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Florida Governor News Conference; Hurricane Irma's Potential Path; Evacuations Widen in South Florida. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired September 7, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:28] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Let's get straight to West Palm Beach, Florida. The governor, Rick Scott, briefing now on preparations for Hurricane Irma.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: So it can get to the stations faster. These escorts are happening right now. For gas stations in evacuation zones, we need you to stay open as long as possible. Please stay open as long as possible so people can get out. We will arrange police escorts for your employees so they can get out safely. We need your gas stations to stay open as long as possible. We know fuel's very important. And we are absolutely devoting every state resource to addressing this.
While we are making progress, you will see lines or outages. I know this has to be very frustrating. And we'll not stop working on this.
If you're concerned that you do not have a way to evacuate because of a fuel issue, please call your local emergency management hotline or the Florida emergency hotline at 1-800-342-3557, 1-800-342-3557, which is a dedicated emergency management hotline. We will get you out. But you have to call now if you're in an evacuation zone. We cannot save you when the storm starts. So if you're in an evacuation zone and you need help, you need to tell us now.
If you know you're going to a shelter in your county, please take only -- only the amount of fuel that you need. You don't need to fill your tank to the brim to stay in your county. I've said this many times, please, take only what you need. We've got to be considerate of others so everybody can get out.
The Gas Buddy app is a great resource to find open stations with fuel.
Yesterday I asked the governors of Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina to rescind weight and driver regulations so out of state resources can move expeditiously into Florida. All of these states worked quickly to respond to our request.
The EPA, they just approved an emergency fuel waiver request from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which will allow more fuel to quickly enter the state. All ports still remain open and operating to bring fuel and supplies in. We are laser focused on how we get as much fuel as possible to our ports while they're open. I have offered school buses for transportation needs in Monroe, Miami-
Dade and Broward Counties. At this time, Miami-Dade is using these services to help evacuate those with special needs and Broward has buses on standby. Monroe has said they do not need these buses right now because they're using city buses, but my offer still stands.
Right now there's a mandatory evacuation order in effect for the Florida Keys. This means all residents. All residents and all visitors in the Florida Keys. There's a mandatory evacuation. We estimate about 31,000 people have already evacuated from The Keys as of 6:00 p.m. last night. If you're in The Keys and you do not have a way out, please call 1-305-517-2480. This number is for Monroe County residents, 305-517-2480. All other Floridians can call the Florida emergency hotline at 1-800-342-3557, which is a dedicated emergency management hotline for the entire state.
If you're in The Keys and still home, leave, get out. We can't save you once the storm starts. The entire lower Keys hospital has been evacuated. All other hospitals in The Keys will be evacuated today.
I've been very clear with Monroe County that the state will provide whatever resources are necessary to get the hospitals back open quickly following the storms.
We also have a task force devoted entirely to helping prepare and respond to The Keys. For the remainder of the state waiting on evacuation orders, listen to your local officials. They will tell you if and when your area needs to be evacuated. If you're told to evacuate, do not wait. Get out quickly. The roads will fill up quickly, so you need to -- you need to go immediately.
We can expect additional evacuations as the storm continues to get nearer to our state. Miami-Dade has already ordered mandatory evacuation zones a and zone b. If you live in these zones and you're still home, you should leave right now.
There are voluntarily evacuations being ordered in Collier County. Broward County has issued voluntary evacuations of mobile homes and low-lying areas. I cannot stress this enough, do not ignore evacuation orders. Remember, we can rebuild your home, we cannot rebuild your life or your family.
[12:05:04] Regardless of what coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate. Floridians on the west coast cannot be complacent. This storm can still move west.
Traffic. I know many of you are stuck in traffic. I know it's frustrating, but please be patient. Evacuations are not meant to be convenient, they are meant to keep you safe. We've increased the numbers of troopers on Florida highways to help move traffic and keep people going down the road safely.
Real-time traffic information and evacuation routes are available -- is available at fl511.com. We have traffic cameras on every major roadway in Florida and are clearing traffic issues in real time so we can keep people moving. FDOT and law enforcement are working diligently. We are already seeing
bottlenecks at major highway junctions, which brings up an important point. You do not need to evacuate out of the state or hundreds of miles away to stay safe. Find shelters in your county. We are coordinating with Goggle's emergency response team to prepare close roads in Goggle maps in real time in the event that Hurricane Irma forces a closure of any roads in the aftermath of the storm.
At my direction, all tolls have been waived across Florida roadways. This should help families evacuate quickly and safely. Again, if you're concerned that you do not have a way to evacuate due to traffic in Monroe, please call 305-517-2480. Or, if you're outside of Monroe, the reset of the state, the state number is 1-800-342-3557.
The Florida National Guard. Today I'm activating another 3,000 national guardsman to help with shelters operations and evacuations. Today we will have more than 4,000 Florida National Guard members activated to immediately beginning assisting with ongoing Irma preparations. Tomorrow, every member available, 7,000, will be deployed. Thirteen helicopters and more than 1,000 tactical high-water vehicles are on standby ready to be deployed.
By using resources from other states, we also have 30,000 troops, 4,000 trucks, 100 helicopters and air evacuation crews ready to support our state.
I spoke with President Trump multiple times and he has assured me that Florida will get all the help from the federal government that we need. He's assured me that the federal government will be our partner and provide all the federal help we need. So far we've requested a variety of things, disaster tarps, water, baby food supplies, supply trucks, search and rescue personnel and equipment and incident management teams, military watercraft and aircraft, with the capability to move fuel from the mainland to Keys at Marathon (ph). A military vessel, like a Marine or Navy ship, to sustain shuttle operations and complete ship to shore missions. This vessel will allow us to move crew, supplies and fuel to the mainland.
I also mentioned the major concern with the Florida Keys to FEMA, including any potential destruction of bridges. If we lose a bridge, people south of that bridge will be stranded. FEMA is looking at options to assist the state with this.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is preparing search and rescue teams for potential deployment. FWC has more than 200 officers standing by for the first wave of response based on potential storm impacts. Thirty team with sporting resources, such as trucks, coastal river patrol boats, ATV and shallow draft boats are preparing for evacuation support, search and rescue operations and any additional needs.
FWC is also coordinating with partners in states, such as Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas in case additional officers or resources are needed.
The Florida Highway Patrol is monitoring road and safety -- traffic conditions to ensure roadways are clear. FDLE has established 18 emergency response teams for deployment to impacted areas and seven logistics and planning teams.
Utility providers. And Eric Solage (ph) is here with us right now from FP&L. They are actively pre-positioning resources throughout the state and in neighboring states. We know from previous storms how incredibly important it is for power to be restored quickly. Florida Power and Light has activated its emergency response plan and has thousands of workers preparing to respond to Irma. They are one of the largest providers in our state. They're also working with out-of-state utilities and electrical contracting companies to secure additional resources. They have opened more than 20 staging sites throughout the service area where restoration crews, trucks and equipment are stationed.
Lake Okeechobee. Water levels in Lake Okeechobee are still being lowered and the lake is current at 13.67 feet. At this point we have no major concerns with the dike. We will -- we will immediately advise if any of that changes. We are staying up with the Army Corps of Engineer and the South Florida Water Management District.
Shelters. If you're evacuating from The Keys, you can shelter at Florida International University. There's absolutely no reason for anyone not to evacuate if you're ordered to evacuate. Shelters are available and will be available and you should follow the directions of local officials to go to the shelter that fits your needs.
[12:10:13] If you need a hotel, go to expedia.com/florida. Expedia is working on hotel occupancy in real-time. The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has encouraged all hotels to wave pet policies, offer shelter and be compassionate with cancellations. Families can go to floridadisaster.org/info to learn where shelters are open in their area.
Comcast. They're opening more than 137,000 free Xfinity wi-fi hot spots throughout the state for individuals in need, including non- Comcast customers. For a map of these hot spots, visit xfinity.com/wifi. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile are also helping with hot spots.
The state is staging supplies, such as meals, shelter support trailers and water at the state logistics resource center in central Florida for deployment as need. We will be pre-positioning these goods to help everyone in the storm's path.
We still need volunteers. We need more volunteers. We've had more than 6,800 volunteers sign up in the last 24 hours. And that's great. I want to thank everybody for signing up. This includes more than 1,000 state workers. This is great, but we still need more. We ultimately need 17,000 volunteers statewide.
You can go to volunteerflorida.org to sign up for volunteer opportunities, or you can call 1-800-FL-HELP-1. Volunteers make a huge difference in these emergencies and help with shelters, food distribution and response efforts. Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate regardless of the coast
you live on. We do not know exactly where this storm is going. We know projected path. We do not know exactly where this storm's going. We are 100 percent focused on making sure Floridians and visitors have timely information on this storm and we will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Irma and issue updates throughout the next few days.
But I cannot stress this enough, get prepared now. Know your evacuation zone. Listen to your local officials. This storm has the potential to catastrophically devastate our state and you have to -- you have to take this seriously.
This is a catastrophic storm that our state has never seen. Remember, it has already killed many people in the Caribbean. People do not think -- do not believe you can ride this storm out. If you're told to evacuate, you've got to evacuate. You can rebuild your home, you can get your possessions again, you cannot rebuild your life or your family. Protecting life is our absolute top priority. No resource or expense will be spared to protect families, but we cannot protect you in the middle of the storm. This means you need to plan now on where you need to go. Do not wait. Figure out where you need to go.
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
I'll be glad to answer any questions anybody has.
QUESTION: Is there any talk of dealing with the traffic situation that we're seeing on the turnpike and I-95 in terms of potentially switching lane directions?
SCOTT: We -- so right now we're -- Highway Patrol, FDOT, everybody's monitoring all the highways across the state. The first thing we would do -- everything we do, we do it -- where we do it, it's going to be safely. We would do the shoulders. But the goal is we've got to do this very safely. We'll take every -- we'll do everything we can. The bottom line is, if everybody evacuates when they're supposed to evacuate, we should -- everybody should have the time to get to shelters. That's our goal. Every county knows the time frame it takes. We're asking everybody to even take a little -- give a little bit more time because this can impact any part of our state and so we're going to see a lot of evacuations.
QUESTION: Governor, some people then who have been leaving this state, have they been able to get enough gas to make it all the way out of Florida?
SCOTT: Yes, they have. And we've -- and we're working -- we're working to get -- to get more fuel into the state. You can go to Gas Buddy, that app, and find fuel. There's no -- we have not found an area where there's a complete outage. Unfortunately, there are lines. I was down in Hialeah a couple hours ago and there's lines. There were lines there yesterday when I was in Collier yesterday. My family told me there are places that are out and there's other place that I drove by that there was nobody in line. And so it's -- you've got to go -- you've got to find out where it is. But we're -- we're doing everything we can. We have -- we're trying to
get more tankers in. We are trying to get more -- I mean supply into the state through trucks. We are providing escorts to the carriers to get it to the stations. We're telling the stations, stay open as long as possible. We'll make sure your employees get out if you're in an evacuation zone. So we're doing everything we can.
[12:15:23] Unfortunately, there -- I know there's outages and I know there's lines and it has to be frustrating waiting right now. I mean I'm sure people are frustrated. I ask people, don't take -- if you don't -- if you don't need it. If you know you're going to stay in the county, don't go fill your tank to the brim, because there's other people that might not be able to -- that are going to evacuate literally.
QUESTION: Governor Scott, you said that anybody in Florida should be prepared to evacuate. Is it your understanding that this storm stays the same strength as it is now and it's going to hit a particular area, whoever is in that area where the storm is going to hit are the ones that will be issued sudden mandatory evacuations?
SCOTT: Well, you know, we're going to track this storm and we're going to make -- the decisions will be made as the storm comes up the state. What everybody has to realize, though, is that if you're in that cone that the National Hurricane Center has put out, the storm can move west and we can be lucky and the storm move way east, right, you know, and stay off the coast, like what happened with Matthew. But it could still go up the west coast.
So everybody's got to follow this. And if you're in -- if you're in that zone that the National Hurricane Center's put out, you need to be following this to see if it -- you know, to see what's going to happen.
The -- you know, the evacuation zones will come out. One thing that's -- this is different than, like Andrew, the storm surge is -- it's completely different. We could see houses covered. And it's not like Harvey, where it was a storm that came and sat. At least we don't believe that's what's going to happen right now. I mean there's always stuff that could happen. This is -- the water's just going to come in from the coast and it could -- it could cover your house. We could have ten plus feet of storm surge. So the -- we'll be doing the evacuations, but everybody's got to listen.
QUESTION: We've been flooded with texts, calls and e-mails from viewers who are not in potentially a mandatory evacuation zone and they're asking, should we leave now? Should we stay? What is the recommendation to those people?
SCOTT: So you should listen to the local officials in your area. And they will tell you exactly what you should do in that area. And so -- that you have a very good emergency management team here, led by Bill Johnson, and, you know, everybody here, they'll be putting out the information on exactly what people should do. All right. Thanks, everybody.
KING: You've been listening there to the Florida governor, Rick Scott, describing the urgent preparations underway in Florida for the -- Hurricane Irma. Do not believe you can ride this storm out, the governor saying at one point. Also right there at the end saying the expectations are he doesn't know where it's going to hit. But if it hits somewhere in Florida, it could have ten-plus feet of storm surge.
The person watching this most closely for us here at CNN is our meteorologist Chad Myers.
Chad, let's get straight to you.
You just heard pretty ominous talk there about the potential here from the governor. And as the people of Florida wonder, is it going to hit Miami-Dade, is it going to come to the west coast? There have been some competing or different forecast tracks. Walk us through where we are.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think, John, the chance of it running up the east coast now, probably less than 5 percent. Now, that's not zero, but it's 5 percent.
If it goes often the east coast, probably better than 30 percent chance of a near miss and then the rest of it hitting Florida directly somewhere. We now do have a hurricane watch for south Florida.
There is the storm still very close to the Dominican Republic, but it's going to be heading through the Turks and Caicos and right at south Florida.
And a worst-case scenario is for it to drive itself very close to Biscayne Bay. Let's say just to the north of Ocean Reef, which is Key Largo, which is Homestead, Cutler, those areas. That's where it could be the potential worst-case scenario.
And guess where the middle of the cone is? The worst-case scenario. I mean it doesn't really -- I can't imagine, other than coming in, slamming in like this, like Andrew did, and this is bigger than Andrew. This is significantly stronger, wider. Andrew had a very tight core and a very small window of wind. This window of wind is 30 miles across. Andrew was more like 12.
As it drives itself up into south Florida, will it stay along the coast, contain -- maintain its energy at 130 miles per hour and scour the entire coast, or could it get out here? Great news for Florida. Terrible news for the Carolinas because it's going to go left from here. It's going to go into the Carolinas. The stronger it is, because it's out here, the harder the Carolinas will get hit.
[12:20:08] Bottom line is, the U.S. is going to get socked. Somebody is going to get socked and you need to pay attention now because it looks like Sunday morning will likely be the closest approach to south Florida. If that happens, I know Governor Scott and Governor Scott and I had a long conversation in Pensacola when it flooded a couple years ago. I think ten feet is conservative. I think the storm surge could easily be 20 feet pushing all the way up into Homestead, toward the Air Force base, all the way up into Biscayne Bay, because this is the European model making landfall in the exact worst spot possible. Right there, Biscayne National Park, and moving to the north and to the northwest right over Miami proper, up towards Hialeah, through Fort Lauderdale and still on land on West Palm Beach, finally going offshore at Fort Pierce and then turning and slams into North Carolina.
Here's the American model, John, slightly farther offshore. Only 40 miles. But those 40 miles could make a difference in tens of billions of dollars in damage. Whether your home can -- is able to come back to or not and whether you live through it or not. Because this would significantly reduce the amount of wind compared to this for the European model. Still too early to tell.
The models are doing fantastic. I know we battle these all the time. But 40 miles one way or the other, three days out, that's a pretty amazing forecast. We know South Florida, you need to get ready for it. Carolinas, maybe even coastal Georgia, you need to get ready for it. It's coming everywhere. It's huge.
KING: It's huge. That's a great way to put it.
Chad Myers for us in the Weather Center. We'll keep in touch, Chad, not only for the rest of today, but in the next few days.
And as Chad just noted, as the governor of Florida just noted, we're not sure exactly where, but this storm packs a big, powerful punch. Listen to your local officials and get prepared. Irma already devastating parts of the Caribbean, like St. Martin, buildings flattened, communities littered with debris. Take a look at these pictures. The island of Barbuda looks like this. Incredible winds, torrential rain wiping out nearly everything in Irma's path.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARLON CARR, PHOTOGRAPHER WHO TOURED BARBUDA WITH PRIME MINISTER: It was people running from house to house trying to get shelter. They saw 40-foot cantinas flight, carts flying, animals flying. There were some who, you know, stayed in their home and the house started going away piece by piece.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So far at least six people have been killed.
Let's turn back to preparations in Florida. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami where more than 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate this morning.
Rosa, a lot of people try to hold out. They think, no, it's going to turn. It won't hit me. Are they following these orders?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there's a lot of stress, a lot of worry, John, in south Florida as people brace for this storm. Now, the good news is, is that according to Florida Highway Patrol, they are seeing a lot of vehicles, a lot of people heading north. That's the only way that you can evacuate out of south Florida. There is no going east or going west. So that is a sign that people are heeding the warnings.
Now, when it comes to evacuations, here in Miami-Dade there is an evacuation order for zone a, which is a lot of the coastal area. It includes the island that you see here behind me. It also includes all of the barrier islands, which is the island where I'm standing in now.
Now here, momentarily, you're actually also going to be able to see a cruise ship. We've also learned that these cruise lines have canceled some of those cruises and they are expecting to give people refunds because, of course, when you come to south Florida, you come to Miami, a lot of people come here because of those cruise lines.
Now, you were talking earlier about fuel shortages, and the worry about fuel shortages. We've learned from the governor that there is a tanker that's expected to be heading towards the Port of Tampa from a refinery in Mississippi. That tanker will get a military escort to that port. Right now they're unloading 300,000 barrels from another ship just to try to keep that fuel coming, John, because, as you know, that is a huge concern as more and more people try to leave their homes and try to get to safety, they need fuel. They're packed in that car with their family, their kids, their pets, and they're trying to get to safety. They're trying to get to higher ground.
And, again, as we take another live look out here, you'll see one of these big ships, one of these cruise line ships. You know, this is what we're used to seeing on this channel, people heading out for some fun. We've learned that some of these cruise lines are actually being used to evacuate some of the employees that normally would be working in these cruise lines.
So, John, a lot of concern, a lot of worry here in south Florida. The good news is, there's a lot of traffic going north, which means people are heeding the warning.
[12:25:05] KING: Rosa Flores on the ground for us in Florida. Again, Rosa will be there. We'll keep in touch today. The storm still approaching. People starting to evacuate. We'll see if they continue to listen to their governor and local officials.
Up next, back to domestic politics. Republicans this morning asking themselves this question, can they trust the Republican president?
KING: Welcome back.
Uncomfortable questions for House Speaker Paul Ryan this morning forced to shrug off the president's decision to sell him out to his political archrivals, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president sided on a fairly -- I would say a smallish fiscal matter with Democrats after you went public and said that the proposal that the Democrats had made was ridiculous.
[12:29:54] REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes, I sort of noticed that.
What the president didn't want to do is have some partisan fight in the middle of a response to this. He wanted to make sure that in this moment of national crisis where our country's getting hit by two horrible hurricanes, he wanted to have a bipartisan response and not a food fight on the timing of the debt limit