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CNN NEWSROOM

Hurricane Michael Barrels Into Florida Coast. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 10, 2018 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well in Panama City Beach, Brooke, the word is don't let down your guard. Now a lot of the - the more dangerous wind gusts have passed, but they're still getting some very strong wind gusts here and still a lot of damage.

This railing just snapped of the deck of this house right here. That fence back there came crashing down. Power lines here still shaking quite a lot, still could present a - a real problem here as we move into the evening hours.

A lot of houses and - and businesses around here of course have lost power. Storm surge is still going to be a factor. I'm going to kind of swing around here and you can still see these trees here are being really rocked and still getting just a lot of these - these wind gusts that are presenting problems here.

And you can see coming (ph) you know, the wind's still kind of shifting sideways, hitting these trees, a lot of larger trees have snapped in half in this area, and storm surge is still going to be a factor.

They predicted about 11 to 13 feet of storm surge in some areas. Now city managers here in Panama City Beach say they're pleased with their elevation levels and they are - they really do hope to withstand a lot of the storm surge, but that is still by no means certain at this point because as we know, storm surge kind of comes in fits and starts and it can really get bad, especially in some of these low lying areas, Brooke.

You know, you talk to people about the whole question about evacuation, and we talk to people both here and in North Carolina before Hurricane Florence a few weeks ago and they said they didn't want to evacuate because they thought it would take too long to get back to their homes, to tend to their homes.

Well officials here and in North Carolina have always said you can't think like that, you've got to get out. Right now for these people who have stuck around, obviously that long since passed.

You - you can't get out. But they're also saying now even though the eye wall has come and moved through this area, do not venture out. Still - still pretty perilous here on the roads and in these neighborhoods with some down power lines, Brooke. KATE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: No, it's incredibly perilous and your - to your point about storm surge, exactly right, it is massive where you are in Panama City Beach and also east of you, I think another chapter of this story is going to be Tallahassee.

It's going to be issues there and also as Jennifer Gray was talking, you know, it's - it's a double whammy when you're talking about hurricanes and of course the wind and the damage that way is also tornadoes.

So tornado warnings in effect for people in - in much of Florida and then north of that. So just keep in mind, as Brian said, you know, the worst is certainly not at all over. So again, covering Hurricane Michael here in Florida, Dianne Gallagher has been in Panama City Beach as well.

She really felt the brunt of all of that wind earlier and all the - the greenery behind earlier, Dianne, was just incredible. You and your crew are OK, I know so many people were reaching out to me making sure you were all right.

Tell me how - how - have you been able to assess any of the damage where you are yet?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: So Brooke, we have not been able to walk around much beyond where we are due to the fact that these winds are still coming and these pretty strong gusts that we have here.

And the easiest way for me to show you how strong it is, besides the images from when we were out here in the thick of it, is to take a look at this metal fence that we have right here that was behind us.

Throughout the entire day, this fence was serving as kind of a barrier for a downward sloping hill that then goes into some water. The wind completely uprooted this fence, pushed it over.

It also pulled a lot of things down, drainpipes, awnings, things like that around here in Panama City Beach. My friend John Berman who has been out here braving the storm with me as well, was just in the parking lot, found one of these.

It's pretty heavy, I can attest to it. It's a light that was up underneath kind of a portico area of the hotel that we're at here in Panama City Beach. This is really heavy, this was blown off the - the area here.

Some large metal awnings as well have been blown off this area. But again, Brooke, I cannot reiterate and you can see them kind of coming through again, this isn't quite over here yet.

The winds start to feel like they've been blowing from different directions than they were earlier today. I went around to the backside of the building where there's a pool behind it, and it looked like a tiny ocean. I mean it had waves that were just chopping up over and going over the

banks of it as large pieces of sheet metal and smaller little things that had come off of other structures around us were blowing around it.

So we're still in it, Brooke. But it's a lot better than it was.

BALDWIN: I'm glad it's a lot better than it was, but it's still - to your point, it's also the unknown, it's the flood waters, it's - it's what in the flood waters, it's - it's, you know, assessing all the damage once you've left your home for all the people who did choose to - to ride it out, to determine where those damage points are.

And you know those emergency personnel, you know, bless them for - for doing their jobs, have certainly a massive job ahead of them. Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much, we'll come jump back in with you again.

I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Destin, Florida where now those big, dark, ominous clouds have moved away and I want to say that, you know, the blue sky is - is just about to be upon us.

[15:35:00]

It is extraordinary how in a matter of minutes, everything can change.

But keep in mind, if you are east of me, do not let this fool you. Do not let this picture fool you, as Dianne and John (ph) were pointing out, and - and everyone else, there - the worst truly is yet to come.

Let's take a quick commercial break. You're watching CNN special coverage here of Hurricane Michael in Florida.

[15:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: There is a lot of Florida that is still not in the clear, including the good people of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, and that is where Ryan Nobles is standing by as this hurricane is now -- and this storm is heading your way, Ryan. I've already heard that some power has already been reported out in Tallahassee and with all those huge oak trees, I have to imagine that's going to be the story where you are.

RYAN NOBLES, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. Brooke, it's interesting hearing you guys talking about how things are getting better where you are. It seems as though it gets better you are, it gets worse where we are. And we've been feeling these big gusts of wind start to come at us more frequently. You mentioned power outages. Yes, we can already see some of the buildings here behind us starting to lose power, we hear generators trying to fire up.

But look at how powerful these winds are already. Check out the stop sign here, already been blown over, and this is with just big wind gusts. We haven't seen those consistent, powerful winds that they've seen down at the coast. And this is why they're worried about the winds here in Tallahassee. Power lines like this and these big trees like you were talking about, Brooke, that line these streets in Tallahassee. We're not really worried about water here.

There could be some flooding, there's going to be a lot of rain, but we're far enough away from the coast where they don't expect the storm surge to hurt us here. But if there are 120, 140 mile-an-hour wind gusts, these big trees and these power lines are very vulnerable and they could come crashing down. That's why you see these roads completely bare. The mayor here telling people to stay off the streets because he just doesn't want them to run into debris like this.

And we're already starting to see big branches like this start to come off these trees. So even if a tree itself doesn't fall completely down, something like this hurtling through the air at 120 miles an hour could really do some serious damage. So that's why everybody in this area is staying inside their homes right now, being careful. Because Brooke, we are still probably an hour and a half to two hours away from the worst of Hurricane Michael hitting Tallahassee.

BALDWIN: Yes. Hang tight. You're about to feel it and feel it big time. You know, I was reading earlier that FSU was -- was good enough to at least house people -- you know, students who lived off campus, faculty, staff who didn't feel safe where they were, if they want to just hunker down in those big, beautiful brick buildings at FSU, they're able to do that. Ryan Nobles, we'll come back to you as -- as you really start to feel the storm firsthand.

I want to go to the Franklin County sheriff, Sheriff A.J. Smith who is with me now on the phone. Sheriff, can you hear me? It's Brooke Baldwin in Destin.

A.J. SMITH, SHERIFF, FRANKLIN COUNTY FLORIDA: Yes, I can. Go ahead.

BALDWIN: Wonderful. How are you doing, sir?

SMITH: We're good. We're actually out -- we just left. The storms kind of, I think, missed -- missed us a little bit, but we do have a lot of damage, a lot of trees down, roads are blocked, the roads are impassable due to water, power's out. So we're -- we took a -- we took a pretty good hit.

BALDWIN: It took a pretty good hit. It did indeed. Tell me a little bit about some of the calls you all are receiving from folks who decided to hunker down and ride it out.

SMITH: Well right now most of the calls are about roads that are impassable, are flooded, are blocked. We did have one medical call where a limb went through a window and struck a lady in the head and lacerated her head, but we had no medical -- the ambulances had evacuated so we had no EMS to go treat her. So we -- deputies and city police, you know, did the best they could. So that's been the worst so far. But now that the weather is moving through, I think we're going to -- who knows what we're going to get.

BALDWIN: Hang on a second. I'm just -- I'm still back on the ambulance got evacuated. And so is this woman OK?

SMITH: As far as I know. That was -- that was the most recent. I don't have an update right now.

BALDWIN: Understand. Understand. I know you've got a -- I'm sure a lot you've got going on. What else -- what else as far as flooding, downed trees? Do you have anything on electrical issues? Tell me what you know.

SMITH: Yes, there's no power. Power is out and there are many, many large trees that are down. Our main road, Highway 98 has got some blockage. There's -- there's -- there's a lot of damage from, you know, the trees and the roads. And across the county we have roads that have been washed away. And the water has covered. So we got -- we got a lot of -- we got a lot of clean-up to do and a lot of fixing to do.

BALDWIN: Well I'm going to let you hop off the phone so can get right to it. Sheriff A.J. Smith, Franklin County here in Florida.

[15:45:00]

Appreciate you and everything that you and your deputies are doing. You've got a long, probably, night and next couple of days ahead of you. Appreciate you, sir, very much. Again, we're live covering Hurricane Michael. When we come back, we're -- separate from what we've been talking about down here, we are now learning that the DOW is down 700 points. 700. The reason why, after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:50:00]

BALDWIN: We're back with you live in Destin, Florida, but I want to go straight to the phone, to Lind Albrecht, she's the City Councilwoman, east of me in Mexico Beach, a place that really bore the brunt of this Category 4 hurricane.

And Linda, it's my understanding you evacuated, it's not looking good back home in Mexico Beach and that this has been really emotional for you. How are you holding up?

LINDA ALBRECHT, COUNCILWOMAN, MEXICO BEACH, FLORIDA: It is extremely emotional. It's -- it's like a nightmare and you just want somebody to shake you and wake you up. How can this happen?

It's so devastating and it wasn't -- it came on so quickly and that's what everybody in town is saying. Because last Friday it was a thunderstorm south of the Yucatan and it has just blossomed so quickly that nobody could think and wrap their brain around that this might be happening, to prepare mentally for it.

And so, then when we -- when I realized -- actually I was, Saturday, I was thinking it was still a tropical storm and all my friends where are boat captains, they were freaking out. There were very nervous with this and -- which caused me nervousness and so I just started packing stuff from my house and crazy things I picked up thinking that I would come back. Well, I'm glad I picked up the crazy things, because ...

BALDWIN: What, Linda ...

ALBRECHT: ... that's probably all I will have. My house is directly in front of the beach. It's across the road, but there's nothing in -- on the beach side in front of my house. So, who know what I will go home to.

BALDWIN: Do you know -- that's my question for you. Do you know, yet, whether you have a home to go home to?

ALBRECHT: No, I do not. I have a friend who's down there and I've asked him. He said he would try to drive by the house and I've asked him to take a picture. I said take a picture of whatever's left. If it's just a slab, if it's a pile, whatever, just take a picture so that I can mentally prepare. I do realize that from what I'm hearing on TV, as all of us go home, it would be like a war zone. That's the only thing I can imagine.

BALDWIN: What were some of those crazy things you chose to take with you before you left?

ALBRECHT: Well, first of all, I took some clothes and I took sandals and then, because we wear sandals all time, and then I thought, I better grab some winter shoes, I might not have any when I come back. So, I grabbed a whole bunch of winter shoes.

I grabbed a -- I really went through each room and I don't know why I did this, my husband had passed last November, and so this was a whole new first for me to do this by myself.

So, I really went into each room and I thought, what do I want to be living with in two months. And that's what I packed. And all these things were things that had wonderful memories.

So -- and I -- one of the funny things I packed, a Swedish coffee pot, which I do not use, it's a decorative thing on my stove, but I'm half Swedish, so I grabbed it and it's with me. I packed some, it's -- I ...

BALDWIN: It's funny in those moments. It's funny in those moments. Forgive me for jumping in, Linda, because I've got to hand it off to the next show, but it's in these moments and I know people want to hear from you and maybe I can come find you, but in those moments, it's like how do you determine what precious mementos that you grab before you come back to a home, you're hoping still exists after a hurricane.

Linda Albrecht, thank you so much. My heart goes out to you and just for what you're dealing with and so many people down here in Florida. Thank you so much for taking a minute with me, and to everyone for watching, thank you for watching. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Destin, Florida. Quick commercial break. Special live coverage continues after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:55:00]