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Florence Grows in Size as it Closes in on Carolina Coast; Outer Bands of Hurricane Reach North Carolina Coast; "Cajun Navy" in Carolinas Ready to Help when Florence Strikes. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 13, 2018 - 10:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news. The eye of Hurricane Florence is spinning closer to the southeast coast. The storm growing in size with the outer bands already hitting parts of North Carolina. Tropical force winds will be arriving in near hours and remember, millions are in this storm's path. Officials noting if you have not evacuated from the coast by this point, your time is nearly up. CNN's Nick Valencia joins us now live from Myrtle Beach. The beach there shut down. Some folks electing to stay behind. Why, Nick? What are they telling you?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The beach is shut down here. And well, for about an hour or so, that was a good thing, but now people have slowly started to come out and check out the conditions here. And we're going to talk to one person right now that is riding the storm out. Why are you doing it, Jennifer? What's the reason?

JENNIFER GARRETT, LIVES JUST OUTSIDE MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: Oh, I feel safe. I'm prepared. I have been through them before. And I have made it. I went through Hugo, and I made it. And I just feel good.

VALENCIA: Who are you going to be with when you ride the storm out?

GARRETT: My husband Eddy and my daughter Cathy.

VALENCIA: And I'm sure you have watched the warnings. I'm sure you watched people you know like me on TV tell you to get out or you have watched the mayor say you need to get out now. Now is the time to evacuate. And you're still here.

GARRETT: I'm still here. You know, I felt like it was OK to stay. I'm prepared. I have been through them before. Getting in is harder, you know, than getting out. I didn't want to leave my home. I have fur babies. But I really feel confident in Myrtle Beach and everybody that's in charge. And I feel like I'm going to be taken care of.

VALENCIA: I only have a few seconds left. You said that you were confident and really like the community around here. You feel supported by the community because why?

GARRETT: Absolutely, because after Hugo, when you needed something, and a neighbor had it, the neighbor would give it to you. And if they need it, you would give it to them. So, I think my greatest memory of a major hurricane is not so much the power of the winds and the waves and the water but the power of the community.

VALENCIA: That's beautiful. We hope that you stay safe during this time around and then you have the fortune you had during Hugo.

Jennifer was telling me off camera, they waited two weeks before they had power restored, they were without food, but that sentiment there, she's hopeful that the community will help support people like her. And she is one of the 40 percent or so this community that's going to continue to ride this out, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

I'm here in Oak Island, North Carolina. We have seen people, even though there's a mandatory evacuation here, who have decided to ride out this storm.

Joining me now is someone who may be charged with taking care of these people over the next few days. Art Dornfeld, with the Brunswick County Emergency Management Services. Thanks so much for being with us, Art. We just heard from someone in a different area, but we see the people here walking on this beach right over there even. What's your message to these people who have chosen to stay?

ARTHUR DONFELD, SPECIAL OPERATIONS SUPERVISOR, BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, we really recommend that you leave. We don't want to be in this area. It looks really nice and the surf is great for the surfers, but the rip tide is extremely dangerous out there. So, we don't recommend being on the beach at this time.

[10:35:00] We recommend the window of opportunity to leave is closing rapidly. So, we recommend that you leave the area. And if you can't, there are still some rooms at shelters. We do have a number of them opened up. And we will do everything we can to help you get where you need to be. But it needs to happen soon.

BERMAN: The outer bands of Hurricane Florence have already started to hit the outer banks a couple hundred miles north of where we are. Wilmington, starting to get very, very close to the coast here. Once the winds pick up, we had some gusts, but once we get sustained winds of 45 miles an hour, what will you be able to do?

DORNFELD: There's not a whole lot we'll be able to do. Our services will be suspended pretty much at that particular point. So, until the winds come back down, and we can evaluate the situation, people are going to be pretty much on their own. The 911 center will still accept calls, but there's nothing more difficult than to accept a call and not be able to come and help you out. So, it's difficult. And we don't want to see that happen.

BERMAN: It's going to be a long time. Look, the winds are going to get higher than 45 miles an hour and they're going to stay there, maybe for two full days. So, that's a long time that people will be on their own, correct? DORNFELD: That's correct. And sustained winds for two to three hours is one thing, but sustained winds of over 50, 60 miles per hour for an entire day, 24 hours, that's devastating. So, we really, you know, need to take it seriously.

BERMAN: You're a swift boat guy, a swift boat rescue guy. The real threats from this storm may not just be the wind. It's the storm surge, which could flood, and then the rain. Two or three feet of rain at some places and that may very well be your big problem in the next few days.

DORNFELD: That's exactly correct. So, when you have -- Hurricane Matthew had a three-foot surge. This could be up to 13 feet. So that would be crashing into the buildings behind you. And then with another 24 inches of rain possibly on top of that, that is very dangerous. And you know, our swift water team is a bunch of professional people in Brunswick County, but I really don't want anybody to find out how professional and how good they are because the big thing is you need to leave.

But if for some reason you need us, we have a federal task force that's here, Missouri Task Force One, they will be splitting into two components. One will be in the fire department in Leland with Chief Grimes up there. One will be at our Emergency Operations Center at Bolivia and Brunswick County type two swift water team will be in - which is 12 miles from the border of South Carolina.

BERMAN: You have only been at this for a little while. You're a career navy guy, but in the time you have been doing this, you see anything like what people are predicting the storm will be?

DORNFELD: The only thing that comes close is Hurricane Floyd. That dumped 24 inches of rain in Brunswick County, and we dealt with that storm for a long time after the storm left.

BERMAN: All right. Art Dornfeld, thanks for being with us all morning long. Wish you the best of luck the next two days. People are going to need you.

DORNFELD: Yes, sir. Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you so much, Art.

All right. CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolina Coast, continues right after this.


[10:42:39] HILL: Welcome back to our continuing breaking news coverage of Hurricane Florence, now making its presence known along the Carolina Coast. And with us is Clyde Cain, founder of the Louisiana "Cajun Navy," a now well-known group of volunteers who prepare themselves to help in emergency situations during storms just like Florence.

Clyde, good to have you with us. You're in Gaston, South Carolina. First of all, how many "Cajun Navy" members are there with you and why did you choose Gaston?

CLYDE CAIN, FOUNDER, LOUISIANA CAJUN NAVY: Well, I came in and started scouting on Saturday. And between myself and the leader of the United Cajun Navy, we had contacts, so I went boots on the ground, found us a great staging area. We have all amenities and plenty of room to park everything from flatbed semis to our air boats to teams, medic teams, people coming from all over. Groups, we're able to put them all out in the same security compound out there and deploy from there and we're in touch with local and state to deploy us as well as a ticketing system that we have.

HILL: The fact that this storm could sit for not hours, right, but days, how does that change things for you?

CAIN: Right. Well, we planned ahead of time for that because we have been watching it and knew it would probably stall and just sit there for a second or just move in slow. So, we have 18-wheelers that are coming in. And everyone brought enough supplies as they came in their groups to cover themselves, but of course, we have a lot of food there and accommodations for everything. And we were also given some rooms by Hilton. So, we've got everybody kind of staged up and ready to go. But the accommodations are all there for now. And then we have 18- wheelers rolling in to our compound with reefer trucks with ice and all that stuff for us to go out and deploy and take on any situation that might occur.

HILL: We know how instrumental, how helpful, really integral you have been, especially, we don't need to look further than Harvey. How many people do you have with you there on the ground?

CAIN: Right now, as far as our core groups, I know there's Todd, and he has his four. And I have my five. Core guys, and then we have our CFO came down to handle logistics as well as our media guy. They're sitting in the command center handling calls. We have four admins that are admining the page as well as multiple dispatchers dispatching over our LCN emergency response 2018 channel.

[10:45:12] So, everyone can chime in there. And offer their volunteer services as well as we have people e-mailing us through our where you can go on and fill out a volunteer sheet, which gives us your information. We call you back and utilize you where best we can, and we're offering anyone who wants to join up, come out here. We plot out a piece of land, if they have RVs. So, whatever works, we're setting them up.

HILL: Taking care of your neighbors once again. Many of them you have never met yet. Clyde Cain, we appreciate it and we'll continue to check back in with you guys over the coming days.

CAIN: Awesome. Thank you very much.

HILL: Stay with CNN's breaking coverage of Hurricane Florence. Landfall as we mentioned appears imminent. Millions as you know are in its path. Multiple orders of evacuation and the window is closing. Stay with us.


[10:50:30] BERMAN: All right, John Berman here in Oak Island, North Carolina. Just starting a little bit darker here. The winds started to pick up and the surf which had been calm is now starting to kick a whole lot more. Some of the outer bands of Florence have begun to hit the outer banks. Well north of where I am right now.

We want to check in up there in Buxton, North Carolina. I think we have some pictures of Buxton also where it looks dark and the storm looks like it will be bearing down very soon.

Joining me now is Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy with Radio Hatteras. This is a community radio station which I imagine provides information to the community there. I think everyone there pretty much has evacuated except for you, Mary Helen. Tell me why you stayed.

MARY HELEN GOODLOE-MURPHY, RADIO HATTERAS (via telephone): Because Radio Hatteras is part of the emergency communications network for Dare County. If the TV goes out, unfortunately, we're an Internet broadcast radio that's still on the air, and we have a responsibility to keep us on the air during that time or during any kind of emergency.

And I have an update for your visitors - I mean for your listeners. We have had two NC-12 over washes up here already. High tide is supposed to be at 10:45 a.m., just a few minutes ago, and we have already had ocean over wash at two vulnerable areas. Ocean View Drive has water came over Ocean View Drive on NC-12, which is our only main highway here. And then it's also crossing at the Old Frisco Pier.

BERMAN: Already. You have had two over washes already and this storm is just beginning to hit. What else are you seeing?

GOODLOE-MURPHY: That our wind is picking up. There's a gust in Rodanthe up to 40, which is just a notch above tropical storm force.

BERMAN: So glad we have you on with us. So, people can understand what this all means. Yes, the wind speed of this storm is a little bit less than it was, but the size means the storm surge is the real problem. There is great concern over that, and that surge coupled with the high tide or higher tide, what you're seeing has already caused two over washes and the storm has really just begun to hit the coast of North Carolina.

What are your plans? How do you plan to get through what will be a very long two days?

GOODLOE-MURPHY: It will be a very long two days. That's the reason I came early, is because early forecast was that the winds, the tropical storm force winds would come in some time Wednesday, late Wednesday night, and where I live in the north end of Hatteras Island, I can't get through Buxton with the NC-12 might have been flooded so I came early yesterday afternoon.

BERMAN: All right, Mary Ellen Goodloe-Murphy with Radio Hatteras up in Buxton, reporting that two areas, two roadways already over washed by the water from this storm. Hurricane Florence, which is only just begun to affect the Carolina Coastline. Please stay safe. Thank you so much for being with us.

Again, Hurricane Florence, as we were saying, the skies have darkened here where I am in Oak Island, North Carolina beginning to feel, you know, the brunt of this storm and will do so for the next two and a half days. CNN's special live coverage continues right after this.


[10:58:35] HILL: Colleges are rushing to get football games in ahead of Hurricane Florence. Some schools though just canceling them altogether. Lindsay Czarniak has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Lin.

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Erica. Yes. I just got off the phone with someone at Clemson. You know, they made adjustments, but that was before Florence took this downward turn, right? So, they recognize they could get more than they initially thought.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.

So, Erica, among the biggest moves we have seen has been Clemson. Second ranked. They moved up their home game Saturday against Georgia Southern, but they moved it from 3:30 p.m. to noon. So, they were hoping that that will be enough. They're monitoring closely now.

The University of South Carolina canceled its game against Marshall. That was scheduled for Saturday night. Still, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp saying they're going to do whatever they can to help their players' families.


WILL MUSCHAMP, SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH: No different than I believe it was last year, the hurricane hit South Florida. We offered all of our players' families opportunities within the entire athletic department for their families to evacuate and come to Columbia. So, we're in the process of doing that right now.


CZARNIAK: And Clemson coach Dabo Swinney saying that their policy is just the same to help however they can. We talked about that conversation with the university, Erica. They're doing something really interesting. They have buses that they usually use to travel the team, they're using those buses now to help evacuees. So, what they're doing is they're going to other coastal colleges, they're also working with retirement homes and getting whoever they can to help them get to a safe place.

HILL: That is good news indeed. Lindsay, appreciate the update. Thank you.

CZARNIAK: You got it.

HILL: Thanks everyone for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill in for Poppy Harlow. Our breaking coverage of Hurricane Florence -