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Historic Hurricane Leaves Parts of Florida In Ruins; Trump and Kanye West Meet at White House in A Surreal Scene. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 11, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Good afternoon, I'm Erica Hill, live in Panama City Beach, Florida, for this edition of "CNN Newsroom." Brooke Baldwin is in Mexico Beach, Florida. Our communication with her is challenging to put it mildly. But we will get to Brooke in just a moment.

I want to set the scene for you as we take a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. This storm roaring ashore along the Florida Panhandle yesterday, the most powerful storm to hit this area in recorded history. Just below a Category Five. It ran ashore with 150 mile-an-hour winds leaving so much devastation in its wake. On our drive this morning from a little further west, we saw downed power lines, downed trees. Some of these power lines were so low it was tough to get through. Entire neighborhoods would be wiped out and almost seemed like a tornado had gone through. The most devastation is undoubtably in Mexico Beach. That is where Brooke Baldwin has managed to make her way -- she took a helicopter to get there this morning. Brooke Baldwin joins us now from what is ground zero.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST AND CORRESPONDENT: Erica, I am here in Mexico Beach. There is devastation. The word is it's gone, gone. We were able to get a helicopter, thanks to our pilot, Alex, who happened to be in town from the Grand Canyon. It was just that kind of day. We were lucky enough to get into Mexico Beach to show you the destruction firsthand. I want to bring in two guys here on the ground, Scott Dean and Iggy Carol, both from Miami Fire and Rescue. Guys, get a little closer. I want to first begin with what we know about on the ground, search and rescue. You guys have been going door to door. Do you even have a death toll yet?

LT. IGGY CARROL, MIAMI FIRE AND RESCUE: No. Currently the operation is going door to door, trying to identify any individuals that stayed and sheltered in place. If they need medical attention, we're getting them evacuated, getting the assistance they need and if there was anybody deceased we're identifying and getting the word back up to the state.

BALDWIN: What words do you use to describe what it looks like to people?

SCOTT DEAN, MIAMI FIRE AND RESCUE: Like we said, this is unimaginable. You can see the difficulty getting in here. Our focus now is coordinating efforts and getting help to everyone that stayed as quickly as possible. BALDWIN: You were telling me about a family who rode out the storm

back there, who they haven't left their home. Can you give me a status check on them?

CARROL: Currently we were able to convince them to leave the devastated area. It was a mother father, an 8-year-old and 3-year-old and then an aunt and uncle. Their house was destroyed. It's best for them to get out of here now.

BALDWIN: Guys, thanks so much. I appreciate everything you're doing. Appreciate it. As you can see, just all of the pieces of homes and lives behind me over this canal. Scott, come on over here, sir. Gingerly. I know you are injured from the storm. You have a home. Are you saying have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's in pieces. The roof's over there, and the structure's over there underneath another house.

BALDWIN: You got banged up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The flooding occurred and it was much more than the initial report of six to nine feet. It was 9 to 12 easy. It was outside my bedroom window upstairs. It started flooding downstairs. I told my mother, who is 72 years old, come upstairs and we hid in a closet. The storm started sinking away from us. The roof truss fell on the floor and I couldn't get out of the closet. God gave me the strength to get the door open, get on the door we were putting open. The sheet metal wedged on my head so I can protect her from the wind. She has a bad gash. I hope my sister is OK and the rest of my family is OK.

BALDWIN: Have you been able to talk to them?


BALDWIN: When you talk about your mom, you get really emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's been through a hard surgery. She tries to take care of everybody. She's a good Christian woman. She thought she could get through this because the house did fine during Opal, the statistics were basically the same. I wasn't here then and I took her word for it. By the time I realized we were in a big mess, but by then it was too late. I knew if we tried to drive out, we would have got caught by the water. We had to do what we did.

[14:05:00] BALDWIN: The only way to get around is walking. I've just been walking and walking and walking as far as I can. I saw a home that was carried from the water's edge, I was talking to someone because he knows where the home was, 150 yards and landed upside down, like the "Wizard of Oz."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see this yellow house right back here? That was 50 feet on the other side of our house across an empty lot and that was a two story.

BALDWIN: Are you serious? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole bottom floor is probably underneath there.

BALDWIN: Have you been able to -- did you take anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the water started coming, all I cared about is my mom. Her medicine that's there. We had all our money, anything you're supposed to have in case you have to evacuate the home. I wasn't planning on evacuating through the side of the house as the wall basically just fell apart.

BALDWIN: Where do you go from here? How do you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to get my mom to the hospital. After that, I'm not worried about right now. God will take care of all that. I just want to get her. She's got a real bad gash on her foot and every time she walks on it, starts hurting.

BALDWIN: Let me see your hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to see this that's a wide-open cut. You can see bone and everything.

BALDWIN: Are you getting attention?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. The first responder guy he was actually on vacation in Panama Beach. He came over here and bandaged my mom as best he good he didn't have much gauze, FEMA first responders that came through, they've got Neosporin, triple antibiotic. All that. We've got water. We've got MRE. FEMA's been excellent.

BALDWIN: FEMA has been amazing. National Guard is here. We just talked to the guys from Miami, New Orleans, I mean it's extraordinary. It's incredible who have been able to come here. So many people haven't been able to get in just because of the roads. They've been impassable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know anything about that way. I just figured it's impossible. As far as I can see, I see road, that's it. Everything else is debris. If there's anything like my road, that was part of my house. That just started over there so I just figured --

BALDWIN: I've seen other people's furniture and other people's homes thrown across Highway 98. I was talking to one gentleman earlier says he is counting the homes gone by looking at how many toilets and refrigerators have flown around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I guess that would be a good way. The newer homes held up with the new codes, hurricane relief like the home that we were allowed to stay in, it had some broken glass a little bit, but otherwise it's held up really well. A few of them they didn't, but it looks like they were lifted off the foundation. The foundation held.

BALDWIN: Mexico Beach has been referred to as ground zero of this hurricane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: right I figured the way the winds were whipping around.

BALDWIN: What did it sound like? What did it feel like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just told my mom to keep her eyes shut. We had sand, gravel, you have flat roofs here. I knew that sheet metal would hold up to everything coming up behind me it wouldn't be able to hit her in the face. That's all I was concerned about. I knew we were going to get cuts. The important thing is limit the depth and severity of it.

BALDWIN: Just last question, for people who have never heard of Mexico Beach, Florida, what do you want them to know about y'all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're tough. Most of us were smart enough to get out, but the ones who stuck by -- I mean, I'm from the south. I always think I'm tougher than I probably am or the situation.

BALDWIN: You wish you'd left?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish I would have got her out. None of this is about me. It's all about her. I stayed because of her. I wish I would have got out because of her. I want to get her to the hospital.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much. We're going to make sure we get you tended to medically. That is just the beginning of some of the stories we're hearing here in Mexico Beach. National guard, I've seen black hawk choppers. A lot of different folks are here on the ground trying to help out. This is not just days and weeks, this is months and months ahead. I met one woman today who came upon where her house was for the very first time, Erica, and tears all around. Tears all around.

[14:10:00] HILL: It is amazing. The pictures tell the story, but to hear from that gentleman about his experience and how he wishes he'd gotten his mother out, really something. Thank you. We are also going to speak to Senator Marco Rubio, who is making his way to Florida. He left a meeting with FEMA, wanted to see what was happening with the damage firsthand. We'll check in with him. Let's turn it over to Dana Bash in Washington.

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much for the extraordinary work you're doing down there. Coming up, from here in Washington, a serene scene in the oval office.


KANYE WEST, RAPPER AND FRIEND OF TRUMP: If he don't look good, we don't look good. This is our President!


BASH: Rapper Kanye going off in front of reporters in the oval office, leaving the President rather speechless.

[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Welcome back. A remarkable moment just went down at the White House. Award-winning rapper Kanye West and Jim Brown met with President Trump in the oval office. The President had the least to say. You got to watch it to believe it.


WEST: It gives me power in a way. You know, my dad and my mom separated, so I didn't have a lot of male energy in my home. And also, I'm married to a family that, you know, not a lot of male energy going on. It's beautiful, though. But there's times where there's something about, you know, I love Hillary, I love everyone, right, but the campaign with her just didn't make me feel as a guy that didn't get to see my dad all the time like a guy that could play catch with his son. There was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like superman. You made a superman cape. As a guy that looks up to you and American industry guys, not political, no bull [bleep]. Put the bleep on it, however you want do, it five-second delay. Just gets it done. I brought a gift with me. This right here is the iPlane One. It's a hydrogen powered airplane and this is what our president should be flying in.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We'll get rid of Air Force One.

WEST: What I need "Saturday Night Live" or the liberals to improve on, is that he don't look good, we don't look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest, the best factories, and we have to bring jobs into America because our best export is entertainment ideas. But when we make everything in China and not in America then we are cheating on our country. We're putting people in positions to have do illegal things to end up in the cheapest factory ever, the prison system.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what, that was pretty impressive, folks.


BASH: I want to bring in CNN political reporter Nia Henderson. We're watching the oval office. Historically there has been a reverence for it, which we've seen from Presidents of both parties. He certainly was speaking bluntly and he went full Kanye.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: What else would we have expected from Kanye West? There's some context here that he often talks about. He has suffered even though in this conversation he said he didn't suffer from bipolar, he said he had a sleep disorder. Culturally, it quite an evolution for Kanye West. It was brought up that he was very critical of George Bush, saying he didn't care about black people. He's from a pretty activist family. For him to be in the White House and really, I think, almost seeming to worship the President, saying that he loves him, saying that the hat gives him power and makes him feel like a man, it was so odd. I think it also speaks to the lack of seriousness that the President looks at African-American issues.

[14:20:00] It was supposed to be about criminal justice reform, about opportunity zones, African-American employment and revitalizing some of these communities. With that you would think you would want policy experts, people who know about those issues. Instead you've got Jim Brown, who was basically silent in that whole display from Kanye West and then Kanye West, who isn't an expert in any of those things and doesn't speak to the diversity and broad experience of 40 million black people. Even though at times he did suggest he did there. It was odd to see that.

BASH: I want to follow up. I want to, though, go right now down to Florida. Erica Hill is down there in Panama City with a special guest.

HILL: Thank you. Joining us on the phone, Senator Marco Rubio suggest he did there. As I understand it, you are driving through northwest Florida. Give us a sense, what are you seeing?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We had to fly into Pensacola to make sure we could get west over the damages because there were a lot of closures on the east. I was talking to FEMA headquarters and we were watching some of the drone imagery, some of the first imagery we got of what was on the ground and clearly complete devastation in terms of Mexico beach. Kind of an old historic Florida town. Just a couple of structures here and there but a lot of foundation. Then I had gotten a call last night where they said Mexico Beach was gone. Now I know what they meant. And extensive damage in Panama City, where I believe you are. One of the most important things to be focused on early on is the safety and security of the community, but then how do you sustain life? Electricity, food, telecommunication. Verizon is down, AT&T service. So that community, Mexico Beach hit very hard but Panama City has a long road ahead. We're just in the early stages of trying to respond.

HILL: Brooke Baldwin is in Mexico Beach. She s on the ground and wants to ask you a question.

BALDWIN: Reporter: Hey, senator. It's Brooke Baldwin on Mexico beach. It's a bit of a delay where I am. I just wanted to, hey, it's still really slow in early goings here at Mexico beach. I know the national guard is here really trying to help the folks so far but it's gone. We don't have a death total yet, we don't have an injury count. For the people who are watching who have absolutely been gutted and lost their homes, what do you want to tell the people here?

RUBIO: It's heart breaking. You can always rebuild structure. Loss of life is hopefully something that didn't happen. To think about sort of the unique character of that part of our state, it's not something that's well none. People go there and make great memories, but it not sort of a marquis place, and they like it that way. You just worry that you recover from storms -- [no audio] -- and these are places where the business that allows people to live there and work, they're gone. They're not going to be functioning for quite a bit of time. It's going to be a long time before we see visitors returning as far as the Mexico Beach perspective. There wouldn't be places for them to stay if they came. What about people who work there? They don't have a job next week. So, there's things underneath the surface we're going to be dealing with for some time. [14:25:00] BALDWIN: Yes, it's going to be months and months and

months for people here in Mexico beach. We have you covering the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. It was a category four. Winds clocked at 154 miles per hour. This is the result of that wind speed and storm surge of up to 13 feet. I saw it myself. I saw the marks inside of people's homes, how high the water level came, it swept homes, obliterated homes, tossed homes upside down and everything in between. I'm Brooke Baldwin in Mexico Beach, Erica Hill in Panama City Beach. Our special coverage continues on CNN right after this.



WEST: I guess you know I love you.

TRUMP: I don't want you put you in that spot.

WEST: I'm standing in that spot. I love this guy. Let me give you a hug. I love this guy right here. Come here.

TRUMP: That's really nice. And that's from the heart. I didn't want to put you in that position. That's from the heart. Special guy.


BASH: We want to talk more about that surreal scene at the White House earlier. Nia-Malika Henderson is still here. Also, with me is S.E. Cupp. Kanye said it himself when he said "Trump is on his hero's journey right now.