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Hurricane Irma Barrels Toward Florida with Category 3 Power. Aired 11a-12n ET

Aired September 9, 2017 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:59:55] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And the giant concern now is that as the storm leaves Cuba it will reenergize over open water as it heads to the Florida Keys.

CNN is everywhere the storm is expected to be. We are here in downtown Miami. We're still about -- half an hour or so from high tide. And we see that the water is already well over the docks that are in place here in many places and coming over as storm surge many of the barriers and bulkheads in the area.

And we're only seeing winds of about -- I don't mean to say only -- but it's 40 miles an hour or so in gusts. That number is relevant to first responders.

When the wind is sustained at 40 miles an hour they will not go out any more. There's just too much flying debris, too much chance of risk to those though who we will need to do the rescuing in the aftermath once the storm passes.

So that is the situation here. The path has moved. It's moved west- northwest at about 12 nautical miles an hour and we will be tracking it every step of the way and we have people everywhere.

Let's start with Kyung Lah. She's in Miami Beach. That's across the water from here, another vulnerable area. It can't take a lot of storm surge.

They're expecting up to ten feet there -- Kyung. And we've heard from the mayor and other local leaders saying yes, the track has shifted, but the priority has not. Do not come back and stay safe if you are here.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right because the threat here for Miami Beach, which is an outer barrier island, is the storm surge. And we're starting to see some of the conditions changing. You can see how windy it is.

I want you to look over here. And you can see some of the debris starting to come up here. And as you take a look at this beach, it's almost completely empty. Emphasis on "almost"; there are a couple of stragglers here.

But the winds are strong. They are sustained. They are tropical force. And so what the city leaders are trying to warn people. Yes, the eye may not be coming directly over Miami Beach anymore but here is the last safety concern.

Here is what the fire chief told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Are you concerned that with the latest weather forecast, people will say, we're done, we're coming back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope not. We want them to stay safe, stay inside because this is still a highly, highly serious situation and dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: And so you can see the waves, what we're seeing here right on Miami Beach. But I also want to tell you something that we're also a little concerned. See that area right there? That's for sea turtles. So it's not just humans who are going to have to deal with this. It's also the wildlife out here -- Chris.

But of course, what the city is worried about most of all, trying to keep people safe and trying to keep them completely evacuated out of Miami Beach.

CUOMO: Kyung, those are the right priorities and we hear them and we are repeating them as a public service.

Right now, Hurricane Irma is battering Cuba -- thoughts and prayers to the people there, especially along that northern coast.

We just checked in with Patrick Oppmann. You saw what he's dealing with. He -- literally he and the crew had to bunker down in a closet because of the winds.

Let's get to Chad Myers in the weather center. And again it bears repeating my friend. Yes, the headline is the storm as it is shading into that land area with Cuba is going from a 5 to a 3, but boy that 3 is doing some damage. What do you see?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And it is certainly going to head over warmer water -- Chris. And likely regenerate at least a little bit. What I'm seeing now, the hurricane center just put out the 11:00 advisory. And this is for you. This is for the keys and for Naples and Fort Myers all the way up to Tampa.

The storm surge has increased. The water bubble under the storm is large. The wind that's going to blow the water onshore is high. So now from Captiva, all the way down to Cape Sable, 10 to 15 feet; they've bumped that three feet higher.

And this does not matter, Chris -- listen to me on this. The hurricane center, this does not matter about tide at all, the tide is only about one foot. So the difference between 11 and 16 or 10 and 15, doesn't matter -- it's life-threatening. Pay attention to it. Don't even consider what might happen at low tide because low tide is insignificant when you're talking 10-15. Now, to Fort Myers, six to ten and a big change for a major population is Tampa -- Tampa Bay, five to eight feet of surge into the bay because now the storm is literally on the west coast of Florida.

A little less for Miami -- you're four to six now. To the north of there -- Fort Pierce, Melbourne, West Palm two to four and they stayed with the five to ten along the Florida Keys. That is the take-away from this 11:00 advisory.

[11:05:03] And I'll have more as we get it because it's still coming in, minute by minute. We're making graphics as fast as we can. But all you need to know is that if you're in Naples and Fort Myers and you're less than that, plus they way its height is above sea level, it's time to go someplace more safe.

CUOMO: All right. Chad -- listen, we're getting the information out and people should heed the warnings. I'm only mentioning that we're not near high tide now. Just to show what the new normal is for the pendency --

MYERS: Yes.

CUOMO: -- of this Hurricane Irma storm track. We're still a day away here.

MYERS: Yes.

CUOMO: -- and we don't have high tide. And just a small difference in winds we've seen, Chad -- boom, it's right up over the docks here. The boats are moving in a different way. It's coming over the bulkheads and we're still nowhere and nothing in terms of what they expect. We're still just seeing gusts here in the 30 to 40-mile-an- hour range, not even sustained.

So we'll check back with you in a little bit.

Right now let's get to Brian Todd. So when you're looking at the peninsula of Florida, you have the keys, you also have this barrier stretch of land, that's West Palm Beach. That place also acutely vulnerable.

They have been getting warnings. You've had the police going door to door there for people who are in evacuation zones to talk to them about the realities of what Irma could bring even with the shift as Chad just expected. A shift does not mean it's gone.

Brian Todd is there. Brian -- what's the situation?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right -- Chris. You talked about the police going door to door. We just spoke with officials in Palm Beach County saying that they now have a curfew in effect for about four hours from now.

After 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, they don't want to see anyone on these roads even walking. If you are on the roads here, walking or driving you could get arrested. And official with Palm Beach County just told me that.

They're going to start shutting down these bridges in a little bit when the storm hits here in earnest, when we get the brunt of it tomorrow. These bridges, according to the police, like this one connecting West Palm to your left with Palm Beach to your right are going to be shut down and police are going to be manning check points.

You mentioned a high tide where you are, Chris, coming soon. It's coming soon here and I guess the good news from Chad that we just heard is the storm surge here may not be quite as high as we thought. But if you look at how close the water gets to the intracoastal waterway, waters get to the street here, you know that a four-foot storm surge is still dangerous.

Chris -- I'm going to show you another threat here. To my left -- I'm going to come over this way and show you. You know, in several hours, when the storm hits here in earnest we're not going to be standing at the spot where we're standing.

This is a construction crane this building goes up about 14 stories. The crane is much higher. You can see about maybe two-thirds of the way up that crane there's a brace where they've secured the crane to the building.

But still, with winds this high and, you know, debris flying there's a threat from the construction sites like this one. We certainly will not be here in this spot when the storm hits in earnest.

But they are concerned about cranes here as they are in Miami. The tops of these cranes are going to be allowed to swing around like weathervanes so that they -- you know, the winds just gives it less resistance. But we're going to be monitoring areas like this very closely -- Chris.

We also have an update on sheltering here. They have about 15,500 people in shelters. They're saying basically the window is closing with that curfew coming up they're not encouraging people to get out now. They wanted as many to be in shelters as possible.

But they still have a lot of spots open in these shelters and you get the sense from them they don't feel like enough people took shelter here in this county.

CUOMO: Brian -- I hear it and the governor said and we're waiting to hear from the governor, he's about less than an hour away now from the latest briefing. We're seeing as things pick up a little bit. You've see the boat owners come out. They're trying to make adjustments, some are staying on their boats.

The governor said he has 50,000 people in shelters across the state. There are 260 open right now. They believe they're going to need to open another 70 or so. That could change as the path and the needs and the urgency shifts.

He's putting a call out for volunteers of nurses. They say they need a thousand to help with the infirm and the elderly that are in place in shelters.

Now, why did we move? Just to show what a difference just a little shift makes, the wind has picked up a little bit. We're still seeing gusts here, nowhere but 35, 40 miles an hour. That's half of what they expect.

Six more feet of storm surge doesn't mean it moves six feet in linear fashion, that's just six feet more. It's up -- it's six feet higher than it is right now. Even here in downtown Miami, that won't just mean that this dock is gone and these boats may -- few of them may break away, hopefully not.

But it goes well over the bulkhead here and into the buildings. Some of them are even -- or even a little bit below sea level right now. That's what they're talking about.

So that even though it may not be a direct hit it doesn't mean that it's not going to be a bad hit. And we keep saying this because the only thing that matters is safety. The only thing that matters is that people who are in harm's way take that extra step.

[11:09:58] You know, err on the side of caution. All of the expressions and cliches apply -- better safe than sorry. God forbid you get caught in where there's more storm surge than expected. You're flooded out. You can't get to safety. Who knows what happens next in a situation like that.

So as Chad just told us, Chad Myers our meteorologist -- the shift of Irma, it's not about if it hits Florida, but when and where and how. We are seeing a shift towards the west. That means that the west coast of Florida acutely vulnerable now, increased urgency.

We just talked to the mayor from Tampa and what they're doing to ramp up their needs there.

Drew Griffin is showing us the face of that need, the reality of that need outside Fort Myers. Please go ahead. He is near a shelter there where people are waiting in line to get help and get inside somewhere safe.

Drew -- what do you see?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Chris -- the city of Fort Myers just expanded their evacuation zone. And we're continuing to see just a flood of these storm refugees coming over here.

This is the Jermaine Center. It's a big arena here in Estero, Florida outside of Fort Myers. The line wraps all way around this building, comes back around the parking lot. This is actually the end of the line, ok. But it continues to wrap around and snake almost like one of those huge lines you would see at a Disney World Park ride. But this is no ride.

These are people who are evacuating many different areas for many different reasons -- Chris. And we want to talk to the Jones family from Nottingham, England. Are you on vacation? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are, yes.

GRIFFIN: And you're having a great American experience, right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We certainly are, aren't we?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Well, you guys know how to do weather, don't you?

GRIFFIN: Where were you just now and why did you decide to come to the shelter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we were staying in Cape Coral. We're in a villa. And it backs on to a canal. So we're obviously really concerned about storm surge. So that's why we're here really.

We didn't want to put any of our family at risk. And we're here with our three boys over here. We didn't want to be at risk. So here we are.

GRIFFIN: Are you nervous? Is this the first hurricane for the family?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, first hurricane. So we don't really know what to expect. But we know it's going to be bad and it's hitting this area. So the only thing to do is go to be the shelter, really.

GRIFFIN: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been to Florida about eight times now. We've never had an experience like this. Never had hurricane issues so it's going to be an interesting experience.

GRIFFIN: I'm not going to break the line. But Chris -- this is a family on vacation. There are people here with dogs, leaving their homes. There are people here with just about everything they own -- their parents, their pills, their needs for the next several days.

There's a whole laundry list of things that the Lee County wants you to bring to these shelters. And they keep opening up more and more and more.

The warnings, the increasing warnings that this is going to be a real west coast storm, is what's driving this. Shelters are filling up. This arena looks like it can take these thousands of people. Other arenas are opening up. One just opened up at the Florida Gulf Coast University. So there is capacity.

But bring your patience and hopefully all these people can get inside under cover before the rain starts -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Drew -- thank you very much.

It's an important time to be sensitive to these people and what they're going through in their life. This is very stressful. Waiting in lines like that could be hard. And unfortunately the urgency is increased where they are. We'll check back with Drew Griffin. He's outside Fort Myers.

And again the west coast has become more sensitive. A lot of this has taken place online -- these calls and the information and attention.

We're very much on Twitter monitoring social media, communicating right now with the mayor of Tampa Bob Buckhorn and his needs. We're going to get to him.

Senator Marco Rubio from Florida has very much been out there and getting people ready. He's speaking right now, let's listen in.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: They take care of the situation so we thank them for their service.

Now, a couple of things that happened around this town and I think I'm speaking to you because everyone knows someone like this, everyone becomes a sort of an amateur meteorologist, right.

They tell you, you'd see it on Facebook. We're out of the cone. Number 1, the people that's established that cone will be the first one to tell you that cone is cone of the center of the storm. That's not the storm and its impact.

Number two, tropical storm winds which we are projected with great certainty to be impacted by -- those are serious winds, that stuff blows off tiles, it knocks down trees. Don't be the guy that gets killed by the tree, all right?

Every year we have it, the guy that's standing around, the tree falls on their head. Don't be the guy or the gal that gets killed by the tree. Don't be that person.

Number three, people, I'm going to take off into the street. Where are you going? Everything is closed. This is -- if you don't lose power, that's great. It's a great time to get home. Catch up on "Game of Thrones", whatever it's called. I don't watch it myself.

But just -- you know, if you're in the shelter, just ride it out at this point. Where are you going? You know, and I think it's important for us to know that. Because we just heard a report as we were walking out, I think the mayor heard it, too -- people taking down their shutters. Don't be the guy that gets killed by the shutters, taking them down.

[11:15:08] These are the things that we want you to think about. You've already made preparations, you are in place. It's going to be dangerous out there. If you're near water, you know the surge threat and all that it poses. So let's just ride this thing out. You're in a good spot.

One last point and obviously I'm very concerned about the rest of the state. If you have loved ones in the Tampa Bay region and they're anywhere near the water, they need to look at that map. They need to move.

A lot of us know people that left. They left Miami-Dade. They left Broward County. They drove up north. Now all of a sudden, they drove right into the center of what they might be the direct impact.

At this point, if they are in a safe place that's where they need to stay. You can't play chicken with this thing or try to outrun the storm. The last thing you want to be is out there on the road, trying to get away from the storm as this thing is zigzagging around.

And you don't want to be in a car on the turnpike or I-95 or anywhere in the world in the middle of the storm. A hurricane for sure, but even a tropical storm.

So I think everybody just needs to follow through with their plan. Ride this thing out and we're going to get there together and obviously -- and then we'll, God willing, we'll see how we can be of assistance to the rest of the state even when that comes.

But for right now, nothing should have changed in your preparation. Stay where you are if you are safe there and wait until this thing comes through because the tropical storm winds which we are going to get, are very severe and can be life-threatening.

And your mayor just mentioned this -- the gusts. When you see the wind projections, that's sustained winds, but you're going to have gusts that go up to 100, 110, 115 -- that's not a game.

And those gusts, you can't predict the gusts. It happens and it kills. So everybody, let's just ride this thing through continue with your plan. And hopefully on Tuesday we'll be able to head in a positive direction.

Again just let's take time to pray for and thank the men and women out there who are away from their families, prepared to serve us. Let's do them a favor. Let's not create emergency calls for them unnecessarily. Let's just stay in place here and be safe and ride this thing through.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very good words, Senator. And actually personally I experienced it today. I lost a tree already in my property. So yes, it's a very, very dangerous situation. Please stay home. If you don't have to go anywhere -- absolutely you don't have to anywhere. Please stay home.

Any questions?

CUOMO: All right. We were just listening to Senator Marco Rubio, and everything he said was spot-on. And one thing, just something we're seeing online that should stop like a minute ago. This is not about left, right or about politics. This is about people.

Senator Rubio is not only a lifetime Floridian who has seen a lot of storms come and go. But he's an official who has the information that is informing his perspective. And his message was clear.

If you were in this storm's path you have to heed the evac warnings, you have to get to a position of safety. You have to have a plan, you have to have supplies.

Now, if you're in a situation like we are here in Miami proper where the storm path is shifting a little bit, you still are not now in some magically better situation.

Look how little it takes to make a difference. We're 30, 40-mile-an- hour gusts here, not sustained wind and already the place where we started our coverage this morning is gone. It's under water.

Dave -- just pan to the right for a second so you see what I'm talking about. I was standing on these docks; the water was nowhere near them. They're now gone. Just because of a little bit of storm surge.

Now, who cares? It's just boats. It's just property. True. But what I'm saying is that that storm surge, when it communicates to elevation of six feet up higher, that being gone that submerged becomes the bottom of buildings, the foundation of a place that people are taking shelter. Now it has made a real difference and it will remain for hours, if not longer.

So the Senator was spot-on. Hopefully people are listening to what he says and do not play politics. This is all about people.

So the latest information: the storm is over Cuba. Think and pray for the people there. They are getting hammered.

We have Patrick Oppmann there. We talked to him. They are hunkering down in a closet waiting for it to pass. We'll show you the pictures when we have them. It's going to have devastating effects.

It's moving towards the Keys right now. The path shifting to the west, still has our coverage and our resources. We talked to the mayor of Tampa.

We have Alex Marquardt. He's in Port Charlotte. That is just north of Fort Myers where we just were with Drew Griffin, south of Tampa.

Alex, are people heeding the new warnings and concerns? And what are the preparations like that are in place there right now?

[11:20:03] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well largely, they are. Let me just give you a sense of -- we are in Port Charlotte as you mentioned, on the west coast. We just came from the east coast.

We started to see last night in Fort Lauderdale, the beginning of the effects of Hurricane Irma, the winds really picking up. But then as the storm tracked to the west, we too moved toward the west. We're heading north towards Sarasota as we speak.

We're in one of our roving vehicles so I want to take advantage of all the cameras around to show you what exactly we're seeing.

This is the road heading west out towards the coast. As I mentioned, we're then going to turn up right towards Sarasota. And if you look out the side, these are the homes that we're going past. Now to a large extent this is what the officials want to see, there are very few people around, very few cars on the road. You can see a lot of these homes are boarded up. They have hurricane shutters. Their cars are between walls.

You can't see too many people out and about. There are, of course, a lot of homes that have not been boarded up. So they will likely bear a lot more of the brunt of this damage of these winds.

Now you can see a family right there. It looks like they're heading out soon.

We've been speaking with some of the families here. One was evacuating as soon as possible, but they are just looking for their cat. We're speaking with another family that said they were going to hunker down with another family and try to ride it out. That is not what the officials want to hear. They want to see everyone getting out of here as soon as possible.

Governor Scott spoke just about an hour ago from Sarasota which highlights the urgency in this region. The biggest fear here is storm surge. They're expecting around 10 feet of storm surge.

There is that mandatory evacuation zone along the coast. They're shutting down the airport tonight. They've stopped sandbag operations.

But the main message that Governor Scott had for this area is you either need to get to a shelter immediately or you need to get in your car and go north. He said literally by noon, everyone needs to be in a shelter or on the road. They want people to get safe or get out before noon. That's just 45 minutes away -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Alex -- thank you very much. We're going to check back in with you.

And look, you know, you are capturing the reality there. The storm was not anticipated to be along the west coast so people prepared differently. It's just common sense.

But now with new information, new urgency, there has to be new preparations. We have about 24 hours, that's the good news. What people decide to do with that time, that is the major variable right now because one thing we know from all the experts is that the water always wins.

Here we are in Miami. The winds that we're seeing are just gusts of 35, 40 miles an hour. And look what the difference that the storm surge is making. You know, it's making a total difference for the boats and their ability to survive it here.

Our original live shot position is gone. And you see it's overwhelming the shore here. And this is nothing.

Let's take a break. When we come back we're going to check in with the places where Irma has been. And we'll show you where she is expected to go.

Please stay safe and stay with CNN.

[11:23:13] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. These pictures are worth looking at. This is Key West. This is the future concern for Irma. But look at it right now.

Already -- and again about a day away from the truly "bad stuff" in quotes, you see what she's dealing with already. You see what the people there are going to have to prepare for already.

And the Key West, those barrier chain -- that chain of barrier islands here off Florida, that will be the first point of impact. We have people stationed there. We've checked in with Bill Weir. We'll get back to him. We have others there as well. But that's the future.

The present is Cuba. They are getting hammered -- thoughts and prayers for the people there. We've seen what happened in the British Virgin Islands and in the Caribbean -- death, devastation. It's going to take years to rebuild and billions and billions of dollars.

But you can't replace life and that's why we just heard Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, saying what should be obvious to all -- heed the warnings. If you're told to evacuate, please do so if you can. If you're going to shelter in place, have a plan and supplies.

We're in downtown Miami. This is nothing. Thirty-five miles an hour gusts, not sustained. We're going to see three times this here. A little bit of storm surge already overwhelms the docks, overwhelming the shores, overwhelming where our original position was.

And of less impact here. Why -- this is a marina. We care about boats. This is a big lifestyle down here but they're not people. When the storm surge and another six feet of it, goes into the surrounding buildings, now you have a problem.

And that's why all the experts are saying, if the path shifted, that's true, but the urgency has not. The priority on your safety has not. Do not come back to Miami Beach.

That's not the word from CNN. It's the word from the fire chief. It's the word from the mayor. It's the word from the governor. The governor is saying get out now if are you in a mandatory evac center. Don't play meteorologist which is what we just heard from Senator Rubio.

Let's bring in another lawmaker who understands the realities in Florida and wants to speak to you directly. Ted Deutch, congressman from Florida. Congressman -- can you hear me?

REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: I can hear you fine -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Congressman -- thank you for being with us. We are all in this together. Everybody is monitoring the situation. What do you want people to know about what's coming your way? DEUTCH: Well, I appreciate everything that you've been saying. The fact is we've known for days that this was an enormous storm that was going to affect all of Florida.

[11:29:58] And to our friends on the west coast from Naples and Fort Myers up to the Tampa/St. Pete area who are fleeing to shelters, they should continue to follow all of the directions that they're given.

But in south Florida where you are, Chris, and where I am, we can't watch the cone as we've done for a week now and think that because it's shifted, suddenly everything is fine. That it's OK to go outside. That it's OK to start taking shutters off of your house.

We're going to see consistent winds 50, 60 miles per hour for more than 24 hours. With gusts considerably higher. We're going to see the storm surge, people will lose power. Roofs will be affected, trees will come down.

People should continue to say where they are. There's a curfew in Palm Beach County this afternoon. There's a curfew in Broward County this afternoon. That's just to help keep people safe. People should abide by it and get to where they're going and hunker down and stay safe. That's the most important thing to remember.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Understood. You know, Congressman, while you're speaking I'm watching a guy who is down here by me at the Marina, he's fishing. He just caught a baby tarpon and is now kneeling in the dock that is submerged in water, trying to release it, which is a nice thing to do as a sportsman.

But it's a little bit of a crazy thing to do given the urgency of what is coming this way. The benefit, the blessing right now is time. You're right. We're about a day away.

So, to the people who say the path has shifted, Congressman. She, the storm has weakened. She's a 3, yes, she may pick up back to a 4, but she ain't Andrew. She ain't a 5. She's not coming at us directly here in South Florida. What do you say to them?

DEUTCH: Well, for people who are here for Hurricane Wilma, I would remind them that Wilma wasn't a hurricane the size of Andrew, either, but it did dramatic damage. I'm not predicting that and certainly, we hope that that's not going to happen.

But When you have tropical storm-force winds continuously for hours and hours and hours and gusts much greater than that. It -- that will put people's lives at risk if they're out and they risk walking around if a tree falls, if something falls flies off of a roof.

The scale shouldn't be whether something is as devastating as Andrew or not to take it seriously. It should simply be a question of whether it's serious enough that it could put you in peril. Put you in jeopardy and that's certainly the case with this storm. Even for those of us on the southeast coast and we need to take it seriously and see it through. CUOMO: Look, your message should be heeded. It is a wise one and the good news is that we hear from the governor on down that people do seem to be more sensitive to this storm than in the past. We will keep getting out the information, Congressman. Let us know what people need to know and I hope wherever you are, you are safe. Thank you for joining us.

DEUTCH: Thank you. Can I mention one more thing, please? There is the -- it's worth repeating. There's a real need for volunteers in shelters throughout the state. Go to volunteerflorida.org and sign up to be volunteers to get to shelters.

If they have skills, particularly special needs shelters, it's something that's really important and if people are able to do it while staying safe, they should know how to do it. Just wanted to put that out there as well.

CUOMO: Understood, the call for volunteers, we heard from the governor saying that they need nurses. We're going to volunteer as well, when we're not working we'll be with search and rescue, to help, whether it's relaying information that the first responders' families are OK so they can do their work with a clear mind and conscience.

We'll get the word out, Congressman. I promise you that. Be well, be safe. We're going to take a break here. We've just seen again some gusts to what, Griff? About 55 miles an hour in gusts, not sustained wind.

So, we're still going to see about twice this here and it's made such a difference. I'm going to leave this because again, there's no reason to be in water if you don't need to.

So, we're going to take a break, when we come back we'll show you where the storm is headed, what the areas of concern are, and the preparations that are in place. Please stay safe, stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:38:55]

CUOMO: All right. So, a little bit of gentle perspective for you here where we are in downtown Miami. We've seen gusts up to 55 miles per hour. Gusts, not sustained. They are expecting sustained winds of 90, 100 or even more, still even though the path has shifted.

So, what do those conditions translate into? Our original position is gone. Where Dave and I started shooting for you this morning is now under water and this is just a little bit of tidal surge. A little bit of storm surge. The rain? Irrelevant at this point.

We've seen this amount of surge overwhelm the banks, water is going in. It's made it a different dynamic for boaters that are coming here to adjust. So, overwhelming the dock here and the bulkheads in the area.

But you could still say, they're just boats, they're on the water, they're more dangerous, it's not the point. The point is with the storm surge that's expected, now with the little bands of rain start to come through, with this wind they can overwhelm the banks, flood lobbies and put you in danger if you're somewhere you don't need to be.

All right, let's check in now with what we know about Irma's path and what she is and what she will be because right now she's is putting a pounding on Cuba, Chad Myers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people there who are suffering right now. What are they seeing? What comes next?

[11:40:10] CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: They are seeing 160 overnight. Now they're down to about 125, but they are right on the eyewall. Those Keys that are north of Cuba. The archipelago that is there our Patrick Oppmann got knocked off the air because of the wind. It's hard to keep any kind of signal there.

But the storm right now will be moving into warmer water. It will get into the Florida straits this water comes out of the Gulf of Mexico, through this area and turns north to become the gulf stream.

So, forecast back to 140 before it moves in very close to a Fort Myers, maybe I would maybe say, not quite Sanibel certainly, but very close to a landfall there. There is a hurricane warning now all the way up and down the Florida peninsula.

This is the big change in 11:00, now 10-foot to 15-foot storm surge into the Fort Myers area just to the south of Fort Myers into Naples really. But close enough, it's (inaudible) where that eye is going to get, and even Tampa now, five to eight.

These numbers were adjusted just in the past couple of minutes here from the hurricane center. There you go. People have been asking, why doesn't tide matter? Why, why did you say last time tide didn't matter?

Because these surges will last through high and low tides. They're not just going to be for 5 minutes. They're going to last a long time. Your home will be under water for a long time and so will you if you're in that area in Southwestern Florida and you are less than 15 feet above sea level.

It is the area. It is the land above sea level that the hurricane center is worried about. Not tides going up and down because the water is going to be there a very long time. It's eventually going to move towards Key West.

I can truly see Key West be hit with 130, to 135 miles per hour. But as long as it's in the water or very close to Tampa, let me show you some very scary numbers, Chris. This is from Ryan Maui, Dr. Ryan Maui putting this together at Weather Bell.

I'm going to take you to some wind gusts here and Anderson Cooper and I, we spent a couple of nights in Punta Gorda. That says an expected gust of 150 miles per hour. Let's hope that doesn't happen, Chris. CUOMO: God forbid, it's triple what we've seen here, Chad. I'll check back with you because the situation keeps changing and as the science changes, the preparations on the ground have to change.

The people responsible for that they are the best among us. They are the angels on earth and the Red Cross are among them. We've got Craig Cooper with us now.

Craig, it's good to see you. So, this is nothing. We just had a little bit of rain come. This is not the storm. This is the outer, outer, outer edge. We're still about 24 hours away, but we see what this amount of storm surge is doing to the banks here and to this marina.

What do you need people to know about the urgency, even if they're not in the path of the storm?

CRAIG COOPER, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Everything we've seen and heard is that the storm is wider than the state of Florida. Everybody here on the east coast and the west coast, we're all going to get hit and hit hard. People should not be lured into a false sense of security because the category number changes.

This is going to be a huge storm. We need people who are still at home to make sure that they have food, a safe place to stay. You know it's go time here in Miami. There's pretty much no more time to do anything except hunker down at home.

The Red Cross is prepared here in Miami and all over the state as the track of the storm shifted to the west. We have been opening shelters all up and down the west coast. Here in the Miami area we have 37 shelters ready that are Red Cross operated or Red Cross supported.

The counties do a phenomenal job around here as well. My understanding is we had 57,000 people in shelters here in the Miami area just last night.

CUOMO: We heard from the governor who said 50,000 are going to shelters. They have about 260 open, may open another 70. He put out the call for volunteer nurses. He said that they need about 1,000.

So, let's talk about what the Red Cross is doing and what your concerns are at this point because you know, when you see the Red Cross, it's a blessing and a curse because that means you're in a bad situation.

The blessing is they are there, the Caribbean, Cuba, Puerto Rico and now the Keys in Florida. We know you have placement everywhere and that you are going to stay. Do you think you can meet the needs as they are expected now?

COOPER: Well, as the needs grow, obviously the extent of our deployment is going to grow as well. We saw what happened in Texas with Harvey. We were prepared with a certain number of shelters and a certain amount of capacity. As Harvey took aim at Houston we need to double and triple our shelter capacity in a very, very short period of time. The good news in Florida is we're not doing this alone. In fact, no matter where we are responding to a disaster, the Red cross is working with government agencies and other partner agencies.

[11:45:07] This is not just the Red Cross show. So, really what's happening now is that we feel prepared. We have cots and supplies for 110,000 people, that are in position or can be brought in very quickly.

And once the storm is over because Chris, you know, 36 hours from now, we're done here in Miami. At that point, we need to find out what's happening in the neighborhoods. We need to have our emergency response vehicles, begin to go block by block. Check on people, provide food to them, and that's our next step after the storm.

CUOMO: important point and fair criticism, when the media leaves, the Red Cross stays. Harvey, right now, people who are coordinating flood insurance, figuring out where they get their food, how they get back on their feet, how they reestablish normalcy. Red Cross is still there.

COOPER: The Red Cross is there to provide for their immediate needs in our shelters we're providing food. We have vehicles still in Texas and will be for a long time, going block by block, providing meals, providing what we call clean-up kits and other supplies so people can get their lives back in order.

That's exactly what we're going to be doing in Florida. It's what we did after Sandy up in New York. It's a drill that we know. It's a drill that we improve every time we learn from a past disaster response.

What we can do quicker, better, more efficiently and the good news in Florida is that we're not doing it alone. We have great partner agencies to work with.

CUOMO: Look, it is one of the beautiful things that comes out of tragedy. You see mother nature at her worst. Human nature at its best and the coordination so far has seen like it's putting them in the best position they can be.

Craig, you do God's work. Please good luck to you. I'm sure I'll be seeing you plenty here.

He mentioned Sandy, when we come back, we are going to take a break right now, cranes, during Hurricane Sandy one of the dramatic stories became this crane that toppled over in New York. You have dozens of cranes that are up right now. This is a high-rise city, Miami.

What are the concerns about those cranes? What is the path of this storm. We have the latest information for you. Please if you're in Florida, stay safe and stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:51:19]

CUOMO: All right. We are here in Miami covering the path of Hurricane Irma. We're seeing gusts of about 60 miles an hour, but we're still 18, 20 hours away from what they're or worried about here with Hurricane Irma.

Let's get to Rene Marsh at the FEMA headquarters in D.C. She just talked to the director. Rene, where is his head in terms of the level of preparation and concern?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: You get the sense in this room here, Chris, that there is a high level of urgency and when you -- once the storm passes through and you start seeing those resources, I want you to realize that it's all being coordinated right in this room.

This is a 24/7 operation here. The entire federal response is being coordinated in this room. These people that you're looking at, they are working 12-hour shifts, seven days on, seven days off and right now their primary focus is this hurricane.

There are more than 200 people in this room from agencies like the EPA, Department of Energy, State Department, Department of Homeland Security. They're all working together.

I just saw someone from FEMA talking to someone from the Salvation Army and Red Cross and they're literal hi coordinating what you're going to see out there in the field, trying to determine what sort of resources are needed, where they need to be.

Now, as you mentioned I spoke with the head of FEMA just a short time ago. He had this message for the people who are refusing to evacuate from those low-lying areas. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: What we have to do is set citizen expectations. We are not going to be there right after the storm passes. We have to make sure that the roadways are clear. We can move trucks in to get stuff there and that's why we ask people to be prepared for three days.

Hopefully these landmark events, citizens will start to take the preparedness measures seriously all over the country. We're asking you to be prepared. We can't be there right after the storm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: All right. So, he said it and his words, I'm quoting him, he said, you are on your own if you did not evacuate. Now, again, back to this 24/7 operation, again, 200 people crammed into this room all focused on this hurricane on a regular day where storms or any other natural disaster is not an issue, there are only five people in this room. So, you understand the level of urgency here. I did also speak with the head of FEMA about this shift that we saw, this storm take overnight and whether that will impact how they're able to respond. He says no, they are prepositioned, their assets are prepositioned and they're as ready as they're going to be for this massive storm -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Rene, they can only prepare for so much so we'll keep monitoring where they are in terms of their heads, their concerns, and here, here's one thing we know for sure -- you won't see us here tomorrow because if there's another six feet of storm surge, which is what they expect, this is gone. OK?

People keep thinking about storm surge in linear fashion. It's about volume of water. This is going to be six feet higher, six feet to here. That means this area inundated with water.

That means these buildings are inundated with water and that's the concern, that once the water hits it wins and you're going to be stuck. That's what the experts and the officials keep telling us. Heed the warning.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to look at what Hurricane Irma has done in the Caribbean, what it's doing now to the poor people in Cuba and where it is headed next. Stay safe. We can't say it enough and stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:59:32]

CUOMO: All right. Chris Cuomo here in downtown Miami. CNN is in continuous coverage of Hurricane Irma. We're showing you what she has done to points in the Caribbean already, what she's doing right now in Cuba, and of course, Florida specifically the Keys is where Hurricane Irma is expected to head next, especially along the west coast of this state.

We have Anderson Cooper, who is in the place that is expected to get the hardest hit now. We're going to be giving coverage over to him and he'll take us through the preparations and the concerns in that area.