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Hurricane Michael Makes Landfall with Winds Near Cat 5; Hurricane Michael Moves Inland; Destin Gets Reprieve as Storm Hammers Apalachicola. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 10, 2018 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Where is the center of the storm, or the eyewall, the most damaging part of the storm? Where at this point do you think it's headed?

KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: John, when we look at that, this isn't just a coastal situation. You're going to have prolonged power outages associated with that eyewall. Look what happens with time. You have an expansive area of winds. This is about 175 miles around the center and 40 miles away from the center. Those hurricane-force winds, with time -- when you have a landfall system this strong, it's going to take a while to bring those winds down. Even on the Alabama line, getting into Georgia, you're still going to have hurricane-force winds. It's not just the coast. Even inland, you're going to have heavy rain and see trees down and power outages well inland into Georgia.

BERMAN: So we've been getting reports from our reporters both west and east of us of the storm surge. We have heard eight feet in some places. Are you getting reports back of how bad it was?

GRAHAM: We are getting reports of seven to eight foot. It's really interesting. You look at the area most vulnerable, and we've been talking not just coastal issues but also well inland. We are looking at some measurements here. It's interesting to look well inland. This is an interesting point. The coast being well to the south, look how far inland on the Apalachicola River we are here. You're talking 10, 15 miles. Look at the sharp rise of water. We're seeing water rising quickly. Seven to eight feet of inundation. We'll get continue to get those reports in time.

BERMAN: Again, they're trying to get me to toss it to a break. But I have to ask you one more question. It does seem like this storm strengthened 45 miles per hour in wind speed overnight. Is that rare? That seems to be incredibly quick strengthening.

GRAHAM: It is. Everything came together on this one. We were forecasting an upper-end category 3 and everything came together. You got a warm gulf and the upper atmosphere that's absolutely perfect. I've seen it so many times where these developing systems develop in the gulf and continue to strengthen all the way in. Michael did the same thing.

BERMAN: Just fuel all the way up until the moment it hit the coast a short time ago at 155 miles an hour.

Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, thank you so much for the work that you do and the warnings you were able to give over the last several days. Thanks so much.

GRAHAM: You bet.

BERMAN: We have much more to cover as this storm moves inland and affects more people.

This is CNN special live coverage of Hurricane Michael. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:36:35] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, here in Destin, Florida.

We're just west of the eye of the hurricane that is really pounding down parts of Panama City Beach and eastward. We'll show you a clip in a minute of some of the absolute worst of it where people are bearing the brunt of these 155 mile-an-hour winds, just shy of a category 5.

Here in Destin, let me bring in Parker Destin, as in Destin, Florida.

Your great, great, great grandfather

PARKER DESTIN, DESTIN, FLORIDA, RESIDENT: Yes, that's right.

BALDWIN: -- founded this gorgeous town. Thank you for coming out in this incredible weather.

For the most part, people in Destin have a sigh of relief.

DESTIN: For the most part, yes. The way that the geography is oriented, we're on the western side of the hurricane eye. As such, we won't have as significant of a storm impact from a surge or wave action standpoint because the convection is coming from the north, northeast.

BALDWIN: There's an area you're worried about?

DESTIN: Sure. The northern shore is receiving a really good pounding. We have a bay to the north of us and that heavy wave action is being slammed into the residential areas and restaurants on the north side of there.

BALDWIN: Including one of your own seafood restaurants is getting hammered by the wind and the water. What are you most nervous about?

DESTIN: Most nervous about losing the whole dock. However, being a six-generation Floridian, we've been through a lot of these types of storms. We've lost docks before.

BALDWIN: I keep hearing you guys say that, again, we're lucky here in Destin. This is the most powerful storm to have ever hit the Florida panhandle.

DESTIN: That's right. Luckily, for the city of Destin, we are getting a reprieve to a certain extent because we are on the western side.

BALDWIN: But you have a ton of friends in PCB and Panama City Beach and Apalachicola. You're incredibly concerned because this is a fishing community. That is your bread and butter.

DESTIN: Absolutely. Having been in the fishing business my whole life, this whole area down to Apalachicola feeds about 50 percent of the entire seafood industry in the state of Florida and they're getting their clocks cleaned right now.

BALDWIN: So hopefully, when you're finished with me and once this is through, you're going to help them out in the next 24 to 48 hours.

DESTIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. We'll be heading their way.

BALDWIN: Good on you.

Parker, nice to meet you. Thank you so much. We'll be back in Destin hopefully under better conditions. I appreciate it.

Again, we're in Destin, but the people really feeling the brunt of it, as Parker just mentioned, Apalachicola, Florida. That is east of us.

This is our Meteorologist Derek Van Dam when he, all of a sudden, got socked by the storm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're in Apalachicola. We have sustained hurricane-force winds where we are. But what's the most surprising and the most astounding, to be quite honest, is how quickly the storm surge has taken over this town. Look at the streets behind me. We've had measurements within the past hour about six and a half feet above low tide. So high tide hasn't even occurred yet and this water is still filling in this area. We've seen submerged vehicles. We've had dumpsters floating by us. We've had all kind of debris. It's frankly getting a little bit difficult to stand up in these conditions.

[14:40:06] The point being that Apalachicola is taking a really heavy hit from this powerful, powerful storm. There's a mandatory evacuation under way. Highway 98, which is the major artery in and out of this location, goes to Tallahassee and Panama City, it is no longer accessible. The bridges are closed off. Emergency personnel are begging for people who decided to ride out to storm to hunker down, stay indoors, stay away from windows as the peak of major Hurricane Michael starts to sink his teeth into this area.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So Derek and crew are OK, but that is really feeling the worst of it in Apalachicola, and really what that will look like in the coming hours and what people will be waking up to in the destruction and devastation tomorrow morning.

Gary Tuchman is in Sopchoppy, Florida, where the winds are a huge part of this story.

It's been making landfall at 155 miles per hour, category 4, Gary. Talk to me about what it's feeling like where you are.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, hello to you. We've been touring the small little towns on the panhandle to the east of where Hurricane Michael's eye crossed and this is Sopchoppy. It's an Indian name. It means river. It feels like a river in Sopchoppy, Florida today. This is the heaviest we've had the rains as the storm heads to the northeast. There's a lot of damage in these little towns we've been touring. A lot of power lines down and we've seen transformer fires on the sides of roads.

We spent part of the day today in Shell Point Beach. Quickly the water started rising because of great concern here and is still a great concern because these are all low elevations right now at 10 feet and the storm surge is expected to go as high as 13, 14 feet. That's why there was a mandatory evacuation which began at 8:00 last night in this area.

I have seen -- I've heard other things from other reporters and police officers in the area who have said they've seen a lot of people sticking around. In our travels around, we've seen empty towns. People have evacuated. They've taken it very seriously. What's so unique about this storm is most of the times when we cover hurricanes, often it starts in Africa and moves west and takes a week, 10 days to get here and there's lots of time to prepare. But there wasn't lots of time to prepare for this. We never knew this was going to happen. And 155 mile-per-hour winds. Never before has there been a category 4 hurricane in the Florida panhandle. This is almost a category 5. This is one of the strongest hurricanes in American history. So not a lot of time to prepare. But we have seen, for the most part, people seem to be leaving. We haven't seen one single person in Sopchoppy.

Brooke, back to you.

BALDWIN: I was watching earlier, Gary, where you were at a volunteer fire station. You said everyone was cleared out, even the firefighters. I know they were out and about but they weren't in that location because of how low lying it was and how dangerous.

Gary Tuchman, we'll come back to you in Sopchoppy. It means river.

It does feel like a river for so many of you who are choosing to ride it out. Gary made the great point. A lot of people didn't realize a hurricane is happening, unlike Florence, where we were talking about it for days and days and days. Wham, Monday morning, there's a hurricane. Again, this morning, people woke up and it went from a cat 2 to a cat 4. Welcome to what is now category 4 Hurricane Michael.

When we come back, we'll take you back to Panama City Beach. Again, we're here in Destin. I'm safe. I'm up next to a building. But it a much different story just east of me. [14:44:00] Stay with me. You're watching CNN's special live coverage

of Hurricane Michael.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What we are looking at is a very mean, powerful monster that is coming ashore as a strong, strong category 4. Just two miles away, two miles an hour away from being a category 5. That's according to numbers from the state of Florida emergency management. We just got that.

It's hard for me to communicate right now. I can't really hear. We're trying to check our phones to get the latest information.

And I just kind of want to show you right now live as it happens what the people here in the Florida panhandle are experiencing. And it could be even worse in certain areas that don't have the strong structures like this. We're talking about Apalachicola, Florida. That's a small fishing town. Mexico Beach, very small place, Port St. Joe, just to name a few. I can't imagine what we're going to be seeing over there when this storm finally does pass and when we're able to get a glimpse at what these winds have done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:50:06] BERMAN: All right. You were listening to a local reporter there covering this storm as it made landfall not too far from where we are in Panama City Beach.

The winds have died down just a little bit for the time being here. Not sure if they will pick up again here in Panama City Beach. Sustained winds of 100 miles an hour, gusts of 120 miles an hour. Where the storm made shore, 155 miles per hour, just two miles per hour short of a category 5 storm, easily the most powerful storm ever to make landfall on the Florida panhandle.

We are now getting to see some of the wind damage here with things just flying about everywhere, siding pulled off of buildings. We have seen some structures that have fallen over the last couple of hours. A chance to assess some of the damage here as the wind dies down.

The storm is moving inland. It is so strong or was so strong when it made landfall that it will maintain its power for some time as it moves inland toward Tallahassee and ultimately Georgia.

Let's go to Ryan Nobles who is in Tallahassee.

Ryan, you could be seeing some of the worst of this fairly soon.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. It was interesting listening to describe how your winds have died down. We feel the wind gusts here are definitely starting to pick up. We're not dealing with sustained heavy winds right now in Tallahassee yet but there's no doubt the storm is getting worse and we can feel it coming into this area. The folks are not necessarily worried about water like they are on the coast. We're about 30 miles from the water. They're a lot more worried about the wind. And if this storm continues to hold up with these category 4 intense winds, if the gusts are 140 miles or more, that could mean these big beautiful trees all over Tallahassee, one of the trademarks of Tallahassee are the tree, they could come toppling down. This is what we're already starting to deal with here, the debris, branches, already starting to fly off these trees. That's before we're getting the sustained, consistent wind. As a result, the mayor of Tallahassee has told everyone just to stay home. There's no reason to be outside. As you can see behind me, these roads, which normally this time of day in Tallahassee would be bustling -- this is downtown, this is a business district so they would normally be very busy. Right now, everybody staying home heeding those warnings because the worst is still yet to come here in Tallahassee -- John?

BERMAN: Ryan, you and your team be careful in Tallahassee as this storm heads your way. Thanks so much for being with us.

Again, as the wind has died down a little bit here, I can look around to see some of the damage here. And there's a lot of things that have fallen over, a lot of leaves and debris here.

I want to go to Brian Todd, also in Panama City Beach, a different part.

Brian, I assume you're getting a chance to look around as well.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Getting a chance to look around here, John. But it's still really powerful, just a couple hundred yards from the beach here. These palm trees violently shaken here. This is the real danger here -- the power lines could be about to snap. We're getting another heavy burst of wind right here. Can you see how violent the wind is? The way these trees are shaking and swaying in the wind, trees have snapped in half that we have seen, power lines have gone down, transformers have blown all over the place here. We're not even talking yet about storm surge because it could still be a factor here. We're in a low-lying area, this could get up to 11 to 13 feet of storm surge. We'll see if it gets to that point here in Panama City Beach. They are pleased with their level of elevation. But as we've been talking about all day, this area has not seen a storm like this in a hundred years. It's already starting to get violent. That beach area, those waves, were really violently cracking earlier and the water level started rising. Some of these trees here just snapped in half. This house has been in some danger for a while now. There's a large tree back there that just snapped in half.

What's interesting is the sheriff of Walton County, Michael Adkinson, tweeted a little bit ago, he said, just out of pure frustration, "We have people here who are not exercising good sense. You have a constitutional right to be an idiot, but you do not have a constitutional right to put others in danger."

It was pure frustration from the sheriff when he sees people driving around and walking around in this stuff just with no sense of how dangerous it really is. So, John, that's another thing that first responders are up against

here. They want to venture out and help people, but right now they just can't do it.

[14:55:06] BERMAN: Not until the winds die down enough so they could move those vehicles carefully and cautiously and safely.

Brian Todd, please stay safe yourself. We appreciate you being with us.

Again, the winds died down a little bit in Panama City Beach, but this huge. Powerful Hurricane Michael moving inland toward Tallahassee. It picked up so much speed over the last day, where is it headed next?

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to speak to some storm chasers following the path of this historic storm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.