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Hurricane Florence; Report from One of the Final Front Lines in Syria; Civilians Flee as Idlib Braces for Devastating Assault; Clergy Sexual Abuse; Apple Unveils Pricey New Phones and Apple Watches. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 13, 2018 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, two monster storms impacting more than 60 million people around the world. Hurricane Florence barrels towards the U.S. East Coast and Typhoon Mangkhut bearing down in the Philippine. New sex abuse scandal of the Catholic Church just like all the others, only this time in Germany. Amid this crisis, Pope Francis calls an unprecedented meeting of church leaders. And Apples supersizes its latest iPhone and supersizes the price as well. Hello everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching NEWSROOM L.A.

Tens of millions of people into different parts of the world are bracing to two massive storms. With wind speeds up to 240 kilometers an hour, Super Typhoon Mangkhut is as strong as a Category Five Hurricane and continues to strengthen as it barrels towards the northern Philippines. Hong Kong and Macau are also in its path. And in the Atlantic, Hurricane Florence is threatening the southeastern U.S. with a Potential record-setting four meters storm surge could also dump almost 80 centimeters of rain in the coming days. This is an unprecedented storm and George Howell joins us now with the very latest from Wilmington, North Carolina. George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: John, nice to be with you. Nice and dry at the moment but certainly that will change here in the next 24 hours. Good news to report off the top. This major storm once a Category Three storm has now been downgraded to Category Two in the last several hours. That is good news. But look, the most important thing to point out the viewers around the world here in the U.S. will may be watching, don't get caught up in the category. I repeat that. Don't get caught up in the category. This is a major storm that is barreling toward the U.S. East Coast. It will bring with it a great deal of rain. It will bring strong wind, it will bring storm surge and flooding in many parts of the southeast of the United States. Keeping in mind some 25 million people are in the path of this storm. Again, I want to give you a full view of this storm.

From outer space in fact, this from the International Space Station from earlier if we have that video but they have seen it earlier, there it is, you see the eye of the storm as well intense circulation there, very strong storm again, moving toward the East Coast. Right now it is some 455 kilometers away from Wilmington, North Carolina that's where we are now. It's moving at a snail's pace. It's getting closer hour-by-hour. Let's get the very latest, the details on this storm right now with our Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri in the International Weather Center. Pedram, again it's moving very slowly and that could mean severe flooding for people.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Direct correlation, George, when it comes to tropical systems, the speed they move which at -- and the amount of rainfall they produce. In fact, the slowest speeds of storms produce easily the highest amounts of rainfall and that's really the most threatening aspect of the storm system along with storm surge. And I want to talk about this because you know people get complacent when it comes to the amount of category drops in the past couple of days.

Over the past day, 12 or so hours there was an 83-foot waves measured on the northeastern quadrant of this storm system. That's 26-meter high wave height across this region, so that's the amount of energy, the amount of water that's been in motion for multiple days when this was a category four. There isn't enough time for that wave amount the energy ahead of this to drop down to a significant level. Now of course, when it comes ashore the amount of water displaced is a different story because there is upslope on the beaches itself so that'll be broken down here momentarily.

But you take a look, notice a lot of convections, a lot of thunderstorm activity on the northern fringe far less on the southern fringe. We've had some shear. That's been what has allowed the storm system to weaken as it relates to wind speed. But winds they're not the number one, number two, or number three killer when it comes to tropical cycle and lance falls. They're way down on the bottom on the list. It is related generally to storm surge and heavy rainfall. Here it comes around 8:00 in the morning Friday local time. See this, the back side of the storm, this is going to be drawing water in on your order of several meters across some of these bays some of these inlets and also some of these communities but that's the biggest threat. In fact, you take a look, two to three meters some areas as much as four-meter areas of storm surge possible.

Now farther to the south around Charleston, about a half a meter to one and a half meters of what we're looking at. What does that mean? When you break down storm surges, essentially we're talking about an elevated level of seawater coming in towards the coast. A normal sea level down here, you've got your beach, and above that, you've got ocean surge that begins to come in. When you get up to say a meter or so, this is what it looks like. Essentially you have less of a beach, the waters beginning to encroach on your property. Once you bring that up to two meters, you begin to bring on water into the property.

Again, we're forecasting four meters, that was this case when this was a Category Four by the way, and now that it's a Category Two guess what, it's still four meters. It doesn't change. That energy has been in motion for several days. That would put the vast majority of homes, in some cases, several kilometers inland, underwater into the second story potentially. So in 12 foot or four meters storm surge possible with the storm system and of course, that's part one of the threat. The number two weather killer is rainfall. And notice this, from

Friday morning to Friday night, just about a 50-kilometer movement, Gorge, that will produce a tremendous amount of rainfall. In some cases, a half a meter, which by the way across some cities around the northeastern United States, that's a year's worth of rainfall in a matter of 12 to 18 hours and of course the storm surge we just broke down as well. So that's why the impacts regardless of the category will not change because the storm had got too much energy for too long essentially before it is going to make landfall.

[01:05:47] HOWELL: All right, Pedram Javaheri in the International Weather Center with the particulars on this storm, Pedram, thank you. From one Meteorologist to the next, let's go through our colleague Derek Van Dam. Derek, in North Carolina, Carolina Beach, in fact, that's just about 15 minutes, 20 minutes south of where we are here in Wilmington, North Carolina and over the bridge there, Derek. And what are people saying to you about this storm that's coming in?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well they're concerned and most of them have heeded the evacuation warnings. We're in Carolina Beach as you mentioned. We're about 20 minutes away from where you are, along the coastal areas of North Carolina. About 6,000 people call this area home. Most of them have left but of course, there's still the handful that well either couldn't physically leave or decided not to leave. Now, this particular area are no stranger to hurricanes. They've been through Bonnie, they've been through Matthew, they've been through Fran, and of course, the benchmark hurricane being Hurricane Hugo that struck just south of here back in 89.

Now, this one, however, is a whole different player. This one really might just test their resolve around here because this is going to be a prolonged hurricane. The impacts from this storm really are going to ramp up at about 6:00 in the morning local time on the eastern seaboard and lasts right through Friday, perhaps even into Saturday as well. Pedram was talking about the threats, storm surge, that is the main threat. That is the number one killer in tropical systems like this and that is what we're facing here. Several meters of inundation possible in areas that are normally dry. The National Weather Service calling for three meters of storm surge right where I'm standing now. This is incredible

Also, the monumental rainfall North Carolina has at its record seeing about 600 millimeters of rainfall from a tropical storm. That's their record this has the potential to eclipse that, some computer models depending on what you're looking at could draw in moisture from the Atlantic and we could easily top 600, 650 millimeters because of this prolonged duration of timing that the storm is just going to stall and basically meander along the Carolina coast. So you've got the storm surge, you've got the potential for flooding inland, that's freshwater flooding.

Pedram also mentioned how this storm surge as the ocean gets pushed in from the strong winds around the hurricane. There's also the water that wants to come out of the inlets and out of the cells so they're going to be working against each other helping to raise up and exacerbate that storm surge potential as well. So we know the concerns are great and people are taking this storm seriously here. But of course, we've got along several days ahead of us and we don't want to split hairs here with the categories of this hurricane. We still understand that it's a danger and is a real threat to this region. George?

HOWELL: It is a real threat and it is important to keep reiterating that, Derek, not to get caught up in the category because it is still a very strong storm. Thank you so much. And keep in mind the history of this storm. You know, it grew there in the Atlantic. It had a great deal of time to gather a lot of water. And as you heard from our meteorologist, when it comes inland, it will move at a snail's pace. I believe Pedram earlier described it as a person walking down the street. If you can imagine that, all the rain that's going to come down all the strong winds that will be associated, and on the coastline the storm surge, the threat of flooding from that, John, this is a massive important storm, significant storm I should say, that people need to be concerned about.

VAUSE: Yes, much like Harvey in Texas, Houston last year, you know, the slow-moving hurricane with a lot of moisture, a lot of water. That's the problem they're looking at. OK, George, thank you. Thank you in a moment. In the meantime, we'll take a close look out the Super Typhoon Mangkhut taking aim at the northern Philippines. Once again, to Pedram Javaheri with details on this. And so there's a couple of issues here with this storm. You know, the wind speed is incredibly high 240 kilometers per hour. You know, where is that heading? Is it weakening, is it likely to strengthen, and then of course, the path of this storm is expected to take?

JAVAHERI: Yes, the path has been just about west the entire time the storm has been in existence and that's a major concern. We've had at Point wanted to shift it a little to the north and has come back down to this house just before landfall about say 48 hours before landfall. But you take a look, all quadrants of this storm as impressive as it gets. And unlike Florence where the southern tier of it is getting some wind shear and some drier air, we slice the storm apart here, you pick any quadrant of it again as symmetrical as organized so it has everything going for it. As far as strength is concerned, sitting at a healthy Category Five equivalent. That's a super typhoon about 270 kilometers per hour winds, gusting over 300 kilometers per hour.

[01:10:34] In fact, the gusts with the storm comparable to what Haiyan was when it came ashore several years ago. That's kind of puts it in perspective of what a storm we're talking about. But the Philippines' weather agency there has issued a signal one in advance of the storm expecting to a rare signal five inside the next 24 so hours. That would be as the storm approaches of course. And we talk about signal five, we don't see this very often. And this is typically associated with damaged just about every single structure, extended disruptions of communication, essentially roads and it becoming impassable communities being completely cut off. That's this sort of a storm that's moving ashore and certainly could be a humanitarian disaster across this region because we know how populated is in northern Luzon, how mountainous it is in some of these communities.

Landfall, we expect it to be sometime early Saturday morning potentially overnight Friday into Saturday with the storm system and then it re-emerges back over the South China Sea, second landfall possible early Monday morning just south of Hong Kong potentially (INAUDIBLE) and eventually into northern Vietnam. Now with a storm like this, you're going to have major disruptions and of course a greater population threat than even a storm like Florence. I calculated as much as 60 million people to be impacted by the storm system when you draw the population that we have access to here at CNN across this region. And again, you get the rainfall amounts that are incredible across an area that is not only going to have poor drainage, compared to say the coast a region of the United States but also communities built in very precarious locations that are not going to be able to handle this. So this certainly could be an incredible story for a lot of people in its path.

VAUSE: Yes, welcome to a superheated planet, I guess. Pedram, thank you. Let's go to Ivan Watson standing by live now in Hong Kong for the very latest on this super typhoon. You're in Hong Kong right now. They're expecting some wild weather but before it gets to you, it go through the Philippines. You know, the Philippines they get hit by about 20 cyclones a year, but this one is different. It's a bit like more like Haiyan, and Pedram mentioned this. Haiyan, like what, more than 6,000 people dead back in 2013. So are they better prepared this time?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean the Philippine Red Cross has indicated they're worried about some 10 million people that could be affected by this storm. In particular, people who were displaced by monsoon rains back in July and August. And so that gives you a sense of the vulnerability of parts of the population in the Philippines to extreme weather. People who have already been impacted just within the last couple of months and now are bracing for this super typhoon that's expected to make landfall around the northern island of Luzon sometime at the end of the day on Friday.

And the Philippine Disaster Management Authorities different departments of the government, the Philippines Red Cross, they say they are positioning food for tens of thousands of families, that they're trying to get prepared, that their people are on high alert and getting ready. But you know, once that storm comes in, it can't -- can be potentially quite dangerous.

The same storm system John already passed over the U.S. island of Guam on Sunday and their authorities say that they're still trying to get power back. They have about 84 percent of the power back on the island and there's still some 300 people displaced after their homes were damaged or destroyed. It's suspected to hit the Philippines, and then it will head in the direction of Hong Kong, Macau and southern China. As you can see here, the scene is quite calm right now.

It's kind of the calm before the storm or in between the storms because this morning, Hong Kong had a Typhoon Warning, a low-level warning from the weaker typhoon that just blew through here, that's typhoon Barijat, and that sent up you know a waves three, four meters high that I saw yesterday evening that people myself included we're trying to surf on unsuccessfully I might add. And -- but Hong Kong's taking this seriously to. The airlines here are warning people to try to reschedule their flights because the storm is expected to hit here Saturday and Sunday. Of course, the infrastructure here quite a bit more developed than in the northern areas of the Philippines. John?

[01:14:52] VAUSE: You shouldn't go surfing in a storm, lesson number one, but also the treatment -- it could be this possibility you know, in the next -- in the next few weeks of having five cyclones active in the Pacific at the same time which it never happened once before. So this is wild, crazy weather which you know, we haven't seen before but we'll get to see a lot more of I guess. Ivan, thank you. I appreciate it. Well, as Ivan mentioned, Mankhut has already caused devastation across Guam. There's been widespread flooding and power outages.

Pacific News Center reporter Janela Carrera, spoke to one of the families whose homes was destroyed by this super typhoon.


JANELA CARRERA, ANCHOR, PACIFIC NEWS CENTER: Redina Perez secured her young children ages five, eight and 14, leaving them with their father. She remained parked at her house to keep an eye on her home. She tells us she did seek shelter at Maria Ulloa Elementary, albeit a little late, but was told they were full.

So, as illogical as it may seem, Redina returned to the one place she always went back to, her beloved home she literally built with her own hands, blood, sweat, and tears.

REDINA PEREZ, LOST HER HOUSE IN STORM: When I noticed that the winds started to pick up I had to remove my vehicle where I was sitting in through the storm. Had to remove myself from here because of the trees surrounding and knowing the fact that it's going to collapse.

CARRERA: She eventually left and sought shelter with a family member. But she immediately returned when the winds died down. What she came back to was total destruction.

Redina says she knows she'll receive criticism for her decision to stay by her home, but she has a reason. She lost her son in May to suicide and continues to grieve to this day. That home was all she had left of her son's memories. Among the things she frantically tried to save, pictures of her son. Everything else has been destroyed.

PEREZ: So when I pulled in the driveway, I -- it was completely gone. I sat there and I looked at my son's picture and I told him, I'm sorry. It hurts and I'm in pain because there's nothing left.

CARRERA: And it's not just memories of her son. Redina was homeless for a while and only recently received the land her house sat on through the Chamorro Land Trust. This piece of property, the first tangible thing to her name, meant everything to Redina and her family.

They invested a lot of their time and effort to making the most of what little they had. And something they could finally say, they owned. The sentimental value Redina placed in her land and home meant more than anything money could buy.


VAUSE: Thanks to Janela Carrera there for that report. Obviously, the real cost of these typhoons and the Hurricanes are yet to be felt. But next here on NEWSROOM, L.A., Florence still 24 hours from landfall. But the U.S. president says, his administration's response has already been so incredible, there's been widespread praise.

And once again, tens of thousands of civilians are running for their lives in what could be the final stands of Syria's rebels. Only this time, where do those civilians go?


[01:21:02] VAUSE: The U.S. president says his administration is ready for hurricane Florence. The president even canceled an appearance at two political rallies in Missouri and Mississippi. Of course, he's been tweeting about the storm, and then, there was this short video which was released on Twitter.

That, of course, came out to equal to government's response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year an unsung success. An unsung success which ended with the death toll of close to 3,000 people. Mr. Trump, says he's actually already in praise for his team's response to Hurricane Florence.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tremendous people working on the hurricane. First responders, law enforcement, and FEMA. And they're all ready. And we're getting tremendous accolades from politicians and the people. We are ready, but this is going to be one of the biggest storms to ever hit our country.


VAUSE: Well, for more, political analyst Michael Genovese, joins us now. He's president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University and author of How Trump Governs? How does he govern? Maybe we should dedicate hour sights to that.

OK, you know, we were talking about this last hour about how -- you know, the commander-in-chief -- you know, this is when they kind of step up to the plate. You know, they show who they are. Yes, Rudy Giuliani did actually a pretty good job of -- as mayor of New York during 9/11.

You know, George W. Bush, you know, standing in the rubble of 9/11, you knew, everyone will hear you now. Barack Obama, school shootings. I mean, this is the sort of moment when they bring the country together. Not set to Donald Trump.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: You know, part of crisis leadership is being there and having a presence and a force and being reassuring. This president though, it's almost as if he's always looking in the mirror for how things reflect upon him.

He's incapable of self-analysis and so, everything he does is in A Plus. And if you think that the job you did in Puerto Rico last year is an A Plus, well, then there's something seriously wrong. You need to self-reflect and evaluate yourself. Say, "What did we do right? What did we do wrong? What can we learn?

But this president doesn't think he needs to learn. He thinks he's got it down pat.

VAUSE: Which is interesting because earlier today on Wednesday, he tweeted out, "We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida. And did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent mayor of San Juan. We are ready for the big one that is coming."

You know this is a tactic which the president uses over and over again. He's been doing it long before he was in the Oval Office it's taking a complete and total unmitigated disaster, and saying it was awesome.

Everyone agrees that firing James Comey, the FBI director was supposed to be one of the worst things he did as president, the biggest problem has now created for his administration.

Yet, he said, you know I did the country a favor, it was the best thing I could have done -- you know, there's countless examples.

GENOVESE: But if the people aren't cheering you, then you have to be your own cheerleader. And I think he believes that if he keeps saying it over and over with the loud megaphone that he has that people might believe it. But it's an old story that gets old very quickly unless you've got the proof on the ground.

And then, for equivocally, you didn't have it. Then those kinds of lines become very thin and they collapse very quickly.

VAUSE: But even when he's challenged by, he doesn't sort of back down.

GENOVESE: No, because he doesn't recognize the legitimacy of the challenger. He seems incapable of self-reflection, self-analysis, and self-criticism. Something we all need to do. And therefore, I think, what happens is he so easily discount legitimate criticism, so he doesn't learn.

VAUSE: Yes, right. Well, he also sees incredibly great poll numbers for his administration that aren't fair. But we have some real poll numbers from CNN. And this is about the Russia investigation. 50 percent the country now approve of how Robert Mueller is handling the Russia probe, 30 percent approve of how the president is having the investigation.

And that's a new high for Mueller, and this is just one of a number of sort of polls which is definitely going against the president in recent days. But I guess, so the question is -- you know, if you're the president, and you look at those numbers and you say that's fine, I don't believe any of that, what are the -- what are the consequences not just to him but for the country I guess when things don't go when these polls turn out to be true and you know, they don't go this way?

[01:25:04] GENOVESE: And coming as they do it such an inopportune time. You know, two months before the midterm elections. So for both the president and his party, this spells really in trouble.

One of the interesting thing about this statistics and the polls that you've been showing is where the fall-off has come from. It seems like the -- this -- the base is solidified and the opposition is solidified.

And so, almost all of the change in opinion in the last few weeks has come from Independence. It's hard enough to govern when you govern with a majority party in Congress and a majority of popularity. But when it, in fact, the midterm elections proved the Democrats within the House and if your popularity's underwater, you can be drown pretty quickly.

VAUSE: Well, you know, this sense of infallibility seems to extend too many within the Trump family. Especially, when they say stuff like this, it is Eric Trump talking about Bob Woodward and his tell- all book about the Trump White House. Here he was on Eric Trump on Fox and Friends.


ERIC TRUMP, SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: But don't you think people look through the fact that you can write some sensational nonsense book, CNN will definitely have you on there because they love to trash the president. It will mean you sell three extra books, you made three extra shekels.


VAUSE: Shekels. OK, spot a lot of outrage -- you know, on social media. There was one tweet which I thought really something up. "The only people who refer to being paid off as wanting extra shekels are Israeli speaking Hebrew and anti-Semite speaking English outside Israel. Eric Trump doesn't speak Hebrew, so you know exactly who he has been reading online."

GENOVESE: I know. Why do you go there, what's the purpose, what's the goal, what do you gain by that? It only raises questions and it makes you look bad. And even if you didn't mean it in a bad way, it sounds horrible and you need to correct it very quickly because it is an insult to a number of people. There is no reason to say those things. So --

VAUSE: Unless you believe -- you know, the slur of the motivation behind it.

GENOVESE: Well, may -- it may be a dog whistle to certain people.


GENOVESE: And if that's the case, then, shame on him. But I -- but with Eric you all must think, poor Eric, it's almost an accident that he doesn't know better.

VAUSE: Yes, that's true because while you said this -- you know, it sounds like as a dog whistle, with that in mind, here's Bob Woodward's response a few hours ago on "AC360".


BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN: And I'm sorry. Anyone talks like that, whether it's a dog whistle or whatever the intent is. It's not -- I've been when part of the point of this book is that we need to have a serious debate about serious issues. And to use invective and this attack rhetoric or what you know, whatever it might be. I've -- it's -- it sets us back.


VAUSE: Yes, it's point to say, we're not having serious conversations because we're being distracted by -- you know, NFL players kneeling during the anthem or -- you know, is the president anti-Semite, or there is a war on Christmas.

And I know, is this -- is this as deliberate strategy put out by the president?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, you can govern by blue smoke and mirrors, but only for so long. Pretty soon, reality catches up to you. And so, I'm sending Eric out there, he is not a serious person. So, why do we take him seriously? He's the president's son, that's why.


GENOVESE: But you've been only governed by manipulating images for so long, pretty soon the reality on the road that everyday people face gets in the way of that.

VAUSE: It's asking where is the beef party? Where is the substance here?


VAUSE: Woodward might actually just get the last laugh here. On Wednesday, Barnes and Noble said, Fear, his book, has had the fastest sales for an adult title since Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman was released in July 2015. Also on Wednesday, Woodward's publisher, Simon & Schuster announced that more than 750,000 copies of Fear had been sold as of Tuesday.

The first day, it went on sale, they apparently now opening another run of a million copies of this book.

I mean, like there's going to sound big, but you know this is a country with 300 million people -- you know, 60 million people voted -- you know, for reach (INAUDIBLE) whatever it is. So, does that mean this book is having an outsized impact or is that just a bunch of Democrats who don't like Donald Trump buying the book, what is it?

GENOVESE: The numbers are huge and pretty much every Democrats going to buy it. But it extends far beyond that. You know, opinion makers read it. People who talk about serious issues in public, they're reading it. And it's become part of the conversation. And now it probably is going to become because Woodward has such a stellar reputation, such a track record. It's going to become accepted wisdom.

VAUSE: Right.

GENOVESE: And that's something the president can't live.

VAUSE: With this is multiplied effect when people keep talking about our land over and over again.

GENOVESE: And especially coming as it does along with the New York Times op-ed.

VAUSE: Oh, yes.

GENOVESE: Piece which is devastating and the constant drip, drip, drip for the Mueller investigation, indictment after indictment, and conviction. It's a drip, drip that the president is going to suffer from.

VAUSE: It feels like there is all these parts out there that was sort of one well correlated overly so, everything is brought back together in one click circle.

GENOVESE: And all edges have a way of focusing attention on those kinds of things.

VAUSE: Very true. Michael as always, thank you so much.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

VAUSE: Appreciated. We'll take a short break. When we come back - warnings now to anyone in the path of Hurricane Florence, the window to evacuate is closing and it is closing quickly. We are live from North Carolina in just a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The powerful storm closing in on the northern Philippines super typhoon Mangkhut, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane is expected to hit the island of Luzon in the coming hours before moving on to Hong Kong and southern China. As many as 43 million people could be affected by the storm.

And in the southeastern U.S., residents have been warned if they choose to ride out Hurricane Florence, they're on their own. The Category 2 storm is expected to bring hurricane-force winds and storm surges by like Thursday. Nearly 100 centimeters of rain, a meager, could fall in the coming days.

Ok. Now let's see (ph) my colleague George Howell live and very dry for now in Wilmington, North Carolina -- George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John -- if you're expecting to see my hair blow in the wind, you'll be sorely disappointed but the conditions will certainly deteriorate in the next 24 years. We do expect that storm surge, flooding, very strong winds associated with this powerful storm that barreling toward the U.S. East Coast.

There are states of states of emergency right now in North and South Carolina (AUDIO GAP) Virginia and Maryland and in Washington more than a million people are under mandatory evacuation orders.

But as our Drew Griffin shows us, some people in the storm's path simply refuse to leave.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The southward track at the South Carolina coast with a sudden reality check. Already preparing for what might have been a glancing blow, Myrtle Beach and Point South woke up in Florence's cross hairs.

MAYOR BRENDA BETHUNE, MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: It's like waking up to a sucker punch and we need to take This seriously. This storm is massive. It's catastrophic and I don't say that to create panic. But I say it to create a sense of urgency that people do need to take action and evacuate.

GRIFFIN: evacuation routes turned all lanes one way, away from the coast -- A steady stream of last-minute evacuees trying to get as far as possible to ride out a storm that could last for days.

GOVERNOR ROY COOPER, NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: Disaster's at the doorstep and is coming in. If you're on the coast, there's still time to get out safely. No possession is worth you life.

GRIFFIN: In North Carolina Barrier Islands, two ferries full from of residents of Ocracoke Island were some of the last to leave. More than one million facing mandatory evacuation orders are making one last decision, leave or ride it out.

[01:35:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we leave, it could be weeks or months until you can come back and check on your home. I mean if that's -- that in itself is scary to be away from your home for that long.

So we boarded up the house. We have plenty of water. We have plenty of food. We're all just going to, you know, stick in it together and hope for the best.

GRIFFIN: In Myrtle Beach, final boards went up this morning on Christine Rush's apartment building. She thought she was staying, then reluctantly looked at Florence's new path.

CHRISTINE RUSH, RESIDENT: I didn't know it until you told me and my husband told me so. Yes, we're leaving. We're going further off the beach.

GRIFFIN: The biggest problem, her dog Payton. She won't leave without him. Shelters in her county don't accept pets. She has a friend on higher ground, her neighbor she says aren't so lucky.

RUSH: Some of them just don't have a place to go. And some of these people in here don't have vehicles. They have like bicycles or mopeds or something like that. I mean they cannot leave.

GRIFFIN: Officials say the lack of huge traffic jams today shows people have already heeded the warnings. Up and down the coast a final warning was being broadcast today, "stay at your own peril".

ALAN CLEMMONS, SOUTH CAROLINA LAWMAKER: The emergency services are going to be discontinued. There will be no police. There will be no fire. There will be no ambulance service. We're an independent lot here in Horry County. That said, protect your loved ones.


HOWELL: And again we continue to track this storm as it moves toward Wilmington, North Carolina where we are. And John -- you know, thinking about Drew's story there just -- you have done this. I'm sure when you drive into these major storms, it is always a little eerie when you're on one side of the highway and no one is on that side of the highway. And everyone else is going away from the storm.

That's eerie but you know, I was on the phone with a friend of mine during that drive that other night. And he mentioned, you know, it must be just as scary for the people who are leaving not knowing what will be left behind. Not knowing when they will be able to get back.

Certainly it is eerie, scary either way you slice it.


HOWELL: but this storm is certainly moving toward the East Coast and, you know, people will be watching closely.

VANIER: It's always a good sign when everyone is going the other way for as a start. And, you know, it also amazes too when, you know, officials say look, leave all of your -- leave all your possessions behind. They could be rebuilt. You know, you can get whatever. They're just things.

But that's actually tough for a lot of people, you know. They have memories and mementos and it is a tough decision to leave all that stuff behind. So it is not as easy as it sounds, especially, you know, for anyone who's had to go through that. So, you know, I guess you understand what they're going through in some ways.

So George -- we will get back to you in the coming hours. Thank you. Well, the warnings from the international community are growing with each passing day but the Syrian army still appears ready to launch an all-out offensive on Idlib Province -- the last remaining rebel stronghold, home to millions. The U.N. has called on all sides to avoid a bloodbath.

We have two special reports. One covering soldiers on the front lines, the other families fleeing for their lives. And we begin with Fred Pleitgen.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Driving to one of the final frontlines in Syria's seven-year civil war. In the distance, Idlib Province, the last territory held by the rebels.

(on camera): This artillery position is pretty much as close as we can get to the front line. Now, the rebel territory of Idlib province is about two kilometers in that direction, the fighters say. They say, of course, there's been increased air strikes by the Syrian air force and the Russians but they also say that the rebels have increasingly been firing back.

(voice over): The Syrian military has cornered the remaining rebels, many hard line Islamist fighters in Idlib. Both the U.S. and U.N. are concerned about a reported three million civilians also trapped inside. A commander tells me government forces want to defeat the opposition fighters.

"All of us have been letting blood for seven years," he says, "so that Syria can stand with its head held high and fight terrorism. And we're fighting it here to keep it away from Europe and America."

The U.N. has warned Idlib could become one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history. But this village about five miles outside Idlib is suffering as well.

A recent rocket attack killing ten here, folks tell us, including Linn and Selina Salun (ph) while they were out running errands. Their uncle grieving, the only one capable of speaking on camera.

"These kids were so young," he says, "They were flowers. They were angels. These children, what crime did they commit to be killed by these rockets?"

Across the plain Idlib Province lies in the crosshairs of the Syrian army. The international community attempts to find a way to postpone or prevent a final assault.

[01:40:02] Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Muhradah (ph), Syria.


VAUSE: Now in this exclusive report, we'd like to show you the civilians who are desperately trying to escape from those front lines. Ben Wedeman has this report.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yet another Syrian family is on the move. Like millions of others over the last seven years who fled their homes as their towns and villages became battle fronts.

This family is fleeing for the first time from rural Idlib. They lived in an area that had been spared the fighting until now.

"It was the first time we saw bombing," says 15-year-old Leila. "We've seen it on television and on phones and now it is right before our eyes."

Syrian government and Russian aircraft have intensified air strikes in preparation for the much anticipated offensive to regain control of Idlib province, the last stronghold held by an armed opposition now dominated by Islamic extremists.

Leila's family has come to a camp, one of many near the Turkish border. The tent is ready. It's hot. They're tired. Others arrive.

More than 30,000 people have had to leave their homes in Idlib in the past week. Half the population here comes from other parts of Syria now under government control.

Leila's father, Abu Muhammed (ph) pitches in with setting up their tent. When it is done he goes to get Leila. She's been unable to walk since childhood. Their tent is bare. They left home in a hurry leaving behind most of their possessions.

"We escaped with only our lives," says Abu Muhammed, who worked as a stove repairman. "The U.N. gave us this tent, but nothing with it." It's the new home Leila, handicapped and heartbroken is finding difficult to come to terms with.

"I didn't want to come," she says, "didn't want to".

Ben Wedeman, CNN.


VAUSE: Next up on NEWSROOM L.A. a new sex scandal just like all the ones before it rocking the Catholic Church.


VAUSE: Well in the past year, more than a million Rohingya Muslims, half of them children have been forced from their homes in Myanmar, taking refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. A U.N. fact-finding mission says that Myanmar's military should be prosecuted for genocide. But Myanmar's de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been roundly criticized for not using her moral authority to at least try and stop it. At the World Economic Forum though in Vietnam she seemed to defend her government's actions; without mentioning the Rohingya by name, it was similar to the old "mistakes were made".


AUNG SAN SUU KYI, MYANMAR STATE COUNSELOR: They are of course, with hindsight I think that the situation could have been handled better. But we believe that for the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to be fair to all sides. The rule of law must apply to everybody.


VAUSE: Yes. She also rejected calls for the U.S. -- from the U.S. rather, for the release of two Reuters journalists for being sentenced to seven years in prison for possessing classified documents. Aung San Suu Kyi says they actually received a fair trial.


KYI: If anybody feels that there has been a miscarriage of justice, I would like them to point it out. And I wonder very many people have actually read the -- the -- the summary of the judgment which had nothing to do with a freedom of expression at all. It had to do with the Official Secrets Act.


VAUSE: The editor in chief of Reuters says the journalists were actually framed by police after they uncovered a massacre of Rohingya villagers.

With the growing scandal over clergy sex abuse, Pope Francis has summoned senior church leaders to the Vatican. This unprecedented meeting is scheduled for February and is likely to discuss the controversy around an American cardinal accused of sexually abusing seminarians and a grand jury report that says the church covered up abuse of thousands of children in Pennsylvania.

But the most recent allegations are now coming from Germany where the church will reportedly admit to thousands of cases of sexual abuse over decades. Two German publications have seen a report to be made public later this month.

The crimes include nearly 4,000 cases of child sex abuse; one in six cases involves rape. The majority of victims were 13 or younger and close to 1,700 priests were involved.

Joining me now, Father Edward Beck, CNN's religion commentator -- and we say this every time, you're not here as a spokesperson for the Catholic Church. You're here to explain for us how this happen and what they should be doing about it, what the (INAUDIBLE) as a sort of commentator with a lot of the experience. So we put that out right -- and thank you for being here. Ok. This report out of Germany, it seems to mirror so closely the investigation in Pennsylvania, you know, the extent of abuse, the cover up, even the time period when all of this happened. So what does that tell you?

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Well, again, it is a 70-year period like Pennsylvania -- as you said, almost the same years. The percentage of priests is even less than Pennsylvania. It is 4 percent of the German clergy; so that 1,700 roughly number represents four percent of the clergy.

And unfortunately John -- If you look at all professions for sex abuse of minors, it is about 4 percent of every profession. But I think people expect more of the church.

VAUSE: Yes, I can't trust my child with an airline pilot or an accountant.

BECK: The church is a moral authority and it teaches people about sexuality. So for the church to perpetrate such crimes, even if it is 4 percent and it is akin to all these other professions, I think people are disappointed because they think well, you're supposed to be better than that.

So again, it's a really disturbing report out of Germany. The German bishops have not yet commented because it is not getting released until September 25th.

VAUSE: Now, was it going to be released publicly or was it just going to be confidential within --

BECK: Oh no.

VAUSE: -- the hierarchy of the German church?

BECK: No. The bishops actually commissioned this from the university. It took four years, this report. And they were going to be making it public September 25th.

VAUSE: Because I've heard a couple of things that -- there were some plans that initially it was going to be just confidential within the German, you know, the church in Germany to work out how to deal with this crisis. And they weren't going to share it with the --


BECK: No, my understanding is that the other bishops have not yet been privy to the full report. So they were a little dismayed that it was released to the -- that the press released it.

VAUSE: Right.

BECK: But that it was going to be made public.

VAUSE: And of course, that is crucial to at least, you know, having this appearance of transparency with everything out there because that's something which the church, you know, hasn't been very good at in the past.

BECK: And that's why I was kind heartened that the bishops have asked for this thing. They asked the universities as independent bodies to do the study. So I thought that was a good sign that they wanted to get a better understanding of how they will deal with this as a country.

[01:50:06] VAUSE: Ok. So now, Germany joins the U.S., Australia, Chile, and other countries as well, where the church is dealing with this kind of sex abuse.

And add to that, there's now at least seven states in the U.S. carrying out an investigation similar to the one in Pennsylvania. And we also have the attorney general in Kentucky asking the state out there for permission from state lawmakers also to carry out an investigation.

You know, this seemed in so many ways is only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger and right now Pope Francis and the leadership at the Vatican, they're struggling in -- to deal with this. They don't seem to have a handle on exactly what they should be doing.

BECK: Well again, tomorrow the Pope will meet with Cardinal DiNardo who is the head of all of the bishops here in the United States and actually Archbishop Gomez here in Los Angeles, he's the vice president of the bishops here in the United States. They will be there with Cardinal O'Malley and they will deal with the American crisis right now including Cardinal McCarrick. They have asked for this --

VAUSE: From Washington, D.C.

BECK: Exactly. So they will be dealing with this tomorrow with the Pope. And then as you mentioned, in February there will be all of the heads of all of the conferences throughout the world. So there are about 70 bishops conferences worldwide. So you'll have about a hundred bishops gathered with the Pope in February to say, how do we now address this in a global way? How do we make it a universal policy so that everybody follows it?

VAUSE: That's unprecedented, right? You know, kudos to that on the hand, you know, trying something different and, you know, obviously looking at this as a global problem is what's needed.

Why February? That's six months from now. Why not next week?

BECK: Look, I wish it was tomorrow too. I suppose the Vatican wants to gather reports from all of these dioceses throughout the world so they can do the research. What is this diocese doing? Is there zero tolerance? What have we not done?


VAUSE: Didn't they have that already?

BECK: Well, you would think so but reporting is just so haphazard.

VAUSE: Right.

BECK: Look at Africa right now. They don't even admit to a problem in Africa.


BECK: So until you get everybody on the same page and the Pope says look, I don't care who your culture is, I don't care what your local laws are, the church policy is zero-tolerance and they will be out even with one offense. I mean he has to say that I think globally.

VAUSE: Very, quickly, presidents don't choose their crises they have to deal with, popes don't choose issues. This seems to be the issue which will define Pope Francis' papacy.

BECK: Most definitely. I think it's really hanging in the balance. And what he does with this and everyone thinks right now, he's late in coming to it --


BECK: -- it's really going to define his papacy, I think.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, Father Beck -- thank you.

BECK: Thanks -- John.

VAUSE: Next up here on NEWSROOM L.A., Apple unveils ITS newest iPhone. They're not actually that different from the old ones but they do cost a lot more.


VAUSE: Apple has always been great at making products we never knew we wanted but even better at marketing them. And so with that in mind, the latest offerings.

Well, they actually have less newer technology and innovation, a lot more to do with paying a whole lot more for an iPhone or an Apple watch if you would buy. What's up (ph) with that?

CNN's Brian Stelter was there for the not so big reveal.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. Yes, Wednesday was Apple day here at the Steve Jobs Theater. Apple CEO Tim Cook coming on stage announcing three new iPhones and also a couple of new Apple watches with some really interesting health features.

[01:55:00] But first, about those phones. Apple is continuing to find out just how much they can charge for a top of the line iPhone. This time last year, it was $1,000 here in the U.S.

Now the high point is $1,100 for a new iPhone, XS Max. This is going to be a larger screen, actually the largest screen size Apple has ever had. And it also has, of course, a number of new features.

Every year we see the phone companies promise more and better -- better cameras and faster processing, more space, more speed. And that's what Apple is doing here in Wednesday -- nothing revolutionary but lots of evolutionary features.

And one of the interesting ones especially for international travelers involves dual thin capabilities, making it easier to transfer from one cellular provider to another depending on where you're located in the world.

The watches are what really stood out to me. Two slightly larger watch faces, lots of improvements to the watch features, and most interestingly, most importantly, these new health functionalities.

If you fall off a ladder or you slip in the tub, the Apple Watch will sense it and will call emergency services. And perhaps most important of all some new heart monitoring feature so the Apple Watch will be able to an electrocardiogram and send the data to your doctor.

Potentially lifesaving features on these tools, these technologies that we've added over the years have gone by, become increasingly addicted to.

So those were the headlines out of the announcement. And now as we head into the holiday season, analysts will be watching to see if it was enough, if these upgrades, these new features are enough to convince consumers to fork over that thousand dollars and buy another version of the iPhone.

Brian Stelter, CNN -- Cupertino, California.


VAUSE: Well, Warner Brothers has fired Superman, well, the actor who plays the Caped Crusader. According to "Hollywood Reporter", Henry Cavill will hand in his cape and tights five years after making his debut in "The Man of Steel".

His manager tweeted this, "Be peaceful. The cape is still in his closet. Warner Brothers Pictures has been and continues to be our partners as they evolve the D.C. Universe. The world awaits, apparently. That he couldn't act didn't help.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John.

Stay with us here. There is a lot more news ahead. You're watching CNN.


[02:00:01] ROSEMARY CHURCH: A slow-moving hurricane packing damaging winds is threatening several states in the American southeast.

While in the (AUDIO GAP) a super typhoon has already flattened homes (AUDIO GAP) landfall again --