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Hurricane Florence Stalls on Carolina Coast Battering Cities; Manafort Enters Plea Deal, Agrees to Cooperate with Special Counsel. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 14, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Davis had a wind speed of 108. Wilmington Air Park, not far from where you are, 105. That happened about three hours ago when the eye was on top of you.

A couple things are still going on. The rain continues on up to the flooded areas around New Bern. Also here to the north, a couple purple squares. Those purple squares are now tornado warnings. These are not EF-4s and 5s like we see in the plains in the spring, but like waterspouts that will come onshore and still could do damage because the winds could be like 120 or 130. And that's enough wind speed to do some damage.

So let's kind of get to the forecast. Here's the future of what this storm looks like here. We're going to take you all the way -- this is 8:30, 9:00, we'll stop here around 2:00 in the morning. And so that's what we're going to be looking at. Myrtle Beach, right around Conway, that's the center. Now I back you up. This is where we are now. And the storm is slowly, like three miles per hour, gliding toward Myrtle Beach. But the heaviest rain is Wilmington and northward. Heavy, heavy rainfall pushing more water over some of these beaches. There's like a figure-eight island that's like the high spot, six feet. I imagine that every single spot of that will have some saltwater going over it, but most of those homes are, of course, on stilts. Here you go, 80 miles per hour. The very latest, the 11:00 advisory. There are still gusts, almost 100 miles per hour, and it is moving to the west-southwest at 3.

Here's the forecast. Here's where we are right now. Right onshore, right almost at Cape Fear, and it's going to go down close to Conway and turn on up toward the north and northeast. This is eventually, this is still two days away, just to get to this point.

Let's go point by point to where we are exactly right now because a lot of people are wanting to know, hey, I'm at Myrtle, what's going on here. North Myrtle and Myrtle, still have offshore flow coming in around the storm and around this way. Offshore flow not pushing storm surge to you yet but getting you wet. Every time one of these bands comes by, the winds go up about 10 miles per hour. You get one band and then it's 45 miles per hour. The next band, as it gets closer, 55 miles per hour. So this is going to be an all-night affair for you.

If you're to the northeast of the storm, it has dried out some. Some. There's still a lot of moisture down here, over the ocean. But let it rain in the ocean. We don't care about that. As it comes back toward the northeast and into North Carolina, it has dried significantly compared to where we are and were about an hour ago.

Anderson, you're right there in Wilmington. Wilmington from Carolina Beach coming up to Wilmington, every time a band comes to you, you're likely going to see wind speeds around 60 to 65. That should be the maximum you should see for the rest of the day.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's, I guess, some good news.

Chad, thank you for that.

Logan Poole, an extreme meteorologist, is with me.

With all the storms you have covered, how does this compare?

LOGAN POOLE, EXTREME METEOROLOGIST, WEATHER NATION: A little different, Anderson. The pressure actually stayed fairly low for a storm of this magnitude. We talked about, oh, it's dropping from category 4 to 3 to 2, but barometric pressure, which is one way to measure the intensity of a storm, stayed fairly low. In the 950 millibars up until landfall. That being the case, it allowed the storm to expand the wind field instead of being so concentrated. That's why, even now, portions of the eastern North Carolina are still experiencing very strong wind.

COOPER: The sizes of this thing, it doubled yesterday. And it's moving so slowly. People here are going to be feeling this for how long?

POOLE: A very long time. I mean, it's hard to know -- when the steering currents break down for these storms, it's hard to know how fast they move or where they might go precisely. It will be moving slowly, and the size of it and being next to the ocean with the southerly wind, bringing in all that moisture off the Atlantic Ocean, that's going to produce amazing rainfall amounts. So even after we kind of get past this coastal version of a hurricane, it's going to transition to perhaps record-breaking rainfall for some of these people.

COOPER: They have been talking here in Wilmington of eight months- worth of rain in the next three days.

POOLE: It's almost unimaginable. When you have to bring up the yard stick to measure rainfall, you know it's a problem,. And these people are going to have extreme wind in the first place. Like we said, the wind field is so large, so maybe they're dealing with wind damage from trees down or power lines. Outages here are incredible, all over town, north, south, east, and west. And we found hardly anywhere that has power here. So when you couple that with the impending rainfall, it's just going to be a disaster. We don't know how to avoid it.

COOPER: We saw one of the big transformers blow last night. I think it was near midnight or the 11:00 hour, kind of that ominous blue light that flashes. That was the first time we had seen that. Obviously, there's no power around here now.

You know, we were talking to the mayor before. He's talking about 20, 30, 40 inches of rain in some places. And there's some -- he's also concerned about migrant communities about 10 or 12 miles outside of town where people may not be able to get help. Maybe afraid to call in because of their status. He wants people to know that's not a concern. The concern is just keeping people safe.

[11:05:08] POOLE: That's absolutely right. The special needs are especially vulnerable when it comes to these disasters. They're not always able to move freely to get away from things and not able to deal with the general stresses that come with severe weather situation. For most of us, we can probably hang out without A.C. for a day, but if you're on oxygen or you have to go to dialysis, for various reasons, it's a much larger problem.

COOPER: Which we saw in Maria, of course.

Thanks so much. We appreciate your work. A pleasure.

I want to go to Miguel Marquez.

Miguel, where are you? I hear it's getting bad where you are.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We woke up this morning in the eye of the storm, and literally, there was not a breeze. This is the situation now in Carolina Beach. It's extremely difficult to stand and certainly the rain and the sand blowing right now is quite painful.

Look, they are out of power at Carolina Beach. In New Hanover County, 94,000 people have lost power. They have not suffered any major flooding or serious water rescues.

One thing that authorities are asking right now is that if you have an emergency in New Hanover County, call only if it's a life-threatening emergency. The 911 operators are inundated, they say, with people calling about downed trees and local flooding and just being concerned about what's going on. But if it is not life-threatening, don't call 911 because the serious calls they're expecting cannot get through at the moment.

What is also amazing is that, yesterday, we were here. The wind was blowing from the west toward the ocean, basically, because the storm was going around this way. As the eye went over, it started to pick up, the wind was blowing due east. Now it's blowing up from the south. And you can see the waves as well, just the way they have changed. They're now even coming up from the south. That surf really coming up. We're just about at high tide here, and that surf is really coming up. This is where they are going to experience some of the worst flooding that they're going to get. And the storm is just creeping along so slowly that they're going to have more than one tide. You guys have been talking about this. More than one tide that will come in during this storm.

So it is, you know, batten down the hatches time for Carolina Beach, North Carolina. They just survived the front end of the storm pretty well. There's some minor damage throughout town. But now here comes the back end, and let's see where things go -- Anderson? COOPER: Miguel, because I can't see you, is this the worst that you

have seen so far there?

MARQUEZ: The winds were blowing very hard last night as well. My colleague, Derek Van Dam got blown around all night long. They were getting gusts around 90 miles per hour. We are not there yet. We're probably feeling a sustained wind of 50, maybe 60 right now, with some bigger gusts. But certainly, it's having an effect on the sea and the waves and how far it's blowing up on the Intercoastal Waterway and on Snow's Cuff, this little canal that goes up into the Fear River. That's where they're concerned about a lot of that water going. So the wind is blowing much harder, and presumably, if officials are right, it's going to get harder before it's over -- Anderson?


All right, Miguel Marquez, stay safe.

Brian Todd is elsewhere in Wilmington. He's been driving around looking at damage, trees down, water on the ground.

Brian, where are you and what are you seeing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we're in the Wrightsboro neighborhood of Wilmington, just north of downtown Wilmington, getting our first real survey of the really severe damage that's being suffered by some of these neighborhoods. You can see this downed power line is not quite snapped off but a really dangerous situation here. Look at the tree down in this yard. Power lines down all over the place.

As you can see, this storm is still whipping through here. It's still a very dangerous situation for some of these residents. We were told just a short time ago by Wilmington city officials that they have had calls, mostly from people who are in need of help because of trees falling on their houses. You can see behind me, if the photojournalist can pan down to this tree way down here. Completely across the road, so access to this road is blocked.

Again, this is some of what first responders are having to deal with today. And again, we are still in the middle of this thing. A lot of wind gusts have just whipped through here. We have to keep an eye out for flying debris. That's always a danger in this situation.

We also have some information, Anderson, from a local hospital, the New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Officials talked to about a short time ago. Part of the roof of that hospital was torn off. One part of it was in a construction zone. Another part of it was in an administration area. No injuries or evacuations needed. When you start to see hospitals compromised by this thing, you know you have to keep an eye out on that. They did not have to evacuate anybody. They say that patient care was not affected, but they do have about 450 patients in that hospital.

[11:10:12] Some other damage over here I can show you. My photojournalist, Dave, is shooting right through this downed power line to shoot over here. This house here really dodged a bullet because I can see a tree down just in the back yard there.

And again, this is our first look at some of the damage in these neighborhoods. We're just cruising around now. A lot of these neighborhoods have been really inaccessible to rescuers and to us, frankly. So we're just getting our first look at this now, Anderson. Still a very dangerous situation in these neighborhoods.

COOPER: Yes, there's no telling with debris. That's always a huge concern, particularly when it gets dark out. But even in this, there's low visibility with this wind. Even little pieces of dirt, little pieces of sediment, sand, really feel like pinpricks as they hit you. You also hear these strange sounds. You have to keep looking around to make sure that there's nothing coming loose. We have seen some of the lamp posts here break apart earlier in the overnight hours. So that's obviously something we're going to be watching for.

We're going to take another short break. We have our correspondents, again, all throughout the region. We're going to continue to cover this. We'll be right back.


[11:15:52] COOPER: As you know, Wrightsville Beach is where this storm first made landfall, 7:15 a.m. this morning.

Martin Savidge is there. We had problems communicating with him before. I want to check in, see if we can talk to him now.

Martin, what's the situation there? I'm wondering if you were on the air or awake at 7:15, what it was like when it made landfall?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were awake. We were aware. The impact was strong. I will tell you that you do not see where we are significant damage in Wrightsville Beach. But let me put a caveat to that. We're just before the bridge. We can't go any farther because law enforcement has that bridge closed, and that means that right now, you just can't go in to see.

But from looking across, when there was a lull, you did not see significant damage to either the many vessels that are there or the homes and businesses along the Intercoastal. It's probably a very different situation along the Atlantic Ocean itself. We have to stress that.

The situation now is that the wind, of course, of Florence is coming from exactly the opposite direction. Stressed all those buildings, those structures for at least 12 hours one way. Now it's stressing them the other. This is the problem that happens. This is when the lines snap, when the roofs begin to break apart, and this is when the long slog of this storm begins to take its toll on the many, many buildings here.

On the drive in from Wilmington, we came across what was an advance team from FEMA as they took advantage of the lull, trying to assess what damage they have seen. So far, in this area, they're saying they're seeing moderate damage. Not significant structural damage. Yes, large trees down, major tree limbs down, they say, but not catastrophic damage. Of course, the storm is still ongoing, and that was before the back

side came along.

Regarding flooding they're seeing in the initial Wilmington area, they were describing that as primarily ponding due to the heavy rain or storm surge and wind-driven water coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. That's their very initial assessment. There was some structural damage to older buildings. Modern buildings seem to be holding up.

But as you know, Anderson, it's how long this goes on and on top of that, a flooding event, that is beyond question. Now, it's the back side of Florence that is beginning to pound against this same area and likely to do so for some time -- Anderson?

COOPER: I want to find out more about potential damage. I want to talk to Tim Owens, the manager at Wrightsville Beach, the town manager.

Tim, what are you seeing? How are things holding up?

TIM OWENS, WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH CITY MANAGER (via telephone): Good morning, Anderson.

We were out probably about 30 minutes ago. You know, we do have a little structural damage to some roofs. We couldn't really assess the oceanfront because we had pretty significant erosion. But mostly, downed power lines, cable lines. The entire island has no power. But for the most part, we fared well. We still have another tide cycle to go through that we have to be concerned about. We have not got any inundation or tidal surge as of last night, so hopefully we're on the downside of this storm. We pretty much survived pretty good. I know there's a lot of people around probably hurting worse than we are, but I just want to give you an update on that.

COOPER: So when is the next tide cycle?

OWENS: The next tide cycle is at basically about 30 minutes to an hour from now. So once we're past that, our plans are to go back out and assess the island again to see what the -- see if there's any more damage, see if there's any significant flooding, which, again, there has not been of yet. We are -- we have done some live streaming on our Wrightsville Beach Facebook page. So if you want to see sort of where we're at with damage and those types of things. We didn't really focus on individual homes. We've more focused on general routes and things of that nature. We have been doing that live streaming and taking pictures there.

After this, we have to get the water system back up and running. We shut that down just as a precautionary measure because it was a category 5 storm, 4 storm, and we have to make sure our sewer system is running. And we have to rely on Duke Energy to come in and make sure everything is safe.

We want to make sure everything is safe first before we allow residents -- we'll probably allow residents and business owners back in first. And then hopefully, after that, once we get things cleaned up and everything is safe, and the residents have had a chance to be back, it will be business as usual, hopefully.

[11:20:27] COOPER: Let me ask a question, which I know a lot of homeowners and business owners are going to want to ask, which is, what's the timeline do you think on them being able to get back?

OWENS: I'm really waiting. I'm going to do some press releases here shortly and put some stuff on Facebook, and those type of social media. We're going to wait until the next tide cycle comes around. You know, basically, Duke Energy can't get out and do their thing until winds are less than 35 miles per hour. So if I had to make a prediction, it could be Sunday into Monday before we maybe let people come back.

But again, this next tide cycle, it could really go downhill. My hope is that it does not, but we'll take a wait and see approach and make some more press releases here afterwards. We do a press release for folks to watch live. We have been doing them for about three days. We do it at 9:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. We'll keep up with that schedule to update people on where we're at and what our plans are as far as allowing residents back.

COOPER: We appreciate you staying on top of it and letting us know about it. We'll check in with you.

Thanks a lot, Tim. Appreciate it.

OWENS: Thank you very much.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues here in North Carolina, South Carolina, and points in between.


[11:26:22] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Kate Bolduan.

We'll get back to Anderson in Wilmington, North Carolina, shortly as we continue to follow the onslaught of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas.

I want to bring you breaking news out of Washington right now. Right now, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, is in a federal courtroom, pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy. In return, he'll avoid the trial. Yes, this is his second trial that was due to start Monday, less than a month after his first trial ended with him being convicted on eight counts.

So what is happening in court right now? What does this deal mean? Does this deal now mean he's cooperating in some way, shape, or form with Robert Mueller's team?

Let's find out. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is following all these developments.

Shimon, what's happening right now?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Major development here, Kate. We're learning, just moments ago, that Paul Manafort has agreed, has agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department. He has -- the prosecutor there, Andrew Weissmann, told a judge moments ago in court that his plea agreement, Paul Manafort's plea agreement is a cooperation agreement. And the other charges they will drop at the sentencing or at the agreement of successful cooperation.

Here, Kate, obviously, a stunning development. This is the answer that we have been looking for to a question of whether or not this agreement, whether or not this plea would mean Paul Manafort would cooperate, and here we have it. Just moments ago, obviously, what that agreement entails, we don't know. The government did tell the judge that Paul Manafort proffered, he gave information to the government already. We believe that that had occurred in the last few days.

So certainly, a major development here in this investigation, Kate. We now have word from the court, from the government, that Paul Manafort is cooperating in this investigation.

BOLDUAN: This is huge news. This has been the major question all along, Shimon, right? If there was a plea deal, if it came before the first trial or after the first trial, before the second trial. Say it one more time.

Evan Perez -- Shimon, hold on one second. I'm going to go to Evan Perez outside the courtroom. Let's go to Evan right now.

Evan, you're inside. What can you tell us about what's happening right now?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. Just a minute ago, prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, announced in court that there's a cooperation agreement with Paul Manafort. We don't know the details yet of what exactly that cooperation agreement is, what the terms of it is, but he did mention it just as he was explaining what Paul Manafort is pleading guilty to. That's a bit of a surprise because it was a big question, obviously, that everybody had as a result of this plea agreement, was whether or not there was an ongoing cooperation agreement. And it appears from what we just learned that there's a cooperation agreement.

Now, what this entails is obviously the big question now. We had talked to President Trump's legal team in the last couple days, that these talks had intensified, and they expressed confidence that whatever -- if there was a cooperation agreement, they were confident that this did not involve any cooperation against the president.

So there are other people, obviously, that are part of this investigation. We know there are people who are charged, including people in Russia who are charged in the special counsel investigation. So it may well be that Paul Manafort is going to provide information about those people, who he was in business with over the last few years, obviously. So again, a lot of details yet to come out. But this was a bit of a surprise in court.

I can describe to you right now a little bit of the scene. Paul Manafort is standing there in a dark-gray suit with a purple tie, and he's very glum. We have seen him smiling a lot in court, especially in Virginia where he was on trial.