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Philippines Hit by Strong Typhoon; Should Obamacare Be Delayed?

Aired November 8, 2013 - 14:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: This super typhoon is more than 300 miles wide. That's about the distance from Boston to Philadelphia. Now, here's you're going to see crews of barge workers trying desperately to escape the huge storm surge. We don't even know how many of those workers were even rescued.

At this moment, hundreds of thousands of victims are huddling in evacuation centers, even wondering if they have homes to return to. Survivors reported terrifying moments as they typhoon slammed in. Take a listen.


PHILLIPS: Now watch how this monster storm unfolded.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): The view from space, monstrous, its cloud cover alone take up two thirds of the east Asian island. It first boarded to Samar in the central Philippines with winds clocked at 195 miles per hour. Worst yet, it was the dead of night.

The waves from what maybe be the strongest storm ever left some of the poor ocean side communities under ten feet of water. Because of its speed, the initial impact was over quickly. But the morning light shed light on just how destructive this storm was. And what people inland

still have to fear.

This video is from Cebu, which is more than 100 miles away from where the typhoon made landfall, proving it's still packing a bunch and leaving misery behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can here was wind. I mean, I have never experienced wind like this in my entire existence. I have lived in this country for 13 years. And I have been through a few earthquakes. I have been through plenty of these storms. We get hit quite regularly with storms, as you probably already know, but yes, this was something else. The rain, when I looked out the window, the rain wasn't falling. The rain was being pushed almost, you know, 100 degree angle, right in front of our house. It's pretty incredible.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Tens of thousands of Filipinos spent this day in evacuation centers. And as Haiyan rolls on, authorities are warning people across the country to prepare for flash floods and even landslides.

Haiyan is expected to leave the Philippines in the next few hours, only to head out to south China sea, toward Vietnam.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Atlanta.


PHILLIPS: I want to help you get a handle on the size of this super typhoon. We have never seen anything like it before. And if you compare this mega storm to recent storms in the U.S., you'll see the difference. Super typhoon Haiyan hit land with wind speed of 195 miles per hour. Hurricane Katrina, well, it hit land at 125 miles per hour. That was back in 2005. Then just last year, superstorm Sandy hit land at 90-plus miles per hour.

I want to go straight to Paula Hancocks. She is live in Manila.

So Paula, what kind of devastation are you seeing while you're there?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, actually, here in Manila, there is no devastation. The capital has largely been unscathed by this super typhoon, but it's certainly not the case further down south.

It's 3:00 a.m. here local time. We're two hours away from daylight, but we could be a couple days away from actually knowing how bad the devastation is. Now, we have been seeing footage of certain places that have been flooded. We can see from the footage as well that the heavy winds have really devastated some areas, pulling roofs off buildings and we know that one of the areas, Tacloban, which is a city of about 200,000 people, some of those streets are filled with water and with debris. So there is a lot of damage in certain areas.

But of course, until it's light, we really don't know how much that damage is. And in fact, the military doesn't know. The government doesn't know. Because communication is so bad at this point, the sheer force of the winds has brought down telephone lines, it has brought down electricity pylons, it has brought down many trees as well, which has blocked the roads, so it's very difficult to get to these areas. And until the light comes up, it is going to be almost impossible for authorities to find out what's happened.

As soon as dawn breaks, then the military is going up in the helicopters. They're going to try to get an aerial view of what has happened to see how extensive the damage is and to see which areas need help and what they need. Is it basic help like food, water, and medicine, or do people need to be evacuated -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Paula. We will be talking a lot more. Thanks so much.

I want to also bring in National Geographic senior science editor Dan Vergano.

So Dan, you know, help us, explain to us, what kinds of weather conditions actually help trigger such a super typhoon?

DAN VERGANO, SENIOR EDITOR, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Warm ocean water is the key. What you have here is a strong but fairly normal typhoon that dipped south in the equator, picked up the warm ocean water there, and that gave it a lot more energy and punch. And then it sailed straight into the Philippines.

PHILLIPS: Dan, thanks. I appreciate it.

How about more perspective with our own meteorologist Chad Myers.

So, as I'm listening to Paula and Suzanne and her report, headed toward Vietnam. So, how bad is this going to get?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's getting an eye again. I really think that this will keep going as a super typhoon. It may be 130 miles per hour as it gets very close to a town we all remember, you know, growing up, Denang, right? Everybody knows the name of that town.

But this was a significant storm as it went through Tacloban. That is the area that I think we're going to find the most damage possible. It's a big eye right through here, rolled through here and made storm surge. I love the graphic that you just showed on TV showing how we had Katrina at 125, this at 195.

PHILLIPS: A lot of people are trying to understand the difference between hurricane and typhoon.

MYERS: Force of the wind. If you're a sailor, if you're a flyer, whatever, you know it's velocity cubed is force. So we take 125 and we cube it. And then we take 195 and we cube it. That means that we're three times more powerful than Katrina. This is three times more force than Katrina was.

PHILLIPS: See, this is what amazes me about the process. I mean, you're not just telling us about the weather conditions. You're explaining the entire math and science put together. That's what's so fascinating about folks, you know, folks that follow the weather.

MYERS: You know, a big wind gust of 235 miles per hour, if there was one, that would have been six times more powerful than any gust we saw in Katrina.

This is a map of the Philippines. This storm, go ahead, Todd, move it along. Drove itself right into this bay. This is the surge that we're going to be talking about. This town here, completely underwater. The surge came in, into this bay, and it kept moving to the west. And then all of a sudden, you're here. The water, probably 50 to 60 feet deep into the bay, and then going up here to the small little towns, inundating these towns and these villages. Keep moving to the west, what you find, that city she was talking about, Suzanne had that in her piece, 200,000 people right there. We hope most of them got out. We don't think most of them did because they thought they were protected in the shelters. Nobody is protected at 195 miles per hour.

PHILLIPS: Well, let me bring in Dan then, because the Philippines, and you talked about this, got hit with a massive earthquake recently. Smaller typhoons hit fairly regularly. So, you know, tell us what your perspective is with this area. Why is it so disaster-prone?

VERGANO: Well, people live on the coast. They are subject to these storm surges like the ones you're seeing here where parts of these islands are mostly ten feet above sea level. So, if a storm surge comes in, you know, you're talking 13 feet, as high as 20 feet when it landed. You know, these people don't have a lot of protection. They have to get to high ground in a hurry. And you see drowning and also you see mudslides. They're denuded of forestry in some places, and the heavy rains hit and you have these mudslides that can kill people.

PHILLIPS: Dan, appreciate the perspective. Chad, as always, thank you.

MYERS: You are welcome.

PHILLIPS: The president of Sudan apologizes for promising everyone can keep their insurance under Obamacare. But just moments ago, he addressed the disastrous rollout. So, is he backing off his deadline to fix it?

Plus, a father to be decides to die after being paralyzed in a hunting accident, and his widow is now speaking out about whether she agrees with his decision.


PHILLIPS: After finally saying he's sorry about Americans losing health insurance, the president's defending Obamacare again. Here he is just moments ago in New Orleans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to fix the Web site because the insurance plans are there. They're good and millions of Americans are already finding that they will gain better coverage for less cost and it's the right thing to do.

Now, I know the health care is controversial, so you know, there's only going to be so much support we get on that on a bipartisan basis. Until it's working really well and then they're going to stop calling it Obamacare. They're going to call it something else.


PHILLIPS: All right, let's get back to the apology. The president says he's sorry. Sorry that several million Americans are losing health insurance after he promised over and over it wouldn't happen, couldn't happen under Obamacare. The president spoke last night to NBC News amid the ongoing fallout caused by his health plan's disastrous rollout.


OBAMA: And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me, given that I have been burned already with a Web site, well more importantly, the American people have been burned. Ultimately, the buck stops with me. I'm the president. This is my team. If it's not working, it's my job to get it fixed.


PHILLIPS: Now, that's the president speaking last night. At the same time, he and his health secretary Kathleen Sebelius, both are backing away from his pledge to fix the health care Web site by the end of this month.

So as you can see, we have lots to talk about here with Robert Zimmerman, our Democratic strategist. Also CNN political commentator and conservative radio host, Ben Ferguson.

Robert Zimmerman, it's now official, the president broke a promise, a major promise to the American people. Wouldn't it have just made sense to delay Obamacare so everything would have aligned properly?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Actually, no. That would have been the worst thing because had Obamacare been delayed, that in fact, it would have ultimately led to the dismantling of the initiative, the law of the land. I think the more important initiative here is to look at various options to first get the Web site back on as soon as possible. And if you need to extend the six- month enrollment period, that's got to be extended. But I think it's premature to make any real judgments about the future of Obamacare until we see it in action.


BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. It's just sad that they're so obsessed with a law that's broken, and they don't care that millions of Americans are getting cancellation notices. They don't care that they had to lie to the American people when they knew in 2010 that there were going to be tens of millions of Americans who were going to have their plans canceled. And so, they went out and said you're going to keep your own doctor, you are going to keep your own plan. If you like private insurance and like it, don't worry. They knew it was a lie. They were told it was a lie in 2010. And now, even with this disaster and even with people's premiums going through the roof, they're not coming down. People in the exchange are seeing that.

ZIMMERMAN: Let's look --

FERGUSON: Let me finish. My point is this. They don't even care about the people suffering because they're obsessed with Obamacare being law at all costs which shows how disconnected they are.

PHILLIPS: All right, let's talk -- I want to go through that, but just to the Web site, back to the Web site for a second.

And Ben, I don't want you blaming Democratic staffers working with Rob Ford in a drunken stupor. And that's when this was all created, OK. You just hold that opinion because I know you're going to go there.

The president has also promised that the Web site would be fixed by the end of the month. OK, and now he's backing away from that. As is health secretary Kathleen Sebelius, she spoke this morning, saying the same thing. Take a listen.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We are committed that by the end of November, the site will be functioning much more optimally. The site is much better today than it was. But in three and a half weeks, we want it operating at a much different pace.


PHILLIPS: All right, so Bob, you said you want to cut through the rhetoric. So, let's do that. OK? We still have not heard the word fixed, all right? And then you have young people, you got a lot of young people who, they're need for this. They're not signing up in the numbers needed. And if you don't get the revenue needed from this, then does the whole system implode?

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely, it does. And that's going to be the test of this law. Let's see after six months or however long they extend the period, let's see in fact how many young people enroll. We knew from the Massachusetts experience, many young people enrolled in the latter part of the enrollment period. But the important part here is to cut through the right-wing twerking (ph) that we're hearing Ben espouse, his rhetoric, and look at the fact, you know.

PHILLIPS: I don't know if Ben does twerking, but that's a whole other segment.

ZIMMERMAN: It's called right-wing twerking. Let's remember though, the hypocrisy of the right wing is really what is so galling when 14,000 sit citizens a month were losing their health insurance between 2008 and 2009, you didn't see the right wing complaining about it, or when 10 percent of employees insurance was lost, the right wing wasn't speaking up.

PHILLIPS: So, well Ben -- wait, Ben, to play off that, did the Republican party then hurt itself, particularly the tea party, by forcing the government shutdown over Obamacare? Because in the end, you didn't get anything on Obamacare, and would it have been better if you tried to negotiate a delay rather than defund it?

FERGUSON: Well, at the beginning, we said we don't want to have it. Then the White House and the Senate said, no, so we said, let's have a one-year delay. A moratorium on the law because it's not ready for rollout. That's is exactly what the Republicans ask for during the government shutdown, is a one-year delay. They now look brilliant. And my point is --

ZIMMERMAN: What poll are you looking at, Ben?

FERGUSON: Let me finish. Let me finish. The majority of Americans don't like Obamacare. That is a poll, that is a fact. But I'll say this, the fact that you're having to use Republican twerking as your defense of Obamacare against me as a Republican.

ZIMMERMAN: It's called grandstanding.

FERGUSON: It tells me how disastrous the law is. And everyone using it, trying to sign up for it, they know it's a disaster. Look at it online. It's a failure.

ZIMMERMAN: Ben, there's a difference between people who run their mouths on a talk show and people who run a government. And the reality is in running a government --

FERGUSON: Obviously, they're not doing a good job.

PHILLIPS: Final thought, Bob. We got to go.

ZIMMERMAN: OK. Very simply -- let me very simply put. There has to be amends this to Obamacare, but poll after poll shows the country doesn't want to end it. They want to amend it. Let's remember, it took Social Security six years to roll out and except for my right-wing friends, the woman doesn't feel bad.

FERGUSON: So six years is how long it's going to take to fix? Six years?

PHILLIPS: We don't want to hear that. That's for sure. It's going to take six years to wrap up this segment.

Ben Ferguson and Robert Zimmerman, I appreciate you both. Believe me, guys. We'll continue this conversation, I'm sure.

All right, just ahead, new developments today in the Miami Dolphins bullying controversy. For the first time, Jonathan Martin speaks through his lawyer, and we find out what really made him quit the team.


PHILLIPS: Well, it was a decision that left her in deep grief, and without a father for the child that she's carrying. But an Indiana widow says it was the right choice when her husband opted to remove his breathing tube. He died. Reportedly just hours after he learned that he had lost the use of his arms and legs.

Abbey Bower's husband, Tim, was 32. Abbey just gave an interview to the Indianapolis star saying, quote "the last thing he wanted was to be in a wheelchair. To have all that stuff taken away would probably be devastating. He would never be able to give hugs, to hold his baby. We made sure he knew that, so he could make a decision. Even if he decided the other thing, the quality of life would have been very poor. His life expectancy would be very low."

Medical ethicist Arthur Caplan says that it's important to note before Tim Bower had his catastrophic injury, he had the conversation all families should have.


ARTHUR CAPLAN, MEDICAL ETHICIST: His family had had a conversation with him about a month earlier saying, but what if you hot severely injured, what would you want?

And he was adamant, no life in a wheelchair, I don't want to be paralyzed. This makes me far more comfortable with this that you might be able to say, hey wake up, last thing you know you're in a tree, now you're here. And what do you think? That's a tougher call, which is a reminder, you have to have that conversation. I know it's hard. Thanksgiving is coming. Use this case. Talk to your friends, talk to your family.


PHILLIPS: It's hard, all right. Bowers became paralyzed after he fell about 16 feet from a tree stand. His tree stand while deer hunting. His funeral home said he owned a transmission shop in Decatur, Indiana, and was also a farmer.

Well, the alleged victim in an NFL bullying controversy details through his attorney how he was treated by his teammates for the last year and a half.

Jonathan Martin abruptly left the Miami Dolphins amid alleged bullying from his teammates, mainly Richie Incognito. Well, Martin's lawyer released a statement on his behalf, rather, saying that this is not about Martin's toughness. Rather, quote, "Jonathan endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing. He attempt befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued. Jonathan endured a malicious physical attack on him by a teammate and daily vulgar comments."

Well, the statement ends with a vulgar quote, allegedly by a teammate, about what he would do to Martin's sister. The lawyer says Jonathan Martin will cooperate fully with the NFL investigation now.

Well, a super typhoon slammed into the Philippines, leaving a trail of destruction. Just ahead, we find out where the deadly storm is headed next.

And my interview with the Reverend Billy Graham, America's pastor turns 95. Hear what he says is his biggest regret in life.


PHILLIPS: Hello. Everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, in for Brooke Baldwin today.

Right now, we're tracking perhaps the most powerful storm ever to make landfall. Super typhoon Haiyan demolished parts of the Philippines with wind gusts up to 235 miles per hour. And at this point, it's impossible to know how many people have been killed. We can confirm at least three deaths. Seven people injured. But a state-run news agency is reported around 20 people have drowned after the storm surge.

At this moment, hundreds of thousands of victims are huddling in evacuation centers. Damage is severe, and not much is still standing. The Red Cross says about 90 percent of the infrastructure and buildings are now heavily damaged.