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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Hurricane Rita Strikes Gulf Coast

Aired September 24, 2005 - 00:30   ET

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


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of course, the concern is that 20 foot surge that we've been talking about, if it comes at high tide in the morning, which could come up to bring Lake Charles level itself, up over the roadways and cover part of this area.
We're in the downtown area right now, which is relatively (INAUDIBLE). We're already seeing a lot of the water and drains, like the one behind me, literally starting to spit out from time to time in intervals, which is never a good sign.

That usually means that the water level underneath the roads itself is starting come up too high. And that could create some serious flooding in this area.

As far as the lights go, it's interesting, but they go in and out. A little while ago, the whole town lit up for just a bit. When I say the whole town, I'm speaking figuratively. I'm talking about the downtown area.

Jason Carroll was reporting a while ago from the house where he is, that the lights are out completely here. It's been more intermittent, although we're seeing some severe wind gusts coming through here. No doubt, hurricane force winds. I wouldn't venture to try and measure them, but I've been in enough of these to know what the hurricane force wind gusts are like.

As far as sustained winds, we haven't seen them at this point, but we understand that we'll be probably getting hurricane force winds coming through this area in the next couple of hours.

As you can see with this one right now, we get a taste of it from time to time. You just get a sense of what's going on.

Anderson, back over to you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Rick, we'll check in with you again very quickly. I'm just thinking it's moving very fast. And the situation is changing in all these different towns every few minutes.

We've had wind - sustained winds about 48 miles an hour. That was the last report I'd heard. Some wind gusts, I believe, in the 60 mile an hour range.

But again, Chad Myers reporting that in a very short amount of time, those wind speeds could come close to doubling. And that is of great concern here. But amazingly, the lights are still on. As I look around, I mean, in the library over there, a number of street lights are still on. Even lights right around here. So that is certainly some good news, Aaron, for the people who are here. Maybe still have some electricity they can watch on TV and listen to their radios, Aaron.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: It's just all in the region. It's very inconsistent, lights coming on in some cities off. In others, phone service some places, not in others. Rob Marciano in Beaumont. Rob is in the thick of it right now. Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, lights on. They were off for a while, now they're back on. Actually, it's very impressive, especially with the winds that are kicking up now, really whipping the rain down this road.

And you know what I've noticed in the last 20 minutes or so is that if I face this way, I'm facing north. And there's a building here. So the wind is struggling to either come, you know, just to the west of north or east.

And now we're starting to see it come a little bit more east. So that's what I'm saying, closer. That rotation is starting to turn those winds a little bit farther - a little bit more easterly. Like Chad said, the northern part of that eye wall may be getting a little bit closer.

Here comes a little bump.

BROWN: Just be careful.

MARCIANO: Surprisingly, wow, surprisingly very little debris, Aaron. Not even - I thought I'd see more tree limbs down. And I suppose that's the main reason the power isn't out. I mean, the main reason power goes out is because tree limbs take out transformers or power lines. And these trees are strong here.

BROWN: All right.

MARCIANO: For sure. Wind's kicking up.

BROWN: Just stay careful here for a bit. Rob, you used to work in Lake Charles. Sanjay is in Lake Charles. And I think we have Sanjay now. Is there anything, Rob, that just based on your experience with the city, you want to know from Sanjay?

MARCIANO: Well, you know, St. Patrick's Hospital where Sanjay is is actually pretty close to the lake itself, you know, by I suppose by about 10 blocks.

Has Sanjay or Jason peeked outside at - what's the water on that lake doing? Any word of what the water on the lake is doing? Because last I heard about six hours ago, it was two or three feet above normal. And the big concern, Aaron, is that lake going to flood? And is it going to flood the - when it does, will it flood the entire downtown? So Sanjay, can you hear me?

SANJAY GUPTA, HOST, HOUSECALL: Yes, I can hear you, Rob.

BROWN: Sanjay, were you able to hear the question?

GUPTA: Yes, you're asking about the lake, I think. You're sort of coming in and out. We're - I'm at the hospital. We have not seen the lake. We're clearly outside.

A couple things let me point out to you. You may get a sense, just looking behind me. Let me just tell you. First of all, that way is south. And so, over here, you're seeing the water start to come in now sort of swirling around behind me. This is the first that we're seeing of this. The winds have sort of started to pick up.

And for the first time, we're seeing the rain start to swirl around, coming from all sorts of different directions all around me.

So we can't see what's happening at the lake. But clearly, the conditions over here have increased in terms of the wind velocity. And just the swirling motion now, water sort of coming in from all directions all around to sort of swirling.

I'm just watching it here. It's an amazing thing really from all the different directions hitting us, Rob. So I - you know, things are getting worse here, but that's all we can really tell you for sure.

BROWN: Just in the hospital itself, is there still power?

GUPTA: There - the power - the main power source went out some time ago, Aaron. But the emergency generators, which they were counting on, seemed to have kicked in, seemed to have - seem to be working now. So there is some light, especially in the crucial areas in the intensive care units. And the operating rooms, things seem to be working right now, Aaron.

BROWN: How many patients do they have in the hospital?

GUPTA: Less than half a dozen now. They were able to get the majority of them out yesterday. A few more went out by helicopter this morning. But they have gotten some in tonight as well, Aaron. And really interesting story, just as the reality of what happens is that they do have some staff members here. They have a neurosurgeon, who's on call. They have a gentleman coming with a severely broken leg. No other surgeon available.

So this neurosurgeon actually ended up operating on this man's leg. Just had to do it. Needed to be done. So he actually performed an orthopedic operation. This is what happens to a hospital in the middle of a hurricane, Aaron.

BROWN: And they are - obviously, they are able to - nobody wants to do surgery on a night like this, but they're able to do it if they have to do it because the generators haven't flooded out, which is what we saw in New Orleans. GUPTA: Yes. And a big crucial point. They actually performed this operation on emergency generator power. Everyone was keeping their fingers crossed to make sure that would actually work. It seems to have worked. You know, it did work in this case. The patient's out of the operating room. Successful operation. So things seem to be working as they planned.

Let me point out again, Aaron, just the way it's just remarkable to me how much this is just changing. For a second there, it just stopped all of a sudden, the wind. And then it just picked up again more forceful than ever. This is just we've been seeing over the last hour or so now, Aaron.

BROWN: Just - and one other question, Sanjay. Is - the half dozen patients or so in hospital, are these - were these people who were too ill to safely move or relatively healthy and therefore they could withstand whatever was going to go on?

GUPTA: For the most part, they were too sick to move. And there was a decision, a tough one, that the administrators and the doctors had to make, saying look, we have to make a decision here whether it be too risky to move them or riskier to keep them here.

In a few patient's cases, they said it would be safer to actually keep them here.

Now I'll add to that, the second reason is that at some point today, they just said no more air lift evacuations would be possible. So some patients had to stay because of that as well.

Those two reasons are what's keeping this hospital with some patients in it and keeping it open as well tonight, Aaron.

BROWN: And how many staff people, doctors, nurses, assistants, whatever, would you say are in the hospital?

GUPTA: There's about 50 that have stayed in the hospital. They're actually going to sleep in patient beds tonight, planning on staying here the whole weekend.

This plan has been in place for some time. They decided to actually do this for some time, should a storm like this arise. They knew who the people would be that would be staying here. And they knew exactly how they'd staff it.

So it seems pretty well organized. Again, one of the only hospitals remaining open in this region now, Aaron.

BROWN: Could you drive if you had to drive in this weather?

GUPTA: I don't know. You know, I think that we could probably make our distance a little bit, but we're already starting to see in some of the - we're a little bit up elevated here in - near the hospital. But I think some of the streets over here are already starting to fill with a significant amount of water. We do have some SUV vehicles. So I think we can probably get around in those. But it's changing very quickly. The water is starting to rise a little bit already, Aaron.

BROWN: And I'm sorry, I may have misheard you. Did you say that you thought there were 15 or 50 staffers in the hospital?

GUPTA: 5-0, Aaron, 50 staffers, doctors, nurses. There's four chaplains in the hospital. There are administrators, people that are just here to make - basically make sure nothing bad happens, keeping those generators running, putting the sandbags in. That's what they've been doing for the past several hours now, Aaron.

BROWN: Got it. Sanjay, nice job tonight. Sanjay Gupta.

Anderson, that's the view in Lake Charles. Again, power coming in and out there. The hospital literally functioning. I don't know if you could hear, Sanjay, or not, but they were able to...

COOPER: Yes.

BROWN: ...set a broken leg there tonight because they had to set a broken leg.

COOPER: It's incredible to think about that, operating under generator power. As Sanjay said, you know, everyone just kind of holding breath that the gas would last, the power would last.

You hate to see them have to do thing.

But you know, it's one of those things, I think Sanjay was saying earlier, that the person who they were operating on, you know, was boarding up their home and got injured. So many people get injured, you know, trying to leave, trying to flee, trying to board up their homes. It's one of those things when they were talking about bringing people back to New Orleans. One of the great concerns was there was no 911 system in place in order for, you know, the people who do come back. Inevitably, they're going to trip up.

We just lost power. I don't know if we're - are we still on?

BROWN: Yes, you're still - yes, you're...

COOPER: OK. All right, our power is still going? Our power is still on, but could you turn that light over in this direction? We got our own lights, our own generator. But we just lost electricity in this grid here around in Beaumont.

There are a few lights on. Looks like emergency lights in some buildings. But in terms of street lights, they just left. And it makes it a little bit more ominous, because you cannot see things that are - anything coming toward you. So we're going to position something right in front of us.

But we're getting just a lot of tree limbs, a lot of branches. That's really all there is in this area. We picked this area because of that reason. We didn't want some place that there were a lot of aluminum sidings that were going to be ripping off buildings. We took a couple hours to actually find this location.

Want to check in with John Zarrella, who is in Lumberton, Texas to find out if the situation there is degrading as quickly as it is here. John, how is it?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly is, Anderson. It's been going downhill pretty fast for about the past 45 minutes or so. Just steady torrential rain here now. I imagine you're getting the same thing. Tremendous wind gusts blowing through.

I don't think we've experienced anything near hurricane force yet. Certainly, we've had winds in the tropical storm force. I did a wind reading a little while ago, had some tropical storm force gusts blowing through here.

Right across the street from us, there's a gas station. You probably remember back in Dennis, that gas station we were under for a while with the overhang blowing. We've got one over here that's been shaking quite a bit in these winds now.

But it has degraded dramatically here. We've - we have no power here and haven't had power here for quite some time, for a longer period of time certainly than you have. It's been out. We've seen transformers blowing and hearing explosions in the distance right and left, particularly in the last 30 minutes or so, as the winds have picked up.

The gusts are coming far more frequently now. We're not getting the real lulls that we got before. It's getting steadier and steadier and steadier. And each gust gets stronger and stronger out here - Anderson?

COOPER: John, it's interesting. As you were talking the lights just went back on here in Beaumont. The street lights around us, at least some of them did. So the power sort of fluctuated.

And we've also been seeing those transformers blowing. And I can tell you it's sort of this eerie - it's like a battlefield almost, like a flare going off. It's sort of a blue, greenish light, lights up the sky for just a few seconds and then goes back into darkness.

John, stay with us because we're also joined by Chad Myers, the severe weather expert. Chad, in terms of where John is, in terms of where I am, where is this storm?

MYERS: Literally John is only about 10 miles north of you, but the storm itself is still about 40 miles. The center still about 40 miles south of where you are, from Beaumont into Port Arthur, and right here to about the Sabine Pass area.

The entire area, though, is going to be inundated by this entire storm here. Probably in the next 20 or 30 minutes, this storm begins to move closer to onshore. And then another band comes through you, all the way from about Beaumont through Port Arthur, through Sabine Pass.

Now guys, where you are in Beaumont, there's another little band for you. And then there's a break. And your winds are actually dying off for maybe another 20 minutes. And then this band here, one of the outer bands, comes right on through into Port Arthur, into Beaumont. And then your winds pick up into the 75 to 80 mile per hour range.

We'll zoom in to a couple more spots from about Lake Charles through Beaumont and all the way into let's say Holly Beach. And then farther off to the east, could you see this area here, way off to the east? This area here went from Homa (ph), right on back up into Baton Rouge. Haven't talked about you. You're watching TV going, hey what about us?

This area's been getting pounded by 40 and 50 mile per hour gusts right through Baton Rouge as well. And the areas there, right around Placaman - and all this, right along the Mississippi River, as it snakes right on down to New Orleans, the rain showers are getting heavier as we speak.

BROWN: Chad, thank you very much. Chad Myers, our - who is our severe weather expert and has been every bit of that.

Randi Kaye is in Baytown, Texas tonight. They've have power issues, lots of wind there. And it looks a whole lot worse, Randy, than it did when we last looked in on you.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Aaron. It's getting worse, really every 20 minutes or so. The really strong gusts come, but we've come out here a couple of times. And we can barely stand. You sort of have to place your feet - separate your feet here, just to hold your ground.

I did just talk to the fire marshall, who was also the chief emergency coordinator here in Baytown. And he told me they're not experiencing anything right now except some major power outages. He wasn't able to give us account just yet.

But we've been standing here tonight. And we can see the transformers blowing in the air. You can see the wind kind of comes and goes as we speak.

But the transformers are blowing in the area. In fact, we called them because we thought there might be a fire over in the distance. It turns out that it was just the Exxon-Mobil plant. It's the lights of that plant, because Baytown sits on the Houston ship channel, which has about 200 refineries on it.

But this hotel where we're staying in at the Comfort Inn here in Baytown, it's the only hotel that's still open. And it's only been open since January, they told me. And they've just planted these palm trees. And the woman who owns the hotel is very upset about them, because she thinks they're going to end up going.

I've been talking a little bit tonight about this ominous noise. It's coming from the pool area. I checked on it. It's a dumpster. And the winds here have been strong enough to open the doors of that dumpster and then slam them shut, just to give you an idea, because it's a pretty large dumpster over there.

And now I want to take your attention back up to those flag poles. There used to be three flags up there. The Comfort Inn flag used to be on the left pole there. And there, you see the other two flags, the Texas state flag and the United States of America flag. Those are both there. But we did check. The poles go into the ground about 10 feet deep. So they don't expect the poles to actually go, but you never know what happens here, Aaron. They can snap. They can go flying. So we're certainly keeping a close eye on those.

I also did check with the group that monitors the ship channel and all of the plants and oil refineries there. And so far, there is not a word of any damage to any of those chemical plants - Aaron?

BROWN: Randi, thank you very much. Randi Kaye, who's in Baytown. Somebody told me once that the reason that palm trees flourish where they flourish is because they can withstand weather like this. Let's hope they do.

John Zarrella's in Lumberton, Texas, a little bit north of Beaumont, but I guess, what, about 10 minutes or so?

ZARRELLA: Yes, yes, Aaron. Not too far from there. Actually, we're just about 20 miles to where Anderson is here. So we're just now again starting to get it. And it's just been steady down pour now, just torrential rains coming down. No break in the rain at all. And fewer and fewer breaks in the wind.

What's really eerie out here is, it's so dark everywhere around us, except for right in the immediate area where we have our lights that you can hear the trees, the wind blowing through the tops of these trees up here. And starting to snap some of the branches up in those trees.

But you can't see much of anything around you. You can see now these gusts that we're continuing to get here. And it's just coming stronger and stronger with each of the gusts.

No reports of any injuries here. Police have been very, very quiet. They are just in front of me here in the police station there. Power's out there as well. They do have a generator, but power in the police station's out here at the city hall area, where we are at, Aaron. Power of course out all over Lumberton now.

And as I was saying a few minutes ago, it's - we lost the power here quite a bit earlier than they lost in Beaumont, which is closer to, you know, the center of the action. But it's certainly kicking up here now. And we certainly expect it to get quite a bit more intense over the next couple of hours - Aaron?

BROWN: It looks like plenty of action there. Lumberton's a relatively small town, right, of 10,000, 12,000 people?

ZARRELLA: Right. BROWN: How many people do they believe are still in the city tonight?

ZARRELLA: They believe they got at least 90 percent of the people out. Although earlier tonight, a family came over and - you know, people are tremendously nice. They came over and said, hey, we are having a fish fry. Come on over. We've got some good Gulf shrimp for you.

We went over to their house. And they're all hunkered down in a cement building, in a brick building, brick house. Two or three families all together with their kids. And they have decided not to evacuate simply because, you know, they said look, when they were looking at all the massive traffic and the people that were stuck on the roads. And they just decided that their house was strong enough, and they were all going to get into that one house and just ride it out. And that's what they're doing.

And they feel as if they're going to be safe there. But again, the mayor of Port Arthur told me earlier this evening, Mayor Ortiz, that he believed that it was the Katrina factor really led to the massive evacuations that they had. That if it had not been for the devastation that people saw from Katrina, they didn't think they would get anywhere near the numbers of people to leave these communities that eventually did leave.

BROWN: I suspect you're absolutely right, John. Thank you. I think from the president of the United States to the residents of Lumberton, Texas, everybody learned lessons from Katrina.

Sean Callebs is in Galveston, Texas at the western end of this cone that basically we've paid attention to tonight with fire on one side of them and hotel roofs on the other. Sean?

CALLEBS: Exactly. Let's bring up today first on the hotel roof. We can't see anything. We lost power here in the last half hour and it has not come back on after flickering on and off throughout the evening.

We have heard just a whole collection of noises coming from that building. And I guess this is what it's like to have limited sight. We have no idea exactly what's going on, but it can't be pretty.

We know a big chunk of a metal section for the top of the roof of a hotel that has maybe 10 floors, just peeled off. We saw it dangling at one point, slamming into the side of the hotel.

Also, on top of the roof, the tar paper that goes underneath tiles, what not, also peeling off and flying around. We're seeing bits of it periodically come through here.

Also some bits of insulation, which we presume could be coming from that Holiday Inn next to us. Periodically people who were over there working, other news crews, come through and say it just happened pretty quickly. It going in bits and pieces and then bam, that big section came off. And since then, everybody pretty much cleared out. Now not terribly far away from that, over on 19th Street close to the bay, this is a section of town that someone described to us as kind of a trendy section that's coming back to life. A lot of lofts over in that area.

We know three buildings went up in flames. Two historic buildings and one business. And those - one is just destroyed. There's no doubt about it. The other two suffering significant damage.

I've been trying to find out, Aaron, for the last 30 or 40 minutes how many crews are over there. I can't get a solid answer for anyone. We know they initially dispatched quite a few firefighters. And that was complicated somewhat because the emergency vehicles are actually parked about two blocks away from where we are, which is also the center for the emergency operations.

So firefighters literally had to sprint down a couple blocks, get into their vehicles, and race down.

Now they've been down there for probably about an hour and 15 minutes, an hour and a half at this point. The fire is under control, the term that they're using. We know there are embers still blowing around. We know there are crews still out there.

One really - one factor about the lights going out, we have to talk about here in Galveston. For anyone who has been here, that sea wall protecting much of this city runs 10 miles. And Anderson Cooper was out here the last couple days and can talk about this as well.

There's no guard rail. There's nothing. You drive along the road. If you veer off, you go off that 17 foot sea wall. It is pitch black out on that road right now. And we know a number of vehicles have been going up and down, a lot of emergency vehicles, some power company vehicles as well. Headlights only do so much when it is just pitch black out there. So there's - another concern, certainly for people who aren't familiar with this island, the possibility of driving off. And let me tell you, it's not sand down there. It's a bunch of rocks.

So if someone does go off and it's pitch black, and this hurricane is blowing into this area, it is going to compound the situation even worse. It is already been a long night for the emergency crews here. It shows no sign that it's going to get any better in the immediate future, Aaron.

BROWN: Hey, Sean, this is Anderson. I heard you talk about that sea wall. I'm wondering can you see where the sea is? I mean, has it - is - the waves crashing up over that sea wall? Because last night, they were getting pretty close to doing that?

CALLEBS: Yes, it's interesting. We went down there and looked I'd say about a half hour ago. The tide has to be out, because right now, the Gulf is still probably about 15 feet away from breaking at the bottom of the sea wall, Anderson. So really, last night, when the winds first started kicking up, we saw those white caps that extended out a couple of hundred yards. It was crashing into sea wall, coming over. I know you and the mayor got splashed a couple times. I got a pretty good one at one point.

But right now, the tide has to be out, because it is not coming anywhere near that sea wall.

But of course, they are expecting a storm surge, somewhere between seven and 10 feet. And that is going to cause significant flooding here on this barrier island.

COOPER: All right, Sean, we're going to check in with you shortly. I want to bring in Rob Marciano, who is also in Beaumont.

Rob, how - the winds now, they seem to be kind of swirling. We're not sure which direction they're blowing in. But they're still mostly from the north, right?

MARCIANO: Yes, well, they're struggling to try to get around this building. And they seem to be turning a little bit more easterly. But you're right about that, especially if they get stronger now.

They're really ripping down this road. Oh, here's a pow. You hear that? All right, starting to get a little damage now. Something just came flying off the civic center. What was that?

COOPER: It was just a piece of a building just flying off a little bit. That's just one of the things we're watching by some newspaper stands, a piece of aluminum that we hadn't actually seen. But it seems to be OK.

Rob, I want to check with you in a second, but I've just been told that on the phone we have the fire chief from right here in Beaumont. Chief, if you're still there, what reports are you getting? We've been seeing transformers blow. What have you heard?

MICKY BERTRAND, FIRE CHIEF, BEAUMONT, TEXAS: Well, that's pretty much what we've been getting since 8:30 is when we went to generator here at our headquarters. And been getting a lot of reports throughout the city.

We're taking all the 911 calls from not only here, but a little south of us here. Port Arthur area. And that's basically what we're being given. We've been fortunate, not like Galveston. We haven't had a house fire, thank goodness, but we're just trying to wait this out.

COOPER: And in Galveston, I mean, if there was a fire here, would you be able to respond? Probably not at this point, right?

BERTRAND: Oh, absolutely not. No, it's - you can see the idea is here is that we've got a whole lot of wind. It's just the same now. And I would imagine we're getting pretty close to hurricane force winds at this point. And there's no way we're just going to have to wait this out until it reduces before we send our people out.

COOPER: At what point will you decide - I mean, what factor's going to deciding all right now it's time to go out again, when - I mean, when it does - you look out the window and it seems OK?

BERTRAND: Well, no, not - you know, not just doing a visual, but we've got a standard pretty much across the United States with fire service and emergency services. When winds are around 50 miles an hour or greater, we're not going to respond.

There's too - you know, with debris and everything, it's pretty dangerous for our personnel. And we got to look after them first before we would look after property. So that's what we're looking at.

COOPER: And are you receiving 911 calls at this point or are the phone lines pretty quiet?

BERTRAND: Right now, they're pretty quiet. We were receiving them pretty steady here a couple hours ago. And mostly, you know, reports about possible fires. And most of those have been transformers, you know, a lot of arcing and not really fires.

And so, we were able to check a lot of those out before we started getting these stronger winds. And it's quieting down quite a bit.

COOPER: Has it surprised you that, I mean, where we are, down by the city hall, down by the park, there's still electricity. I mean, the street light lamps are still on. Does that surprise you?

BERTRAND: Well, I think we're going to probably have little grids that might still be on. And a lot of what you might be seeing, you know, well, some of the buildings here where you see have generators. And that's why you see some of these lights. I didn't know we still had some street lights on.

So I guess I am a little surprised.

COOPER: All right, we're going to check back with you. I know it's a busy night for you. Appreciate you joining us.

Right now, I want to bring in Rob Marciano. Rob, what is going on with the winds here?

MARCIANO: Just picking up. I mean, we're getting close to the eye wall now or at least the northern part of it. And I can see around this building winds whipping down this way. And then winds are ripping down this road. And they're trying to turn easterly. And boy, the last five or 10 minutes, that's the strongest we've seen.

Obviously, something came flying off the civic center here in - pounding our satellite truck. That was a loud boom you heard earlier. So things beginning to get a little bit squirrelly here.

Now lights going on, going off. If you think - at some point, these lights have just got to stay off. I can't believe it, the kind of power grid they have here to still be on.

I think we - I heard - there was a 79 mile an hour wind gusts. And I reported - I actually - is Chad lined up for me? Is Chad somewhere close by? Maybe he can verify that.

MYERS: I'm here, Rob.

MARCIANO: Are you there, Chad?

MYERS: Yes. It was 70 knots. That's about 80.6 miles per hour. That was the latest gust. And you probably just felt it. That may very well have been what took that piece off the civic center, whatever it might be.

You are still, though, you are still almost 40 miles from the eye wall north of you, to the north of you. That entire area's still going to move your way. It's going to take a while. And if you think that is bad, it's going to go bad from worse because you're in this band here, that it takes a break for about 15 minutes. And then this band here, wind gusts are going to be well over 100. That's only about an hour away. So get ready for those winds, guys.

COOPER: What kind of sustained winds are you talking about?

MYERS: The sustained winds right now are 56. But with that wind gust to 81, obviously, that's well over hurricane strength.

Being handed something here real quick. That is going to be a tornado warning for Calashoo (ph), for Cameron Parish, for Jefferson County and Orange County, Texas. Destructive winds of 100 to 120 miles per hour are coming across the area. That's in this band right here.

There's not actually a tornado, but the Weather Service does this when there's tornado like winds. And if you have to be in a building, try to stay away from windows, because those windows are going to start popping now at about 100 miles per hour.

Back to you.

COOPER: Chad, Rob and I haven't seen much storm surge here from the location we're at. What are you seeing on your map? What reports you getting about storm surge in any areas?

MYERS: You know, you won't see a storm surge where you are for a while because your winds are still blowing the water out of the bay.

But as soon as this eye, as soon as the eye, the low pressure where the bubble of water is, as soon as that bubble moves up the river, up the Sabine River, that's when you'll actually start to see the storm surge in itself.

This is a new midnight track from the hurricane center. Central daylight time midnight. If you want to pay attention, it's 29.2 north and 93.5 west. That's 40 miles south of the coast right now. The maximum winds are still 120 miles per hour. And I did see the hurricane hunter aircraft. Some of the observations in that aircraft just a few minutes ago.

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