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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Hurricane Dennis Downgraded, Heads for Alabama

Aired July 10, 2005 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Dennis slammed ashore on the Gulf Coast today about 3:30 Eastern Time. President Bush declared portions of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi disaster areas. No deaths in the United States. At least 32 people died in Haiti and Cuba.
Let's go to National Hurricane Center in Miami. Max Mayfield, he is the director of that center. I know that center very well, having lived for 20 years in Miami. How bad is this one, Max?

MAX MAYFIELD, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, Larry, when it made landfall, it was a Category 3 hurricane with winds estimated near 115 to 120 miles per hour in a very, very limited area, in Navarre Beach, in the Northwest (ph) of the Panhandle.

It's now moving into southwestern Alabama. You can see it here on the radar loop. Nothing at all like the hurricane it was here a few hours ago. In fact, it's been downgraded to a tropical storm at this time.

KING: They usually die over land. Why, Max?

MAYFIELD: A hurricane is a heat engine. It gets its source of energy from the warm ocean. And if you remove that source of energy, it starts to weaken. And that's exactly what's happening as it moves over land.

KING: Did any of western Florida, other than Pensacola and that region, get hurt?

MAYFIELD: I'm absolutely sure that there will be some significant storm surge flooding from where the center across the coast, which was on the Santa Rosa Island, well out to the east, beyond Destin, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Loftin Beach (ph), St. Johns Island (ph), all the way up into St. Marks and the Apalachee Bay area of the extreme northeastern Gulf of Mexico on the immediate coastline.

We'll have to wait and see what they report back tomorrow morning on Navarre Beach. That's the area that I'm most concerned about.

KING: They forecast, did they not, before this season began, that there would be a lot of hurricanes this year?

MAYFIELD: We did.

KING: Did you join that forecast?

MAYFIELD: Larry, there are a lot of people who make a seasonal forecast. NOAA, the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration is certainly one of those. And all of these season forecasts I'm aware of indicated that it would be a very active season.

And you know, we have four named storms here, and we've never had that happen before this early in July. So you know, we're not at an end to the peak of the season yet.

KING: Stay with us, Max. We'll be checking back.

Let's go on the phone to Mayor John Fogg, the mayor of Pensacola, one of my favorite cities, western city in the Panhandle of Florida. What happened there, Mayor? What can you tell us?

MAYOR JOHN FOGG, PENSACOLA, FLORIDA: Well, Larry, I'll tell you, it turned out very well for us. We fully expected the eye to pass just to the west of us, which would have put us in the right front advancing quadrant, which is where the storm surge occurs most. And in the wake of Ivan, even though it's been 10 months ago, we still have several years of recovery that we have in front of us. So another storm of that magnitude with that kind of tidal surge would have been devastating to our community.

But just at the last moment, the eye changed to a more northerly course, and as a result of that, the eye wall, the western edge of the eye wall, just passed to the east of Pensacola, which was an absolute blessing. And so the winds were out of the north and northwest so that we didn't see the tidal surge that we were so concerned about.

KING: Have you conducted people leaving? Have you ordered evacuations anywhere?

FOGG: We did in all of the low-lying flood plains and, with certain kind of manufactured homes and trailers and things of that nature, people were required to leave. As it turned out, and again, as a result of our experience with Ivan, most people that were inclined to evacuate did so two and three and even four days ago. They did it with such, actually with such frequency that we had filling stations -- it was almost impossible to find gas in the Pensacola area, because people were evacuating or stockpiling gas in their own cars and jerry jugs for generators.

KING: Are you surprised, Mayor, that thus far, thank heavens, no reported deaths so far?

FOGG: I'm not surprised, and this is the reason. After our Ivan experience, we did have between 20 -- approximately 25 people lost their lives in this area with that storm. And people realized that you cannot stay in a low-lying area or on a beach, certainly, when a storm of that magnitude comes through. And so people were already in a mindset where they were ready to leave and then made preparations to do it. They did it sooner than they did in Aaron or Opal in '95, and as a result of that, we had very little congestion and very little -- very few people were put at risk.

In Ivan, we had 900 nine-one-one calls from people who were in extreme trouble in low-lying areas, who had chosen not to evacuate. And in this case, we had almost none where there was anybody in actual an emergency situation.

KING: You're watching, by the way, a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, covering Hurricane Dennis. We'll do an aftermath show tomorrow night, as well. We will be taking phone calls if you want to call in. And talking to various guests.

Let's go to Washington now. Marty Evans is president and CEO of the American Red Cross. What does the Red Cross do while this is going on? Or do they wait till it's over?

MARTY EVANS, PRESIDENT/CEO, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, Larry, we several days ago began opening shelters so that people who heeded the warnings from the authorities in the direction could move into shelters. We have 152 shelters opened in the region, and many of those shelters were quite full. We'll have people stay in the shelters, hopefully, until tomorrow or when the storm passes through for the northern shelters. And then they'll go back into their neighborhoods.

And as they come back into their neighborhoods, if they can't inhabit their homes, we'll be setting up additional shelters. We're doing feeding operations. We'll be doing damage assessment in the coming days. We'll get food to where people are.

So it's -- it's a large scale operation, and it began several days ago and will continue for several weeks, most likely, into the future.

KING: When the president declares, as he had, portions of this disaster areas, does the Red Cross get any funds for that? Or is that given directly to people?

EVANS: The funds that people receive from FEMA largely go directly to them. We depend, as a non-profit organization, on the American public and the generosity of the American public to provide the disaster report services that we provide, not only in the hurricane areas but we actually respond to about 70,000 disasters a year.

And so that's why we're asking the American public to come forward and help us with this disaster.

KING: Anderson Cooper of -- the anchor of CNN's "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is in Pensacola. When did you get there, and was it easy getting there?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Yes, it actually wasn't too bad getting here. I was actually in London, I guess 24 hours ago. I'm a little confused at what day it is, actually. I was in London covering the bombings. I came here last night, flew into Dallas, from Dallas to Mobile, Alabama. Mobile, Alabama, I drove, actually to Panama City Beach, because that's where we thought the storm was going to hit hardest.

Then I woke up this morning, realized it's going to be a little bit more to the west. So I actually drove back to Pensacola. And we, you know, we took a long time to find a good, safe location that we could broadcast from. We actually had to evacuate the location we were in and run about six or 700 feet to a Ramada Hotel, where we sought safety.

I want to show you some of what happened when we got to that hotel. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Get back! Get back! Get back! Get back! It's coming apart.

COOPER: Look over there. Look over there.

ZARRELLA: It's coming apart.

COOPER: That is aluminum. That's part of the sign.

ZARRELLA: It's all coming apart. The trees are coming down.

COOPER: Did you see that tree went down?

ZARRELLA: Big trees coming down. Big trees coming down.

COOPER: Be very careful. Look at that sign.

ZARRELLA: Here comes the sign! Get down! It's blowing apart. Get back! Get back! Get back!

COOPER: Unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it. John, this is incredible. Have you seen anything like this?

ZARRELLA: Never seen anything like this. I've never experienced anything like this before.

COOPER: This, of course, is the most dangerous time, when the winds...

ZARRELLA: Tree limbs are flying down. These pine trees, you see them out there. They keep -- big branches coming down, huge limbs.

COOPER: And it's incredible when you think, I mean these are strong pieces of metal. This is not, you know, little tin. This is a huge metal sign that survived Hurricane Ivan. It had not survived Hurricane Dennis.

ZARRELLA: Yes. This is as bad as I've ever seen it, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That is CNN's John Zarrella, and he has covered just about every hurricane for CNN in his career. I was lucky to ride out the storm with him. That was really, for us, the worst of it, really at the height of the storm. It moved very fast, thankfully, very fast out of this area. And as you heard, the mayor of Pensacola saying, luckily, no one here lost their lives -- Larry. KING: We'll take a break and we'll come right back. Our panel will remain with us. We'll be adding others, and we'll be including your phone calls on this special Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: CNN anchor and correspondent, another veteran of the Miami wars, Rick Sanchez joins us. He's been traveling with CNN's Hurricane One.

Rick, you've seen a few of them. Is this a "seen one, seen them all"? Or are they all different?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: They're all different. And, you know, you have a hurricane like this one here, which has some characteristics of Andrew, for example, because it's tightly woven. It's a tight spin, as hurricanes go, which may have been good to a certain extent, because you know, the outer rim didn't cause much damage, at least not with Ivan, where you saw those huge tornadoes in the area of Panama City, even though, for example, it was so far to the west.

So -- so they're very different. And they each have their own personalities and their own characteristics. And they're certainly interesting to follow.

What we did, Larry, as far as we know, no one's ever done what we did today. But we actually got inside a mobile unit that we had rigged to be able to follow the hurricane in these very difficult conditions and get from place to place, changing venues throughout the afternoon and the morning to follow this storm.

And you know what? For the most part, two parts luck and one part ingenuity. And it was a pretty good day. We were able to really see and show viewers a lot of different angles with a lot of different perspectives they otherwise probably wouldn't have been able to get.

KING: Where are you now?

SANCHEZ: We're in Milton. As a matter of fact, you want to see how this works? I can show you. We can get the -- Michael, let's show Larry how this works. Get the car going, if you would.

We're going to show you, we're actually inside a vehicle that is now moving. And what we have is an antenna on top of the vehicle that is inside a bubble. And what it does is it continues to find the satellite, so that we can continue to provide a picture, despite the fact that we're not going -- almost, well, between 30 and 40 miles an hour.

KING: Wow.

SANCHEZ: As far as I can tell, we still have the picture up. Are we still up, Larry?

KING: You're still on. Were you ever scared today?

SANCHEZ: Yes. There was -- there was at least one situation where we got a little concerned. We -- we tried to cross from Destin into Fort Walton Beach, and when we got there, we discovered that the Gulf of Mexico had breached Highway 98, which we were trying to cross. And the further we went, the more we realized that if we kept going, we might not be able to get out.

We stopped right there and basically filed a report. And then we turned around and tried to head back to another area, where we understood that a roof had been blown off a building. And we got to that scene. But all the way there, we also had to cross another bridge, Larry, and that bridge was just really frightening, because once we were, like, a mile or two into it, we realized there was no way to turn back. And we were just hoping and praying that the water would not breach that bridge, as well, because at that point, we were well into the hurricane and probably at winds exceeding 110 miles an hour.

KING: We've got a call. Might be for you, Rick. Jacksonville, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Jacksonville, are you there? Go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. My question is we're from Milton, Florida, and we evacuated exactly (ph). Just wanted to know what Milton looks like.

KING: Good timing. Hey, did you hear it, Rick?

SANCHEZ: Yes, I sure did, Larry. I've got to tell you, we -- we were just there about 10, 20 minutes ago. It does not look good at all. It's a town that looks like it's been hit by a Category 3 hurricane. And what that means is that a good portion of the trees have been knocked down. Many of them have landed on top of people's homes. Much of the infrastructure is either damaged or unusable, at least at this point. And we're not seeing, as far as we can tell, any lights even flickering. So we think the power's out.

We see police out on the -- out in the area of not just the main road there on Highway 90 but also on the outskirts, as well.

It's hard to give you an exact description, but it did not look good. It may have been as bad as any city we've seen in this area.

KING: Max, why do they change directions? The mayor thought they were going to hit somewhere, and then suddenly they go another place. What causes that?

MAYFIELD: You know, the hurricane is steered by the deep layer (ph), meaning steering currents from the surface all the way up to the top of the hurricane, 50,000 or 60,000 feet. And those steering currents change. It's like the old river of air, if you will, that steers the hurricane. I will, if I can here, mention the Milton area here. Milton is right there. This is at -- back of the time of landfall when the eye went right across Santa Rosa Island. That red and yellow area, that part of the eye wall there, went right over Milton and Avalon Beach. The strongest part of the eye wall was to the east of Pensacola, but I'm afraid right over Milton.

KING: And those movements, when they change, are not forecastable?

MAYFIELD: Well, Larry, we're really getting a lot better. I know there are a lot of people there in the Mobile area and Pensacola area who, I hope, don't think they evacuated needlessly, because they did the right thing.

This is actually a success story. And we ran the verification through the last forecast. And about a three-day forecast is -- is under about 70 miles. That's -- that's almost unheard of. Really, the verification on the track forecast on this hurricane is going to be very, very good when all is said and done here. But we can't get a perfect forecast.

And the penalty for not evacuating people in the coastline is just simply too great. This could very well have, you know, wobbled a little bit to the left, gone right over Pensacola and Mobile, or a little bit farther to the right towards Panama City. When you have to put those warnings up, you know, that's 24 hours or more in advance. We always have some uncertainty.

KING: We're going to take a break, and when we come back, I'll ask the mayor if he thought you acted correctly in this regard.

Our panel stays with us. More of your phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Two new correspondents are joining us, but I want to first check with Mayor John Fogg. The mayor of Pensacola is with us on the phone.

Are you OK with what the Hurricane Center did, what Max Mayfield just said, Mayor?

FOGG: Well, absolutely. You know, the -- they forecast a cone of probable landfall, and -- and I thought they did a spectacular job of that. As a matter of fact, it seemed like Pensacola is in the crosshairs for days and days and days. And it didn't vary much from that.

They had some very strong steering currents, both to the east and west of the track. And so as a result of that, I mean, we were all well prepared. We knew that it was going to come somewhere close to us. We just didn't know which side it was going to go to. And I'll tell you, I could not say more positive things about the job that they do. KING: Jacqui Jeras, our CNN meteorologist, are you getting your stuff from Max Mayfield at the Hurricane Center, or do we have our own information?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Both, actually. We mostly use the National Hurricane Center's official track forecast, and we also use the information that they provide in terms of the exact location. We kind of embellish on that, I guess you could say. We kind of provide the color commentation (sic) to what their official forecast did.

But if we see any changes, we'll go ahead and say, "Well, we think that this could potentially be going a different direction." Or, "We're noticing a wobble." We'll tell you any information that would disagree with that, in our opinion.

KING: Did this...

JERAS: Which is didn't this time.

KING: Was this less, worse or about what you expected?

JERAS: This is about what we expected. We thought it could possibly still be a Category 4 when it made landfall. So it went down to a three, as we saw this weekend. We were really happy to see that. But it was pretty close on target to what we thought in terms of intensification and track both.

KING: John Zarrella, where are you now?

ZARRELLA: I'm in Pensacola, right here with Anderson.

KING: What kind of day has it been for you?

ZARRELLA: It's been a really, really long time. We sure went through it about 2, 3 p.m. this afternoon when we got the western edge of the eye wall here and the trees started snapping and the top of that Ramada Inn sign came down on us.

And you know, you're sitting there, and you're watching things. And you're trying -- you're trying to talk on the air, and I'm trying to watch Anderson's back. And I'm holding onto him. And I'm keeping my eyes out for flying debris. For that aluminum that was going through the air. And you know, at every moment you're wondering what's coming at you from the right and from the left and wondering and worrying, "Are we doing the right thing standing here?'

We were well protected, though. And earlier, we were out where we are now, which isn't protected. And we kind of made the decision at about exactly the right minute to bolt from here and get over to the secondary location, where the Ramada Inn sign came down but where we were better protected. So we made a lot of good, smart decisions today in how we covered this, for safety's sake and for the ability to get the best pictures out, Larry.

COOPER: And Larry, I'd also point out when -- when I was coming here to cover this, I said, "I want to work with John Zarrella for two reasons. One, he's covered more hurricanes than anyone at CNN. No. 2, he's a big guy, and I'm kind of a little pencil-neck geek. And I can hold onto him when the wind really blows strong.

KING: And John, you make that decision. You don't check with Washington or Atlanta, do you?

ZARRELLA: No, we made that decision here on the ground unilaterally, that it was time to move to that secondary location. And it was absolutely the right timing.

COOPER: Yes. When John said it's time to move, you move.

KING: You move.

Max Mayfield, I understand you have more information?

MAYFIELD: Well, I was just going to say sometime during the broadcast here that we have another system out here, east of the Caribbean, that we're going to, in all likelihood, start running the vouchers (ph) on here later this evening. This will be Tropical Depression Four. That's still about four days east of the Caribbean. But this is another system we'll have to watch very carefully.

KING: Uh-oh. What's its name?

MAYFIELD: It will be Tropical Depression No. 5. Once the winds get strong enough, it will get the name. And actually, I don't know what the name is. Somebody will have to tell me. Emily, thank you.

KING: Emily. Nice song about Emily.

Marty -- so Emily is forming in the Caribbean. Good news, folks. Marty Evans, the president and CEO of the American Red Cross, do you keep in touch with your key people throughout this?

EVANS: We absolutely do. We have service area headquarters down in Birmingham, Alabama. And then we have job headquarters. And so we keep very close -- closely in touch. We also keep in touch with our local Red Cross chapters in the affected regions, checking in with them.

KING: So you're on the phone a lot?

EVANS: We certainly are.

KING: Let's get a call from Fair Hope, Alabama. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Huh?

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I would like to ask the American Red Cross why they have decided not to man our shelters here any more in Fair Hope.

KING: Mary, you know the answer?

EVANS: Well, we work very closely with local authorities. And we will not open a shelter, a Red Cross shelter, where it will put the shelter occupants or the volunteers and staff in harm's way. Once in awhile, local authorities will make pretty much a last minute decision to open a shelter of last resort or last course when there really is no other option.

But in this particular case, we had a lot of warning. The emergency officials directed evacuations. And so the vast majority of people evacuated or came to shelters that were out of harm's way so they weren't unnecessarily hazarding themselves.

KING: Jacqui Jeras, what's the story with Alabama?

JERAS: With more rainfall, in terms of rain, or what, Larry?

KING: Well, she's calling from Fair Hope. Are they expecting just rain and wind.

JERAS: Yes. Well, the winds have really gone down quite a bit. In fact, we're not going to see much in terms of gusts much more than, maybe 40, 50, 60 miles per hour.

The rain will be, probably, our biggest concern from here on out. And the flooding as the result of that. Four to eight inches can be expected within the path. So especially western Alabama will be most vulnerable to that.

KING: Mayor, is your airport open?

FOGG: Yes, it will be tomorrow. We've had some roofs blown off some facilities out there, but the airport -- airport should be up and running sometime tomorrow morning.

We'll be right back with more and more of your phone calls on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, as we cover Dennis around the clock.. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Ellicott City, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I wanted to know if members of the press are exempt from mandatory evacuations. And if so, is that a prudent decision?

KING: Anderson?

COOPER: You know, it's a good question. I don't even know the answer, John. Do you?

ZARRELLA: I know, for instance in this particular case they evacuated everyone from Pensacola Beach, and that included the news media. And we went ahead, and we obliged that. And we got off. Now, the reality is in some cases the police are not going to be out there. They're not going to waste their time forcing us off if we insist on staying.

COOPER: Right. But we're also not going to do anything that, you know, endangers a police officer by making someone chase us. So I mean, certainly, you know, we know where to go where it's OK with the local enforcement. If a bridge is closed down, we're not going to insist on trying to cross it. We have to obey the laws, just like everybody else.

KING: But Anderson, if you refuse to go, are you eligible for jail time?

COOPER: I've never heard of them actually arresting anyone.

KING: I'm thinking of Judith Miller. You know, Judith Miller, she refused? What have you refused?

ZARRELLA: No, they're going to tell you, well, you know, you guys you're on your own and give us the names of your next of kin is what they're going to tell you.

COOPER: Yes.

KING: I was just joshing.

Mayor, what do you think about -- is everyone -- does everybody get evacuated, no matter what?

FOGG: No, absolutely not. And in the state of Florida, it may be true nationwide, if a person decides to stay in their domicile, even though there is a life-threatening hurricane or any other kind of natural disaster that's approaching, if they choose to stay there, than we cannot force them to leave.

But what we do is ask for their next of kin information, and make it very clear to them that, if they stay, it's quite likely that they will die.

KING: But in this case, with Anderson and John, it isn't their domicile. Could they still stay?

FOGG: Well, theoretically. I don't know the answer to that question. I think the media has pretty much got a right to go wherever they want to go, whenever they want to do it.

The reality of it is that when winds get about 50 miles an hour here in our community and I think generally in the state of Florida, that when it becomes unsafe for first responders to be able to cross bridges and respond to emergency calls, then we close the bridges, and that's that. You know there just won't be any other opportunity to cross it.

KING: John Zarrella, I lived in Miami 20 years, covered many hurricanes, but I never liked going out in them. I liked being in the building, anchoring them. Or taking calls from people or interviewing people like I'm doing tonight.

Why -- this is for you and Anderson -- why, why do you do this?

ZARRELLA: You know, for me, it's just one of those things with hurricanes. I just have that bugaboo about them, that it is a fascinating phenomenon and you get out in it, and you're caught up in it. And it's just an amazing, amazing feeling to be out here with nature.

COOPER: Yes, I second that. You see -- there was this moment today when there was simply a wall of white. The wind and the rain was so strong it looked, it looked like a solid mass. It was an extraordinary thing to witness up close. It was like being inside a movie and seeing the special effect.

But more important than that, I think, and we've been seeing this all evening long, literally people driving over to our location right now, coming over and saying, "Thank you very much for, you know, standing down the storm. We were hunkered down in our homes all day long. We were watching you all day on TV. You know, you kept us informed about what was going on."

Maybe we prevented some people from going outside, because we're telling them what it is like outside. And that's certainly a good feeling. I've literally had two people come up to us tonight and said that. One guy, a corrections officer, just came here and said, "You know, my wife and I are watching you all day. My wife said, you know, you better go out there and tell him thank you." So he drove down here and did that. It was really movie.

ZARRELLA: And you know, Larry, it's not without criticism, what we do, clearly. And I mean, we have to acknowledge that, that there are certain people in the emergency management field and others who feel as if we send the wrong message.

But Anderson's exactly right. When people come and tell you, "Listen, you guys, thanks for getting us through this. And you're telling us and we're seeing what it's really like out there. We know better than to be out there, and we thank you for showing us what we're experiencing."

KING: Jacqui Jeras, as a meteorologist, have you ever been in one or a desire to go out in one?

JERAS: I have never been in one. I'd like to be in at least one, just try it once.

KING: Max Mayfield, have you been in one?

MAYFIELD: Yes, sir. In fact about half the staff of the National Hurricane Center went through the eye wall of Hurricane Andrews. So I believe we can say that counts.

KING: Marty Evans, have you been in one?

EVANS: In 1954 on Jamestown, Rhode Island, as a child. It made such an extraordinary impression on me that it inspires me every day, to make sure we have enough shelters open.

KING: Mayor Fogg, do you learn to live with them?

JERAS: Well, I have learned to live with the, but...

FOGG: I think you learn to prepare for them, and -- and we -- the more of them that you experience, the better you are at doing that. And also, I'd like to answer your question as to that little bitty one. Aside from the one that just passed, and I've been in a typhoon in Vietnam, Frederick, Aaron, Opal and all the others in between that, and of course, Ivan and now this one.

KING: Were you a soldier in Vietnam?

FOGG: I was a Marine fighter pilot.

KING: What is a typhoon like?

FOGG: It's just a hurricane. It's just over in the Pacific. It's the same thing. In that particular experience, the eye passed right over our base, and so I've had that experience of having the eye pass right over the top of us.

KING: Did you ever fly into one?

CARLSON: I've flown into a monsoon kind of situation. Well, as a matter of Fact, I have flown into one. It was a hurricane but minimal hurricane. It was -- it was approaching Charleston, South Carolina, as a matte of fact. And I was still on active duty in the Marine Corps and flying an airplane in there and -- and actually ended up landing in the middle of the sky.

KING: Max, how important are those guys who fly into the eye?

MAYFIELD: They are absolutely critical to our mission here. I mean, the United States, the hurricane would be nowhere near as effective as it is. Without that data, the Air Force reserves and NOAA have both done just an outstanding job for us.

And you know, this is not without risks. We lost one plane in Hurricane Janet to the Caribbean in 1950. And then we've lost about five military planes, the Pacific in the '60s and '70s. So we really owe these folks a lot.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more and more of your phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, tomorrow night, we'll do a follow-up show on Hurricane Dennis, maybe look at that Emily situation in the Caribbean. And Tuesday night, Bob Woodward joins us.

Let's take a call. Tallahassee, Florida, hello.

Tallahassee, are you there? Tallahassee, good-bye.

Oxford, Maine. Hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I have some relatives in Key West, and I was wondering how bad the damage was there.

KING: Max, what do we know?

MAYFIELD: It's not bad there. In fact, they let people come back into the Keys today. They're even letting -- tomorrow morning, they're letting all the non-residents come back in. So they're back in business. They're looking good.

They certainly had some damage in the lower Keys and in Key West in particular, but they're going to be in fine shape. They did not, by the way, experience hurricane conditions.

KING: Maybe not. Marty, what do you hear from -- from your Red Cross people in Key West?

EVANS: Well, as Max said, they're recovering. We haven't had any sheltering operations there in the last 24 hours. So I think they've -- they've certainly learned from the past, though. There are a lot of evacuations. They heeded our advice to make preparations and heed the authorities.

KING: They got lucky, considering what happened to Cuba.

Mackinaw City, Michigan. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Yes, this is me and my wife. We've been wondering. We've been listening all day and wondering about Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. We've hardly heard anything about that, and we have been residents there 10 years. And we're...

KING: Where is Orange Beach?

CALLER: It's in Alabama.

KING: What do we know? Max, do you know?

MAYFIELD: Yes, I do. They're in fine shape. They're on the weak side of the hurricane. You know, you've got Pensacola, and then you've got Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, you know, west of there in Alabama. So I don't think they had any significant problem at all.

KING: Mayor Fogg, the president declared portions of this disaster areas. Are you one of them?

FOGG: Yes, we certainly are. The governor declared the whole state a disaster area -- not a disaster area, but in a state of emergency that went as the storm approached. But we are clearly part of that now, defined as a disaster area.

KING: Anderson, where do you go from here?

COOPER: We're going to stay in this area. I'm doing my show from here tomorrow night. We'll probably move further eastward and see how some folks out there were doing. There's some bad areas of -- really badly flooded. So we'll probably broadcast from there tomorrow, Larry.

COOPER: John Zarrella, you excited to hear that we now have Emily brewing in the -- in the Caribbean?

ZARRELLA: You know, here's a little quick anecdote for you, Larry. I was supposed to be going on vacation. And I was talking to my wife about whether we should be boarding up the house, putting the shutters up and aluminum shutters before she left with the kids tomorrow.

And I was kind of saying, "Well, you know, maybe we shouldn't worry about it." That's the state we live in now, that -- of somewhat anxiety in Florida. And then -- and then because we knew that this thing was out there and hadn't been named yet but could head in our general direction again.

And you know, it's the price you pay now for, they say, living in paradise. And more so recently, that you're always wondering, "What do you do?"

Jacqui Jeras, you live in Atlanta. Now Atlanta got hit with a lot of rain. Is that it there?

JERAS: Well, we had a tornado warning earlier in the evening. I haven't heard of any damage there. Some gusty winds around Atlanta, but rain and flooding is the big problem here.

BLITZER: That's where -- outlying -- how far? Did you say earlier today, Jacqui, that that this will hit Cincinnati?

JERAS: Yes, I think tomorrow later in the afternoon they'll be seeing some very heavy rain. And that will affect the airports there, the airports here in Atlanta. So this is affecting people all over the East.

BLITZER: And then that affects the whole system, right? If Atlanta's effective, the whole system's affected.

JERAS: As usually, the.

KING: Max are you concerned about Emily? We haven't officially named it yet, but what does it look link?

MAYFIELD: Well, it's still a long ways off, Larry. That were are a lot of things that could happen here. You know, we've watched this since it came off the coast of Africa. And really, all four of the storms we've had so far this year have tropical waves. And they're just moving off like clockwork here. So this is still -- you know, we're typing up the advisements right now. But it will be a tropical depression. It's probably four days east of the Caribbean. It will most likely head towards the Leeward Islands (ph). It's too early to tell whether it will past north of there or go over them. But it's certainly something that we'll have to watch.

KING: Why do they start in Africa?

MAYFIELD: Well, one of the thing you have to have to develop a hurricane is a pre-existing disturbance. And sometimes, they form with that trailing in of the cold front that stalls in the Caribbean or the Gulf and the west Atlantic.

Another source is these tropical waves that move off the coast. And you know, we watch them just like clockwork all through the hurricane season. We're tracking 100 disturbances a year, and we're actually not smart enough yet to know which ones will develop into hurricanes and which ones will not.

So we track all of them. We're getting a lot better with the satellite imagery that we have nowadays. That's our primary observing tool. But then as it gets near land, we really like to have that hurricane reconnaissance.

KING: If it's -- if this one's named Emily, who will decide to do that? When will it be named, if it gets named?

MAYFIELD: The National Hurricane Center does. In the United Nations there's something called the world (UNINTELLIGIBLE) organizations. We have different regions around the globe. And our predictor region has 26 members of all the Caribbean countries, Central America, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda. We have our hurricane committee. I'm the chairman of that committee. We get together every year to update our hurricane operational plan.

And in fact, I'm sure that Dennis will be retired from that list of names. And one of the things we do is come up with the new names. So we'll be looking for another "D" name here to use.

KING: And how -- how do you determine when to name that disturbance Emily? If it will be named?

MAYFIELD: Well, we have -- if it will be named, it will be based here in the middle of the Atlantic off of satellite imagery. We have classification from our staff here at the National Hurricane Center. We also get classifications estimates, location, intensity from the United States Air Force. And very important to us, the satellite analysis branch up in Washington.

We -- these pictures never all agree, but we'll look at them all and come up with a consensus. And based on that, we'll decide whether to start advisories or upgrade it to a storm or hurricane.

KING: We'll take more phone calls right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is something just unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things are floating off. I mean, I've never actually experienced anything like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like I said, I've never seen it this high, and I've been here 37 years. And I, with all the people, I'm with the volunteer fire department. And I just come back from rescuing some people down there that didn't get warned in time. And they didn't get out. And we had to get them out by boat. And I've never seen as many cars and trucks and houses, everything, under water. Everybody here is under water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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