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Hurricane Matthew Heads for Florida; Presidential Race Polls; FEMA Talks Preparation. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 6, 2016 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:33] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing some time with us today.

We'll get to some big political news in just a bit, but Hurricane Matthew has our attention as we begin the hour. And if you live in the southeastern United States, Matthew should have your attention too.

You're looking at live pictures here of Miami getting battered by wind and rain. That's on the left. And on right, the Bahamas. This storm has just been upgraded to a category four hurricane with winds gusting to 165 miles an hour.

In a moment, we'll bring you live updates from the National Hurricane Center and from the man leading the federal government's emergency response. And as millions of people brace, Florida preparing for a direct hit. The state's governor, Rick Scott, listen here to his dire warning for residents.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: If you're watching and living in an evacuation zone, you need to leave now. So if you're in an evacuation zone, get out. This is not something you should take a chance with. Time's running out. A small (INAUDIBLE) can mean a lot. It can mean the difference between life and death. That's why we have to prepare for a direct hit.


KING: The governor also telling the people of his state, this storm will kill you if you don't heed those evacuation warnings.

Live pictures right now from the Bahamas. And if these images are any indication of what's to come, then it could be devastating, devastating when this storm reaches the southeast. And as the Bahamas gets battered, 11 million people in the United States are now under a hurricane warning, many more are under different watches. The warning extends from just north of Miami, all the way into south Georgia. More than 2 million people being urged to flee their homes. That number, the largest since Hurricane Sandy. And as people hit the roads, they're already facing, in some areas,

gridlock on the highways. Just take a look. These are live pictures from Jacksonville. You see on the right side of your screen there, the traffic backed up bumper to bumper on the highway. And, once again, live pictures here from Miami, getting hit at this hour by wind and rain. And the worst is yet to come.

Let's bring in CNN's Nick Valencia, who's live in West Palm Beach for us, just two hours north of Miami. Also with us, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers in the Weather Center.

Let's start with you, Chad.

We're seeing the pictures now. And this is what happens, people look at these pictures and they say, oh, that's not so bad. This is OK. Tell us about these images and clock us through what's about to happen.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the image you see there, Cable Beach in Nassau, the Bahamas, a north-facing beach, didn't get hit as hard as the other side of the island. Now we go to Miami, where the wind was blowing because an outer band, the first outer band of the storm coming on shore from Fort Lauderdale down to Miami and Miami Beach. So we will continue to see these - just one thing after another, stay there, one thing after another coming on shore here from Lauderdale down to Miami and then eventually farther up to the north.

This storm will leave the Bahamas, get into the Gulf Stream and still get stronger from where we are right now. And that's 140 miles per hour. Forecast is for 145. So not much stronger, but much closer to Florida, John. This could make a run somewhere around Cape Canaveral, all the way up to about Jacksonville, right along the coast, scouring the coast with significant wind and waves. It will get very close by the time it gets close to Ft. Pierce. The eye wall may be on shore right there and that could cause some wind damage as the eye wall has the strongest winds. That's where the winds of 120 to 140 will be.

Talk about the computer weather models a lot. Here is one with graphics. This is what the weather model looks like. This is what the computer thinks is going to happen. The eye will move out of the Bahamas, across Nassau, over Freeport, and then very close to Ft. Pierce, possibly even making some significant winds for West Palm and Palm Beach. I suspect that we'll probably get winds to 100 there. And the power lines will be down. There will be a million or more people without power because this storm scours the beach all the way to Daytona, St. Augustine, all the way to Charleston, into St. Simons Island and Tybee and Savannah.

And then finally, by the end of the forecast, it finally pulls away from South Carolina, but not before we get all of that land with damage. That entire coastal East Coast, the treasure coast, all the way up and down the east coast of Florida will all be damaged by this big storm.

John. KING: And, Chad, just quickly, before I let you go, talk about the

certainty here. It's about, what, 11 years since Florida's taken a direct hit, back to Wilma. I can't believe it's that long ago. But if somebody's watching and saying, oh, this happens, they always tell us it's coming, they always tell us it's coming, and then it veers off, it never comes. Tell them this time, if you're certain, that they're wrong.

MYERS: Well, that's the rub, and that's always going to be the rub when you've missed a couple of storms or it just doesn't hit you and it hits your neighbor. Well, we didn't say it was going to hit you, we said it was going to hit Florida, and it missed, and it missed me or it did - it's the cry wolf syndrome, even though we never do it. We don't try to exaggerate what we think is possible.

[12:05:18] Now, is this worst case scenario? Yes, probably, 145 is worst case scenario. I don't think this is going to get to 165. But - so when we see 145 mile per hour winds, what home can withstand 145?

KING: Right.

MYERS: There's going to be some damage with every single home that gets affected by this eye wall, John. It's there. It's time to leave. If you're told to leave, please don't stick around just because - I mean we heard - you know, we lived through a storm a couple years ago, it will be fine. A couple years ago? There wasn't anything a couple years ago. This is big time.

KING: I hope folks are listening to their governor and their mayor -


KING: And they should certainly listen to the voice of experience in Chad Myers.

Chad, thank you. We'll check back in as necessary.

Let's get to Nick Valencia now in West Palm Beach.

Nick, to that point, are people listening when their governor tells them get out?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The short answer is no, John, and that's the unfortunate news. I just got off the phone with the mayor of West Palm Beach, Jeri Muoio, who tells me that more people are staying rather than leaving and that is deeply concerning. Very concerning for first responders whose lives will be put in jeopardy for those who inevitably have to be rescued by them.

We were just in Palm Beach, just over the bridge, and we had to get out for the safety of our crew to come here to take shelter for the impending hurricane. You talked about Hurricane Wilma the last time this area really got hit.

We're joined now by a couple here who evacuated their home.

Come on, Paul, come on in here, Paul and Lori.

You guys actually had to leave your home and now are staying in this hotel with us. What - what have you guys gone through?

PAUL LAPIDUS, EVACUATED HIS HOME: Well, we haven't gone through much yet. But we, I think, made the right decision in getting off the island. It was a mandatory evacuation. We live on Hypoluxo Island. And because we've lived in Florida for 27 years now, we have been through many hurricanes. We know what it's like. To those out there that don't want to leave their homes, they should reconsider while they still can. There's no way to know what's going to happen.

VALENCIA: Paul and Lori Lapidus, residents here in West Palm Beach. You were telling me what really concerns you - right now it's pretty calm. We just felt that gust of wind pick up right now, didn't we? But like what are you really concerned about, Lori?

LORI LAPIDUS, EVACUATED HER HOME: Storm surge. We live on the water and I'm concerned about how high that water's going to go. Hypoluxo Island, where we live, floods. And once it floods, it's very difficult to get on or off the island. So we just made a decision. I have two special needs people with me just to get out while we could and keep everybody safe.

VALENCIA: And having been through Wilma, you lived through it, you guys have been through plenty of hurricanes, what do you think about this, the news that you've watched, because you've been watching, you say?

P. LAPIDUS: Well, we - we we're watching as much as we can. The fact of the matter is that no one knows for sure if it decides to turn west a little bit more, it's going to be worse over here. Either way, it's the tree branches going through the windows.


P. LAPIDUS: People that stay home, they say, we don't care if we don't have power. A tree branch goes through your window -


P. LAPIDUS: Even if you don't get hurt by that, then the rain comes in, power goes out and you're in serious trouble because you can't get an ambulance, you can't get a fire truck -


P. LAPIDUS: You're finished.

VALENCIA: A desperate situation for everyone. We wish you guys the very best. I'm sure we'll see you around the hotel here. Paul and Lori Lapidus, thank you so much, guys.

And the eerie situation, John, is going into some of these stores. There's no bread left. There's no water left. Generators have been scooped up. We saw a lot of nervous faces in families going through those aisles yesterday. And, unfortunately, as I mentioned just a little while ago, many people are deciding to stick this out against the word of the local and state officials.


KING: Nick Valencia on the ground for us in Florida. We'll keep in touch, Nick, thank you.

In just a few minutes, the head of FEMA will join us live to talk about the federal government's response, update on the hurricane, what they're preparing for and what they might be short of.

Meantime, we're told by the White House, the president is closely monitoring developments and the candidates in the presidential race also urging caution, sending their best wishes for those in the path of Hurricane Matthew. On Twitter earlier today, here's Donald Trump, "praying for everyone in Florida, hoping the hurricane dissipate. But in any event, please, be careful." Hillary Clinton also reaching out on Twitter, writing, "Hurricane Matthew is a major storm. I urge everyone to follow emergency instructions and evacuate if you're told to. Stay safe, Florida."

We'll have much more on Matthew throughout the hour, including that FEMA update and we'll go to the National Hurricane Center, but let's talk politics for a bit.

Thirty-three days now from voting and three days from the second presidential debate. And that showdown in St. Louis, the pressure is squarely on Donald Trump. Just this morning, a brand-new Michigan poll showing an 11-point Clinton lead. That on the heals of a new poll showing a small Clinton lead in Ohio. Trump was on top in the six previous Ohio polls. In fact, pick a battleground state. Go online, look at the poll. Most of the polls, in some case I think all of the polls taken after the first debate show a significant shift in Clinton's favor.

With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, Ryan Lizza of "The New Yorker," CNN's Manu Raju and Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg Politics.

Unmistakable, is it not? Look, after the second debate, everyone will say this is a volatile race, it can go back and forth. But if you see this shift in the ten days since the first presidential debate and pick your state, Nevada's moved Clinton's way, Florida's moved Clinton's way, North Carolina's moved Clinton's way, even Ohio. We saw the Michigan poll. Donald Trump thought he was going to go through the rust belt. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan. Now Trump, he needs to perform.

[12:10:17] JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: He does. But let's remember that the expectations probably couldn't be lower for Donald Trump in this debate as - after the failures of last week. So as long as he avoids some of the problems that he had last week, the hectoring, the bullying, he's probably going to be OK.

I was in Colorado on Tuesday and he met with some energy CEOs and they said that they were looking for humility in Donald Trump. After the reporters left the room, they said that they had a closed door meeting with him and they asked him a question about, how did you do in the last debate? And he said, I did very, very well. And he said, I - especially the first 30 minutes. And then he went on to say, however, the questioner was very unfair and the questions were very unfair and actually even Abraham Lincoln couldn't have won that debate. So it probably wasn't the humility that these guys were looking for. So people will be looking for that sense of humility.

KING: People looking for humility from Donald Trump. We're going to be a long time on the hunt.


KING: Just as you guys come into the conversation, Donald Trump e- mailed page six, because that's what candidates for presidents do, they e-mail page six. And there's been all this talk. And he himself has suggested in some of his rallies, I'm going to get more personal. I'm going to bring up impeachment. I'm going to bring up Bill Clinton's infidelities. But we'll see what happens on Sunday night in St. Louis. But here's his e-mail to "The New York Post." "I want to win this election on my policies for the future, not on Bill Clinton's past." So apparently the good angel on his campaign team, at least for now, have convinced him to stay away from that.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. Yes, I mean Republicans are definitely happy to hear that. You heard a lot of voices saying, stay away from it. Even his own supporters on Capitol Hill.

I have to think that Donald Trump is approaching this debate differently. Of course he's doing that town hall today to try sharpen his stills a little bit ahead of that. But I look at how he dealt with the primary debates as a lesson in this. And remember that debate in South Carolina where it was a very contentious debate. He attacked all his opponents. He even suggested George W. Bush may be responsible for 9/11. He got criticized for losing that debate, criticized relentlessly. The next debates, he sort of dialed it back. He did that in Florida. He was reserved. I would be - I would not be shocked if we saw a different Donald Trump.

KING: But you mentioned - you mentioned the town hall tonight in New Hampshire. That's essentially forced practice by his staff, which couldn't get him to practice as much for the first debate. So they're putting him in the town hall setting because that's what we'll have Sunday night in St. Louis where you have undecided voters asking questions. It's a lot easier to turn a reporter's question, you asked me about "a," I want to talk about "b," then to - when a voter gets up and talks about their brother or sister's PTSD or they can't pay their mortgage or they can't find a job or somebody in the family has cancer. It's a lot harder to turn away those questions.

So Donald Trump is practicing tonight. But if you go back in history, remember, maybe it's just New Hampshire, but Donald Trump has had some pretty interesting moments at these town halls and he doesn't always handle them perfectly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know he's not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Birth certificate, man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question. When can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We're going to be looking at a lot of different things. And, you know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We're going to be look at that and plenty of other things.


KING: It's interesting because his first instinct was, you couldn't see him, but he interrupts there, this is - this is the first question. His first instinct was to, no, I don't want to go here.


KING: I don't want to talk about this. You know, where'd this guy come from. But then he does the - a lot of people are talking about that and whether he's talking about training camp, we don't know, if he meant training camps here or whether the president's a Muslim. If some - I don't doubt that's going to come up in a presidential town hall Sunday night, but if something offbeat comes up, a gifted politician has to know how to turn it.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, the Commission on Presidential Debates vets the people who are asking questions. They tend to look for people who are asking serious policy questions that are, you know, at the forefront of American politics. Frankly, that could be just as dangerous for Trump as sort of an off the wall conspiracy theory that he gets out on the campaign trail. You know, the tough thing for him is, does - has he done his homework? Can he answer a complicated question about the economy, about foreign policy. The things that frankly in the last year have not been his strong suit. This is a - this is the kind of thing where Clinton shines because she is a super policy wonk.

HENDERSON: Yes, and she's done this over and over again. She's done hundreds of town halls throughout her political care. I think one of the things that was telling was when Donald Trump had that other town hall where a man got up and talked about PTSD and Donald Trump seemed to imply that strong soldiers don't get affected by that kind of thing. And it wasn't malicious, I don't think, on his part. It was just, I think, emblematic of the fact that he isn't used to talking about these things in the way that most people are, most politicians are, most people who are deeply engaged in a lot of the policies.

And I also think just the humanity, right? I mean you talked about humility. He's going to have to figure out a way to connect with those small audiences, with those people one on one. Something that we've seen Hillary Clinton do, Bill Clinton do, obviously, very well.

[12:15:06] KING: All right, practice.


KING: Hillary Clinton's done this for years. So I think you're right, Donald Trump didn't mean to - mean - what - how it sounded when he talked about PTSD.


KING: But, again, that's a skill. You're in this setting. You have to learn to choose your words carefully.

See you guys back here in just a second.

Don't miss the second presidential debate live right here on CNN Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern. Chief moderator, of course, is my colleague Anderson Cooper. Looking forward to that.

Now, Hurricane Matthew barreling toward the United States, Next, I'm going to talk to the man in charge at FEMA about the federal government's preparations. Plus, we'll hear from the mayor of a small town in the storm's path.


KING: Welcome back.

Live pictures there of Miami as they prepare for Hurricane Matthew to hit shore several hours from now. Already you see some early impact in Miami and across the southeast. Millions of evacuations underway. Matthew setting its sights on the East Coast. Landfall possible in the next 24 hours along the Florida coast. The governor of that state warning a bit earlier today, quote, "this storm will kill you."

[12:20:16] Joining us now with more on the preparations at the federal level for after the storm is the FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate.

Craig, first let me just start with a sincere thank you. I know you're incredibly busy. We appreciate your taking the time to talk to us right now.

As you look at what's coming and you do these tabletop exercises of what you might have to deal with, what's the worst case scenario? How many people may lose power and the like?

CRAIG FUGATE, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, I don't know about power, but, you know, Governor Scott talking about 1.5 million people in the evacuation zones. Our real concern is how close does the eye wall get? Does the eye wall come up on shore? How far inland do those hurricane force winds - that will drive power outages. So we're essentially planning for major impacts on the I-95 corridor, particularly everything east of I-95 from south Florida all the way up into the Carolinas. And then how far west of I-95, getting into places like Orlando, or Gainesville, Florida, Lake City, Florida, will really depend upon how close that eye wall get and how far inland hurricane force winds go.

KING: Before you came to Washington, though, this was your job in Florida as well, so you know the state that's likely to take the biggest impact very well. Wilma was the last storm to hit Florida directly. That was in 2005. As you recall, it was a category three. And the damage, I believe, was around $21 billion. It's a sad question to ask, but do you have any doubt that this one, Matthew, is going to be as bad if not worse?

FUGATE: You know, again, you know, we'll speculate on how bad it is. We're just going to prepare and respond like it's going to be bad. I do want to caution people that particularly in northern Florida, who have not had a lot of experience with hurricanes, storm surge is going to go vastly inland in places you don't expect, like the St. John's River. It actually flows north through Florida. And if this storm stays right along the coast, Jacksonville and far away from Jacksonville, down that river will see flooding, as well as up around Brunswick, Kings Bay, Jekyll Island, a lot of these places that haven't seen this type of activity in a long time. This will be a significant impact, major life threat from the flooding, and that's why, again, heed those evacuation orders.

KING: Your job is to manage the emergency response, not so much these hours until this storm hits. But we were just talking to our correspondent, Nick Valencia, down in West Palm Beach and he says a lot of people are ignoring the governor when the governor says "get out." How much does it complicate your response if people ignore these evacuation orders?

FUGATE: Well, here's the problem. You don't evacuate. It gets bad. You decide, now I want to evacuate. It's too late. You dial 911. You want to get rescued. We can't come to you. It's too dangerous. Now we're having to divert resources and put people in harm's way to either come at you when we can or immediately after the storm, instead of focusing on recovery operations. So it's not just about you're making the decision not to go, you're actually putting responders at risk to save you in the worst part of the storm and sometimes we can't come, but now you're going to divert resources away from speeding the recovery to get power back on as we're having to search and clear areas because people didn't evacuate.

So, you know, we cannot urge people enough, evacuate. If it's not bad, you go home, it was an inconvenience. But if it is that bad, it may be you and your family's life at risk. And this is the one thing we can prevent by getting people to evacuate. We won't stop the damage. That will happen.

KING: And take us inside your operation now in terms of getting ready. I assume most of what you're doing in - not just today but in the 72, maybe even 100 hours before this is prepositioning supplies to deal with the response effort. Give us the latest there and any hiccups along the way.

FUGATE: Well, what we've done is we've got our teams embedded in each of the state emergency operations centers. They've been there now for the last couple of days. So our operations are synced with the states. And we've been building up supplies outside of where we think the hurricane's going to hit, being able to cover all the way from Florida to North Carolina. A couple days ago we were concerned we'd all be up to the mid-Atlantic states, but now we're pretty much focused on southeast coast. We have truckloads of supplies, generators and other things that are moving in. And we're also starting to look at, in the post-impact, the first 24 to 96 hours, what the states are telling us they're going to need and get that orders and have that en route now. Whether - we're not going to wait for assessments. We're going to respond like it's bad. We'll adjust back as the states give us better information.

KING: People always go back and remember worst case scenarios where you've had after these events complaints. The state people complaining about the local people. The state and local people complaining about the federal people. Now what's your sense of the level of coordination and the effectiveness of that coordination as we wait for Matthew to strike?

FUGATE: Well, again, I - you know, knowing this part of the country pretty well, one of the things I was very proud of when I stayed in Florida is, local officials and state officials, we worked as one team. And my goal at FEMA was to come in and join that team. We try not to talk about ourselves as local, state or federal because when a disaster strikes, we've got to work together.

[12:25:02] I'm seeing that play out. You know, there will always be hiccups. That why we call them disasters. The real issue is how quickly we're able to work and solve that as a team. I'm not big on finger pointing. I'm big about getting things done, solving problems. But we know there's going to be challenges and it won't be a perfect response, but we're going to do everything we can in supporting the states to get those issues resolved and make sure we're not falling behind in what the state needs us to be doing.

KING: I know you're busy, Craig, let me sneak in one more question. I've seen some of the tracks where this storm hits, then goes out and circles back at Florida. If that happens, does that complicate the efforts? Do you rush people in, you know, after the storm leaves, but then you find out, as you're there trying to help people, trying to get power back up, trying to get supplies in place, it's coming back?

FUGATE: Well, it makes life more interesting. In '04 we had that happen with multiple hurricanes. And we had one storm, Jean (ph), we thought we weren't going to worry about, and it basically turned back around and hit us 11 days after Ivan hit Pensacola. So we went through that in '04 where people were evacuated multiple times. In some cases we hadn't even begun the repairs from the first storm before another storm came in and wrecked everything again. So, unfortunately, we had that experience from '04. We're hoping

that's not the case but we don't really depend upon hope, we just get ready and prepare for what could happen.

KING: Craig Fugate, appreciate your time, and appreciate the hours and hours of effort your teams have put in, in Washington here, and in the affected areas as well. Good luck in the days ahead. Se appreciate your time, sir, on this busy day.

FUGATE: Thank you, John.

KING: And coming up here, the director of the National Hurricane Center is joining us live on what they're watching as the hurricane, it's Hurricane Matthew, gets closer to the United States.