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Continuing Coverage of Hurricane Irma Stirking Florida. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 10, 2017 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're praying for you, your family and all the citizens of Florida this morning. Thank you so much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

TAPPER: Stay with us. I'll be back in two hours, but CNN's breaking news coverage of Hurricane Irma continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: If you are just joining our continuing coverage of Hurricane Irma, the hurricane has made landfall in the Florida Keys as a category 4 storm. You will on your screen what that means in terms of wind speed.

The big concern of course is storm surge. The most deadly aspect of a hurricane is drowning. The water is the major concern.

More than 600,000 people out of power already and we have seen the least of the worst. And that's just in central and southern Florida.

As this storm moves, the tally will only grow, but we are now at the beginning of the process, the Keys getting hammered, gusts well in excess of hurricane levels.

I am in Naples, Florida, the west coast a particular concern, vulnerabilities to storm surge, very low-lying areas, Tampa Bay especially. So far we've been seeing gusts in excess of 60 miles an hour or so and rain for hours.

One of the problem with this hurricane is its size. It's the size of a state. So while we all focus on the eye of the storm, you'll see hurricane-force winds, 70, 75 miles out from that eye. You'll see tropical storm force winds, which are still super destructive, 100 to 100-plus miles out.

So the reach is great. That's why we're seeing that even though the east coast of Florida was "spared," in quotes, that's a defiant term because they have been getting hammered by really bad winds and water.

John Berman is in Miami. He has been standing through it all night, now all morning. What's the situation there?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We've been having these tropical storm-force winds now for hours and hours, Chris. And the National Weather Service said they're experiencing gusts of 100 miles an hour in the high-rise building of downtown Miami, telling people to stay away from the windows with those gusts of a hundred miles an hour. That's well over hurricane force in the downtown area and of course there are those cranes that everyone is concerned about in this city as well. More than 20 of them.

Now Miami-Dade County, this county of 2.5 million people, the Emergency Management just put out a notice saying they will not respond to 911 calls anymore. There are no rescues happening right now because the winds are so strong. And remember that's in a county of 2.5 million people.

So many affected by that right now, so many people here who need to hunker down. The wind just one of the concerns. Storm surge, that may be the story of this entire storm all across the Florida peninsula.

Here in Miami, they're expecting a surge of three to six feet. I think we're starting to see it right now, Chris. These docks behind me, you were out here yesterday. The water does lap up over those at high tide. We're two hours from high tide right now and they are completely submerged.

If the water were to come up for another four feet or so, it would be over where we're standing right now and that would be a serious concern. We would then move. That's what people are watching, that's why there were there evacuations here in the downtown Miami area. Of course, out there in Miami Beach, it's even worse.

So that's the situation here in Miami. Let's go over I believe to Tampa and CNN's Anderson Cooper -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: John, obviously a very different situation, but a taste of what you've been seeing in Miami, and particularly in Miami Beach, that Kyung Lah has been reporting all morning. That's a taste of what is to come here and more.

Tampa, which thought a couple of days ago that they were not going to be getting hit as hard as Miami and Miami Beach, woke up to a very different reality yesterday morning when that storm moved west.

Late as last night, as you know by now, the storm even moved a little farther west, which may sound like good news for Tampa because originally it was going to come right up barreling straight towards Tampa. Now a few miles out to the west. It's actually worse news because it means that Tampa is in that northeast quadrant of the storm and that storm surge very likely to enter into Tampa Bay and up through the inlets here throughout Tampa.

One of the things that makes Tampa such a beautiful city, this is the Hillsboro River where we -- later today we are expecting to see. Right now as the winds are moving counter clockwise, those tropical storm winds, those hurricanes storm winds moving counter clockwise, the water is actually going out. Later today that water is going to be coming back in. Let's check in with Chad Myers in the Weather Center.

[10:05:01] Chad, just explain where this storm is right now and what folks here on the west coast are going to be expecting in the hours ahead.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. The storm has now moved over to the lower Keys. It's now back into Florida bay. Florida bay is a warm body of water. There's a lot of lobsters in there, fresh water, warm-water lobsters. Warm-water lobsters. And as the storm moved to the north, you think, wow, great, it's going to hit the land here. Well, this is the everglades. It's not really land.

Miami, you are not going to be in the clear until the center gets here, your closest approach. So you still have more hours of worsening weather to go, even though you think you're done. You're not. Fort Pierce and these bands coming on shore here as well.

This storm really did punch through Cudjoe Key, somewhere around Key and Big Pine Key. This is where it is now. Just exiting there, you're getting the backside of the eye.

Let me take you to what this looks like right on the ground. Here is Key West. Key West, at least 120 miles per hour here, as the storm wrapped around. Back up to Keys here, there's only one road in and one road out, making landfall at Cudjoe Key, lots of little residents is here. Also very big damage through Ramrod, Little Torch and also Big Pine Key. We also have all of these little key deer that run around through here.

So the next spot, a seven-mile bridge. And this is what they're worried about. Maybe not so much the bridge but the infrastructure on the bridge. Water is ripping under this area right through now and at one more spot to the north of here up into Marathon. Marathon catching the water here running right through (INAUDIBLE) creek and up.

I can't imagine how fast the water is running right through here. That could also cause damage to the infrastructure of the bridge because we could be washing things away, washing the bottom of the bridge away, those little tensions that hold the bridge and then all of a sudden the Keys are cut off.

The rain goes all the way to Jacksonville. The rain is all the way up to east coast and so is the surge. We talk about this surge. It's going to surge on this side maybe two to four feet. But the bigger surge will be to the west right where you are in Ft. Myers, in Naples, Cape Coral. Those are the areas that you need to be above ground, above sea level by more than 10 to 15 feet. Because that's where that surge is.

Then eventually on up to Birmingham but that's irrelevant at this point in time. The surge goes this way. Naples, what you're going to experience in the next few hours if you're not doing it right now, the water is going to go out. You're going to push away. You're going to be three feet down. You're going to have a negative surge. You're going to think, oh, there goes the storm, it's over.

Absolutely not. Your surge is on the back side of this, cut up -- because of the way it's hitting the west side not the east side, the surge is on the wrong side of the eye. It's on the back side and it is going to be tremendous. 10 to 15 feet. So be ready for that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Chad, a lot to look for in the hours ahead. It is going to be a very difficult day for an awful lot of people, for millions of people all across Florida. We're going to continue to follow this very closely.

Brian Todd is in West Palm Beach.

Brian, what's the situation there?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a real intensification of the conditions here. Just over the past down, the wind has really intensified here to almost hurricane strength. And what is adding to the danger here is we have been under tornado warnings just about all day. We're under one right now. And we're told by our CNN weather team that pop-up tornadoes are going to be a threat all day long.

We've got to hang on to these railings just to walk around here. Just got pelted with another first right now. You can see these palm trees here under strain. We'll try to walk along this railing but we've all got to hang on here.

Over here is an illustration of the real danger here in Palm Beach. Debris is flying all over the place. These trees are under severe strain. We've had palm fronds flying around and we've had to look up constantly to try to dodge them. Power lines like that one over there are in real danger right now.

We just talked to a city official. He said the fire battalion is warning there are going to be zones that they are not going to be able to respond to.

What we're told, Anderson, is we're on the dirty side of this hurricane, meaning the upper right-hand quadrant where the wind is now pushing in from the east. And that really starts to spur tornadic activity. Tornadoes are going to be orange all day long. Pop-up tornadoes are going to threaten us all day long.

So that is -- you know, that is another threat here. This is where much of the energy, the wind energy from the hurricane is hitting now in West Palm Beach. It's really intense here. And we've also had some very intense rain bands hit us in the last few minutes so I'm going to throw it to you, John Berman.

I'm told by I should throw it to you where you are in Miami. I know you've got the intense hurricanes-strength winds there. It sure feels like it's hitting up here right now, too.

BERMAN: Yes. Yes, Brian, hard to operate. Hard to move, hard to hear. Hard to do anything in conditions like this, with the winds pounding like they are. Again in the high rises here in Miami they've had gusts of 100 miles an hour. More than 500,000 people without power in Miami-Dade alone, more than a million people over southern Florida as a whole.

[10:10:04] As bad as it is right here where I am in Miami, this is downtown Miami, you look out over there, you can't see it because it's raining so hard, and the soup is so thick here, but Miami Beach is out there, and that's where I want to go to Kyung Lah, who is just getting pounded all the morning out there.

Kyung, tell us what it's like right now.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, as it happens in a hurricane, our electronics are starting to get down as things get waterlogged. Conditions are starting to deteriorate here as I'm sure there are where you are.

I want to give you a look of what it looks like here in Miami Beach. And it looks bad, yes, but I need to tell you that if you go right over that berm to the beach, it's even worse. The wind gusts there are even stronger. There are very, very few people on the street. We've seen a couple of storm chasers. And that is the good news because Miami Beach police and fire say they cannot rescue people.

If you try to come out here, if you have not evacuated, if you have not heeded the mandatory evacuation order, you are on your own. They did try to help people throughout the evening, but eventually they simply had to stop.

What we are seeing as far as the storm surge, nothing, and that's very, very good news for this city because the concern was that there would be a five-foot storm surge. But so far that has not arrived.

A big concern here is flooding, but right now what we're mainly dealing with are these winds. Entire trees are being completely bent over. We're seeing street signs fall over, and then intermittently it becomes very difficult to stand, and certainly it is absolutely unsafe to be on these roads if you're driving. So at some point they were concerned about people trying to come back here to Miami Beach. Do not be out today if you can -- John, Chris. Excuse me -- Chris.

CUOMO: Kyung. I'll take it. Thank you very much. Stay safe.

We are in Naples, Florida. And this is a good demonstration between the radar and the real. You see the map on your screen right now, that big red ball in the middle is obviously the eye and the most intense winds. Now if you look above it, the top part into the left, you'll start seeing these red flashes. This is what happens with those red flashes. We're getting gusts here well in excess of 60 miles an hour or so, and just big bands of rain punishing this area.

And this is that west coast dilemma, which is you have an already very low-lying area that can't take much water, but as we were being shown by the meteorologist Allison Chinchar, that the storm surge is going to come back with a vengeance on that gulf side. Right now you're seeing it on the east coast of Florida. And we're actually seeing the waters start to withdraw on the western side. Why?

Well, that's energy absorption, right? The hurricane moves counter clockwise, it's going to take energy from one side, distribute it to the other. That's going to reverse as it comes through this area and the flood potential of the storm surge here is the main fear. And the reason for that is the wind gets the headlines. The wind is the spectacle, the wind gives you the miles an hour. But it is the water that wins.

It is the water that is deadly. The number one cause of death in a hurricane is water. OK. So we're getting a little bit of a glimpse into the future here. We still ain't seeing nothing yet on the west coast of Florida.

Where they are getting hammered is Key West. That's where this storm made landfall in Key Largo, the key closest to Florida, that's where Bill Weir is. He has been chronicling what the people down there are about, and their rugged individualism. He saw some horrible storm conditions this morning. And now at least he's been to have his jacket off. That's a good sign.

Bill, what's it like now? I see some sunshine behind you.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, I gave up on the park. It didn't matter. It might as well -- it might as well be a little more breezy out here but we're over -- we moved over to the other side of our shelter carport here. We're looking at the bay side of Key Largo, up at the top of the Keys. But I'm reading these reports of "The Miami Herald," just reported that everything in Key West is under water. Quote, "Everything."

There are reports out of the shelters in Marathon Key, where one man died of natural causes overnight in that shelter. They're running low on food. Having to raid the cafeteria of the school that they're sheltered in there. We're hearing -- we're getting admonitions from the authorities, Monroe County, reminding people not to run your generator inside because the power is out for this entire archipelago.

Commonsense things, if it seems like the storm has ended, it probably means the eye is over. You stay inside because they could get squirrely in a heartbeat now.

10:15:04] But I'm just trying to imagine where we did our final Friday night live shot as the exodus was starting to trickle down north on U.S. 1, there was this improvised car load at Cudjoe Key, where people parked their cars as they left or as they tried to shelter on what is a mountaintop in the Keys, 16, 17 feet above sea level right next to the bridge.

That is exactly where Irma came ashore. No telling what became of those vehicles and hopefully nobody was riding it out in that area there.

We've been talking to our sailor friends here on Key Largo. Aside from some tiki huts blowing around, some plywood blowing around, they are all safe. Their boats are still moored. For the most part, though I did see some pictures out of some boats down in Key West that are just broken and sinking.

So as this things winds down, Chris, we're going to be able to venture out and really get an assessment of the damage. And since this is the strongest storm to hit these Keys in 57 years, since Donna, 57 years ago today, the devastation is sure to be historic.

COOPER: And of course it was Donna, which was terribly, terribly devastating for the Keys back in 1960. Reports of hundreds of people who lost their lives there. Obviously the technology is very different now. The warnings are very different now. People are far better prepared.

We'll continue to check in with Bill Weir and other folks who are riding things out throughout the Keys where we are just now getting reports of the situations there.

A lot ahead. Our coverage continues in a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sun is finally coming up. It's been a long night. It's Sunday morning about 7:00.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:21:20] COOPER: A very calm scene here in Tampa. People actually walking along the Hillsboro River, just kind of get some exercise before they have to hunker down as this storm approaches.

I want to go to John Berman who is in Miami where things are obviously much, much worse at this point -- John.

BERMAN: Yes, Anderson, I just want to show you one thing right next to this building where we're standing right now. We're going to look up right there. And you can see that piece of flashing, maybe a piece of a canopy there that's hanging off the building. And as the wind has been whipping around it's been torn off. Hanging you on by sort of just a thread right now.

And this is a debris, this is the type of thing you really have to be careful with in a storm like this. This is why they want people off the streets, inside. It's blowing in the other direction. Just so you know. The only reason I'm standing where I am is we've see a few things fly off this building and flies out and away from where we're standing right now.

But it does show you the force of this storm, Anderson, as the wind gusts here in Miami, even in downtown Miami have been 100 miles an hour or more. And when you listen to our meteorologists -- even through our meteorologist it could get even stronger and sustain itself for several more hours.

Let's go to Rosa Flores now for an update -- Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. I'm in the Brickell area. This is the financial district and as you were mentioning, the big story here in this urban downtown area is the wind. The wind creates wind tunnels in between the buildings. The only way to describe the sound is a screeching high pitched sound. It's very weird. It's very eerie.

As you look around, you see there is some debris here on the ground. It doesn't look like much, but when it rains in Miami, it floods. So it does means a lot because this plugs the drain.

Now I can tell you that by looking around at these high-rise buildings, people indeed -- did heed the warning and put patio furniture down, which is really important, because that could turn into flying debris.

Now we do see one person in a balcony waving, which is the one thing that you're not supposed to do because as we pan over right next to this building is a crane. We've been monitoring these cranes all over the city of Miami because they dot the skyline.

Here in Brickell there are two. We have seen them sway all day long, all morning long here, and of course here a huge concern because we were told from city officials -- by city officials that they could not take down these cranes. They didn't have enough time. It would take about two weeks to take them down and now they are at the mercy of Mother Nature, and of course officials asking people in these high rises and around these cranes to evacuate because of the dangers.

And I know, Chris, that you were out here in Miami before. You left headed north and I can tell you, Irma is here. We're feeling the force of Irma in Miami as of an hour -- Chris.

CUOMO: No question, the science backs you up. We're looking at the radar and the screen right now. Here in Naples we have some of the aspects that Rosa is describing. That's also going on farther south.

This place doesn't have a lot of resilience when it comes to water. It is very vulnerable to storm surge. Before being on this morning, I walked down to the waters just a few blocks away from here on the gulf side, and it was already right up to the edge. And that was before anything happened. And that's why they're worried about the storm surge.

We also have a crane right over our shoulder, you know, another part of the vulnerabilities here, what will happen in high winds that are expected here on that west coast. Another thing that they have to monitor. That's why the calls for evacuation were so serious.

[10:25:06] Now not everybody heeded them. We have Wayne Ploghoft on the phone with us right now. He is somewhat south of where we are in Naples, on Marco Island. He decided to stick it out in his condo. He said he'd be safe. Let's check in.

Wayne, how are you doing?

WAYNE PLOGHOFT, RESIDENT, MARCO ISLAND, FLORIDA: Hey, good morning, how are you? CUOMO: I'm doing well, thank God. How are you? How's it gone so

far? We haven't seen the worst of what we'll see by a long shot here on the west coast, but what are you seeing so far and how are you faring?

PLOGHOFT: Well. so far so good, holding strong, OK? The winds have drastically came up since yesterday, of course. I've been posting videos on my Facebook page, trying to, you know, give a good word out there on how the island is doing to local people and friends and family and stuff.

There is about eight people in my building alone that decided to stay and hunker down, you know, in this to torrential storm that we got, you know, facing us.

CUOMO: Why did you want to stay? What was the thinking?

PLOGHOFT: Well, actually I was supposed to fly out early this morning. And I had my ticket, bought a week ago, and then all of sudden, you know, God came in and did what he had to do so that put me back. And then I was set to fly out tomorrow, and then that got crushed. So now I'm not going out until Tuesday. I have to go back for family reasons, but I figure, well --

CUOMO: All right --

PLOGHOFT: -- best thing to do is to stay right where I am and, you know, hang in there. I've been doing that ever since.

CUOMO: What do you have as a plan working for you right, Wayne? What do you have in terms of supplies? How long will you be good if you get stuck on the island for a little bit?

PLOGHOFT: I have quite a bit of canned goods that I was able to fetch and I can easily whip up that will serve the purpose, plenty of water, bottled water, that is. Of course I'm keeping constantly charged of my cell phone. I have a battery-operated radio. So -- and I also have lights, battery-operated lights in case, you know, we lose power for a good day or so.

In fact, just before you came on, that I was cued up with you, I happened to lose power at the moment. And I had to reboot everything all over again. It's been flickering in and out at times, but only for about maybe 10, 15 seconds. And then the power would come back on.

CUOMO: Right. We had that same power hit here. It was just, you know, brief, certainly nothing like what they're expecting may happen. The estimate now from the state is over 1.3 million people without power, and that's mostly central and southern Florida because obviously the storm hasn't come up this way yet.

They're also saying that now, you know, you really should stay where you are, Wayne. I know it's going to get a little scary there. But you did refer to something that may be a huge asset for you in the next coming hours. You said there are other people that stayed in the building. Are you in touch with them? Because, you know, we're all in this together. It's more than just a slogan. It's a practical reality for people who stayed behind.

Are you in contact with them? Are you in ability to get together and make it through this as a group?

PLOGHOFT: Yes, sir, we are. There's three alone on my floor, together, but (INAUDIBLE) along the third floor. There's another three on the fourth floor and there's definitely two on the fifth floor. So we're all, you know, pretty much together. We can go to each neighbor and sit in with each other, which we have for the last two days or so, you know, just to shoot the BS, so to speak.

And other than that, all spirits are good, everybody is fine, everybody is supplied very well, so on and so forth. So with another day or so of going through this to torrential storm we have descending upon us right now, we're all going to be OK.

CUOMO: That is the hope, to be sure.

Wayne, we have your number. I'm going to check back with you. We'll be looking at your Facebook page. If it starts to change for the worse, do me a favor, reach out when you can and just let us know what's going on and what your concern are so we can keep some tabs of you, OK?

PLOGHOFT: Sounds great and I thank you for this interview. I really appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right, Wayne. Be safe. Make sure you're in contact with the people there so, you know, you have some support if it goes the wrong way. Take care. We'll check in with you soon.

All right. So there are a lot of Waynes out there in areas that are going to be vulnerable, certainly, as we get up this west coast -- a couple of reasons. One, you do have storm-savvy people and there's a little bit of a rigidness when it comes to being told to evacuate. It's something that, kind of, goes along with being a Floridian. There's a stubbornness to thinking you can get through storms. And, also, the west coast wasn't supposed to get hit.

And you heard Wayne saying that he had flights, but they were scheduled for days where, once the shift happened, they weren't practical anymore, couldn't get out. And now his flight for tomorrow, obviously, isn't going to happen.

There's another aspect. As we go to break here, this storm has strengthened. It made landfall as a Category 4. It's also slowed down. Now, that speed is going to mean a lot to scientists. But it certainly means one thing, for sure, to everybody on the ground: duration. This storm is going to stay longer in places that it hits as it moves. And that is going to be a factor in its destructive capabilities.

We're going to take you through that, where the storm has been, what it's done and where Irma is still headed. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALYSSA HYMAN, WPTV CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing cars drive up to this intersection, seeing what's going on and having to turn around, make a U-turn, realizing it's just not safe to pass. You can see we've got some first responders out here. These are the only people that should be on the road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. John Berman here in Miami, Chris Cuomo in Naples, Anderson Cooper up in Tampa. CNN literally wrapping around the Florida Peninsula right now, as Hurricane Irma wraps around the Florida Peninsula, delivering all kinds of misery in its path, the wind kicking up, the rains really coming down where we are in Miami.

And we did just get a piece of breaking news. City officials confirm to us now that a crane did crack in downtown Miami. We're working to get pictures for you of that. More than 20 cranes here in Miami up there at risk of (inaudible)> They had to leave them up. It took six or seven days, if they had it, to take them down. They did not have that kind of time, so those cranes were left up. One has now cracked. It was a building under construction. No word yet if anyone is hurt, but people were told to leave buildings near cranes as this storm got closer. We'll give you much more on that in the coming minutes.

In the meantime, I want to go now to St. Petersburg, Florida, where Congressman Charlie Crist joins me now by phone.

Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. Look, you've been in public service in the state of Florida for a long, long time, as attorney general, as governor, now as a congressman.

We've been told by so many emergency management officials that this storm is not like any other that Florida has ever seen. What are you seeing right now where you were?

REP. CHARLIE CRIST, D-FLORIDA: Well, thank you, first, for your excellent coverage. What we're seeing here in Tampa Bay -- and I'm in downtown St. Petersburg, actually -- what we're seeing is decent wind. It's not terrible, probably around 20 miles an hour. We do have rain. And, you know, the conditions are not that bad, but we know there's more to come because we've seen what you've been broadcasting throughout the morning.

BERMAN: Yeah, now, what we're getting here in Miami, you're going to get potential much worse in the coming hours. And, Congressman, I don't know if you can see behind me, but the docks that were behind us now are submerged in water. We're getting a storm surge here in Miami expected to be three to six feet at max. You know, up the western coast of Florida, that storm surge could be 10 to 15 feet.

How do you think Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay area, will be able to handle that? CRIST: Well, as best we can, obviously. You know, a storm surge like

that is the thing that you really worry about, but depending on where the storm continues to track will be a huge factor in how much of a surge we experience, whether we get it on the front side of the storm, before the eye comes toward us, or on the back side of the storm, after it's passed by. And that all depends, as you know, whether the eye goes to the east of us or to the west of us. And we just don't know that for sure yet. So only time will tell.

BERMAN: Yeah, everyone watching that very, very closely. Again, millions of people in the path of the storm, hundreds of thousands under mandatory evacuation orders, tens of thousands in shelters. What's the status of the shelters, Congressman, as far as you know, in Pinellas County, where you are?

CRIST: Well, they're pretty full now. I toured some of them yesterday, one special needs shelter. And, you know, we have got a lot of shelters, fortunately. People have heeded the evacuation orders, which is important. So I think we're doing pretty well when it comes to shelters. We have some shelters that are taking, you know, pets, cats and dogs as well, which are very important to people. So I think we're pretty -- pretty well-prepared here. I really do.

BERMAN: Now, 1 million people, plus, without power already, mostly in southern Florida. That number will go up, because there's still plenty of Florida that hasn't seen the worst of this storm, not near it, yet.

How long do you imagine it will take to get that power back up online, once this storm passes into tomorrow?

CRIST: It may take a while. It's hard to say for certain how long that would take. And it, kind of, depends on what grid you're on. You know, a lot of people in downtown areas, they have better a grid, many times, because it's where the hospitals are located. So that can be a factor. So it just depends on where you're located and how severe the winds are, whether it takes down the power lines or not. And if it does, then it may take a while to get power back on.

BERMAN: Now, Congressman, like we said, you've been in public service in Florida a long time; you've lived through storms before in Florida many times before. We're in the middle of it right now, but let's look forward a little bit. What do people need to brace themselves for as we deal with the days ahead, as we deal with the recovery?

CRIST: Well, I think the important thing is having been well prepared already. You know, the storm is upon us now. We're going to get it later in the day, probably into the evening here in Tampa Bay. And the warnings that have come out from state and local and federal authorities have been continuous and constant. As a result of that, I think that people should be well supplied. If they're hunkered down, then they should have the water that they would need, some canned goods, you know, any prescription drugs that they might need for several days, that sort of thing.

But, you know, that kind of preparation, for most people, has already occurred, and that's a very good thing. That will sustain folks for a while, obviously. Once this storm gets past us, you know, hopefully it moves on fairly rapidly and we can start to get back to some sense of normalcy. That's what everyone is hoping for and looking forward to.

BERMAN: Yeah, hope for the best and plan for the worst. That is what has been happening in Florida for days. You know, Congressman Charlie Crist, thank you so much for being with us. It's so important to hear from public officials like you these days, to give people a sense of what to expect, how to get through this, how to be best prepared. We thank you so much for your time, sir.

Chris, I want to go back to you now, in Naples.

CUOMO: You know, obviously Charlie Crist, congressman now, former governor, knows what it's like to have to leave in a situation like this. We heard from the new FEMA director the other day. You have three objectives as a leader in a situation like this: inform, influence and inspire. And we are in the phase now of just holding everything in pause until they see what this storm does. The aftermath is going to be where government's really going to have to get into action.

So let's being someone in.

Bill Moss, I've kept you dry as long as I could, but now you have to come out. The city manager here in Naples. Thank you for joining us.

BILL MOSS, CITY MANAGER, NAPLES, FLORIDA: Glad to be here.

CUOMO: I wish it weren't under this, but let's be honest. This is nothing compared to what you're worried about coming your way. What are your concerns?

MOSS: We have a long time ago, but we've been preparing all week for this. I've got all employees in the city with a lot of equipment. Our job is to implement our plan to get the city open and back into business as quickly as possible. So come daybreak, we've got a strategic plan. We'll start clearing all the roads so that we can do search and rescue, so we can provide police, fire and medical services to those that have stayed.

And more importantly, we'd like to have our people return to the city as quickly as we can, so we want to clear the roads, as long as they recognize that it could be days or weeks without power. The temperatures are going to go back to the 90s in a couple of days. It's going to be uncomfortable, but I think we're going to be fine.

BERMAN: So let's talk about the pluses and then we'll talk about the concerns. Pluses, you've got a plan in place. Plus, you've been doing this over 40 years. Another plus is that, for whatever reason, the people here -- and I know this is a snowbird city, but of about 19,000 in the city proper, about two-thirds are believed to have evacuated. That's a huge plus that you have here. What do you make of that, on the good side?

MOSS: That is good, that people recognize the potential problems, even though we couldn't really tell where the storm was going to go. Now it looks like it's -- it's one of the worst situations that we had hoped for. I think the storm surge now is going to be our biggest threat. The wind is going to be damaging, but not to our structures. We've got good construction standards. The problem we're going to have is this small town has about 20,000 trees, in the public (inaudible) and the beaches, and those trees are going to go down, and then they're going to block the roads and they're going to rip up water and sewer lines.

So we're going to try to provide water and sewer for as long as possible. But we have to be ready to shut down the system, try to isolate the breaks, and then restore the system to make sure people have that vital water and sewer service.

BERMAN: A quick note, the governor -- Governor Scott has a home here in Naples, but that wasn't driving his concern. He was saying it's uniquely vulnerable to storm surge. And before the broadcast this morning I went down on the Gulf side, right? And the marina there already looked like it had all it could take, in terms of its bulkheading. And that was before any of this. What do you think about storm surge?

What are you expecting? What can it do?

MOSS: Well, storm surge hasn't been much of a problem in the past, but there's no doubt that this is a very, very serious threat. And if it does come up, it's going to be a long time before that water recedes and we can get to those properties. So we hope that anybody anywhere near the beach has already moved inland and at least on a second floor.

BERMAN: Well, you can tell you've been doing it 40 years. When a gust like that comes through -- that was a little taste of the real deal -- you didn't even blink.

MOSS: That was just getting started here.

BERMAN: So hopefully -- so a steady hand that's going to be needed. Thank you for being with us.

Let me know how we can help while we're here.

MOSS: Thank you. Good luck to everybody.

BERMAN: All right. That was Bill Moss, city manager here in Naples, 40 years of experience. Experience pays in a situation like this. But it also informs him -- we were talking before he came on -- they don't know what's going to happen here because they haven't seen anything like Irma.

All right. We're going to take a break. When we come back, we have also seen what this storm is capable of from what it's done already. As the wind starts to pick up and the effects are felt, we'll take a look at what Hurricane Irma can do. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. Welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Irma. I'm in the city of Tampa, where there really is no indication at this point of the storm that is yet to come. Obviously, things are going to be getting worse and worse later throughout the day into the evening hours. That's when we're really expecting the worst of this.

John Berman is in Miami. Chris Cuomo is Naples, Florida for us. We have correspondents all throughout -- all throughout the region and in other states as well, because this storm is not just an event for Florida; it's going to be affecting other states as well.

But I want to go to John Berman. John, there was a report -- you mentioned just a short time ago -- of a crane collapsing in Miami. What have you learned about that?

CUOMO: That's right, a crane has cracked. Officials want to be clear, to say it's not a full collapse. The standing part of the crane has not pulled off the building. But it does appear that the boom has cracked off. This was a source of concern for people in this city, 20 to 25 cranes that do line the city right now. It's a sign of, sort of, the economic boom that's happening in Miami right now. They did not have time to take them down.

I believe we have with us a witness, someone who saw this crane crack. Gideon Ape joins me by the phone right now. He is in downtown Miami.

Gideon, give me a sense of what you saw.

GIDEON APE, CALLING FROM MIAMI: Hi, well, really I was just riding the storm out, like many people here in downtown Miami. And I heard a loud crack, and then, like, a boom that, kind of, followed that. And so I assumed that something large fell, and I looked out the window and looked up and I saw just some remnants of the crane falling down to the building next to me. And so right now it's cracked. And looking at it right now, there is a little metal piece that's attached to, I guess, like, the crane chain or something like that. And it's swinging around and it's busting out other windows of the property itself. And so that's pretty much what I saw, and I heard more than what I saw. But that's the -- that's what I've got.

CUOMO: Yeah, officials had told us leading up into the storm that these cranes were built to withstand winds of 145 miles an hour. We're not there. The wind gusts, we're told, right now, in some of the high- rises, about 100 miles an hour. Obviously this crane, on a building under construction right now, you know, couldn't withstand that. It did crack.

What -- did it look like there were any people -- I can't imagine anyone was out on the streets in these conditions, but did you see any signs of people nearby when you looked out when you looked out your window?

APE: Not at all. I mean, the streets have been pretty empty. It's been like a ghost town around here for the most part. I think people are taking heed to the curfew that we have in place and also, obviously the storm. I think it's just common sense to stay off the streets during something like this. Hopefully, it's common sense.

CUOMO: Yeah, hopefully, indeed.

All right, Gideon Ape, thank you so much for that perspective.

Again, the news, you know, a crane has now cracked in Miami, one of the more than 20 that do line this city. They didn't have time to take them down, Anderson.

We've got several more hours of this, these wind gusts now 100 miles an hour in those high-rises. So people really need to be careful. Stay away from your windows if you are in a high-rise anywhere near those buildings. Anderson?

COOPER: You know, John, that's obviously a huge concern here in Tampa. This is a city that has been booming. There'e been a big construction boom. There's two cranes -- I don't know if you can pan over -- there's two cranes right over here just off the Hillsborough River. Obviously, you know, they have tried to secure those, but as you know by now, if you've been watching our coverage, those -- the cranes -- the perpendicular cranes -- are left to float freely and act basically as a weather vane.

But there's big questions about how prepared Tampa is for a storm of this magnitude and storm surge of this magnitude. Five to eight feet was the estimate as of yesterday. It was 1921 when a Category 3 storm hit Tampa. It caused widespread damage. Thankfully the city was not -- there weren't a lot of people living here at the time. Only one fatality was reported, but there was an awful lot of damage done here.

And so this city has not really had a direct hit since that storm nearly 100 years ago. So there's a lot of anticipation. And obviously yesterday morning people woke up to a very different reality here in Tampa and really all along the west coast of Florida. As we talked about when we were in Fort Myers yesterday, a lot of people who had left Miami and come to Tampa or Fort Myers or other places on the west coast to evacuate from Miami were suddenly faced with the realization that, wait a minute, we are now in the eye of this thing. Do we go back to Miami? Do we go north? Or do we seek shelter?

And we saw yesterday a lot of people seeking shelters. In fact cities all across the coast were scrambling to open up more shelters to accommodate the numbers of people. Drew Griffin is in a shelter by Fort Myers.

Drew, explain where you are. And what is the scene inside that shelter? Because yesterday you were out there for hours with people who were waiting in line four, five hours, and thousands of people outside the Germain Arena, which is a hockey arena which holds about 8,000?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it was not a pleasant line to be in, as you were waiting in the heat to get in. And from what the people who were inside told me, it was not pleasant last night. You were in there with thousands of people, all kind of last-minute decisions to get there. You were told to bring three days' supply of food, your bedding. They only are going to provide to make you safe, Anderson.

It's east of I-75 where we are and outside of Fort Myers, Zone C flood zone. So that is what they think is not going to be susceptible to any kind of that storm surge. But we went back there this morning and just -- it just really looked like those folks had been through a miserable night. They're not letting cameras inside, with privacy issues, but outside we just met lots and lots of people who said their night was terrible; the day is going to be terrible. They're just huddled down in there, just waiting for this storm to be over.

To be fair to the officials, they gave them safe shelter and are going to give them safe shelter. They never promised it was going to be a four-star luxury resort, and it is not. So we're going to hear a lot of complaints coming out of there, Anderson. But like I said, good, we'll be able to at least hear those people complain who have gone through this storm. Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah, and, Drew, I mean, it bears repeating. People were told to bring supplies to that shelter. I mean, the shelter was supposed to have supplies as well, and did, but people were told to bring -- bring items, bring things for at least three days. Is that correct?

GRIFFIN: Absolutely. I mean, you know, you've got to prepare; you can't rely on the government to provide everything for you, especially in these conditions. And keep in mind everybody in the government has their own family to deal with. There were lots and lots of people outside the shelter smoking. A lot of people brought enough smokes for their visit. So I'm just saying you've got to be prepared for these kind of things, and most people in Florida are. Anderson?

COOPER: Yeah. I talked to the mayor here in Tampa yesterday, who was saying, you know, they were -- in the days before this, while they were preparing for this storm, there was no doubt about it; they knew the size of this storm, it was going to affect Tampa no matter what. But they were also thinking about how they were going to be helping other communities, perhaps on the east coast, where it seemed, earlier in the week, that the storm was really going to be tracking. And then, again, yesterday the mayor, you know, had a very different reality to face, is this is a city which may be asking for help from cities on the east coast in the days ahead.

We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues in a moment.

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