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Hurricane Irma Barrels Towards Florida; Miami Beach Expected to Be Underwater After Storm Surge; Irma Leave Death, Destruction in Caribbean; Miami Prepares for Hurricane. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:00:] GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R), FLORIDA: Remember, Hurricane Andrew is one of the worst storms in the history of Florida. Irma is more devastating on its current path.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: "The catastrophic storm like the state has ever seen," strong words from Rick Scott, telling people they must evacuate from the coast if they are under evacuation orders.

Hurricane Irma is threatening all of south Florida, especially Miami's low-lying coastal areas, with the deadly storm surge. What could it look like? A lot of people want to know.

CNN's Meteorologist Chad Myers is digging into this.

Chad, people are concerned when it comes to a hurricane about the winds. They are scared of the surge. What could they be up against?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The low pressure that it is, sucking in water and making a bubble of water higher than normal, higher than sea level, under the eye and slightly to the right of the eye of the path. So, it's what we saw in Katrina that knocked down Base St. Louis, Waveland, Biloxi, Gulfport. It was that 24-foot surge of water. People call it a wall or water. It's not a wall. It's not a wall of water that splashes on shore. It's a surge. Every wave is a foot higher than the last one. Another foot higher, another foot higher. Every time that water pounds you, it knocks things down.

Now, we know that the European model is going to bring the hurricane very close to Marathon, the center of the eye. The American model, close to Isle of Mirada (ph). This would be Worldwide Sportsman and the like here and Islander Resort. Here is Vaca Key, Marathon, Marathon Airport right there. It doesn't matter which is right. The storm has wind that does this for a long time before it makes landfall.

The surge is from Plantation Key through Key Largo, up to almost Ocean Reef. Then there's nothing "there" there. Then you are back into Key Biscayne. You'll get water in Lake Surprise. You'll get water along the stretch and parts. All of this area here will fill up with the wind just blowing it on shore, plus that bubble of water we talked about that is just here. This is what Miami will look like downtown with a six-foot surge.

So, John Berman, right there, he has to get out, clearly. Everyone else should get out.

All the water, back into the city, at six feet. Now, there are estimates this could be 10 or 12 feet, which brings it way back here. All of a sudden, we are not only seeing a little storm surge. It's a big storm surge. That could get into the water supply. I'm fearful about this. We get salt in the fresh water, because we don't need that. The aquafer is what we drink down there. You put enough salt in the aquafer and that makes the water undrinkable. Let's not even think about that. People get cut off, can't go anywhere, the power is out, the water is out. It's no place to be after a storm surge.

BOLDUAN: And how quickly they can get things back up and running. It's not just the impact, it's the days after that is a concern. The storm surge, you shouldn't be anywhere near it now.

Chad, great to see you. Thanks for laying it out. Appreciate it.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: FEMA says Florida has never been hit by a storm like Irma. President Trump says federal officials are ready to handle what is on the way. A short time ago, the president tweeted, "Irma is of epic proportion, perhaps bigger than we have ever seen. Be safe and get out of its way if possible. The federal government is ready."

My next guest has been dealing with hurricanes in Florida for years. David Halstead is joining me now. He is the former director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

David, I appreciate you joining me and bringing your perspective.

From everything you have seen up to today, is Florida ready?

DAVID HALSTEAD, FORMER DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: I will tell you what, I think Florida is ready. I think the message that the governor has, about get out and evacuate, get out now, is critically important.

Now, let's talk about after the storm. We are focusing on the storm coming. After the storm, say you stayed in the Keys, what are you going to do? First of all, we can't get to you because, guess what, the storm is coming up the center of the state. No one is going to come help. No one is going to bring you water and food. That's what you are going to hear. We are going to hear the tragic stories of people stuck on the Keys or stuck somewhere that didn't evacuate. That's why it's so critically important. Remember, this storm is going to affect the entire state of Florida.

BOLDUAN: David, Jeb Bush, to your point, the former Florida governor, said most of the deaths, from his perspective, most deaths that occur directly after the storm rather than during it. Why is that?

HALSTEAD: Well, I did a study after the '04 storm season. We had four large storms hit us. We had 117 or so confirmed deaths. It went through the coroners reports on those. Most were either drowning or after the storm. Carbon monoxide in the garage because generators were left in closed spaces. People falling off the roofs because they are trying to do temporary roof repair. Trees falling on people, electrocutions. The list goes on and on. Typically, the majority of the people are not going to die from the storm itself. It's going to be drowning, flooding and that terrible storm surge we have been talking about all morning.

[11:35:34] BOLDUAN: Looking ahead, as this approaches, there are reports there are thousands of people not heeding the warnings and folks deciding to not evacuate the Keys. They have ridden out the storm in the past. I know you have heard that before, they are not changing, now what now. What do you say to them this time?

HALSTEAD: This is a different storm. They have been through Wilma and Hurricane Andrew. This is a bigger storm. This is a catastrophic storm. That can't be emphasized more. We had reports of 30-some-odd thousand people that evacuated the Keys. Well, there's about 80,000 that live there on a normal basis. That means barely not even touched half of the folks to get out of there.

The question is, what are they going to do when they are cut off. Say the eye rolls over the center of the Keys and cuts off the causeway and doesn't allow us in or out of the Keys? They could be stuck there weeks without help. Are they prepared to handle weeks without power or weeks without food and drinking water?

BOLDUAN: In terms of the government preparation and government response, I mean, as far as preparations go, they are pleased with how the government, the governor and local officials are preparing. But, emergency management, in terms of preparation, they can only go so far, no matter what. You have to wait to see where the storm hits and what it is going to do.

HALSTEAD: Right. It's a four-step approach. First, personal responsibility. You know, if I live at the base of Mt. St. Helens, like Mr. Truman did, and it blows, it's not the government's fault he perished. If I don't evacuate and the storm comes over, I only have myself to blame. However, local government is going to go in as quickly as possible and they'll do what they can. State government will back them up. Remember, the storm is coming through the state. Where do I pre-stage these assets? We've done a little bit of that already, but it's a dangerous chess game because you don't know where the storm is coming. And FEMA is doing the same thing. They will back up the state.

BOLDUAN: What is your biggest -- a lot of folks are going to say people are hyperventilating. Officials are saying this, they are doing a good job, they are hyperventilating about the storm. This is a cat 4 rather than a 5, like Andrew was, so it's different, it's less. What is the final message to folks? They have hours before this is about to hit the Keys.

HALSTEAD: I would say to them, first of all, again, this is a bigger storm than Andrew. Are the wind speeds a little less? A couple miles less. Are you going to quibble about a couple miles an hour? You should leave now. This is probably your last chance this afternoon, if you are in the Keys, to get out. If you don't, your time is about up. You are hoping and praying the storm doesn't cause you great damage and injuries and/or death.

BOLDUAN: David, you have the experience. I appreciate you coming in. I appreciate your expertise. Thank you very much.

HALSTEAD: Yes, ma'am.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, how deadly could the storm be for those who stay on the coast near Miami? We are going to take you there, live.

Watching Irma churn over the Bahamas toward the United States as we speak.


[11:43:22] BOLDUAN: The words of the Florida governor, "a catastrophic storm like the state has never seen." Words of a former emergency manager, "a dangerous chess game. If you are in the Keys, get out. Your time is up." They are looking at an expected three- foot to 10-foot storm surge in the coastal areas. One of those places that is likely to be under water, Miami Beach, Florida.

Let's get over to Kyung Lah, there in Miami Beach.

Kyung, where you are standing, will very soon will be absolutely flooded.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Part of this that we have been talking, this conversation of why this is going to be so costly, why potentially this could be so deadly and dangerous to a community like Miami Beach, the reason why, you can see for yourself. If you look over here, this is what people love about Miami Beach, the skyline. It is glitzy. It is packed with high-rises. It is booming with development. That is precisely what makes Irma potentially going to hurt Miami Beach so much. That's despite new building codes that have been put in place since Hurricane Andrew.

Look, Kate, at this picture, a still image from 1925. That is one year before a category 4 storm in 1926. You can see the difference. Miami Beach looked completely different. This community has seen a population boom since Hurricane Andrew, a growth of 35 percent. Central and south Florida seeing a population boost. Millions more have come to the area since 1990.

Here is something else, Kate. Hurricane Andrew was generally a strong wind event. Yes, there was flooding. But up here it was generally a wind event. Debris was a big issue. This is not just a wind event. It is also storm surge. What we are seeing across Miami Beach, Kate, people protecting against potential flooding. They say even on a sunny day, it can flood -- Kate?

[11:45:13] BOLDUAN: Kyung, you are going to need to move out of there quickly. When do they think the waters are going to head in. What is the best guess right now?

LAH: You know, they are preparing for it now.


LAH: The anticipation is, as soon as the rain starts to fall tomorrow, Miami Beach is starting to expect that they are going to see the waters rise.

BOLDUAN: Waters rise and quickly.

Kyung Lah watching the preparations. A beautiful day now, not going to be soon.

Great to see you, Kyung. Thank you.

This morning, we are getting a first look at the path and destruction Irma has left behind in the Caribbean. Irma is the strongest hurricane on record to ever hit the islands of Turks and Caicos. People there are beginning to take stock of the damage overnight.

This is a video from a man named Desmond Henry. He and his family survived the storm, which hammered the island with 150-mile-an-hour winds overnight.

He is joining me now by phone.

Desmond, can you hear me?

DESMOND HENRY, FORMER RESIDENT OF TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS (via telephone): Yes, ma'am, I'm hearing you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

We see your video of what you woke up to today. What was it like overnight?

HENRY: Trust me, I was a bit scared. I have to stay strong for my family. This is the first time in my life I witnessed anything like this. Yes.

BOLDUAN: You lived in Turks and Caicos for nine years, they were telling me. How does this compare to any storm you have lived through since you have lived there?

HENRY: This is the worst one. This is the worst, worst one I ever been through, trust me. The worst thing in my life. Last night was the worst night of my life, trust me.

BOLDUAN: You have a wife and little baby that you are protecting through the night. What was it? Was it the rain or the wind? What did you hear or experience?

HENRY: The wind, the wind, the wind. It was banging against the wall, the roof, the shutters. It moved up, you know? The worst part is when the water got on the roof. That's the time. It was banging, banging all over the place. You know? My wife, she started to cry because she said that's probably the roof. It was 1:00 in the morning when I woke up. I went outside and it was the gutters.

BOLDUAN: I have heard harrowing stories of people visiting the island, trying to get off and came up against obstacle after obstacle to get off. Did you think about leaving, Desmond?

HENRY: No, no, no. Never think about leaving. Never think -- I know where I'm at, I am safe. They are talking mostly the sea would rise and all of that. So, I live far from the sea. I know where I live is well protected. So, I'm good.

BOLDUAN: You work at a popular resort in Turks.


BOLDUAN: Do you know how the resort faired?

HENRY: They got a little bit of damage, you know. It's natural disaster, so a little damage. Some of the trees are falling in. Otherwise, we are good. Good to go. We're just going to brush it off and get up again, you know?

BOLDUAN: Brush it off and get back to work. Your phone works, thankfully. How about water and power and other essentials you need?

HENRY: We don't have power, but we stored water. I went shopping a couple days ago and got a couple cases of water. That can keep my family and friends. We are good.

BOLDUAN: Thankfully, you are good. You are very strong. I appreciate you coming on and giving us your story and sending your video. Our best to you, your wife and daughter.

Thank you so much.

HENRY: Thank you, miss. Have a good day.

Can I say something?

BOLDUAN: Of course.

HENRY: The people that are in Miami, trust me, you guys have to prepare for this. It's coming. It's coming. This is very serious. It is a fierce storm. It is coming. Be strong. Please take care.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

HENRY: Thank you.

[11:49:18] BOLDUAN: If you don't listen to officials on preparation, listen to a man who just lived through it overnight with his wife and little daughter. Listen and heed those warnings.

Desmond, thank you so much. Less than a year ago, folks in Daytona Beach were clearing up from the

damage of Hurricane Matthew. Are they ready for Irma? How are they preparing? It is different? Are they getting out? We will take you there live, next.


BOLDUAN: Hurricane Irma barreling towards the United States, a storm like no other a state like Florida has ever seen before, so you need to get out, according to the governor.

We're showing you traffic near Marion County, Florida. Folks heeding the warning, heading north and getting out of dodge. To show you how north this is, not talking, not near Miami, not near the southern counties. Put up a map to show some folks, if we can. This is heading -- actually heading quite north. It's north of Orlando. Just to show you, give you a sense how folks are -- hope they are heeding warnings and getting out and heading north. You can see it's backed up in Marion County, Florida.

Let's get over now to CNN's Sara Sidner in Daytona Beach on the coast.

You were there nearly a year ago, after Hurricane Matthew, and are back there now and talking to people. What are they saying there?

[11:55:06] SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to bring in Michael Hannah from Michael's on the Beach. We were in this very boardwalk during Matthew. We notice these businesses were doing the same thing.

Can you tell me the feeling is now as you begin to board up your business?

MICAHEL HANNAH, OWNER, MICHAEL'S ON THE BEACH, MIAMI BEACH: It's a little scary. Trying to protect ourselves, protect our business. And as you see, getting, like, boarded up. Like we have, like, a little problem here last year. We had water surge, water went in and had sand and debris in the store. Like breaking in, into the store. Went deep like 70, 80 feet in. There -- it was a little scary.

SIDNER: We noticed damage from Matthew when we were here before. For a person who has worked here 11 years, owned a business, when you have to constantly worry about this now, what are your thoughts about how you handle this? And will you stay? Will you stay in Daytona? We noticed it's pretty much a ghost town. Only a few people are left here.

HANNAH: Actually, we are, I'm trying to get ready. I'm leaving. It's just scary. My kids are packing. My wife is packing. And trying to move as soon as we finish, get done. Leaving tomorrow morning by 6:00, 7:00, heading to Georgia on the road. And even the tropical storm, the hurricane following us there. But we have to stay. I stayed longer than anybody else, so I can cover up my business and everything I should do, like protect.

SIDNER: Thank you so much. Michael Hannah, of Michael's on the Beach, worried about getting hit

again. Was hit during Hurricane Matthew a year ago. And like you heard him say, everyone in his family is panicking and he is getting out -- Brooke (sic)?

BOLDUAN: Sara, I'll take it. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

We are, of course, keeping track of Hurricane Irma. More on the storm coming up right after a quick break.