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Hurricane Irma Is About To Deliver Destructive Blow To Florida. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:06] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: Welcome back. Irma has already run roughshod over islands in the Atlantic. The storm has now killed sadly at least 20 people. As it hop from Antigua to Barbuda to St. Martin to Puerto Rico, leaving behind misery at every stop.

This is what it looks like on St. Barts. Look, there are water- fearing and shattered (ph) remains of homes and drowned out streets.

Florida bracing for Irma for days now, one of the reasons for the panic preparation is this. Storm surge and lost of it. It's why Miami officials have expanded the evacuation zone again. More than 650,000 people ordered to leave their homes. And storm surge, the chief concern for FEMA.


BROCK LONG, CHIEF, FEMA: The most devastating hazard associated with hurricanes, get out of that storm surge area and get into a facility that can withstand the winds.


KING: Chad Myers is in our CNN Weather Center with us again. Chad, break it down for us exactly what is storm surge and explain why it is so, so dangerous.

CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER METEOROLOGIST: It is flooding, in one word. It is flooding because the storm is going to take its bubble of water that's already under there and then run into land.

Right now, there's storm surge going on but no there, there. There's no land there. It went over Crooked Island a little bit ago and there were some surge there. But when you push this either into the Everglades or into the Islamorada area along the Florida Keys, the water is going to pile up. It's not going to get through the cuts fast enough and you will over wash some of those areas in the Florida Keys. And that is the most dangerous and why we say, you can't stay in the Keys.

I don't care how old you are or how good you think you are or how many storms you've seen, you've never seen one that has pushed water over like the 1935, or the one that just completely destroyed the train that they were building there in '35. It just pushed all the -- everything, completely to the other side of Florida Bay. There is the eye right now. It is undergoing a kind of reconstructive surgery, if you will. In middle part of the eye blew off overnight because an outer eye develops called an eyewall replacement cycle. And so the winds went down. But when that outer eyewall takes over becomes the inner eyewall, the wind speed will go back up at 145. That's 145 miles per hour pushing water on to land.

And so anywhere from here, from the right side of the eye all the way up into Miami, right through here, this wind is going to pile for hours and hours and hours, and you're going to get 6 to 12 feet of water here. And then it's going to roll over the Keys, and it's going to do the same thing on this side from Fort Myers to Cape Coral to Naples and to Venice. John?

KING: And, Chad, those who wait, some people like to wait to the very end, part of it, stubborn part of it is pride in their homes or whatever, at what point -- now this is a day and a half, two days from Florida. At what point are you certain these things not going to take event?

MYERS: I am watching for the brand new model that's going to come in from the America model in about 30 minutes. European takes longer, it take six hours to run. And people say, why is European been better. Well, you know, I think we run it for a longer time than they do for six hours, not four hours. You can get more data in it. You can get more dimension to it. You get more layers to it. And so it can be better.

But I don't think now that the European model and the American model are completely agreeing that we're going to get any bend one way or the other. I hope so, because there's not much that can go wrong from here. I mean, you know, obviously if you go left, you're going to get more of this side, but you're going to spare Florida. You're going to spare Miami. If you go any farther to the right, you're truly going to hit Miami with 145 mile-per-hour wind.

KING: In other words, folks should get out, if -- get out if you're told to get out. If it takes a turn --

MYERS: Yes, that's exactly right.

KING: -- you can celebrate coming home early.

MYERS: You don't have to go to Georgia. You know, that's where people are trying to get out. You just have to go to your local shelter. I know it's inconvenient, but there are shelters with pets, and there are places and ways to get there for free. And that's what we're asking. Just get out of those homes that are going to be devastated.

KING: Chad, we'll keep in touch. Echoing that message is the Republican Governor of Florida today. He could not be more clear. If you're in Florida, be prepared no matter where you are in Florida. Be prepared to get out. The entire state, the governor says, a potentially deadly disaster zone. CNN's Kyung Lah is in Miami Beach right now. We just talked about the storm surge. Show us exactly why people right where you are, are so concerned.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The surge is a huge concern here in Miami Beach. And I'm going to have my cameraman, Lionel (ph) take you over to the skyline to show you exactly why this could be so costly, why Irma is going to hurt Miami Beach so much.

It is -- let's see here. There are lots of high rises. This is what draws people to Miami Beach, is booming with development. Since Hurricane Andrew, this area has seen a population explosion, 35 percent growth. And that's despite the fact that these high-rise buildings have new building codes since Hurricane Andrew. They're considered to be more safe.

[12:35:04] I want you to take a look at this picture from 1925. Just to give you a sense of how much Miami Beach has changed. One year before a category 4 storm hit it in 1926, this is what Miami Beach looked like. So when the hurricane came through, it was a very different story here in Miami Beach.

As you go around Miami Beach. As we've been with the fire department, the police department, the residents what we've seen is storm surge protection. They are expecting high storm surge. This is an area that floods even on a sunny day. So there is a lot of concern about debris, the population and all of how much this is going to cost Miami Beach, John.

KING: Kyung Lah there in Miami Beach. Kyung, thank you for your reporting, we'll keep in touch again.

Again listen to people. If they say get out, get out. In order to help understand the size and the scope of Hurricane Irma, NOAA's hurricane hunters are taking flights straight into the eye of this monster storm.

Joining us live now, by phone, is hurricane hunter pilot commander Scott Price. Scott, you're about to go in another mission into Hurricane Irma leaving this afternoon. We have some of the video from your prior mission, so we're going to play some of that. I just want to -- we keep hearing, it's epic, it's a monster. It's bigger than Andrew. It's bigger than anything we've ever seen. Explain to us just what you have seen up there.

CMDR. SCOTT PRICE, NOAA PILOT (via telephone): Sure. So, my experience has been very similar. I've been a hurricane hunter now for about nine years, and this is unlike any storm, almost any storm I've ever seen. The category 5 storms that we see are unusual.

This one is particularly powerful, particularly strong. So the reports that you hear, the forecasts that you see are absolutely accurate based on what we've seen in the storm itself.

KING: And in terms of when you're up there looking at it, what tells you that? What are you seeing on these missions that tell you it's going to carry more water, it's wider, it's bigger, it's stronger?

PRICE: It's a number of things. It include wind speed, visual clues. The video that's been circulating with our air crew flying with the eye is -- that presentation, also known as a stadium effect is only generated by extremely powerful storms.

In fact, I've only seen it that pronounced in one other storm in nine years. So, that very well-defined eye with the twirling massive thunderstorms and clouds, with that very clear center is indicative of a very, very powerful storm.

We've seen extremely high winds at slight level. The instrument that we've used to collect data on the storm also indicated that it is an extreme storm, and very, very strong. So all of the clues that we -- or experience that we see and have in the flag (ph) station in the airplane support these forecasts.

KING: And every time I watch the video like this, I know people at home are watching, and they say, you know, why are you doing this? What is the value to the people on the ground right now from the risks you're taking when you do this?

PRICE: The value in our work is the data itself. So the best data about these storms is unfortunately in the storm itself. You can only tell so much from satellite.

In order to collect the most information about the storm, we need to be in it. That information that we collect feeds the, both the track and the intensity forecast, which NOAA forecasters then take and generate the forecast that we see on TV. So the data that we collect, it's invaluable and generating the best possible guidance for the public.

KING: Scott Price, we appreciate your bravery and then of all your colleagues. I mean, also incredibly value the information and the perspective. Good luck and be safe when you're up there later today.

PRICE: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir.

We expect Florida's Governor Rick Scott to step out at any moment to give us his latest update on the storm.

Right here, you're looking at live pictures. There's traffic jam at the Florida-Georgia line as Floridians head north to escape Irma.


[12:43:03] KING: Let's take you live straight to Temple, Florida. Governor Rick Scott, his latest update on preparations for Hurricane Irma.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: ... north of Sebastian Inlet and Ponce Inlet. The storm surge is forecast to be three to 12 feet. Think about that, three to 12 feet across this area which is life threatening. Our hurricane warning is in effect for Jupiter Inlet southward, around the Florida Peninsula to Bonita Beach, the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay.

Our hurricane watches in effect for north of Jupiter Inlet to the Flagler/Volusia county line, and north of Bonita Beach and Crooked River. Rainfalls forecast the eight to 12 inches with isolated areas receiving up to 20 inches of rain.

Based on what we know now, the majority of Florida will have major hurricane impacts with deadly storm surge and life-threatening winds. And we can expect this all on the entire east coast and west coast. The Florida Keys should be prepared to start effects of this storm tomorrow morning.

Here on the panhandle, you also expect severe weather. Please be prepared for this. Evacuations. I've ordered school buses to aide evacuations statewide. Multiple counties have accepted these buses and I encourage any counties with the need for buses to evacuate residents request buses right now.

Our traffic in roadways expect -- express report to the Keys are heavily evacuated. All gas (inaudible) Keys are currently closed. But if you're still in the Keys, get out now.

We will quickly run out of good weather to evacuate. If you need any help in the state to evacuate, 1-800-342-3557. But if you're in the Keys, leave now. Anywhere in the state, if you're told to evacuate, leave. Get out quickly.

I'm a dad and I'm a grandfather. I love my family. I can't imagine life without them. Do not put yourself or your family at risk. If you've been ordered to evacuate and are still home, please go to a shelter.

[12:45:05] I encourage everyone to check on your neighbors. If you know someone in your neighborhood who is not evacuating and should, please contact them. Take care of each other. Please check on your neighbors with special needs or the elderly. If you can take people in, please, do it.

Today is the day to do the right thing for your family and get to safety. Today is the day the right thing for your family and every family in the state to make sure you have a plan and get to safety. This storm is wider than our entire state and expected to cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast.

Remember Hurricane Andrew is one of the worst storms in the history of the state. Irma is more devastating on its current path. Irma has already caused multiple fatalities in the Caribbean. The storm is powerful and deadly.

We are being very aggressive in our preparation for the storm and every Floridian should take this seriously and be aggressive to protect their family. Possessions can be replaced. Your family cannot.

I know it's hard to evacuate and it's very uncomfortable. I think about my mom and how hard it would have been for her to be completely broke with kids and have to evacuate. But you have to do it. You can't afford not do it, think about your family. You have to keep your family safe.

To private business owners, please be compassionate with your employees as they prepare for the storm and evacuate. I was a business owner when Hurricane Andrew devastated the state 25 years ago. The single most important thing right now is the safety of your employees and their families.

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. Listen to them. Follow the news.

We can expect additional evacuations as the storm continues to come up through the state. I cannot stress this enough. Do not ignore any evacuation orders. All Floridians should be prepared to evacuate.

Lake Okeechobee. Based on recent forecast, these army corps has been reviewing how the federally operated dike will be impacted. I spoke to Colonel Jason Kirk, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last night and I met with the corps today. They believe there will be additional impacts from excessive wind pushing some water over the dike. They have assured me that the structural integrated dike will not be compromised but they're worried about water flowing over the top.

I order evacuations in the city surrounding the southern half of Lake Okeechobee from Lake Port to Canal Point in Henry, Palm Beach and Glades counties. Decision was made due to our sole focus on life safety.

Traffic. I know many of you are stuck in traffic and I know you have to be frustrated. I'll ask is to be patient. Evacuations are not convenient. But the goal is for them to be safe.

I'm glad so many people are driving to safe places. We have increased the number of troopers on Florida highways to help move traffic and keep it moving going down the road. We have 1,700 troopers working 12-hour shifts. These dedicated officers are 100 percent focused on safety and aren't taking a day off.

Also, all administrative duties have been suspended at FHP. This means all sworn FHP officers are on roads helping families evacuate and bringing supplies to areas of need. I've also increased the number of road rangers who are patrolling throughout the roadways 24/7 to assist motorists.

Around the state, we have hundreds of DOT workers ordering traffic cameras 24/7 to ensure traffic flows continue and evacuations proceed without interruptions. All of this is to help everyone that's going to evacuate get safely where they need to go. Contraflow. We still need southbound lanes to either get gas and supplies down to shelters and families that needed in the southern part of the state. Contraflow inhibits our ability to get emergency vehicles to people that need them.

Right now, just east congestion, we've actually use of shoulders on I- 75 from Wildwood to the Georgia line. And please drive very safely and listen to law enforcement. They're working to keep you and your family safe.

Real-time traffic information and evacuation routes are available at We're seeing bottlenecks at major highway junctions which brings up an important point. If you do not need to evacuate out of the state, or hundreds miles away to stay safe, there's a lot -- you don't always have to do that. There is going to be shelters all around the state. So if you don't need to be on the road, get off and go to a shelter.

We coordinate with Google emergency response team to prepare to close roads on Google Maps in real-time in the event Hurricane Irma forces of the closure of any roads. In my direction, all tolls and all the roads in the state have been waived.

[12:50:08] Visit Florida Welcome Centers have transition to emergency information centers to help direct evacuees with the most up to date information. Visit Florida Welcome Centers have staff and all Red Cross certified or all Red Cross certified stand ready to assist those needed. If you are concerned that you don't have a way to evacuate due to traffic, please call the emergency hot line, 1-800-342-3557. We will do everything possible to get you out.

Fuel, one of our top priorities has been fuel availability. I was alerted yesterday by Vice President Pence that the Federal Government waived additional rules and regulation to allow more fuel to get to Florida fast. I want to thank the EPA, I want to thank the President, the Vice President for all their efforts to help us get more fuel in the state.

We no know there are problems with supply at gas stations. State law enforcement are providing escort services to gas troops to get them through traffic so they get to the stations faster. This law enforcement escorts have continued throughout the night and they will go as long as possible, you probably seen some around the state.

For the gas stations and evacuation zones, we need you to stay open as long as possible. So people can get fueled and get out. We will arrange police escorts for your employees so they can get out safely. So, please, stay open, if you're in an evacuation zone in your gas station, please, stay open as long as you can.

We all know how important fuel is. We're devoting every state resource and the federal government is working to try to make sure we have all the fuel we can get here. Three tanker trucks delivering fuel to Port Tampa Bay yesterday, we got three fuel tanker trucks in, each delivering 1.2 million gallons of fuel. State law enforcement continues to escort fuel supply trucks in Port Tampa Bay, Jax Port and Port Everglades directed to gas stations.

As of 6:00 p.m. last night 8.4 million gallons of fuel was shipped into Point Everglades and more than five million gallons of fuel were shipped into Port Tampa Bay. We are aggressively working to move excess fuels stage in nice scales to communities through out the North Central Florida.

While we're making progress, unfortunately you'll still can see a lines and unfortunately you can still see outages. I can't imagine how frustrating you have to be. I can just tell you, none of us are going to stop working on it. However, if you are in an evacuation zone in South Florida, just remember, you need to leave now.

Port Everglades will be closing tonight for safety and gas will no longer be resupplied into South Florida until after the storm. If you are concerned you don't have enough fuel to evacuate, please call the state emergency hot line, 1-800-342-3557. But do me -- you have to call now. You cannot call in the middle of the storm. You have to call now so we can get you out.

If you know you're going to a shelter in your county, you don't have to fill up your tank all the way. So, be considerate of others because others might have to go further away. There's an app, Gas Buddy App, is a great resource to find open stations with fuel. All ports still remain open, and they are operating to bring fuel and supplies in.

Shelters, last night I directed the closure of all schools in the state. K-12, state colleges and universities and all state offices from their normal activities is today through Monday. The goal is to ensure we have all the space available for sheltering and staging. Floridians have to have access to as many shelters as possible and we're still going to see more evacuations in the northern part of the state.

Fortunately over 17,000 people signed up to volunteer. We need more volunteers. You can go to the volunteer of Florida website, to sign up. We can't thank the ones that have signed up enough, but we are going to need more.

There's absolutely no reason for anyone not to evacuate, if ordered to do so. Shelters are available around the state. And you should follow the directions of local officials to go to the shelter that fits your needs.

You can go to, to find a shelter in your county or neighboring county. If you need a hotel, go to, Expedia is trying to help us on realtime on hotel occupancy.

Airbnb has activated its disaster response program, if you're an evacuee in a need of a place sow stay or your Air Hubb, Airbnb host who open the house for evacuating go to Air Hubb or The Florida Restaurant and Lodge Association has encouraged all hotels to waive pet policies offer shelter and be compassionate with cancellations. National Guard, we've already activated 7,000 members, which is right now every available member of the National Guard we have has been activated. Law enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is preparing search and rescue teams for potential deployment and has more than 200 officers standing by for the first wave of response based on potential storm impacts.

[21:50:11] We've been reaching out to law enforcement across the state to make sure they have all the resources they need to keep people safe.

Utility providers, they are actively prepositioning resources throughout state and the neighboring states. We all know how important both fuel is and how important powers going to be.

We will aggressively work with utilities to make sure if you lose power, to get your power back on as quickly as we can. I want to thank the governors of other states that have provided every -- that every time I've asked for something they've provided it.

I know the entire country is behind us. I know the President's behind us and we have the best first responders in the country spread throughout the state and neighboring state ready to help but we are running out of time. The storm is almost here. If you're in an evacuation zone, you need go now.

This is a catastrophic storm that this state has never seen before. We can rebuild your house, you can get possessions again, we cannot rebuild your life are and we cannot rebuild your family. Protecting life is our absolute top priority. There will be no resource or expense spared to protect it a family.

Florida is tough. Florida is resilient. Florida is unbreakable.

We all have to stay together and help each other. Florida is an amazing melting pot of loving people and I'm proud to be Governor of this great state.

[12:56:29] (Foreign Language) [12:57:03]

Now, I'd like to introduce the Attorney General --

[12:52:09] (Foreign Language) [12:57:42

Now I'd like to introduce the Attorney General, the -- one thing it's disgusting, if anybody price gouges. I've said this around the state, I've seated on national television. We have an Attorney General that will prosecute people for price gouging.

This is the time to help our neighbors. This is not the time to take advantage of our neighbors.

Thank you, governor. Thank you Governor. Thank you for everything you're doing in your leadership.

Thank you to EFC (ph), thank you to FEMA and all law enforcement officers. And I agree the White House has been amazingly responsive and I'd like to thank them as well.