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CNN NEWSROOM

Updates On Hurricane Irma Passing Through Florida. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 10, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to be closely tracking this over the next hour. And especially once we get that -- the new advisory that we're expecting in the 11:00 hour to really get a sense of what Tampa has in store ahead in these -- in the early morning hours in particular.

I want to hand things over. Our coverage continues right now with Don Lemon in CNN Tonight and Don is going to be taking it throughout the next several hours, and all our correspondents continuing to cover this.

Don, you know, we have people all over Florida and it really does going to give you a sense just the size of the storm, the length of it and now the speed of it moving up 40 miles an hour. That is actually good news, you know.

Let's hope to get out here faster when it was moved to 8:00 yesterday. It was just a slow, kind of grind up and that was a concern about how long he was going to be staying over some of these places. But, Don, it does seem to be changing right now and they're still a lot -- we don't know and a lot work kind of hold on our breath for right now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And I want to talk to you a little bit more because you're there. It's been an extraordinary day. And it seems like it's starting to hit more where you are and we look forward to seeing you more during the coming hours here. But Anderson, the storm covers now is going to continue but tell me what you have been seeing and experiencing throughout the day there.

COOPER: You know, it's been an interesting day. I mean, you know, as we start out, I think I'm air 10:00 this morning and, you know, there was a little bit of rain. You know, it wasn't bad really throughout the day. There were people throughout the day coming by walking around wanting to stretch their legs tired of waiting in their homes, you know, trying to ride out the storm.

They have dogs. They wanted to let out, to let them try to run around. And people were also really just curious to see this just this weird phenomenon of this water being sucked out, you know, by the counterclockwise motion of the storm, the energy of that holding the water out of this river, out into the Tampa Bay.

And of course -- and it's really down, I mean, it's now probably about 10 feet from where it was around 10 a.m. this morning. You can see a Sandy Bank on the other side of the river which I just -- it just wasn't there when we started out this morning. And of course, you know, Don, throughout the day, people have been wondering, OK, at what pointed out does that water all come back in. How fast does it come back in?

You know, in Punta Gorda, Miguel Marquez has got some good news that because the storm has moved somewhat, they're not to be getting those winds coming back around and pushing all that water that moved out incredibly fast. So it's going to come back in a more natural speed and not as high and not as potentially deadly and destructive as it would have been. But we don't know that for Tampa. We don't know what point, what hour it's going to come back. And we also don't know at what level is going to come back.

Don, as you will know, Tampa is exploded with growth in the last couple years. There are 700 miles of coastline around Tampa Bay and a lot of people told very close the water, very low to the ground that, you know, and a lot of places don't -- they don't have basements. Any level of flooding can really be incredibly destructive for people's properties and obviously for people's lives in some case.

LEMON: And that's it. We saw similar thing happen in Houston where it's been so much progress and so much building that water doesn't have anywhere to go. And so it just sits there and it floods.

Anderson, stick around if you want a little bit because I know Tampa is going to starting to get hit. I know it's been a long day, if we will let you go for now, and if something starts to happen, we'll come back. Anderson Cooper in Tampa. Anderson, thank you very much.

And Anderson mentioned Miguel Marquez. Why don't we check in with Miguel right now? He is Punta Gorda for us which was devastated by Hurricane Charley that was back in 2004. What are you seeing now Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The weather has certainly changed. The rain has stopped coming down. We may be -- if there is an eye left we may be in the middle of that but whatever -- I was going out early, it doesn't seem because of the -- that the storm just jogged over to the East quite a bit. It was all day long tracking just to the west of Punta Gorda.

And we are expecting a very big storm surge here but because it veered quite a waste east of the city now. It's unlikely that we're going to see that really big storm surge coming back on us. It was incredible to see the marina here just completely devoid of any seawater. The only water, it was water that was blowing in from the rain itself.

All the boats were sitting just in mud. We're starting to see a few people actually come out here in Punta Gorda as well. So at a very just a little change, the rain has stopped coming down, the wind is started to come down as well and it seems like the city is starting to come back to life and starting to feel a little more sure of itself.

[22:05:03] No clear sense of whether there was any damage, a very serious -- any serious degree by the emergency management folks. They said it looks like they're going to be able to get out and start looking around the county a little earlier than they expected. So that is good news, Don.

LEMON: All right. I want you to standby, Miguel. Because we want to get to Alex Marquardt, he is in Sarasota, Florida for us. Alex, you're in Sarasota, this is north of Punta Gorda where we saw Miguel Marquez. So tell us what's you're dealing with at the moment.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don, we're dealing with basically the (INAUDIBLE) ups that everything that Miguel has been dealing with over the past few hours. We are starting to feel right now 10:00 Eastern time until 2:00 in the morning. We understand this is going to be the most dangerous period. This is when we are to see the highest wind.

When I say dangerous is because this is when the winds pick up and start to carry things in turn, you know, little pieces of debris, little pieces of shrapnel into (INAUDIBLE). We're not seeing too much right now. We have not seen too much damage. What we are seeing is these types of branches. There snapping off the trees envision to palm fronds and then flying down the street.

So, let me just show you what we're dealing with right here. This has essentially ghost town. Thankfully, you know, the officials obviously want everyone to be home and hunkering down. We have seen a handful of cars, a handful of people. That is not what the officials want to see.

But throughout the course of the evening and in antiquity in the past hour, the winds have really been ramping up and flying down this main street straight down into downtown Sarasota. And you can see the sheets of rain that are just pouring into downtown illuminated -- the street lights flickering on and off for the past two hours or so -- out several times for a couple seconds or a couple minutes. It would be surprising if over the next four hours when these winds do really pick up. There is another gust there, if the power stays on. So far it is right now.

Now, as Miguel was saying the storm is now tracking in a different direction. We were expecting the eye of Irma to pass right over us around midnight. Now it's tracking to the east of Sarasota due to past 20 or 30 miles to the east where we are expecting. Starting right now at 10:00 p.m., a sustained winds of about 80 miles per hour going all the way up to around 100 miles an hour. Those are hurricane force winds. Those winds expected to last until 2:00 in the morning.

Now what we're told because of the change in forecast, because of the change in the storm that the city managers are hoping to send out emergency response seems around 2:00 a.m. to assess the damage. They were very disappointed. You can see this is how it works. Its calm for a second then it's really -- it really picks up for a second.

They really wanted the storm to happen during the day so that they can assess the damage and start responding to it during daylight hours. Now all the damages is going to be done in the middle of the night. They're going to have to start figuring it out in the morning.

When we did speak with the city manager yesterday, he said that he was at peace with their preparations that they are ready and waiting for Irma. They don't have to wait anymore. Irma is here, Don.

LEMON: Absolutely. And you see it there and even your audio coming out and you can hear the wind, Alex. Alex, we'll get back to you. Stay safe. It looks like it's really picking up at Sarasota. That's where Alex Marquardt is right.

We want to get to Ryan Young. Ryan is in Clearwater, Florida. And Ryan I know that you are -- you're from the Florida area from Tampa, I believe, but what people should know is that the bulk of the storm hasn't even gone off the I-4 corridor that connects Tampa and Orlando right now.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) from the 305 and as you remember, Andrew like it was yesterday as it keep going up and I said there's a couple times when -- the idea is as much as Floridians as you remember in real life based upon hurricanes, this really mark parts of your life. Right now the winds that we're going to in Clearwater, it just amazing.

And hour after hour, it's just consistent wind pounding you. And that's really the conversation here because if you think about a house standing up with this, that was the first hour it might be OK. But hour after hour as you can hear the wind, it just helming (ph) us as we hear.

My crew is actually standing behind the concrete to kind of anchor themselves down to make sure they don't get blown away while we're doing these live shots. But the real conversation here as for the decision, a lot of people had to make a decision about whether or not they will leave their homes. And we talked to several people who said, look, this is our home that I've always wanted, I build it, I do not want to leave. I'm Floridian.

We went down to (INAUDIBLE) flooding and their whole purpose they said, look, this is my castle, I'm not leaving it. I understand that. And so, right now as you know that we are in a flood prone area that some of these area has been evacuated already. We're here with hotel management and a few person responders going through this.

[22:10:00] And this I the biggest hurricane and wind gust they dealt within this area quite sometime. We know first responders float off the road when the winds got above 40 miles per hour. We've heard about downed trees. The major thing so far, Don, is the power hasn't gone out. And of course it is dark out there where the power still on so you can still see it.

But what they are hoping is that people will not go outside to take a look to see what's going on and especially until daylight. And we talk about the previous (INAUDIBLE) going through. There are new requirements in this area that if you build a new home, it has to be withstand not only the wind but the storm surge. So, those homes must be built 9 feet above sea level. Again, we've been feeling this gust over and over again. They're getting more powerful as hour goes on. When I think about it, it's a swirling wind. And that's one thing when we really take the (INAUDIBLE). We've been watching these billboards that's been above us all night because it really popping back and forth with the wind as it goes one punch after another. But so far it's the end of the punches from the storm.

As we stay in here, I just had a deal with the wind as it going through. Luckily all the debris hasn't been that bad.

LEMON: Yes.

YOUNG: The biggest that we kind of deal with so far is been a trash can fairly down the way. But outside to that, nothing dangerous so far.

LEMON: That's what I've been concerned about Ryan as I have been looking at the coverage off and on all day. And you mention that billboard but flying projectiles. And I just keep saying I hope no one gets popped it with a stop sign or a street sign that impale someone. Because when the winds of this high, I mean, everything is a projectile, everything is potentially deadly.

YOUNG: Yes, absolutely. One of the things that we did was we actually -- there's a rope down, we have tied to a tree and a cement post. And at any point, if it gets too bad, I can go near and grab it and hold myself in here because obviously you don't know when things will take that turn. But obviously, we haven't needed just yet and just get wide space and kind of embrace yourself.

The one thing that we have noticed though is, and you talk about it, look, this much rain and the wider ground is saturated. Tree they're going to start to fall, and that's a dangerous point, especially with all these above power lines. The idea at some point, some people start losing power. We know there are at least thousands of people without power at this point would not sort of power outages that we considered earlier.

This area of floods even when it's not hurricane weather but you can understand that there might some homes right now dealing with some water, creeping toward the front door. They can only hope the (INAUDIBLE) as well.

LEMON: I'm going to stick with you for a little bit, Ryan, because you'd still, as you mention, you still do have electricity and we can still see things around you and it's not just darkness and wind and then the rain that we can see just from your camera light. So, you're lucky because there are three million people without power now but that number is likely to grow and possibly in Clearwater where you are.

YOUNG: Absolutely. You know you've talked about this. You know, my parents live in Miami they lost power earlier today, leaving without power for the entire day. I've talked to my friend who decided not to leave all the way at the coast they don't have power. And then you have the idea that there is no pockets that still had not cut it shut off but, you know, this early gone.

And we know the hours -- we still got more just coming. And with more just coming you know that the power hit -- or our power line you're stepping (INAUDIBLE). You don't want to step outside and have a live wire on the ground that can hit with all the voltage of electricity that should be going (ph) in someone house. You don't want to float in your body. So you got to be careful especially when the winds wake up like this.

LEMON: If you are just joining us, our Ryan Young is in Clearwater, Florida. And as you can see he's getting belted by rain and wind getting blown around. And he has a safety, we can call it a safety latch and anchor so to speak, tight around a poll, rope tied around a poll just to keep him safe to hold him up there.

Is this -- Ryan, is this the most when you see all days, these the strongest winds or just one among many?

YOUNG: Absolutely. In front of you with Don Lemon comes on TV you can see, look at this, and look at this direction and look at the power of the wind as it goes here. This is something that we've been -- oh. Yes, that wind --

LEMON: Are you OK, Ryan?

YOUNG: -- changed. And tell me what (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Are you all right?

YOUNG: So, that's why this is here. Yes, absolutely.

LEMON: All right.

YOUNG: So, yes, at the same time, look the winds waking up but like I said it just rain, water and wind. But imagine this to a house or a structure this been going on for hours and hours. That's what the real worry is.

And of course we're doing this with the idea that we're right next to a cement building that way we've got truly that bad. We can step in and not really deal with the coast of the pounding but so far so good.

LEMON: Yes, I think that's what people don't realize that you're understanding in an area that is covered and that is secure right next to it. So you can get to stay --

YOUNG: Let me show something, Don.

[22:15:04] LEMON: Yes, go for it.

YOUNG: I will tell my photographer to step back. Watch this. If I do this, it changes everything.

LEMON: Right.

YOUNG: You're almost (INAUDIBLE) storm out there. LEMON: Right.

YOUNG: Some big difference. But as soon as you do this, oh Mother Nature, she got it for you. And so, that's what have been experiencing through the day. It's one of the reasons why we are happy to see that the railways have been clear for hours now.

LEMON: Yes.

YOUNG: And of course, you might go outside your home and might not see the same sort of wind gust. But I can tell you, this is going to be a struggle for a lot of people when it come to the idea of the down tree that they might experience in the morning where the water that that's going to get (INAUDIBLE) against their home all night.

LEMON: And you just give an example of why people should stay and secure structures. Why they should stay out of the element because it's safe, you know, out in your home or any security structure. But once you step out there you don't know what you're going to encounter.

And so I want you to stand there. Don't go anywhere Ryan because we're going to come back to you.

YOUNG: No.

LEMON: Don't do anywhere because I want to go to Tom Sater.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

LEMON: Tom is in weather center and he's going to tell us -- what's happening in the Clearwater area, Tom, where we see our Ryan Young right now.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Don, Ryan just had a gust 78 miles per hour and the storm center is still 75 miles east southeast. So, they're going to get worse. Anderson in Tampa also had 78 mile per hour wind gust.

Couple things we going to talk about, I'm going to getting closer, Don, but again what were noticing here is we're in the second half of this event now for Florida. The center is now crossing the southern portion of our new tornado watch box which we are having many. We are seeing significant rain ban across Florida, Cape Canaveral and offshore.

This is severe weather. We even had a tornado earlier to stop around south of Cocoa Beach that was moving northwest at 78 miles per hour in the Melbourne area. They picked up almost 15 inches of rain and still coming down.

As we take a look over toward Tampa where Ryan and Anderson were, we've got a pretty good little band of rain. Obviously, you can see from the live shot, but their winds are now east to west. So it's pushing the water out of the inlets, out of the rivers and out of the bay. Even Anderson mentioned that he could visually see that at night. Until the storm system moves north of Tampa, then we'll have the wraparound and that's in fact what we're seeing here. In Fort Myers coming in, back down, of course, to our landfall around Marco Island. Earlier, Marco Island which took a directed at landfall a category three. The water was already over the seawall flooding Marco Island. They're inundated and they continue, Don, to have this westerly component so it continues to keep that water shoved up against the coastline and into the Everglades.

Let's getting closer now because we've got a lot to talk about. As we go forward with this, we still have a punch to the storm. There is dry air that is trying to make its way into the system, but until the system completely breaks down, which will not be until it reaches pretty much southern Georgia gets into some high winds and starts this year, the top off this is a formidable storm and we're still seeing significant hurricane when winds that are not just sustained winds but gust.

Again around the center here which is almost out due east of Sarasota, we continue as we talked about that North, you know, that front right quadrant having some of the strongest storms. But this just as heavy with that band that is moving in across to the east. So, heavy rainfall moving in the Fort Meade, moving in to Sebring as well, Lake Okeechobee has picked up over 10 inches of rain.

I know many are concerned about the levees. Army Corps of Engineers said the levy should hold even though still they'll see a little bit. But you can start to see here on this image, the dry air that is trying to infiltrate the system. This is a large area of dry air. That is good news. We want to see that but we want to see that dry air get in toward the center core. It's going to take a while for that.

So again, on the East Coast, significant bands of heavy rain with severe weather, that will be lifting up northward past Orlando that will continue to make its way even toward Jacksonville up toward Savannah, Georgia. So again, the system continues to churn. It has been losing some strength. But earlier today, it was interesting because we thought for sure that the track that came in for Marco would slide toward Tampa and make its way off the big band.

Well look for the center is right now. In fact, our center is off that track. So coming up at 11:00, there will be a new forecast track from the national hurricane center. We expected to slide east. But we also still expect a little north westerly component to it. That means with the center more east, it could be more of an issue as we get toward Orlando, which by later on tonight after midnight to 4:00 a.m., there'll be in the thick of it was some pretty good wind gust maybe 70-75 miles per hour, Don.

[22:20:02] LEMON: Clearwater where Ryan is still 78 almost 80 mile an hour winds there, right?

SATER: Yes.

LEMON: And what about in Daytona? SATER: Daytona are basically. OK, what we're watching at Daytona. Here's Cape Canaveral, I wish I could pulled. But actually I do have another radar I can show you. Daytona is going to be into it pretty good here in just a little while, let see if it's one this graphic.

Where we have, now we got less Palm Beach, we're still in the southern half but that band is moving in that direction and we're still seeing some significant of thunderstorm activity.

LEMON: The reason I ask that. I asked you that because I want to get to Sarah Sidner who's there. So I want to you to standby Tom.

SATER: OK.

LEMON: And Tom that was preview of what's happening. So Sarah, you're in Daytona and he says you're about to get some heavy wind and rain there. What are you seeing?

SARAH SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are getting it. We're getting a band and I did check with our meteorology department, CNN meteorology department when we talk a little bit, they said look. Even though we're here, I am by the way more than 200 miles from the eye of the storm on the East Coast while the storm is on the West Coast.

And it shows you just how huge this storm actually is, as we're standing here getting blown around. Now, the wind gust that happening here at between 45 and 62 miles perhour, that's tropical storm force wind, that's not hurricane force wind. Will we get hurricane force wind? If we do we'll be a little bit (INAUDIBLE) into the night, but it won't get involve around 75 miles an hour and that just Cat 1 storm.

What we have been seeing that the same band of lots wind and rain ripping off and I'll get out the way so you can see that the way the trees are smacking around those palm trees. What we have been looking at the beach is about 200 yards from us.

And watching those water ferociously whipped up, we can taste the water because there's a little bit of sea salt that you can taste in your mouth because it's been whipped up and send it's way because the rain was so strong.

I want to show where we are because -- we're standing on here Don and we should make that clear to people so that viewers and people who live here don't have to. You can see what's going on in your neighborhoods. You can see what's going on in your cities.

This is our job, we do it. We do it with pleasure but we want to show you what is going on so that you don't have to put yourself in danger. But I want to show you where we are. We are underneath a concrete structure. This is the Hilton Hotel that is right on the beach and we're right in front of the Daytona Beach police department who we have been talking to in the past few days.

They were telling us that the number of people that have been shelter is about 500 people in shelter, some of those was special needs, they had to go in incase the power went out. What's incredible that happening here is that we have a hotel that have dozens upon dozens of Florida power and light workers, people who are here on contract to exactly when the storm stops, exactly when those wind stop. They're going to get in their trucks and they're going to get down to the areas that have no power.

And they're going to start work. And they're all in our hotel. We've been talking to them. The lineman here, they're excited. They're ready to go. They want to get the power back on for people. But when we talk to Florida power in light, which is just one of the utilities here. I want to walk of the way so can see how the wind is blowing.

Just one of the utilities here, they say that this storm is likely going to be the largest power outage in the history. In the history of United States for this company and they say about 3.4 million of their customers and there are other utilities but 3.4 million of their own customers will likely lose power in the storm.

Already, it's about 3 million, so we're getting close to that number. In history 0.4 that's a historic moment but something else is historic 16,000 of their workers, the largest workforce ever that they have send in to try and fix the power, to restore things. They are also on the ready.

And lastly, they say look. If the storm hits very hard and hits Tampa for example very hard and Port Charlotte and Fort Myers and Naples as we saw Chris Coumo braiding (ph) those winds and Ed Lavandera braiding (ph) the eye.

If all the power is out there and if it hits as hard as they think that it hit. It could be weeks not days before they get it restored that they will have to determine that after the storm passes. These guys are up and they're ready to go.

LEMON: Sarah Sidner in Daytona for us. Daytona Beach. Sarah, thank very much. And by the way for those of you worried about Ryan, Ryan is OK. And the reason he's out there to cover this so he's doing just fine, not to worry about Ryan Young.

[22:24:29] When we come right back much more in this monster storm as it makes its way up in Florida. And we're going to go to some of the people in Earnest path (ph) and see who they're preparing. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back now with our breaking news coverage. Live pictures now, this is Tampa, Florida. You can see that rain is coming down. They're watching this thing very closely there. They're starting to get one of the band at least coming through.

But it's not the worst. The worst is not over yet, Hurricane Irma pounding Florida with violent winds, torrential rain and fears of life threatening storm surges.

Let's get to CNN's Stephanie Elam, something he was live for us in Tampa this evening. Stephanie, tell us, take us there. Tell us what you're seeing?

STEPHANI ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can see like you were saying and like Ryan talking about those bands of wind coming through, starting to really see that. I went out earlier today to take a walk just a long the river walk here in Tampa down the Hillsborough River out towards the Hillsborough beta (ph) and you got into Tampa Bay.

And as you're walking down there, it was amazing to see that sort of draw of the water being pulled away and out because of a hurricane. And so because of that, there was a lot of marshy, swampy, muddy part that was expose that people had never seen before. It's been over 90 years since the big hurricane has hit here, since the hurricane has hit here in Tampa.

So a lot of people were going out to look at that. I did check in with the police department. They've said they didn't have any issues with that. They didn't have to do any arrests, curfew has been inactive here as far as the city of Tampa is concern.

Since 6:00 p.m. eastern and that's going to be as long as the storm is raging here in Tampa. And obviously we haven't even got the front of it here. I also check in with the country and they say that they have 28,000 people that are in shelters. They say they still have space but at this point it's too late. You got shelter in place, it's not worth coming out here like everyone has been saying, I heard Sarah say and Ryan say and you say it.

Don't come out here. We're out here so you can see it and you don't have to do it. You can stay there and cozy in your bed and take a look at what we are seeing. And what we're seeing are these waves of rain coming in down the street.

[22:30:02] It is windy, it's gusty, the rain picks up and sometimes here in downtown Tampa just because of the tall buildings here, it sort of just gust and it just barrels through between those buildings and it seems to pick up. But we've seen some strong ones, once coming through right now. You can feel it picking up against you, as you stand into it. You can almost lean into it little bit.

So we're seeing that pickup here in downtown Tampa. But for the most part it does look like people heated the warnings. Their police department saying at this point rescues will come after the storm is over, they've gotten a lot of calls about down power lines. But nothing about injuries or anything of this sort here in Tampa just yet, Don.

LEMON: All right, Stephanie Elam we'll check back. Thank you very much. We appreciate your reporting. I want to go back now to CNN's Ryan Young, our man in Clearwater, Florida tonight, not too far from where Stephanie is in Tampa.

Ryan, when last we saw you, it was coming down. You were getting blow around. What's happening?

YOUNG: Well, still getting blow around. But the good news is, no (INAUDIBLE) so really while you deal with this just the wind and the constant pounding from the rain. That you take but we did hear about the gust that we were dealing with here 70, 80 miles, those are the strongest gust that we felt so far.

And parts of (INAUDIBLE) from nearby building kind of come flying by us lucky not close enough to us but there is some plaster on the ground nearby. But really when you look down this tunnel Don, one you do notice is, look abuse the trees and everything around us starting to get.

And even at the hotel we're staying at, if we look up you can actually see some of the damage that this wind is starting to do to the outside of the building and that's what we talk about. It's the constant pounding that the storm had. It's really the one-two punch just when you think you can settle down. Just like right now that was a break that we didn't expect, it kind of get you over and over again and you got to think about this.

There are two behind here who's definitely helping us keep all this together. This is part of the roof that we've seen sort of flyby, small piece of wood, not something really to worried about. But if you could imagine that this was a little bit bigger and came by, it's upside ahead, it wouldn't be fund evening.

But so far it's been pretty safe. We know there's been some down trees. You can see the utility that has been park nearby that are definitely ready to respond and you think about all the wonderful men and women who do that job to make sure the power gets turned back on that critical time and the hour after the storm, you realize they're gearing up for a very long few hours about the storm past.

But right now, that gust and wind and rain is something to deal with.

LEMON: Yes, but even with that. I mean you now, you know, that small piece of wood, if that's coming at you at 100 miles an hour that can hurt you and definitely take an eye Ryan. So, listen. We could see --

YOUNG: Absolutely.

LEMON: There's low (ph) and then a winds pick up even as we're talking to as you as we've been taking to you with this successful been in the last couple moments.

YOUNG: Yes. And that's been really the story. So when the night starts, the wind was kind of just blowing for north to south. And then it kind of switch on us and all of sudden it became a swirl (ph). And we're near the airport.

So, we can kind of see the wind coming sort of (INAUDIBLE) tossing our direction. And then first thing that we notice that coming up blowing apart was there was a sign that was nearby. That got ripped off and kind of torn and blown away. And then so we started watching the sign above us, luckily none of that has changed.

The street lights started swinging and it really heavy phase. But it's really the last half hours though with the gust have really become to the point where you just have to sort think about when can you get away from the wind and that's what we know what we can do is, if we need to was step out of the way on the wind and we don't let that hit us too much over and over again.

But once again, I think the best news so far is we haven't seen any down power lines and we haven't seen any windows breaking at this point or any projectiles being toss the side the barrel and the piece of wood that we saw coming off a roof that was nearby.

LEMON: All right, Ryan stay safe Ryan. We'll check back with you Ryan getting at big part, a big band, a big wind and rain band coming through there. Here's in Clearwater, Florida. We'll get to Ryan in just moment. We'll give him a break. Let me get now to the mayor of Tampa Bob Buckhorn.

He joins us via Skype. Mr. Buckhorn, Mayor Buckhorn thank you so much. You're seeing we have couple reporters in Tampa, that's a live shot there. Sarah Sidner was there and she's saying that you guys are getting hit pretty hard right now. All eyes are on your area. We're seeing with Ryan is experiencing at Clearwater, Florida. You guys ready?

MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA, FLORIDA: We're ready Don. We've trained for this. We were expecting a whole lot worse even as long as six hours ago. Obviously it's changing a little bit but we're still anticipating and planning and ready to deploy as if It were a Cat 4 coming right through Tampa Bay.

We're thankful that that movement has been positive for us. But I've got hundreds of people behind me and thousands of people who are out there preposition, assets are in place, material in place, the heavy loaders are in place.

[22:35:06] So as soon as we can get out there in the morning when the sun comes up and the wind dies down and the surge recedes, we're going to be back it trying to get our city back on it's feet.

LEMON: So can I ask you Mayor the residence, what about evacuation orders, have they followed them?

BUCKHORN: I think they have to large degree. I mean, we were on it. We were on aggressively. The low line areas tend to be around downtown Tampa and Bayshore Boulevard. Those folks pay attention and they recognize that when we say it's time to evacuate. It's time to evacuate.

We're not trying to inconvient you. We're trying to save your life. And so I think a lot of them did. I evacuated my house. My family is on higher ground. May of my neighbors did as well. So, I'm hoping that tomorrow when the sun comes up most of those folks will be dealing with a house that still is dry. They're safe, they're family safe and we can get back building this great American City.

LEMON: Yes. And speaking of that, you have lots of major infrastructure there in Tampa from bridges, to airports. Have you taken on and do you expect a significant damage there? BUCKHORN: Well, we don't know yet. It still too dark, we haven't been able to determine it. We're getting reports about how our outages. They've been sporadic so far. We did put a curfew in place to make sure that we're able to keep troop (ph) safe.

You know anytime it's blowing more than 48 miles per hour consistently, a law and public safety personnel have to shelter. So they're sheltered right now. And the airport is close, the port currently closed. I have not received damaged reports from either of them yet.

I think things are fine. All of this depends on which way that storms goes and making sure that we stay on the good stay of the storm and deal with a lesser amount of surge tomorrow morning than we were anticipating. We were looking into the abyss on it wasn't pretty. But we were prepared and I'll you this is where our government matters.

You know people can complain about government, the size of government, the efficiency of government. But when you need government particularly at the local level, this is where you need us to be at our best and we are absolutely prepared to do that.

LEMON: Mayor Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Florida. Good luck to you, we'll back mayor. Thank you so much.

(OFF-MIC)

LEMON: Thank you. When you come back as Hurricane Irma slammed its way north through Florida tonight. Life threatening storms surges. You heard the mayor talking about that may be the worst of the danger there. Live pictures as we go break from Clearwater, Florida. Look at the wind.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:41:21] LEMON: We're back now live. And look at those pictures. This is from Clearwater, Florida and you can see it is really, really coming down the rain there and the wind is whipping there in Clearwater, Florida. You heard out Tom Sater, our meteorologist say winds up 78 miles an hour, close to 80 miles an hour.

And this is just the start for them. We were just on the phone with the mayor of Tampa, Florida Bob Buckhorn and he says they're ready to assess the damage and also still ready for some major damage that could happen as these winds come through.

Let's get to Tampa. As a matter of fact there Anderson Cooper is there live. Anderson, what are seeing out from the ground?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you know, we're not far from Clearwater, that just to the west of us, you know, the whole bay area Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa. So Ryan Young, what Ryan Young seeing is a lot of what we've been seeing.

We're showing more protected. We sort of plan this location because there's a big show in hotel that we're actually staying in that's blocking some of that wind. So for us the wind is a little bit less and it's for Ryan. But it is the water. It's the wind, you know, step out here for a just a second you get derange obviously.

But I think a lot of people in Tampa and I just heard you're interview with the mayor and, you know, I think a lot of people are waiting for 11:00 advisory that we're going to be brining them. Because I think that's going to give sense of exactly what side of storm Tampa is going to be on the hours ahead.

It seems like as the mayor said it's going to be on the better side of the storm if there is a such a thing when you're talking a hurricane like this. But, you know, there's been so much question about storm surge yesterday. They were thinking five to eight feet in Sarasota.

They downgraded that to three feet over the next several hours. We wont' know about the storm surge until the morning hours here. And that something I know the mayor is very, very concern about because he's been raising red flags about this.

Frankly as you know Don, last year he gave interviews on city at city hall saying look, if a Cat 3 storm made a direct hit on Tampa, city hall the downtown would be 15 feet underwater. This is a city that, you know, fills up or that flood in certain areas, if there's a heavy rainfall.

So, a Cat 3 storm which is what is anticipated yesterday could have been devastating just in terms of the surge. So I think people really waiting for that 11:00 advisory and they'll get a better sense then on what lies ahead in the next couple hours.

LEMON: Yes, if you look at it. I mean, because you're standing there on the body of water. But then, Clearwater has this body of water on one side and then the ocean on the other side. So I'm sure that's a clear concern.

Exactly where are you Anderson? Because I see the water behind you and it's that connects, that surge gets up high enough to get up there where you are? I can't tell from shot in her.

COOPER: Yes. I'll tell you, I mean University of Tampa is just over that direction. We're Kennedy Boulevard Bridge which his 500 feet or so away. There's actually WFLA Channel 8 is across the Hillsborough River, there's the Hillsborough River which, you know, during the spring a lot of college crews comes from all around the country to row on this river, to practice during their spring training.

Down there there's a hospital Clearwater is often that direction to the west up to Hillsborough River which is much lower now over the last 10 or 12 hours probably I'm guesstimating about 10 feet lower as that water has been suck out.

Hillsborough River, it rains into Hillsborough bay, that goes into Tampa Bay and it's a lot of people have been saying Tampa Bay with that storm surge, it will act as funnel. And if we were on the bad side of the storm, you know, as the storm was moving counterclockwise. It sucks that water as we're seeing and we've been seeing.

And then as the storm would come back around all that water would be pushed back, push back up through Tampa Bay, up to Hillsborough bay and up through the Hillsborough River.

[22:45:07] We're about 20 feet or so off the water. We're on the river walk which is developed area they put along here. It's a lovely place along the water -- people come and walk through dogs, people come stroll around.

So, you know, most of the hotels here are even higher off the water than that. So it would had been a really big storm surge with waves on top of that, to effect some of the areas around the river walk or to cover this river walk. But there's so many low lying areas around Tampa Bay that people have built essentially houses on a slab, very just press to the ground without any kind of basement, not elevated at all.

And that would be the main concern for flooding and allow some of this low lying neighborhood throughout Tampa.

LEMON: Yes. Hey, Anderson standby. I just want to tell our viewers what's going on the other screen on the other. That's Clearwater, Florida and you could see the winds. It's not far from where Anderson is and that's our Ryan Young obviously in the parking lot there. It chasing some debris, some debris is falling.

Anderson on the right side of your screen in Tampa Florida and we're discussing the storm surge. And Anderson you head my interview earlier with the mayor. At this point though, he believes because of the path of the storm and that has been downgraded a bit.

He believes he still, he think going to get some damage. But he believes they still dodge a major bullet if something that could have been much worst.

COOPER: You know I think that's true. You know Don as, you know, you love Orleans and know it better than anybody. You know folks in New Orleans thought they dodge the bullet after Katrina pass. And then they woke up, you know, in the lower nine with water flooding through.

So, you know, I don't want to be somebody on the record saying any places dodge a bullet until this thing is pass, until this thing is done, but certainly in terms of where we have seen this storm heading, this hurricane heading over the last several hours.

It is better news for Tampa than it might have been. You know had this storm been to the west of Tampa and Tampa been in the northeast quadrant, you know, the upper right quadrant of this hurricane that you heard so much about. That would have been the worst case scenario for Tampa.

And a time yesterday it looks like that might take place. So the worst-case scenario has not taken place for Tampa and everything we've head over the last couple hours from Tom Sater about sort of dissipation of this storm, the disorganization of it and some of the questions about the storm.

And also what Tom Sater says was kind of easterly push on this storm. All of that is better news for Tampa than it might otherwise have been. You know might be worst news for people more in the direction of Orlando. But certainly for the worst that could have hit Tampa.

The worst has not come to pass as of yet. A Category 3 storm hitting Tampa would have been completely unprecedented. You had to go back to 1921 when it decimated this area. Thankfully at that point it wasn't a big population center as it is now with millions of people.

There was only one fatality in 1921. But the area itself, the structures such as they were. Were really, really badly damaged but there were a lot of been people including the mayor who have been raising red flags about what a major storm whether direct hit on Tampa would do.

They face this back on Hurricane Charley in 2004. There they dodge a bullet. Not unfortunately for the people of Punta Gorda. The storm track at the last minute turned and hit Punta Gorda and decimated that town. It was suppose to hit Tampa.

We were here in Tampa waiting for that. It ended up driving to Punta Gorda the next day and the devastation was just extraordinarily horrific to see. But certainly, you know, this is a city which has built up incredibly fast. You can see, you know, two cranes over here.

A lot of people build very close to the water. They have problems with flooding already. Tampa Bay over the last several decades has just naturally gotten higher. It's raised up several increased over the last several decades. So that's more water in a big storm to push into this inland water waste and to result in surge.

LEMON: Yes. And of course in Tampa Bay area which is, you know, been built up within recent years after 1992, after Hurricane Andrew, they have structure there that can survive or that can at least stand up to a category may be three, four even possibly five hurricane.

But obviously they don't want to test that. Anderson, standby because I need to get to Ryan Young. Ryan Young is Clearwater Florida. And Ryan I want to check in your because my goodness, what's going on? Its' really coming down.

YOUNG: Yes, it's funny how different few miles can make. I know exactly where Anderson standing. We were at that hotel little earlier today. What a just remarkable different in time of this the power of the wind. You know you talk about the wind gust.

You guys saw me on camera I was scrambling around at one point. It was trying to run after this piece of plaster (INAUDIBLE) another roof.

[22:50:11] And this is kind of what we're seeing at this point. Little bits of plaster kind of flying by our live shot at this junction, the wind it'd say every time we're on. But it seems like it's picking up again. But starting in something, so what you get is this powerful gust and you got a few punches and then stop for a little bit and then it goes back.

So, at this point, oh we just saw a projectile go by. You will start seeing sort of things that just flying by us. But they're all kind of fundamentally get in certain direction. The good news is, somehow the power still remains on. And even though we watch a couple look like we're going buckle and give away, they have as of yet.

It's really remarkable the difference between just a few miles when you think about what's going on in Tampa, what we were expecting and then what we have in Clearwater. I can only image what's some of the homes that are close inlands are dealing with right now because one of the good thing about (INAUDIBLE) you can live in a neighborhood where I guess slip by water and between neighborhoods.

And just small bodies of water that lead out to the bay. So it's a little different.

LEMON: Yes.

YOUNG: But we knew that could be some of the areas where there has some of the worst flooding. And we were told they're expecting some five to eight feet there. So we're going to hopefully check back on them at some point later on.

LEMON: Hey Ryan.

YOUNG: (INAUDIBLE) the story right now is just the constant pounding of wind and rain.

LEMON: Now listen. I just want to show you to your right when you were talking your photographer turn it off to the right. You could see I mean just how strong that wind is. I'm looking at the stop lights there just swinging in the wind and being blown around.

YOUNG: Yes.

LEMON: It's right up to your right, my right.

YOUNG: Yes from this direction.

LEMON: Yes, there we go.

YOUNG: Look at (INAUDIBLE) as well. They want to show the spotlight up here. You get a sense of just what does look like when you look at those spotlights. We've been watching those as well. Obviously nobody want to park their car next to that spotlight in case (INAUDIBLE).

But amazingly everything standing up at this point and that is the good news, including us.

LEMON: Ryan. We appreciate your courage. I really want you to be careful and watch out for projectiles, OK? We're going to get back to you. We're going to take a quick break and we'll get back to our Ryan Young who's out there doing he's job covering this storm from Clearwater, Florida.

And when we come back much more in our breaking news, and damaging winds and torrential rains as Hurricane Irma moves north spreading fears of life threatening storm surges.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:56:45] LEMON: Lives pictures now Tampa Florida and you can see just how strong those winds are. Look at those spotlights really swinging there, some of them dangling by a rope of power cord there. That's in Tampa, Florida again. And Tampa, Florida is about to get the run of it, the worst of it, still has not come through Tampa, Florida.

Clearwater, Florida you could see our Ryan Young was out there getting whipped about in wind and the rain as well. It's hitting a Tampa area hard right now as it passes through Florida. And before Tampa, Naples was battered with even stronger winds when Irma passed through that city.

I want to Naples now, the mayor of Bill Barnett join us he's joins us via telephone. Mayor, thank you much we appreciate it. You have a sense of the amount of damage Naples has sustained.

MAYOR BILL BARNETT, NAPLES, FLORIDA: Thank you first of all for having me on. We can't tell yet but we have, you know, when you were talking about dodging bullet. Anderson was talking about dodging bullets. And storm surge. You know is forecast for 12 to 15 feet here in Naples -- which would have been catastrophic.

We have minimal because of that and that's storm goes up. So with some spreading our first responder just went out two hours ago. To reach out (ph) and just doing an initial assessment and then tomorrow morning at sunrise we'll have a full crew out to assess the damage.

We know that there are flooding. We know there are tremendous amount of trees down. I don't know how many power lines are down but nobody in Naples has power. The whole city is out and I understand that 75 percent Collier Country at this end and she (ph) would be.

I was as Anderson know that he was here we're talking about Charley but Wilma. I thought Wilma was dead by Wilma upheld in comparison with Irma.

LEMON: Oh my goodness, so you said that all -- 75 percent of electricity is out there?

BARNETT: In 75 percent is out in Collier County. And the city of Naples has zero.

LEMON: Zero, my goodness. So give me your biggest concern mayor. Is it that you worried surge, you worried about when. What are concerns about?

BARNETT: Well, you know, we're still having the reminisce or wind that still blowing down here but not like it was. But biggest concern is seeing exactly what the amount of damages. That the storm did. And, you know, I'm optimistic but I think that there's going to be a lot of repair and a lot of rebuilding to do.

And again not so much on structural but certainly that the areas that are flooded and the whole thing is a concern. If you would ask me earlier today while she was coming through here, I of course would have agreed what the mayor of Tampa and other mayors that I've talk to has communication with a long the west coast.

[23:00:00] You know along the coast would have been that storm surge because as they say, that would have just done us away. I mean really.

LEMON: Yes.