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Hurricane Michael Batters Florida. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired October 10, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:05]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. You're watching CNN's special live coverage on this extraordinary Wednesday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Destin, Florida.

My colleague John Berman not too terribly far away from me in Panama City Beach, Florida, where what a wild last hour, just watching so many people endure, battling these massive winds; 155 miles per hour is what it's been clocked at for Hurricane Michael.

Keep in mind, 155, category 4, Category 5, 157, so just shy of that as it's really coming up through Panama City Beach and now heading inland.

We will talk weather and what you need to know in just a second.

But, John Berman, let's just have a conversation. I think you can hear now. I think the winds maybe are a bit easier where you are in PCB, but for me here in Destin, it's incredible how -- and we felt the wind, not nearly as much as you did, but I'm almost now seeing blue sky trying to peek out through these clouds.

Tell me -- tell me how it feels where you are.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, no blue sky, not yet, at least, Brooke.

Where I'm standing specifically in Panama City Beach, the winds have died down some. Other places in this community, it is still blowing. We are still seeing pictures of some blasts.

I have to say there was about 45 minutes there which I have not endured before with this consistent, heavy wind that was 100 miles per hour or heavier, gusts of 120 miles an hour. I was standing outside here with Dianne Gallagher. We were holding each other up trying to have a conversation.

I couldn't look at her because the wind was blowing so fast. It was putting the rain in my face. And it felt like small nails blowing right in my face. It was fierce. And it was sustained and long enough that I suspect, when there's a chance to look around here, we're going to see quite a bit of damage. Just from this vantage point, I do see light poles that are down, I see awnings that have fallen off, and off in the distance there, I see a tree which appears to be leaning on a house there. I think there will have ended up being quite a bit of damage in this community, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, you know, I was just talking to Nick -- a young man named Nick, standing off camera, wanted to come down. Saw we were broadcasting, wanted to say hey. He actually goes to school at FSU up in Tallahassee, decided to come down and ride the storm out down here in Destin.

He's been texting with some of his buddies up in Tallahassee, and they're already dealing with power outages. So I think that is going to be sort of the next chapter of the story, right, is folks at FSU. You think of all those beautiful live oak trees.

I mean, I know that the school itself was actually allowing people who live off campus, faculty staff as well, to be in those big, beautiful brick buildings to hunker down through this thing.

But, Berman, for you and Dianne in Panama City Beach, I think -- I think the story is going to be power outages, thousands of trees down, and just dealing with that, right, in the coming -- in the coming days.

BERMAN: Yes, we heard a transformer explosion not far from where we were, a loud boom. And then you saw the lights flicker off, so it could be days, it could be days before power gets back on here. You were talking about Tallahassee.

Think of it. The storm made landfall east of where I am nearly at a Category 5, two miles per hour short of a Category 5. It's going to take time for that to weaken. So as it moves toward Tallahassee, those beautiful live oak trees and that canopy there, it could pass through still as a powerful, destructive storm, even as it heads to Georgia, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. Yes. And, also, I think you and I have both underscored this. But even as you mentioned Georgia, the Carolinas, other parts of Florida, I mean, so many people, including ourselves, right, covering this, we went to bed thinking it was a Category 2, wake up and it's a Category 4.

And I -- listening to -- also, I saw you interviewing Senator Nelson earlier this morning. Not as many people in Georgia and the Carolinas were maybe paying as much attention, and they're about to be certainly woken up by what's about to hit them.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

[15:06:48]

BALDWIN: No, you totally warned them. I think the difference is a lot of people down here in Florida, eh, Category 2, we're going to be fine. And then all of a sudden they woke up and said, oh, my goodness, it's a Category 4, or and maybe we should have -- we should have left.

I was actually talking to this sweet couple over breakfast this morning who had -- they're from South Florida. They obviously know hurricanes. They moved up here just in the last year, bought a beautiful house right on the -- right on the beach in Panama City Beach.

And they just grabbed a bunch of documents and the dog. They're here with us in Destin. And they are just fingers crossed that they have a home to go back to.

John Berman, let me go back over to you in Panama City Beach. I know you're standing by with somebody to talk to you about what they have seen. Go for it.

BERMAN: That's right, Brooke.

And just to make that last point that both you and Jennifer Gray just made, people hear what they want to hear, because Jennifer and our meteorologist Chad Myers and others were saying this was a serious, dangerous storm that could get stronger, nothing in its way to slow it down.

And nothing did slow it down. Still, when people woke up this morning, and they looked at what it was doing, there was regret and honestly fear. People were very nervous by what was on the way, and when it made landfall at 155 miles per hour, the worst fears I think borne out.

I want to bring in Mike Theiss, who is in Panama City, not too far from where I am, a storm chaser.

Mike, give us a sense of what you saw over the last few hours.

MIKE THEISS, HURRICANE CHASER: Yes right.

The winds are just now starting to calm down a little bit. We had really intense waves when that eyewall came out, whiteout conditions just funneling through these buildings. Next to me here, we have Pineapple -- Pineapple Jack's or Joe's, and part of it was destroyed.

The roof was taken off. But the one thing I did notice was the surge never got too bad here at Panama City Beach. And I think that's because the center passed just to the right or just to the east of us.

So that is a sign of relief, although we do have very heavy wind damage here. And I'm just standing around and I'm looking now and I can see lots of damage to this hotel that I'm at. Wooden -- anything that's made of wood is broken. A lot of trees are snapped.

There's a lot of power lines down on the front side of the building, but I haven't had a chance to really assess it too much because the winds haven't calmed down, as you can see behind me, too much yet. But they are starting to calm down.

The worst is over for Panama City Beach as far as the wind goes. Now, we do have that (OFF-MIKE) and we're going to have strong winds, but nothing like we saw in that eyewall earlier today.

BERMAN: So, Mike, you said you have seen debris. We have seen siding that was ripped off of buildings, certainly tree limbs down.

Any structural damage from what you can see from your vantage point?

THEISS: Yes.

On the other side of the building here, actually, I remember the name, Pineapple Willy's, which is a restaurant. It's a famous restaurant here.

And there is damage to that restaurant. Part of the roof was ripped off from the heavy winds. And it did receive light surge early on in this whole process. They did a little damage.

But, yes, there's some structural damage there, but have to tell you, I haven't been out very far from this building, so I haven't been able to assess yet. But there was a good solid two hours of eyewall conditions here.

And these elevator shafts were screaming. There was wind blowing through every kind of crack in the door. It was scary. It was whistling through this building. There was doors breaking, the little windows in the door.

[15:10:02]

Just things were slamming all over the place and suction through the building. The water in the toilet bowl was sloshing. We had the whole thing. We had a direct hit here.

We did miss the calm eye, but we were in that western eyewall. So, things are starting to calm down, and we're going to assess the situation.

BERMAN: Yes, I know the feeling, Mike.

You can sense the building, in the building we were, working against the power of the storm, almost standing up to try to bear the brunt of it.

Mike Theiss in Panama City giving us a sense of what you saw, Mike, thanks so much for being with us.

So, this is Hurricane Michael. As we have said, the worst of it seems to have passed through Panama City Beach, moving closer to Tallahassee, which could see Category 2-level hurricane-strength winds all the way into Georgia.

So Hurricane Michael not nearly done, and we are just now getting a sense of some of the damage that people will come out of their houses and see shortly.

Our special live coverage of Hurricane Michael continues right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:33]

BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin. We are back here live in Destin, Florida.

The worst, as far as right here is concerned, is over with, but this Hurricane Michael by no means is over, winds clocked at 155 miles per hour, and it is still moving inland. There is much destruction likely to go.

We're seeing our first pictures of destruction. And we will show you in just a second out of Mexico Beach, Florida, to my east. But I just want to show you a pretty gnarly picture, if I may.

If you will pan this way, the sky is this dark color. It's been slowly moving, and it's almost as though the blue sky wants to peek out, but it's this just ominous, bizarre, slow-moving, gray sky, all these clouds.

I'm sure Jennifer Gray, who is wicker smarter in terms of meteorology, could explain maybe that this effect that's happening right near here over Destin, Florida.

Before we talk to her, though, I want to show you. We're just now starting to get some pictures in from Mexico Beach, which is actually not only east of me. It's east of where we have been watching John Berman and Dianne Gallagher in Panama City Beach.

And we're starting to see some of the damage firsthand. Roll it. So you can see that the flooding, the structural damage, these are just some of the first few images coming into us of what is to come, of what so many people down here in Florida will be seeing now that the storm is starting to pass through and then heading on into Georgia.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

[15:20:08]

BALDWIN: But Erica Hill is just on the other side of this building here in Destin, Florida.

And I know you really bore the brunt of a lot of wind earlier today as this thing was hitting. But are you looking at this sky? Can you see what I'm seeing? I mean, it's just crazy-looking.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, and I think maybe you can see a little bit on that side of, Brooke -- a building, Brooke, rather, a little more than I can.

It is incredible how quickly the clouds are moving, right? And that's part of the wind. It does -- it feels slightly eerie, because the rain has sort of stopped here. But it is a wild-looking sky.

Here in Okaloosa County, I do want to point out we're just learning that they have closed offices again for tomorrow. And officials here will stress they're really concerned about all of the city for all of the reasons that both you and Jennifer just laid out and from those pictures that you showed.

In terms of what's happening here, what we're seeing out, we know of at least one rescue that has happened. That was a water rescue. So, there was a man who was apparently living, according to the sheriff's office, on his boat in the bay, which is actually just behind me here, and called for help.

His boat broke loose from its morning, washed ashore essentially near here the roadway. Thankfully, when he called for help, they were already out on patrol. They were able to help him. He was fine.

Brooke, not too far from where you are, in Destin Harbor, we have made contact with a man, Hunter Reynolds (ph), 31 years old. He's the first mate on a charter fishing boat in the area. He's riding out the storm on his sailboat. I just sent him another text. Hoping to hear back from him to hear how he's doing.

But as of a little over an hour ago, he had sent us a video -- and I think we can put some of that up -- trying to show with some of the wind damage. He told me he didn't feel he could leave because he was in the process of putting a new motor in his boat. So he felt he was stuck. He really couldn't get out without being towed.

He said all of his friends, because he works in the fishing industry, were, in his words, understandably, worried about and working on their own boat and getting themselves to safety. In fact, the boat that he works on, the charter fishing boat, is in Orange Beach, Alabama, to our west, where at least half of the charter fishing fleet out of Destin has gone, according to the president of the Destin Charter Boat Association.

And he's saying there. He told me about an hour ago he wasn't ready to leave yet. He does have a boat he thinks about 200 yards from shore. He's the only one, though, I want to tell you, Brooke, that we learned of.

So a Marine sergeant went out there boat to boat checking on all the boats yesterday to see if there was anyone there, if they planned to stay. He was the only person there.

So, hopefully, we will hear from him in a short time to see how he's doing. We know -- and I know you have spoken to folks here in the hotel. We have spoken to some families as well who at one point thought, should we go, should we stay? They weren't sure what to do.

Some of them stayed. They said they felt pretty safe, but also nervous -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes.

No, I talked to a family of four from Kentucky, came down to Florida. They love Florida. And then, wham, the hurricane was coming, and they just decided to ride it out. And here it is, their first Category 4 hurricane to deal with in their lifetimes.

Erica, thank you so much.

And, also, the second you hear from that boat captain, knowing he's OK, please let us know.

As Erica was mentioning, a lot of people have been out making patrols ahead of the storm, checking on if anyone is in boats. Also, of course, emergency personnel, they're about to hop out in their own vehicles to assess the damage.

And we actually have a crew in a car in Panama City Beach. So, on the other side of this commercial break -- of course, we have got a camera in that car -- we will start seeing those first signs of damage, of what it looks like post-Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Quick break. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:28:34]

BALDWIN: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage here of Hurricane Michael, Category 4 storm, still making landfall, winds clocked at 155 miles per hour.

And just again, just to underscore how incredibly powerful this particular storm is, it is just two miles per hour shy of that Category 5. So a Category 5 is 157 or stronger, and this is just two below, just to remind people how incredibly dangerous and fierce these winds have been and really still are.

I mean, let's just be real about it. I'm here in Destin, Florida. a lot of people who you can't see are here off camera taking pictures, taking it all in. It's still a bit of an eerie scene here, dark clouds. But they're moving through. And I'm starting to see blue sky.

That is not the story to my east, Panama City Beach still really feeling the brunt of this storm, and still a lot of strong, strong winds coming in for folks there, and even east, Saint John, Apalachicola.

We were talking earlier with Jennifer Gray about Mexico Beach and some of the structural damage, just starting to see some of those first pictures of the flooding, and as anyone had been predicting, the thousands of trees down and the issues with power for the days to come.

Brian Todd had some of the most insane images today. He has been with a crew in Panama City Beach.

And, Brian Todd, it's feeling a little better where I am, but you tell me, how is it in PCB? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in Panama City Beach, Brooke, the word is, don't let down your guard.