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AMERICAN MORNING

The Latest on Dennis; Baby Fatally Shot

Aired July 11, 2005 - 09:01   ET

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


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of residents along the Gulf Coast getting a chance to see the aftermath now of Hurricane Dennis, possibly $2 billion worth of damage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen as many cars and trucks and houses. Everything's under water. Everything here is under water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: It's not over until it's over, though. Dennis, now a tropical depression, hammering the Mississippi and Tennessee valleys. All this on this AMERICAN MORNING.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching our special coverage of Hurricane Dennis, and its aftermath.

M. O'BRIEN: It's good to have you with us. We've got a live briefing under way in Florida which we want to just tell you briefly about.

This is coming out of the Emergency Operation Center there in Tallahassee. The lieutenant governor and the head of emergency management will be giving a briefing shortly. We will get back to it as soon as they start giving some facts out on Dennis and the situation in its aftermath.

S. O'BRIEN: Now the latest on Dennis. It's been downgraded to a tropical depression as it delivers heavy rain to parts of the southeast. Federal emergency agencies fanning out this morning, assessing damages, delivering aid to affected areas. A firm that works with insurance companies is estimating that the damage, in fact, is going to run between $1 billion and $2.5 billion.

M. O'BRIEN: Dennis brought extensive flooding to St. Marks, Florida, but the water is now receding. Otherwise, damage across the Florida Panhandle was not as bad as after Hurricane Ivan last year, which was, after all, a $12 billion storm. If you are just measuring it in a monetary way, this is just a fraction of it. Of course if you've got a missing roof this morning, it makes no difference to you.

Rob Marciano is in the weather center. He's watching Dennis and its aftermath.

(WEATHER REPORT) S. O'BRIEN: The hurricane damage in St. Marks, Florida, 20 miles south of Tallahassee, is much more extensive than expected. Chad Myers live for us in St. Marks.

Hey, Chad. How's it looking? And have resources gotten to the area today?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's a little bit far south from Tallahassee. I know they're rolling in, and the state troopers are here and the sheriff's department is here. But other than that, no, no real help yet on the way, or at least not here yet. We're assuming that it's on the way here.

There is a roadblock up the road about three miles. So it takes some time to get through that roadblock as well. We haven't driven up there to see how many cars are actually in that line, but they are stopping them one at a time to make sure that you actually belong in this area.

The problem actually was a storm surge. And the problem was the shape of Appalachia Bay, kind of an upside down U. All that wind blew to the very top, and we are at the tippy, tippy top, which is St. Marks. The wind blew right up, the water blew right up, and it actually came up.

The boats you see behind me are actually still on their trailers, but the boats from Shell Island Marina are not. Shell Island Marina and Fish Camp, some pictures from there. Just took those pictures.

The problem with the boats, they were all in rack storage. Rack storage is when you take a forklift, take the boat out of the water, and run it over to a little bit of a rack. The rack is where the boat goes, kind of like a trailer without wheels, but it doesn't move.

The boats moved as the water came up. They all blew around Shell Island. And the Shell Island Fish Camp is absolutely devastated. But all of the boats here are probably damaged, oh, $20,000, $30,000, just from outdrives alone and big motors in the back. Unless your outdrive, your motor, was up, and your boat is just sitting on the ground, they can pick it back up and put it back in your rack storage.

The other problem, the two forklifts that they have to put those back up were also in the flood. They were all the way up to the seat. Obviously the motor was in saltwater. They're not working this morning, so they can't put this back together yet. They have to way to bring in a couple of the other forklifts from other marinas around the area to get these boats back in order.

So, you know, it's property damage, it's personal damage. We just had a woman drive by us and said, "Did you see my home on Mock Street (ph)?" And I said, "No, we haven't been over there yet, but we'll get over there to try to shoot it."

It's just -- it's the emotion that you feel after you've lost something. And the folks here have lost a lot. A lot of them didn't have a lot. And what they did have, they lost most of it.

Back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: And certainly, you know, if you've lost your home or your roof, it really doesn't matter that, overall, the hurricane was less damaging than Ivan, if you've had some kind of huge...

MYERS: It's all relative.

S. O'BRIEN: Right -- personal impact. All right, Chad. Thanks for the update -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Alabama avoided the direct hit that they feared from Hurricane Dennis, but it sure is getting its share of rain, flood warnings, power outages from now Tropical Depression Dennis. Take a look at these pictures.

Atmore, Alabama, is the location. This is -- if you're to go to the absolute top end of the tip of the Florida Panhandle, then just pop up into Alabama, that's where you'd be. And if you really track the progression of the eye across the land, Atmore was probably pretty much beneath it. You can see, as a result, they got some heavy winds there, as you can see quite obviously.

Here. I'll show you quickly, if I can give you a sense, of where this is. It's kind of hard to point out here, but if you look on here, there's Dothan, Alabama, up in there, and right over there is Atmore. You can see it over in that part of the world right there. And as you know, because we've been telling you all morning, this is right where the eye came across.

And so, as you look at the way it came across, they got a pretty good jolt there of wind. As you know, it was -- the winds were about 120 miles per hour when they came across, Category 3 storm.

Bruce Baughman is director of Alabama's Emergency Management Agency. He's watching things far beyond just Atmore, but Atmore is in his sights as well.

What's your overall assessment, Mr. Baughman? And are things better than you had hoped for?

BRUCE BAUGHMAN, EMA DIRECTOR, ALABAMA: Yes, much better, Miles, than we expected. However, we do have several counties, as you pointed out. Escambia County is one of the harder hit counties, and a couple of the surrounding counties.

We are in the process of getting emergency personnel. We've got them in place. We're delivering some water and ice. We've got some search and rescue teams out helping the counties search for personnel and get out from under the disaster.

M. O'BRIEN: What about cases of flooding? Have you had any serious cases like we've seen over there in St. Marks, Florida?

BAUGHMAN: No major flooding. We do have some lowland flooding, some isolated pockets of flooding in areas that traditionally flood. But no major flooding problems right now.

M. O'BRIEN: And when you talk about search and rescue, basically you're going to places where people decided to hunker down in their homes.

BAUGHMAN: That is correct.

M. O'BRIEN: Make sure they're OK, right?

BAUGHMAN: That is correct.

M. O'BRIEN: And far as you know, everybody's OK?

BAUGHMAN: Everybody's OK. We have no casualty reports right now. We are in the process of assessing in about 15 counties this morning, and we should have some better reports back later today.

M. O'BRIEN: If you and I were having this conversation 24 hours ago, would you have predicted this?

BAUGHMAN: No, I would not have. We were preparing for the worst, and this is a pleasant surprise. However, we do have a serious situation in a number of our counties.

M. O'BRIEN: Is there enough help in place to help out these folks who have been impacted by this?

BAUGHMAN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: What do you have there for them this morning?

BAUGHMAN: We've got ice, water, generators, plastic sheeting to be used for roofing. We've got federal teams in place to assist, putting that plastic sheeting in place. We've got teams in place to deliver the water, ice and other commodities, search and rescue teams, emergency medical teams. So we've got a lot in place to help out.

M. O'BRIEN: And you feel like you've got enough to handle it all? Because it is a big job, and everybody needs help at the same time, don't they?

BAUGHMAN: Absolutely. And since we were preparing for the worst, we have plenty on hand.

M. O'BRIEN: Bruce Baughman, who is the director of Alabama's Emergency Management Agency, he joins us from Clanton, Alabama, not far from the state capital there.

Thanks for your time. Good luck getting everything picked up in Alabama.

BAUGHMAN: Thank you, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's see what else is going on in the world. Kelly Wallace is watching headlines for us in our New York newsroom.

Good morning, Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, Miles. And good morning to all of you. Here are some of those other stories "Now in the News."

This just into CNN. More troops are being deployed to Afghanistan. Seven hundred U.S. Army troops from the 82nd Airborne Division are expected to head out within the next two weeks. The additional force is being sent ahead of the September 18 parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.

A state of emergency to tell you about in effect for parts of southern Colorado this morning. Dozens of fire crews trying to bring an 8,000-acre wildfire under control. Flames are now within a couple of miles of the town of Beulah, located in a valley some 150 miles south of Denver. Five thousand residents have been evacuated in that area since Wednesday.

Authorities in central Canada are looking into a horrific collision at an air show. Disturbing pictures show the two planes burst into flames and crash. The pilots were re-creating a World War I dogfight. Both died instantly. No spectators were injured.

The FBI confirming that human remains found in western Montana are those of missing 9-year-old Dylan Groene. The boy and his 8-year- old sister, Shasta, disappeared nearly two months ago from the scene of a grisly triple murder. Convicted sex offender James Duncan has been charged with kidnapping and is likely to face additional charges. Duncan is set to appear in court later this month.

At the box office, the "Fantastic Four" clobbering the competition. Despite less than stellar reviews from critics, the comic book adaptation raked in about $56 million this weekend. There's now speculation the four super heroes may have snapped Hollywood's ongoing losing streak. For the past 19 weeks, ticket sales have been down compared to last year.

And it is less than five days to go before "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" hits bookstore shelves. But the eagerly awaited sixth installment of the "Harry Potter" series is already arriving at stores.

The New York Police Department was on hand at this Barnes & Noble to make sure no one tried to get an early viewing of the novel. Copies will be available at the stroke of midnight on Saturday morning.

And Soledad, your girls are probably a little too little for this book, but if so...

S. O'BRIEN: Not too little for mommy to try to steal it from Barnes & Noble. What's that about?

WALLACE: I was going to say that they'd have you go out at the stroke of midnight and say, "Mom, get me a copy."

S. O'BRIEN: Please.

M. O'BRIEN: Trying to find out about serious black dyes, all of these important issues. You know?

S. O'BRIEN: I don't do anything at the stroke of midnight. But, I mean, people stealing? That is just -- what has this world come to?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, the phrase "get a life" does come to mind. But it is -- I mean, this is...

S. O'BRIEN: Immediately.

M. O'BRIEN: It is a well-anticipated book. And the O'Brien kids are anxious to get a hold of it. But we will not, I repeat, kids, we will not be up late doing just that.

S. O'BRIEN: Order it on amazon.com, they'll send it to you. Please.

M. O'BRIEN: I love the Web.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, let's get back to Hurricane Dennis now. It may not have been Ivan, but Hurricane Dennis was no weakling, truly, as it made landfall on Sunday. The winds 120 mile and hour.

And CNN's reporters were there waiting for it. Here's a look back at what they faced.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys have got to come to us.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now or never.

COOPER: Hey, guys, you've got to come to us quick. We're not sure how long we can stay on.

SANCHEZ: The wind just comes through, blows through, picks pieces of it up. A little while ago, that flap, too.

Show them that -- that flap over there -- oh, there it goes! There it goes! You know what? This looks a little scary. We're going to back out of here.

COOPER: There was this extraordinary wall of white. It was like a solid mass.

ZARRELLA: You couldn't see a thing out there. And the trees were bent, and they're bending again now. We're starting to get another one of those.

COOPER: Yes. And look at the tops of those trees over there. You've seen some of them have snapped already. But these things are moving, and it -- as these bands of the storm come...

ZARRELLA: Here it comes again. Look out here.

COOPER: ... here, another comes. You can feel it now.

ZARRELLA: There we go. Watch out for that aluminum. Watch out!

COOPER: Whoa!

ZARRELLA: Get back! Get back! Get back! It's coming apart!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at it! Look over there! Look over there!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is aluminum. That's part of the sign. Look at that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this. It's all coming apart. The trees are coming down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that tree. Did you see that tree went down? Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big trees coming down. Big trees coming down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Be very careful. Look at that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that's the sign! It's down! It's blowing apart! Get back! Get back! Get back!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable.

MYERS: Good afternoon, Anderson. And, in fact, you didn't even get the worst of it. I know what you experienced was really bad, but people on the other side of the eye, the eye that actually was moving forward, they got it a lot worse.

Obviously, we don't have pictures from there yet, but we will. What we're experiencing here now is the storm surge coming up and coming over on to the seawall and every once in a while splashing over the top. Ah, now I can talk, because I'm in the shadow of a big building.

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

ZARRELLA: Never seen anything like this. Have never experienced anything like this before.

COOPER: That sign -- this, of course, is the most dangerous time, when the winds are this strong.

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, a little tin. This is a huge metal sign that survived Hurricane Ivan. It has not survived Hurricane Dennis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: A little look at the sights and sounds as the CNN reporters got see it yesterday when the storm was really at its height.

M. O'BRIEN: I've never seen anything like it.

All right. Dennis turned at least one small Florida town into a lake. Coming up, we'll talk to the owners of a historic hangout flooded by the storm.

S. O'BRIEN: And Dennis the fifth hurricane to hit Florida in less than a year. We're going to find out what the Red Cross is doing to help residents cope today ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: One of the hardest-hit areas was the fishing village of St. Marks, Florida, slammed by a 10-foot tidal surge. You can see the folk there walking through to assess the damage today. Most of the homes and the business were flooded on Sunday, including a local hangout, Posey's Oyster Bar, which was under more than two feet of water.

Joining us from St. Marks, live, Posey's owners, Daphne Beckham, John Gunter.

Nice to see you guys. How does it look today?

JOHN GUNTER, POSEY'S OYSTER BAR: Well, it's messy but it's a lot better than it was last night.

S. O'BRIEN: What kinds of things have you had to clean up? Because my understanding is a lot of the damage is saltwater damage, much worse than freshwater damage, clearly.

GUNTER: Well, we haven't really start any cleanup yet. We're just trying to assess the damage right now and see where we stand for later on in the week.

S. O'BRIEN: We're looking at videotape of probably the very worst. I mean, the water, really, really high. How high did it get, can you tell?

GUNTER: Well, we know we got five to six feet inside the building.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. And so I know you're just starting to assess the damage, but how bad to do you think it's going to be?

GUNTER: Absolutely. Just kind of wading through it here.

S. O'BRIEN: This is the pictures we're looking at now of the building today. So I guess the good news is the waters rolled out. The bad news is that the inside looks like a complete mess.

What's your strategy now? You're laughing. I've got to tell you, John, I'm a little surprised that your laughing. Or is that like frustrated laughing?

GUNTER: Oh, no, no, no. It's just, you know, one of those things that happens in life.

We're going to go in and see how much work we have to do, see how much of our -- how many people we need to come in and clean up. And go from there. It's just going to get started.

S. O'BRIEN: Have you been in touch with the folks from FEMA, Daphne? Do you feel like you're going to get all of the money and all of the help that you have coming to you, and soon?

DAPHNE BECKHAM, POSEY'S OYSTER BAR: They haven't been here yet, but I'm -- I feel pretty certain that they'll be around. This isn't exactly our first hurricane, so we've been through this before.

S. O'BRIEN: No, it's -- yes. How was it the last time you were in a hurricane?

BECKHAM: The assistance was pretty immediate, pretty good.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, that's good to hear. You know, my understanding is that oysters is a big business where you are, and that there's some concerns about contamination now with that kind of flooding. Are those concerns that you have?

GUNTER: Well, actually, those concerns aren't for us. We're just -- we purchase the oysters from certified shellfish dealers. And so the waters, the growing waters where they would be getting those oysters are not the ones around this area. So we're not concerned about where we're getting our oysters from.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. So good news on that front, though, although it really could wreck the local economy. And if that happens, there will be implications for your business as well, right?

GUNTER: Sure.

S. O'BRIEN: So you both seem pretty positive today as you head forward. What's the first thing you're going to tackle?

GUNTER: Well, we've got to get -- we've got to get the insurance people down here. And obviously, as I said earlier, we've got to make an assessment of what kind of damage we have and how many people that we need to get started in cleaning it up, and then go from there. We'll probably spend a day and some of tomorrow probably doing that kind of thing. And then later on in the week, we'll be cleaning up and throwing stuff away and seeing what else -- what's left and what can -- what works.

S. O'BRIEN: Daphne, no question you're going to reopen, right?

BECKHAM: Excuse me? Reopen?

S. O'BRIEN: No question that you will reopen?

BECKHAM: Oh, no question. We might be able to make the weekend.

GUNTER: Yes, that's right. We've got to shoot for the weekend.

S. O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you, I love your perspective. This is great. Daphne Beckham, John Gunter, of Posey's Oyster Bar in St. Marks.

Good for you. Getting ready to start digging through paperwork and digging through some muck as well.

Wow, they -- you know, it's all perspective. We cannot say that enough today, I guess.

M. O'BRIEN: Give them credit. For now it's oysters on the half hell, I guess. Anyway...

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, please.

M. O'BRIEN: They'll get through it, though.

Still to come, Florida calls in the National Guard. Find out what it's doing to help in the aftermath ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: In Los Angeles, police officers are said to be taking very hard a tragic shootout Sunday with an armed suspect who was holding a baby. The little girl died in the gunfire. It's not clear if she was killed by shots fired by police or the suspect, although it is believed to be the former.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Los Angeles with more on this developing investigation, and the outrage that goes along with it.

Ted, what are police saying?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, police are saying that they did everything that they could to prevent this. They knew the child was involved, but they say the child's father forced their hand. And they clearly ended up with the worst case scenario for a hostage situation, with a 19-month-old little girl ending up dead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): A two-and-a-half-hour standoff between a gunman and an LAPD S.W.A.T. team ended tragically Sunday. (GUNFIRE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a good 12 shots is what I thought I heard. A good pop, pop -- about 12 shots.

ROWLANDS: Police say they were negotiating with the suspect, Jose Paul Lemos, when he suddenly started shooting and using a 19- month-old baby as a human shield. Police say they returned fire after an officer was wounded. Lemos and the baby both died in the exchange.

JIM MCDONNELL, LAPD: We're saddened to say that the infant was struck by gunfire and also died at the scene. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family.

ROWLANDS: The incident began Sunday afternoon in south Los Angeles, when police responded to a report that Lemos was behaving aggressively and erratically, and had barricaded himself in a house with a number of weapons. The outcome was one police say they desperately wanted to avoid, but they say there was no choice but to take down the suspect.

MCDONNELL: Anytime you go to a scene and you have a young baby killed, it takes a tremendous toll. These officers are all family people. And they can picture their own kid in that same circumstance. So they're taking it to heart, they're taking it -- taking it tough.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: An L.A. police officer was injured in the exchange of gunfire. He was injured in the shoulder. He is expected to survive.

The child's mother says that she urged police to let her husband cool down, saying that her daughter was in danger. This morning, she is asking for what she calls justice and a full investigation -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: And I suppose there will be an investigation. It's routine in a situation like this, right, Ted?

ROWLANDS: Clearly. It's already under way. They want to find out exactly what led to these shots fired, who shot who, who shot their weapons at what time, and for what reasons. But police officers maintain that this morning, they believe that these officers on the scene did everything they could to prevent this, and they blame the child's father, who put that child in danger.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. Ted Rowlands in Los Angeles. A story we'll be watching for you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Still ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, back to our top story this morning, the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis. We'll bring you a live update from the Red Cross in the Florida Panhandle.

Stay with us. A short break.

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