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More Than 380,000 Without Power In Florida; Destructive Hurricane Force Winds And Rain Lash Florida Keys; Irma's Eyewall Making Landfall In Key West Aired 6-7a

Aired September 10, 2017 - 06:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We have important new information about Hurricane Irma, but the headline remains the same. The storm is coming. Now about 40 nautical miles off of Key West. Why isn't it here? Good question. The storm has slowed down.

That is not good news. It is only delaying the inevitable. It means something to scientists. We'll bring you the latest scientific information. We'll bring you the latest change in the track, the storm, the story of it has been one of change.

The path has changed again but, again, the reality is the same. At latest count, at least 300,000 without power in Florida. Many of them in the Miami-Dade area. That's what you're looking at right now.

That's West Palm Beach and, remember, just in terms of geography you have Palm Beach, a barrier island, then West Palm Beach right up hard against the shore. Mandatory evacuation center, and that's the reality.

Remember, we are still many, many hours away from the worst of it. What we know about this storm now, the reason we're following the eye is that 70 miles in circumference around that, the diameter out around that storm, 140 miles across, that's hurricane force winds, so it's not just about the eye. It's about that whole range.

We're already getting hit with it. We're up in Naples on the west coast. This has become a new source of concern with this storm, what will happen to the west coast up into Tampa, Tampa Bay uniquely vulnerable to storm. We're going to tell you why throughout this morning.

So, again, I want to repeat this for people in Florida. The timetable has shifted. Things will happen later. We were supposed to get hit this afternoon here in Naples. It will now be this evening, but what we expect has stayed the same. It's going to be bad and, in fact, it's bad already. It's going to get worse.

Bill Weir is in Key Largo. The keys will get first. He has been story telling the rugged individualism of the culture and how they stay behind, and now you can see what he's dealing with right now with his team. Bill, what's the situation? BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right. This string of little coral islands, home to so many DREAMers and drifters and divers and anglers and treasure hunters down here, it's a special breed of cat that's drawn down to the most tropical neighborhood in the United States but this is the price of admission, this kind of weather.

There are 29,000 customers of the Keys energy services, the public power utility down here and 29,000 customers without power this morning. They have about 190 lineworkers from around the country who have come in ready to mobilize once the storm has passed.

But it looks like the extension cord that plugs into the mainland and powers the Florida Keys went out last night sometime around 11:00 p.m. They tried to re-energize it remotely but no go.

So, we're lighting up this shot off a car battery. We're really starting to see these feeder bands light up. We're on the bay side of Key Largo, the northern most biggest of the Florida Keys.

I can only imagine what the gusts are like over on the Atlantic oceanside. That's where we met some of those who refuse to leave. They're riding it out in a stone structure. A boating club on a marina there adjusting the line, the anchor lines, the tie lines on their boats.

Maybe not the smartest decision to stay, but it's part of the reason many people did stay is fear that if they left one of the bridges that connects the 43 inhabitable islands of the Keys would wash out and they wouldn't be able to get back here for months if ever.

Fingers crossed the infrastructure holds, that it's not too devastating. A lot of these islands the mountain top is maybe the second story of your house. One of the highest points down there so any storm surge watching the live shot at the southern-most point. That's an easy way to get swept out to sea.

So as first light comes up and the curiosity is there to run out, bad idea because with these winds, a small piece of palm frond turns into a missile.

[06:05:11] And we recurred to everybody to hunker down, stay in even if you're in a structure with a lot of windows, you might want to create a little board of mattresses and couch cushions, any kind of prudent steps you can take to protect yourself from stuff lying through the air.

And then when it comes to water, if you still have a little bit of water pressure, fill up your bathtub, put a little of bleach in there. You are going to use that for everything but drinking water.

Keep your shoes on or right next to you if for whatever reason you have to move, but here it comes, Chris. Irma is here. Chris, are you still with me?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: So let's take a look. We're here in the weather center, take a look at the most recent update that we have. We're getting hourly updates on the hour. So, this is what we know. The forward movement, the direction in which the storm is going, has slightly increased not by much.

We've seen the eye wall replacement cycle take place and a wobble there where you see it bounce back and forth. This is not good news, not what you wanted to do before it's about to make landfall.

We are a few hours shy of when it's expected to completely go over the Florida Keys. Likely we'll expect that center of circulation to cross over some time in the 7:00 hour Eastern Time this morning. Then it will continue its track up to the north impacting the west coast of Florida.

We are talking Fort Myers going to get some very strong winds. Areas of Tampa around St. Petersburg and then pushing up into the panhandle. But before it does, it will encounter incredibly warm water.

We talked about storm surge but you need to understand the timing of this storm surge. In the beginning, the storm surge is going to be on the east coast side because that's where the storm is pulling in the water from.

But as the storm pushes north, that's when the worst storm surge will take place on the west coast side. So, Chris, it's important for people on the west coast to know just because they see it happening on the east coast doesn't mean people on the west coast can put their guard down now.

The timings are completely different for each coast. The point is, Chris, they will both get very dangerous storm surge.

CUOMO: Allison, thank you very much for bailing me out there. As we say the water always wins. Mike got wet, shorted out, and that is the least of our concerns but thank you very much. The changes in the path very relevant to many people on the ground here in Florida. We'll check back with you in a little bit.

We saw Bill Weir in the Keys, the first place to get hit, but everywhere is getting hit already, 300,000 people at least without power. Here in Naples, we're not supposed to see the worst of it for 12 hours from now and already things are going bad here.

Where are they worse? Miami Beach. That's where we have Derek Van Dam monitoring the situation by Ocean Drive. He is getting punished right now. Good thing he has the goggles on. What is it like?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Chris, this wind is punishing. It's picking up tiny grains of sand from the beach that's about 100 feet to my left and it's also starting to pick up debris which is not good.

But it's important we show people this information because we don't want people to become complacent like you were talking about just a moment ago because it is not safe to return to Miami Beach just because of the track has shift to the west. Standing in this type of a wind, 60, 75 miles per hour, this will become a missile. Also, coconuts everywhere. Tree branches coming down and the wind continues to get stronger.

Let me bring you over here. We've had electricity going in and out through the day. The hotel that we're bunkering down at has just lost power. We are in a safe position. Look at the trees behind me.

We're on Ocean Drive right now at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning people would be taking a leisurely stroll with their dogs or a morning walk or run. Not today. People heeded the evacuation orders. They got out of here and good thing they did because this storm is serious. Irma has arrived -- Chris.

[06:10:03] CUOMO: All right. I am not going to leave you out there like a crash test dummy, but I do want to get a sense about the storm surge. Do you see the water starting to make any kind of move yet because the threshold very low where you are for saturation?

VAN DAM: Chris, they're forecasting 3 feet to 5 feet inundation here where I'm standing. We're about 100 feet away from the ocean. We don't want to get too close to this because the wind now that it's come up so much is pushing the waters from the Atlantic and obviously that's when storm surge becomes the most dangerous.

So, any second that we see water coming over this area we're going to get out of here and get to a higher elevation. By the way, Chris, I want to talk about you know that I'm about 160 pounds, right, this is jolting me around, 65, 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts. If you can imagine what this is going to do along the west coast at 130 miles an hour.

CUOMO: It's true. We ain't seen nothing yet. You are sturdy and your reporting is strong. Please, get inside, get your cameraman and crew safe. We'll check back with you in a bit. A very important update from Miami beach.

There are a lot of people there who didn't want to leave and when they saw the storm path shifted they decided they were going to stay or they wanted to come back and the mayor very clear in Miami Beach, don't come back. And now you're seeing why the warning was so stiff.

Let's take a break. When we come back we'll check in with other parts down there in Miami. CNN has people everywhere Irma is going to be and make no mistake, she's here already, here in Naples. We're many hours away from the worst of it. Already we're feeling the impacts. We'll take you through it. If you're in Florida please, my friends, stay safe and stay with CNN.



CUOMO: All right. You are looking at one of the main corridors here. This is I-95 going up north. It is now empty, OK. We're getting this from the help of one of our friends, WSVN. A little drive cam shot to show you nobody is on the roads.

The governor was talking about your last clear chance to act because Irma is now here. We're seeing the least of it. The storm has changed overnight. What is the new information? The storm has strengthened. It's now a Cat 4.

It has slowed down to about 9 nautical miles an hour, it's moving. The path has shifted a little bit more west but the reality stays the same. Irma is going to hit us and she's going to hit us hard in Florida.

At the latest rough count, at least 300,000 are without power already in Florida and, again, we have not seen the worst of it yet. It is not just intensity with a hurricane, it's duration, especially dealing with a low flood plain, a vulnerable area, which all of south and west Florida is.

That's just the truth. Here in Naples we're going to see some really tough stuff later on. But just the duration of the rain that we've had from about late yesterday afternoon and overnight everything here has changed.

We heard Bill Weir in Key Largo talking about how simple things can become projectiles, I was walking around before the show. A palm frond fell, a big branch off one of these trees. Not a big deal.

I kept walking. There was a gust of wind, it came flying over my head and took out a canopy. I was never in any kind of danger. That's not what it's about. It's not about hype. It's about the reality on the ground.

Things that you wouldn't expect to be a problem quickly can become one and that's one of the reasons the officials in charge are so worried about the outcome here. This is the story of the future, we are in the future zone of concern, the present zone of concern are the Keys, Miami.

John Berman is situated right in the middle of the area of concern in downtown Miami. He's been watching the water rise. He's been dealing with the wind. He's been making fun of me for not wearing a hat but now he's paying the price.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The ghost of Christmas present here in Miami right now. You talked about the reality of Hurricane Irma. It is a wet and windy reality and you talk about the duration of it. It has been like this since yesterday.

We were here last night until 11:00. The wind was gusting. The rain was falling. It's still like that this morning. We have hours ahead of us, the duration of this will be something that is very difficult to bear for so much of Southern Florida right now.

I'm in Miami. To the south of us the Florida Keys in the direct path of Hurricane Irma. Key West could feel the eye within the next few hours. I want to go, if I can, to Cammy Clarke with the Emergency Management Department of Monroe County. That is the Florida Keys. She joins me from Key Largo right now.

Cammy, if you can hear me, I know it might be hard because it's blowing and raining a lot where I am. I can only imagine what it's like where you are. Give me a sense of the situation right now in the Keys.

CAMMY CLARKE, MONROE COUNTY EMERGENCY OPERATIONS (via telephone): Well, I can only tell you what it's like right now in Key Largo looking at my window and it's the strongest storm I've ever seen in my life. I'm just super terrified for everybody in the lower keys.

We're probably about 110 miles from where they are, and this storm is just beyond what I even imagined. We've been spending the last six days begging people to get out and now we're just hopeful that people can survive this.

[06:20:04] BERMAN: The strongest storm you've ever seen in your life and this is your job to see storms like this, Cammy so that puts it in perspective. What has the night been like? You know, it's after 6 a.m. right now. Have you been getting calls throughout the night? What are you hearing from people?

CLARKE: Yes, I'm getting calls all night long. I can't even describe seeing palm trees bent over in half and we are not even 100 miles from the storm and we haven't even gotten the worst of the storm yet.

So what we've been doing the past week besides begging everybody to leave the keys, what we've been preparing for our recovery and as soon as the storm passes we're going to evaluate and inspect all the bridges and roadways try to get them open as soon as possible and we've had damage and problems.

We also planned on having air supplies flown in once we can clear the airport so clearing the airports will be a priority both at Key West and Marathon and also the naval air station.

BERMAN: Cammy, what's your message right now to the people in Monroe County, the people who against your advice decided to stay?

CLARKE: Right now, it's too late to tell them to go anywhere safe. We had people on boats who refused to get off of their boats. I don't even know what it's going to be like for them, but we had four shelters of last refuge throughout the keys.

Mainly high schools built for Cat 5 and I'm hopeful anybody in there will be fine. Obviously, we're concerned about the storm surge. We are low lying. I'm a bicycle enthusiast and it's boring for me because it's so flat to ride around here. It's low riding. We get floods at high tide. So, any kind of storm surge is going to be devastating.

BERMAN: Right. All right. Cammy Clarke, Department of Emergency Management in Monroe County, please stay safe, move away from that window. Resist the urge to look outside for a little while if you can. Thank you so much for the work you're doing. Chris, back to you in Naples. It's pretty remarkable when you have someone from the Department of Emergency Management, whose job it is to prepare and watch hurricanes like this, saying, this is something like she has never seen before and the worst is still yet to come.

CUOMO: There's no question about it, but I have to tell you it is remarkable to hear from an expert her scale of concern this far out. Look, you and I have stood in a lot of this and this is pretty intense what we are dealing with here in Naples right now.

And I'm far from you, about 130 miles away from you, and we're hours and hours away from the worst of the stuff and it's already affecting the area here. The streets have already taken what they could hold, and now they're starting to pool up.

So, it's going to get bad much before we see the worst stuff and that's the concern. All right. John, try and stay dry a little bit now.

We'll take a break here and when we come back we'll start talking more about what we now understand about the risk factors with this new path of the storm. Where is she going to go that we didn't expect? Well, really nowhere, but it's about where she's going to hit hardest and longest. We have new information for you. Stay with CNN.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm originally from Miami and I wanted to see the beach. I was here through Andrew. I experienced Andrew and feel a little more comfortable. It's definitely coming now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going from crappy to worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the interior doors are rattling, sounds like someone is knocking on the front door. It's all fun and games until a coconut comes flying by your melon at 100 miles an hour. I came back inside.


CUOMO: Two major reasons that officials are so concerned about Hurricane Irma -- one, what she's done already. Did you see those pictures from the Caribbean, from Puerto Rico, from Cuba, everywhere she touches, she destroys. There is devastation. There is death. That's one reason they're concerned.

The second one is what she's doing right now. We've been getting hours of these outer, outer bands of this storm, one of its unique properties is how big it is. The storm is the size of a state. It is strengthened to a Category 4. It has slowed down.

Its path has shifted somewhat more to the west but the headline is the same. She's coming and will hit us. Here in Naples one of the newer areas of concern. The governor has been saying the place can't take storm surge. He's right. Why?

It's low lying and it's spongy. We've seen in the hours of mild conditions that we've had by hurricane standards. So far, the streets have had about all they can take. Things are starting to break off. Things are starting to blow around.

Down at the marina on the water we're already seeing they're at flood capacity so surge on top of it will make a big difference very quickly. So that's where we are. We are the story of storm future.

Storm present is where you're looking on your screen right now. That's Miami, Miami Beach. The Keys, that's where they are going to hit hardest. Let's go to Rosa Flores -- no, let's go to Bill Weir. He's in the keys. That's where it's going to come first.

He's in Key Largo and he's seeing intensifying winds and more conditions.

That's Rosa Flores. She's in Miami Beach. There's Bill Weir.

Let's get his attention. And how is it now, my friend? You are really getting hit hard before -- a little bit of a change?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was starting to bluster over here. We (INAUDIBLE) sustained 50-mile-an-hour winds on Biscayne Bay which is the safe side of Key Largo where we are right now.

We are just -- a lot of people have expressed concern and we appreciate that. We are tucked inside a solid concrete carport here kind of around the corner from the wind. But as you can see it's turning the corner and saying good morning, Irma is, right now.

I was just looking at also the tide charts. It looks like low tide is about 11:38 this morning. High tide will be 6:03 and that's important when you consider the five to 10 foot storm surge that everyone has been talking about.

This is the main motivation for the evacuation order. You know, flying palm fronds is one thing. But in the Florida Keys some of the lowest residences in the country, a few inches makes all the difference so people bracing for that.

And also thinking about power, 29,000 customers, the Keys Energy Services down here, all of them without power, something like over 350,000 across southern Florida. And so the temptation is to maybe run out to the car and charge the phone, those sorts of things.

Folks here with no power can't hear me tell them not to do that but for the rest of you watching around the state bracing for that, something to keep in mind. Get everything charged up now while you can.

Now as far as those who have stayed behind there are -- there were several sort of shelters of last resort. Schools up and down this chain of islands right here. We hope those people heeded that and came in.

I saw some reports down in Key West sadly of homeless folks who refused to take shelter. You can only imagine what they're going through right now.

We are, you know, at the top of the Keys. Key Largo is the biggest northern most of this chain of 43 inhabitable islands. And, you know, 95 miles from here, so the brunt of it, we're not even tasting what they're tasting down in Key West, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, that's right. But, you know what? Everything is relative and we have not seen nothing yet.

Stay with me, Bill. Let's bring in Allison Chinchar. She's in the hurricane center.

She gave us the latest information about a shift in the track of this storm to the west. Allison, what do we know right now? What is headed Bill's way?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I was just about to say Bill is about to be in the worst of it here within about 30 minutes.

You can see from the radar that very clear, intense heavy band of rain that is just to the south of Key West. We're also starting to see a lot of lightning pop with this so he can likely see a lot of lightning off in the distance as it begins to impact many of the Keys.

Here is that heavy band. You can see those bright red and orange colors. That is going to be -- you're talking torrential downpours.

In addition to the fact that it's along the eyewall so he's going to be getting torrential downpours along with the most intense winds that the storm is going to provide for him at the same time. Now that heavy rain band will extend from Key West over towards Marathon. That's where the heaviest is going to be.

But even to the east of that around Key Largo you're still going to get some pretty intense, heavy rain, so that's what Bill unfortunately has in his future -- in the near future in about the next 30 minutes. We've also -- we want to point out we have seen an expansion of the watches and warnings in the last hour or so namely for places like Alabama and Georgia.

We now see tropical storm warnings going from a watch to a warning for many of these places including the city of Atlanta going from a watch to a warning. We expect those winds to be about 40 to even 45 miles per hour.

Here's the latest on the storm. Winds right now 130 miles an hour so this is still a very powerful major hurricane at a Category 4 strength.

We've noticed the eyewall starting to close up. It's likely going into another eyewall replacement cycle. The question is can it intensify before it ultimately makes landfall? Those eyewall replacement cycles aren't immediate. They take time and we don't have much time left before this makes landfall, so the question is how much more can this storm intensify before it finally makes that true landfall?

We expect it to maintain Category 4 strength as it begins its way up the west coast of Florida. Then it will likely drop down to a Category 3 somewhere around the Tampa Bay area and then quickly decrease as it makes its way north barely a Category 1 hurricane by the time it pushes into portions of Georgia.


The reason for that this purple color. This is wind shear. This is going to rip that storm apart very quickly as it makes its way from Florida into Georgia.

Good news for folks in Georgia. However, Floridians probably wish it could do that a little bit quicker.

In terms of storm surge we have incredibly high numbers here especially in south Florida, south of Miami along Key West you're talking about five to 10 feet. The southwestern region including Naples, 10 to 15 feet. But even a place like Tampa, you're talking five to eight feet, the difference is that track.

As that track began to shift further out to the west, this will actually allow even more of that storm surge, Chris, to push back into portions of Tampa Bay and that is certainly not what those folks want to hear.

CUOMO: All right. And the latest numbers, 36 million people they say will be affected by this storm, 52 of the 67 counties have hurricane warnings here in Florida, 52 of 67 counties. A raw count at least 300,000 without power across the state.

Acute concerns with the power outages and duration get worse as you get more south in the state for now. That takes us back to where Bill Weir is.

I know you could you hear what Allison was saying. Not good for you and the folks down there, the conchs as you say, my friend.

WEIR: Yes. They know storms but they don't know this kind of storm. This is the biggest since Donna in 1960. That's 57 years ago so it takes some old souls to remember back that far when winds -- sustained winds were this strong.

We talked to so many folks whose mood shifted as they began to realize just the enormity of this thing. A lot of people who were sort of throwing those hurricane parties on Thursday night and making fun of people who had evacuated, their tone had completely changed by Friday going into Saturday.

That's when they started moving those prisoners, 480 prisoners out of Stock Island (INAUDIBLE) Palm Beach. That's when people got in the cars that they had parked on high ground near the bridges but, unfortunately, there's an untold number who stayed behind at least 10,000, 20,000.

About 75,000 people call the Keys home. They were estimating that two-thirds of them evacuated. Luckily this is the lowest point of the tourists' season after Labor Day. So about 12,000 tourists got out of here.

But the reality in the Keys is some people will never leave and some people will never leave their boats. You can only imagine if we're standing here in a sheltered carport being buffeted what it's like to be bouncing up and down on the Atlantic side of the Keys, Chris.

CUOMO: No, not a good situation and that's to put it as mildly as possible. You have got two components, you have survival of the storm and the conditions that you're about to see coming your way, and then you have enduring the aftermath of the storm services, infrastructure, ability to live life. What do you think on that level, Bill, are they ready down there?

WEIR: We can only hope so, right? I mean, they live in sort of mortal worry about being cut off from the mainland, the tide line, the extension cord of power that connects, you know, Miami-Dade down to the rest of the Keys, Monroe County. That went out last night so nobody has electricity down here. We're running off the car battery right now.

And then there's water, fresh water, that's also a line that comes along the overseas highway. They do have a desalination plant, hopefully people stocked up and filled the tub and did what they had to do to prepare for that.

And you got to think about the sewage issues in low-lying areas, how that gets managed once the pumps go down. They do have a power generation plant down in Key West on Stock Island as well where they can provide about 60 percent of the power they normally use during peak days.

And it's -- it's the tropics. We've been reporting out here 90-degree balmy days and air conditioning is going to be sort of a distant luxury for a while. So all of those little creature comforts go into it in addition to when you think about the extreme needs.

All the hospitals are closed in the Keys right now. A lot of elderly folks who couldn't leave, had nothing to do with rugged individualism. They just -- they were too frail, too elderly to go out.

Those people have sheltered in place. There are volunteers down there taking care of them. Hopefully they're doing OK but, yes, life is about to get considerably harder for all the folks down here who are used to paradise.

CUOMO: Going to be paradise lost for some time to come. Bill, stay safe. Stay out of it while you can.

[06:40:01] We'll check back with you in a little bit. Give us a heads up if the weather starts coming in before we're aware and I'll come to you right away.

WEIR: Will do.

CUOMO: We're going to take a break here now at CNN. We have people positioned everywhere that Irma is going to be. You see they're expecting millions to be without power and not just for hours, many will be for days, even weeks surviving the storm, enduring the aftermath, equally important components.

When we come back, we're going to take to you Miami Beach. Let's show you what's been going on down there as we go to break.

Derek Van Dam is sitting in some really tough stuff so you can see the reality of Irma. This is how he was just a few moments ago. We'll check in with him. Stay with CNN.



CUOMO: All right. Now well over 300,000 people are without power and we haven't seen nothing yet.

Hurricane Irma is coming this way. She has slowed but she is coming.

Now evacuations have been ongoing. This may be the last clear chance for some at least to get somewhere nearby that's better than where they are right now.

A note that we shouldn't have to say but it has become part of the reality here. If you leave and you have pets, check the shelters. Many of them you can bring your pet and if you can't bring your pet I get that they are family.

We love our pets. But think about that and don't leave them tied up outside. I know that sounds ridiculous.

It's happening. They keep finding pets tied to trees outside. Don't do that.

Think of a better plan. I know that this is a horrible thing to do to leave a pet behind, to go somewhere, don't do that if you don't need to. Put your safety first, of course, but think about what you're doing when you leave the pets behind.

All right. Miami Beach has been getting hit. These are the early outer, outer bands of Irma.

She is still some 35 plus nautical miles away from Key West but that doesn't mean that she's not hitting us already. Derek Van Dam is running around down there on Ocean Drive. He has been getting beaten up by the early stuff, and he joins us now.

Derek, you told us that your hotel lost power. Does it have a generator? Was it able to get it back?

Just to use it as an example of the level of confidence that people had in the structures down there.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: OK. So we lost power and instantly some of the guests that were staying there, I'm not sure if they were other media but they came down into the lobby because water was also starting to come into their rooms and it's setting off all the alarms as well.

There's a generator here fortunately so that's giving power to the atrium here in the center part of the hotel that we're staying at but all the rooms have lost power and we'll see where it goes from here. I can imagine that we're not the only ones near Ocean Drive because winds have really picked up and weather conditions have deteriorated.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, Irma has arrived. Check this out. I want you to see this sign behind me and how violently it's shaking.

This is just one of many road signs that can become projectiles and I'm not going to step out of the shot but there is -- a few signs that have already been knocked over just behind us and with winds easily gusting 65 to 70 miles per hour near hurricane force those will be picked up quickly and can obviously cause serious, serious harm.

I want to turn around so you can see where we are. We are in Ocean Drive. I want my camera man to step out of the way so he -- thank you.

All right. So we are in Ocean Drive. This is normally a busy time of the day because it's early morning on a Sunday.

People want to take their dogs for a walk. They want to go for a run, but not this morning. People have heeded the evacuations and they have got out of here.

And for the people who decided to stick around, well, unfortunately, that is not good news. Because now fire fighters and the police are no longer going to be performing any kind of search and rescue because the winds are simply too strong.

They are pulling personnel off the streets here in Miami Beach. That was the directive when we talked to the mayor yesterday and I'm sure winds are now well over tropical storm force. That means it's time to bunker down and wait this out -- Chris.

CUOMO: How about storm surge? The wind always gets the headlines but it's the water that kills people, drowning the number one cause of death in a hurricane.

We know that it floods here routinely in parts of where you are right now. What do you seeing in terms of the addition of storm surge early on here during Irma?

VAN DAM: OK, this is definitely not ocean related but I just want to show you the water that is starting to pile up on the sides of the roads.

We haven't had any storm surge as of yet but I can't see the ocean from where I'm standing. We have to remain protected here. It's about 150 feet to my left. And you can imagine with winds like this and all the fetch, the long distance that this wind has traveled ahead of Irma, it is pushing the Atlantic Ocean closer and closer to this southern peninsula of Florida, and that is going to bring storm surge, three to five feet, that is the projected crest.

You're right, Chris, that is the most deadly part of any tropical system, that and flash flooding because of the heavy rain bands.

CUOMO: All right. So you're starting to see the flooding there. You had to deal with a little power outage.

You had a generator there, though. So this is the good news. The bad news is you really haven't seen the main parts of the hurricane yet you have about another eight to 10 hours of this. What is your sense of how the situation -- how it's going to fare down there based on what you've seen so far?


VAN DAM: Chris, you're going to have to excuse me. I have to keep paying attention this way because I want to make sure that there's no debris that's going to hit me.

We do have another eight hours of at least this type of weather especially in the Miami-Dade coastline and it stings. It hurts. It's actually picking up some of the sand from the beach just down the road so extremely dangerous.

I have got to put this in perspective for people, do not be complacent in this storm. Do not come back to Miami-Dade and the evacuation areas if you have evacuated because it's not safe.

This storm is serious. And just to put it into further perspective I weigh 160 pounds and I'm getting jolted around and I'm even protected by a wall behind my cameraman. And you can imagine if winds were 65, 70 miles per hour right now what 130 miles per hour will do up the coast -- Naples, Tampa, Sarasota, it's going to be terrifying and destructive -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, brother, be safe. We don't need you to be a statistic but you've given us a great sense of what's happening on the ground.

Take some shelter. We'll check back with you in a little bit. That's Derek Van Dam down there, Ocean Drive area, Miami Beach.

The mayor there said, don't come back when we found out that the storm had shifted. People good renewed confidence. Oh, see, I didn't need to evacuate.

I'll go back home. That would have been a mistake. Now you're seeing why. Derek pointed something else out, if you go out in those kinds of conditions, we want everybody to be safe but let's be honest you are asking for whatever comes your way if you go out in those kinds of conditions. Use your head, please, be safe.

We're going to take a break. When we come back let's show you some picture of what's going on in a different area right now of Florida. We're going to check in on what Irma is doing in other parts of Miami.

Look at the boats. It's a mixed message. You know, you see that beautiful early glaze starting to come up from the sun but it is going to shed light on an ugly situation.

Stay with CNN.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CUOMO: All right. We have new information for you about Hurricane Irma.

You hear us talking about the eye. You hear us talking about walls of this storm. We are told now that the northern wall of the eye is starting to impact the Florida Keys.

That is the more intense hurricane type condition. So it is only a matter of time.

Let's go to John Berman. He's in Miami downtown. He is getting hit.

Remember, it doesn't have to be a direct hit to be a bad hit. John, take us through it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now look a significant development the northern eyewall is starting to hit Key West but Hurricane Irma has been hitting the entire southern part of Florida for some time now including right where I am in Miami. And the boats behind me really kick up over the last few minutes.

And, Chris, you can't see it but these docks that go out -- and you were standing on one of these narrow docks yesterday, one of them has broken off and is now floating off, floating off into Biscayne Bay behind me right now. And I guess we're going to see a lot more of that as this morning goes on.

We just checked with Florida Light and Power, the energy company here, 250,000 people without power in Miami-Dade. We keep giving you the updated numbers to give you a sense of how quickly this is changing.

When we started here at 5:00 a.m. it was 170,000. We're up to 250,000 in Miami-Dade County alone. And to put that in a little perspective we just checked with Hurricane Harvey when it hit Houston a few weeks ago, remember it made landfall on Monday night, the worst flooding Sunday into Monday.

On Monday 300,000 people were without power, we're 250,000 in Miami- Dade alone and the worst of the storm is still to come. Now this is a different storm than Harvey, but it just shows you the kind of damage that has been done already before it even picks up strength.

You know, Chris, we're really, really starting to feel it right now, the wind, these bands just lashing against Miami-Dade and it will stay like this for hours. And you've heard the warnings all morning, if you have evacuated, don't come back.

Yes, the eye is not going to make an impact into Miami, near Miami, but the storm is having a huge effect. It is just not safe to go back to your home, at least not yet -- Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, we're watching that corky boat behind you, you know, as a good measure of what the wind is bringing your way as is your body as you get hit by the gusts.

There's going to be the sustained winds and then the gusting winds and, John, Dave Halstead (ph) was telling me that that works like a one-two punch. You know, that literally the sustained wind will hold up --


CUOMO: -- a structure or hold up a street sign and then the gust comes and snaps it off.

BERMAN: That's exactly right. You know, I'm 165 pounds of solid steel, Chris. Lean in to the wind but when the gusts, you know, it just sort of picks you up and takes you away.

And you can see what it's doing to the boat. I was (INAUDIBLE) break off. These things look pretty sturdy all night but clearly, you know, the consistent pounding they've been taking is starting to wear, and I know you as a boat owner I'm sure you would hate this (INAUDIBLE)-- style of this big dock, this wood floating through the water -- Chris.

CUOMO: One of the realities is they use all those lines to tie up their boats to the docks and then the docks break off and so many boats get wrecked that way. But that's the part of the reality and we're worried about people not property. John Berman, a 165 pounds of solid steel.


You heard him say it. I will confirm it.

We're going to take a break right now. When we come back we're going to check in with Allison Chinchar in the National Hurricane Center.