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Hurricane Irma In Key West Florida Tomorrow; Irma Continues To Batter Cuba; Price Gouging Issue In Florida; Scott Announces State Of Emergency. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 9, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:15] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and round the world.
Another monstrous storm bearing down on the U.S. after hitting Cuba overnight leaving entire towns underwater, Hurricane Irma predicted to slam Florida as a category four with gusts up to 155 miles an hour.
We've got the latest had with Jose and Katya also already on their way without dealing with a triple threat of hurricanes with 5.5 million Floridians order to evacuate even the old-timers who swore they be sticking around are now fleeing.
Plus, we rely on two competing systems of storm mapping, why that their predictions often differ? And which should we trust?
And with thousands of charges of price gouging, officials in Florida warned they will prosecute. But I'll speak to one economist who says price gouging during emergencies? Well, that's a good thing.
We're waiting on a press conference from Florida Governor Rick Scott this hour. But first, for the latest on the trajectory of Irma due to hit the Florida Keys as a category four storm. We've got CNN team coverage lined up. Patrick Oppmann in Cuba, Bill Weir in Key West and meteorologist Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center. Chad, we'll begin with you. Where and when, those are the two questions?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Where? Key West. When? Tomorrow 8:00 a.m. That's first landfall. Where? Naples, Cape Coral Fort Myers. When? Tomorrow afternoon. And it could get intense, more intense after it passes Key West.
So, here's the storm now coming off of the Cuban coast where our Patrick Oppmann has done just yeoman's duty all night long with this wind. He had the southern eye wall all night long.
Now, it is beginning to push some rain into South Florida. Every time a band goes by, you will get increased winds. So homestead all the way down to Cutler Bay. You're seeing some wind come in. Any time later on this afternoon, the storm comes in. There's even a potential for a small tornado or two. So, keep that in mind something else to worry about.
The watches have gone all the way up now into Georgia, hurricane warnings entire southern half of Florida. But overnight, Michael, what happen is that the model and we're going to talk about these models here in a half hour.
So, the model shifted 20 miles farther to the west. So now, not a landfall near Marathon, Florida likely a landfall in the lower keys somewhere in Cudjoe Key, Big Pine Key all the way out maybe even to Key West, and that's a big difference because now that puts Fort Myers in play of a land falling hurricane and also makes Tampa in much more dangerous place to be with gust there possibly to 120.
SMERCONISH: Has the destruction that it has ricked thus far in any way diminished its capabilities what it does get to the United States?
MYERS: If the storm does not regain strength over the Florida straight, it's going 12 miles per hour. It's got 90 miles to go. You know, do the math. That is eight hours. If in eight hours, it can't get its stuff back in a group, then yes, that has diminished the potential for what the damage could be. But it doesn't diminish the damage that will cause because by storm surge.
Remember, even Katrina didn't come on shore as a five. But because it was a five in the golf, it had that bubble of water that was carrying with it. Well, this is has a bubble water too. It's going to carry that storm surge into the Everglades right through the Southern Keys, right into Cape Coral and Fort Myers in the Naples area and Venice.
All of those people that have homes right on canals and their homes only 4 feet above sea level, you need to get out of there because the waters can be higher than your house at least higher than the bottom.
SMERCONISH: So pardon, pardon my naivete but I keep hearing you use the words and others storm surge. Define it and for how long does it last?
MYERS: It's a flood. How's that?
SMERCONISH: Perfect. That I understand.
MYERS: Because people -- really, you don't understand the word storm surge. It's a great term. It's what it is. Its how the water comes on shore one wave after another, but it is a flood that will kill you. Water kills more people than wind.
So call it whatever you want. Call it something that you shouldn't be in because when the storm surge comes in, it's impossible to get out of because the roads are already flooded. So once you're in it, you're in it or lose it. I hate to use that term but you get it.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Chad, one more naive question and pardon me for these. But I am curious. I see all the color on the map. It is matter fact right behind you right now over Cuba. What exactly am I looking at with all those different coloration? I noticed that there had been purple. Now, there is not purple. Explain it to me.
[09:05:05] MYERS: What you see behind me here is a forecast, again, a model. You know, I mean think back when we were kids, we would buy a little 1967 Camaro and we put the model together with model glue in and our fingers will be all stick together.
This is a model trying to model a car. But we're trying to model the atmosphere significantly more complicated. So what you're seeing here is a model of what we believe the radar will look like.
If I keep pushing the button, it goes right over Tampa. Push the button again, you see what the winds are going to be 50 60, 100. And then it's the high cloud tops that we've been watching over the next couple days what has been happening here.
The colors you see behind me, this is wind field. The white, 100 mile-per-hour gust for greater in Key Western gusts going to be 130 or 150, so that's 150 or greater at some spots. And then up to Fort Myers, there's your white.
And I know what's confusing, and you have to look up here. And we're pushing the button so fast. And you have to see where the key is. But the key to this one is the winds are going to be over hundred in many places over South Florida.
SMERCONISH: Chad Myers, we will revisit with you in a couple of minutes. Thank you so much for that.
Now Hurricane Irma slammed Northern Cuba overnight, continuing its 155 mile-per-hour path of devastation through the Caribbean toward Florida. It struck Cuba's northern provinces so hard that some towns are completely underwater and gusts destroy the meteorological instruments.
Roofs have been torn off, trees down, widespread electricity outages. For the latest, we go to Patrick Oppmann on the ground in Cuba. Patrick, what are the current conditions?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I can't hardly hear you, because once again even as the storm is moving away Cuba towards Florida, it is just picked up in an credible way showing you the immense power of Irma. You know, I can't hardly scan right now. We've seen some roof going fly off. We've seen trees going down.
And it is -- look over this way. This is the storm going out to sea. And it really is incredible here because it's just waves and waves of wind and rain blowing incredibly hard. And just give you some sense to what people here have been really suffering for about the last eight to ten hours.
The storm came in here as category five. They don't get any stronger than that. It is still major hurricane, a very deadly storm. It flooded the entire town where I'm in. Everything was under about 8 to 10 feet of water. The water was receding now. But the winds are not still as Irma leaves Cuba, a very powerful storm. It is still continuing direct damage on this island.
SMERCONISH: Patrick, in the United States, the government and the media have been sounding the alarm for days. What was it like in the buildup in Cuba? How prepared were they?
OPPMANN: Well, then lot of experience because there's an island in the Caribbean. They have to know about hurricane. And, you know, it's almost flowing down in our camera positions, really amazing. We're still getting these wind gusts. But to answer your question, we saw them three position supplies days ahead of time, building materials, things that people will need here to begin to recover to repair some the immense damage that we've already seeing here.
The Cuban Government was doing that. They say that they have generations to prepare more storms. I don't think you can't be prepared for what we experience here. It has devastated the area. People who I know, a road out the storm now regret it.
Many of the people that we've seen this morning have tears on their eyes when they look around the town and can see some of the devastation. And I know for the people who live in the single storey homes, most of the people who live in this town, live in a single storey home. And the water was covering the roofs of those homes.
I just don't know how they were able to get through the night. And we will be able to know until the waters receded up and we can go out again because again it's still a couple of feet water where we are. So, Irma is leaving but this is not done (ph) just yet.
SMERCONISH: Patrick Oppmann, thank you. Stay safe.
Now, let's look north to the Florida Keys since the highest point there is only 18 feet above sea level. A storm surge could flood the entire keys. There cannot be a more dire message to residents than this one tweeted by the National Weather Service to Key West at 5:00 p.m. Friday quote, this is as real as it gets. Nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe. You still have time to evacuate.'
In recent days, we've seen interviews with diehards who swore they would not leave. Is that still the case? Join me now from Key Largo, Bill Weir, host of CNN's The Wonder List. Has there been any change in the Conch Republic, Bill?
BILL WEIR, CNN THE WONDER LIST HOST: Absolutely Michael, in a way nobody has seen in their lifetimes. You know that this is a fiercely independent corner of America. You've come down to the lower keys because it is low-key. Stress is not in the vocabulary. It's about boat drinks and Jimmy Buffett songs and sort of dropping out of society getting away from authority.
[09:10:14] They don't like being told to do anything especially mandatory orders. And so that was the spirit we saw. I was here for Wilma and hung out with all those diehards who wouldn't leave and watched the water come up knee high across 75 percent of that island, and visited lot of those folks. Even yesterday, there were saying, we're riding it out. It's just another storm. But then last night, they had a meeting of emergency managers down there and everyone's tune changed drastically.
Apparently the size of Irma, everybody here in South Florida uses Andrew as their sort of metric as to those -- intensity of the storm. You can fit two Andrews into one Irma. And as I saw that path coming to the keys was going to good marathon, was going to hit Key West.
Everything started to change. They decided to move 500 prisoners overnight which is you can imagine, no easy task. They needed a full convoy of buses and sheriff's deputies to find a safe place for them. A lot of people who were going to ride out on their boats, we went -- met one gentleman as most people noted here Thursday night on AC360.
A guy name Rich Cunningham from New Jersey who was going to ride out, aboard his 50 foot sailboat, the salt shaker. Well, we're happy to report that right now he is in a motel in Okeechobee.
So that courage some liquid courage as the bars on the Wall Street were open yesterday has turned the sober realization of just how deadly this monster storm could be, Michael.
SMERCONISH: So, you and yourself couldn't be more in the path of the storm? What's your plan?
WEIR: We are monitoring things. We're talking to Chad Myers and the team. We're watching the track. We -- as long as we have a couple hours head start, we're going to start moving north from here as the storm adjust.
But to you, to mom and to all the viewers out there showing concern, safety is our number one concern. So, we plan not to be full hard.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Bill Weir, thank you. Stay safe. We really appreciate your reporting.
WEIR: You're welcome.
SMERCONISH: We're still waiting on the press conference from Florida Governor Rick Scott. Plus, when Irma is gone, will law enforcement be ready to deal with anybody looking to take advantage of Florida's ghost towns? I'll ask the State Attorney General Pam Bondi.
[09:16:32] SMERCONISH: Welcome back. Hurricane Irma, a category four with winds 155 miles an hour and headed for Florida. We're expected to hear from the governor sometime this hour. We'll bring that to you live.
And residents have been fleeing their state, leaving behind deserted towns. Will law enforcement be ready to deal with anybody looking to take advantage of that situation?
Joining me now is the Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi. General thanks so much for being here. Speak to the unique challenges presented to law enforcement in a storm of this magnitude.
PAM BONDI, ATTORNEY GENERAL, FLORIDA: Well, Michael, let me start of by saying we have a lot of good, you know, a lot of good people out there helping. We need nurses and facilities to come volunteer. If you're a nurse in Florida, come help.
As Attorney General however, I have to deal with a lot of the bad. I have to deal with the price gouging since the state of emergency was declared. I can activate my price gouging hotline.
Michael, we have had as of right now over 8, 050 complaints. People, please keep them coming in to me so I can help you and I have zero tolerance. If you are at bad business taking care of going after our citizens, we're going to go after you with everything we've got.
Michael, our number is 1-8669, no scam or my Florida legal.com. Take a picture of the store that's hiking up the prices of water. Send it to us. If fuel stations are doing that still, take a picture of them and send it to us. But overall, Michael, people have been incredible.
You know, I'd had a really bad problem with a lot of 7-Eleven stores in my state who were inflating the price of the water. Now, it's not the time to take advantage of our citizens. Seeing what 7-Eleven corporate did, I've been on the phone with them all morning. This started last evening.
They donated $150,000 to the Red Cross. 7-Eleven's transported over 4,200 bottles of free water. And they're working with Nestle to get 7,800 more bottles. Thank you, Nestle. They're bringing those into our state to make up for the bad few actors. But keep the calls coming because I will work with 7-Eleven. And we will pull your franchise.
SMERSCONISH: Hey, General, as long as we've gone there, meaning the price gouging issue. I'm happy to get into it. There's this libertarian economic argument that says that as offensive as it all seems and sounds when you're literally in the eye of the storm that allowing fluctuations of prices even gouging is a better way to allocate scarce resources. Obviously you don't believe that.
BONDI: You know what, Michael, I -- when I see babies, when I see women, when I see children, when I see elderly people who cannot afford $30 bottle of water that's delete -- that's wrong. That's immoral.
There's plenty of water throughout this country. This is about a person trying to make a buck, a quick buck when we are at our lowest and our most vulnerable state in Florida. I agree with supply and demand. That's why price gouging only kicks in the face of an emergency because you going to steal from our citizens.
And that's basically what they're trying to do. Who would want to make a profit of water when people are dying? Who would inflate hotel rooms? An example I thought last year, $40 hotel rooms at a crummy day in on Fletcher. People had booked the rooms there. I went there myself. They were bringing their families in. It was incredible that they were checking them in. They've got there, and you know what the managers said, oh sorry, the rooms are now are $250 a night.
[09:20:07] So, you've got families and a hurricane sleeping in their cars because they couldn't afford that. It should be criminal. It's not. But I will go after you. We will fine you $1,000 every violation up to $25,000 every single day. And I will be saying your name all over this country not to do business with you again.
SMERCONISH: A final question, what level of concern do you have as Attorney General that you now have properties unprotected so many literal ghost towns because people have paid heed to evacuation orders?
BONDI: Michael, thank you for asking that. And I -- Governor Scott has been incredible. The man hasn't slept in a week. He has been all over the state doing everything he can. People are listening. Home Depot had sold over 350,000 pieces of plywood.
Now, the people are listening. They are getting out. We're worried about that. We have our full National Guard deployed ready to go. We have FEMA resources. The White House are sending us resources. So, we will be ready to go in the aftermath.
Right now though, people need to not care about their property. They need to care about their families, their pets, bring your medication. Never forget your prescriptions especially our senior population and get the heck out of there.
You can still get out of Florida. It's not too late. We've made it very clear, very user-friendly. The governor's been great about what cities where you need to go and when. Hopefully, to Keys, Miami, Lauderdale, they should be ghost towns now, Michael.
And yes we are being proactive. The governor, our National Guard, all of our great law enforcement and we'll be prepared for the aftermath. But what we've seen for the most part, it's good. And people are working together trying to help each other.
SMERCONISH: General, thanks so much for being here, Pam Bondi, the Attorney General of Florida. And as the general mentioned, the governor's name, we're waiting a live update from Governor Rick Scott. We'll bring that to you when it happens.
Now, you also heard from the Attorney General that they also already have that, 8,000 complaints about pricing gouging during this category four hurricane. But my next guest says government officials are mistaken in threatening to prosecute those who raise prices due to the demands created by emergencies. Here's what Governor Rick Scott said on this issue yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: One thing is it's disgusting if anybody price gouges. I have said this around the state. I've said it 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMERCONISH: Disgusting, the word that the governor used. But my next guest, like other economists, some other economists say that artificially thwarting the natural market forces would increase prices during crises. It actually makes things worse.
Joining me now is Steve Horwitz. He is a professor of economics at Ball State University. I think you have got a tough argument in this context, but go ahead and make it.
STEVE HORWITZ, ECONOMIST, BALL STATE UNIVERSITY: Sure, yes. It's always a tough argument. But look, I agree. OK. And I agree in the sense that we should be looking out for one another and the best ways that we can look out for one another in an emergency like this is to solve two problems.
How do we make sure that the existing small supplies of goods get used in the most important ways? One of the advantages of letting prices rise is that forces people to make the tough decisions, I'm going go buy bottled water. I'm going to use it to drink or to help my elderly parents.
I'm not going to use it to bathe my dog if the price of that water is sufficiently high. So in the short run, we need to make sure that those supplies are being used for the right reasons and letting prices rise forces people to make those tough decisions. Secondly, we need get more of those supplies -- go ahead, Michael.
SMERCONISH: I'm just going to say we've all seen the images in the buildup to Irma landing in Florida of people with full shopping carts of bottled water.
SMERCONISH: I'm going back a couple days. This is certainly not the case now. And so what I think you're saying is, hey, nobody is going to load the cart if their paying an awfully high price for it so that it's a way to better allocates scarce resources. That's the argument.
HORWITZ: Exactly. And we want people to have to make those tough decisions.
SMERCONISH: OK. But does it apply -- but does it apply to say gasoline or hotel rooms where you got a finite set of product.
SMERCONISH: I mean how can you increase the supply of gasoline? How can you build more hotels? You can't.
HORWITZ: Right. You can't. But what can happen is that people who have homes who might wish to rent them out will make them available, right. There's other ways, other substitutes that we can find for those hotel rooms if we allow people to charge those prices for them.
You know, and over time what we really want to those high prices to do is send a message to people from outside Florida to bring their supplies into Florida because there's an opportunity to provide them there and people need them.
Without that price going up, that process doesn't work nearly as well. We've seen it happen in another emergency. It's interesting too by the way that the attorney general talks about price gougers. But says -- has said nothing about whether or not she intends to prosecute plumbers and electricians and roofers for getting twice or triple their wages out during the rebuilding. They will. We saw that happen after Katrina.
[09:25:10] Is she going to persecute all those folks too including all the immigrant labor that comes in to do that? Interesting question, you need that labor to rebuild and letting those wages rise to draw people into Florida and into Texas to rebuild. That's the key here.
Without that, what we get, our gas station with no gas. We get homes that don't get rebuilt. That's the shame and that's people not helping each other.
SMERCONISH: The general said something to the effect of, you know, can you imagine the person who wants to profit in the midst of this tragedy. Can you from a moral standpoint defend the individual selling a case of bottled water for a 100 bucks?
HORWITZ: Well, I think there's a couple things to think about here. First of all, for a lot people who are taking the time and effort say who are coming into Florida bringing water from elsewhere in the country. They do have expenses that go with that.
They have to take the risk of bringing it down there, risking being prosecuted by the attorney general as well. Get paying for transport and all that. So charging a higher price than normal shouldn't surprise us. That's what again draws those resources in.
And you have to remember right, nobody's forcing people to buy any of these good. Yes, it's true that we need water. We need these other things but again letting prices rise forces us to have to make this those difficult decisions about that we want to buy that good or not. So no one is putting a gun to people's heads do this.
The question we have to ask is that we have a good in short supply. Nothing the attorney general or the governor can do is going to change that. The question is how do we make sure those resources are used most wisely?
Putting price controls on doesn't help poor consumers, right, because once you've got those price controls in place you're giving the power to sellers to determine which of the many, many buyers they want to sell to. And that's not going to benefit poor folks. SMERCONISH: Yes. I hear you. I debated this on my Sirius XM radio program this week. And one of the callers said something to the effect of this all sounds great in academia in the classroom when you are discussing models, but what it all hits the fan. The poor get screwed in a case like this if you allow the prices to go high.
HORWITZ: But if you don't allow the price to go high, the poor are going to be in worse situation. For one thing, the choice here is not between it's not between cheap plentiful gas and expensive plentiful gas. The choice is between expensive gas that's actually in the pump and cheap gas that's gone.
We've also all seen the pictures of all the gas stations in Florida with no gas left in them. How is that help poor folks when there's no gas left for them to buy, same with water if we don't allow the price to rise. And we've seen them in previous disasters and previous emergencies that were prices have been allowed to rise. Those supplies do come in and poor folks have access.
In reality, if you don't let prices do their job and you let these things be determined politically as those with access to political and other kinds of power, we're going to get served first. That's not poor people.
SMERCONISH: Right. I hear you. But I feel like if I 'm the guy who doesn't have the money I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't on the price gouging issue because either you're going to run out or the price is going to be so high then I'm going to be able to afford it anyway. You can have the final word. It's a provocative argument you're making.
HORWITZ: Sure. And I think the final word here is we're in an emergency. Supplies are short, there is no perfect solution. Markets and letting prices rise isn't perfect. There will be people who suffer from it. The argument is that the best alternative we have to minimize that suffer.
SMERCONISH: Professor Steve Horwitz, thanks for being here to make that case. It makes us think. If nothing else, it makes us think. Let's see what some of you are saying via my Twitter and Facebook pages. Put it up Catharine let's -- there is no market in a disaster zone.
Price gouging is criminal, no different than theft. Trumbull, I guess he didn't find the good professor's argument compelling. One more. To Smerconish, I'm confused why price gouging is any different from supply and demand supply goes up demand goes up. How is that gouging? We'll that's the argument he was making.
I mean the argument that he make is to say, you now have to allocate Scott -- scarce resources and to provide a profit incentive for others who will deliver those goods you've got allow the price to go high. If right now, you have water and you are in Mississippi and you're thinking, hey, I am to go to Florida and take advantage of this.
Maybe that's in the best interest of Floridians. But if you are sitting on the stockpile of water, you're not making that drive right now if the price is fixed. That's his argument.
Still to come we're waiting on Florida Governor Rick Scott's press conference on the very latest concerning this category four storm Irma heading his way.
[09:29:34] And watching all the storm warnings, if you're like me, you got me wondering why are there often two separate production lines? Why don't they agree? We're going to try and shed light on that.
SMERCONISH: We're awaiting a live presentation from Florida Governor Rick Scott, when it begins, we will bring it to you. With Irma bearing down on coastal Florida, you may wonder as I have. How accurate is hurricane prediction? And more confoundingly, why are there two competing systems which don't often agree?
Eight days before 20 -- we've got the governor right now. Let's take it.
RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR, FLORIDA: -- with the mercenaries, officials, here in Sarasota County. The storm is here. Hurricane Irma is now impacting our state. Southeast Florida is already experiencing tropical storm force winds and nearly 25,000 people have already lost power.
Hurricane Irma is beginning to batter the Florida Keys with dangerous winds and continues to remain a catastrophic and life-threatening category four storm with winds of 130 miles per hour.
This is a deadly storm. And our state has never seen anything like it. Millions of Floridians will see major hurricane impacts with deadly storm surge and life-threatening winds.
[09:35:01] The threat of significant storm surge flooding along the east, entire west coast of Florida has increased. In 6 to 12 feet think about that, 6 to 12 feet of impacts above ground level is now probable. Six to 12 feet, this will cover your house. You've ever been watch, how storm surge works in, flows in, fast, very fast and then flows out. You will not survive all the storm surge.
This is a life-threatening situation. If you've been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now. Do not wait, evacuate, not tonight, not in an hour, you need to go right now. If you're in evacuation zone, leave. Evacuations are place across the state more than 5.6 million for radiance have been ordered to evacuate.
You need to listen, listen to local evacuation orders. If you live in evacuation zone in Southwest Florida you need to be on the road by noon or find a near shelter devoid life-threatening weather. It's going to go faster, fast than you are. See these winds are coming.
If you're in this area and you're planning to leave, but are not done so by noon, do not get on the road. If you're in the west coast trying to go north, mean you're going to have a hard time getting out. Just remember this, once the storm starts, law enforcement cannot save you.
I'm a dad, and I'm a grandfather, I love my family more than anything. I cannot imagine life without them. Do not put your life or your family's life at risk. Right now is the time to do the right thing for you, yourself and your family. School buses are aiding in evacuations. Please take advantage of the service.
If you need to leave and for whatever reason you're unable to leave and you need help, whether it is fuel, whatever these issue is call 1- 800-342-3557 and we will do everything possible to get you out, 1-800- 342-3557.
Protecting life is our absolute top priority. There will be no resource or expense spared to protect life. Our goal is to pick every person in this states life.
I urge everyone to check on your neighbors, your family and your friends. If you know somebody who was not evacuating and should contact them and make sure they have a plan to get out. We are being very aggressive in our preparation for the storm. And my hope is every Floridian should take it this seriously and be aggressive to protect their family.
Your house can be replaced, your positions can be replaced, your life cannot be replaced and your family cannot be replaced.
Shelters, we have been working with counties to ensure there are enough shelters. Currently, there are more than 260 shelters open across the state in every county in the state. At least 70 more shelters are opening today.
More than 50,000 Floridians have taken shelter. And there's still room for more. If you have a building emergency individuals ask you to open a shelter. Please comply. It's going to save people's lives. This is so important for -- to family seeking safety everyone in Florida needs to find a safe place to go.
Traffic, we still see some traffic, but overall evacuation routes are moving. Evacuations are not meant to be convenient, they're meant to be safe. I'm glad so many are taking this seriously and driving to as a plate -- place. But if you don't need to be on the road, don't be on the road.
We increase the number two present (ph) on Florida roadways to continue moving traffic along. You can check real-time traffic information evacuation routes at FL511.com. You don't have to evacuate all the state. You don't have to evacuate even not your county. You don't have to go hundreds of miles.
We have shelters in every county other than Monroe. And those have evacuated to Miami-Dade. So shelters are available every county. Again, if there's any reason you can't get out, any reason at all, fuel, whatever it is 800-342-3557. We will do our thing we can. But we can't do it once the storm starts.
Fuel, we're working aggressively to keep our gas stations open and filled. But this won't last much longer because it's going to be unsafe to be on the roads. We're doing every thing we can to get as much fuel in to the state as we can.
While all the fuel ports in Florida are now close for safety as Irma impacts our state, so our ports are closed, we're not getting anymore tankers in. Following the storm state troopers will resume escorting fuel supply trucks directly to gas stations in your community. So we're going to -- we'll get after the storm. We'll get as soon as we can get fill trucks moving. And we'll do it again.
[09:40:05] I wait Florida's motor vehicle import tax for five days to help bring more fuel to our state for storm response and recovery. We all know fuel is important and we're going to absolutely devote every state resource as we can to get the fuel here.
Law enforcement, Florida is prepared. We have great first responders. We have great law-enforcement. Every single Florida guardsman has already been deployed that we can deploy. And they're prepared to respond to the storm.
We have so many members of law enforcement and our guardsman's are putting their lives at risk for them to get to a safe place. And they will not save, not stop until it's no longer safe for them. I can't thank them enough.
Utilities, our providers are actually pre-position resource throughout the state and the neighboring states. We know how important power is. And we're going to be very aggressive of getting power back on.
I want to be clear. We are under a state of emergency. Employees who perform vital services including healthcare staff, we need you to be there to help your community. We need 1,000 volunteer nurses to help at our special needs shelters.
If you can volunteer let me give you a website DPRCHDpreparedness@FLhealth.gov. Again, we need more nurses. All available nurses, if you please respond to DPRCHD preparedness@FL.gov or FLhealth.gov.
We've already received thousands of replies. This is great news. And we're actually working with all of these individuals to support this need. So many people across this country have called offer their prayers and support.
I want to thank the governors of other states that provided every resource we've asked for. I know the entire country is behind us. I've been talking to the White House almost every day. I've talked to President Trump, he has promised all federal resources. I talked to Brock Long who runs FEMA this morning and he's provide -- he's guarantee us all federal resources.
We have the country's best first responders right here in Florida. But if you're in evacuation zone, I hope you will go right this minute. Get to a safe place. This is a catastrophic storm. We've never seen this before. It's bigger than our state. Florida is tough for his resilient. Florida is unbreakable. Let's all stay together and help each other. We are an amazing melting pot of wonderful people. This is a great state. And we're going to come out this very strong.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SMERCONISH: Florida Governor Rick Scott. It's sounding pretty dire. It's here, it's deadly. We've never seen anything like it, and also, making a call public alarm being sounded for nurses to assist at those evacuation shelters.
Meteorologist Chad Myers is standing by. Chad, what did you take away from the governor's briefing.
MYERS: I think that the governor believes the state of Florida is prepared. I think he believes the stragglers are going to be on their own and that --
SMERCONISH: Chad, my apologies. I'm going to ask you to hold that thought because the government is now taking questions. So, let's dip in to that.
SCOTT: The -- I've talked to the White House, (INAUDIBLE) is here. The between the president and Congress, they have all committed all the resources we need. They -- I've talked to Brock Long this morning. I've talked to a variety of cabinet members. They are calling to make sure we have all the resources that we need.
This is a great country. We're going to stand up for each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the storm continues to shift less a little bit over the past 24 hours. Do you shift resources to this part of the state?
SCOTT: Yes. We move resources as fast as we can to be. One thing is difficult in the storm is that it's in typically storm that come from east to the west. And so you can position your assets on the other side of the state. This little -- this is a little bit harder because it's a compass in our whole state. But we are doing everything we can.
We've already have a lot of resources positioned around the state. We've got National Guard position around state. We have our food and water position in Orlando area. And we're moving -- and we'll be moving as fast as we can.
FEMA has resources here. But the result we say (ph), three days of water, three days of food, have your medicine, you've got to take care yourself in the beginning because we don't know how -- we don't know what the devastation is going to be. We don't know what the roads are going to be. We're going to try to get rid of the debris off the roads to get the trucks here as fast as we can.
[09:45:01] But we don't have -- we don't know. We -- all I know is everybody is going to show up to help us. We have thousands of volunteers that want to come down here to help us. But we've -- we all have to take care of ourselves in the beginning. And the most important thing you can think about right now, if you're in evacuates -- evacuation zone, you got to evacuate.
We will get the shelters open. We'll get volunteers there. The National Guard will show up, first response will show up. You've got to get out if you're evacuation zone. You have got to get to a safe place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I think people here evacuated and the first thing they think is to get out of this chain, yes, as far away as possible. But that's not what we're asking for.
SCOTT: You don't have to. We've got shelters close, I shutdown all the schools starting Friday morning through at least Monday. We'll open up as many shelters as we need. You can -- so you can shelter in your county. No one with a cat is the keys and you can -- they've already evacuated. And they -- the shelters for them is in Miami-Dade at FIU.
So we're going to continue to open shelters. We do need more nurses. We need more nurses, and I'm sure we're going to need more volunteers. We need volunteers in short-term to help staff or shelters. And we're going to need volunteers to help distribute food and water, and help with the cleanup.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could you speak to the strength of those of shelters some are expressing in terms of their one floor on ground levels.
SCOTT: We -- The shelters have been -- have been picked because of their location and because of the safety. Now if we -- it ends up being evacuation zone. We all move those shelters and had to do that as we -- as the storm is move a little bit further west and we seen more storm surge we'd to move some shelters, and we'll continue to do that if we need to.
We've offered buses to help move everybody. The -- But will we will do everything we can to keep everybody safe. But the shelters have been chosen county by county based on the safety of citizens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What type of house would it require to be safe within your homes because obviously, everyone can't --
SCOTT: Well, right now if you're in evacuation zone, you need to evacuate. And we will provide whatever shelters we need to for that, all right. Now, we have projections in what sort of that the winds are going to be. So the -- you know, you know your house and you know the risk. So you should make decisions based on that.
Anybody else? OK. I hope everybody takes the warning that you need to get out these evacuation zones, you need to get to shelf to shelter. Thanks everybody and I wish everybody the best.
SMERCONISH: Florida Governor Rick Scott concluding a pretty dire press briefing. Chad Myers, I don't remember ever hearing a state's chief executives speak in such direct language before. It's here, it's deadly, and we've never seen anything like it. Your thoughts?
MYERS: I've -- I talked to Rick, the governor, earlier this week with Wolf Blitzer and he was tired. He has been around the state and around the state and he has begged people to leave and they won't do it. I think at that point in time, he just go, OK, you guys are on your own. I've done everything I can do. We have all the people in place.
We're giving you free rides, we're given you free places, we're giving you free food, what else can I do? And he knows that if you're not in those -- if you are in Boca Chica, if you are in Key West, if you are in Cudjoe Key and there are people there. Some of those people are not going to be with us on Monday. He knows that.
SMERCONISH: Chad, we don't have time to do what I'd hope we do --
MYERS: All right.
SMERCONISH: -- because of the governor's press conference. But would you mind the Cliffs Notes version of the two models and where they are now pointing.
MYERS: The two models, one the American model, one European model. We talk about them all the time how they're different. The European model has done better on the storm.
Now, the American model did better on the snowstorm of 2015. There are about 15 or 20 miles apart. And Michael, if you put that same line and you put these two same lines in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
I mean put ahead here for you. If you say, OK the storm is going to be here, that's the American model, there is the European model, boy, they're really close, because you know what, they are really close. But when you put the state of Florida, the City of Miami, Naples, Tampa, in the way all of the sudden 20 miles makes a big difference.
SMERCONISH: Chad Myers, thank you. You are the John King of the weather maps. And for me that's as high a praise as I can bestow upon you. You're doing a hell of a job. Thank you.
[09:49:53] We'll come back with more of CNN's continuing coverage in just a moment.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, CNN is in continuing coverage of hurricane Irma. We've been watching it better. The northern edge of Cuba people were forced to evacuate there. The storm is moving around in its location and its strength that had re-intensified to a category five. That's what they had to deal with there.
There is now no question that the storm is going to hit the United States at the point of Florida. The keys are vulnerable. CNN is everywhere that the storm is going to be. Yes. This variability, we are down in downtown Miami. This was the major point of concern. There is a shift towards the West in the storm right now.
[09:55:00] So the western coast of Florida is becoming a more acute concern. But as you can see were more than 24 hours out here at this Miami local marina. It takes very little to make a difference.
Remember 24 hours out. I'm not in storm here. No need to be and yet you see the docks already are getting all they can take. The shorelines here were saying already the storm surge is coming up over the rocks.
Everybody is tied down. They're trying to get their boat storm ready. This is a very savvy culture. But you can only do so much. And it takes very little to make a big difference. That's why the local authorities are saying yes, we've seen a shift in the track, do not come back here. That is the word from the Fire Chief Virgil Hernandez.
He said do not come back to the Miami Beach area even though there's been a shift. They are expecting of the 10 feet of storm surge. What do we hearing from the governor? He just gave a briefing.
Governor Scott says 50,000 Floridians are in shelters. There are 260 shelters open across the state and around the state of Florida. Seventy more are going to be opening. Now there was another point to the governor's recent message, which was they have a need a specific need for nurses for nurses for the infirm and the elderly in shelters and he's putting out a call for volunteers. So what does that mean?
If you are in a position to travel safely, or if you are approximate, if you are nearby a shelter that is for the elderly. So contact your local authorities look at the websites for the state to see where they need nurses. If you are in a position to help, please do so.
That is the message from the governor. So what we know about the storm. Let's go to Chad Myers in the weather center, he's doing the track. And Chad, you know, the message from here is pretty obvious. Clearly, if you look at the sky, if you look at the boats, if you look around you -- something is on its way.
MYERS: You are going to be in the Eastern or the northeastern eye. Not quite eye wall but one of the more dangerous parts. So even though people are thinking, oh, we are clear, we're -- you know, the storm is going to Cape Coral and Fort Myers. There still will be a significant element of this very wide storm.
OK. We talked about this a couple days ago. This storm from side to side is about as big as Texas. Is it is biggest Texas from Fort Myers to Miami? No.
So the storm is still going to be over you. The winds, the hurricane force winds still into Miami. OK, maybe not 140, but 85 or 90. I don't want to be on the beach, I don't want to be on land, I don't want to be in a storm surge when that happens in Miami. Now, yes, the storm is going to go over Key West and then on up the West Coast not up the East Coast as some of the models said earlier in the week. But it is irrelevant when it comes to storm surge because you're still going to push the water into Miami. Look at the wind. Look at the way the storms are already rolling on by.
We have some areas where the water is up 2 feet. This storm is still 152 to 200 miles away. And by the time it gets closer that wind is going to truly increase in the Biscayne Bay and we will flood Miami, at least part of it.
We may even flood our way to Fort Lauderdale because intercostals will be all the way up there and pushed the water that direction too. But what's really more important if you're in Naples and Fort Myers in that area. This is what happened overnight.
Chris, the model went from somewhere around making landfall a marathon to very close to Summerland Key, OK, let's just call it Key West. That makes a difference on what happens on the southwest side of the state. This is the area that is going to see the significant surge.
The models have been pretty consistent, although clearly the European model has done better over the last couple days. This is what the rainfall looks like right now, the winds are 130. When the storm gets in the middle of the channel between the Florida Keys and Cuba the water is warm enough that the storm may regenerate into a large cat four or to cat five.
Something different for you Tampa the winds may very well be 115 and not 85 because the storm isn't here. The storm is now closer to you. It's in your zone.
Also, you may flood parts of Tampa Bay, depending on how far north the storm gets. So this is all different from the overnight hours. And, Chris, I just want to show you, it's because I made this graph earlier and I haven't really been able to use it.
This is downtown Miami with everywhere that's blue here with a 6 foot surge. So there's water in downtown, there's water all along these buildings in downtown with a 6 foot surge coming over the seawall. And six is probably relatively optimistic.
We'll have to see if it gets the 10 or not. But six is pretty, pretty good now at the storm back out to the west, if gets to 10, I'll have to remake this graphic and push that water much farther west.
[10:00:01] CUOMO: All right. Chad, thank you very much. Look just as another piece of evidence that it takes very little to make a difference.
I have no communications right now with our bureaus. You know, we have all this equipment, all the sophisticated counts.