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FEMA Makes Last Call to Evacuate Coastal Areas; Two Russians Accused of Novichok Poisoning Are Interviewed on Russian State TV; Guam Asks President Trump for Emergency Aid; Officials in Myrtle Beach Are Expecting 48 Hours of Hurricane Conditions; Hurricane Florence Grows AS It Takes Aim At The Carolinas; Trump Disputes Puerto Rico Death Toll From Hurricane Maria; Pope And U.S. Catholic Leaders Discuss Abuse Scandal; Huge Storms Threaten Philippines And U.S. East Coast. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 13, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, we're tracking two huge storms for you this hour. Both taking aim

at major population centers. But on opposite sides of the globe.

One is a hurricane slowly churning in the Atlantic toward the eastern United States. The other one is a super-typhoon barreling through the

Pacific toward the Philippines and China after dealing a pretty devastating blow to the island of Guam. Right now, Hurricane Florence is closing in on

the North Carolina coast. Take a look.

While these are some of the outer bands making landfall on the eastern seaboard and already it looks like a pretty violent situation. In

landfall, the brunt of it, if you will, is expected in the early hours of tomorrow. Emergency response crews are preparing for the worst. More than

a million people were told to get out of harm's way, and authorities are warning those who have not left yet.


BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Your time is running out. The ocean is going to start rising along the coast and in the back bay and inland areas

and the sound areas within a matter of hours. Your time to get out of those areas and storm surge inundation is coming to a close. We call them

disasters because they break things. The infrastructure is going to break, the power is going to go out. It could go out for a number of days, it

could go out for a number of weeks. It's hard to say at this point.


GORANI: Let's get the latest. Kaylee Hartung joins me now from Wilmington, North Carolina. Are people heeding those mandatory evacuation

orders, or they're not orders per se, but they're told to get out of harm's way. They might not get help if they decide to stay. Are most people

listening to that advice?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, where I'm standing right now, I'm on the intercoastal waterway, the city of Wilmington behind me,

Wrightsville Beach in front of me, which is one of those places where there is an evacuation order in place. This is a small beach town, about 2,000

people current residents. Authorities tell me there are a handful of people left there. They went knocking on doors last night. One police

officer said he actually had a conversation with a man and said, if you're going to stay, if you're going to risk your life and stay on this island, I

need you to take a sharpie marker and write on your arm your identification so if we find you, we can identify you. He thought the man had left this

morning as the storm gets closer to us, but a different story I can tell you from Carolina Beach. Another of those Barrier Islands a little bit

south of here where I spoke to a couple and their neighbor who said they were going to hunker down together. They had invested in property there.

They were going to retire in the beach home they bought, and if they left they didn't know when they would get back. They have supplies to last five

days, maybe seven, but they're running a big risk. As you say, responders may not be there to help you if you make that phone call, if you get

yourselves in trouble. As long as winds are 50 miles an hour and above, emergency responders are staying hunkered down themselves.

GORANI: It's at a category 2 storm, but that doesn't mean it's less dangerous. Why is that?

HARTUNG: It's so true. Because when you say it's downgraded in category, that's not necessarily correlating with the size. This storm keeps getting

bigger. So, while we can hope -- oh, that's one of the first big gusts of wind we've felt here. While we can predict the trajectory of this storm

may be taking, the fact of the matter is this storm is so big that the coast of the Carolinas is in its bull's eye. One way or another, it's

headed this way, Hala. North Carolina's governor said an hour or two ago, don't let your guard down. You cannot think just because this storm has

been downgraded you are out of harm's way. This is still a category 2 storm, still something that will bring with it life-threatening storm

surge, life-threatening catastrophic flooding. And inland think of all the fresh waterways that could be filled up as rain continues to dump here

throughout this state in particular, and of course hurricane force winds which will be approaching in the coming hours. That will be one of the

first effects we think we feel as one of these outer bands inch toward us.

[14:05:00] GORANI: You can tell how huge it is as we show a satellite photo of this storm, and it is absolutely gigantic. The storm itself is

slow moving. We're told once it hits land, you could walk faster than it will progress. What does that mean for the people on the ground?

HARTUNG: That's why these states of emergency were declared so early by South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia in particular. These states

have had a heads up that the storm was headed this way, and now with it moving so slowly, you would like to think that people have had the

advantage of time on their side to take the necessary precautions, make the preparations whether they're choosing to stay in their homes or to go. And

when you get back to that concept of it being so slow moving that you could walk faster, what that's going to translate to is tremendous amounts of

rain that will keep dumping on already saturated land, and that's where the flooding will, many think, be the greatest threat to the greatest number of

people across these coastal states.

GORANI: Kaylee Hartung in Wilmington, North Carolina. Thanks very much. And Kaylee is talking about the tremendous amounts of water, and a lot of

the damage from hurricanes comes from water, from flooding. Less of the damage actually is a result of high winds. The governor of North Carolina

says he's worried that some people may not be taking the approaching hurricane as seriously as they should. He addressed that in a news

conference a short time ago.


ROY COOPER, GOVERNOR, NORTH CAROLINA: I know many North Carolinans see updating storm tracks changing categories of the hurricane and landfall

predictions. I'm concerned because I've even heard some people say that North Carolina is getting a break. Please hear my message. We cannot

underestimate this storm. Wind speeds may have dropped some from yesterday, but we've traded that for a larger wind field that expands 200

miles with tropical storm force winds. And our greatest concern about this storm remains the same. Storm surge and massive flooding.


GORANI: The U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed that emergency officials are ready for the hurricane as critics point to the administration's

response to Hurricane Maria and the death toll in Puerto Rico nearing 3,000 as a reason to be skeptical. We'll have more on this later, but a retired

U.S. general who took over after the botched response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 says there are hopeful signs.


RUSSELL HONORE, RETIRED U.S. ARMY GENERAL: The U.S. military is going to stand by and the ships that went out to sea, some of them have been

designated to come in behind that storm. We're moving helicopters in from all over the country and getting them to places where they can come in and

assist. Each has set up a task force, and they're on the way from army north. We'll see a big difference here than we saw in Puerto Rico.


GORANI: Russell Honore, we all remember how he led the effort to essentially help New Orleans and surrounding areas recover from the

terrible, terrible toll that Hurricane Katrina wreaked there on that part of the United States. So, we were talking about how the hurricane has been

weakened to category 2, but that doesn't mean it is less dangerous. Meteorologist Jennifer Grey joins me now with more. When are we expecting

landfall, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GREY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Landfall is going to happen early tomorrow, but the effects are already being felt all along the coast.

What's special about this storm is it's not the wind speed with this one, it's the duration. The storm is going to sit on the coast for 24 to 36

hours, and it is going to pound that coastline. So, in normal storms with 165-kilometer-per-hour winds, many of the storms come and go and many of

the structures will be fine. With this the storm will sit there for 24 to 36 hours with 165-kilometer-per-hour winds, maybe a little weaker at times,

so structures will not be able to stand that for long duration. That's what makes this storm unique. It's got 205-kilometer-per-hour gusts.

[14:10:00] This storm is moving at about 16. In this storm as we mentioned is expected to make landfall as a category 2 tomorrow morning and then sit

along that coast for several days. And it is going to cause lots of rain. That storm surge is going to be incredibly high. We're talking about three

to four meters of storm surge and that is going to inundate communities and it's going to last through several high tide cycles.

And that's important because during a high tide the water comes up anyway. That storm surge is going to be added to that. Enduring a low tide, the

water is not going to be able to come out because the storm is pushing all that energy in, so the water is going to build and build and build, and

that's how you end up with those high levels of water. So, the outer rain bands, as you can see, already coming on shore, so we're already starting

the rain across coastal portions of North Carolina. Tornadoes will also be a concern as they are with tropical systems, and it is still about 164

kilometers away from shore and we're already feeling the impacts. 94- kilometer winds already reported along the coast and you can see this rain. We'll see well over 500 millimeters of rain across the coast and that

flooding will be well inland.

The water will back up into the rivers because of all this momentum pushing onto shore because of the storm, so we're expecting rivers to reach a

record flood stage. It could inundate communities, flood many, many homes and roads could be impassable for quite some time. You talk about this

storm surge. It continues to rise, and a little doesn't do too much. But when it starts to get inside your home, and especially when it stays there

for 24 to 36 hours, it can wipe your home right off its foundation. That's why people were urged to get out while can you and get to safety. Because

even as people are saying, oh, it's a category 2 and people might be letting their guard down, not this one. This one will still have the storm

surge of a cat 4.

GORANI: Jennifer Grey thanks very much. I want to bring in someone on the ground. Storm chaser Reed Timmer. He is in North Topsail Beach, North

Carolina. What's the situation like where we are, I believe we have new video as well we can share with our viewers of what is going on at Topsail

Beach? What's happening where you are, Reed?

REED TIMMER, STORM CHASER: The waves have really increased. We just had it tied around noon. At that time [inaudible] here in North Topsail, the

rain is coming down horizontally. [inaudible] but those large waves moving offshore [inaudible]

GORANI: I see a lot of homes on the beach are on stilts. Obviously, they're used to rising waters, but have people evacuated because this one

is expected to be so devastating?

TIMMER: Yes, everybody here escaped the storm. There was mandatory evacuation across the Barrier Islands here. [inaudible] If you do need

help, rescue will not be able to come. [inaudible] five to six-foot elevation -- this storm is so dangerous because of trying to stall offshore

and that powerful surge and wave action will continue to erode the east side of the Barrier Island.

GORANI: Reed Timmer, thank you so much for the update. As Reed said, it's already started raining and the tide is coming in. That's Florence. But

half a world away, another storm is threatening parts of Asia and it's even more powerful. Super-typhoon Mangkhut has already smashed through the

Pacific island of Guam. And has the Philippines in its sites. Kristie Lu Stout has the latest.

[15:15:00] UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: We're on Carolina Beach on the south coast of North Carolina and residents here are hunkering down in

anticipation of Hurricane Florence's full fury and it is coming. Some of the outer bands just --

GORANI: That was the wrong report there, but we of course are going to keep our eye on Mangkhut. Just to note, Mangkhut makes landfall later than

Florence. Florence is expected in the timeline a little earlier. The Red Cross in the Philippines is getting ready for the typhoon. You can see the

animation there on your screens. It also gives you some look at how big this one is, and agencies are telling people there to be ready for a very,

very powerful storm.

GORANI: We'll have more on Florence, on Mangkhut and the rest of the news. See you after break on CNN.


GORANI: It reads like a novel. Actually, not a very good novel. Two men travel from Russia with a military grade poison and attempt to murder a

former spy and his daughter in the sleepy English city of Salisbury. That's what the UK accused these two men of doing back in March. Now

they've spoken out, telling Russian media they were just tourists who wanted to take in the historic sites of Salisbury and its Cathedral.

So, what are we watching? Has the UK got it all wrong? Or is Russia making a mockery of the incident which left one British woman dead and many

other people injured?

Matthew Chance has been following it all from Moscow. So, they give an interview to RT, Russia Today television where they talked about going to

Salisbury, having been told by friends to go see the cathedral and its 123- meter spire. What else did they say?

MATHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They said a couple other things, but none of them particularly convincing. It was a very

flimsy alibi, if I can characterize it in that way. Basically, what we've been asked to believe, and the story that's been put across by these two

prime suspects, remember, in a chemical weapons attack on British soil is that these are not agents of Russian military intelligence, the GIU.

[14: 20:00] No, these are just ordinary Russian tourists who love early English architecture, who were told about the 13th century cathedral in

Salisbury. They decided to go have a look at it. They were on a two-day trip to Britain. They decided to go to Salisbury twice on those two days

on the day of the poisoning and the day before the poisoning to check it out. They were somehow caught up in this massive nerve agents attack

against the Russian former agent. You could say you couldn't make this kind of stuff up, but there are people out there, of course, skeptics, the

British governments among them, who say that's exactly what has been done.


CHANCE: They went to Salisbury not as assassins but as innocent tourists. Just two culturally curious Russians with an interest in early English

architecture. At least, that's what the prime that's exactly what has been done. They went to Salisbury not as assassins but as innocent tourists.

Just two culturally curious Russians with an interest in early English architecture. At least, that's what the prime suspects in the poisoning

case appearing for the first time on Russian television would have us believe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were you doing there?

RUSLAN BOSHIROV, NOVICHOK POISONING SUSPECT (through translator): Our friends had made a suggestion for a long time to visit this wonderful town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salisbury, a wonderful town?

RUSLAN BOSHIROV, NOVICHOK POISONING SUSPECT (through translator): Yes. There is the famous Salisbury Cathedral, famous not only in Europe but the

whole world. It's famous for its 122-meter spire. It's famous for its clock, the first ever created in the world that's still working.

CHANCE: It's famous now also as the city where Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with highly toxic Novichok

last March.

British investigators say the suspects named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov was sent by Russian military intelligence, the GIU, to carry out

the chemical attack. At first, Russia denied any knowledge saying the names and photos were meaningless. Then the Russian president changed tack

speaking at an economic forum in Vladivostok Vladimir Putin said the two men had now been identified.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We looked at what kind of people they are, and we know who they are. We found them. I

hope they appear and speak about it themselves. This will be best for everyone. There is nothing unusual or criminal there, I assure you.

Reporter: And right on queue, Russian state television was broadcasting an exclusive interview with both men denying being on a mission to kill the

Skripals. British police found traces of Novichok in their shared London hotel room. Around the poisoning the two were caught on CCTV in Salisbury

walking near the Skripal's house.

RUSLAN BOSHIROV, NOVICHOK POISONING SUSPECT (through translator): Maybe we passed it or maybe we didn't. Before this nightmare started, I had never

heard this last name. I had never heard anything about them.

CHANCE: Asked why they visited Salisbury twice, the day before and the day of the poisoning, the two suspects said snow and slush had thwarted their

sightseeing plans. It is at best a flimsy alibi unlikely to convince many. Already British officials have dismissed the testimony as not credible.

But the appearance of these poisoning suspects does confirm they are both Russian nationals and living in Russia in defiance of international arrest

warrants. That is something, at least, Russian officials can no longer deny.

RUSLAN BOSHIROV, NOVICHOK POISONING SUSPECT (through translator): Of course, our faces are on TV every day.


CHANCE: Well, Hala, you get the impression listening to the testimony of these two individuals this alibi was not even meant to be believable, just

adding to the narratives put out there by Russian authorities not to clarify the issue but to confuse it even further. From that point of view,

it's been a success, Hala.

GORANI: A long way to travel to see the 123-meter spire of the cathedral. Thanks very much Matthew Chance in Moscow.

Back to the weather systems. We're keeping an eye on Hurricane Florence. It's not the only storm we're watching this hour. As we mentioned, another

powerful storm is threatening Asia. It is a super-typhoon called Mangkhut. It has the Philippines in its sights. Kristie Lu Stout has the latest.

[14:25:00] KRISTIE LU STOUT. CNN HOST: This is what the strongest storm of the year looks like with equivalent of category 5 hurricane strength

winds and gusts strong enough to lift roofs off buildings like it did in Guam. The heavy rain has the potential for floods and landslides and

uproot trees blocking lateral access paths. Some residents have lost everything, their homes destroyed by Mangkhut's fury.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the winds started to pick up, I had to remove my vehicle that I was sitting in through the storm. I threw myself here

because of the trees' surroundings and knowing that it is going to collapse.


LU STOUT: The full impact of the typhoon in the U.S. territory may not be known for a few weeks. Hundreds of people have been displaced. An

emergency crews are on the scene.

The governor of Guam asked to be declared a major disaster in a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday. He wrote that the situation is

beyond the capability of the island to deal with and federal emergency assistance is needed. "I am committed to returning our island to normalcy.

I am also committed to working with federal partner agencies to see where additional aid is available. We know that recovery starts at the local

level. Our people have done all they can to get back on their feet, although Guam is and has been extremely resilient. It is now time to reach

out for assistance in whatever form that is."

The sheer size of this monster storm can easily be seen from space. The fear now is for the Philippines and other countries in its path. 16

provinces across the islands are on alert, though some countries will feel some Affect on the outer rings of the storm. Water levels have already

risen in the capital of Manila.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The worst-case scenario places that will really get hit are strong winds that many topple poorly built

houses, storm surge, heavy rains and floods.


LU STOUT: Mangkhut is as strong as super-typhoon Haiyan which killed more than 6,000 people in 2013. Although that storm hit and more populated part

of the country the Red Cross says they are concern for millions of people living in the path of this latest destructive storm. An earlier typhoon

has only just gone through the Zhejiang province. It brought rain and destruction.

GORANI: We'll take you to the east coast that are already getting the outer bands of Florence. Stay with us.


GORANI: We are tracking two monster storms this hour, both extremely dangerous with life-threatening storm surges, potentially. Super-typhoon

Mangkhut is roaring toward the Philippines at 255 kilometers an hour. It caused destruction when it tore through Guam this week. Hurricane Florence

already lashing the eastern coast with tropical storm force winds and it's expected to make landfall sometime overnight. With me now is Mark Kruea,

director of public information for the city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. How have you prepped for this big storm coming your way coming

your way?

MARK KRUEA, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC INFORMATION, MYRTLE BEACH: Hala, we have had a lot of advance notice on this storm. So, we have been getting ready

since Sunday. Fortunately, the forecast is a little better than it was originally, but it's still not a good scenario. We are ready and preparing

for about 48 hours of hurricane conditions.

GORANI: What's your biggest concern right now?


KRUEA: I think the duration of the storm is the biggest concern. People paid attention, they evacuated, but we're used to a storm that goes away in

12 hours or so. I think this one's go last for a day and a half or two days, which is more hurricane wind and more storm surge. Maybe even two

tide cycles than we're normally accustomed to storm.

So this is a big event for us. The storm track, at the moment, is a little to our north here on Myrtle Beach. That's good, that puts us on the

correct side of the storm, but we'll still get some storm surge here.

GORANI: And most people listened to the advice and listen to officials telling them this is too dangerous to ride out, you should leave?

KRUEA: I believe most people did. We're used to getting a category one, maybe a strong one. This on Sunday was looking at a category four. It's

down to about a two now. But the duration of the storm, it may -- some of the forecast had it raking along the grand strand. That is not a good


Right now, again, looking for lots of rain, a foot or more, perhaps, and strong winds and certainly a storm surge.

GORANI: Well, good luck to you and everyone there in Myrtle Beach, and elsewhere, all the other areas impacted by this big storm. Mark Kruea, the

director of public information for Myrtle Beach. We appreciate it.

GORANI: Let's check in now with Miguel Marquez. He's watching the storm rolling on Carolina Beach in North Carolina. What's the situation where

you are, Miguel, right now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We are bracing. We've already had one of those pulses of the storm come through, and we are now

bracing for the main event. I just want to show you some current conditions here. The seas have been rising throughout the day. We're in a

waning tide right now, so it is going out. But those waves are coming in at probably six or seven feet.

You can see how dark those clouds are off in the distance there. That is another pulse, another tentacle of this massive storm, and that is the

issue with this storm. It is a strong category two now, down from a weak category four.

But that aside, it is going to sit on top of places like Carolina Beach. It is already causing some flooding here in this town, very localized

flooding, but they are expecting more. They're expecting a storm surge several feet at high tide, which is about five or six feet already.

You're looking at 15, perhaps 20 feet of storm surge with rain on top of that, 10, 20, 30 inches, what is it? Forty, 50, 60 centimeters of rain

over a very short period of time.

Large slaws of this town are expected to flood about 600 of 6,200 people who live here are remaining to ride out the storm very soon here.

Officials say they will no longer be able to go out and effect rescues if they get in trouble. The city here is under evacuation orders. It's also

on 24-hour curfew, so if you're here, you have to stay on your property or face arrest. Hala?

GORANI: All right. And it's possible though that it will still change course or is that pretty much set now where it's going to make landfall and

-- because it's changed in the last few hours, even, and it's weakened.

MARQUEZ: It wobbled just north. It was heading directly to where we are right now. It's wobbled just north. So that's why you're seeing some of

the worst effects just about 200 kilometers north of where we are, but then it's going to start sort of scraping along the eastern seaboard south where

we are standing.

There's a nuclear power plant here as well that has gone into emergency mode and is shutting down ahead of the storm because they expect those

winds to be in the 150-kilometer range, and so they're shutting down the two power units there ahead of that. Those are the sort of precautions

that are being undertaken in this area.

This storm, though, is going to sit. It's the water that will come, the wind will be bad, but it's that storm surge like a bulldozer of water,

basically, hundreds of kilometers long that will just push up water, not only in areas like this but further inland, went up into rivers and areas

where it ends, basically, into bays and inlets.

When the water has no place to go, it will wash upon shore and that's one of the issues they had sit. This massive storm also sitting on top just

dumping tons and tons of rain on this area over a very short period of time, Hala.

GORANI: I mean, how far inland do you have to go to be safe here?

MARQUEZ: If you are -- you could be 100 miles or 50 miles inland. But if you're at the end of one of these areas of a -- in a river or an inlet or a

bay that will have some of this storm surge, there could be effects in these areas. And that's one of the messages officials here have been

trying to get out.

It was much like superstorm Sandy that hit New York City and that's why you had such bad flooding there. There is just no place for the water to go,

so it's like this massive sort of bulldoze, so that just pushes the water along several hundred kilometers along the seaboard here and then pushes it

all the way inland. And at some point, there's no place for the water to go except up on to the shore. Hala?

GORANI: All right. Miguel Marquez, thanks very much there with the very latest from his vantage point.

It happens every time a storm of this magnitude wears in, despite dire warnings of life-threatening conditions, some people just decide to ride it

out. But as Drew Griffin reports, most of those under evacuation orders have packed up and headed out. Here's Drew.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The southward track hit 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 crosshairs.

MAYOR BRENDA BETHUNE, MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: It's like waking up to a sucker punch and we need to take this very 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


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.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Disaster's at the doorstep and is coming in. If you're on the coast, there is still time to get out safely.

No possession is worth your life.

GRIFFIN: In North Carolina's Barrier Islands, two ferries full 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.

NICKY RIVERA, RESIDENT OF CAROLINA BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA: 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 OF MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: 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 jam 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 are an independent lot here in Horry County. That said, protect your loved ones.


GORANI: And that was Drew Griffin reporting.

Now, Donald Trump has unleashed a storm of his own by making the death toll from last year's hurricane in Puerto Rico all about him. Just as Hurricane

Florence began lashing the U.S. this morning, President Trump didn't tweet about it but instead tweeted this. He disputed the revised death toll of

nearly 3,000 in Puerto Rico. He said when he visited the island, the toll was only somewhere between six and 18. And then he went on to accuse

Democrats of later inflating the numbers to make him "look bad."

Officials in Puerto Rico are furious. Governor Ricardo Rossello who commissioned the independent study that determined the official death toll

says his people don't deserve to have their pain questioned.

Let's get more now on this controversy. And we're joined by White House reporter, Stephen Collinson and correspondent Bill Weir is in Puerto Rico.

And I believe he can join us now.

Bill, first I want to -- if you can hear me, Bill, what's been the reaction in Puerto Rico to these tweets from the president?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, you got to understand, they have had a year of slights and wounds and feeling like really distant

stepchildren of the United States through the response of this storm.

But today, aside from the ignorance in that tweet, just the God-smacking callousness of it has so many people shaking their heads. I spent the

morning with a woman named Deanna (ph). Her husband we met, they're a couple of 50 years. Just after the storm, their house was nearly destroyed.

They were saying goodbye to each other as the winds blew.

[14:40:01] When I met them, he had half a vial of insulin left in a powerless fridge. But our report spurge some help, stabilized him, but his

lungs gave out around Thanksgiving on their 50th anniversary.

He is not counted in the death toll of 2,975 that academics at George Washington University came up with. You could argue that he should be,

that he wouldn't be alive if not for the storm and the horrible conditions here at the hospitals.

And Deanna, to her, it doesn't matter. She actually returned a check from FEMA because it was in her husband's name. She didn't think it would be

right to accept it. And so, I asked her, what did you think of this president's tweet? She said, how can he say these things? People are

dying, people are still dying. You can just look around and see it's -- he is worthless, he is heartless, he is crazy.

And that's from a woman who just got emotional saying the highlight of this tragedy for her was when veterans administration officials gave her a flag

and just honored the Vietnam veteran service of her late husband. They're just looking for a little modicum of respect. So, to deny the death count,

it's hard to put into words how staggering it is for people here.

GORANI: And one of the things you reported, I mean, I saw on your Twitter page, that there were FEMA bottled water deliveries that were abandoned for

a year on an airport tarmac, on a runway, essentially. What happened there? Why was it such catastrophic bad management?

WEIR: Well, I think what happened -- and we saw -- and I was here both during -- after the storm and a month after the storm when the need was

still so great, and FEMA was, to be fair, overwhelmed with Harvey and hurricane Irma and wildfires out west. The country really needed three

FEMA administrators at the time.

And I think when they realized the need, they try to flood the zone with help. And emergency management is a supply chain issue. It's all about

timing. So too much supply at the wrong time can be just as hazardous. So, yes, we found what maybe 30 million bottles of FEMA water sitting on an

abandoned runway out there, and the locals are blaming the Feds and the Feds are blaming the locals, and meanwhile there's still people in these

hills who don't have clean water.

GORANI: Stephen Collinson, what is the president thinking here? Because, obviously the people of Puerto Rico believe what he tweeted was callous. A

lot of people in the United States believe the same. It's factually incorrect. He's, in fact, getting criticized by members of his own party

and even on Fox News, he's getting criticism. What is he doing, exactly?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hala, I think this is clearly shocking. It's a new low point, really, for the president's tweets. But I

don't think we can say it's necessarily that surprising. It seems completely consistent with the view of the president's personality that

we've seen over the last two years.

I mean, first of all, it seems to be a politically, rather silly thing to do when there's another hurricane bearing down on the United States and his

leadership is in focus. But just the sort of the lack of humanity. You had it right when you said that the president made this all about him.

He sees in his prism of the world, people talking about 3,000 people dying in a hurricane in Puerto Rico. Some kind of partisan attack on him. He

looks at it for the way it affects him. He doesn't sort of have the humanity even to mention the tragedy of these people who have been killed.

I think it's interesting in the Bob Woodward book which we've been talking about for the last two weeks. There's a point in there where Reince

Priebus, the former White House chief of staff, talks about the president's sort of psychological lack of any empathy and ability to sort of feel

sympathy for other people. He's referring there to the way he treats his staff.

But I think we've seen that throughout his presidency and this is perhaps the most stark illustration of it so far.

GORANI: Stephen Collinson in Washington, thanks very much. Bill Weir is in Puerto Rico reporting. Thanks to both of you.

Still to come tonight, we're live in Rome, as the Vatican faces new allegations once again in that massive sexual abuse crisis. Stay with us.

We'll be right back.

And also, the streets are empty, windows are boarded, the countdown is on. We are live from an evacuation center, just hours before Hurricane Florence

is due to hit land. Stay with us.


[14:45:42] GORANI: We turn now to the sex abuse scandals gripping the Catholic Church. Pope Francis welcomed leaders of the U.S. church to the

Vatican, to talk about the various scandals across the United States and there are many. The pope also accepted the resignation of a West Virginia

bishop accused of sexual harassment. And there is word of a new scandal, this time in Germany.

Two German publications have reported that the Catholic Church is prepared to admit to almost 3,800 cases of sexual abuse over six decades. A

comprehensive study commissioned by the church found that most of the cases involved young boys aged 13 and younger. Close to 700 German priests are

accused of sex abuse, and the study says there is no reason to think the abuse is not still happening today. And that might be probably the most

important thing we could take away from this. It could still be happening today.

Let's bring in our Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher. So, if the report is saying all this horrible stuff happened in the past -- oh, by the

way, it could still be happening today. This is a code red emergency.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Hala. The problem is it has been an emergency for some time, at least since 2002 when all of

this came to public life and the Vatican really started to deal with it in a more serious way. And here we are 16 years later and the pope has,

again, met with top leadership from the U.S. to discuss sex abuse.

And what came out of that meeting, Hala, seems like not a whole lot based on their statement. They said it was just a fruitful and lengthy

discussion with the pope and they're discerning the next steps. And then we have -- the pope is also calling now a worldwide meeting of bishops to

come to the Vatican in February to discuss sex abuse.

But, of course, the point is, and that German report points to it, that people need to see that some real concrete action is being taken, both in

terms of, obviously, any sex abuse that is happening currently, which at least the Vatican has attempted internationally to say to every country,

you must have norms which ensure that priests are not abusing.

But most importantly, as well, that there are bishops that realize they can't cover up for it. And at the moment, we still do not have a

streamline process for reporting of bishops who cover up. So that' one thing they were hoping to get out of the meeting today. Perhaps they did

and they didn't announce it.

But certainly for the moment, there's still questions here from many people around the world as to what the Vatican is actually doing for these

processes of investigation holding people accountable.

GORANI: Well, for many people, the pope, although they welcome the fact that he said things -- said more inclusive things, more accepting of gays,

more accepting of nontraditional relationships in the view of the catholic church that he's just not doing enough on this one.

Are they listening to this at the Vatican? Do they know that this is a big problem that they have to deal with it quickly?

GALLAGHER: I think there is that realization, Hala, and I think that that cane on the heels of Chile case earlier this year, when Pope Francis, three

years ago, appointed a bishop in Chile who the people in Chile gave huge outcry saying that he had covered up for abuses and Pope Francis defended

him for three long years and he had to backtrack on that and apologize and say that he was part of the problem.

[14:50:17] And so I think there was a small turning point there earlier this year where the pope got it that actually this is, a, an international

problem, and b, it is a problem of bishops who covered up and reports not being heard and investigated.

But the question from there, as to how to actually tackle it, it is such a huge problem, has really been very difficult for the Vatican to kind of

control. And one of the things that everybody is looking for is that response from them, saying, here's the action plan moving forward. So as

you say, we've heard a lot of apologies, we're having a lot of meetings, but we still don't have the action plan.

GORANI: Delia Gallagher in Rome, thanks so much.

We're going to have a lot more on Hurricane Florence barreling toward the eastern seaboard in the United States. Here is a live view of what's

happening in Buxton, North Carolina where the weather is clearly turning. We'll have a lot more after this.


GORANI: Well, back now to our top story. We're following very closely not one, but two, major storms this hour. A typhoon that is headed straight

for the Philippines, a very powerful weather system. And also, Hurricane Florence just hours away from making landfall on the East Coast of America

has weakened to a category two, but these are still very, very strong winds.

And the big, big concern is that this storm is going to sit above that part of the United States for many days. A lot of the damage that comes from

hurricanes doesn't come from the wind, the damage comes mainly from the water because of the flooding, because structures that are flooded where

you have already drenched land. It could lead to power lines going down, it could lead to trees going down.

And so, a lot of people have been told, guys, you can stay if you like. There are evacuation orders. We cannot physically force you to leave, but

if you do stay and you need help, you might not get the help that you want. And you're seeing there -- which one is this, here, Buxton still that we're

seeing? That is off of North Carolina. We're seeing some of the images there, and you see already that the wind has strengthened.

All right. We are going to go to Scott McLean who is at an evacuation center in South Carolina, which I believe we're trying to establish a

connection there with Scott McLean.

But I'm going to continue to bring you the very latest from what we've heard just over the last hour on Hurricane Florence. Of course, it is

going to affect a huge portion of the United States. Within that weather system, 40 million people could be affected one way or another. Either

very severely or because of the outer band.

I'm talking about the water, about the trillions of gallons of water that are going to fall on that part of the United States. As I mentioned, and

this is why we want to go to Scott McLean, hopefully we're going to establish a connection with him.

[14:55:03] A lot of people have been told to leave. Some of them decided to ride it out because they said they were here for Hugo, which was a more

powerful storm. Others though when they were told, look, we're not going to come get you. We're not going to help you if you are caught in an

unfortunate situation. Did had two shelters in South Carolina and elsewhere.

Now, there's this and there's also the super typhoon that we mentioned, also massive and potentially dangerous on the other side of the world. The

Red Cross in the Philippines is getting ready for that typhoon's aftermath. And my colleague, Kristie Lu Stout spoke to the head of the organization

there and asked what the government and the country needs to do right now.


RICHARD GORDON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PHILIPPINE RED CROSS: Number one, we have to make sure that our people are safe, they're out of harm's way. And

that means we have to make a decision right away on the points where they're going to be. They have the evacuation centers along with the

schools according to the government. And that's good.

Once you get them out of the way, then the government must have their continually action which means they're on the job. Everybody is there, not

just the soldiers but the government must make the people feel that they are there so that they can react right away when there is a need for it.

And certainly, the government is very much prepared to the full staff. But of course, a lot of people will lose their clothes, their belongings so the

(INAUDIBLE) non-food items.


GORANI: All right. And that's what's going on in the Philippines.

I believe we have made a connection with Scott McLean was in an evacuation center in South Carolina. Tell us what's happening where you are, Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Hala. Look, we haven't even seen a drop of rain yet in this area, certainly nothing substantial.

And there are already almost 400 people who have checked in to this shelter, but they are not calling it a shelter officially, that's because

this place is pure function.

The function here is to keep people safe and out of the weather while this hurricane actually passes. So it's either a little bit of entertainment

for the kids. There's a couple table set up. There's a couple cops. But those cops are only for the elderly or the sick of small children, the more

vulnerable population. A lot of people here will sleep on the floor.

So what's uncomfortable, why be here at all? Well, this is a sturdy brick building and a lot of the people who are here, Hala, they live in

prefabricated homes, so they live in mobile homes. Not what you want to be. And when we're talking 60-mile per hour winds, maybe 20 inches of

rain. There are lots of factors here for people to be concerned about.

I spoke to one man who lives in a low-lying area, James Jarvis (ph). Here's what he said about his biggest concern. Sorry. It looks like we

don't have that sound there, Hala. But, look, a lot of people here are just hoping that this is over quickly.

GORANI: All right, thanks very much, Scott McLean. We will get back to you very soon with more on what's happening in those evacuation shelters.

I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN, more on Florence, on Typhoon Mangkhut and the rest of your top headlines after the break. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS"

is next.