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At Least Five Deaths from Hurricane Florence; Typhoon Mangkhut Slams into Philippines. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 15, 2018 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Typhoon Mangkhut turns deadly in the Philippines, the strongest storm anywhere on the planet this year sparks dozens of landslides. We'll get a live update for you.

And to the U.S. East Coast, tropical storm Florence, it has been drenching the Carolinas for 24 hours. Nearly 1 million people are without power. We'll have a live forecast coming next.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen in the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta, Georgia. And we begin right now.


ALLEN: Two powerful storms hitting at the same time. We begin in the Philippines, where Typhoon Mangkhut has claimed two lives. That according to disaster management officials, who add the two killed were first responders. But the death toll may rise since communication lines to the affected areas are down still. The country's defense secretary says 1,000 homes were destroyed in just one area.

Typhoon Mangkhut roared ashore as a super typhoon and then lost strength. It is now headed towards China where it is likely to gain momentum as it crosses the South China Sea.

Let's go live now to the Philippines, where we find Alexandra Field standing by in Santiago City with more on the storm.

What are you hearing?

What's the latest?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are still concerns about storm surge off the northwest coast of North Luzon. That can contribute to flooding. There is also the risk that is very clear right now of move landslides. They're talking about a very mountainous region, where this super typhoon struck in the middle of the night and into the early daylight hours.

Dozens of landslides have already been recorded. It's in that region, Cordillera, where officials have announced there have been two deaths related to these super typhoon deaths of first responders.

They have shut down a number of roads in that region, about 20. Part of that has to do with debris and damage. Part of it is about keeping people safe. That is a function of that heavy rainfall that you saw for about 12 hours as this typhoon made its way across the northern part of the Philippines.

It made landfall in the middle of the night, slamming into the northeast coast. It was anticipated that that is where it would hit and that is where you would see the brunt of the damage. There have been details emerging about structural damage caused by the heavy winds.

But it has taken hours now to start to put together a picture of the devastation that this kind of storm left behind. That's because there are downed power lines, which make traveling across the roads difficult. There is debris in the roads.

But the key issue here for officials has been a lack of communication, downed power lines. That means it's tough to get a readout on what has happened in some of the areas that were expected to be the hardest hit.

But military personnel had been brought into this area in advance. They are prepositioned here, ready to deploy if needed. And we understand from defense officials there are about a dozen helicopters on standby that can be activated for search and rescue missions.

It is mountainous in the middle and you've also got coastal areas which are prone to flooding. So certainly obstacles for responders to confront in the coming hours as we see more of the damage resulting from this storm.

ALLEN: So the country's defense secretary saying 1,000 homes were destroyed in one area. We don't know, perhaps, where that area is.

But is there a belief that most people that were in the direct path went to shelters?

FIELD: We do know that cluster of about 1,000 homes is in the northeast part of North Luzon. Officials didn't have those numbers early in the morning as daylight came into play here but they were able to travel to that area and do the assessment work.

To put it into context, about two years ago, you had a super typhoon in the same area and there were about 50,000 buildings damaged at that point. Certainly we should expect to hear more areas and homes would be damaged or were devastated by this storm.

But given the fact that this an area that's prone to typhoons, officials were able to prepare by moving people away from the spots that they thought would take the hardest hits.

That meant that they were evacuating thousands of people yesterday and in the days preceding that, particularly moving families along the coastline further inland in order to protect them. There were thousands of shelters that were opened. So some planning here in the advanced stages does seems to have certainly helped at this point -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Much learned from Haiyan from several years ago.


ALLEN: Thanks so much, Alexandra Field for us there.


ALLEN: Let's take you back now live to the Philippines. Alberto Muyot is the CEO of Save the Children Philippines. He's joining me now from Manila via Skype.

Alberto, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. It seems Manila has been spared for the most part.

What are you seeing there and what are you hearing from the areas that the storm crossed?

ALBERTO MUYOT, SAVE THE CHILDREN PHILIPPINES: Well, Natalie, (INAUDIBLE) as in the (INAUDIBLE) province, which was hit by the typhoon. So far they have been able to get through and they're now doing the assessment.

Yes, our communication has been a problem. We have sent the team and they are there in (INAUDIBLE). The different municipalities of Cordillera have not been able to report to the provincial capital. And that makes it difficult.

But we hope that by tomorrow we will be able to get a better assessment. We are sending two more assessment teams tomorrow to help them and to go through Isabela province, Cordillera province and the neighboring areas.

ALLEN: The provinces that you mentioned, do you know how many people there or were there places for people to go and take shelter?

Were there shelters for them to go to?

MUYOT: What we know is there are more than 700 evacuation centers and most of these are the public schools, and about 13,000 families with about 51,000 persons have already sought shelter in these evacuation centers.

ALLEN: And help us with the scope, Alberto. You say your teams are headed to these areas that have been cut off.

How many people live in these areas?

What are the structures like or how many cities roughly?

MUYOT: Yes. Well, what we know is that the typhoon has affected five regions with a combined population of about 4.3 million people. And these are the agricultural regions where many of the structures are made of --


MUYOT: -- light materials.

ALLEN: We know that the two deaths reported were first responders so there haven't been other reports of death so far.

That is a very good sign, isn't it?

MUYOT: Well, it looks to be good but we haven't had reports coming in yet from the other towns. We have to wait and see. We hope that this will be (INAUDIBLE) and that there will be a minimum number of casualties.

ALLEN: Of course, the deadly storm Haiyan from 2013 helped people in the Philippines learn how to prepare.

What was different with preparations for this storm from the lessons learned by Haiyan?

MUYOT: One thing important here is, about three days before, the typhoon made the landfall. The provinces that were going to be affected, mostly in the Pacific Ocean side, had already made preparations and, moreover, stocks have been prepositioned in these areas.

Hopefully that will make it easier, once the roads are cleared for the relief teams to go through these areas.

ALLEN: Well, lessons learned for sure. That was such a tragedy. But this was a monster storm. As your hear back from your teams from Save the Children, we will walk to talk with you again, for sure. Alberto Muyot, thank you for your time.

MUYOT: Thank you.

ALLEN: The Philippines get multiple typhoons every year. Some have been extremely destructive. In the past dozen years, five have killed more than 1,000 people. And Haiyan, was by far the deadliest; that storm alone killed 6,300 people in 2013.

These are the paths those typhoons took over the past 12 years. The deadliest ones tend to pass through the central islands of the country which are more populated. None of the deadliest ones passed through Northern Luzon Island, which is where Mangkhut is heading.

Not much information from that region yet but as we hear more, we'll pass it to you.

After a short break here, in North Carolina, floodwaters could linger for days, putting lives at risk and causing catastrophic damage to homes and businesses. We'll have live reports from that region.



ALLEN: Tropical storm Florence is leaving a huge mess along the southeastern U. coast. It has weakened since it made landfall in North Carolina early Friday as a category 1 hurricane but it is still powerful and dangerous and very slow moving.

Rain keeps falling. Floodwaters keep rising. The damage from wind and water is extensive. And at least five people have died across the region. Nearly 1 million customers are without electricity and hundreds --


ALLEN: -- have been rescued from the rapidly rising water. We have correspondents throughout the area. Derek Van Dam is standing by live in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

And Nick Valencia is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Hi, guys.

First to you there, Nick. Looks to still be an ugly night there or morning, as it's almost daybreak.

What is this day expected to bring?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they expect it to bring more rain potentially throughout the rain. It's still very windy and drizzly at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was earlier in the week that we got here and we've been warning the residents how catastrophic this storm could be.

Earlier this week we had been calling this potential a storm of a lifetime for the Carolina coast, a storm that this area, which is accustomed to hurricanes, a type of storm they may have never seen before.

The trajectory of that storm by midweek had gone further south, putting Myrtle Beach in the crosshairs. And it got a lot of people here nervous. So much so that about 40 percent of the town evacuated.

They've also had this town under curfew here. We are still under curfew right now. If you look behind me, it's pretty much a ghost town, just us and other news crews out going to now.

That trajectory decided to go a little bit more north and make its landfall where Derek Van Dam is in North Carolina, but it's still not out of the woods here just yet. It's perhaps the windiest it's been here, certainly a sustained drizzle so far.

Officials expect that to continue throughout the week. Potentially areas in the county could see up to 30 inches of rain according to the local paper. We've certainly seen the beach, as aggressive as it's been all week long. This curfew is still in effect. We have seen the occasional car pass through these streets.

But for the most part, it seems people have heeded these warnings. That wasn't the case earlier this week, though. The city had closed essentially by Tuesday because of the warnings I mentioned. People started to get a little stir crazy.

So we saw, even though the beach had closed at about 8:00 am, as I just got another wind gust here like I just came through a wind tunnel. People started to get a little stir crazy and were going out to the beach, seeing how bad this could be. So far, we haven't seen anyone out walking around. It seems they are still heeding that warning.

But local officials warn it is not time to let their guard down. They are very much still worried about localized flooding. About 20 miles away from here, there is a town called Conway, South Carolina. It has strong chances of flooding and usually does flood when they get tropical storms.

We are planning to go and check out those conditions later this morning to see how bad it is there. But for the time being in Myrtle Beach, it is a ghost town. It seems everyone is still inside in these early morning hours.

ALLEN: And that is typically a very populated, busy area of South Carolina, so it's nice to see people have disappeared for their own safety. Nick Valencia, thanks so much to you.

Now let's head up to North Carolina and Derek Van Dam.

Derek, Nick's still getting blown a little bit there.

What are the conditions like where you are?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Getting battered around. I'm currently protected by a concrete structure just to my right here and have the ability to come inside quickly if I need to.

Obviously, rain is still coming down in buckets. The wind is extremely strong behind me outside of the protection of the wall. And every once in a while, we'll get these gusts just like Nick was experiencing there in his live shot, as well.

He talked about the center of the storm, the hurricane's eye, went over our region and that was throughout the day on Friday. And let me tell you, that was a real ethereal moment for us. Everything went from extreme winds, over 100 miles per hour for gusts, to complete calm.

And there was this false sense of security for all the residents here because a lot of them started to walk out. They wanted to assess the damage. And then about 45 minutes after the calm, we saw the winds coming in another direction, the back side of the storm impact us. And we've been in it ever since then. The second part of Hurricane Florence. And we know that it's been well advertised that this is a long

duration event but we keep harping in on the potential for this flash flooding. It really is setting up to be a major catastrophic situation for some of the coastal areas of North Carolina. We'll talk about the details in just one moment.

But what we've seen here on the ground in the Carolina Beach region, we've had roofs that have blown off buildings, walls that collapsed, fences that got blown over, trees that have been toppled, power lines that have snapped.

Some of the power, electrical wiring has been dangling in some of the standing water that has built up across the area. Fortunately, the storm surge wasn't as major of an --


VAN DAM: -- issue here, although there was about two feet of beach erosion. Considering this area is so susceptible to that, they'll have to build that up over the months to come to bring back tourists into this area next summer.

We are without power, without communications and emergency officials are warning and begging for people to only call them in extreme emergencies because there's still the curfew underway. And if they call people out unnecessarily, they're putting the rescuers in harm's way of this storm that's still going strong right now. Natalie.

ALLEN: And, Derek, the emphasis has been on the fact that this is a very slow-moving storm. So it's going to take a while to move on.

What is the forecast for today?

VAN DAM: You know, Natalie, it is moving about as quickly as a person runs slowly. So you can actually outrun this storm. That's how slow it's actually moving. And that causes major concerns.

The radar for this area is showing two distinct bands of rainfall that have almost formed into one right near the Wilmington region. I'm very concerned about this band that's setting up.

Last year when I was in Houston for Hurricane Harvey, we saw these feeder bands come off the Gulf of Mexico. We're on the Atlantic now but the same concept as that play here, we're start to go pick up the moisture from the ocean and deposit it in heavy rain bands.

It's not just light sprinkles, it's the tropical large drops of rainfall that accumulate so quickly. We've had rainfall totals over two feet and we expect to see more rain like that over the next 24 to 48 hours. So really, Natalie, we've got another day and a half of help for some of these areas along the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina. Back to you.

ALLEN: Sounds like it. Derek Van Dam for us, thanks so much. We'll see you again a little bit later. The impact of tropical storm Florence will be felt for a long time to come as Derek was mentioning. Days ago, everything along the coast was normal. But as the storm grew close to land, disaster unfolded in slow motion. Here's what the past few hours were like for some of my CNN colleagues.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we notice that inner eye wall, there it goes. There goes the lights. That's it. All right. That's what I expected. Now we need to get out of here, guys.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The eye on the shore, the outer eyewall directly over Wilmington, North Carolina, where I am, Chad Myers telling me we're getting 3 inches of rain per hour. It feels like that and it feels like it's coming right in our face from every single direction. Behind me is the northeast...

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have experienced these winds for not just a short while. It's been going on here since early evening last night. So it's the intensity and the prolonged nature of how long this storm is taking to come ashore. It's just a relentless feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look all the way down, just beyond those people, you might be able to make it out. That is the ocean. It's not supposed to be there right now. And that ocean, part of the storm surge, came all the way up Pollock (ph) Street. You can see all this debris washed up with it.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These are good Samaritans, these are heroes who chose to come here and help people who did not evacuate. Our mission right now is not for human beings. Our mission right now is to go get other boats. This can help out with the rescue missions and help out people getting property, as well. But we can help get more people if we have more boats. Simple math there.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look at the tree downed in this yard. Power lines down all over the place. As you can see, this storm is still whipping through here. It is still a very dangerous situation for some of these residents.

We were told just a short time ago...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is significant about this, this water has come up in the last half hour, 45 minutes or so, very quickly. And it's rising. Just over here, this is the marina. This is an area that often floods in this town. But the speed at which this water has come up is what they are concerned with. The winds have shifted direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the scene, kind of the chaotic nature and the improvised nature of how all of this is unfolding this afternoon in New Bern as people are racing out into the streets in the torrential downpours to help people in the neighborhoods that have taken on so much water here over the course of the last 24 hours. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Some of the scenes from our correspondents.

One woman is riding out the storm from her home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but Crystal Webb says it is for a good purpose, to rescue the animals left behind.


CRYSTAL WEBB, ANIMAL LOVER: One of the main reasons I stayed behind, when I stayed behind with Matthew, I became aware of just how many people, when they evacuate, they just leave their animals to fend for themselves. And these animals needed rescue.

So you know, I took that chance just to put my faith in and said I'm going to be OK, I'm going to be here. And before the storm, I was out looking. You know, I was getting messages from people all around, saying, hey, we've heard there is a dog at this address or there is a couple of dogs at this address or, you know.

And people have left their dogs in pens or chained up. These dogs don't have a chance of survival, especially when the water starts to rise. They'll drown. If we can't get to them, they're, you know, nobody is going to help them if we don't.

I do rescues throughout the year and any rescue is going to be a risk. I have been injured doing rescues before.

But, you know, it's worth it. When you save that dog and you know that that dog shows you that love, you bond with that dog because he is showing you appreciation for saving him -- because animals know when they've been rescued and they're going to show you that love, that appreciation.

And they never forget you. I have seen dogs a year or two after I've rescued them and they act like, you know, I was their long lost friend and just happy to see me. But they never forget.


ALLEN: Good work there. I'm Natalie Allen and I'll be right back with our top stories.