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Damage in Miami from Irma; Flooding in Charleston; Jacksonville Flooding From Irma; Naples Hit by Irma; Irma Continues On; Two Missing on Boat after Hurricane. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


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[14:00:05] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there and thank you so much for being with me on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We are continuing our special coverage of what is now Tropical Storm Irma after its 130 mile-an-hour winds tore through parts of Florida. Irma has now been downgraded, but is still barreling toward Georgia, the Carolinas and Alabama. This hour, the city of Charleston is at risk for flash floods. Savannah is bracing for possible tornadoes. But as this storm pushes on, we are getting new images in of the devastation in Florida.

Listen to this. More than 6 million people are without power. It is high tide in Jacksonville, bringing in a record-breaking storm surge that is taking over major roadways. Our CNN cameras capturing some of the first video of the Florida Keys. And just when you look at all these pictures, the devastation is stunning.

My colleague John Berman is joining me for the next two hours live there in Miami amid boat debris it looks like down in Coconut Grove, John Berman. I mean I know you were in the thick of it during those 100 mile an hour winds last night. Tell me about where you are today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it goes without saying, Brooke. It's not supposed to look like this.

We're in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, outside a well-known bar named Monty's. And this marina was just hammered in this storm. Look at all the boats around me right now, sail boat, motor boats, tipped over boats, just pushed up on to the shore by the storm surge.

And it wasn't just the storm surge. It was one of these larger boats, I think you can see it back there, that broke loose and pushed even more of the smaller boats up here, just tearing up the docks and everything in its path. Just a sign of what the storm surge here could do and the winds.

You know, it was category one here in Miami, north of 75 miles an hour. Not even as bad as they felt in some other parts of Florida. Still, Miami, today, you know, a long way from getting back to normal. Sixty percent of the traffic lights are out. Eight hundred thousand people in Miami-Dade still without power. It's coming back on in some places, but it's going to be a long haul for others. The schools in Miami-Dade and also Broward County north of here closed

indefinitely. And as I give you those statistics for just this county, just keep in mind that again it's not just here. It's up the east coast. It's the Florida Keys to the south of me. It's all up the west coast. And right now the part of Florida that is dealing with the most imminent threat, or just had to deal with the most imminent threat, Kaylee Hartung up in Jacksonville.

And, Kaylee, you know, I have to say, after what we went through here yesterday, even looking at all the destruction it caused here around me, watching those floodwaters rage past you earlier, that was quite a sight.

All right, we appeared to lose Kaylee Hartung, who's in Jacksonville right now.

As fate would have it, as I'm standing here in Miami talking about the destruction that Hurricane Irma caused here, a friend of mine in Charleston, South Carolina, texted me, showed me a picture of what's going on outside his window. Charleston is getting hammered right now.

Joining us on the phone is the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, John Tecklenburg.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us right now.

I just saw a photo of a boat pushed up onshore from the flooding that's happening in Charleston. Give me an assessment of what you're seeing.

MAYOR JOHN TECKLENBURG, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Well, thank you, John.

We've got a lot of water here and it's kind of counterintuitive that a hurricane over in the western part of Georgia would have a four-foot storm surge in Charleston, South Carolina. But that's exactly what is happening because the wind is pushing the water towards us. And, unfortunately, it happened right at high tide. And so right now high tide just passed. But we had ten feet above mean (ph) low water level and so the battery was breached and many of our low-lying areas are experiencing flooding right now.

BERMAN: I think we are all learning from Hurricane Irma just how sort of shifty storm surge can be. It's not always where you think it's going to be. It's often trailing a storm. It's often at the other end of the storm. It's a tough lesson to have to learn.

My friend, again, told me he was nervous that the flooding in Charleston might be about the same as it was in Hurricane Hugo. That's a very, very scary level right now. Do you get a sense of how much damage there is?

TECKLENBURG: Well, not yet. In comparison, I will say that last year Hurricane Matthew did not have as much flooding in our historic district and low-lying areas, and that's because just the chance that Matthew came into town at low tide rather than high tide. So that six- foot tidal difference really makes a huge difference.

[14:05:06] But we're ready and prepared for recovery as soon as this thing passes. And we're going to get cleaned up in short order and then we're going to welcome anyone from Florida that wants to come up and visit. And our hearts and prayers just go out for all the damage that -- and loss that's occurring down in Florida and our neighbors and brothers and sisters down there.

BERMAN: Well, I know everyone in Florida is saying, right back at you, Mayor John Tecklenburg, right now dealing with flooding in Charleston that is still going on. We wish you the best going forward. And we know that you, too, will get the help you need to recover from it.

Again, just staggering that I'm down here in Miami with these boats all around me from the flooding and storm surge here, and the mayor of Charleston dealing with it up there.

I think we do have Kaylee Hartung in Jacksonville, which did have flooding, we were told, that they haven't seen since the 1800s.

Kaylee.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, nobody here has ever seen anything like this. The waters of the St. John's River rolling into downtown.

And this is the definition of storm surge as we know it. The winds pushing the river into these streets. That's a marina right over me. I mean that's just two blocks away from me. The St. Johns River just dumping into downtown.

We've been saying all morning long, as bad as it looked in Jacksonville, it would get worse. Well, now we're at that hour that we were looking towards, 2:00 high tide here, and officials saying waters could rise eight inches more. These historic floods that they're seeing here, those records keep on breaking with every hour and it feels like with every gust of wind that we get here.

We felt gusts up to 70, 75 miles an hour here. Some that will just knock you right off your feet. And it has been surprising to me with every person I've seen here to spectate, like these folks to my left, they survived Irma and they are very proud of it, John.

But the most troubling thing I've seen were people actually wading through these waters. We spoke with a man earlier who waded for blocks in water up to his waist just because he wanted to experience what was going on downtown and thought that was the best vantage point to get it. We don't advise anybody doing such a thing because as officials tell us these waters will continue to rise. And that's -- that's the threat here. These gusts of wind aren't allowing anyone to be safe in these waters. And as you said, you just don't know how quickly the scenario in here can change.

I'm looking at a tree right here where I don't know if -- from this vantage point we've got a good view of the roof, but this second tree down here, just hanging on by its roots. And with these powerful gusts that we're feeling, any one of them could carry that right out.

And what's also interesting about our location here right in the middle of downtown Jacksonville, this is the Omni Hotel to my left. A lot of people from this area, from Jacksonville Beach, from Ponte Vedra, from places that were really concerned right on the water of what this storm would bring, they came here for safety, John. But now these waters getting pretty close to the foot, the doors of that hotel as these waters continue to rise and the wind continues to blow.

BERMAN: Yes. Kaylee, please take care of yourself. Yes, Irma, as a storm, created this guessing game. People tried to go where they might be safe. And in some cases it just turned out to be another target for that storm. Kaylee Hartung, up in Jacksonville, seeing these floods, which are not over yet. Please, folks, stay careful up there before this passes.

I want to go over now to the west coast of Florida, to Naples, which took a really heavy hit from the eye of Hurricane Irma. Our team was there all yesterday. And you saw Chris Cuomo literally in the eye of the storm for some time after being hit by 140 mile-an-hour winds.

On the phone with me now is Bill Barnett, the mayor of Naples.

And, Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.

And I know it's hard to get a sense of just how bad the damage is. It does take some time. But I do hear you are finally having some data to tell us about. What have you learned?

MAYOR BILL BARNETT, NAPLES, FLORIDA (via telephone): Well, I -- you know -- and I'd like to make a really quick statement about people wading in hurricane waters just to -- because they wanted the experience. I -- that just -- just doesn't make any sense. That's insane.

But anyway, the damage here that we've assessed so far is literally minor compared to what I've been listening to you and hearing about our neighbors over in Miami and up in Jacksonville, et cetera. But, you know, ours was a -- a lot of downed trees, flooding. We have neighbors that aren't open yet that you can't get to. Our newly rebuilt pier that's only a couple of years old took a serious structural hit. And, of course, adding the no power and everybody is in the same boat there, it doesn't make it any easier with the temperatures that we have here.

[14:10:07] Not a lot of structural -- very, very minimal structural. But the water main -- water pipe breaks, water main breaks just -- you know, and it's just -- it's sad. But, in perspective, the fact that we did not get that storm surge because the wet -- the end of the -- the back end of that storm dissipated, that would have been catastrophic to us. So that's it in a nutshell.

BERMAN: I've got to say, mayor, this is terrific news. This is the kind of news I've been waiting to hear all day. I think a lot of us were very worried about what might have happened to Naples given the severity of the warnings leading up to and given the fact that the storm did hit that city pretty hard.

The storm surge was the major concern going in. You haven't seen any impact from that? Is there any lingering water, flooding left over?

BARNETT: Well, we have some, sure. You know, it was -- it was a little bit above normal. But it is receding. And, as I say, none of the business district streets were impacted. And we are just -- we're fortunate. But, yes, we're going to have water for a little while. But nothing -- nothing, nothing compared to what it could have been.

BERMAN: Well, Mr. Mayor, I am sure that a lot of the fact that Naples is doing so well today had to do with the planning that went into it beforehand and all of the hard work, getting people and resources where they need to be. So, Mayor Bill Barnett, thank you for your work. It's just starting and thank you for being with us right now, sir.

BARNETT: Thank you so much. Bye.

BERMAN: All right. In the chaos of Hurricane Irma, and in the difficulty in assessing what happens after Hurricane Irma, there are a lot of people in this state searching for their loved ones, trying to figure out if everything is OK.

Coming up, we're going to hear from someone looking for two family members still here.

Stay with CNN's special live coverage of the aftermath of Irma. I say aftermath. It's still hitting parts of the country very hard.

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[14:16:46] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ah! There goes the palm tree!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, there it goes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What, the tree?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole thing came down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: There it goes. We just keep getting in all these different pictures and videos from all of you in the wake of Irma.

Welcome back. You're watching special coverage. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. John Berman standing by for me down in Miami.

Tropical Storm Irma continues its march northward, moving now toward the Florida-Georgia line, still packing wind and rain and a surge threat.

So let's go to Allison Chinchar in the Weather Center.

Where is Irma now and, you know, where is the real concern beyond Florida here?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. So the big concern at this point in time in going forward, at least the next couple hours, is going to be the stretch from Jacksonville up towards Charleston, South Carolina. We still have a surge threat in this location. We still have the potential for severe weather in some of these locations. So that's where the big threat is going to be right now.

However, some good news, at least for Jacksonville folks that have been experiencing incredible amounts of heavy rain the last couple of hours. You can see some of the wind there from that video on the other side of your screen.

The good news is the majority of that rain is well out now. You should actually start to be seeing some clearing there in the short term, which will allow folks to get out and assess some of the damage in those regions and begin the cleanup process.

South of Jacksonville, as you go a little bit further south into Florida, look at some of these rainfall totals that we had. Nearly 16 inches in Fort Pierce. Around Naples, a foot of rain fell. Into Georgia, you know, as you cross over north from Jacksonville and go into that southeastern portion of Georgia, look at some of the rainfall amounts here, ten inches in Kingsland. We've been talking about Homeland at eight inches of rain. And some of those spots in Georgia, it's still raining. So those numbers likely to go back up.

In terms of wind gusts, Naples, Florida, taking a wind gust of 142 miles per hour. Marco Island, 130 miles per hour. Keep in mind, some locations along the keys may have actually had higher numbers than this, but a lot of the weather stations in that location broke. So we just don't have official data in from some of those locations that could have potentially had higher wind gusts.

Here's a look at the radar. This is where we are dealing with the heaviest rain at the moment. Again, just north of Jacksonville, around Savannah, up towards Charleston. This is where some of the heaviest bands of rain are occurring at this moment. We have flash flood warnings out for those red boxes that you can see here because they've just been training. They've been hitting the same spots over and over again.

And again, just north of Jacksonville, as you get to Savannah, Charleston, even up towards Wilmington, North Carolina, this is where you have the main threats for severe weather that will be occurring today. Damaging winds, as well as the threat for tornadoes.

We still have tropical storm warnings out. Places like Tallahassee, also Jacksonville. But it also pushes further north because of the strong winds. Even though the storm itself has weakened a little bit, it's not gone entirely. So you still have the potential for tropical storm-force winds for cities like Savannah, even, Brooke, into a big city like Atlanta.

BALDWIN: Yes, I was talking to my -- my parents last night about -- they're in Atlanta, thinking about them and also I think I saw something like 38,000 people already out of power in Savannah alone.

Allison, it's not over, as you well know, and the rest of us need that reminder.

Meantime, the Florida Keys took the brunt of Hurricane Irma's powerful winds and storm surge. Instead evacuating, some people actually decided to ride out the storm on boats in the Florida Keys. And now at least two of those individuals are missing.

[14:20:12] So with me now on the phone, Joey Fago (ph). Joey has an uncle and a cousin who decided to weather Hurricane Irma on a boat in Marathon, Florida, very, very close to where Irma's eye wall passed by.

Joey, it's Brooke. Can you hear me?

JOEY FAGO, FAMILY MEMBERS MISSING IN STORM (via telephone): Yes, I can.

BALDWIN: OK. So let's just get right to your uncle and your cousin. When was the last time you heard from them?

FAGO: About 7:00 a.m. Yesterday.

BALDWIN: 7:00 a.m. yesterday. And explain to me why they thought it was a good idea to ride it out on a boat?

FAGO: Well, they do live down in Marathon and they're local fishermen.

BALDWIN: Sure.

FAGO: So that is -- that is their home and they had some issues down there getting out and some issues with the boat. And, unfortunately, they couldn't leave at the time.

BALDWIN: Couldn't leave at the time meaning what?

FAGO: They couldn't leave in time. So they -- they --

BALDWIN: Couldn't leave in time. Got it. Got it. So they were on the boat.

What kind of boat are we talking about? How big?

FAGO: It's a 48-foot sport fishing boat.

BALDWIN: OK.

And had they been down there through other hurricanes? Is this something they knew -- they knew what to do?

FAGO: Yes.

BALDWIN: OK, good.

FAGO: Yes, my uncle's -- my uncle's 60 years old. He's a -- he's a well-seasoned fisherman. He's been through all the major storms. We know -- you know, he's very well versed and well educated in that.

BALDWIN: OK, good.

FAGO: His son is younger and works with him. So they know what to do. We just don't know what's going on down there. Our biggest challenge right now is just trying to get in contact with them. We've got access to air and boat to get down there, but we can't -- we can't get in there. The state has banned all ability for us to fly down there and the seas are too rough for a boat.

BALDWIN: Which is, I'm sure, incredibly frustrating for you because you want to hear from, of course, your family members.

Have you -- have you been able to pick up the phone and call rescue crews or anyone who can give you an idea when or how a search of the area could begin?

FAGO: Yes. We're working -- we're working on all of that. The only update we have is the National Guard is there and they're working their way from Key Largo down. But there's no communication back. I'm here with my whole family, my aunt, who's my uncle's wife, and her son. We're all here together just trying to -- trying to figure out our next move. We need to get down there. We just --

BALDWIN: How's everyone -- of course. No, no, forgive me for jumping in. I just -- when you talk about your aunt, how's everyone feeling about this? Are they afraid?

FAGO: Everyone surprisingly is pretty -- pretty good. You know, we're -- we have a lot of confidence in Uncle Tom and Joey.

BALDWIN: Good.

FAGO: But, you know, you just -- you don't know. But that's why we're trying to get down there. We need -- we need all the resources we can get to get down there to try to rescue them and see, you know, who else is down there. I've reached out through my page on FaceBook to try to see who other people -- other people that are stuck down there so we can, you know, help them, as well.

BALDWIN: I've got you. You just need more information. And I'm sure you'll get it soon enough. I hear your confidence in both Tom and Joey.

Lastly, just to people who are watching, if they're in Marathon, if they're able to reach out, I don't know, to you, are you on social media or maybe we can somehow figure out a way to relay that so that if, you know, they know where they are, we'll get in touch. I don't want you to give your phone number out on national TV, but we'll figure something out.

Joey Fago, thank you so very much, and we'll stay in close contact and I'm sure you're --

FAGO: If you could, please.

BALDWIN: Yes.

FAGO: Yes, I appreciate the time. Anything you could do to just try to get it out there that we just need contact down there. We need to get down there. They're blocking all access for us to get into The Keys. So I'm sure we're not the only ones, but --

BALDWIN: What -- can you give me the name of the boat. Just some sort of -- some --

FAGO: It's called -- it's called Marlin Mahir (ph). It's a 48-foot sport fishing boat with a tuna tower. It's a very large boat.

BALDWIN: Got it.

Joey Fago, we're going to try to help you out. Thank you so very much. We'll stay in close contact. Thank you.

FAGO: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And coming up next here on CNN, we're now on the ground in one of the places that took the hardest hit. We will take you to the Florida Keys, next.

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[14:29:06] BERMAN: All right, John Berman back in Miami surrounded by the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. These boats pushed up onshore near the iconic Monty's in Coconut Grove. People have been coming here to check out the damage, including on some of their own boats. They're happy that they themselves are OK, and now they have to deal with rebuilding, you know, the material parts of their lives. But that's a lot easier than rebuilding your physical life.

We are waiting, right now, to hear from the White House. The White House briefing moments away. We're waiting to hear from Florida Governor Rick Scott to get an overall assessment of where things stand in Florida. We're particularly interested about the Florida Keys, not to mention how Jacksonville is doing, all the way up the coast experiencing historic floods.

First, though, I mentioned the Florida Keys. Information has been coming out in dribs and drabs all day. There's a lot of concern because some parts have been unreachable. Our Bill Weir rode out the storm in Key Largo. You saw him do just amazing reporting over the last few days. He filed this report to give us a sense of some of the damage he's just beginning to see. Watch this.

[14:30:09] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: We're seeing a lot of mobile homes that have been torn apart. Here's a power line