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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Hurricane Jeanne Moves Across Florida

Aired September 26, 2004 - 07:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at the scene this morning in the coastal area of Florida, where Hurricane Jeanne made landfall. Daylight is revealing some of the damages in the wake of Jeanne, now a Category 2 hurricane. It's moving across the peninsula, heading for Tampa. The storm is expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico, turn north, cross Appalachia today and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) again perhaps in the Tallahassee area.
Good morning to you from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. This is a special edition of CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is September 26. I'm Betty Nguyen.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Drew Griffin. 7:00 a.m. in Melbourne, Florida, a place that's been hit by Hurricane Jeanne overnight. And it continues here. Let's get right to the news.

Hurricane Jeanne plowing now across central Florida, causing extensive damage. About two hours ago, it was downgraded into a Category 2 storm, topped sustain winds of 110 miles an hour. When it first made landfall seven hours ago, it was packing sustained winds of 120 miles an hour. That was a Category 3.

There are no deaths to report from the Bahamas, but significant damage. Jeanne lashed that chain of islands with fierce winds and torrential rains. Some neighborhoods reporting flood waters several feet deep. The Grand Bahama Airport among the areas underwater.

A general in the Iraqi National Guard is in U.S. custody on suspicion of ties to insurgent fighters. Just two weeks ago, the general was chosen to lead Iraqi forces in the Sunni Triangle, an area plagued by attacks. He had not yet been confirmed.

A car bomb exploded today in Damascus, Syria, killing a leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas. The victim was identified as Iz Sheik Khalil, who reportedly worked for Hamas in Gaza, but was expelled by Israel. Hamas in Gaza is now accusing Israel of killing Khalil.

NGUYEN: Right now, we are getting in some of our first video of the destruction left behind by Hurricane Jeanne. This is West Palm Beach and an idea of what kind of damage Floridians may expect to find today as the sun comes up. This home is severely damaged, but and judging from the blue tarps, it presumably bore the scars of Hurricane Francis, which is the area about three weeks ago.

In fact, Jeanne roared ashore about 20 miles from where Francis made landfall three weeks ago. Jeanne is both stronger and bigger and has another element of danger -- all the debris left behind from Francis. That could become projectiles in Jeanne's top winds which ranged at 110 miles an hour.

GRIFFIN: Rob Marciano is telling us where she is now, where she's going. Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Latest advisory in as of 7:00, guys, has decreased in intensity to 100 mile an hour sustained winds, still makes it a Category 2 storm. Its movement is west-northwest to 12. That hasn't changed a whole lot. This puts the center of the storm 50 miles south of Orlando, Florida. And with the hurricane winds, the wind field extending still to 60, 70 miles out, mostly to the north of the storm, Orlando still in the path of the Hurricane force winds here for the next couple of hours, as this thing slowly moves off.

Matter of fact, Orlando International Airport just recently had a wind gust to 78 miles an hour. So damaging winds now rolling through Orlando after seeing them from Charley and seeing them once again from Francis. And this is all heading towards Tampa as well.

So here's Orlando. Here's the center of it, about 50 miles due south of Orlando. And it's heading in this direction. Out ahead of it, a very strong eye wall here. So this is some significant weather in the form of straight line winds and definitely some heavy rain. And it's all heading towards Tampa.

This is weakening very slowly. It will still be a hurricane when it approaches the Tampa Bay area likely in the next three to four hours. And then, eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. So there you have it. You'll see north winds and northeast winds in Tampa. Right now you're seeing easterly winds in Orlando and the back side of this, in through Melbourne. You're finally starting to see those south and southeast winds. And you're finally starting to see the actions start to decrease in intensity.

But Daytona Beach, 47 mile an hour winds. Daytona, some of the outer bands in this thing are going to whip up through there. And we'll see definitely some squally weather there. 74 mile an hour winds right now in Orlando and 37 mile an hour winds in Tampa.

So that's the latest from the Hurricane Center. It continues its track towards Tampa. 100 mile an hour sustained winds at this hour. Still a strong Category 2 storm.

NGUYEN: Yes, very powerful. Thank you, Rob.

MARCIANO: Yes.

NGUYEN: We do want to remind our viewers that we want to hear from you this morning. If you are in the path of the storm or in its wake, and if you're able to e-mail us, send Rob your questions about the storm. All you have to do is send that to wam@cnn.com. And let us know what's happening with Jeanne in your area right now. Again, the address on your screen wam@cnn.com. GRIFFIN: Orlando Airport just recorded a 78 mile an hour wind gust. Eric Philips is in Orlando right now to tell us what's happening in his neck of the woods.

Eric, last we checked, it wasn't too bad, but it seems like the wind has picked up.

ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Drew, good morning. The situation is getting a little bit worse here in Orlando, as we're seeing the winds starting to pick up. I just got off the phone moments ago with emergency management officials here in Orange County. And they're telling us that they are measuring wind speeds, a sustained wind speed of about 50 miles an hour in this area, particularly in Salis (ph), Orange County, just south of the city of Orlando.

Of course, what we're feeling are those outer bands of Hurricane Jeanne whipping up on Orlando's area.

However, they're still saying that right now, they're not feeling the hurricane force winds that they were expected to see at this time here in Orlando. They are, however, starting to get some sporadic power outages as they're reporting those in the southern areas of Orange County.

But you can take a look behind me and just see what I mean what I'm talking about the winds. You can tell that the trees here are definitely blowing in the winds. Because of that, because of the winds and the uncertainty of this storm, there is still a mandatory evacuation that went into effect last night for people living in manufactured homes, as well as those who are in mobile homes.

And there's a curfew that extends from last night at 11:00 p.m. until this evening at 5:00 p.m. Emergency management officials telling me that they may reevaluate during the day if in fact it's not as bad as they first thought and lift that.

Right now, they want to take every precaution, knowing that Hurricane Jeanne can certainly be unpredictable -- Drew?

GRIFFIN: All right, Eric, thank you. And we'll keep track of you as the sun comes up there in Orlando. But so far things are looking well mildly OK.

NGUYEN: Yes, we've been asking all morning long viewers to send in their thoughts, their questions. We have an observation from Sharon in Lakeland, Florida.

She says, "I am in South Lakeland Florida (Polk County). This storm seems more intense. The wind gusts are unbelievable, but luckily we also still have power. " That is some good news there. "I'm not looking forward to the next few hours after the eye passes. I'd like to let my family in Scranton, Pennsylvania know we are OK." That is some good news there from Sharon this morning in Lakeland, Florida. GRIFFIN: Yes, I think we have a question as well. It just came into us. We're going to try to get Rob Marciano all set up to answer this.

MARCIANO: Sure, what have you got?

GRIFFIN: I'm hoping we have it up, because I haven't gotten -- here it is. "I live in Jacksonville. Husband and I and our three children evacuated to Macon, Georgia. Now it seems Jeanne is headed this way. Should we go farther north to Tennessee? Or should we go west to Alabama to escape this storm?

This is a pretty good question from Ornika, where to go when this thing is wobbling all over the place and now cutting up through the middle of Florida.

MARCIANO: Well, you might as well drive to Atlanta. Come see us. Take the CNN tour...

GRIFFIN: You know, a lot of people have.

MARCIANO: Yes, I think last go around they did.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

NGUYEN: And we got a lot of rain the last go around as well and some storm damage here.

MARCIANO: Well, I think we won't see the wind damage that we saw last go around, but we will see some rains that will potentially flood. Macon, which folks who don't know is, is you know, south of Atlanta by an hour or so. And it -- they also see-fine weather tonight.

Tomorrow, rain and gusty winds, as the remnants of this thing does head pretty much over Macon. But by then, it'll be at best strong tropical depression or tropical storm. Winds, 30, 40, miles an hour. So as long as they're in a building, shouldn't be much of an issue. Macon's fine.

NGUYEN: OK, Macon is good.

GRIFFIN: And than you Anika, I think, providing...

NGUYEN: Yes, we do invite you to continue sending your questions, your responses. That is wam@cnn.com.

Now we want to get a situation report on the ground in West Palm Beach. And for that, we go to CNN's Susan Candiotti.

Earlier it wasn't too bad. Relatively calm there. What's it like right now?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's calmed down again. No more squalls coming through, but best of all, we're now starting to see the sun come up. Obviously, this will help out emergency personnel who will get a better idea of exactly how much damage there is throughout the country. Perhaps over my shoulder, that , you can see of course, the intercoastal waterway. We're at the Palm Beach Yacht club. And part of that dock, most of the dock remains underwater, what with the storm surge and all.

They have been predicting anywhere from five to 10 inches of rain. I haven't had any official report yet on exactly how much they did receive in West Palm Beach. Clearly, well possibly not as much as they have farther up north, where you're seeing my colleagues Anderson Cooper reporting and Gary Tuchman, as an example.

However, we can tell you that at least a half million people here are without power, as compared to 600,000 for Hurricane Francis about three weeks ago.

We're still getting some relatively strong gusts here from time to time.

Now driving around, we are getting a look at some of the initial damage. A driving rainstorm, of course, was -- and strong enough winds to knock down some power lines surely, as well as traffic lights and doing some structural damage as well as you drive about the city.

However, downtown West Palm Beach, we can tell you we didn't see all that much structural damage. Some broken windows, however.

And only about a block away from where we are reporting to you from, we did see a home that had been damaged heavily by Hurricane Francis a few weeks ago. They had put a tarp up because the roof had blown off. And that tarp is now in tatters because of Hurricane Jeanne.

So we hope to be hearing in just a few hours from now from the emergency management officials their first reports of how things are going. And that includes how people made out in the area shelters, 12,000 of them sought shelter in about 16. They had to open up an additional one after five reached capacity.

Betty, back to you.

NGUYEN: Susan, as daylight comes up there, a lot of people wanting to go home to assess the damage there. What about the curfew? Is that still in effect?

CANDIOTTI: No, it was lifted as of 6:00 this morning. However, as you can imagine, authorities at times like this hardly want people going around if they're sightseers, for example, if you want to check out your home. They're even discouraging that, I think, until they're able to get some official word out on how bad or how not so bad things are.

And it's also a good idea to listen to that kind of information if you're at home or in a shelter, to find out which roads are passable, which are not. As an example on A-1A, south of where we're reporting to from, we have a report of a huge Australian pine tree that is blocking that road which runs up and down the beach.

So those -- that kind of information will be coming in, as the morning goes on. People will then have a better idea of where they can go and when they can go out, Betty.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. CNN'S Susan Candiotti in West Palm Beach this morning. Thank you -- Drew?

GRIFFIN: If this was your week to go to Florida, obviously you're going to have to wait a day or two. We want to tell you about the airports that are closed. They are Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Melbourne. I just checked online with Tampa. They say to your airline. I'm not sure if that airport is rolling flights or not.

Coastal ports also have been shut down. And this is going to be a big economic impact for the next few days. Port of Miami, Port of Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, and Port Canaveral.

And of course, the amusement parks, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens. These are all closed until Jeanne moves on. And I'm sure they're going to have some cleaning up to do there as well.

NGUYEN: Yes, not a good day at Disney or any of those theme parks.

In the meantime, though, stay with CNN all day, as we track Hurricane Jeanne's march through Florida. We have crews all across the storm battered state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Certainly welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Jeanne now. And the head of the Federal Emergency Management Group, FEMA, is with us, Michael Brown.

Michael, I was hoping you and I or some of us could get a weekend off somewhere here, but here we go again. You are practically opening up shop there with your FEMA folks in Florida. What's the status of the emergency now? Are you getting information or reports of damage from around the state yet?

MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: Well, we really have opened up shop down here in Florida. In fact, I have about 500 employees in one place in Orlando that we've had to evacuate primarily because there have been hurricane force winds in Orlando reported this morning.

So Jeanne remains a very serious storm. I'm very concerned right now about the amount of moisture that's in Jeanne. I'm afraid we're going to see a lot of inland flooding, not only in Florida, but as Jeanne starts tracking up towards the Georgia and Carolinas. I'm afraid we're going to see a lot of flooding.

Just yesterday, I was in North Carolina and saw the devastation from floods caused by Hurricane Ivan. So people need to remain very, very cautious about this storm. Even if you don't live in Florida, pay attention to it.

GRIFFIN: This is somewhat unchartered territory, where we have damaged areas being hit yet again. What kind of problems is that going to bring?

BROWN: Well, it's just a logistical challenge for us. You know, we move in and start doing debris removal and reconstruction. And then these storms move in. And we have to shut that down very temporarily and get our workers out of way, so they themselves don't become victims. And then as soon as it's safe, move them back in.

So there's a lot of stop, start, stop, start going on that I know is frustrating for victims. It's frustrating for us. But we're going to persevere and we're going to keep doing that until we get this state fully back on its feet.

GRIFFIN: And what is the toll on your teams? They're obviously pulled away from their own families. They're down there now in what could be a dangerous situation and dealing with a lot of frustrated people I imagine, who want assistance immediately?

BROWN: Well, and it is, but this team is accustomed to dealing with that sort of situation. So we cycled it -- made it -- I make certain, just like I would ask all people in Florida and others affected by these hurricanes, that once and a while, you've got to stop whatever you're doing and just take a day off and take a deep breath and kind of get rejuvenated.

I make certain that our teams do the exact same thing.

GRIFFIN: Michael Brown, the director of FEMA, unfortunately, sir, becoming a very regular on our weekend broadcast with these hurricanes, but hopefully we'll be through this one. You guys will begin doing your work yet again and get Florida back to normal. Thanks again.

BROWN: Absolutely. Thank you, Drew.

NGUYEN: And for those feeling the full force of Jeanne right now, here are some numbers you may want to jot down. The Florida Emergency hotline number is on your screen. And it's 1-800-621-3362. And that's the FEMA Disaster Assistance number as well. 1-800-621- 3362.

GRIFFIN: Guy Swenson riding in. He's in Orlando, lives just outside downtown. And he says, "I still have power and cable. This storm is so much worse than Charley and Francis. The winds howling outside. The rain relatively non-existent in comparison to the wind. My condo is moaning and creaking," he says. "And my large sliding glass doors are bending in and out with the wind. But everything is OK for now." Guy in Orlando having an interesting evening.

NGUYEN: And this person wants to know how long he's going to be OK. Writes, "Hey, in South Carolina here, what will be the story when the storm comes up this way?" Rob, what's your answer to that, South Carolina? MARCIANO: South Carolina, by the time it heads up there, it'll be just a little swirl in the atmosphere, but it will bring with it some rain. And that's been the main concern with a lot of these storms that have rolled up the Appalachian Mountain chain. And this will be no different. It looks like it'll head that way and eventually scoot out to sea, actually.

The latest forecast track will be coming out. And then we'll get it -- an idea of what will happen. I could tell you this. Once these things hit -- make landfall, the forecast track accuracy seems to get a little bit wacky.

So you know, whether this thing heads -- remains inland and stays like say in Western South Carolina, and dumps a ton of rain in the mountains and causes some flooding there, or whether it actually curve -- continues to recurve, which is what we think it might actually do, and then head out to sea, that would be the best case scenario.

But once these things hit land, the forecast gets a little bit wacky I've noticed in the past couple of years. So we'll see what happens, but it could very well cause some flooding. We're hoping it recurves out to sea.

GRIFFIN: Rob, I have a question. Michael Brown was just on. And he was coming down from North Carolina, the beginning of the flooding damage there. That was over in the Asheville area, I believe. Will this storm be east of there when it crosses up through North Carolina?

MARCIANO: It should be at this -- yes. That's the forecast.

GRIFFIN: That's at least some good news.

NGUYEN: Rob, stay with us just a second.

MARCIANO: OK.

NGUYEN: We want to bring in some video now of one of the affiliates. I believe it's WPLG. Look at some of the traffic cameras this morning, as hopefully people are staying off the roads. It kind of appears that way. But obviously, in this -- this is the Orlando area. Rain is still coming down. The streets are very slick. Even that traffic camera appears to be shaking a bit in the wind. What's the situation in Orlando right now?

MARCIANO: Orlando right now is seeing hurricane conditions, for the most part. Winds are sustained at over 50 miles an hour. They had to have wind gusts, 78. And the rain is coming down fairly heavily. So they're getting the onslaught of Hurricane Jeanne right now. The center of it is due south of Orlando by 50 miles. It's not heading toward Orlando. It's heading towards Tampa. So it'll miss -- the eye itself will miss Orlando, but it's getting the northern fringe of the eye wall, which means that they're pretty much getting a taste of the hurricane and all its fury right now, and will continue to do so for the next three to four hours before this thing moves farther -- far enough to the west, where it won't be as much of a factor in Orlando.

But they will see damaging winds and certainly some heavy rains here for the next three to four hours in Orlando. Batten down the hatches there at DisneyWorld.

NGUYEN: Prepare yourselves.

GRIFFIN: You're watching live coverage of Hurricane Jeanne. When will it bend north? When will it go east? We'll be here to track it all through the morning and probably into the afternoon.

NGUYEN: And definitely stay with us for rolling coverage, right here on CNN. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, good morning, and welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Jeanne, the fourth hurricane to slam into Florida. This is a live look at affiliate WF-Television this morning. As you can see, it appears to be a mobile home park. And there are some rooftops that have blown off. Some siding that's blown off of these mobile homes. And of course, debris in the street.

I'm sure we're going to see much more of this throughout the day, as daylight comes up over Florida. You'll get a chance to look at the damage there.

This is in Orlando from our affiliate WF-Television this morning.

GRIFFIN: We are in a unique position at CNN to have so many reporters, our own, all along the beach and the oceanfront in Florida, and also the affiliates, who have done just a remarkable job up and down the Florida coast.

We want to let you take a look at what it looked like through their eyes, the reporters out there, as Hurricane Jeanne was coming ashore overnight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots of winds and intense rains have now been taking place for several hours here.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We just got some official confirmation now that Jeanne -- Hurricane Jeanne has officially made landfall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lights that you see beyond me now are from that Hummer. And it's just hobbling about. Look at this. Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're getting too much debris flowing by here. In fact, this is the definition of hunkering down, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These may be the worst conditions I've seen during any of these four hurricanes over the last six weeks in Florida. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The wind now, I'm facing directly in the wind. And it's honestly very hard to stand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Those pictures from much earlier this morning, as Jeanne came ashore. Want to remind you that that person, a reporter in the yellow jumpsuit, the rainsuit, was OK. We saw him fall in that video. I know a lot of people were thinking oh, goodness, what's happened to him? But he is OK this morning, happy to report that.

And we have quite an interesting story in all of this damage by Jeanne. The winds may have been knocking at the church windows, but the wedding march, it still played on. Check it out.

Asked to speak now or forever hold your peace, Hurricane Jeanne, she stayed silent as this Florida bride and groom managed to tie the knot, despite the mess all around them. They were married in Melbourne, an area as you recall, under mandatory evacuation orders. But obviously, many chose to ignore those orders in favor of arguably more important things.

So I guess some good things can come out of destruction, which Jeanne is apparently causing this morning.

GRIFFIN: I had some friends married during Hurricane Hugo in Charleston, 1989. They're still married.

NGUYEN: See? It could be a good luck sign.

GRIFFIN: Good sign. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Seven hours ago, Hurricane Jeanne struck Florida's east coast near the spot where Hurricane Francis came ashore just three weeks ago. Landfall occurring about 40 miles north of West Palm Beach.

Welcome back. I'm Drew Griffin at CNN Global Headquarters here in Atlanta.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. More on Jeanne in just a minute.

But first, here's a look at some other news today. And of course topping that, Hurricane Jeanne now a Category 2 storm. But it's still causing heartache to Florida. Jeanne came ashore on the state's eastern coast, as a Category 3. It ripped roofs from buildings and scattered debris that had been stacked up from previous hurricanes, three previous hurricanes to be exact.

Some 817,000 customers do not have electricity at this hour. And officials say it may take days to get the power flowing again.

Next to Iraq, he had been picked to lead a key National Guard post in the Baquba area, but now he is behind bars. An Iraqi general remains in custody, after U.S. forces arrested him this weekend. He's suspected of having ties to insurgent fighters.

And there's been an Israeli missile strike in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel says it's target, a weapons factory. The Palestinians say the Israelis destroyed a medal workshop in a refugee camp. They've launched several attacks on the refugee camp over the past week.

A search is to resume a little bit later today for a Hawaiian sight seeing helicopter. It crashed in a remote mountainous area of Kauai Friday. A pilot and four passengers are missing. Crews spotted the burned wreckage yesterday, but were unable to reach the area before dark.

GRIFFIN: Hurricane Jeanne right now in the center of Florida and moving northwest. Rob Marciano has the track in the weather center -- Rob?

MARCIANO: Hi, guys. The eye wall beginning to collapse just a little bit. We're starting to see this thing weaken. And we have now winds of 100 miles an hour.

Still a Category 2 storm and still expected to reach Tampa or just north and east of Tampa as at least a Category 1 storm.

You see this thing making landfall overnight? In the same spot where Francis made landfall almost three weeks ago to the exact hour, almost.

And now it's heading towards Tampa, which is kind of the way Francis headed that way, too. But this storm is stronger. Right now the winds are 100 miles an hour. It's a Category 2 storm. It's movement is towards the west-northwest. And this is the forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. So we take it, just to -- between Orlando and Tampa, basically. Closer to Tampa and then scoot just offshore, just past Spring Hill, and off through Appalachia Bay.

Now waters over here not all that warm. Not because they've been mixed up from Ivan. So it shouldn't strengthen all that much. Then the recurvature begins across southern Georgia. Likely as the tropical storm, then to a tropical depression. And then across parts of southern -- South Carolina and North Carolina and eventually out to sea. This maybe even recurve further. But either you way you slice it, it's going to bring some significant rain once it makes another landfall tonight. It'll bring significant rain to parts of Southern Georgia and South Carolina, where they've already seen enough rain from the past hurricanes that have moved through.

Here's your radar imagery. Here's the center of this storm. Orlando, 50 miles to the south is the center of the eye. Now it's not as distinct as it used to be because it's starting to fill in here, as it weakens.

But nonetheless, this western part of the eye wall is about to head into Tampa. And that's where we're going to see the squalliest weather, the nastiest weather, I should say. 43 mile an hour wind gusts in Tampa. 72 right now in Orlando wind gusts there. Look at the Fort Myers, 53 as well. Melbourne, Fort Pierce, West Palm Beach, blown out of the gully. Their gauges are not reporting. Haven't been since midnight, guys. And that was the same case with Francis either because of loss of power or because the wind gauges and the other instruments just got blown away.

But Orlando and Tampa, definitely under the gun for the next several hours. Back to you.

NGUYEN: All right, brace yourself in that area. Thank you so much for that.

GRIFFIN: We are including you in our live coverage of Hurricane Jeanne this time around. If you have anything you want to ask Rob or an observation if you're in Hurricane Jeanne's path, you can send us an e-mail right there at wam@cnn.com.

NGUYEN: Also want you to let us know what's happening with Jeanne in your area. Again, wam@cnn.com. We'll be reading those responses on the air throughout the program. And it'll be on for quite some time this morning.

Also, stay with CNN all day long for live continuing coverage of Hurricane Jeanne. We have CNN correspondents posted all along the storm's path -- Drew?

GRIFFIN: Let's check in now. Anderson Cooper, Chad Myers, who are being blown around in Melbourne, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You know, it's interesting. It's no longer a matter of sort of gusts coming and then they're being a lull. This is just relentless non-stop, just brutal winds. And there's really no let up in sight.

CHAD MYERS, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, at this point in time, it is hard to stand up. Remember you asked me about 20 miles an hour ago when is it going to be very hard to do this? And I said about 100. And this is pretty darn close...

COOPER: It could be literally the equipment starts to rip off you in these kinds of winds. Got to put this back.

But Catherine, it's amazing. You know, we thought this thing was kind of -- we thought we had started seeing the worst of it. But this is definitely the worst we've seen so far.

MYERS: Yes, no question about it. And whether this is just one squall inside that van, because sometimes that'll happen. Sometimes you'll get one squall -- sorry can't stop.

COOPER: Please, Chad.

MYERS: Sometimes you get one squall that will make a heavy wind even in a light time, in a light squall. But this obviously one of the bigger ones inside a heavy rains, heavy fall.

COOPER: So there's really no telling how long -- I mean Rob was saying it might last 45, 50 minutes?

MYERS: It sure could. And if the storm continues to turn right, which it's not doing yet, we could be in the eye wall for an even longer time.

COOPER: Yes, that's when we found out it's not good news for us here. But I mean, I don't know how much you can see on the camera, but it is literally, I mean you look 20 feet away. It's this wall of white water. It looks -- I mean, it's like a solid mass.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: OK, Anderson Cooper and Chad Myers, spending a lot of time together there. That was last night, obviously taped from overnight down there in Melbourne, Florida.

NGUYEN: They've spent a lot of time together over the past, what, three hurricanes. Now this being the fourth one to hit Florida. And we want to know what you're experiencing right where you are in Florida. We've been asking for your responses all morning long. And in fact, we have one to put up on the air.

This one is from Carrie. She writes -- actually where did it go? Are we getting one up on the air? If we could put that up, we could read it to you because we don't have it up here.

All right, here we go. This person writes, "I live in Dade City, Florida, which is about 30 miles north of Tampa and about 20 miles from Spring Hill. I can say we are most definitely getting more wind than we did during Francis. The gusts are very bad seems like the trees will just break in half. Hopefully they won't. So far, we only get them periodically. They're warning us the worst is yet to come and I can only pray we all make it through."

I believe we have a question that we want to put up on the air as well. And hopefully Rob can answer this question. Do we have that?

GRIFFIN: We're having a little trouble. Let's tell you that the Florida Emergency Hotline numbers and power and light numbers are 1- 800-4-OUTAGE for reporting electricity loss and getting information about it, if you can, 1-800-4-OUTAGE. We're going to take a break and...

NGUYEN: Actually, we have a question when...

GRIFFIN: A question for Rob. So let's put it up on the screen right now. And Rob, if you're there, "I have three children in Florida, one in Pensacola, one in Fort Walton, they went through Ivan. My daughter is in Sarasota. I have heard nothing about Sarasota. Is Jeanne going to affect Sarasota? Thank you for an answer, Carrie, the mother of three children scattered about Florida."

Well, maybe we don't have Rob. We have the e-mail, but I can tell you...

NGUYEN: We get the e-mail, but we don't have Rob.

GRIFFIN: ...Carrie, that right now, it looks like the worst of it is going to be above Sarasota, as this continues to track northwest.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's heading to Tampa right now.

GRIFFIN: Right. North, it should be just northwest of Tampa. Sarasota below Tampa. So she should be OK.

Now we're going to take a break and will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Our Gary Tuchman is in Fort Pierce, Florida. And he brings us the latest on the situation there. And he has filed this just a little while earlier via videophone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Fort Pierce, Florida, the heavy rain started Saturday afternoon, continued into the night after midnight. And now in the morning, the rain is still coming down in buckets.

Serious flooding all over the city of Fort Pierce, population 40,000. This county is of St. Lucie, population 210,000.

I can tell you, though, the saddest story so far that we've heard, and there may be more when the sun comes up, but at this point, emergency officials are believing they are dealing with a person who accidentally drove off a bridge over the intercoastal waterway during the worst of this hurricane.

They have not spotted the car in the intercoastal waterway. However, they got calls from people saying they saw a car plunge into the water. The Coast Guard went to the bridge, saw a hole in the guard rail where a car could have gone. And after the sun comes up, they will further examine that, but they are very afraid of what they might find.

There have been reports of injuries also. The problem is emergency officials have not been able to go out to check them out because the conditions have been too dangerous. They gave people a warning. If you don't want to evacuate in the area near the ocean, near the intercoastal, we can't help you if you get in trouble.

And lots of roofs here in St. Lucie County have been torn off during this hurricane. We are near the eye, where the eye crossed. As a matter of fact, the very northern tip of the eye was over the city of Fort Pierce, Florida.

So for about two hours and 15 minutes, we had virtually calm winds. No rain for a period of time. Before that, the gusts were up to 120 miles per hour here in Fort Pierce. It never got that strong again, but for hours afterwards, the winds continue.

After the sun comes up, there's a lot of looking here to do. But I can tell you now from driving around when the eye was here, there is lots of damage here in St. Lucie County, Florida.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: And when Hurricane Jeanne slammed ashore, she was a very powerful storm, a Category 3 hurricane. One of the first areas where she hit made landfall is in Martin County, Florida. We have the commissioner on the phone there, Michael Diterlizi.

Good morning to you.

MICHAEL DITERLIZI, MARTIN COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Good morning. How are you, Betty?

NGUYEN: I'm doing well. More importantly, how are you? Tell us about the damage there. This is a hard hit area.

DITERLIZI: Well, we were just, you know, hit three weeks ago with Francis. And the eye crossed over Martin County. And again, last night, the eye crossed over Martin County.

We were out doing damage assessments. We were out during the storm -- during the eye doing damage assessments. There's not as widespread a damage as Hurricane Francis, as far as debris. But there is some catastrophic damage to buildings.

We have several condominium complexes that have had tremendous damage. Some four buildings are down. We've got some bridge damage out on the outgoing to the causeway to the barrier islands also.

NGUYEN: What about power outages and flooding in that area?

DITERLIZI: We have some minor flooding in the areas. We also have some tidal surge flooding in the low lying areas. We also have 100 percent power outage throughout the county.

NGUYEN: 100 percent. Did many of the folks in that area seek shelter this time around? Because this morning, we're hearing reports that a lot of people decided that they would stay home this time, and not seek shelter. Is that the case there?

DITERLIZI: Well, the last word I got last night was that we were at about a third capacity in our shelters. We have room for about 5,000 people, including special needs. And we were at about a third capacity.

NGUYEN: Have you heard about any deaths or injuries so far?

DITERLIZI: We have not heard about any deaths. We know there were probably some injuries. We have our emergency services people out doing search and rescue right now. There was a rollover accident on I-95 in the middle of the storm. And there were some people that were stuck under some overpasses, trying to seek shelter during the storm.

NGUYEN: What about a curfew? Are you asking people just to stay inside? Does a curfew remain in effect in that area?

DITERLIZI: Yes, we have a mandatory curfew from 4 p.m. yesterday on through until it's determined to be safe and also there's a ban on alcoholic beverage sales.

NGUYEN: Now this is a really strong storm, Category 3 when it came through. But you say the damage isn't as bad as Francis, which wasn't a strong, but it was a slow moving storm?

DITERLIZI: Well, I think that had a lot of effect on it because it was such a slow moving storm. And we also got a lot of -- we had a lot of debris. We had a lot of debris cleaned up already.

So we think most of the damage was done from Hurricane Francis. Our preliminary reports last night, when we were out during the eye, there was some roadway damage. Obviously some traffic signals were down. Some trees were down. But the vegetative debris was not as bad as Francis had it. Although I understand some of the building damage was worse than with Francis.

NGUYEN: And you'll get to see a lot more of that today and how extensive that damage is as the crews can venture out obviously waiting until it's safe enough to do so.

Martin County Commissioner, Michael Diterlizi, we thank you for your information this morning.

DITERLIZI: You're very welcome. Have a nice day.

NGUYEN: You, too. Drew?

GRIFFIN: Keith Oppenheim is with us from Daytona Beach. And Daytona Beach may be an area that was far enough north. And now, far enough east that it might miss some of this.

Keith, what are the conditions there?

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a combination of factors, Drew. First of all, I'm going to give you a view of the surf here to give you a sense of what it's like on the edge of a large storm, as we look out and take a view of what -- the waves look like right now.

The storm surge here is probably going to be between two and four feet. The good news is it's low tide. But even so, when you add up the steady winds and the heavy rain that we're getting in this area, there's likely to be some flooding in this part of Volusia County.

But the real story here, Drew, is that this area has now been hit three times. Twice from this angle from now Jeanne and previously from Francis, from three weeks ago. But also from Hurricane Charley, because though Hurricane Charley came from the Gulf of Mexico and hit hard on places like Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, it crossed the state and it came to this spot.

So as you can understand, people are very hurricane weary in this area because they have really taken it now three times from all these storms.

GRIFFIN: How long has it been hitting there?

OPPENHEIM: It's been steady like this for, I would say, a good four or five hours. And from what we are hearing from forecasters, it's going to be pretty much like this for another five, six more.

And when you add it all up, it's likely that some things will start to rip apart. Again, what we're seeing here in Volusia County is not nearly as bad as what you have several counties south, in Brevard County, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach. But it's -- the fact that the wind and rain keep on coming.

Right now, we still actually have power here. So that's a sign that things are pretty good. But in this area, they lost power for six days, when the -- when Hurricane Charley came by and when Hurricane Francis came by. We lost power here for three days.

So it's expected, not for sure, that there will be a loss of some basic services as a result of Hurricane Jeanne.

GRIFFIN: All right, Keith Oppenheim, Daytona Beach, live. And that's what it looks like right at this moment. Thanks.

NGUYEN: Want to see what it looks like in Lake County, Florida. And for that, we want to go to affiliate WF-TV's reporter Jody Fleisher.

Good morning to you. Not -- well no, the storm it just seems to be surging there as well?

JODY FLEISHER, WF-TV NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. We've got winds at about 40 miles an hour sustained gusting to about 50 miles an hour right now. But take a look behind me. This is the Emerald Lakes mobile home park. You can see, this isn't even the height of the storm here yet. And we already have roofs flying off of these mobile homes, just peeling back like tin cans, siding all over the ground. There's fiber glass.

Now the good news is most of these folks evacuated. We've got a lot of folks in shelters. About 2,000 people here in Lake County. These folks learned their lesson with the first two storms. They had ankle deep water on these streets. There's a lake right behind these homes that actually floods quite frequently. A lot of folks are retirees. Some of them have special needs. So they -- it's a good thing they actually heeded the warning and got out before the height of this.

Now with that said, there are a few stragglers we have seen that have changed their minds this morning, gotten in the cars, and actually decided to leave as of late after seeing what these weaker winds have done, 40 to 50 miles an hour, we're expecting up to 75 mile an hour winds later this morning.

NGUYEN: Yes, in Orlando at the airport, winds have been clocked at least 78 miles per hour. For folks watching at home and not familiar with Florida, tell us where Lake County, Florida is?

FLEISHER: Lake County is actually -- the city we're in, Claremont, is just west of the city of Orlando. And Claremont is the southern part of Lake County. Lake County actually reaches further to the north.

Of course, the hurricane force winds are now only expected in the southern part of the county, given that the track is actually moved further to the south.

NGUYEN: All right, Jody Fleisher with WF-Television in Lake County, Florida, which is near Orlando. Thank you so much for that report.

And we are going to continue our coverage of Hurricane Jeanne. Keep it right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: In about an hour, the state of Florida is going to hold a news conference. We'll hopefully have that for you live and the latest conditions.

But right now, Rob Marciano is tracking where Francis is -- Rob?

MARCIANO: Still heading towards Tampa, guys. And just the north of Tampa. It is due south of Orlando at this hour. About 50 miles to the south-southwest of Orlando. And Orlando getting peppered with rain and gusty winds.

The eye of this storm is beginning to weaken and collapse just a little bit, but as this happens, the wind fields often remain the same, if not spread out just a little bit. And that's what we expect to happen here. So Florida not quite done yet. And even as far away as say Daytona Beach or to Jacksonville, we'll see some squally weather as the day progresses.

Here's the forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Still making its way towards Tampa and just to the east or north towards the Spring Hill and Clearwater. And then out over the open waters or almost open waters of the Gulf of Mexico is a tropical storm likely not to regenerate. And then heading just to the east of Tallahassee and Perry later on today.

All right, here's that eye wall I spoke of. Orlando and the center of the eye -- right about here. And it's moving in this direction. This eye wall -- the western eye wall seems to be holding it together quite nicely. And that means that folks who live in Tampa and to the northeast of Tampa are going to see some weather that's going downhill very quickly here in the next hour or two.

You will likely see hurricane force winds and definitely rain that's going sideways. And damaging winds will mean that tree limbs, at the very least, and maybe some power lines down there.

122 still the high number at Vero Beach as far as wind gusts go, Drew and Betty. Orlando, 78 mile an hour wind gusts. That could be higher. I don't expect to see much higher than this in Tampa, but certainly winds strong enough to down some trees and obviously some power lines. It's going to be a big, big issue here in the next couple days.

Back to you in the studio.

NGUYEN: All right.

GRIFFIN: Rob, while you were gone, real quickly, a viewer called in about Sarasota. I told them this should be north of there, not too much of a problem.

NGUYEN: Right. Good call, buddy.

GRIFFIN: OK.

NGUYEN: Right.

Stay tuned for more coverage of Hurricane Jeanne. Stay with us.

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