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Massive Rainmaker Triggers Floods as Death Toll Rises to Eight; Massive Storm may Dump 40 Inches of Rain; High Tides Starting this Afternoon Off the Carolina Coasts; Deadly Shark Attack Off Cape Cod Coast; Massachusetts Governor Replaces Utility Company Following Blasts; Inside Dallas Police Shooting Victim's Apartment. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 15, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, you are in CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
The storm disaster in the Carolinas this weekend is likely just beginning. Damage from the Hurricane wind, that's mostly over and cleanup from that will likely take weeks or longer. But more urgently - as in right now, floodwaters are rising. And emergency officials are warning people in parts of North Carolina to get to higher ground or they are risking their lives.
The flood threat is already proving deadly. In just the last hour the death toll from the storm went up. It now stands at eight. The latest victims of Florence are two people caught in flash flooding in fast moving water just north of Wilmington, North Carolina. Again, eight people now dead from this storm. And forecasters say conditions will continue to worsen as long as this massive weather system just sits and dumps rain, refusing to break apart or to move faster.
CNN teams are in place where the water is rising and where people are being told to take these flood warnings seriously. CNN's Martin Savidge joins us from Wilmington, North Carolina. Martin, officials are using the strongest terms to convince people who are near rivers and near low-lying areas to get themselves to a safer place.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's true, Ana. And it's not just that you have to be near a body of water. That's one of the problems many people think, I haven't got a river near me or a lake near me. This water can materialize out of nowhere, and especially in the western part of North Carolina, where it's quite mountainous. Then you get it racing down the sides of those hills and those mountains there. In fact, the governor said they fear that there will be landslides that will begin starting tonight.
But let's move to the south, at South Carolina and let's go now to Scott McLean. He's in Garden City Beach, South Carolina with a look at what the conditions are there and also the threat of flooding. Scott?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Martin. So, we're starting to see some flooding here in Garden City Beach where I am. You can see that it flooded almost all the way to two blocks down where that truck is going through. And we're actually - I'll show you quickly -- just a block off of the beach. So, the flooding that we're seeing here is actually partially caused by the rain. They've gotten about seven inches of rain so far. They're expected to get about five inches more before this is all said and done. But this is also partially caused by the tides and the storm surge that has come in.
So, about three hours ago, a little less than that, there was high tide here. That means peak storm surge as well. The reason why that storm surge didn't happen earlier when Florence was coming in, Martin, is because initially the winds were actually pushing offshore creating a negative storm surge, created a bit of vacuum effect. And so, they're a bit delayed, about a day delayed.
And so, what we're seeing right now is related to that, because actually, if we walk over here really briefly, you can see just between those two buildings. That's actually an inlet. And so, the water is actually being pushed up the inlet from the Atlantic Ocean and ending up right here where we are.
So, you can see over here that there's a gentleman just checking into his house right now. I just spoke to him a moment ago. He's here for the first time after he evacuated from this storm, trying to see if there's any water. Hopefully that is not the case. There's also some water that got up really close to this church. Not clear if there's any inside. Obviously, they're hoping that there isn't.
But the reality for a lot of people inland, Martin, as you point out, is that look, the storm, the wind, that came early. But the worst might be yet to come, because it will take a couple of days for some of those rivers and streams and creeks to actually crest. And so, some people might be returning home and then find a few days later they're underwater.
SAVIDGE: Scott McLean, that is true. The governor of North Carolina had been warning people that if you are evacuated, stay where you are, do not try to return, even though it may appear that the winds have subsided, because the danger is still very present. I want to take you up to Lumberton, North Carolina.
Polo Sandoval, the governor has talked about there are places that will flood that we haven't seen flooded before. But you're in an area that is notorious for flooding and it's an area that people are very worried about now, right, Polo?
[16:05:00] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Martin. You know the rain continues to fall here in Lumberton. And the rainwater continues to flow into the Lumber River. Those are two reasons why city officials here have been going door to door.
We were with them today as they were pleading with residents who are not in shelters, who are still near the river, to get out. That window is closing. I'll take you back to about two years ago when Hurricane Matthew swept through the region, October 2016. The Lumber River crested at about 23.9 feet. The current forecast right now is calling for it to reach about 25 feet. Back then, the infrastructure in this city was crippled because of floodwaters, many people lost their homes as well. So, you can imagine that extra foot will mean that even more people, if that happens, have the potential to lose their belongings, lose their homes.
Officials want to keep them from losing their lives because this is a very serious situation that authorities are stressing to the public. Something that is concerning to officials, the mayor on this very location told me earlier today that he has gone to these shelters and has seen many people noticing that the winds have died down and choosing to go back home. He is asking them to remain in place and telling them, and they cannot say this loud and hard enough, Martin, if you were affected by the floods in 2016 and you're in Lumberton, do not go home, you should not be home. Also, if you were close to those areas as well.
So, right now we continue to monitor the water. I'll leave you with this, earlier this morning we were standing about 30 feet away from where I am. That was the water line. You can see it's slowly making its way up this road, and not far from where I'm standing, you'll find homes and businesses. So, we will see if this flooding happens here in this part of South Carolina. Highways, major thoroughfares already being closed at this hour, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Polo Sandoval, thank you very much, in Lumberton, North Carolina.
There are so many places that are bracing for the floodwaters that they know will come, and there are so many that are coming. Volunteers, many of them, who are trying to assist. Included in that are many volunteers that were born out of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. I'm talking about the Cajun Navy. And they're now playing a very critical role in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
And joining me on the telephone is Taylor Fontenot. He's with the Cajun Navy. First of all, Taylor, do me a favor. Tell me what (INAUDIBLE) and tell me what (INAUDIBLE)?
TAYLOR FONTENOT, TEXAS CAPTAIN, AMERICA'S CAJUN NAVY (via telephone): We're with the American Cajun Navy. (INAUDIBLE) Hello?
SAVIDGE: Yes, sir, go ahead, tell me what you're saying.
FONTENOT: Can you hear me? Right now, we're seeing a lot of lane closures. The water is rising, and a lot of places are turning into islands.
SAVIDGE: So, your people are out and making rescues. How many rescues have you been able to carry out today, and how difficult are the conditions for you to work?
FONTENOT: It's different. I'm from Houston, (INAUDIBLE) Harvey was in my own backyard. So, (INAUDIBLE) neighborhood, could still no more way around. This is kind of a different animal. You have a Katrina-style surge that came in with Harvey-style rains, and it's creating a bad situation. SAVIDGE: How does your organization find out about the people who are in trouble? I mean, how are you notified and how do you vector in to find them?
FONTENOT: They've sent us a message to our page, it's America's Cajun Navy on Facebook. We'll send the message in. The admin to the page will send it to our dispatch, and our dispatchers will prioritize it, make sure the caller is still in need, and they'll dispatch it out to the boats.
SAVIDGE: Are you working in coordination with the local authorities and with the National Guard or do you all operate separately on your own?
FONTENOT: Oh, no, we have full cooperation with the authorities. They're actually one of our biggest assets. When we pulled in, I believe Thursday night, we were in Fayetteville to get some sleep. I've been up since Tuesday night packing gear. And we got a call that one town was taking on water with nine-foot swells, just kind of people (INAUDIBLE) so we made the three-hour drive through the storm. And our whole time on the phone with the mayor, with the police chiefs, sheriffs, fire chiefs. And when we pulled in, they said, look, you have our assets, we just need your know-how.
And so, we got on the boat with me, my navigator (INAUDIBLE) and went to the water from about 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. We did easily over 400 rescues, getting people out of their homes. And the biggest thing was getting people out of their attics, which is a horrible decision. Do not go into the attic.
[16:10:02] SAVIDGE: Right, that is -- I saw that play out in Hurricane Katrina, tragically, in New Orleans. And the advice is, yes, do not go to the attic. Many people want to head to the highest part of the house. The problem is, and you can probably explain this better, Taylor, is that people get trapped up there.
FONTENOT: Yes. The water is rising, it gets over the gutter line, at that point you're trapped in the attic. I will go under a doorway to get in there, but I would never recommend to do that. The thing is, when that water rises, it compresses the oxygen in there. Multiple families, a big family in there, you're going to run out of oxygen. You go in there without a chainsaw or an axe to either cut through and get yourself to the roof or cut an oxygen hole to keep air flowing in there, you're in a situation where, one, you're potentially going to have the water rise enough to trap you in there so you're going to drown, or two, it's going to either long enough to where you're going to runout of oxygen and suffocate.
SAVIDGE: Yes. And we saw that, unfortunately, play out in New Orleans.
I want to thank you, Taylor Fontenot, for you and your organization, how you operate. I saw you operate after Katrina. I've seen that organization operate many times since. And we are grateful you're here, and I know that the authorities are as well. Thank you.
FONTENOT: Thank you. SAVIDGE: The deluge in the flooding that is hitting the Carolinas is not going to end anytime soon. We are talking at least days before many of these rivers even are going to crest.
So, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is live at the CNN Weather Center with sort of a glimpse ahead. And you pointed out in the last hour just you know how much rain has come and how much more water there may be yet in some areas.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and I think for some areas you know -- it may be a bit misleading, because we're now starting to get breaks in that rain, especially for areas like Hatteras, outer banks. You know you've gone now a couple of hours without rain. But I don't want people to think that the storm is over. Even some other areas, you get these breaks in between those showers and think OK, maybe this is it. It's not.
As the system continues to push off to the west, all it's really doing is just taking the heaviest bands and pushing them off to the west as well. That doesn't mean the rain is ending entirely. So, do keep that in mind. Don't go outside, don't try to go through the roads, thinking that this is over, because the water that's already on the ground is going to take time before it finally recedes back.
Here's a look. Right now, two of the heaviest bands of rain we have is this one line here that's just to the north of Wilmington, and then this other one just to the south and west of Wilmington. Those areas where you see the yellows, the oranges and the reds on the radar, that's coming down at two to three inches an hour. Again, if that was all you got in that one hour, that's fine. The problem is for several of these cities in North Carolina, it has been raining for nearly 40 hours straight. So, that additional two to three inches, that number alone may not sound like that much, you have to remember that's on top of what they've already had.
Now, the record for the state of North Carolina had been 24 inches from any tropical system. That was Floyd back in 1999. We have already broken that record. The new one stands at 30 1/2 inches. And keep in mind where that location is, that number is only going to go up. Look at this. Widespread amounts still expected to be about six to 12 inches. Some areas could pick up more than that. You're just going to notice that the locations are beginning to change.
Now you're starting to have that concern for the heavier rain for places like Raleigh, Columbia, and even Charlotte, North Carolina, and then even as you head into those mountain areas. Places like Asheville, Hickory, those locations are now going to start to get a lot of that heavy rain. One thing to keep in mind, some of those mountainous regions, you now not only have the problems of flooding and flash flooding but also landslides, because the topography will start to come into play for some of those areas that are up in elevation. So, keep that in mind, as that rain begins to shift to the west. You're going to start to encounter other problems that we really haven't seen yet, and one of the other problems we are going to encounter is river flooding. This is looking at right now. Right now, we have six rivers at major flood stage and five at moderate flood stage. But take a look when we push this out a few days, look at how many more rivers jump to major flood stage and moderate flood stage. This is because rivers, creeks, and streams take time. Not only do you have to worry about the rain that came down directly over the rivers, but all of it that went into people's yards, into roadways. It flows somewhere, eventually it's going to end up in those same rivers, creeks, and streams. It just takes time.
The main concern with a lot of these, they're not going to crest until we get to say Tuesday or even Wednesday of the upcoming week. This is one of them that we are talking about. The Cape Fear River at Wilmington has actually already set a record of 8.2 feet. And we still expect it to be off and on in either minor or moderate flood stage for the next several days.
[16:15:10] Then we also take a look at Little River in Manchester. This is near Cumberland County. The Fayetteville police have issued a mandatory evacuation for this county. The reason why, the rapid rise within the next 12 hours. They expect that to jump up to major flood stage. More importantly, it will crest at 35 1/2 feet. That is six feet, Martin, over the previous record. And it's going to rise so rapidly, they don't want people to get trapped in their homes, in their businesses. So, they're telling people to get out now before it reaches that record stage.
SAVIDGE: Yes, that is so true, Allison. So many people say, look, I have plenty of time, I'll see it coming. It doesn't work that way. Flash flooding happens in minutes. Allison Chinchar, thank you very much.
Much more ahead. Stay with us. This special CNN live coverage for the aftermath of hurricane, now tropical storm Florence, continues after this.
[16:20:20] CABRERA: We're back with continuing coverage of Florence. The threat now, the rising rivers, the rain that keeps falling, which means flooding, is spreading. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Carolina Beach, North Carolina where heavy winds or high winds, heavy rain and violent surf, Miguel, I know have been slamming that beach for nearly two days. It's still windy there. Describe for me what you've been experiencing today.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amazingly enough, this is the nicest weather we've had in about 48 hours. It was raining just a little while ago very hard. We're on the new boardwalk here. It's a couple of years old here in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. It is part of the lifeblood of this community.
The biggest -- the boardwalk used to be fine. The beach is now up on the boardwalk. It's about a foot and a half of sand here. And this may be the saddest part for not just the city itself, but for miles and miles up the coast here, it's just eroded. This beach two days ago extended much farther into the water, farther up-coast, there's almost no beach. There's a six or eight-foot drop in front of houses where there used to be beach for 20 or 30 feet.
So, this is going to be a major problem for communities here to get this back, because this is their economic lifeblood. Beyond that, there are the downed trees, the downed power lines, roofs ripped off, walls down. There is a lot of small damage all over Carolina Beach and this area, that they're trying to get back online now.
There's one road in, it goes over a bridge, and one road out, and they have to wait until these winds come down a bit more before they can allow people to start getting in and out. They also have to clear all that debris out and make sure that the electricity is not running, at least the wires are off the road. So, all of that will have to take place.
Look at this big rainstorm just down here. This is another sort of tentacle of this storm that just will not quit. I don't think that's going to be hitting us, but it just might. It is just been nonstop, for two days we've been sitting out here with everything, from flooding to the tidal surge, to rain, to wind. And finally, clearly the winds have come down a fair amount, but still, it's not exactly a pleasant day out here, and it won't be for quite some time to come. Back to you.
CABRERA: The ocean looks angry behind you. Miguel Marquez, you've been doing great work out there. I know you must be exhausted. Hang in there, my friend. Thank you for your reporting.
Let's focus right now on some of the help going toward Florence operations, specifically the federal help, the military now involved.
Joining us is General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, he is the commander of U.S. Northern Command and of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. General, thank you for taking the time. What has the Department of Defense been doing exactly to help in this storm response?
GEN. TERRENCE O'SHAUGHNESSY, COMMANDER, U.S. NORTHERN COMMAND: Thank you, Ana. I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the things the Department of Defense have been doing. And first, I start off by just really commending the great work of the local responders, the state local officials and their fantastic work they've been doing. It is absolutely our objective to stay in tune with them and meet their requirements and their needs. As we try to tie in to them, we want to make sure that we're tied into their operation centers as well as FEMA's, to make sure that we, the Department of Defense, are ready to respond to any needs that they might have. As we expect and go into this, the search and rescue, the high-water vehicles, because of the extreme flooding, and the vertical lift has been the things that we in the Department of Defense have been leaning forward with.
CABRERA: Can you give us an idea of numbers in terms of how many of your people are assisting in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, as well as some of the equipment that you're using, you mentioned the high-water vehicles, I understand there are also helicopters making rescues. Is that correct?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, there sure are. We have about 5,400 active duty members right now working of the specific response for Florence. We have about 13,400 total when you count the National Guard. We have about 7,800 National Guard members involved. The types of things we're doing is we push helicopters forward, as you mentioned. We have over a hundred helicopters that are available for search and rescue as well as lift.
We have over a thousand trucks, and most of those are in a high- wheeled, high-water vehicles that will allow us to get into areas that conventional responders wouldn't be able to get into. We push those forward so they're available. Some of those are already being used. We have what we call dual status commander.
And so, for example, in North Carolina we have a commander that works directly for the state governor, of course, within the National Guard. But we are also able to have active duty members working directly for him so that we're completely sync with the governor's intent.
[16:25:03] We've done that. For example, some of the trucks coming out of Ft. Bragg where we pushed them forward to dual status commander.
CABRERA: Can you describe for us what your men and women are encountering as they're making their rescue operations?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: I sure can. It's really important to note that because the storm really hasn't moved along yet. Your team has been reporting very well. It's just as it slows down, it has really made those rescue operations extremely difficult. We and the Coast Guard are the primary responders and as they've continued to do their operations, we're trying to add capability and capacity to that. The weather has really been hampering the flight operations at this time.
And so, as we are prepared, as the storm continues to clear out, we think there's going to be significant additional flooding. We think there will be significant increase in the requirement for rescue. And so, we're postured for that. And we have not only do we have the helicopters ready but we have a command and control infrastructure set up that will allow us to best use all of the resources we have available, all the way from the small boats to the helicopters for that search and rescue.
CABRERA: I know you guys know what to do, you've been there, you've done that. How does this storm compare to other hurricanes?
O'SHAUGHNESSY: Well, I think the nature of this has been the slow- moving nature of the storm, and really the flooding aspect of this has really been extreme. And frankly I don't think we're out of the woods by any means yet. So, I think more to come on the flooding. And that really has us concerned.
So, as we look into the future, the things that we're looking at, to make sure that we learn the lessons from previous storms as we look at the availability for us to move and transport things to those that most need it, we think the roads, the infrastructure, is going to be a challenge. So, we again are looking for ways that we can supply Department of Defense capability to that. Again, we think those trucks, we think the vertical lift, especially as the flooding continues to potentially take out some roads.
CABRERA: General, thank you so much for joining us. And thank you for all the service of you and your men and women who are out in the floodwaters right now trying to make a difference, trying to keep people safe. We really, really appreciate it.
Don't go away. Much more of our live team coverage continues right after this.
SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in Wilmington, North Carolina, where we continue to follow the aftermath of what was Hurricane Florence, now tropical storm Florence, and the transition that storm is making from being a major hurricane at one point to now becoming a major flood event for the Carolinas here.
We want to check in with Nick Watt. He is in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where they too have been suffering under this weather. Nick, where are you now?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin, we just see bands of wind and rain coming through about 10 minutes ago. A blank of wood was ripped off our house. You know, the real issue here though is going to be the storm surge, that is the problem. The big waves of the Atlantic. We had a high tide about lunchtime which, Jake, if you pan down, you'll see reach us through about here, Jake, on the way, down, down, down. That is where we were. If you look, it would only have to rise another couple of feet over what's called a dune but it's not really a dune, and that water is into the town and inundating North Myrtle Beach.
Now a little sliver of good news. I mean this storm is not over yet. We're still under flash flood warnings. We're still under storm surge warnings. There's still an evacuation order for this county that we're in. But a sliver of good news, about 10 minutes ago a lady walked over to us in the beach with a huge smile on her face. She lives in that pink and greenhouse over there. She saw us broadcasting from this beach a few nights ago. Since then, she kept her TV on and her mom the whole time in her house. She said she came back today to make sure it's OK.
She said to me, you don't know the feeling of coming back and seeing your house is still standing, particularly after you've had devastation in the past. That has Hurricane Hugo back in '89, it had its roof ripped off and it took half the house with it.
So far, so good, here in North Myrtle Beach, Martin. But as we've always been saying, the storm is not over yet, moving so slow. We've got more wind. We've got more rain forecast over here and we have another high tide during the night tonight. If the winds are still coming onshore by then, who knows? Maybe it will come up an extra two fleet but hopefully not the worst, we hope here in North Myrtle Beach has passed, but fingers are still crossed. Martin?
SAVIDGE: Nick, real quick before you go. Did they have the same concerns about inland flooding in South Carolina as they do here in North Carolina?
WATT: Oh, absolutely. Listen, I was actually speaking to some people here the other day who they figured that they would be safer here at the coast than they would be on land because remember, Hurricane Matthew a couple of years ago, there were rivers you know 14 miles in land cresting at 24 feet. So, there is going to be a similar issue. We may not see that for a few more days, to see those rivers really crest and the real impact of that fresh water inland flooding, that could still be to come, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Nick Watt joining us now from South Carolina there. And Ana, just a reminder to our viewers, this storm continues to kill. The death toll now is up to eight. Seven people in North Carolina have lost their lives, one in South Carolina. As we've said many times, there are grave, grave concerns about the days ahead. Ana?
CABRERA: When we look at your shot and we look at Nick Watt's shot, we don't see all that rain falling right now.
[16:35:03] But officials say that looks can be deceiving and in fact, do not be deceived, do not go back if you are those evacuated, because the threat is far from over. Martin Savidge, thank you.
Breaking news as well. We're following a deadly shark attack off the coast of Cape Cod, a man in his 20s apparently died despite the efforts of beachgoers to try to save him. We'll have an update live in the CNN NEWSROOM next.
[16:40:00] CABRERA: We're following breaking news off the coast of Cape Cod this afternoon. Authorities are now reporting a deadly shark attack.
The Cape Cod National Park Service says the victim was a swimmer in his 20s. Officials say he was pulled from the water, was given CPR, and beachgoers teamed up to help carry him down the beach. The victim was rushed to the hospital but sadly did not survive. We're gathering more information and we'll bring you any updates as we learn new developments.
We're also learning more about the string of deadly gas explosions and fires that decimated homes in an area north of Boston. The governor of Massachusetts has now declared a State of Emergency in three different towns. He has also taken the extraordinary step of putting a different utility company in charge of the recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R), MASSACHUSETTS: We took this step after it became clear to us that Columbia gas was simply inadequately prepared to take the steps necessary to effectively manage relief efforts. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: At least one person died. More than a dozen others were injured. Around 8,000 people were forced to leave their homes. Officials say they have now cleared more than 50 streets in North Andover, but it could be some time before life returns to normal in that area.
CNN's Alison Kosik is joining us now in Lawrence, Massachusetts. And Allison, the NTSB just wrapped up a news conference. What are officials saying?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well we certainly heard quite a bit from the NTSB. This is the first time we're hearing from the federal agency since they arrived yesterday. And for one thing, when the chairman of the NTSB came out, he said, look, we're not here to find probable cause today. We're here to collect information, not even analyze it, but collect it, collect data, collect perishable evidence, meaning evidence that can go away over time, and then at a later time they will come up with probable cause.
Among the interesting points that he mentioned, he said that there was a pressure increase that was reported right in Lawrence. That's where I am right now. It's one of the three suburbs that experienced these horrific explosions almost simultaneously on Thursday during the hour of 4:00p.m.
Now, he did not say when the detection happened about this pressure increase. But he said there was a data center in Columbus, Ohio that recorded this. And he wants to know what the response was from the company that monitors it, Columbia Gas.
Among the other things the NTSB will do, it will create a timeline over the past three weeks asking questions including were there any inspections, was there any increase in complaints from customers, talking about maybe a smell of gas. Most importantly, he says what was the response, if there were these increased complaints, what was the response from Columbia Gas. He's also very interested in finding out what the culture is at Columbia Gas, its safety record, its training, and including its parent company NiSource. I want you to listen to the chairman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB CHAIRMAN: System safety at Columbia Gas is something we're interested in. What was the safety culture of Columbia Gas and its parent company NiSource? What were the organizational factors that may have influenced one way or the other this event and its outcome? What was the overall regulatory compliance history of Columbia Gas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Now, state and local authorities are also carrying out their own investigations. As for the NTSB, they say they will come up with their findings, anywhere between 12 and 24 months. But they do say, the NTSB does say they will come out with a preliminary report that could spell out that probable cause, the reason, also -- for these explosions that killed one and injured more than 12 and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and businesses. Ana?
CABRERA: It's such a scary situation, Alison. If I were one of those thousands of people who had to evacuate, I would be scared to go back home, not knowing what the cause is at this point. How do they know people are safe to go home? What is being done to make sure that those homes are safe?
KOSIK: Well, right now what's actually happening in the neighborhoods, you've got these teams of three sort of going literally door to door in the three suburbs to these homes. It's a utility technician, a first responder, and a locksmith. And they're literally going inside the home and checking to see if there's any lingering gas, let's say in the attic or the basement. And they're shutting off the gas.
Also, outside they're noticing if there's any lingering gas there. So, each time the home maybe gets a clean bill of health, then perhaps people can go back home. But here's the thing, when they go back home, there's no power right now and there's no gas. No telling when the power is going to come back on. And I'm hearing that it will take weeks before the gas is turned back on. Ana?
[16:45:01] CABRERA: All right. Alison Kosik, thank you for that update.
Demonstrators rally on the streets of Dallas protesting the police shooting death of a black man in his own home by a police officer. We have the latest in this case just ahead, a CNN exclusive, next.
CABRERA: A Texas family is demanding answers after a man was shot by a Dallas police officer who says she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Botham Jean was laid to rest yesterday and an attorney for his family is now casting doubt on the official story. The police officer who pulled the trigger says she thought she was entering her own home and opened fire on who she thought was an intruder.
[16:50:05] CNN's Ryan Young has more on this and goes inside the victim's apartment to see himself what happened. Here is his report.
RYAN YOUNG (voice-over): Unit 1478 was Botham Jean's apartment. It's where the 26-year-old's young life was cut short when he was shot by a police officer in his living room. A small memorial with flowers and a photo of his mother, adorn his front door.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLISON JEAN, VICTIM'S MOTHER: At 26 years old he had done so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP) YOUNG: With permission from the family, we are getting a look inside Botham's apartment. It's a typical single man's apartment except for the bullet hole in the wall indicated by an evidence marking more than six feet high. There's also a pool of blood on the floor which we will not show you. There is laundry piled on the couch and Botham's half- eaten bowl of cereal still had milk in it. He may have been reading one of the many books littering the apartment before being shot and killed by Officer Amber Guyger.
This is video of witnesses of Amber Guyger pacing around upset moments after the shooting. Officer Guyger tells investigators she shot Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own. Guyger tells investigators that after work she parked her car on the wrong floor, walked to the wrong apartment, that Jean's door was slightly open. In her statement to police, Guyger says she gave verbal commands before firing two shots.
S. Lee Merritt says witnesses tell a different story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S. LEE MERRITT, JEAN FAMILY ATTORNEY: They both heard a knock or a pounding on the door followed by a female's voice saying open up, let me in. She says the voice didn't sound like an officer command, but it sounded like someone who wanted to be let into the apartment. She said that was shortly followed by the sound of gunshots and the sound of a man's voice saying, she believed to be, oh, my God, why did you do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: The Jean family's attorney and the family are now upset by the leak of a search warrant indicates officers went inside Jean's apartment looking for drugs. Officers say they did find and removed several items, including a small amount of marijuana. The warrant doesn't indicate who the items belonged to. It's unknown if a search warrant was executed at the officer's apartment.
MERRITT: 26 years on this earth. He lived his life virtually without blemish. And it took being murdered by a Dallas police officer for Botham Jean to suddenly become a criminal. There is a clear intent here to smear the name of Botham Jean.
YOUNG: During a moving funeral service, we learned much more about Jean and his accomplishments. Family and friends talked openly about his love of people, for singing, and the fact that he was a high achieving employee on a partnership track at the accounting firm PWC.
TIM RYAN, SENIOR PARTNER AND CHAIRMAN, PWC: PWC is hurting. Not just in Dallas but all across our country.
ALEXIS STOSSEL, FRIEND: He was so joyful. We know how much he loved to sing. He was the biggest extroverted accountant you'll ever find.
YOUNG: Amber Guyger is on an administrative leave during the investigation. The D.A.'s office will take the case before a grand jury to determine the next course of action. CNN has reached out to Officer Guyger's attorney. And they have not returned our calls. For a heartbroken mother wants answers.
JEAN: I'm calling on the Dallas officials, please come clean. Give me justice for my son. Because he does not deserve what he got.
YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Dallas.
[16:58:11] CABRERA: When natural disasters hit like what we're seeing unfolding right now in the Carolinas, first responders work tirelessly to help people affected. And the situations can become emotional. In storm-battered Wilmington, North Carolina, this group of firefighters knelt and prayed outside a home where a mother and her infant died after a tree fell on the back bedroom of their house. First responders were able to free the father, whose leg was pinned. He was taken to a local hospital. Those firefighters worked for hours trying to free the mother and her child.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK CAMPBELL, WILMINGTON FIRE BATTALION CHIEF: They were initially working from the inside of the house to try to make access. Any time a child is involved, human life certainly, but when it's involving a child, people push themselves to the limit. And that comes with an emotional toll as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: If you want to help those affected by Hurricane Florence, go to CNN.com/impact.
Thank you for staying with me. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
And this is now a tropical storm, no longer a hurricane. But make no mistake, Florence is no less destructive or deadly. People in North and South Carolina today are being told to get to safety. Water is rising quickly in large parts of both states. And the flooding after the hurricane is expected to be much, much bigger and a bigger disaster than the storm's initial impact.
There is also this awful news, we have confirmation now that eight people are dead in this severe weather. The latest victims of Florence, two people caught in flash flooding, fast moving water just north of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Again, eight people now confirmed dead from the storm. And what about any relief? Take a look at this. It's not coming anytime soon. The storm system is moving almost nowhere. It is stalled. It is spinning, and it is dumping record amounts of rainfall at parts of North -