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Monstrous Category 4 Hurricane Bearing Down on Florida; Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg Re-Registers as Democrat. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 10, 2018 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back. We are all over Hurricane Michael. We are minutes away from the next update on the power of this historic storm, the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle since they started keeping records back in the mid- 1800s. At last report Michael had top sustained winds at 145 miles an hour. And if there is anything good to report, it is that it is running out of time to get stronger.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It takes the winds high up 165 miles an hour. This is a powerful storm barreling toward landfall early this afternoon which means already fierce conditions in the Panhandle will get steadily worse over the next several hours. People on the coast who defied evacuation orders are being told now it is too late, shelter in place. Because it's simply too late to leave and they don't want to put first responders in danger.

Let's go to CNN Correspondent, Ryan Nobles. He is in Tallahassee, Florida. Tell us what you are seeing there, Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Poppy, right now it's not as bad as it is on the coast for sure. But we are already starting to feel the front edge of the storm, start to make its way into Tallahassee. One of the reasons that we are focused on Tallahassee is because it is one of the big major population centers that could see Category 4 or higher winds that come through.

Now, we are a good 30 miles from the coast. So, we don't expect storm surge or serious flooding but I'm going to tell you what we are nervous about these big trees that line all the streets here in Tallahassee. This is a part of what makes Tallahassee so charming. But it is a big problem in a storm like this because if there is Category 4 force winds that come through here if it is more than 120 miles-130 miles an hour the trees could quickly become projectiles. It means that they're going to pull down the power lines. It means that they're going to be flying through the air. And that could make for a dangerous situation.

So, that is why many of those people from the coast did make their way here to Tallahassee where they don't have to worry about flooding. But they are being warned by the officials here to shelter. Make sure that you are in a place safe. That you're not out about and walking around because it could become dangerous. And that's why you see here, this is a pretty busy part of downtown on a normal day at this time. And it is like a ghost town. We are seeing very few cars, very few pedestrians walking around. People are taking those warnings. But as I've said before, Jim and Poppy, the worst of this storm is still yet to come here in Tallahassee and will be here to update you when it gets here.

HARLOW: Great point about the trees, as well. They're so concerned about all those coming down.

SCIUTTO: Ryan Nobles, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Pensacola, Florida bracing for Hurricane Michael's impact -- with us now, the mayor of Pensacola, Mayor Ashton Hayward. Good morning to you. Good luck to you and everyone there as you brace for what is a historic storm. What is your biggest concern right now?

MAYOR ASHTON HAYWARD (R), PENSACOLA, FLORIDA (via telephone): Good morning, Poppy and Jim. Most importantly, obviously, as the mayor is making sure that our citizens are safe. And as we all know the storm crept up on us really quickly in the last two and half days and you know, the mayor, public safety is number one, thing that you focus on every single day. When it comes to a Cat 4 storm like this it is very important that people seek shelter. They stay indoors. We are fortunate right now as we know, the storm is to the east of Pensacola, close to 94 miles to Panama City. And when you are talking about 145 miles an hour wind coming on shore it is extremely dangerous.

SCIUTTO: One thing we have been following is just how many folks stay behind. It was alarming to hear Florida Senator Marco Rubio, say on air a short time ago, just described the storm surge as deadly. He made the point you might be able to survive strong winds but there is no way to survive that rising water. What could be done for the people who stayed behind if that storm surge is as bad as expected?

HAYWARD: Well that is a great point the senator made. And Jim, you hit on it, as well. When you are talking about 13 foot storm surges coming on shore and we are talking about - for your listeners and your viewers out there -- it is very shallow down there in Panama City Beach and Apalachicola and saying -

So, that's storm surge is going to come on. And if you have not evacuated, you need to get to the highest ground if you stayed right there. It is extremely dangerous. And it's going to be mass destruction. And you cannot survive that. So, the storm surge is a very important topic that we are discussing right now because that part of Florida in the big bend area in Panama City, St. Joe and Apalachicola, is very shallow and it's very low. So, the storm surge is going to be deadly.

SCIUTTO: Listen there. We are thinking of you. We are thinking of the folks who live where you are. We're going to continue to follow the storm. We wish you the best of luck in these coming hours.

HARLOW: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Stay with us here on CNN for the latest on Hurricane Michael. We'll be right back.


[10:40:25] SCIUTTO: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is changing parties again. The billionaire announced on Instagram earlier today that he has re-registered now as a Democrat. Bloomberg was elected mayor as a Republican once and an independent, as well. Cristina Alesci joins us now. So, Bloomberg, coming sort of the worst kept secret in the world possibly -

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've seen this movie before.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- considering a run for president in 2020 as a Democrat. This, I imagine as a sign that he's moving forward.

ALESCI: It's certainly a sign and -- but sources close to him this morning told me that he is still very much undecided. Let's take a look at the Instagram post. He said, "I have re-registered as a Democrat - I had been a member for most of my life - because we need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs."

There are other signs, however, that he is running. For example, I have been told that he has been on a tour of the United States. He has been going to states like Florida and Georgia and California. He is willing to put a tremendous amount of money into political activities. He is spending $80 million to flip the house and he has been consulting with friends and advisers about what he should do.

HARLOW: And as a billionaire he has enough money sensibly to run, you know, without funding from a party. But he registered as a Democrat and you have the ability if you get far enough along to get funding from the party there.

ALESCI: Right, right.

HARLOW: Talking about Democrats in 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden this morning with some news.

ALESCI: Right. And I think that this is news worthy because it also plays into the Bloomberg story because it's going to depend on who else is running or indicating that they may run. And that may play into Bloomberg's decision.

Biden, this morning, saying that you know, he is not running yet. He did put a qualifier on that and he said I think there are many people in the Democratic Party that can defeat Trump. I think we have actually a side of him talking about this. So, maybe we can just hear it directly from him.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there are many people in the Democratic Party who can defeat Trump, not a single aspiring candidate that I can think of for the nomination -- and I am not one at this point -- does not have a better understanding and formulation of American foreign policy than President Trump.



HARLOW: Epic point.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen. You know, a lot of presidential candidates will say that before they actually do run, but interesting because folks - many folks have considered him a lock on challenging Trump for 2020.

ALESCI: Right. And there are some political considerations there that may prevent Biden or may discourage Biden from running. But again, to his point about international and international politics and how these candidates present on the world stage, Bloomberg is treated like a head of state when he goes to France.

HARLOW: He is but I wonder being from the middle of the country, being from Minnesota and yes, I know a New York billionaire can win the presidency, OK? We have established that. But I just wonder if he - I wonder how his candidacy would play in some of those key swing states in the Midwest versus Trump because they are not on the same page. But they are both rich New Yorkers.

ALESCI: I think you are absolutely right. I think name recognition for Bloomberg in the middle of America is going to be really tough. And it's going to be even more so at a time when the Democratic Party is pulling left with voices like Bernie Sanders who is out there saying tax the rich to fund social programs. You know Bloomberg is a fiscal conservative even though he is a social Democrat. So he's going to have those issues, as well.


SCIUTTO: Well said, some of the American issue from a certain reality TV show as well. Cristina Alesci, thanks very much.

ALESCI: Thank you.

HARLOW: Officials warning Hurricane Michael could bring deadly winds and a killer storm surge. You heard that warning from Florida Senator Marco Rubio just minutes ago. We will have the latest on what is shaping up to be an historic storm in a minute.


[10:48:45] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. We are continuing to follow the breaking news of Hurricane Michael that is imminent at this point along the Panhandle. Our national correspondent, Miguel Marquez is in Santa Rosa Beach Florida. Miguel, what are you looking at there?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are looking at conditions that are getting worse by the minutes. The wind is really starting to pick up and the rain is really starting to come down. These are very large sort of second homes for many people here. It's just to the west of Panama City and to the east of Destin. And the conditions are worsening by the second day. They have about a 30 foot, maybe 25 foot dune between the sea and a lot of these homes.

But there is a bay near here. And while the wind and the rain isn't as bad as it is going to get, these waves - they have been picking up. It is not high tide yet and it is already coming up to the sea wall here. That direction - that is east. And that is where possibly the worst conditions will be as high as 12 feet of storm surge east of where we are, about 9 feet expected where we are right now. Officials say if you haven't left, if you are somewhere do not try to leave now. It is too late. Back to you guys.


[10:50:00] SCIUTTO: Miguel, thanks very much right there. We will go to Chad Myers now at the CNN Weather Center tracking the storm as it gets closer to the coast line. Please tell us it's not strengthening even more now.

HARLOW: Right.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: So far, no. I did see a gust to about 140. So that's not a sustained at 145. But the pressure is still going down. This is really kind of unprecedented that the pressure continues to go down. 145 right now, 165 with the gusts moving north northeast at 13. This is the 11:00 advisory that did not say north northeast at the last advisory. So now, finally, the turn to the right has made its way. Because it looked like it could have drifted north all day long even though it was forecast to turn right.

Right now we still have wind gusts here, 47 miles per hour Panama City. 64 I think that said in Apalachicola. The surge is right where we thought it would be. Even later on today the winds will be 100 miles per hour right over Tallahassee. That is not Category 4 wind. 100 miles per hour over the city of Tallahassee will do a lot of damage. So many trees will be down, power lines down, power poles down. This is a long-term event for that area there.

And then it gets up into the Carolinas where it is already wet because of Florence. We see 60 miles per hour winds there. Trees will fall down again, more power lines will come down. That is why the hurricane warning is all the way up to Albany, Georgia. 150 miles inland for this hurricane warning. Everywhere orange will be widespread power outages. I know a lot of trucks are on the way down to Florida. Some may have to turn left and go back to the Carolinas because that is where a lot of the power outages are going to be. So we'll keep watching it for you.

Right now still about another three or four hours away from the eye wall making landfall. That is the worst part is the eye wall. Don't focus on the middle of the eye. The damage is done right on the eye wall itself. The closest ring of thunderstorms to the center of the eye is where the 140 miles per hour winds will be. There they are right now. There is the center right through there. The red box is a tornado watch box. You need to worry about something else. There you go, Apalachicola and Gary Tuchman is right there just to the north of Apalachicola.

HARLOW: Stick around. Let's bring Gary in in Shell Point, Florida getting battered. He has in the last two ours. We see on Chad's maps exactly where you are and what is coming your way, Gary. What are you feeling?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, to illustrate the risks from this Category 4 hurricane I'm standing outside the Apalachicola volunteer fire department. There are no volunteer fire men operating. They are working in other parts of the county and other parts of this small town. This is too dangerous of an area to operate outside of this fire department. This community has a year round population of about 350 people. Down the road about half a mile is the Gulf of Mexico. We were close the last time we talked to you.

But all of a sudden, literally, in a five minutes span, the water started rushing up the street. So we moved our vehicles to this fire department which has been evacuated also. It gives you an idea of the area because the elevation is very low and only ten feet. The storm surge could be up to 14 feet and winds up to 145 miles per hour because we are on the east side of the hurricane and because of the counter clockwise nature of hurricanes, the winds on east side are the most dangerous winds.

It is good to report to all of you is that we have not seen in this community in this small town which is a fishing village and a place where tourists come to enjoy the day, we haven't seen one civilian here. We have seen firefighters who are coming up and down. We see police men. We see us, the CNN crew and hat is it. That is really encouraging news because we did not have a lot of advanced warning. We keep reporting on CNN that this going to be such a catastrophic event which it will be which is still yet to come. Most people seem to be gone and that is very good news. One other thing I want to mention is so many communities here are peninsulas and islands where you have to cross bridges. People behind could be stuck for days after the hurricane comes through.

SCIUTTO: We know a lot of communities' folks have not heeded the warnings. Quickly, back to Chad Myers. As you saw what Gary Tuchman is experiencing there, I imagine those are the conditions that will be seen in a lot of communities along the coast in the coming hours.

MYERS: Gary is right there. Every time one of these bands of thunderstorms comes by the wind will go from 30 all the way to 60. All of a sudden, boom. You are just right in it. And then it goes away again. The next one is not 60 but 80 and then out of it again. And then the next one is getting higher and higher until eventually if you are in this part, that part of the eye as it comes on shore very close to Panama City or Mexico Beach, that is where the gusts to 140 will be -- Gusts to 140.

[10:55:03] Now let's go back a little bit. Maria was 161 in Puerto Rico. Think about that for just a second if this was 145 and that was 160. It is going to be a lot of damage, guys.

SCIUTTO: A lot of devastation from Puerto Rico all the way to Florida. Listen, we're going to be sticking with the storm as we have for the last couple of hours. There is a lot of news in these coming few hours are going to be crucial and critical along those Florida coast line communities. Please stay with CNN. Our coverage of Hurricane Michael continues.