Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Florence Coverage. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 13, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: If you were wondering where the rain is, my brother? Now you know. It's right on Anderson's head. Hurricane Florence is starting to come around for the coast of the Carolinas.

Let's put up the radar there. Anderson is going to stand by. We have correspondents up and down the path of the storm for you.

Here is hurricane Florence, very slow, that's the problem with this storm. When she comes, she stays, and she's dumping water in places that don't have a lot of tolerance for it, by the time the wind gets to you, the areas have been soaked, currently just over 80 miles east- southeast of where Anderson Cooper is.

Let's go to where we're seeing the storm in full effect already.

Brian Todd is in Hampstead, North Carolina.

Brian, if you can hear me, take us through it. What's the weather?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, we're getting pounded by kind of bursts of rain whipping side to side. And they keep coming from different directions, you can see it coming form my right to my left, but that could change at any moment now. The trees are starting to get under some stress here to my left.

This behind me, Chris, is the intercoastal waterway. We're on Old Landing Road and Hampstead. Intercoastal waterway is starting to get the storm surge really pushing the water up here, still not at high tide yet, Chris. That's coming in a couple of hours, when it does, this water is going to be pushing right past where we are. We're going to move soon to try to get out of its way.

What we're also saying tonight, Chris, is that these marsh areas here, that I'm showing you right now, and I'm going to kind of step into the marsh area here, this is being inundated. It's being overrun by the storm surge. This is an area that can usually not only withstand the storm surge, but also protect some areas from it, but this just cannot absorb it any longer, Chris. The surge is pushing the water up in this area, toward some homes and businesses, and after the high tide comes in in a couple hours, that water is going to have nowhere to go.

In some of the barrier islands not from here, we're getting accounts of police officers telling people who elected to stay that they better take a sharpie and write their name and Social Security number on their arms so they can be identified. Now, that's sometimes the tactic to get people to realize the seriousness of the situation, but that is what we've heard they've told some people.

Another thing we're keeping our eye on, Chris, tonight, on our way to the end of this road, we did pass an assisted living facility not too far from here, with more than 140 patients -- 140 elderly people staying there. And I've asked the emergency management people are you going to evacuate that facility? They said, no, it's far enough inland to with stand the storm surge. They believe it was -- they know it was built for a category 4 hurricanes, so they're going to keep everyone in place.

CUOMO: Right.

TODD: But we all remember what happened with the elderly people after Hurricane Irma last year in one incident.

CUOMO: In Hollywood, Florida.

TODD: You know, you have to keep your eye -- right. You have to keep your eye on that situation. And we have an assisted living facility not far from the area where we're getting pounded right now.

CUOMO: Yes, it's good. You know, we've been talking to city and county officials. They learned from Hollywood Florida. We know that in this area, there are no assisted living facilities or nursing homes in North Myrtle Beach proper.

But the ones in the surrounding areas, they have generators ready. They have fuel ready, to cool down those areas, if there's any type of trauma to the facilities. So, hopefully, that's a lesson learned.

And, Brian, you know, you're living part of the concern of this storm right now. It was explained to me by a meteorologist on the phone not too long ago that Florence is working the body before she works the head, for a boxing metaphor. The rain is soaking all of the roads, all of the communities, all of the areas, saturating them, and then once the wind comes with the surge, they will already be too soaked to really absorb any of the blow. And that's their concerns.

So, what have you seen in terms of change? Because time is the element, right? You have to be able to take about 18 to 30 hours of this. What are you seeing as a rate of decline in this situation?

TODD: It's declining very rapidly. I mean, we've been in this area for several hours now. It's getting more inundated. You can feel it almost every, I'd say, 20 minutes or so, can you feel this, or you can certainly see the surge coming closer to us, as we get hit with another band here that's whipping side to side.

And, Chris, we have to also point out this area had already gotten a lot of rain even before Florence was a threat. So, this area is saturated. It makes it less able to with stand this kind of thing.

So, you know, again, the dire nature of this situation just can't be overstated right now. It's going to get worse in the next few hours as we've all been saying, this is a storm that is moving very, very slowly. It's taking its time, just kind of lumbering past this area, and, you know, again, you can't say enough about the people who decided to stay, and the risks that they are taking right now.

CUOMO: Right.

All right. Brian, get dry. I'll come back to you in a little bit. Be safe, assess the situation with the team. Let me know if you can stay there or you're going to move, OK?

TODD: Gotcha, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Good. That's Brian.

We're getting a report from Dianne Gallagher, one of our correspondents, she's in Newburg, North Carolina. They lost power in the downtown area. So, we're starting to see the effects of this saturation.

On the phone right now, we have Rebecca Morgan. She's in Moorhead City, North Carolina. She's at home sheltering in place, and dealing with a little bit of the fear of the situation right now.

Can you hear me, ma'am?

REBECCA MARSON, MOORHEAD CITY, NC (via telephone): Yes, sir, I can.

CUOMO: All right. Rebecca Marson. All right. I want to get your name right.

What's your situation right now? How are you doing?

MARSON: Well, actually, I'm standing on my front porch so you could hear the wind a little bit. But we're at our house, and it's very windy and very rainy. We've been without power for about four hours now and had one tornado warning where we all sheltered in closets. And I just came in (INAUDIBLE). But it's pretty windy out there.

CUOMO: Well, safety first, Rebecca. Safety first. Thank you for talking to us.

You know, this is no longer a discussion about should you stay, should you go. You're here now. You're sheltering in place.

Do you have what you need? Do you have supplies to deal with not having power? Did you fill up the bathtub? Did you put stuff in the freezer and the fridge? Do you have water?

MARSON: Yes. We know we weren't going to go. My husband is working at the hospital and we know we were staying. So, we laid in plenty of water, plenty of food and ice. And we're good to go for quite a while. We're ready to stay.

CUOMO: That's your concern, right? I mean, first of all, bless your husband. I know a lot of first responders and health professionals decided to stay because they think they may be needed. We know that there was a call out for blood, put in the area today, just in case.

So, we understand people had to make different choices. Do you have a concern about the time? You know, usually, you have to deal with this for six hours, eight hours, nine hours, they're worried about this lasting a day or two. Will you be OK that long? Do you have enough?

MARSON: We have plenty of supplies to last for days and days. We're worried more about, I have my three children here. And I'm worried about how long all of us will be able to stay in the house without kind of going crazy. But, you know, everybody's needing to do what they need to do, and we'll get through it.

CUOMO: Rebecca, how old are the kids?

MARSON: I have 16, 14 and 11, and my girl friend is staying here, and her daughter is 17. And we've got --

CUOMO: Seventeen, 16, 14 and 11 and four dogs?

MARSON: And four dogs, two chinchillas, a cat and a lizard, yes.

CUOMO: Now I know why you're outside on the porch. It's worse inside than it is outside.

MARSON: Well, when we had to all go into the closets for the tornado warning, it was a little exciting, with all those animals.

CUOMO: Wow, you've got a real Noah's ark going on over there. I hear chinchillas are very storm resilient. So, hopefully, that takes a little bit of the pressure off.

MARSON: They're doing really well. Everyone's doing really well, kids and animals alike. So, if the moms survive, everybody else is going to be fine.

CUOMO: It's always that way. Every family depends on mom, they're going to be looking for you for calm and to help them get through this. It won't be easy, but thank God you're together and you hopefully stay safe.

We've got a little phone tree going and I'm going to check in back with you from time to time, over the next couple days, just to make sure you're doing OK. And you have our number. If there's anything you need, we have people in the area. Please, let us know so we can get the information out.

MARSON: I sure will, and I appreciate it so much. And thank you guys so much. I know it's a little bit hairy for the news reporters to be out here during all of this too. So, thank you guys for being here.

CUOMO: Hey, we got it easy compared to you. Be well. The best to your husband, your friend and all the kids and the pets. We'll check back with you.

Rebecca Marson, Moorhead City, power is already out there. They're going to have start tapping into their supplies.

And these, my friends, is about time.

Let's bring in our meteorologist Tom Sater right now.

You know, look, the word went out, there will be no surprise here, will the direction be a little different? Yes. Will the force be air little different? Yes. Will the effects vary from community to community? Always.

But this is going to be a long time, if you're losing power now. You're not going to have it for days in all likelihood. Fair assessment?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Very fair. It's still well offshore by a good 80 miles from Wilmington. It's only moving at 5 miles an hour, it really put on the breaks.

If I may, Chris, let me back up from last night when we had a chat, when we went through a couple advisories, that the pressure was rising and the winds were dropping, it was losing power. And we're talking about, well, what's going to happen?

Shortly after we got off the air, it went from a category 3 to a category 2 at the worst possible time, because, psychologically, people think we're in the clear, and at that hour, was the last minute that they had to make that last minute decision to get out. And I fear that those that decided to stay, the number means nothing.

This was a category four for so long, it's bringing category four elements with it. Because it was a category four for a long time, the surge remains the same. The rainfall remains the same. The inundation of the complete area day after day and that stalling process remains the same.

What we have seen now, and what we're seeing from last night after it was losing a little bit of its punch, we talked about, well, if it moves into those warm waters of the gulfstream, could Florence have a few tricks up her sleeve? The actual intensity went up by five miles per hour a couple hours ago, and like, uh-uh, here we go.

Starting to see on the infrared satellite imagery on red here, a full circulation around the core, uh-uh, here we go, it's dropped again. We've got elements and factors of the environment that are fighting for it and are fighting against it. One, high pressure off to the west is so strong, this is running right into a brick wall like Harvey did.

At five miles per hour, you can almost outrun this thing and it could go down even slower from here. The question is, will it make its way on shore or not?

Other elements? The warm water, sure, you think we'll fire that engine up, that fuel line is still open, it's not over land. But the rain inside the core is a cold rain. When it falls, it's going to fight that warmer water. So, that's going to try to fight it.

Outer bands now that are sweeping across North Carolina create friction. The storms do not like friction, it breaks the wind speed down and the intensity and tries to kick in some dry air. Here's what we're finding now, we've already had our first 12 inch total of rain, and the system hasn't made landfall yet, and we've got all day tomorrow, all day Saturday, into Sunday.

There will be some slow improvements beginning well to the north by the lower neck of the Chesapeake, in toward the outer banks, but it's going to take the day tomorrow. Tornados have been occurring. We saw a lot of them in Harvey, they're not the massive Midwest tornados. They could still take a roof and damage their home and destroy it. But they move very fast.

Tornado warning right now for Dare County and Hyde County, where the thunderstorm tornado reported moving 74 miles per hour. That's amazing. That's just one factor.

Here we go, Wilmington is going to get hit the hardest, we believe, and for the longest period of time. Winds that are coming in one direction are going to shift again from the other direction. So the root systems of all these trees are going to give way after one direction from another direction. So, we're only about 43 miles really from the coast, a little further to Wilmington.

Moving at this kind of speed --

CUOMO: Right.

SATER: -- you're getting incredible rainfall totals. Here we are, over a foot already at Atlantic Beach. Other areas, not as significant. When we look at these models we've been talking about, it still wants to bring it on shore south of Wilmington, that's why they're in that core, the stronger winds, it's around Carolina Beach.

The winds will then start to shift. This model now rides the coastline. It's a landfall when half of it is over land. But I cannot give you a time period right now, because there are so many factors if it's going to be on shore at what time.

This could be late tomorrow, believe it or not.

CUOMO: Right.

SATER: But because it's riding that coastline, you're still getting that surge of moisture feeding into the back of that eye, and this is going to be going in for some time. So, there is a world of things that we can talk about.

CUOMO: Right.

SATER: The worst part of it is, it's just beginning. So, the pictures we're seeing are nothing about like what we're going to see, unfortunately.

CUOMO: Well, look, I mean, that's the truth, Tom. I mean, you dropped a lot of science there, but you're right. We have a lot of time to talk about it, because she's moving so slowly that there's going to be a lot more fatigue in the audience than there will be in the storm, and you're going to have the backside of this storm where we are, right in New Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, part of that, what they call just coast, you know, about 9, 10 miles there that's inward, inland a little it more than from where Wilmington is.

So, it's going to take longer for her to get here, because of the track south. It's going to take longer because it's a little bit more inland. But she's going to be carrying more things into a funnel effect here. So, the concern is, people will have 8, 10, 12 hours of this, they haven't seen a storm in 20 years of anything like this kind of proportion.

They'll say, yes, we were right. Soon as the number went down, the threat went away, and all along, there's another 15, 18 hours of water and wind coming behind it.

So, for the people here at New Myrtle Beach and parts South, what's the word of warning?

SATER: The word of warning, it comes --

CUOMO: North Myrtle Beach and parts south.

SATER: Right. The worst of it will start to move in tomorrow morning for you, but it's not until the winds start to shift later in the day, that you're going to see the worst of it. Now, you get down it Myrtle Beach, that main drag. What is it called? The -- I'm drawing a blank.

The main drag there, where you have all the high rises, the winds even at category two are going to increase at height, floor by floor. So, even if it's a category 2, anyone who's on the 30th floor, the winds are 20 percent higher. Again, it's going to get worse as we go through the day tomorrow. It's not going to get any better for parts of the outer banks until tomorrow.

So, it will improve from the north to the south. Again, when you look at this increasing surge heading in one direction. All the water is coming out on the southern flank. So, visually those who have stayed behind say, well, this isn't such a bad thing, that's because the winds are on the back edge here. You haven't even gotten into that main flow that's going to push all of us through.


SATER: Now, typically, these storms, Chris, will come through with one high tide cycle. That's what we originally thought a few nights ago, but now they're going to go through two maybe three, and the low tidewater never comes out. It just builds up on top of another on top of another high tide.

CUOMO: Yes, just so people remember how the tide cycle works. You know, it's six, slack, and six. From low tide, you have six hours until you have low tide. Each tide is six hours and there's a little period of slack in between. So, high tide can make a big difference especially for places that can't tolerate a lot more saturation and that's what we're dealing with here.

Tom, let's take a break here -- go ahead. Give me your last word.


SATER: Just after midnight tonight, and then after noon tomorrow, and then 1:00 in the morning.

CUOMO: It's high tide.

SATER: Yes, 1:00 p.m. So, that's about your time period.

CUOMO: Right, so those are the high tide cycles, we're going to see several.

Again, the story of this storm is going to be duration, impact? Only time will tell. It's one of those cliches we hear in storms, but especially with this one, it's the most accurate mode of assessment.

Tom Sater, we'll be back with him. Let's take a break right now.

When we come back, Florence has already made an impact. Now, here's part of the problem with, a storm that's sitting so slowly in an area. When do you go out and do the rescues? When do you start recovery? If the wind speed is too high, you can't risk first responders.

So, we already have damage, now the clock is ticking about when those areas could get help. We'll take you through it, next.


CUOMO: Hurricane Florence is making her way to the Carolina coast and parts of South. It's the old rap song, slow and low. That is the tempo for this storm. She's not moving quickly, about five miles an hour.

The wind speeds are relatively low for a hurricane, OK? Remember that. That's what we're dealing with here. Whatever category this storm is, it's going to be more than enough because of the duration and precipitation, the amount of water. How much can the coastline take?

It's getting the rain first. It's getting it for so much longer than we're used to. The windows are usually six, eight, 10 hours. Here it could be 16, 18, 30 hours. So, by the time you get the big bands of win from whatever category the storm is, or even if it's a tropical depression at that point, it will be more than enough to create real problems.

All right? How do I know? I've been told by local officials who have been educating me on the process here.

Let's bring in one of the good men who's been helping right now, director of public safety, Jay Fernandez.

Jay, thanks for all the help and information. We've been relaying it, as you've been giving it to us. So far, so good. But there's a false since of security, we saw it on the beach today. JAY FERNANDEZ, NORTH MYRTLE BEACH RESIDENT: Yes, that's very true.

We started evacuating when the governor issued the order back on Tuesday. And we've aggressively been putting the message out. We're probably at about 85, 90 percent evacuated, but we have 15,000 permanent. So, that means about 1,000 are still in town.

My wife actually evacuated with our son John-John to Auburn, Alabama. So, I was very happy they got out of town.

CUOMO: Look, you know, you're going to protect your family, do the right thing. Safety is the -- you know, make the choice. Be safe rather than sorry.

So, people say, not too bad, Jay. If it's like this, even if it's like this for a long time, won't be too much for me to handle. What's the risk?

FERNANDEZ: The risk is, is that you're right, the storm is going to last a long time. We're looking at 30 plus hours of 50 miles an hour or more, starting probably literally after midnight, actual hurricane hours, probably nine hours of hurricane strength rain, and storms. So, that's devastating, plus with all the rain, 30 plus inches of rain, that's going to compromise as you mentioned earlier, the soil, trees are going to fall, they're going to knock power lines down, they may hit houses. People are going to be out of electricity.

We're not going to be able to respond. Our response protocols say at 35, we're very limited on where we go. At 50, we shut it off.

Now, we will monitor all the calls coming in to our dispatch center. If there's a critical call after 50 miles an hour, we will evaluate that. Maybe we can triage that through the dispatch center and not have to send personnel out. But that will be a case by case situation.

But don't have anyone believe that we will come because we're not going to come, unless it's critical, critical, critical.

CUOMO: Yes. You know, sometimes when people hear that in the storm and they're like, oh, you know, Fernandez sounds a little callous there. You have to worry about people don't think about that when they make the decision to say. They kind of confuse bravery with what they call temerity, you know, with foolish bravery, putting others.

Once you get above 30 miles an hour, 40 miles an hour, you can't safely send people out and guarantee their return. So, if you have 12 hours of 50 miles an hour, that's 12 hours a lot of people may have to wait.

FERNANDEZ: That is correct. You're right. I have about 135 policemen and firemen on duty right now. We do not want to risk their lives because somebody chose to stay. That's not going to happen.

CUOMO: All right. So, one of the things we're going to do is, while we're here locally, we're starting a little bit of a phone tree. We're checking in on people, we're spreading numbers, so as they have problems, they'll be able to contact us. We'll be communicating it to you.

It's reciprocal, of course. If you have information people need to hear, Jay Fernandez, we're here for you for the duration.

FERNANDEZ: All right.

CUOMO: All right. Be safe and be well. I'm glad that your wife and your child, well, he's older now, but I'm glad that they got out to safety.


CUOMO: All right. No, thank you, Director. Appreciate it.

All right. So, what kinds of things are we dealing with in the storm? There's a wide variety of concern. The buildings falling down, seeing the distress on the coastline. Power being down. People being stuck in their house.

But then there are these X factor considerations that you have to deal with. Right now, we have somebody on the phone, Mel, remind me of her name, Jennifer -- Jennifer Gordon, OK?

Now, she works with an organization.

Jennifer, it's good to have you on the phone. We were talking to you earlier with my producer Ben, that you were trying to move animals from a sanctuary, away some of the storm, the harder areas of the storm is going to impact. And there was a mishap, and we started to see it all over the place online. People were concerned.

What happened with the transporting of those animals? What kind of animals and what was the distress?



CUOMO: All right, I don't have Jennifer. Try to get her back on the phone. And let me tell you the story quickly. And we'll get Jennifer back on.

Jennifer, can you hear me now?

GORDON: Hello? Hello?

CUOMO: Jennifer, can you hear me?

GORDON: No, I can't hear you. I can hear you, can you hear me?

CUOMO: Yes, we're good now. Tell us what happened with the animals.

GORDON: We had a couple hundred animals at a sanctuary on the coast. I have a rescue inland. We lined up multiple transports to get the animals out of the hurricane area. They're right in Wilmington where the hurricane's going to make landfall. We had posted some pleas on the Cajun navy and a few of those volunteer sites where people volunteered to help.

And so, over the course of the few days, we've had quite a few transporters, we moved the donkeys and goats and emus and peacocks and swans and all these animals out of this sanctuary. And today, we had three different transports leaving there today, we were running out of time. The hurricane was already hitting, and the people were having trouble getting in, and the wind was -- the rain was already coming in. And so, we were beating the clock trying to get out.

And, you know, we strapped the animals down. You know, it wasn't me, but the transporter that was there was -- they were evacuating people and had some room for some animals in his truck. So, he put some crates in the back, he strapped them down, but the force of the wind we think is so strong, while he was going over the bridge, you know, coming over Wilmington, because that usually will give you a gust. And it pushed the strap loose or the crate out. We don't really know what happened. And it fell out.

CUOMO: We heard that as a result, some of the crates wound up falling out, and there wound up being these calls to find the animals, and there was a search area brought out. You started to get reports from local farms of animals being dropped off. There was a pelican on a box that was waiting for rescue, and ultimately you ended up getting back all of the animals except I think a hawk. Is that right?

GORDON: Yes, yes, we're missing a red tail hawk. It's a male red tail hawk. His name is Achilles. He's an ambassador for a wildlife refuge on the coast. He's missing half of his wing. It's been amputated. And he's tamed and used to being fed by people. So, in essence, he's not really a pet, but he relies on people to survive. He can't survive on his own in the wild.


We're glad you got just about all of them back, we'll stay in the loop with you if anything else happens. You keep us apprised of the situation. But thank you for telling the story to us.

GORDON: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

CUOMO: All right. You know, pets always end up being part of the equation. One of the complications here with Florence and the Carolinas is that a lot of the people who -- you know, look, our pets are part of the family. We understand that. And they wind up part of the safety calculation, your decision about what to do.

Many of the shelters don't allow dogs, so what do you do? Are you going to leave your pets when they're a part of your family? A lot of people choose not to do that.

You're going to hear the stories about the wild horses in the Carolinas that are on the outer banks that live on beaches. They say that instincts will keep them safe from the storm. Will that happen? You know, they haven't seen a storm like this in a generation here. What will that mean?

These stories are all playing into the mix, and the longer this storm is here, the more variability of outcome we're going to see.

So, we're going to leave you with some picture of what's going on in different areas. You saw in Newburg, North Carolina, out there. They have power down. They have increasing flooding there, and they have about a day and a half of storm and hurricane type conditions to go.

So when we come back, we'll take you through the latest on Hurricane Florence. She is just getting started. The worst is yet to come.


CUOMO: All right. Here we are, we're watching Hurricane Florence. She's now about 65 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. But the effects are starting to be felt.

Let's go to someone who is literally chasing this storm. Reed Timmer, he's at Topsail Beach in North Carolina.

Reed, you say they say it topsail, but what do you care? You're getting pelted out there. Give us the latest.

I don't hear him.

All right. Tell Reed to get back inside so he's not getting beaten up like that.

Let's go to Anderson Cooper. When we get Reed Timmer's sound back up, you know how it is with communications during these hurricanes, some people you can hear, some people you can't. You don't want to -- I don't want to just leave him out there soaking, thinking he's being heard, Anderson, when he's just getting punished by the beginning of this hurricane.

You've had what they're calling a signature experience of Florence, which is, hey, it's not that bad, and then comes the rain and then bands have a lot of time between them, that's all about the pace of the storm, right?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, you know, I think there's a lot of people right now and I've been talking to people who have come up over the last, you know, hours or so, who kind of think, you know, maybe this thing isn't going to be that bad, and certainly let's hope that's the case.

But I think this is really deceptive. I mean, this is -- you know, we're so used to paying attention to what category it is, a cat 4, cat 3, it's now a cat 2. But this is really -- as you've been talking about, going to be a long event. We're talking about days, 24, 36 hours of just nonstop rain, constant rain and that storm surge.

You know, in Wilmington, as you know, Chris, they're expecting eight months worth of rain over the next three days. It's an extraordinary amount, and they've already had a huge amount of rain all year long. So, it's really the last thing they need, plus with that storm surge on the river like Cape Fear River behind me, which they're expecting, it could be record storm surge, record levels of the river, beating what it was back in 1999 with Hurricane Floyd, it was more than 23 feet above normal.

So, they're expecting it to go higher than that. So, you know, this is going to be a multiday event. And this is really just the beginning. We're so in the early hours of this. And I think a lot of people haven't been through a storm like this that last for this amount of time, and moves so slowly and is as big as this one is, Chris.

CUOMO: Duration and delay. So, if we're looking at like 30 hours of some form of major storm/hurricane type activity, then you get into that function of, how long until the first responders can get out there and start dealing with the power outages in places like Newborn and Moorhead City? And how long until they can start getting out to help those in distress, especially the people who decided to stay behind?

I mean, I keep hearing -- what are you hearing up there, Anderson? I hear from the officials down here, 30 miles an hour, 50 miles an hour, first responders have to stay in. And we're hearing they could have wind conditions like that for 12 to 20 hours.

COOPER: Yes, and also with all this water on the ground, I mean, that's a huge concern as you know for people driving out there, power lines are down, there's going to be a lot of water on the ground in a lot of different areas. You know, the mayor of Wilmington I talked to him earlier tonight, he was talking about 20, 30, 40 inches of rain coming down.

They're expecting, you know, a lot of water on the ground. It's going to be on the ground for days. The river here, they're not expecting it to reach its peak until about Tuesday, which gives you a sense for the time frame we're looking at here for water on the ground, no electricity in a lot of areas.

It's just going to be really uncomfortable I think for a lot of people. And people are going to be tempted to get outside, to try to drive around, to stretch their legs, just kind of, you know, walk their pets, and not be stir crazy. But officials are saying, please stay inside, stay close to home, do not be out wondering, there's just a lot of danger. You don't know what's underneath that water, how deep it maybe in some areas.

CUOMO: Yes, and look, you just have a lot of vulnerability. Everybody's also known that about the Carolina coast. We learned it in depth during Hurricane Hugo, that it changed the topography of this place. Where we are here, what do they call this coastline again, Brian?

The Grand Strand is what they call all these beaches down the Carolina coast here, with all the beautiful high rises and the hotels. They dumped so much sand here to build it up five feet. It doesn't even deal with the normal high tide. There's pulling about 50 yards from the homes here, Anderson.

So, if that's just normal tidal activity at its saturation point, what an indicator of extreme vulnerability.

So, let's take a break here right now. I'll check back with you in a little bit when you get that next band of weather. We have the storm chaser Reed Timmer. We're trying to reconnect with him.

We have correspondents all up and down and here's been a lot of activity. We just put together the most recent pictures for you, and we'll show you the current path of Florence and the latest on the damage right after this break.


CUOMO: All right. We're tracking Florence, the worst is yet to come, but we're already seeing things that are bad enough.

Let's go to Brian Todd. He's in Hampstead, North Carolina. We saw him in sheeting rain before.

Brian, what's your situation now?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we were just at the edge of this old landing road where the intercoastal waterway was flooding the road, now, we're going to show you what it's like for people who live near that storm surge and decide they need to try to get out. We're pulling away from that storm surge area, and look at what people are going to go through on these roads as they tried to get out.

We've got a roving coverage vehicle. This thing is like a tank with three cameras, and we're just plowing through this, where you see all this debris on the road, on Old Landing Road, for people who try to pull out of here at the last minute, this is what they're going to have to deal with, Chris. You know, a lot of people have elected to stay, and this is what they're being warned about.

We're going to pull the vehicle over, and then we're going to -- I'm going to get out of the vehicle and show you what the people are going to have to go through. I can point out some of the dangers here.

I'll get out of the vehicle and come to the front of it, and again, when you get out, you know, we're used to this having covered these storms. But when you get out, you get disoriented. We're getting hit with a really heavy band of wind and rain here. I can feel these trees over here just really starting to bend and be compromised.

You try to pull out of here too late in your situation and try to escape, this is what you're going to be dealing with, also on top of it all, we've had tornado warnings not far from here. These are tree lined roads, any kind of tornado, even a mild one, that whips through here is going to bring down these trees, cause debris to fly all over the road, and then people are really going to be trapped.

This is how people get trapped in these neighborhoods, Chris. So, if people are going to stay through the storm surge and think they can make it out now? I don't think so. I'm hearing a really nasty bit of wind right behind me.

CUOMO: Well, look, we're hearing from local officials. If you're here now, it's time to shelter in place. The decision has been made.

And also, again, duration and saturation, that the trees, your trees may around you, they may be young, they may be strong. But the earth underneath them is getting spongy and soft. Trees go down that way as well.

Brian Todd, get back in the truck. Please be safe. I'll check with you in a little bit.

Let's get to meteorologist Tom Sater.

We're trying to put some numbers to the pictures we're seeing, Tom. What are we getting from this storm now?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we've already seen our first 12 inch total in Atlantic Coast. What we're watching here, Chris, is we've already had a C-130 fly in and a P3 Orion flying around the outside. We're getting updates now every hour.

Look at this, our first 100 mile per hour wind gust. Cape Lookout, Ft. Macon, 106, 105 miles per hour, sustained hurricane winds now are occurring at Cape Lookout. So again, this is moving in, but I want to talk about this rainfall, and, of course, one of the worst hit areas has been New Bern.

But it's going to be Wilmington. Wilmington has had its wettest year to date on history. If they get another 10 inches, it will be the wettest, all time year. They're going to do that.

When we talk about north and South Carolina, the storm systems that have broken records as far as the most amount of rainfall for North Carolina, it was Floyd. In 1999 dropping 24 inches, Florence is going to shatter that record. For South Carolina, it's Jerry in 1995. That storm dropped 18.

So, we're looking at Florence to not just create a new landscape here, and devastate the whole areas well inland. This is going to shatter records and go well into the record books. That's why a category 2 means absolutely nothing. But we're getting updates every hour now, and we'll continue to share them with you.

CUOMO: And, Tom, do you agree with the metaphor, somebody was telling me earlier, a different meteorologist, that usually a hurricane as a boxing metaphor works the head, the wind works the head, they're big shots, they're haymakers. This storm is working the body, soaking the earth, working that water table already, making it vulnerable. So that when the winds do come, and the storm surge does come, it's working to great effect. And they're worried about that's what's going to make it devastating.

SATER: And life threatening. Seventy-five percent of fatalities in these tropical systems are water. I mean, surge is quite a bit because of the swift current, unfortunately, and it's hard to talk about, those that drown, they're trapped in debris? They're trapped in their homes, electrocution. I mean, it's sad to think about those things, but it's about water, water, water, from what's coming in from the ocean and what's coming down from above.

That's a good metaphor, you're right, though.

CUOMO: All right. Tom Sater, thank you very much. When you get new information, come back to me and we'll come to you right now.

Let's take a break right now. We're trying to get Reed Timmer back up because there's no substitute than being with a storm chaser, he can give you that firsthand experience of being inside what we're so worried about with Florence.

Continuing coverage of the storm right after this.


CUOMO: All right. We've been tracking the storm.

Communications are a problem in hurricanes. We all know that. We're trying to get Reed Timmer up. He's a storm chaser.

We have a phone tree going here because a lot of people stayed behind in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is south of where Wilmington is.

There's Reed Timmer. He's getting beat up for us to take us inside the storm. Hopefully he can hear us.


REED TIMMER, ACCUWEATHER NETWORK EXTREME METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I can hear you loud and clear right now. We are getting northerly winds right now gusting 60 to 70 miles an hour. I'm right along Highway 17. We just came inland from (INAUDIBLE) North Carolina.

We were there earlier, saw the surge, a high tide at noon. It was already coming over and inundating some of the homes, and already causing some storm surge damage. We have another high tide coming up at 11:30 tonight. And that is when the worst of the storm surge is going to happen, is during high tide.

But it's likely not going to go out after that with those winds continuing to batter the eastern side of the barrier island. But as we were driving south on Highway 17 we saw numerous trees down almost blocking the road. We were able to get around them.

Right now, we're trying to reposition south of that wobble to the west and head toward the Wrightsville Beach area, possibly Topsail Beach to reposition when the surge comes in, because right now, with these northerly winds even as damaging as they are, they are coming off the land. So friction is slowing them down. But once that eye gets a little bit closer and those winds shift over to the northeasterly, that's when they're really going to start ripping up the water and that storm surge is going to come up very fast and it's very likely that this storm is (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: Now, Reed, usually a storm is going four or five times faster than this. What does this being slow, how does this -- how does that magnify the effect?

TIMMER: There's nothing more dangerous than a slow-moving tropical cyclone, especially one that's hitting the brakes like this, because they produce such prolific rainfall rates. There's what's called warm rain processes out here. And that is when you have a bunch of very small drops and the rainfall rates are absolutely prolific.

You can see all kinds of ponding on the roadways already out here. Different types of flooding. You have river flooding, flash flooding. Also the storm surge inundation and also a lot of these rivers. They meet the ocean water and that will prevent the water from draining.

And as the storm sits there spinning and almost moving stationary, it's just going to be catastrophic, and it's going to be mainly in terms of that water.

CUOMO: All right. We've got a long way to go. Reed, pace yourself. Try and get back inside and be dry. Thank you for being outside. I'll check with you in a little bit.

You let me know when it's time to come to you. I don't want to expose you for no reason. Be well.

All right. Right now on the phone, we have Amber Kornegay (ph). She's in New Bern. They have power outages there already. They have flooding.

Can you hear me, Amber?

AMBER KORNEGAY, NEW BERN, NC RESIDENT (via telephone): I can. Can you hear me?

CUOMO: OK. How are you doing?

KORNEGAY: I'm doing the best we can.

CUOMO: Power's out. Do you have what you need right now?

KORNEGAY: For now, yes, we do. We have what we need. The power keeps going in and out. I'm not sure we'll have it much longer.

CUOMO: Did you take the precautions of filling up the bathtub, storing things in the freezer that you can? Are you worried about flooding where you are? What's your situation?

KORNEGAY: Well, where we're at right now I don't think we have to worry about flooding. My house, which is about five minutes up the road, is beside the creek which is why we evacuated to my grandparents' house. We have had our family here.

So, some of the surrounding areas are definitely at risk but where we're at I don't feel like is, what kind of (INAUDIBLE) CUOMO: Good. Anybody particularly vulnerable who you're with right now? Anybody who has any special needs or medical needs?

KORNEGAY: My grandmother has sleep apnea, but we do have a generator to keep her machine going. So, as long as we don't run out of gas we should be OK in that aspect. For her to not be out of -- we at least have the means to get to a gas supply of some sort.

CUOMO: And everybody's staying behind. What was that about? Were you unable to move your grandma? I mean, why did you guys stay?

KORNEGAY: The reason we actually stayed is because my family does a lot of rescue work with animals and we all have a lot of adopted animals and it's just not convenient to up and take all of them with us. We don't -- the power just went out. That's really our reason for staying behind, to care for these animals.

CUOMO: You know, it's interesting. If people aren't pet people, if they don't understand the attachment, when they hear that they say, well, you've got to go. You've got to take care of people first. What do you need people to understand about what your pets mean to you?

KORNEGAY: That these pets trust you. When you make the obligation, they're your children and you should stick by them and not fail them. If you make the obligation you need to follow through with it. That is what I do with every single one of my animals, and I will continue to do that.

CUOMO: What do you have? What are your furry family? What different people? What different types of animals do you have?

KORNEGAY: Oh, gosh. We have a wide variety. Mostly are pit bulls simply because they're very misunderstood breed and I try to work with them and get them back to 100 percent. We have Shar-Peis, we have hound dogs. We have cats, we have Chihuahuas.

So, throughout my whole family, we have a huge variety of different breeds.

CUOMO: All right. Amber, keep everybody, you know, upbeat and happy, and hopefully, you have the provisions you need to make it through this period. If you get in a state of distress, we've got the phone tree working here. Please call us and let us know so we can get the information out.

Be well. OK?

KORNEGAY: Most definitely. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Miguel Marquez is in Carolina Beach. They've been seeing bands of weather as well. Let's check in -- Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's starting to come down here. The wind is picking up. The rain is coming down in much more steady fashion. This storm is moving so slowly. I mean, they've really expected to see the weather that we're seeing

right now several hours ago. And they're still now waiting to see the worst of it. They expect the storm surge to come in between six and 13 feet. If it comes in at high tide, which is five or six feet, they're expecting many, many homes to flood in this area.

They're also expecting between 20 and in some areas 40 inches of rain. Just a massive amount of water coming down over a 24, 36-hour period here. A third of the time they expect to be inundated and underwater and the town also cut off.

There's a street appropriately named Canal Street that goes through town that floods on smaller showers. They expect that to be flooded and at this point telling residents that stayed here about 600 of the 6,200 people that live in this town, saying that you may be cut off for the next five to seven days -- Chris.

CUOMO: That's the problem. Right? Duration. We've seen what you're dealing with right now, not unusual. The kind of flooding that they're expecting, not unusual in terms of its numbers. But the duration and what it could mean over that time.

Is that something they've been able to prepare for?

MARQUEZ: The city is certainly prepared for that. They have police officers at a skeletal staff at the city, at a command center for emergency management, not too far from where we are. They have cars, they have boats at the ready, they have food, they have water, they have everything they need to survive and help people if they can as these winds pick up in the next couple of hours it's going to be very difficult for emergency crews to get out.

We've seen some out and about so far tonight. They didn't expect to be able to make calls tonight. But they are so far. In the next hours ahead they're going to have to make the call as to whether or not it's going to be too dangerous to get out there. And then they're going to have to wait until the storm blows through and figure out how they're able to help those who need help -- Chris.

CUOMO: You know, again, the first responders and the local officials, want to us make it very clear what that's about. That's not about them being callous or shaming people who decided to stay behind. It's about safety.

Part of the calculation that people make when they decide to stay, when they've been told to evacuate, is that first responders are going to have to risk their lives to come get them. And they have a responsibility to the first responders to keep them safe. So, in some municipalities it's 30-mile-an-hour sustained winds. Other it's 50. They can't send them out.

So, Miguel, again, I want to keep your battery charged. Get out of that weather. Let us know when it's changing and we need to come back to you. I appreciate it.

MARQUEZ: You got it. CUOMO: And that's going to be the story of where we are here in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. OK?

It's about nine, ten miles of coast. And if you were to look at the map you'd see we're inset in kind of a cutout. They call it the "just coast" here. And once it comes it will be packing a lot of category 4 storm surge.

So, it won't have the wind speeds, but that is really an illusion for people. The number carries way too much significance for people. Duration matters more. You already have a lot of water on the ground here. It's been a rainy season. Storm surge, more rain, sitting on top of you, the pressure of time, that's what creates trees falling, foundations collapsing, and people being stuck in conditions that can be tricky and tricky for first responders.

Now, just south of us in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina you have Don Lemon.

Don, what's it looking like down there? What are they telling you is heading your way?