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Conclusion of White House Briefing; Storm Nears Florida; Mandatory Evacuations for West Palm Beach; Miami Beach Mayor on Evacuation. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 8, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] TOM BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Speak to each and every company's preparation efforts. As I stand here, we can continue to monitor that and follow up with you. There will be steps that are taken from setting (ph) down the nuclear facility, the nuclear power facility to a position of safety. I think they take some kind of warm shutdown posture at some point depending on the track.
So we monitor those things. I was comfortable with the position of most of them.
We also look at Okeechobee, because that's going to be a big flooding risk and an overflow risk.
QUESTION: Is there anything that you're not comfortable with right now that you're -- that is an overriding concern?
BOSSERT: Yeah, well, we're worried about the fuel shortages, we're worried about whatever worries the governor at this point.
But no, to be honest with you, I am setting expectations appropriately here, because as we go through a storm, nobody's ever happy or -- or completely safe. But I am extremely comfortable with the government efforts. Now I want to make sure that people understand that they have a part to play here as well.
QUESTION: I have two questions for you, if you don't mine.
Number one, take -- taking a step back and looking more and more big picture, you've got wild fires out west, you've got this crisis in Texas that people are still recovering from, you have Irma, (inaudible).
The resources of the federal government are not unlimited. At what point do you worry that the resources are being stretched too thin, if you're not at that point now?
BOSSERT: Yeah, no, I -- I don't.
As -- as the chief of staff, General Kelly, says, the federal government should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. He's absolutely right. We've had Cabinet meetings here today, yesterday, and throughout these storm events, focusing on efforts and national security matters around the globe. So I'm pretty comfortable in our ability and our capacity as -- as leaders, but also as institutions, to handle the various different things that come our way.
I'm -- I'm extremely comfortable with President Trump's capacity to do so. He's demonstrated an ability to juggle these issues of complexity on a regular basis, including today.
What I do worry about are the financial resources. Congress came and stepped up in a bipartisan way. I think President Trump deserves a lot of credit for putting that together over the last 48 hours. And they've done what the American people really want them to do, and that is act and do what's right, instead of quibbling over things that -- that tend to get in the way of -- of efficient, you know, execution of services. And so in this particular case, we're going to have to go back, I'm sure, for additional resources as these storms continue to hurt our states and our citizens. But for now, we're taking a responsible course of action, asking for the money in the appropriate small tranches, and then reassessing and getting better estimates so that we don't overestimate.
But we're not doing it in a way that's going to stop or slow down operations, so...
QUESTION: My second question -- actually, do you know a number that would be on that yet, or is it too early?
BOSSERT: On a subsequent request? No, a little too early.
So, as you know, the approximately $7.5 billion that came for FEMA on the supplemental was a calculated estimate. There's a $6.8 billion figure, roundabout, that would be a regular, scheduled replenishment at the end of the month for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. Those two together were contemplated, so we assume passage of both.
The third, or -- or a future request will be based on the estimates of -- of information as we refine them.
QUESTION: (inaudible) on Irma, but I'm going to ask about DACA, because there's still a question of what happens to DACA recipients currently serving in the military. There's still no decision.
Can you explain why there's a delay explaining to these folks what's going to happen, and when they might be able to expect the answer?
BOSSERT: No, I can't.
I -- I can tell you that the president put it back on Congress, and then asked for his priorities to be met, in their solution.
QUESTION: Any sort of (ph) window? BOSSERT: The (inaudible) window, I -- I -- I'm not sure, to be honest with you, what the answer is on -- on the military part of DACA. But I thought we were clear, and I'll find and make sure, and get back to you on that.
QUESTION: Given (inaudible) funding, and (inaudible) what may happen with Irma, there have been reports that you all are considering, or reconsidering the flood -- reversing the flood claim regulations that the Obama administration put in.
Can you talk about whether you are, in fact, reconsidering that, either putting back those regulations, or drafting new regulations that would -- that would once again toughen back up the -- the flood regulations, given that we're going to be facing a lot of those issues as (inaudible) places recovering?
BOSSERT: Yeah, no, I won't necessarily accept the -- the premise of the question, but I will answer the spirit of it. So it's not about tough or not tough; it's about smart or not smart.
You know, I think the answer here -- I think I went out and did this in one of your publications. The answer here is that we shouldn't use federal money to rebuild in ways that don't anticipate future flood risk. So we need to build back smarter and -- and stronger against floodplain concerns when we use federal dollars.
What (inaudible) happening (ph) in the president's infrastructure executive order was the rescission of an Obama-era order that had a broad-ranging and overreaching scope in the construction permitting. At the time that we rescinded it, we did so on the hope of expediting infrastructure development in this country, which I think was a smart move, for what it's worth. The president certainly did as well.
BOSSERT: But now what we have to do is replace with thoughtful -- whether it's an executive order, regulations or both -- building standards and practices for the expenditure of federal money that makes floodplain and risk mitigation sense.
So we are...
QUESTION: ... will be a -- will bill be some kind of affirmative effort to...
BOSSERT: Yeah. In the interim, I should point out two things here, right.
Not to be defensive, but, first, that Obama-era executive order had not turned into a regulation yet. So nothing in this storm would have changed, whether we acted or didn't act, if that makes sense. So there -- this was not an immediate or poorly thought-through step.
And then secondly, whether we put forward an executive order or not, we do have the latitude, under the current Stafford Act authorities and other laws, to put into these rebuilding practices in Texas and Florida appropriate floodplain management practices. But we want to make sure we think through how to codify that for the future in the next month.
QUESTION: Tom, on Monday, we're seeing an anniversary of 9/11, and the nation, right now, seeing a lot of vulnerabilities speaking of the (inaudible).
What is the threat level? And what is this administration doing as it relates to moving into this tragic anniversary -- remembering this tragic anniversary?
BOSSERT: Well, I was kind of personally motivated into service on that day, and that's why I've come back to service here again.
The counterterrorism mission is the one I've taken the most seriously. And President Trump will, as presidents before him and since 9/11, receive a comprehensive picture of the terrorist threat environment and what we're doing to counter it from his senior officials on 9/11 -- or, I think, on Monday we'll do this.
We'll get the timing of that to you and we'll give you a readout.
He'll do that. That's a practice that we've started since 9/11. Presidents Bush and Obama maintained that practice. President Trump intends to do the same.
And then I'll let the team announce his planned event for -- or scheduled events for attending any ceremonies and paying some respects.
But for the most part, I'd encourage the administration, who will, I'm sure, fan out and give appropriate speeches, to show some solemnity that day and not talk too much about policy. It's a day of remembrance and respect.
QUESTION: What's the threat level right now, as we go into 9/11, and with the vulnerabilities that we are seeing throughout this nation?
BOSSERT: Yeah, no terrorists should view us as vulnerable right now. Farthest thing from the truth, OK?
Second, there is no actionable, credible threat to the United States right now. We run those regular risk posture meetings here at the White House, and we bring together the entirety of the intelligence community when we do so.
There is no current, credible, actionable threat -- terrorist threat against the homeland. But we will continue to track that. And if we learn of such a thing, we communicate it to our law enforcement authorities and to the public as soon as we learn of it.
QUESTION: Thank you, Tom. BOSSERT: Yeah, thank you.
QUESTION: Tom -- Tom, in addition to the issue of supplies of oil and gas, there's the issue of price. And gasoline has jacked up about 70 cents a gallon. I remember in an earlier briefing, you said you'd be monitoring to make sure there isn't gouging.
QUESTION: Are you monitoring beyond the issue of supply and demand? Because that seems to be a pretty bad excuse just to raise prices -- and to make sure that it's databased?
So the idea is trying to determine -- it's a fact-based determination -- the difference between gouging and -- and supply-and- demand price indicators. So I'd ask you to remember one thing: The refineries, at least five or six of them, in Houston are still down. So we've got a refinery issue on one side, and we've got an increased demand issue on the other side.
And so that's -- you know, necessarily, generally going to raise prices. But it's a short-term price spike, in our experience.
We'll try to differentiate that from gouging as we examine any potential allegations of that practice. But for right now, Floridians are pretty well used to this, and I think they're pretty well used to their attorney general prosecuting them in Florida.
So I'm not of the opinion that I have to issue too many warnings from this podium, again. But in case anybody missed me last time, gouging won't be tolerated, period. Period, OK?
Let me see if I can come back real quickly, because I know Sarah's here and has a lot more to do.
Governor Mapp, Governor Rossello, Governor McMaster of South Carolina, Scott of Florida, Deal of Georgia and Abbott of Texas, you're all in our minds. You're all our clients; you're our customer base right now. You're going to set the requirements, we're going to meet those requirements, and as Americans, we're going to get through this.
So remember, I started with inform, influence and inspire. I'm pretty certain that the country saw the people of Texas show us what compassion's all about, and I'm pretty sure the Floridians and South Carolinians are going to step up and match that challenge in the next coming days.
Let's say a little prayer for them, and I'll come back out and speak to you as the situation dictates. So thank you very much, I appreciate it.
QUESTION: Thank you, Tom. SANDERS: Thank you, Tom.
As you can see, the safety and security of the American people is the president's top priority. And we'll continue to work with our local partners to keep the public fully informed as the events unfold.
Looking ahead to this weekend, the president and the first lady will be hosting Cabinet members and their spouses at Camp David. This will be a working weekend, which will include the fourth Cabinet meeting since the president took office. That will take place on Saturday.
The president will lead a discussion on the administration's priorities, in addition to receiving briefings on Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts and preparations for Hurricane Irma.
Secretary Mattis will, obviously, be among the Cabinet members attending the -- this weekend. And on a lighter note, today happens to be his birthday. So I'd like to with Secretary Mattis a happy birthday on behalf of all of us here. Everybody knows I love a good birthday story.
In a letter to his troops in the field in 2003, General Mattis encouraged them to fight with a happy heart and a strong spirit, and to demonstrate to the world that there is no better friend and no worse enemy than a U.S. Marine. I think it's safe to say that he's lived his own life by that advice. And, General, we hope your 67th birthday is a good one.
With that, I'll take your questions.
QUESTION: Is the -- this agreement that (ph) the -- is this agreement with the Democrats that the president reached a one-off? Is this something we can expect to see more of, bipartisanship, in this White House?
SANDERS: I certainly think that the goal is to have bipartisan efforts and certainly legislation where you've got Republicans and Democrats both working towards it.
That was something that the president talked about during the campaign and certainly something that I think the American people expect, and one of the reasons they voted for him. And I certainly would expect to continue to see that.
QUESTION: Does the president care at all that Republican leadership is annoyed with this deal that he reached?
SANDERS: I think that the president's focus was what was doing -- doing what was best for the American people, and that's why he's the president. The people wanted somebody to be a leader. They wanted somebody that was going to step up and take action and get things done. And that's exactly what the president did. I think the last thing we want to do is play partisan politics when we have people in places like Texas and Louisiana that need financial support through the federal government. The president wanted to make sure that happened and that that got taken care of, and that's what he did.
SANDERS: John (ph)?
QUESTION: Sarah, what's the thinking behind the president working with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to eliminate the need to constantly go through this debt ceiling process?
SANDERS: Look, I think that, if you can take some of that partisan bickering out of the process, that's probably a good thing.
This is a government that is always going to pay it debts and wants to make sure that our bills get paid and that we can support the needs that we have of our country, like we're having to do right now in a time of disaster relief efforts. And so that's certainly a priority moving forward.
QUESTION: But there are some conservatives in Congress who say taking away the battles over the debt ceiling just means that you're going to continue to add on debt, add on debt, add on debt, with no checks and balances.
SANDERS: Well, I think that's -- if you have your priorities wrong.
The president is focused on, one, balancing the budget, bringing that debt down overall, but also making sure, again, that the citizens of our country, particularly those in a really desperate time of need, like we are seeing right now in Texas and Louisiana, are taken care of.
QUESTION: Sarah, about tomorrow, you said it's important for the public to be fully informed. I would just suggest you take in due seriousness having -- we'll be able to cover some portion of that Cabinet meeting at Camp David tomorrow so the country can be fully informed.
SANDERS: We will -- we will be releasing some of the president's remarks from tomorrow, and we'll keep you guys posted on that process and how that'll look.
QUESTION: In this regard, you talked about eliminating partisan bickering from the debt ceiling process. Is that a Republican problem?
SANDERS: Is that -- I'm sorry?
QUESTION: A Republican problem. We had 90 Republicans in the House vote against this emergency relief package, in large measure because it was decoupled, or coupled in a way...
SANDERS: The majority of Republicans voted for it.
Again, I think that the most important thing is that the deal got done. The president acted on it and he worked with Democrats to get it done. And I think he's going to continue to work with whoever is interested in moving the ball forward to help the American people.
QUESTION: And for Republicans who are displeased with this, what is the White House message to them? "Just get over it"? "You're sore losers"? What?
SANDERS: I think the biggest message is that we're a lot less focused on what makes Congress happy and (sic) what makes Americans better and stronger. And that was the decision that the president made, that this was something that was important to get done, and he was willing to work with Democrats to make sure it happened.
QUESTION: Sarah, I think you -- just to change subjects for a second, there's been estimates that a quarter million Rohingya Muslims have left -- fled violence in Burma perpetrated by the military portion of the Burmese government.
And I think last week you said -- you were asked whether the president had been briefed. You weren't sure.
Can you give us an update whether the president's been briefed or made aware of it, if he has concerns about this, because it could be regionally destabilizing?
And also let us know whether the president, since taking office, has had any direct conversation with Aung San Suu Kyi, and would agree with some members of Congress who are now saying they would like her to take a stronger role in, sort of, denouncing this violence and trying to put an end to it.
SANDERS: I know that he's aware of the situation. We're monitoring. I'm not aware of if they've had specific conversations, so I'd have to look into that.
QUESTION: Do you guys (ph) have a statement, though, about -- or have concern about this? This is a large number (ph)...
SANDERS: Again, we're monitoring the situation. And I would refer you to the State Department for specific details for -- at this point.
QUESTION: Sarah, what specifically are some ideas that the president would like to work with Democrats next on? Is -- he's talked a lot about tax reform, obviously. But is infrastructure also on the list here?
Or when will we know if this, sort of, new approach to bipartisanship is something that is his new plan versus just, as Cecilia asked, a one-off?
SANDERS: Look, the president's committed to moving legislation through. He wants Congress to act, and he's happy to have Democrats be part of that.
Tax reform is a huge part of the agenda moving into the fall. Infrastructure is something certainly we'd love to see. He had meetings on that just yesterday. And we're going to continue to work with, you know, anyone willing to sit down at the table and focus on those pieces of legislation.
QUESTION: Has he given up on health care repeal?
SANDERS: No. And, you know, we're going to continue pushing and looking for new ways to improve the health care system. And certainly the ultimate goal would be to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that actually works.
QUESTION: Would he work with Democrats on that, to try and find a solution or a fix?
SANDERS: If Democrats are willing to work on an actual solution, sure.
QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.
The president this morning talked about tax reform in a tweet, and he's focusing the country on tax reform after we get past the hurricanes and the immediate threats.
Everyone in the administration says, "Tax reform this year." One person, however -- that would be Leader McConnell -- keeps saying, "Tax reform this Congress," which could be next year.
Is the president willing to allow the focus on tax reform to move into 2018? And if not, what would he say to the leader to get him onboard with everyone else in the administration to deliver tax reform to the American people by December 31st of this year?
SANDERS: You know, I think the ultimate goal is certainly to get it done. Ideally, we get it done as soon as possible. The most important thing, though, is that we're providing tax relief for middle-class Americans.
And so, ideally we get that done. If we could get it done tomorrow, I think everybody would be happy with that. But obviously it's going to be a process. As soon as we can, that would be our ultimate goal. But we want to make sure we get it done right, and that's important. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Leader McConnell keeps saying, "This Congress," as if to give him a back-door excuse or option to go into next year. What does the president say to him about that?
SANDERS: I can only -- I certainly can't speak for Leader McConnell. But, again, this administration, our priority is to get this done and get it done as quickly as we can.
SANDERS: Katherine (ph).
QUESTION: Sarah, is Mar-a-Lago following evacuation orders in Palm Beach?
SANDERS: I can't speak for the Trump Organization. I'd direct you to them.
QUESTION: And do you know how long it'd be (ph)? Mar-a-Lago has survived a number of -- come through a number of hurricanes, you know, with very minimal damage. Would the president consider evacuees or victims of the storm being housed there?
SANDERS: Again, that's something that -- you would have to talk to the Trump Organization, not something I can comment.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) for you.
One, in regard to the deal reached with Democrats earlier this week -- and the president talked a lot on the campaign about how he was -- cut the best deals. What would -- what would the White House's message be to Republicans who, on the -- on the issue of the debt ceiling or the C.R.s passed -- of (ph) -- achieved better deficit- cutting deals under President Barack Obama?
SANDERS: Well, I don't know that you could say that it's a better deal when you're helping people that are in a recovery effort. And that certainly was the priority of the president, is making sure that we move things forward, and quickly, so that those people were taken care of. And that was the priority in that process.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) quick -- there's a report earlier this week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was looking to meet with or interview White House staff regarding the statement that was put out in early July about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian trained (ph) -- several other individuals at Trump Tower.
Has that formal request been made? And will the White House staff be complying? And who is affected by that request?
SANDERS: I'm not aware of a specific request at this time. But certainly, we've been very clear that the White House will be fully cooperative and transparent through this process.
QUESTION: Sarah, I have two questions, one on DACA and one on the debt ceiling deal.
On DACA, the president tweeted yesterday that DACA recipients have, quote, "nothing to worry about" over the next six months, and there would be no action. Can you definitively say that no DACA recipients will be deported in the next six months?
SANDERS: I would imagine, unless there was some sort of criminal activity I think that would change the situation, but...
QUESTION: Why is that -- why can't you definitively say that no DACA recipient will be deported?
SANDERS: Well, I was about to, if you'd let me finish my sentence.
SANDERS: But I was going to say that, outside of circumstances where there may be criminal activity or something along those lines, the president's been clear that that's not something that would take place or change over the six-month period.
QUESTION: I think what most DACA recipients are worried about is that their status is scheduled to lapse by 2020. Can you speak to that, and when the president says they have nothing to worry about -- they're all going to be out of status (ph) by 2020?
SANDERS: During this -- during this six-month time, there are no changes that are being made to the program at this point. After that, again, the goal is that Congress makes a permanent fix and that Congress actually does their job, and that we have responsible immigration reform that takes place over these six months, and those individuals won't be affected because they actually stepped up and did what they were asked to do by the American people.
QUESTION: On the debt ceiling deal, when it comes to votes, is the president finding Schumer and Pelosi to be more reliable partners in getting votes than the Republican leaders?
SANDERS: Look, the president's committed to working with both Republicans and Democrats, and we're going to continue doing that, in trying to get the best legislation we can for the American people.
[14:20:05] I hate to do this, but it's Friday, and the president's departing and I know several people have to step out for that. We'll be around the rest of the afternoon if you guys have follow-up questions, we'll be happy to answer them.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You've just been watching the White House press briefing as Hurricane
Irma is approaching Florida. And we just got an update on the storm. Irma is now a category four hurricane, winds are over 150 miles per hour, so still very strong. And it has slightly shifted to the west, which means the entire Florida peninsula is now directly in its path and that also means Miami could be in even greater danger. And as evacuation orders grow by the hour, millions are trying to get out with the entire state under threat.
This is becoming the biggest mass hurricane evacuation in U.S. history. And you see that traffic moving very slowly. This is in Miami-Dade County where an unprecedented 660,000 people have been ordered out. These pictures showing people pouring into the shelters there.
Airports are jammed. We saw a line that seemingly had no end last night. The roads out of Florida are simply clogged. Gas stations are closing as this max exodus leads to a fuel shortage. We heard that mentioned by Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser.
Now, officials in south Florida, especially The Keys, are warning that if you decide to stay, soon they won't be able to help you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might as well leave now while you have a chance because when you dial 911, you will not get an answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We have teams tracking all of Irma's developments from Miami to Daytona Beach, Palm Beach County, Key Largo. But I want to begin in the CNN Weather Center with meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.
And, Pedram, talk us through the latest storm track.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, the latest update just come in too, Ana, here in the 2:00 p.m. from the National Hurricane Center. And talking about this storm incredibly, as remarkable as this storm is, incredibly strengthening up to 155 miles per hour. Now we're talking two miles per hour shy of being back up to a category five. At this point that's negligible.
But you take a look at this, and the reason I say incredible, is because the southern periphery of this hurricane is over mountain ranges that rise up to 6,000 feet. So, again, really sheds light on what a storm we're dealing with here across the Caribbean as it picks up further intensity moving up the coastline.
So, where are we headed with the storm system. The latest model's in. Here is what we're looking at for the European and the American. What you want to look for is consistency in the model runs. We did not have that the last couple of days, even 24 hours ago. It is absolutely the case that is in place right now across portions of central, areas of The Keys here from the American models or the European model. You see the alignment is very much in place here for this storm system. So you're seeing that western shift and eventually a northern turn.
That being Saturday night into Sunday. Tremendous agreement that the central keys, whether it be Key Largo, whether it be points southward out there say -- working their way on into areas around the central region of Marathon, that's where we think landfall could be possible.
But because of this track taking a direct route through Florida, it makes an entirely different system. Now we know hurricanes, every single one of them, are different. They all have their own DNAs. But when it comes to a track of a storm like this, one that has so many superlatives lined up behind it as far as the records it has already attained, it is going to pack a tremendous punch moving its way forward.
Three hundred-mile-an-hour tropical force winds. Notice the area in red as this makes landfall here, Ana, we think sometime early Sunday morning. That is hurricane force winds. And notice a move over land as we go from Sunday into Monday.
This is not a hurricane for Miami. This is not a hurricane for Key West. This is not a hurricane for Tampa. It's a hurricane even for Orlando, even for Jacksonville, for just about anyone in its path here across the central portion of the state. We will have hurricane force winds going into early Monday, potentially even making it into southern Georgia.
So, once again, as impressive a storm as we've seen in a very long time, Ana.
CABRERA: Pedram, are there any chances it could still make another turn?
JAVAHERI: You know, there always is a chance for a turn. At this point, the agreement has become such a narrow line it would be very, very unlikely. So you're looking at one of the most reliable models we've seen with this storm system literally going back seven days where it had similar alignment being in blue there, the European model. The American was hundreds of miles apart. It has lined up in agreement with that. So we think it is just going to be almost entirely out of the question and the window has just about closed here as far as getting it away from the state. And whether you are in the western part of the state, on the eastern side of the state, a hurricane that can sit on top of Texas and cover it with its cloud field is going to cause damage and impacts across all of the state of Florida.
CABRERA: All right, Pedram Javaheri, we know you will be watching, as will the entire CNN weather team.
And this is becoming a very, very dangerous situation. I want to get right to Florida and our Chris Cuomo, our colleague, who's on the ground there.
We see it's already a little bit windy there right now, Chris, but that's nothing compared to what they are going to be experiencing, what you will be experiencing here in the next couple of days. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Ana, spot on. In truth, this is pleasant. It
is so hot here, especially on the beach, any breeze is welcome. This is the beauty that belies the beast that is going to come.
[14:25:08] I'll tell you what we shouldn't like, Ana, is, there are people on this beach. And, look, they can play the game right now, but this is a mandatory evacuation center and we just heard Governor Scott give a very simple message even I could understand it. Get out now. That is the message to not just mandatory evacuation areas, but he said all Floridians should be ready to evacuate.
Why? Because they don't know what the reach of Irma is going to be. And I know it can sound like hype. I know storms have missed in the past. And, frankly, Ana, as we both know, having been in the field on so many of these, we hope for that. We hope that the path somehow changes, though as we know the variables get much fewer as it comes closer through the Caribbean, over Cuba, and now heading to The Keys and into the mainland of Florida it becomes less likely that the track changes. So this, they have about a 24-hour window to do the right thing for themselves and their safety, not to put themselves and the first responders at risk who have to come out and get them.
We have the mayor of Miami Beach is going to be joining us in a few moments. He's coming from some of his preparations.
So right now I want to go to Brian Todd. He's in West Palm Beach. Police there are going door to door to see whether or not the residents are heeding the evacuation calls and if those who remain have a plan and have supplies for 72 hours.
Brian, what are you seeing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, those police just came by here on South Flagler (ph) Drive with a loud speaker, going door to door, saying this area is under a mandatory evacuation, please evacuate. Across the intercostal waterway at Palm Beach, they've already done that. But we're with people here who are going to ride this out.
This is Emanuela (ph) and Mark Marcello (ph). They're here on the South Flagler Drive boarding up their home.
Emanuela, you're going to stay. You've heard all the warnings. You've heard everybody on TV saying, and the governor, everybody saying, you've got to get out. Why are you staying?
EMANUELA MARCELLO (ph): Yes. We have, we feel, a very secure home. Concrete block. Hurricane shutters. Sandbags. It's been around for 45 years. There's never been any damage. We have a lot of friends in this so-so neighborhood that are staying. We all feel confident. And they're all Floridians. I'm Canadian. I'm so not used to this. I'm totally freaked out. But we have a certain confidence in the structure of our home. But we're definitely taking precautions and we do have a reservation at a hotel booked worse comes to worse if we do get too nervous or what have you in downtown, newest building in West Palm. So we're obviously going to be very secure there as well. TODD: And, Mark, you've been boarding up. You've been sandbagging this
and boarding up with corrugated metal here.
MARK MARCELLO (ph): Yes.
TODD: You're confident in the structure. But this is a category four. This could take off parts of your roof and all of that and possibly with you guys in it. So, still, you're OK to stay, at least for now?
M. MARCELLO: We're certainly going to stay today. We have to be at the hotel by 8:00 tomorrow morning if we are going to keep the reservation. In all likelihood, we probably will go to the hotel. But we are going to stay here this evening.
TODD: What is the, I guess, the mentality of wanting to stay? You told me a short time ago you'd be surprised how many people want to ride this out. Why do people feel that way when the storm is so incredibly strong?
M. MARCELLO: It's a good question. We have a lot of friends that are here and that have elected to stay. We also have friends that left and went to Naples and now they're not very happy about that decision. We have friends that went to Atlanta, to Orlando. So I think there's risking in any area they end up going. But it's a tough decision.
TODD: Good luck to both of you and thanks for talking to us.
E. MARCELLO: Thank you.
M. MARCELLO: Thanks. Appreciate it.
TODD: Chris, another complication of this evacuation is the very high concentration of elderly people here in Palm Beach County. There are a lot of them. They're trying to get them into secure locations. Some of them have special needs. There's one special needs shelter. That looks like it's going to be filled to capacity. So, again, that's a major complication in a county like Palm Beach where there's such a high concentration of elderly people, Chris.
CUOMO: And you're touching on two very distinct stay choices. One is the elderly, those who cannot leave, the infirmed, and we're going to talk to one of the local leaders right now about that.
The other are people who are saying, well, it's a tough choice. I have to figure it out. That does not deserve the same respect. If they have been told they are in a mandatory evacuation zone, the discretion has been taken out of the equation for them in terms of common sense. The government, the officials, the experts who know, who have lived through this. who have to do the planning to save your behind if you stay and become vulnerable, which is likely, they've already decided that for you. So, a different level of respect for that decision to stay.
Now, joining us, the mayor of Miami Beach. We have Philip Levine.
Mr. Mayor, thank you very much. MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE (D), MIAMI BEACH: Hi, Chris.
CUOMO: It is good to have you. I know you're busy.
We were just talking that this is so beautiful. This is why people come. And yet they really should not be here. Tough job for you.
LEVINE: I agree. Listen, we don't want them out here. You see a lot of them. They're not swimming because it's prohibited right now. I just spent a little time with our ocean rescue folks. They're trying everything in their power to tell people to go evacuate. And at a certain point this afternoon, our life guards will be leaving and, of course, they'll be bunkering down in shelters themselves.
[14:30:13] You know, I've been all over the city today, Chris.