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27 Million Impacted by Flood Watches, Advisories; Sheriff: Shooter Committed Suicide; Trump Comments on Gun Control, School Shooting; Suspected U.S. Airstrikes Kills 19. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 4, 2015 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Best of luck to you both and thank you for being with us.

[08:00:02] GRASSI: Thank you so much, Christi.

PAUL: Of course. Take good care.

GRASSI: Thanks.

PAUL: And thank you for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


PAUL: And good morning to you. We are following an awful lot of news this morning. And so grateful to have you on board with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to have you this Sunday.

PAUL: Yes, the breaking news that we are watching very closely this morning is what's being called catastrophic and unprecedented. The flooding.

Look at these pictures coming in -- 27 million along the east coast are dealing with situations like this. This specifically, though, in Columbia, South Carolina. You saw there people forming a human chain, a link, trying to pull a man out of the water who was holding on to a stop sign.

Here's another man up to his neck that water. This is so -- this is such a good example of what we're talking about what we say flooding. It's not just about rising water. It's about water that moves so quickly that 12 inches of or 12 feet of water can move an entire car. You can imagine how much it takes just to move a person.

BLACKWELL: Yes, just 12 inches to move the car.

And overnight, officials have been called to more than 100 water rescues across Dorchester County, one county that is affected here. Many others are dealing with the flooding. That number likely to grow in the coming hours and days.

This morning, nearly 30,000 people across South Carolina without power. Three counties under a flash flood emergency. So you know the epicenter of what we're seeing here is that eastern coast of South Carolina.

BLACKWELL: Yes. They're saying 18 to 24 inches can move an entire like an SUV or larger -- a larger vehicle.

So, Nick Valencia, you can see, is there. He's in Charleston, South Carolina. And that's where we've seen an awful lot of problems and they expect even more with this next band that is coming through.

Nick, what are you hearing today?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, it's almost as if when this rain stops and you think you're going to get a break the rain picks up and starts up again. The good news here, at least where we're standing some of the water has receded just a little bit. You see the area that we're standing in a little while ago. You see the satellite truck there. The water receded a tiny bit.

But just a little while ago, we saw a tow truck driver able too get in here as the water receded and able to pull us out which we were reporting next to. But what is left behind is a toxic soup thing. I don't know if you can make it out or if it translates to the camera, but all these oil marks and slicks and just really no other way to put it just gross stuff here in the water.

And, of course, that was part of the concern from the local officials here is that the sewage system was really impacted and affected over the course of the last few days. More than 14 inches here in downtown Charleston, recording breaking.

We understand that South Carolina-Charleston International Airport, they had a record-breaking day there, more than 11 inches at the airport. You see what this rain has left behind.

Now that the lights out, just check that out, if we can zoom in on those cars over there, submerged. That's a gas station next door. We are talking to a local resident just a few minutes ago, somebody who lives in a tent here down the street. He says about 50 people are down there in a tent what some call a tent city.

So, even those trying to find refuge in the rain are still getting caught in it. And the bad news we've heard time after time from meteorologists is that this weather event is supposed to last well into Monday and, you know, some may be thinking this is the effects of Hurricane Joaquin.

This weather, this rain event, is well to the west of Hurricane Joaquin. So, you have two competing weather systems that have made this area, you know, dangerous and extremely, extremely tough to get through.

PAUL: Yes. And so slow moving. That's part of the reason that intense rain that just won't go anywhere. It just sits over atop that area.

Nick Valencia, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

VALENCIA: You bet.

PAUL: As we said earlier, the storm is affecting -- when you think about it six states in 27 million people. That is huge.

BLACKWELL: And more rain to come.

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar watching all this from the weather center.

And we heard from Nick that there was a weather system already that was dumping water on this region for days, but you're getting a lot of support and a lot of assist from Joaquin.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, yes. They had a system last week and that dumped just a couple of inches, nothing they couldn't handle. But it saturates the ground.

Think of it like a sponge that is completely full. If you pour more water on top of it, this sponge can't absorb anymore. And that's what the ground is like for a lot of these places.

But if you take a look beneath me, it's a couple of different options that we have here. You've got the low sitting over Florida. That right there is not moving. It's associated at the end of the frontal boundary.

You have Hurricane Joaquin that's out over open water.

[08:05:02] That is actually funneling moisture to the low that's sitting over Florida. So, it's being able to pull all of that rich tropical moisture from the hurricane and just sit over certain spots.

And then you have the high pressure that is sitting back here. Well, that's bringing a lot of pretty intense winds in between the two systems. And the combination of that together does not make for good weather. Take a look at some of these rainfall totals. We've had 18 inches in Berkeley County, South Carolina, 17 inches in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. And just about 15 inches in Charleston.

Charleston, by the way, had the wettest October on record. We're barely into the month of October yet.

Here is a look, also, Gills Creek at Columbia, South Carolina. They're at 17 feet right now at this creek. The old record? Nine- point-four. They have almost doubled what the previous record of this creek. So, obviously, we know it is well outside the banks.

That is why we have continued flash flood warning and flood watches in effect for the states here. The rain keeps coming back in and into the exact same areas over and over again.

So, unfortunately, cities like Charleston and Columbia, it's not over yet. We expect to pick up an additional 6 to 10 inches in a couple of spots, even locally located spots of around 10 inches.

Again, Christi and Victor, that's on top of what they had. Strong winds up-and-down the entire East Coast, 62 miles per hour wind gusts yesterday in New Jersey. So, again, it's a combination of all of these that doesn't make for very good conditions anywhere along the East Coast.

PAUL: Yes. All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

We should point out, too, you know, there are four states of emergency in the Carolinas and New Jersey, and Virginia already, and there are four people have died. And those deaths are being associated with this storm. They're traffic-related.


PAUL: And one was a tree, I believe, that fell on a car. Take a look at the some of the pictures we've gotten in.

BLACKWELL: People trying to drive across the roads. We heard from officials that one of the most dangerous things you can do is try to drive through the standing water. For two reasons, the road you think you know that you drive or use to work every day may not be there, because of these many of these roads wash out. And then if something falls, you can't see that under the surface. So, be careful out there.

Three deaths in South Carolina on the roads, one in North Carolina. We'll get back to this coverage in just a moment.

PAUL: Also, talking this morning about the Oregon shooter's father and the fact he is speaking out now saying a lack of gun laws is to blame, essentially, he believes, in part for the massacre.

BLACKWELL: Plus, Donald Trump talking about guns. He also says that there should be more of them.


[08:16:22] PAUL: So, in Oregon, students and faculty at Umpqua Community College are getting ready to return to campus tomorrow. As you can imagine, surprising, you know, that they would. No classes are being held here. The campus is being reopened, however, because you have to. I think at some point, it's a normalcy.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we know that the investigators, though, they are continuing their investigation and they now say 14 guns have been linked to the shooter, and that he committed suicide after a shoot out with police. Dan Simon is live in Roseburg, Oregon.

And, Dan, I understand, the father of this gunman, we know he is speaking to CNN. What did he have to say?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ian Mercer, the father of the shooter is blunt here. He clearly says that had his son not gotten ahold of all the weapons had he not been able to purchase them, that this shooting likely would not have happened. This will be seized upon by gun control advocates.

This is what he told our Ryan Young.


IAN MERCER, FATHER OF UCC GUNMAN: How on earth could he compile 13 guns? How can that happen? You know, you talk about gun laws, you talk about gun control. Every time something like this happens, they talk about it and nothing is done


SIMON: Well, Mercer declined to say whether his son had mental or health issues. He said he's going to leave that up to the authorities. That he hasn't seen his son in two years since he moved to Oregon from California, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Dan, I understand there are some details that are newly coming in about what happened inside the classroom. Another account of what happened when the shooter started firing. What have you learned?

SIMON: Well, we know that officers arrived on scene here about five minutes after the initial call to 911. They quickly confronted the shooter and authorities say had that not happened, that certainly would have been more carnage.

But we are learning this very powerful account from a victim who relayed what happened to her family. She says that when the shooter came into the classroom, he identified a particular student, handed him an envelope and said, "You're the lucky one." Meaning that person was going to live.

Now, it's believed that envelope contains some type of manifesto but authorities are not talking about it at this point.

Now, that student is in the hospital, that victim, she's the youngest student 16 years old. She was shot in the back. The bullet pierced her lung, lodged into her kidney, and her kidney was removed. But her family is hopeful she's going to live -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: And we know four people still in hospitals there.

Dan Simon, thank you so much.

PAUL: Let's move to the political arena. What would the late night -- what would late night show, I should say, be during an election cycle without a presidential candidate? Hillary Clinton took her turn on "Saturday Night Live." Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did somebody say vacation?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. They're multiplying!




[08:18:27] PAUL: Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Hillary Clinton may have found a new calling, some might say, in comedy. She met her "SNL" counterpart, she took on Donald Trump, she appeared on the season's premier of "Saturday Night Live." Her role? Bartender named Val and she had fun at Trump's expense.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Val, I'm bummed. All everyone wants to talk about is Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump? Isn't he the one that is like "you're all losers?"



PAUL: CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joining me now and chuckling.

So Clinton is making these types of appearances, as we understand, to increase her likability. Do they help, do you think? Any sign that they affect her campaign?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I saw a lot of positive reviews online last night. Even though these things tend to be pretty partisan, if you tend to like Hillary, you tend to like her more. If you don't like her, you might like her less. There is always something scripted to the appearances even though they are fun and playful. It was fun and playful. That's how it came across.

If you think about one of the tests that political strategists apply to campaigns, it's who would you rather have a beer with? Well, here she is literally at a bar playing for that sort of answer, although, she was serving vodka. So, maybe it's who would you rather have a hot vodka with?

There was a little bit of substance, by the way, even though we saw that Trump impersonation, there was sort of admission to Hillary Clinton that she came to her opposing the Keystone pipeline rather late.

[08:20:04] She also suggested that maybe she could have evolved on the issue of gay marriage faster than she did. So, there was a little bit of substance there for political junkies. But mostly, it was a way to be lighthearted. Do you know what I think she was doing that was most important?

She was owning the impersonation of her that Kate McKinnon does so well. It is -- I think a damning impersonation at times. It is so effective and sometimes kind of cringe-worthy.

She's owning it and embracing it by appearing alongside Kate, and Hillary's Twitter account last night wrote, a vote for Hillary is a vote for four more years of the impression.

PAUL: Oh my goodness. I know.

And we'll talk about Twitter in a moment. I want to show the other clip of her. Again, she's poking fun at Trump here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know he knows that if he says crazy things, he'll go up in the poll numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, that's just not true. I don't say outrageous things for poll numbers. I speak from my heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really? Because I hear your numbers go down a little bit, sweetie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mexicans are stealing our children.



PAUL: So, apparently Donald Trump was up late last night and he approved of the impression of him but he didn't like Hillary. He retweeted -- go ahead.

STELTER: He retweeted a couple of fans of his who were saying that his impersonator was better than the real Hillary Clinton, for example. So he was in indicating his satisfaction with it.

You know, there have been talks about Trump appearing on "SNL". There was some speculation he would show up in person on the first episode. Instead it was Hillary Clinton's night. Before long, I think we'll see Trump's turn at the "SNL" stage.

PAUL: There's no way he's going to let her take the stage without some sort of follow up, yes?

STELTER: I was hoping they would appear together in some fashion.

PAUL: Can you imagine?

STELTER: But I guess only the impersonator will be doing that.

PAUL: I guess so. Brian Stelter, always good to see you -- thank you. STELTER: You too. Thanks.

PAUL: And catch reliable sources at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: All right. Strong words from Donald Trump, speaking of Trump, on gun control. He released a Second Amendment policy paper on his Web site, but last night he put down a bit of a marker. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, it was a gun-free zone. I will tell you, if you had a couple of the teachers or somebody with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.



BLACKWELL: Trump's comments after the shooting at that Oregon community college.

Let's bring in chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION", Jake Tapper.

Jake, sadly, this is not the first mass shooting during this campaign. But I wonder if you think now it will take a larger role and be part of a larger conversation for the campaign for some time.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's tough to say. I mean, obviously the most horrific event in the last ten years when it comes to mass shooting has to do with Sandy Hook and nothing happened after that, significantly when it came to national discussion, national dialogue, achievement on any of the issues that were talked about, mental health, further restrictions on guns to keep them out of the hands of people with serious mental problems, or the culture.

I remember President Obama and the White House at the time talking about they wanted a holistic approach to this. They wanted to address all the things that might have contributed to it. Right now, it seems to be, the White House seems to be focused on just the gun component.

So, it's very tough to say. If Sandy Hook didn't shock the nation to do something, whatever you think the something would be, mental health, gun laws or whatever, I'm not sure why this would change anything.

BLACKWELL: Or Charleston, what we saw there earlier this year.

We know you have coming up Senators John McCain and Elizabeth Warren. What do we have to look forward to on those conversations?

TAPPER: Well, we've got a lot to talk about. We're also going to have Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords' husband, to talk about gun laws and how to stop gun violence like this, whether again it's through gun laws or mental health or anything else.

We'll talk about to John McCain about the horrific incident in Afghanistan, as well as Syria. What to do next in Syria.

And Senator Elizabeth Warren on all things having to do with politics and the economy and Bernie versus Hillary. It should be an exciting show.

BLACKWELL: Looking forward to it. Jake Tapper, thank you.

TAPPER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper starts at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

We'll be back.


[08:28:20] PAUL: We head toward the bottom of the hour here.

President Obama is promising the U.S. will thoroughly investigate yesterday's deadly airstrikes that killed some 19 people at an Afghan hospital. Quote, "The Department of Defense has launched a full investigation and we will await the results of the inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy. I expect a full accounting of the facts and circumstances." That is a statement the president released.

BLACKWELL: Pope Francis is holding a summit with bishops at the Vatican to discuss church teachings on family life, which will include homosexuality and whether LGBT families should be married and raise children. It will be discussed publicly. The meeting comes a day after a monsignor was fired from the Vatican after admitting that he is in a gay relationship.

PAUL: Four students are facing conspiracy charges this morning after police got word of a plot to shoot up a California high school. Now, authorities say these teens threatened students and faculty Wednesday. But the plot was still in the early stages, and because they got to it, thankfully, no one was hurt.

BLACKWELL: All right. More on the breaking news, 27 million people are waking up to a flood watch or advisory this morning. And this is why this is the worst of it in Columbia, South Carolina. People there making a human chain trying to rescue someone. You can see them holding on to a stop sign, which means it's just a normal road here in the neighborhood. Firefighters just told CNN they've had more than 50 swift water rescues over night.

PAUL: Officials are calling it catastrophic flooding. Three counties in that state are under a flash flood emergency. We'll be walking you through it all day long.

Thank you so much for staying with us.

BLACKWELL: John King up next.