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Large Parts of Florida Panhandle Devastated by Storm; Joey and Tammy Pullen Talk About Surviving the Storm and Surveying the Damage; Saudi Arabia Says Nothing About the Missing "Washington Post" Journalist. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 12, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Where two parents and two kids rode the storm out. Their neighbors close to do the same. There is one man that was in this home who stayed, who is no longer. They tried to coax that man to come into their home. He never did. He hasn't been seen since. Today, I was here yesterday and it is different in the sense that the clean-up has begun. I've seen front loaders, caterpillars here trying to begin to pick up this. The death toll from this hurricane is now up to 13. It is expected to rise.

The scope of just the utter devastation is beginning to come to light, and many, many homes just wiped away. The story here was the storm surge. Some of the homes that do remain, you can see on the walls the surge reaching up about 13 feet. We've got pictures from NOAA and you can see from far, far away the utter devastation and damage. Coast Guard search and rescue are still under way.

Here in Mexico Beach they're still going door to door. I saw a man with a canine earlier walking through with rubble. We drove through Panama City Beach on into Mexico Beach, saw convoy after convoy of trucks trying to restore electricity where they can. The FEMA chief, Brock Long, said so many areas are still unsafe and he will travel here to Florida tomorrow.

Those who did survive who are injured obviously need to go to the hospital. Patients are having to be medevac-ed to other locations. We drove through Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City earlier today. t is severely damaged. We have before-and-after pictures. Military officials, to quote them, say it really took a beating and that every single building was severely damaged but they assured us it was open for air traffic.

Secretary Nielsen says, this storm recovery will take some time.


KRISTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: This is a really big storm. We think this is about the third most powerful storm to ever hit the United States. It was a tremendously large storm. As you know, it rapidly, rapidly increased in strength. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected and those families who lost loved ones. It's going to take a while to recover. We're on the ground, still doing search and rescue. We're working on power restoration. Unfortunately, we won't have power for a couple weeks. Of course, we're always worried about the hospital and making sure they have power and that we have ambulances on standby.


BALDWIN: With me here, Tammy and Joey Pullen. Thanks so much for taking a break from your clean-up. You got your clean-up gloves as we pulled you away from your home. You all live in Georgia. This is your second home. This was -- is your second home. You came on down on Monday thinking it was a Category Two and rode it out.

JOEY PULLEN, HOMEOWNER, STORM VICTIM: Yes, I come down and thought everything was going to be fine.

BALDWIN: And then what?

JOEY PULLEN: Then sometime about 4 a.m., she called me and said it has gone to a Category Four hurricane, you need to leave. By then the bridge was closed.


BALDWIN: Were you terrified for him?

TAMMY PULLEN: Very terrified.

JOEY PULLEN: I had no communication with her because the towers were down. Nothing.

BALDWIN: It was you and the dog.

JOEY PULLEN: Me and the dog.

BALDWIN: Yesterday I saw a lot of people exhausted, dazed and confused, trying to figure out if their home still existed, today, bam, clean-up.

TAMMY PULLEN: And they're not letting a lot of people in. I got lucky to get in here today. I want sure if I could get in here, but we did take it in. It took us normally five hours to get here but it took us ten. There was devastation from Georgia to here so it was hard to get here. I was really glad to see him standing, not hurt other than a few scratches.

BALDWIN: Did you give him a big pinch or big hug and big kiss?

TAMMY PULLEN: It's the worst thing I've ever seen. There's destruction everywhere.

BALDWIN: It's one thing for I'm sure your loved ones, now that they know you're OK, but to see ton tv is one thing but to stand here and as far as the eye can see it's just flat. One of the reasons officials don't want people to come back, if you even try going deep in here, as we did yesterday, there are nails and glass.

JOEY PULLEN: There's dead fish.

TAMMY PULLEN: We have a tub under our garage. Another reason we have to come down here is because our truck. We had our garage, it's one you drive under. He had our truck parked up under there. I think he tried to secure it before all this hit, but it didn't --

BALDWIN: Where did your truck end up?

[14:05:00] JOEY PULLEN: In the canal.

BALDWIN: How far was that from your house?

JOEY PULLEN: 75, 80 feet. Straight across down the boat ramp.

BALDWIN: It's hard to put into words. I saw a home that was waterfront. We see the beautiful Gulf of Mexico here. It had been tossed like the Wizard of Oz, flipped on its side and landed a football field away.

TAMMY PULLEN: That's why people say if you're in these kind of things to get out of your vehicle. Who would have thought that could have happened that fast. I think he went downstairs and was going to try to secure it and do something with it --

JOEY PULLEN: It went from just rain residue to probably flood stage in 10, 15 minutes at the most. It went from zero to however high it got, the bottom floor of my house.

BALDWIN: Are you scraped?

JOEY CULLEN: I'm cut and scraped and everything else. I'm alive, I'm alive.

BALDWIN: You are alive.

JOEY CULLEN: I finally got word to her by satellite radio. She was so happy.

BALDWIN: Did you cry?


BALDWIN: What's next? What are you able to salvage from your home?

JOEY CULLEN: We just tried to pick up a few items, hold on to some of the stuff that she liked. She had a planter shaped like a dog's head, had some little hairy grass growing in it.

TAMMY CULLEN: Just a few little things like it used to be.

BALDWIN: You are one of the lucky ones where you can actually go back into part of your home and grab a little bit of what was to then --

TAMMY CULLEN: Whereas other people -- ours is in one spot. The stuff under the garage isn't but the inside stuff is still there where these people don't have anything.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

TAMMY CULLEN: Even though their stuff might be right here, it probably not right here.

BALDWIN: I appreciate both of you. I met your dog earlier. I don't think your dog liked me too much. I think your dog's been through the ringer so I forget her. Thank you both so much. I appreciate it. And from here to Mexico Beach to Gary Tuchman, he is live at ST. GEORGE ISLAND here with just the first pictures there of the devastation from the storm surge. Gary, how does it look where you are?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, there was some great footage of water rolling in. It came from this security camera that hasn't been broken. The water came through here and now you no longer see any water but you surely see the damage. This is a Barrier Island. St. George Island, Florida, four miles off the coast. It's 28 miles long right here, one mile wide, about 250 people live here around the year. But 50 people decided to stay behind and once they made that commitment, they could not leave. There's a four-mile long bridge that connects the island and that was closed. Most of the homes have been heavily damaged, some complete lich completely destroyed.

But the most important news is there don't appear to be any casualties. We talked to one woman who came here the day before. The hurricane was coming, she couldn't get off, and she ended up staying. There's a restaurant that everyone goes to, she stayed in a little apartment on top of the restaurant, she told me she thought she was going to die it was so violent. But she was here to talk to me about it today. There do not appear to be any casualties. When everything gets back to normal, you should come here to visit. Lots of trees and beautiful homes, middle class homes, higher class homes, expensive homes but a wonderful place to visit. They will rebuild. They know they're vulnerable. We do believe we're the first news organization to be here since the hurricane came. It does not appear that there are any casualties.

BALDWIN: Thank you. I cannot believe those cameras withstood those Category Four hurricane force winds. Gary, thank you very much.

[14:10:00] We'll be here for the next two hours for this show coming to you live from Mexico Beach here as the clean-up has just begun. For now, let's go to Washington D.C. and Brianna Keilar.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks to you, Brooke. As the clean-up has just begun.

We're back to the Turkish government. It says it has shocking evidence that explains just what happened to a "Washington Post" contributor who has vanished after entering the Saudi continent. The backlash is spreading across the globe, and the White House faces mounting pressure over its own hesitant response. We're going to discuss that. Also, a significant development in the Russia probe. After months of negotiating, President Trump's legal team is now drafting responses to Robert Mueller's written questions. Is the investigation entering its final phase?

[14:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: Welcome back, I'm Brianna Keilar. We are seeing a major turn of break being developments between the U.S. and Turkey. An American pastor whose 2016 arrest in Turkey was condemned by President Trump has been freed and is expected to leave Turkey tonight. We have video coming to us. The release of pastor Andrew Brunson is coming as officials are revealing gruesome new details about what happened to a "Washington Post" columnist purportedly at the hands of the Saudi. We have much more on Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in just a moment.

Let's talk about the pastor. Brunson had been living in Turkey for 23 years when he was arrested in July of 2016, accused of trying to plot a coup. U.S. officials believed they were close to securing Brunson's release. Another source says Brunson is expected to leave Turkey at 9:00 tonight local time. Now, as the President celebrates the release of the pastor, he's under mounting pressure to respond to what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. A source says Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence showing the father of four was killed inside the Saudi consulate after walking in the door as this video shows. This evidence described to the source was found to be, quote, shocking and disgusting. Two Republican senators are now pointing fingers at the Saudis as well.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), CHAIRMAN FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Instincts say that there's no question the Saudi government did this, and my instincts say that they murdered him. It will hugely undermine that relationship, at least with Congress. The administration will have to pay attention to that.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I've never been more concerned about his well being than I am right now. All the indicators point to Saudi Arabia. And if it turns out to be Saudi Arabia, as I've said before, there will be all hell to pay.


KEILAR: Now Saudi Arabia says that it has no involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi and today a Saudi team arrived in Turkey to investigate. The Saudi ambassador to the United Nations had little to say today. Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN REPORTER: Ambassador, can you give us two seconds to explain on the Saudi view of Khashoggi, what happened to him? What is the view?


KEILAR: That's really an image, Michelle Kosinski, our CNN senior diplomatic correspondent that says a lot about where the Saudis are on this. Tell us, though, where the evidence is leading.

Michelle Kosinski, CNN Senior Diplomatic Correspondent: Well, we haven't seen this evidence. It's unclear if any U.S. officials have seen it or heard it. But what Turkish officials are saying is because that consulate, it's on their territory, it belongs to the Saudis, but the Turks have bugged it. So first it emerged of Khashoggi actually being murdered. There are sounds of a confrontation by Saudi officials with Khashoggi, that he's interrogated, there are sounds of him being beaten and then of him being murdered. They believe there have evidence of him being dismembered on the property of that Saudi consulate. Now today from the Turks, it is emerging that they also claim they have video of this. We don't know if the audio and video are of the same moments. But we've been asking U.S. allies, too, who are operating on the assumption that this evidence exists, but we haven't spoken to anyone who has said their government has seen.

[14:20:00] So, when the Turks are going to share this with the U.S. and its allies is not clear. It's unclear what are the Turks sharing. Now Saudi Arabia is coming there to have this joint investigation with the Turks. Well, how is that going to work? So, there's a lot to wait for in this case that is nothing but chilling and disturbing.

KEILAR: It certainly is. Thank you so much for getting us up to date on this. We appreciate it.

A business backlash is erupting against the Saudis since KHASHOGGI vanished. The list is growing of businesses and business leaders who are saying the future investment initiative, CNN is one of the media sponsors, no longer taking part in this event. Richard Branson has said he's pulling out of an economic development project in Saudi Arabia. Who are saying the future investment initiative, CNN is one of the media sponsors, no longer taking part in this event. Richard Branson has said he's pulling out of an economic development project in Saudi Arabia. Today the President's top treasury official said this --


STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURER: Well, first, let me just say we are concerned about what is the status of Mr. Khashoggi, although I haven't had direct conversations with the Saudis. I know other people within the executive branch have and those discussions are under way. I am planning on going at this point. If more information comes out and changes, we could look at that but I'm planning on going. Let's wait and see what information comes out in the next week.


BALDWIN: I want to turn now to CNN business emerging markets John Defterios.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: AS one representative told me, it could take them years to recover. This is the crown prince, promising the world, going to challenge moderate Islam, allow women to drive, diversify the economy. I saw Secretary Mnuchin say he's going to stay engaged. He has no choice. I think in terms of the western know how that Saudi Arabia was looking for, not for oil because they're going to produce about 11 million barrels a day, about the same as the United States, but the diversification to open up entertainment centers, red sea island resorts, a high-tech city worth a half a trillion dollars, they needed the United States and German companies, for example. They're not going to have them there right now. It will be interesting to see companies like JPMorgan Chase and Blackstone, they're still on the agenda for Saudi Arabia. They have billions of dollars at stake. But will the shareholder and U.S. Congressional pressure force them to change their minds in the days ahead? That's going to be an interesting challenge.

BALDWIN: And also, this line from Saudi Arabia where they're insisting that they have no involvement but you have reporting that the Turks is saying there is audio and video evidence, not just of him entering, not just of Jamal entering the consulate but of him entering and being confronted and tortured and killed. Will the Saudis have to pay a long-lasting price for this?

DEFTERIOS: This is a huge challenge. They remain in denial about the charges, despite all the evidence you've been presenting on the program this evening. These are the two side of the coin of the crown prince. He says he's going to open up this very conservative society and at the same time does very serious crackdowns. Less than a year ago, he arrested 300 Saudi businessmen and extracted $100 billion from them. It all leads to Turkey here. It hasn't been proven yet, but if that is the case as you're suggesting here, it's going to take years for Saudi Arabia to recover. And President Trump is trying to protect what he's earned over the last year in his view, $300 billion worth of contracts, a third of those in the military context. The U.S. Congress is going to put a lot of pressure to dampen down defense expectations, who are already complaining this evening they're at risk of losing those contracts and having competition, for example, from Russia and China.

[14:25:00] KEILAR: Thank you.

Some in Florida are returning to their home for the first time from the storm, and some are realizing there is absolutely nothing left. We will take you there live. Plus, we'll take you to the largest hospital in Panama City that could not evacuate people from Panama City. See what they're doing now with the patients.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching special coverage, day two, Mexico beach in Florida. You're seeing me straight on. We also have a drone that's able to give you an enormous perspective of what Mexico beach really looks like from the air and how much of it has been taken out. As we fly this drone overhead, you can get a better scope of just the devastation. I was talking to Miami Fire and Rescue Task Force 2, and they were giving me a little more on numbers yesterday. We're talking to them yesterday as they were still going door to door. He was telling me of the 200 people who they believe would be riding out the storm because they had gone to see how many people would be accounted for when they came back after this hurricane, 200 people decided to ride it out here in Mexico. He was saying after the hurricane blew through, they had to extricate one person, try to get this person successfully out of the rubble. He told me six people got taken to the hospital, 15 were evacuated. Of course, I asked what about the missing? I've talked to people who say, well, we saw my neighbor and I don't know where my neighbor is.