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Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall With 155 Mph Winds; CNN Reporters Report from Areas Hit by Storm. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 10, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin, live here in Destin, Florida, where we are covering the official coverage of Hurricane Michael, a category five hurricane with winds at 155 miles per hour several miles an hour shy of a categry five. I am joined by two of my colleagues Erica Hill who was with me here not too far from where I am standing in Destin. And also, really who is feeling the brunt of it John Berman is at Panama City Beach, Florida, just about 40 miles to my east. John Berman, I'm going to send it straight to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Brooke, so much. Panama City feeling the full force of Hurricane Michael. We have sustained winds of 100 miles an hour or more and gusts of 120 miles an hour. The physical landfall happened 30 miles east with winds of 155 miles per hour. As Brooke was saying, that's just two miles per hour short of being a category five storm. When all is said and done, it may prove out that Hurricane Michael did make landfall as a category five storm. I'm walking around gingerly trying to make sure there is no flying debris coming my way.

People have been watching for a few minutes and know that behind me there used to be this metal railing, this iron railing that was cemented to the ground here. It was uprooted and bent over and pulled the cement with it. That's just how strong this wind is and there goes another piece of the metal siding flying by here behind me. A hundred mile-an-hour winds will do that. It will be sustained, we understand, for a full couple of hours. Panama City Beach is the most populated area feeling the full force of the storm. Some 12,000 people live in Panama City Beach. About half of those people did leave but that means there are several thousand people still trying to wait out this storm. I hope they are in a room in their house not near windows because this wind is blowing very, very hard and will do so for some time. We did have an official landfall from Hurricane Michael a short time ago. Jennifer Gray joins us from the weather center. Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You are still in that eye wall. About ten miles to your east clear skies and calm wind. You are going to experience this eye wall in its entirety and it's going to last probably another half hour for you and conditions will improve. There was a 130 mile-per-hour gust just to your east and that is before the gauge broke, so most likely the winds were much, much higher. In Panama City Beach, we had a 116 mile-per-hour gust. You have sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, possibly even higher. This is the third lowest pressure of a storm as it's made landfall. That's how we measure the intensity of storms. We measure it by the pressure in millibars and by the winds. The pressure is so low, it's the third lowest or one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall. This is just behind the Labor Day storm in the keys, which was in 1935 and Camille in 1969. It just gives you perspective of how strong this storm actually is. The eye is on shore now. That eye wall will slowly start to weaken as it continues its track to the north. It's going to take some time, though, because the storm is so strong and it has so much momentum along with it and it's going to continue to track on in to southern Alabama as we go through the afternoon -- southern Georgia, rather, as we go through the afternoon and evening hours. This will most likely be a category two at that time.

So, I don't want people the storm hasn't impacted yet get caught off guard with that. We're going to see a very powerful storm push very far inland. The surge is not over. Point to the east of that high are experiencing six, seven, nine feet of storm surge. In Apalachicola, Florida we have reports of eight feet of storm surge already and that's going to rise over the next couple of hours. John, for the next half hour or so, you're going to be in the brunt of it and as the storm lifts to the north, the conditions will improve. But be very careful of trees around you and flying objects. You cannot duck out of them fast enough.

[14:05:00] BERMAN: I promise we will be careful. I am sorry my mouth not working too well with the wind and rain pounding. Fascinating this will be a category two storm even as it moves well inland where people may not be as ready as they are here, and I'm not even sure if people in Panama City Beach were quite ready for what's happening right here. The eye of the storm, as Jennifer said, passed east, a little bit east of where I'm standing right now. They got even worse than what we're getting here and here is pretty bad. Let's go to Gary Tuchman to Sopchoppy, Florida.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When we arrived in this little town, we've been looking all over. When we arrived here, we had a temporarily frightening moment that turned comical. We thought we saw someone hurt in the street. It turns out it was King Kong lying in the street, advertising Sopchoppy pizza. We hope they do OK. But this is the town about 470 people live here. We haven't seen anyone around. Almost everyone seems to haver evacuated, which is very good news. This is old Florida. They have an annual worm charming festival, w-o-r-m, and they use the worms for bait and they do that every year now here in Sopchoppy, which is going through the scare of this strong category four hurricane. There has never been a category four hurricane and close to a category five. We started the day at shell point beach, which is behind me to our south right on the beach. We had to get out of there very quickly because the water literally within five minutes started rising and coming toward us. It was up to our knees. We knew it would get much deeper. We've also seen a lot of transformer fires. Power lines are coming out and fires are not being put out because the fire officials aren't out right now. Everyone is taking care of their families and taking care of critical situations. The situation near the coast is scary, we think it's dire because the water is so deep. People are just waiting to see what happens to their homes and what happens to their livelihoods. Back to you. BERMAN: I heard you say Fenway Park, that put a smile on my face in

this storm knowing that the Red Sox won last night. We'll leave that aside. Gary was talking about the sound of transformer explosions. These hurricanes have sounds. The roar of the wind which can you hear but also the blasts as transformer after transformer blows and that is whether people lose power and lose power for some time. That is the expectation here. We're getting winds north of 100 miles per hour, gusts of 120 miles per hour. Brian Todd, in a different part of Panama City Beach, give us a sense of what you're feeling.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some real ferocious wind. Look at this, this isn't too safe either. If you go down the street here, you can see these power lines shaking. That one there looks like it's about to come down. We've heard transformers blow, as you mentioned you heard them blow. There a couple of a transformers in danger as these trees are starting to contort. Look at the violence with which these trees are being shaken. That one tree just snapped in half. This house here already starting to lose some shingles and is threatened by these pine trees, which could snap at any moment. They've really been bending and shaking in the wind right now. We mentioned that this came upon this area very quickly, 150 mile-an-hour winds, just 2 miles an hour shy of being a category five when it hit landfall at Mexico Beach just east of here. That is not necessarily surprising in the context of today but it is surprising overall for official who is said they're just amazed at how quickly this storm gathered strength. We want to talk storm surge now, too. That's one of the reasons we had to move in a block where we were earlier, right on the beach, the storm surge was at very dangerous levels.

We're going to try to move out in a little bit. I might have to come a little bit in toward the camera just to get out of the danger here. There is debris flying all over the place. That's another thing you have to constantly look out for. I'm just under the lip of the garage here. I'm a little bit protected. We have palm fronds flying all over the place.

[14:10:00] The storm surge could hit 11 to 13 feet, which means these streets could be flooded very shortly. But the mayor and city manager say they're fairly confident that the elevation levels here are fairly healthy. They think they can withstand the storm surge, but when it gets to 11 to 13 feet, as it might, that's going to be a real challenge to try to withstand some of that flooding, John. But again, very, very violent winds just hitting us here a moment ago. And if you're out right now, you just cannot be. Every sheriff and local official is telling people don't even step a couple of feet away from a solid structure.

BERMAN: Stay inside for a long time. Even when this wind passes, it's going to be some time before the road are safe, debris is clear and lines are fixed as Hurricane Michael passes through here. No category four storm has ever hit the Florida Panhandle. This storm may landfall with wind speeds of 155 an hour, just two miles an hour short of a category five storm. It is moving ever so slowly over land, bringing those high wind. Brooke Baldwin is in Destin, Florida. We'll get the situation there. Stay with us.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching special live coverage of Hurricane Michael. I am in Destin, Florida. We are outside of the folks who are getting the brunt of this category four hurricane and I'm still hanging on here on this dock. We are in between a massive structure and the Gulf of Mexico to my left. This is a $10 million berm that was created after the last category four, that was opal in '95. And so, the other side of that obviously is the ocean and it's really grown increasingly choppy, white caps and some of the waves in here in this inlet. Just to be able to spin around and give you some perspective of the wind we're feeling and we're protected between this berm and this harbor walk marina, you can see some of the palm fronds, not all, not nearly as bad as what John Berman and those guys have been feeling. Just to give you a sense of what it feels like 40 miles west from where they are is beautiful Destin, Florida. And on the other side of this hotel is Erica Hill. I hear you're really feeling it where you are in front because you are not protected by this building behind me.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And also, because, Brooke, as you were saying, that berm that was put in there, which they are very happy to have, it sort of protects them a little bit from the gulf. The other issue is behind me is the bay. The way this storm is moving, we're on the west side, they move counterclockwise so there's water moving through the bay there. We actually just got some video in of a rescue in the bay. There was a man living on his boat in the bay. That boat broke loose of its mooring and landed on the -- essentially washed up on the side of the road. He called for help. And Captain Nicks of the sheriff's office who sent me these videos and told me about the rescue, he said this is one of several calls they had today. They happened to be close, they could get to the man. He is OK. I want to stress that. This man is OK but they don't want people staying on their boats, certainly if they don't need to and areas that are dangerous. They have received several calls throughout the day, people asking for help getting to shelters. They're doing as much of that as they can, but obviously these are far from ideal driving conditions, even for officials. They're also working with churches that are operating shelters and tells me they have taken at least three bus loads of people, helping them get to the shelters.

But again, they're stressing at this point everybody needs to hunker down and stay where they are, even if we are on the edge of this storm, it's still certainly nothing anybody should be out in. From where you are, there is one man hunkered down on a sail boat in the middle of Destin Harbor. He told me he's not leaving his boat because he was in the middle of putting a new motor on it and he doesn't feel he can leave. I have some video. Hunter Reynolds, the first mate on a charter fishing boat that's based out of Destin here. That boat and its captain have gone west to Orange Beach, Alabama. He stayed behind. He said he doesn't want to leave his boat. He doesn't feel great, but he doesn't think that he can leave right now the sheriff's department knows that, the Marine sergeant who checked in on him said if this is going to be, I need your contact information. [14:20:00] He checked in with him this morning. We'll check in with

him throughout the afternoon. He said as of now winds are picking up, but he is staying. Brooke? BALDWIN: On a boat. Not somewhere I'd want to be right now, even in

this part of Florida. The worst of it right now. As Michael is making landfall at 155 miles per hour, that is a category four. Just keep in mind we all went to bed last night thinking it was a category two. Everybody woke up, it was a category four. We are two miles an hour shy of a category five hurricane. Coming up, we're going to talk to someone who is here, who is riding out the storm in the eye of the hurricane. Stay with me. You're watching CNN. To someone who is here, who is riding out the storm in the eye of the hurricane. Stay with me. You're watching CNN.


BERMAN: John Berman in Panama City Beach, Florida. This all around me is Hurricane Michael, which is still passing over. I do think that the wind speed has died down just a little bit here, so I can stand fully upright and venture a little bit further away from the building that I was using as shelter. The wind was sustained at 100 miles an hour here at Panama City Beach with gusts at 120 miles an hour. The eye of the storm did make landfall about 35 minutes or so ago, about 40 miles east of where I am near Mexico Beach, Florida, winds with 155 miles per hour at landfall there. That is just two miles per hour short of a category five storm. Easily the most powerful hurricane ever to make landfall on the Florida Panhandle. A very powerful storm and it will stay a powerful storm as it moves inland, affecting some of the inland areas as a category three and even category two storms. And those are areas that might not be used to it. Where there are big, giant trees there could be serious power issues and damage still to come. So many people along the coast went to bed thinking this was a category two storm, thinking they could ride this out only to wake up to find it was a powerful, ferocious category four storm. Once you make the decision to stay, you have to stay. Joining me now is Teddy Rollins from Callaway, Florida, which I believe is just a little bit east of where I am. Teddy, if you can hear me, you made the decision to ride out this storm, to stay at home, and you're with a number of other people. Nine of you. Tell me what you're seeing.

TEDDY ROLLINS, RIDING OUT THE STORM IN CALLAWAY, FLORIDA: Right now, it looks like the storm is coming on the back half because we've already survived the eye. Wind and rain is going the other way. The house across the street from me has no garage. All the trees in our neighborhood have been blown over. It is moving parked vehicles. It is very, very dangerous up here. It does not look good.

BERMAN: Wow. Moving parked vehicles, the house across the street has no garage, trees all down in the neighborhood. Teddy, who is inside that house with you? And, honestly, what have you been doing?

ROLLINS: Right now, it is me, my mother and my father, my little brother, my little sisters, my sister's fiancee, my fiancee and my two kids in this house. And we've been sitting in the garage watching the storm.

BERMAN: Quite a show. A show the likes of which I believe you never imagined you would see because like so many people, I suspect you thought this might be a category two storm. When you woke up this morning and saw category four, 140 miles per hour, only to get higher to 155 miles per hour, what were your concerns?

ROLLINS: Well, the first thing I thought was it's Panama City, we never really get hit. We shortly learned this was going to touch down right on our doorstep. Our first thought was are we going to make it? And our second thought was we need to be with family. So that's what we did. My mom and dad live a quarter mile away from where I live so it was fairly easy to get over here.

BERMAN: So, let's hope you have seen the worst of it. How is the house that you are staying in? How has it managed the last few hours?

[14:30:00] ROLLINS: Actually, the house is holding up pretty well. The worst of it all is that our back fence is gone and a tree that sits between my mom and dad's house and my grandmother's house. And on our house, there's damage to the master bedroom and now the wind is going the other way so it has now blown that tree on to my grandmother's house and her master bedroom. So that seems to be the worst of it, definitely that tree falling. It's a big pine tree.

BERMAN: Look, Teddy, we are so glad that you have managed to make it through what seems to be the worst of it. Thank you for taking care of all those people around you and be careful in the coming hours and days because there are still plenty of dangers ahead. Thanks so much for being with us, Teddy.

ROLLINS: Thank you for calling.

BERMAN: All right, joining us now is Ken Graham, the Director of the National Hurricane Center. Director, thanks so much for joining us. Let me start with telling you what I'm seeing, which is it does seem here in Panama City Beach, the winds have died down just a little bit. Have we seen the worst of this already?

KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: For your location, once this landfall came through, you're on the back portion of that eye wall. It continues to move northward. What's interesting is relative to where you are is what you're going to experience when it comes to damage. Looking at that previous video being on the outskirts, it's all relative to the location. Right around that eye some of the greatest damage. There's still going to be structural damage. But with time you start seeing the damage with some of those rain bands as well. Some of those rain bands can produce hurricane force winds as well.

BERMAN: Where is the center of the storm, the eye wall, the most damaging part of the storm? Where at this point do you think it's headed?