think this storm will move off the island of Hispaniola which shares the Dominican Republican and Haiti as one island and move into the warmer waters again, strengthen a bit. And by Sunday into Monday, we may be looking at this storm in the Bahamas again, as probably a hurricane.
Now, yes, it's probably going to be a lower end hurricane, but if it continues to move as slowly, it's barely crawling right now. And that's been the problem with this storm. They all have different personalities and different characteristics. This one's a slow mover and a big rain producer. And quite frankly, if it gets anywhere near the coast of Florida, Florida just can't handle that kind of storm. They don't want any kind of big-wind storm. But they certainly don't want that kind of lingering rain kiss-the-edge-of-the-coast-line storm either.
So it's something we really have to watch very carefully.
KING: You mentioned Viecas off Puerto Rico. That's a very controversial place. The Navy does a lot of testing there much to the consternation of the people of Puerto Rico. Were any of these installations damaged?
CHAMPION: Well, I'm not quite sure about the political situation there. I know that there is a base there. I don't know how many people it houses there. But again, this has just been steady, soaking rain in that area. And I'm not quite sure again how many folks are on the base property there, but you're right. A lot of the natives and locals weren't happy about that base there and they lived there and it was just soaked with an awful lot of rain.
KING: When we come back, we'll talk with a hurricane survivor. At the bottom of the hour, we'll be including your phone calls for our panel. Don't go away.
KING: To Panama City, Florida. Santana Sullivan is a survivor of Hurricane Ivan. There is Santana. She and her fiance, Chris, remained in the trailer.
Why did you stay where you were, Santana?
SANTANA SULLIVAN, NEIGHBORS KILLED, LOST EVERYTHING: Well, we weren't in any of the trailer. We were up -- we were going to stay in the trailer, but my mother, who's very persistent, thought it would be better idea if we come stay with her up in Marietta in a separate place. So we left a few hours before the tornado hit our house to go up to Marietta.
KING: What was it like, what did you find when you got back? a clear lot.
SULLIVAN: Everything's gone. There's nothing left. My car was sitting in the front yard. It's totaled completely. Our house was sitting on the right side of the road. It's now completely on the left side. And just big piles of rubble. There's nothing left.
KING: Have you been through any of these before?
SULLIVAN: I was through Opal back in '95, I think.
KING: What do you do now?
SULLIVAN: I don't -- start over. Pick up what we can, and just start over from the beginning and thank God that we're still here and that we weren't in our house. Because our neighbors are dead all around us. We had neighbors to the right and back of us, and five of those were dead and two came out OK.
KING: You're saying, Santana five of our neighbors lost their lives?
SULLIVAN: Yes. Five of the neighbors, two my right and three in the back, didn't make it.
KING: Were they all in the trailer camp?
SULLIVAN: It wasn't a trailer park. It was just like a little -- just a little, like a lot. It was just a few acres, and we each had our own two acres. And we were a single-wide, to the right of us was a double-wide, and behind us was a house and a double-wide which were completely destroyed.
KING: Where are you going to stay now?
SULLIVAN: Right now, I'm going to stay with my mom and relatives until we can get back on our feet and get us another place.
KING: How's your boyfriend handling it?
SULLIVAN: He's doing, OK. I mean, we're just -- we're just glad that we're still here, you know. I mean, we can replace all those material things, but not us. So, I mean, we're just happy to be alive.
KING: You are going to be married in less than three weeks. Is that still on?
SULLIVAN: Yes, sir. We're going to go ahead and go through with the wedding.
KING: Much good luck to you ,Santana. You're a brave young lady.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
KING: And we salute you. Thank you. Santana Sullivan, lost five neighbors. Left her trailer park, came back to find it destroyed down in Panama City, Florida. Sad stories like these. Let's check back in with Anderson Cooper in Gulf Shores, any fatalities there, Anderson?
COOPER: Luckily, there haven't been fatalities. When you hear a story like Santana's, I mean, it just breaks your heart. People here in Alabama are just thank thankful there aren't more stories like that. You know, at least seven have been confirmed in the storm. But it really could have been much worse. In Gulf Shores, I talked to the mayor a couple of hours ago. They've not had any fatalities, not even any severe injuries, which is certainly a blessing considering, you know, this storm surge. We're about seven blocks from the beach. Came up here, a lot of homes here destroyed. A lot of flotsam and jetsam just laying about. But you know, people are just thankful to be alive.
KING: Rob Marciano, you're a meteorologist for CNN. You anchor weather.
Does going out and covering this make you a better weather person.
MARCIANO: I suppose in a way. It certainly gives you an appreciation for the force of mother nature. I think, One Thing that a lot of reporters do in the field, and I was guilty of it yesterday, is they overestimate the winds that they're feeling. It always feels worse than it actually is. We were getting blown around. It certainly felt like it was blowing 70, 80, 90 miles an hour.
And it may have been because of the windows or the buildings, and because we were higher, but the reports at the airport, you know, the worst they got were 70. At times, we felt like we were being blown around, it was 40 or 50. So, it gives you the appreciation for the force and the winds that you are talking about. So when you go back to the studios, you go back to broadcasting, you say hurricane force winds, even though it's just a cat. 1, you know what it feels like. In that sense, it definitely makes you a better weatherman.
KING: Tony, does it make you better -- Tony Perkins, at what you do?
PERKINS: Yes, Larry, I think it does. I agree with Rob. You have a better understanding of what's really happening on the ground. When you meet people like the woman you spoke to just a few moments ago, it kind of puts a human face on what we're talking about. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the science and the jargon. When you meet people or find things like this item that was found here, this was a plaque that a husband gave to his wife to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Oddly enough, it says to my faithful helpmate through storm and strife, richer or poorer, till death do us part. Some hurricane researchers found this earlier. And they're actually going to put it on their Web sate, hurricanetrack.com hoping that this family will be able to retrieve it. They said it will be on they're Web site tomorrow. You find items like this, you hear about the convenience store down here that is completely submerged in water, and it makes you feel a little bit more, what's really happening here and just the total impact that it has on people and their lives.
KING: Jason Bellini, as a correspondent, what effect does it have on you covering it?
BELLINI: Well, Larry, it's funny, sometimes the little things that touch you when you're out there covering tragedies. Earlier today, I met this one woman, named Georgia, who lived in the town of Frisco, and she was out collecting cans from her yard. It looked like she had much bigger problems to deal with. There was a tree on top of her trailer. And I went to her and I said why are you picking up cans, and they were cans scattered all over the place.
An then She showed me her can collection. She'd been collecting cans for several years and she was saving them up. She planned to turn them eventually. She lived on disability. She wanted to cash them in at some point and all her cans were strewn all over the place, and she wanted to collect them. They were important to her. And they're something she lost and was trying to recover. And it's funny how something like that can touch you and bring home that, even though some things that may look insignificant to you, and you see people -- trailers down that doesn't look like much, to some people it really means a lot.
KING: We'll take a break, come back, reintroduce everybody, and take your calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in house that really just vibrated the whole time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just going to poke our heads out here a little. I'd like to try to get another reading.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Good luck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll poke our head out here a little bit, see if we can't get a decent reading. Still blowing pretty good but about the same as it was last go-around. I've lost my IMP.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ah, the weather. Let's reintroduce our whole panel and then go to your phone calls. At the ABC Studios in New York, Sam Champion, WABC-TV weatherman. In Gulf Shores, Alabama, is Anderson Cooper of "ANDERSON COOPER 360" and Rob Marciano, CNN meteorologist and weather anchor. Also in Gulf Shores is Tony Perkins, weatherman for ABC's "Good Morning America." In Camp Springs, Maryland is Jim Laver, director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. In Greenbelt, Maryland, Dr. Marshall Shepherd of NASA. And in Greenville, Alabama is Jason Bellini, CNN correspondent. Yesterday, he was in the lucky city of New Orleans.
Tuscambia, Alabama as we go to calls. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for your show tonight.
CALLER: We have a business and some property in Destin, Florida. And I've been trying all day to get through to our managers down there, have not been able to get through and I was hoping maybe any of your reporters might know anything about that area.
KING: Marshall, do you know what happened in Destin, Florida?
SHEPHERD: No, I certainly do not know what happened on the ground there, you know. We've been sort of monitoring the big picture up here from the NASA perspective. Some of your reporters there closer may have an idea.
KING: Sam Champion, do you know from your view point?
CHAMPION: Well, Larry, what I've seen out of reports is that Destin, we expected a lot of damage in Destin. It was to the west of where the eye hit. It was supposed to get a big wash and big winds. But from what I've seen from reports in watching all stations and all networks and all feeds today, is that it wasn't as bad. I don't have any particulars for this lady. But my understanding in Destin in particular the damage was not as bad as expected, but I'm sure the power's down and the phone lines are out just as she said and probably will be.
KING: Jim Laver, you have any news out of Florida?
LAVER: No, sir, I don't, Larry. Of course, Florida wasn't in the direct line of fire this time. But I don't have any news in the panhandle, of course, except up in that area in the far northwest, where they had a pretty direct hit.
KING: Tucson, Arizona, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I want to know why does anyone allow these hotels and these private people allowed to build right on the beach? And then after hurricane, they get insurance. I think if they're dumb enough to build there, they shouldn't even qualify for insurance. What do you think?
KING: Sam, you want to take that? And we'll run down everybody's opinion.
CHAMPION: Larry, I'm a big believer in this. We've got to get local and state governments together in not allowing people to build below the flood plain up against this. I mean, you're just asking for trouble when you do. And we know enough about these storms now to pick a good elevation for building. We have enough knowledge on these storms and the damage they can make to build construction, safe houses so that people can actually survive a storm like this if they can't escape. We're lucky in the area that we were shooting from this storm and that you could evacuate quickly. But there are areas of this country where you just can't evacuate that quickly. And anyone who builds there needs to know that they can survive this storm. And people who don't build that way shouldn't be allowed to.
KING: Anderson, though generally, aren't you safe in a hotel on a beach?
COOPER: It really depends on where you are, how big the winds are, how secure and how well built a hotel it is. The hotel we were in, which was on the Mobile River, you know, actually fared very well. We were expecting a lot of windows to be blown out. We were on the fourth floor of the hotel. That's where we were broadcasting from. We even expected the lobby of the hotel to be completely flooded. It wasn't. Yes, you know, they had a lot of leaking and stuff, but it held up very well. In all these cases, they say you should evacuate vertically, you should go to the center of the building, you should go to smaller rooms that are secure and stay away from those windows. That's what we did last night.
KING: Rob, what do you think about hotels on the beach?
MARCIANO: Well, I wish we were more environmentally sensitive about them. Certainly the buildup along the beaches causes more beach erosion, takes away the dunes, takes away the natural protection that inland communities have as far as the storm surge. When you build more buildings, you take away that natural vegetation, that water gets in much easier, and erodes much quicker. I hate to be a skeptic, but I think it's all about following the money. A builder builds, he wants to make a profit and somehow or another he gets it done. Until we get to the source of that problem, we're in the same situation we've always been.
KING: As Frank Lloyd Wright, you ruin the terrain when you build up on a terrain that's flat. Tony Perkins, what do you think about hotels on a beach?
PERKINS: Larry, I agree with what Rob said. It's all about the money. I think these builders feel like a lot of these areas are very desirable areas, they're areas that tourists want to go to. They're right on the beach. They don't care if it's low-lying land or not. I think some of them factor into it, what is the probability that we'll be hit by a devastating hurricane. The probability is probably fairly low for any one particular place and they figure they'll take their chances.
But like Sam Champion said earlier, it's a risk that some folks probably really should not take. But I don't think you're going to stop it. If I can add one more moment a young lady called earlier about Destin, Florida. We know that they had winds up to about 50 miles per hour in Destin. And I just happen to know because we heard it on the radio coming down here today that there are power outages, phones are out there, as well. And there has been some damage, but apparently not significant or major damage in that area.
KING: Let's take another call. We go to San Angelo, Texas. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, love your show.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: First, let me say my thoughts and prayers are with everybody that has been affected by the hurricane. My question is for Anderson or anybody on the panel. We hear about the deaths on television. And I was wondering if anyone can tell us what actually causes some of the deaths we've had in Ivan so far.
KING: Jason Bellini, do you know what causes -- the usual cause of death is in a hurricane if there is a usual cause?
BELLINI: Well, there are a multitude of reasons. One of the major reasons that people get killed is because they go on the roads against the advice of officials, and on the roads we've seen today, there are power lines everywhere. You don't know whether they're hot. You don't know whether it's safe to drive over them. Your antenna can hit them. People can step on them. I heard a story from one of my colleagues about some people who were killed in another hurricane when some children stepped into a puddle where there was a live wire. The mother went in to go rescue the children who were electrocuted. All three died as a result of electrocution. So all that can happen after the hurricane -- Larry.
KING: Also, Anderson, flying debris, right?
ANDERSON: Absolutely. That is a huge concern. What surprised me, though last night, we didn't see a lot of flying debris. As I was driving up here this morning, we were driving for about an hour or so down to this place, it -- you didn't see the debris that we saw in Florida at both the Charley and in Frances. In Frances, there were aluminum sheets that had just ripped off people's homes, ripped off people's roofs and were wrapped around trees. I mean, it looked like tin foil wrapped around a light post. You don't see that as much here. There's a lot of debris on the ground, but you don't see it so much in the trees, which has really surprised me about this one considering how high the winds were last night.
KING: Dr. Shepherd, does global warming play any part in the intensity of these hurricanes?
SHEPHERD: That's actually been a question that's been coming up of late, Larry. But it's certainly too early to try to link global warming to anything that's happening right now. Again, the climate change science program at NASA, NOAA and several of us are part of, are trying to answer questions on how the Earth's climate system is changing.
We're developing experimental models, like the ones you see here. We're really trying to understand all of these pieces. But it's certainly way too presumptive to try to link this to global warming. It's like that bad kid in the classroom, everyone wants to blame it on global warming. It's certainly too premature.
KING: Jim what do you think?
LAVER: I agree with Shepherd Marshall there, Larry. We were talking about deaths A few minutes ago. And one of the things that's happened this year is we've had an unusual number of tornadoes. I think we had eight yesterday, and at least one today. More will be confirmed, I'm sure. Some of those deaths were also directly linked to that.
And, you know we see this cycle of activity. And since 1995, last eight, nine years or so, the cycle has increased. A lot of things were built on the shores between '71 and '95, when the activity was relatively low, except for a few years. So, I think people are finding out something they didn't know 10, 20 years ago.
KING: Toledo, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Yes. My question is for Tony Perkins. They talked about the islands off the Gulf Coast and how they would be obliterated if there was a large storm surge. And what kind of surge did they have? And how much damage was done to those islands? And why aren't there more aerial shots of this area?
PERKINS: The reports, Larry, that we have heard about storm surge, particularly here in Gulf Shores, was that the storm surge was up to about 15 feet. I have not personally heard about higher amounts with this storm. You would expect the higher amounts to be right here and just to the east of here. So probably in the 15, 16 foot range is what we saw.
Of course islands, barrier islands, and places like that, they're further out to sea. They're going to bear the brunt of that storm surge, and to some extent break it up as it makes -- as the storm makes landfall over the inland areas. But what we saw here was something that was fairly devastating and, in fact, was enough to cause major flooding, fairly far inland, like we're seeing here.
What we did not see, apparently, was a widespread storm surge. For example, someone earlier was mentioning New Orleans really dodged a bullet with this one. Storm surge there would have been devastating had the storm hit right on in New Orleans. What we saw here really is about 15, 16 feet apparently from everything that I've heard.
KING: She asked about aerial shots. Why so few aerial shots?
PERKINS: Well, for one thing, during the course of the storm itself, you just, you can't fly in the storm. You're not going to have any broadcasters flying airplanes or helicopters during that. In fact, we were going to take a helicopter up earlier this afternoon and still the winds were just too strong to do it.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Take another caller. Annapolis, Maryland. Hello
CALLER: Yes! Hi. Thank you for the opportunity, Mr. King, to speak directly.
CALLER: I've given money to Red Cross. And I am wondering what else us little people can do to help? And I just wanted to send out blessings and grace and safety to all those who are out there still suffering and...
KING: Thank you. Our Red Cross representative has left. But Sam Champion what can people do?
CHAMPION: First of all, Larry, what -- does that lady not sound like the sweetest person in the world? We need a lot more of that.
There are no little people here, because these people lost, you just have to think of it, we were down touring the Lake Whales, Florida, last week, the area that got both Charley and Frances in a one-two punch. These people lost everything. They need anything you can give them. If you have stuffed animals.
And remember, they are families like your family. So canned goods or foods, non-perishable items. Blankets, bed clothes. When you don't have anything, you're glad to have something.
And from your local church, to the Red Cross to sometimes communities get together and send truck loads of things down. There's a lot you can do for these people. And God bless you for asking the question and just get a group of people together and send whatever you can. That's a great thing.
KING: South Boston, Virginia hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: I'd like to know from anyone who can answer where the hurricane is now, the storm, and how fast it's moving. I'm in a flood zone in Southeastern Virginia.
KING: Ah-ha. Sam?
CHAMPION: Just turning around during the commercial break and looking at the radar. And she's asking a good question, because I kind of like to look at what's ahead. And from anywhere from Huntsville, Alabama, to Knoxville, there are some very heavy thunderstorms.
So in northern Georgia, all the way to western South Carolina, it looks like that tonight, there are some pretty powerful, intense areas of thunderstorms there. All of this moisture is going to sit there kind of hovering around the Appalachians for a while.
If, ma'am, you are in a flood-prone area from a regular rainstorm you pick up flooding, then you need to take extra precaution here, because it's likely you're see anywhere from one to about six, seven inches of rain in your area from this storm as it moves through.
And the reason I can't be more specific with you, exactly, is that these things have built bands or little clusters of rain and this rain is going to kind of burst down in some communities and may leave other communities in 30 or 40 miles with a lot less rain.
That's the problem with this tropical moisture when it makes, is the weather becomes very unpredictable. We've heard a lot about tornadoes. So just stay on with your local radio station, or local TV station and they'll tell you whatever watches and warnings are out. And be prepared to move to higher ground, or to a place of safe shelter if threatening weather moves into your neighborhood.
KING: Palm Bay, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Hi. My question is, we live -- because of the area we live in, we had been hit by the hurricane, the Frances. And I know the power crews have been working very hard. We just got our power back up Sunday. And a lot of these crews have been working, like, 16 hours a day. They've come in from all over the southeast United States. How much longer can they keep doing all these repairs and resetting poles before their resources get stretched to the max.
KING: Good question, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, you know, it's an excellent question. They're working round the clock. And these people don't get nearly enough attention. Driving up here, we saw crews trying to do their best. A lot of relief officials, the mayor, police, they're all pitching in.
And I've got to tell you, it's pretty hard conditions to be working in. You know, they don't have much gas. There's not a lot of food to be had. They're suffering just as well as everyone else. And yet they're coming out, they're doing their jobs.
How long can they do it? That's what they are paid to do. And they're working overtime and working very hard at it. They're just going to keep after it.
You know, what they're telling people here in Alabama though is, look, we can't give you a time on when you're going to get electricity back. The caller was just saying, she just got electricity back from Frances you know. There's no telling how long it's going to take to get some of these communities here in Alabama, at least, back online.
You know, you have to hand it to these men and women out here with the power companies, the phone companies. They don't get nearly enough attention, I think.
KING: Well asked, well answered. We'll be back with our remaining moments. Some more phone calls right after this.
KING: Tony Perkins, what's this about Chucky the alligator?
PERKINS: Yeah, hello, is my cameraman here? Yeah, there's an alligator...
KING: I think Chucky just got him.
PERKINS: It's not really -- yeah, he's a little nervous about it. About 300 yards away from me, there's a zoo. They actually evacuated most of the animals before the hurricane struck, but they left the alligators. I think there were three alligators. The flood waters came, raised the alligators out of their pens. They caught two of them; one is still on the loose. But they know where it is. They tried to entice it and get it back in its cage, and they haven't been able to do that. They're going to try again tomorrow morning, and for that reason, I'm going to be leaving here tonight. I don't want to spend the night out here, just in case, you never know.
KING: Good thinking, Tony. Columbiaville, Michigan, hello. CALLER: Thank you for taking my call, Larry.
CALLER: I'd ask Mr. Laver or Mr. Shepherd about the formation of these storms off the coast of Africa. They suck up these huge amounts of water that evaporate into them, and they carry them across the Atlantic. Do they pick up water as they come and drop water? They always seem to be raining these huge amounts. Does it all come from where they're formed, or how does that process take place?
SHEPHERD: Yeah, that's a good question. If you take a look at what we'll roll here, these storms actually, for the most part, many of them begin on the continent of Africa and they move across the Atlantic Ocean. And keep in mind, these storms need several things to come together. They need warm water, they need a low amount of shear at upper levels. And many of these factors come together nicely, and these large storms, they take that water and convert that to energy. Very much in the same way our car converts gasoline to energy. These hurricanes do the same thing.
KING: Jim, could a hurricane hit Los Angeles?
LAVER: There has been some history of hurricanes off the West Coast. The East Pacific hurricanes occasionally come into that area. Usually, they kind of fall apart before they get in there, but often the rainfall in the Southwest is good for them. So -- but there has been some in recorded history into L.A. Nothing, certainly, like an Ivan.
KING: Frankfurt, Kentucky, hello.
CALLER: Hello, thank you for taking my call. My question is, we get tornadoes through -- from the Midwest, and live in Tornado Alley. And I wondered if there's a difference between the kind of tornadoes that we have and the ones that come from the hurricanes.
CHAMPION: Good question, though, because a lot of people don't understand if you don't deal with tropical moisture, you just don't quite get it, or quite understand what it is.
But basically, the tornadoes are put together in exactly the same way your tornadoes are in the Midwest in one particular event. There's just likely going to be a lot of them, because there's a lot more moisture coming inland from a hurricane, and the air is very unstable. So you're going to get multiple tornadoes building, like you would, for example, in the spring, if there was a big group of tornadoes coming along a front in the Midwest. Same tornado, same type of tornado build.
KING: Anderson, when do you head home? COOPER: Probably tomorrow. I think we're going to try to catch a flight around noon and be back in New York for the show tomorrow night.
KING: And Rob, where do you go from here?
MARCIANO: Same deal. I'm going to head home, likely tomorrow morning, and prepare for the possibility of Hurricane Jeanne coming on shore.
KING: Jason, where are you going?
BELLINI: Atlanta, most likely. We'll find out tomorrow what the marching orders are, but I want to check on my own house in Atlanta to see how it's been doing in the storm.
KING: And Tony?
PERKINS: Larry, I'm going to stay here for tomorrow morning's edition of "Good Morning America," report on the aftermath here in Alabama. And we'll see what happens after that.
Can I just mention that if I'd known that Sam Champion was going to be on the show, I'd have dressed better. My apologies about that.
KING: And Jim Laver, of course, will remain in Camp Springs and Marshall Shepherd in Greenbelt, where they are based and do such yeoman-like work, and we thank them all for being our guests tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. And I'll be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, the Hacking murder story in Utah. It should be fascinating.
Aaron Brown stands by to host "NEWSNIGHT."
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