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Hurricane Warning Issued for Florida Coast

Aired June 12, 2006 - 11:33   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, let's go from the radar onto the ground and go to Clearwater Beach, Florida, and that's where we find our Susan Candiotti at the beach -- Susan.

Right now we're getting a little slightly heavier squall coming through. So the rain has picked up a bit but not the wind really. It hasn't been too badly. Over my shoulder you can see, I think, some wind surfers there trying to catch some waves. This is exactly the kind of thing, time and again, we hear from the Coast Guard. They would just as soon people and boaters stay out of the water, because of the possibility of rip currents, particularly over the next 24 to 36 hours.

But time and again, this is what we see. Nevertheless, not too bad at this time.

And over here, just a quick look here, you've got some high-rises here under construction. Presumably those cranes are anchored down. We sure hope so.

And but these are the kind of things we see every season. What we don't see are a couple of sites on the Internet, particularly that take in sports bets. But this year they're also offering people to take a chance on betting on hurricanes.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): In a world where you can find somewhere to gamble 24 hours a day, a casino or online where you can place a bet on just about anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Texas Rangers minus 183.

CANDIOTTI: Maybe it should come as no surprise to learn you can now bet on the potential of killer storms. That's right. Some Internet gambling sites offer odds on whether a category three, four, or five hurricane will hit Florida this year. Or asked more broadly to wager on how many hurricanes will sail through the Atlantic. Is it tantalizing or tasteless?

JOSE DUARTE, WAGERWEB MARKETING DIRECTOR: We're not hoping for any disasters, we're just giving our customers another option to entertain themselves.

CANDIOTTI: And make money. Beth Chris and Wagerweb run offshore online sites featuring offbeat stakes. Both are run out of Costa Rica where online gaming is licensed and attracts overseas gamblers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's over 21 storms.

CANDIOTTI: Online better Dan Leach has more than $1,300 riding on the season and he hopes to cash in.

DAN LEACH, BETTOR: I'd be happy if all these storms were in the middle of the ocean and didn't harm a person. That being said though, I mean, I'm a guy that looks for value out there. And whether it's hurricanes or a corporate trial or a basketball game, I'm looking for the value out there.

CANDIOTTI: At the Hard Rock Casino in south Florida where action is limited primarily to slots, gamblers said why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to get the statistics on it, just like any good gambler, but if the statistics were favorable, I'd bet.

CANDIOTTI: And what if someone said it's tasteless to bet on disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's probably tasteless to bet on anything.

CANDIOTTI: So betting on storms is popular with gamblers. But what if you were a hurricane victim? Would you feel any differently about plunking down money to place a wager on the chance of disaster?

A good place to go for that disaster, Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they'd lived through this type of disaster, you wouldn't make fun of that and, you know, go ahead and try to make money off of these poor people who have nothing.

CANDIOTTI: Those who run online gaming deny they're profiting on someone's misery.

DUARTE: It's a matter of public interest. You know, it draws attention. It makes people talk about it.

CANDIOTTI: They are talking and they're betting.


CANDIOTTI: Just about a year ago to the day, we were covering the first named seasonal storm of 2005. This is Tropical Storm Arlene in Pensacola Beach. And so, Daryn, what do you think the odds are that we would be a year later covering the first tropical storm of 2006? Yet here we are.

Back to you.

KAGAN: Very good. Looking good. Thank you, Susan.

And CNN is your hurricane headquarters. Stay with us for the latest. We'll check in with Chad in about nine minutes for the latest on the radar.

The governor -- well, we'll get to Governor Jeb Bush in just a moment. First, these are live pictures from Oklahoma, Glenpool, just south of Tulsa. It's a petroleum farm, a fire they think that was started by a strike of lightning. More on that in a moment. Now let's go to Florida, Governor Jeb Bush speaking about the situation with Alberto.


JEB BUSH, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: ... Mason-Dixon poll that was done that a lot of parts of the country that get hit by these storms aren't prepared, but that Florida kind of is somewhat of an aberration. I guess this just relates to the fact that we've had a lot of these storms. So people are better prepared. And we'll find out. We'll find out in places that -- some of these areas are very low-lying areas that have had, in the past, tropical storms hit their communities and had significant flooding.

Put aside whether it's a tropical storm or a hurricane, the difference between 60 miles an hour and 70 miles an hour, I'm not sure how much that changes the surge of water coming off the coast. So we're hopeful that people are prepared. We're going to work with local communities, particularly the rural counties, to make sure they have the resources that they need. And we'll be prepared to offer assistance after the storm passes.

QUESTION: I don't know if this is a question for you or Craig...

BUSH: It's probably Craig.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the Herbert Hoover Dike situation?

BUSH: Well, I can actually maybe answer that. I've done -- I check on a pretty regular basis. I asked Carol Wiley, who was going to be up here, to participate in the planning session today, but could not get up here because of bad weather. How the lake is doing, and she is confident that, given the low level of the lake right now, around 12 feet. I think it is -- a little over 12 1/2 to 12 -- it's -- there is no immediate threat to the lake or for any possible breaching.

QUESTION: This is going to be for Craig. Dennis really caught the panhandle and the Big Bend area off guard last year. And we're seeing a similar pattern here, with a dramatic strengthening, that folks may be completely unaware of. We're just finding out about now. Your concerns about whether that same area is prepared this year for what might potentially be equally bad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as the governor said, we have time. And that's part of the reason we do the press conference and appreciate the fact that you guys cover this just to get the word out. I guess for folks who live along the Nature Coast Big Bend area, but that West Coast area, particularly as you head north, as it makes the curve... The analog or the comparison I would make was the winter storm of 1993. Even though it wasn't a hurricane, it caused a significant loss of life in Dixie and Taylor County, because people did not get warning to evacuate. Well, in this storm, they're getting notice that that may be a threat. And if those evacuations are called for, they need to heed them.

This is the part of the state that it doesn't take a big storm to cause a lot of flooding. And we do know, even in a winter storm, you can have loss of life in these areas if people don't heed the evacuation orders. So as this storm has strengthened somewhat, we do ask people to pay very close attention. You have time. This is not an area of the coast that takes days to evacuate. It takes hours.

But people have to act. And I think that's been the governor's message, is that call for preparedness. It's not enough for us to talk about it, it means people actually have to change behavior and do something. And this will be the time to do something if those evacuation orders are called for.

BUSH: The other thing that I would just remind people -- because we're starting the hurricane season and sometimes memories dim about these storms. We had a great briefing on this today -- is the skinny black line has got to be just put away out of people's thought patterns completely. And Dennis is a great example of that, in the sense that the storm surge that occurred just south of here was horrific, and it lasted 24 hours after the storm had passed the state.

So some of these things are unexpected because of just, you know, the nature of -- we're talking about the powerful forces of nature. But we are learning more and more, and we have better technology to be able to make pretty accurate projections of what the storm surges is -- looks like. And it doesn't have to be in the path of a hurricane. And there's a lot of low=lying areas from the Big Bend area, as Craig said, all the way down the Nature Coast, down to Pasco County and even Pinellas County. And people need to take this very seriously.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the incidence of June storms? aren't they fairly unusual?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, in the whole entire Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, normally there's one June tropical storm every other year. And we had two tropical storms last June, and now we have one this year. So this is a little bit out of the ordinary.

BUSH: We're going to start a hurricane planning process in February next -- well, I'm not. I'm going to put it in the envelope for the next governor, in the desk.

QUESTION: Craig, the -- in regards to the (INAUDIBLE) that was just issued today -- between 2004 and today, with the numerous extensions of previous executive orders, has there been a day in which an executive order of some kind has not been enforced since the hurricanes at the end of 2004?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have to check, but if there was -- I don't think there has. I think we were actually extending 2004 executive orders as we began dealing with Tropical Storm Arlene last year. And then we went into Hurricane Dennis and the cycle continued. We were still under executive orders from last year being extended from last year's storm damage, as we were asking the governor to declare again an emergency.

But again, those are very specific to types of actions. So under the general heading of declared emergencies, yes, they've been almost continuous. But as far as the authorities and powers, they're very limited in scope and scale. This one that the governor just signed is the one that we would normally ask for that gives us the greatest authorities to support to the local officials. The other that were extensions were very specific, tied to issues that were lingering in disaster, particularly in post-storm redevelopment.

BUSH: I think the only executive order that's still outstanding -- I may be wrong -- is the one I'm going to extend today, coincidentally, which relates to roofers. And I haven't signed it yet, but my intention -- and Secretary Cobb (ph) is dutifully waiting for the executive order to be written up so that I will extend that one, which is a serious problem in our state.

Another reason, by the way, to not get too -- fret too much, oh, this is a Cat 1 or, you know, a tropical storm. If you don't have a roof over your head or it's a weakened roof, it's not going to matter too much whether it's 60-mile-an-hour winds or 70-mile-an-hour winds or 75-mile-an-hour winds. So we have a -- you know, the cumulative impact of these storms is that we have a lot of construction that has been deferred from a lack of building materials because of Katrina and a lack of contractors to deal with all this demand. And so we're going to extend that executive order and make it easier for people to continue to work to fortify the housing in the state.


BUSH: Yes. I'm concerned about our property insurance market in general. And we have a serious -- the biggest problem we face is in the area of reinsurance. The cost of reinsurance, because of Katrina, principally, not even a storm that -- I mean, it had impacts in our state, but nothing to the extent it did in the Gulf Coast -- is so significant, the cost of reinsurance or the availability of it is a serious problem. And so anything that's done to create more uncertainty in a time when we're trying to provide incentives to increase the amount of reinsurance capital coming into Florida gives me concern.

KAGAN: All right, listening in to Governor Jeb Bush and some other officials in Florida as they talk about the status of Alberto as it gets ready to bear down on the state of Florida. It still is a tropical storm, but there are hurricane warnings out there.


KAGAN: Get them out on the field young and maybe they will be fans for life. Or maybe not. Soccer is not exactly an American pastime, but that could be changing. The story is ahead on CNN, the most trusted name in news.


KAGAN: We are keeping an eye on Alberto and Florida. Right now, it's still a tropical storm, but the National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for Florida's Gulf Coast from Tampa, from that area to near Tallahassee. Winds have increased to 70 miles an hour as of this morning. We're going to stay very close to that story.

Also a lot of international news coming up at the top of the hour with YOUR WORLD TODAY. Let's check in with anchor Hala Gorani to see what they're working on.

Hello, Hala.


We're going to be bringing you the latest on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and exactly what killed the terrorist leader.

Also an interesting interview with Anthony Shadid (ph) of "The Washington Post" on how this militant jihadi movement in Iraq could be spreading to other parts of the region.

And of course what happens at the top of the hour, have we got you excited yet about the World Cup? The USA makes its debut in Group E against the Czech Republic. The odds are against the U.S. But the odds were against the U.S. four years ago, and made it to the final 16. That starts in about, let's see, five minutes?


GORANI: All right.

KAGAN: Sounds good.

GORANI: Are you a football fan, or a soccer fan I should say, Daryn?

KAGAN: As we call it here in the States. You know, I'm a big sports fan. Soccer not my top. But all this fever with the World Cup and the U.S. team doing so well does definitely have me interested, so I'll be watching.

GORANI: All right. Well, that's at the top of the hour.

KAGAN: Hala, thank you.

Well, speaking of soccer, soccer moms can rejoice. Today is the day that you can show your kids that maybe, just maybe, soccer has a future in this country beyond eighth grade. As you just heard, the U.S. plays in the World Cup in the next hour.

Our Richard Roth is on the trail of soccer, American style.


RON RESTREPO, SOCCER INSTRUCTOR: Here we go. Slow, slow, we go, dribbling the ball downfield.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's children learning soccer. These are 4-year-olds.

RESTREPO: We try to push them to stay interested in the game. And hopefully they can play for the U.S. national team.

Very good job! He's ready for Germany.

ROTH: The future generation graduates while the current U.S. national team takes the field in Germany at the World Cup.

TOMMY SMITH, TELEVISION COMMENTATOR: I'm here a long time. I've seen a lot of things happen in the U.S., and this time you can actually feel the World Cup building.

ROTH: But haven't we heard that before? The perception still in some goal nets is that those little kids grow up to be fans of...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baseball, basketball, football, hockey, you know, all kinds -- soccer is just not it. It's for other countries. European, soccer is their field. Over here we like baseball.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Europeans, that's their soccer, that's their field. Over here, we like baseball.

ROTH: But America's professional soccer league says season ticket sales are up. Advertisers are finding sought after teenage viewers.

DON GARBER, MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER: Soccer has arrived. It will not be the NFL for our lifetime. It's hovering at the bottom of the grouping of major leagues, but people care about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like to play soccer because it's fun.

ROTH: Germans in New York City stopped what they were doing to rejoice over their company's opening day win.

ALES POSPISIL, COUNSEL GENERAL, CZECH REPUBLIC: It's not sport No. 1 in the United States, but the popularity is definitely growing.

ROTH: The U.S. game lacks one attraction that other nations have.

TAB RAMOS, FMR. U.S. WORLD CUP PLAYER: We don't have the type of stars worldwide that the American public is used to seeing.

ROTH: But America's famous soccer moms may find the stands more crowded eventually.

GARBER: We're going to have nearly 50 million Hispanics in this country within the next 25 years. So those people who don't get it today are really not going to be the influencers tomorrow.

RESTREPO: And score!

ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


KAGAN: Thank you, Richard.

I'm Daryn Kagan. International news is up next. Stay tuned for "YOUR WORLD TODAY." I'll be back with the latest headlines from the U.S., including the latest on Alberto, in about 20 minutes. See you then.



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