Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Forecast: Hurricane Dorian Stronger, More Strengthening Expected As It Takes Aim at Florida; President Trump's Personal Assistant Resigns From White House After Sharing Details About Trump Family in Conversations With Reporters; Texas Woman Fears Her Land Will Be Seized To Build Wall; Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) Is Interviewed About The Border Wall; Hurricane Dorian Intensifies, Now A Dangerous Category 4 Storm And Taking Aim At Florida; Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) Is Interviewed About Their Preparation To Hurricane Dorian; Mandatory Evacuation Order Issued For Parts Of Brevard County, Florida. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired August 30, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:16] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The storm is getting stronger and could go stronger still. That much we know. The two key questions now, where will Hurricane Dorian hit and what will it do after it does?
John Berman here, in for Anderson.
In just a few days, we'd seen Dorian go from a tropical storm to a hurricane that could reach a category four intensity before this is over. And with millions of people at risk tonight, those two key questions could mean their world or their lives.
We just got new data in from the National Hurricane Center. So, let's go right to Tom Sater in the CNN Hurricane Headquarters.
Tom, walk me through the new forecast and what does it tell us about what the storm is doing now?
TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, John, we learned a lot today, but in the latest advisory, when a pressure drops, the storm gets stronger and once that pressure drops, the winds pick up. We'd just seen a 20 millibar drop.
Now, I don't want to get scientific, but that is the greatest drop of pressure that we have seen between one advisory and the next advisory since the birth of Dorian. At this time last night, it was a category one expecting at 11:00 p.m. last night to become a two and it did. At 11:00 a.m. this morning, it became a category three, and we're almost at cat four now.
That pressure dropped, increased some winds to 125 miles per hour. That's only five miles per hour away from category four status, and one way to know this before it occurs is we've all seen radar and you see a well-defined eye. But when you see an eye on a satellite imagery, you know that motor is firing on all cylinders.
See the white color that was surrounding that core? This thing is breathing and again, that fuel line really soaking up some of that extremely warm water that's only going to get warmer. A different change today, we had the hurricane watches for the Bahamas increased in some areas to warnings. I suspect by tomorrow morning, we're going to have hurricane watches for the coast of Florida.
Other changes have occurred and that's pretty much the track and this is important. I know everybody has been saying, is there any hope, is there any ray of hope, there is a ray -- I mean, it's not the entire hope sunshine shining down but all of the models showing consistency and right now, still showing a landfall with a category four. That's catastrophic damage.
I want to back up to what it looked like earlier when the several miles we use, always, we always talk about the U.S. model in red and the European model, both have pros and cons. The European sometimes is a little more reliable, but, you know, sometimes, we just make an agreement between the two.
Two days ago, John, it was up in Jacksonville and then it dropped down to the south and shooting across areas into the Gulf, and then the European model put on the brakes and we thought whoa, what is happening here? When the storms put on the brakes, it allows the surrounding environment to kind of decide all right, we've got some time, where are we going to push this thing?
Here is now the same time period with the U.S. model at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and south of Melbourne. Sebastian, maybe Vero Beach. And then you got the Europeans, same time period, 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, almost on the same latitude but offshore.
Here is our ray of hope now. The National Hurricane Center is issuing its now warning and I'll show you the path. Not a warning, excuse me. But, first, let's put the two together, in blue is the European.
You cannot see the U.S. model because they agree, it's underneath it. Watch what happens when we continue to roll out both of these models. Now, again, this is not going to be written in stone, but it's the only guidance we have and it's been changing day to day, and it could easily change again.
American model landfall. European model offshore and it stays offshore. There is your ray of hope.
The trend is eastward. Instead of up to the north crossing into the peninsula, into the gulf, down to the south, let's see what happens when we merge the two and that's what the National Hurricane Center has done. Still, landfall a category four.
Remember three years ago? Matthew came in and raked A1A pretty much along the coastline. This however, John, if we get in closer could be disastrous because the population since Andrew in '92, last time we had a major hurricane is significant on the East Coast.
If this happens, it's close enough to the water to continue to feed. It continues as a four to a three, stays as a hurricane category two to the north, dropping heavy amounts of rain on a ground that's already completely saturated.
So, again, we're going to continue to watch these. They could change but the ray of hope we've been waiting for may be that trend, we'll push it further away.
BERMAN: All right.
SATER: Matthew, by the way, was record rainfall flooding and, of course, the Carolinas. That wasn't good.
BERMAN: Not good for the Carolinas, something to hope for for Florida, though.
[20:05:00] Tom Sater, thank you very much.
For much more on the new storm data, let's go to the source -- the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Ed Rappaport is deputy director. He joins us now.
Ed, this new forecast is what you expected to see. Has the change -- has the storm changed in any way?
ED RAPPAPORT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, the storm has changed in the last few hours in terms of its intensity. Earlier today, it reached category three status and now, it's pretty close to category four. We increased the wind and the advisory and most recent advisory by ten miles per hour. Now, 125 miles per hour.
And as you've been talking about, it's really not so much the intensity that's in question, it's the track of the hurricane and we do have one model offshore and another one is on the shoreline today. Yesterday was almost reversed.
So, I don't think what we need to do now is focus too much on the little details. The important, in the long run, at this point, it's way too soon to know what the impacts are going to be. And for that reason, we're telling people, everybody in the state of Florida needs to be prepared, particularly in the eastern half, because you don't know whether the storm will make a turn on the coast or just offshore or just inland. Everybody has about a day, day and a half to complete preparations and that's what we're advising at this point.
BERMAN: And that's right. Just to be clear, you're talking about a possible storm that runs the entire gamut of the East Coast, Miami, northward of Miami, all the way up to Jacksonville, and maybe a second direct impact in Jacksonville, correct?
RAPPAPORT: Yes, here is the forecast track and get ready to be familiar with what we're doing. These are the points over the next five days. Roughly every 12 to 24 hours. So, the center is forecasted to come up to the coast and turn just about the time it gets to the coast.
Again, we don't know whether it will be there or just barely inland just offshore. Those are details we don't know and won't know yet for another day or maybe even day and a half. They are very important but at this point without knowing those details, with having this uncertainty, it's important for everybody to prepare along the Florida coast.
BERMAN: Talk to me about the water here. The king tide extremely high tides coupled with a storm surge, which I understand could be even bigger if the storm slows down, yes?
RAPPAPORT: Yes. One thing that's fortunate for the East Coast of Florida is that the storm surge occurs here isn't as high as it can be in other places and the effect of tides isn't as great. But you're right, the additive affects of a high tide, particularly if you go through multiple cycles of a high tide will exacerbate the conditions. It will make it worse. We had storm surge, with the winds blowing onshore for perhaps 12 to 24 hours in some places.
Don't have the amounts yet in terms of what type of surge to expect but storms in the past of this intensity have brought a surge of in order of ten feet or higher to the Florida east coast.
BERMAN: All right. Ed Rappaport, thank you so much for being with us.
I think the key message here is don't pay as close attention to the tracks right now as paying attention to getting yourself ready and prepare if you live anywhere on the east coast of Florida.
Ed, thank you very much for that.
RAPPAPORT: Thank you.
BERMAN: We're going to have much more on the storm prep we've just been talking about. And as we began reporting last night, Floridians are certainly taking this seriously. The governor has asked for and received a pledge of federal disaster assistance. Highway express lanes are reconfigured to help evacuations go more smoothly and, of course, people have been boarding up and stocking up.
Randi Kaye has been seeing it all day. She joins us now from Home Depot in West Palm Beach.
Randi, tell me, what's it been like there today? Are people doing what they need to do?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they have certainly seemed to be. It's been busy here actually since Tuesday. That's when it all started. That's when they put Florida on that hurricane map. So, people have been pouring in trying to get supplies.
But I just spoke to an employee at this Home Depot and he told me they have done a week's worth of business today in just one day. So, really, now, it's coming down to the wire for these folks. Floridians have been through this. They know how to prepare.
What they are looking for now it seems tonight mainly is plywood, John. Let me show you what the shelves look like. They are empty. You see them? That's usually plywood stacked up and if you come over here to this side, in this aisle, this is what is going on.
Plywood has now just come in. A truck has just delivered it and they aren't bothering it to put it on shelves because it goes so fast. If you can pan here, these are empty, too, and then keep panning, there is the line of folks waiting to get plywood. That's how busy this is.
They are also looking for tarps, flashlights, propane, batteries, generators, of course. They are out of generators here. Luckily, they are not out of plywood.
Another thing that people are told is to have at least three to seven days worth of water. They want one gallon per person for every three days here in the state of Florida. That is what is ideal. They don't have any water here and they don't expect to have any water in this store for at least another day or so.
So, that is the situation here, John. I went to other big supply stores yesterday trying to get water for our crew as we are preparing for the hurricane and I could get a few bottles. I went at 7:00 a.m. again this morning trying to get more water, there was already a line at this supermarket and most of the water was already gone, John.
BERMAN: Hopefully, a lot more shipments in.
Randi, for the people you've been speaking with, do they plan to leave the coast or ride the storm out of home?
KAYE: A lot of folks are riding the storm out because, you know, you just looked at those models, those spaghetti models, it's unclear where this storm is going to hit. So, people are saying -- well, if I live on the does and then I go inland, what if it hits inland? So, they don't know where to go because right now the whole state is in danger, all 67 counties they declared a state of emergency.
So -- I mean, I know I spoke to my neighbors, they're riding out the storm on a high floor and high rise building. My brother who lives here in Florida riding out the storm with his family. Most of these folks getting plywood are also riding out the storm with their families.
In fact, we ran into this gentleman here, Carlos Mayo (ph), who's also riding out the storm.
You -- is this your plywood right here?
CARLOS MAYO (ph), WEST PALM BEACH, FL RESIDENT: It is our plywood. Yes.
KAYE: And you came back for more or this is all you need?
MAYO (ph): We had planned this about four or five days ago but ran four or five sheets short. So, we just came by and we're just grateful they had plywood.
KAYE: So, you planned in advance. So, you're already doing --
MAYO (ph): Yes.
KAYE: And you're going to ride out the storm and be around with your family? You're not going to leave the state.
MAYO (ph): Well, I work as a firefighter along with my son. So, we're both going to be on duty starting tomorrow. But the idea behind it is to leave our families secure so we're kind of used to it. We've been doing it for awhile. So --
KAYE: How many hurricanes have you been through here?
MAYO (ph): I guess going back to Katrina, probably the worst of it. We rode that one out. We weren't hit quite as bad during Katrina because we were further north.
KAYE: I should mention, there is no evacuation order in place. You have the freedom to ride it out.
MAYO (ph): Yes. I'm very secure in our home and everything we've done and the preparations. My family will be OK and I know that we got to go out and do what we have to do to help everybody else's family during the storm.
KAYE: So many people, John, as I said, riding it out. I mean, you look at this line. One more quick pan here to get plywood to board up their home and stay home and be safe as they do so. We'll continue to watch it here at Home Depot and hopefully they won't run out of plywood tonight.
John, back to you.
BERMAN: It feels like the center of the universe. It's not clear where it would be safe to go at this point. They have to wait for the forecast to be updated.
Randi Kaye, thank you so much.
Let's go next to Daytona Beach where the city's mayor, Derrick Henry, joins us now.
Mayor Henry, thank you so much for being with us.
I'm sure you've been looking at the current forecast along with the rest of us. Based on what you see, what are you most concerned about?
MAYOR DERRICK HENRY, DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA: That people in our area begin to let their guards down, which we do not want. We recognize that we do not have full clarity at this time. As we gain more, we can act with greater assurance what it is we should do both as a municipality and to take care of our individual families.
BERMAN: Some of the decisions on evacuations for the whole state have been difficult because of the uncertainty around this storm. Do you have any plans to evacuate the barrier island section of Daytona Beach? HENRY: Well, right now, our police and I will join them on tomorrow
are out sharing with residents on those islands and encouraging them that if such evacuation mandate comes forward to heed the warning and to accept it. So, at this time, of course, we do not know as I said earlier. We have to wait for greater clarity and at that time, we will get out and try to encourage our residents to take advice.
BERMAN: So, Mayor, as of now, the hospitals in your area are planning to stay open. Is there any feeling that could change with the emergency services? Will they be responding to calls during the storm?
HENRY: The plan is never to respond during the storm. Once it gets over a certain wind threshold, so we encourage folks to hunker down, be prepared, be vigilant, but once we get into the eye of the storm, so to speak, we do not plan to go out and do many rescues.
BERMAN: So, to the residents of Daytona Beach, and that people who might be visiting, because it after all holiday weekend. What do you want to say to them tonight?
HENRY: Be smart. Be vigilant. Be prepared. But above all, be safe.
We recognize that it is a holiday weekend but life takes precedence over pleasure at this time and we are used to this as a municipality. So, I just encourage folks to put forth their best effort to take care of themselves and their families.
BERMAN: Mayor Henry, you be safe as well. Please let us know how we can help and thank you for taking the time. All our best in the coming days.
HENRY: Thank you, sir.
BERMAN: Next, the president weighs in on this storm and the question why he fired one of his closest aides, the one who probably sees him more than anyone day to day.
[20:15:04] Later, you'll meet a Texas woman who says when it comes to the possibility of the president taking her land to build his border wall right smack through her property, she's drawing the line.
BERMAN: President Trump will be monitoring hurricane developments from Camp David this weekend. He spoke to reports on his way to Marine One.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have FEMA, we have first responders, we have tremendous law enforcement. We're working together with Governor DeSantis and the state.
We're also -- by the way, I have to tell you, Georgia is very much in this path, also. Georgia could be very much affected. We're working with our great governor of Georgia. We have our top people there, and it's really, really been amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The president also spoke about the sudden departure of his personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout.
[20:20:02] Apparently, some of the things she said to reporters behind closed doors.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins has new reporting on that.
But, Kaitlan, I want to start off with the storm and what the president had to say about it.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's going to Camp David. That's where he's going to monitor the developments throughout the weekend and then, John, the president said he's come back here to Washington on Sunday where he's going to do a briefing at the FEMA headquarters. That's when he said he'll start making decisions about whether or not people need to be evacuated. He said he's been speaking with several officials from the state of Florida.
But he also said he's not worried about his own officials, following CNN reporting today that a lot of the people who are going to be surrounding the president and shepherding him through this storm are going to be officials who are not confirmed to their positions in a permanent capacity. For one, the FEMA administrator who is an acting person because the person the president nominated still hasn't been confirmed and, of course, his DHS secretary has not been confirmed, either, and is still in an acting position.
The other thing the president is not worried about is Mar-a-Lago. His golf resort in Palm Beach the president said based on the briefings he received is in the direct path of where the storm is projected to go right now. He said he's not worried about it. He thinks it's strong and it will be fine. He's more concerned overall, he said, with the state of Florida.
BERMAN: So, Kaitlan, the president was also asked about the sudden resignation of Madeleine Westerhout, his personal assistant. What did he have to say about that?
COLLINS: Yes, she's not this household name but her departure last night was abrupt and sent shock waves throughout the West Wing. The president said that he had spoken to her just minutes before he came out to speak to reporters today, following that off-the-record dinner that she had where White House officials said she shared intimate information about the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I guess she said, I think she said some things and she called me, she was very upset. She was very down, and she said she was drinking a little bit, and she was with reporters, and everything she said was off the record and that still doesn't really cover for it, mentioned a couple things about my children. But she is a very, you know, good person and I thought -- I always felt she did a good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now, John, the president was asked about what was reportedly critical statements the president had made about Tiffany Trump and whether or not he had actually said those things. He denied it. He praised his youngest daughter.
When I asked him had Madeleine Westerhout been fired because the language had been she made this abrupt departure, the president said he didn't want to say fired or not fired but said the decision after learning what she said about his children was automatic for him.
BERMAN: Fired, which is understandable in this case.
Kaitlan, can you explain her role? And I guess it's not so much about influence as proximity.
COLLINS: Right. Her office is right outside the Oval Office. She's someone who's extremely close to him. One of very few staffers who sits that close and watches who goes in and out of the Oval Office every day, but she also has access to sensitive information, including the president's schedule, his daily activities and she also traveled with him a lot.
But more than that, she was seen as the gatekeeper to the president because you'll take to several lawmakers or allies of the president outside administration who said when they needed to speak to the president or having a meeting with him, you know what they called first? Madeleine Westerhout.
So, now, they are lamenting this void they say will be in the administration without her presence here, but the president made clear it does not sound like she's coming back any time soon, John.
BERMAN: Kaitlan Collins at the White House tonight, thank you very much for your reporting.
Perspective now from two CNN political commentators, Karen Finney, former senior spokesperson for the 2016 Clinton campaign, also Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush.
You come from opposite sides of the aisle here but just nod in agreement, I think you probably do agree on this, which is that Madeleine Westerhout broke one of the cardinal rules of working in the White House. You don't talk about the family, correct?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's bad idea jeans as the "Saturday Night Live" skit once said.
BERMAN: So, Karen, more specifically, she should have known better, correct? FINNEY: Oh, absolutely. I can tell you having -- I worked in the
Clinton administration and had, you know, both for President Clinton and then First Lady Hillary Clinton and there -- I would -- first of all, I can't imagine ever saying anything like that and certainly, you know, there have been times when I was a press staffer, right?
So, if I went out for an off the record dinner with reporters, the aide -- the person who was the president's aide or the first lady's aide, they didn't generally come to be perfectly honest. One of the rules is don't put yourself in this situation.
And certainly, the moment she, you know, she clearly, it sounds like she said something that somebody who was at the dinner then tried to get more info information about it. Maybe that's part of how it came out. You know, I also always tell people because the off the record, on the record -- technically, off the record you should never hear about it again.
[20:25:02] But that -- those rules have slid a bit and you never want to say something that is particularly salacious off the record.
BERMAN: No. And, again, on the record, off the record, you don't generally hear people say things about the president's family.
Scott, your view on this?
JENNINGS: Yes, I mean, there is a couple issues here. This position -- every position in the White House requires great judgment and you have to just have discretion. But this one in particular, you see people coming and going. You're connecting all the president's calls, so you know who he's talking to, and that includes seeing him interacting with his family.
So, you just are a repository for all these private moments. And so, to talk about that is an egregious error in judgment. You know, you can drink and you can talk to reporters but when you do it at the same time, this is a huge no-no.
And I'm sort of puzzled why anyone would put themselves in a situation to do that. And also, like Karen said, why are they arranging off the record dinners for reporters and somebody who's in this particular position? Press staff fine, maybe policy staff fine.
But this isn't the person who would usually be put in that position and, obviously, it came back to bite her and the White House and I hope she had a nice talk with the president. It sounded like he was trying to be nice to her on the way out here. But, obviously, it's a no-brainer. You can't keep somebody around who has that kind of judgment.
BERMAN: And, again, you know, we talk about people who had this role before Rose Mary Woods for President Nixon, Betty Currie for President Clinton.
Karen, they know a lot. I mean, they know a lot. FINNEY: And you know a lot and there are many rules in the White
House that know a lot -- I mean, Scott was saying certainly if you sit right outside of the president's office, you know who is coming and going. You see the president's schedule. You have a sense of how he's spending his time, what calls he's getting clearly by the virtue of this comment. You know, whether or not it's true, you know, personal types of information.
And you know, once that trust -- I mean, here is the things about these jobs in particular. The people you work for, they have to trust that they can be themselves around you, do the job that they have to do. There have to be some people who will keep those confidences and once that trust is broken, there is -- you just can't get it back. And so, I -- this is one of those situations where the second I heard about it, I thought to myself, there is no way this person can be anywhere in the White House because its just such a lapse in judgment.
BERMAN: Again, whether what she said was true or not, it's not something she could repeat and, Scott, the president has lost a lot of the people that he's been with over time at the White House. I mean, he's not surrounded by as many of the people that he trusts.
What's the impact of that?
JENNING: Yes, there is a lot of coming and going and some people that worked in the White House are now on the campaign, I'm sure he's still interacting with them in that capacity.
But, yes, in these kinds of positions where there are personal interactions, person aides, folks who have a material impact on how you run your day to day life. You know, if you don't know them on the front end, you have to break in the relationship and build up the trust as Karen was on with that and it doesn't happen overnight. And so, when you're the president and you've got 100 meetings and phone calls and you're making decisions and a lot of high level stuff is happening and at the same time, you're trying to break in the relationship with somebody new, it certainly provides I think some anxiety, weighs on your mind.
So, number one, I think the president obviously made the right call in this position and I feel for him because this isn't the moment in your presidency you want to be breaking in a new personal aide because as the reporting said, this is the person who would connect all the president's calls at the congressional leaders, set the appointments. I mean, this person made his life easier and now he's got to find somebody else. I'm sure they will but it will take some time to collect that trust.
BERMAN: Karen, just quickly, family is an awkward thing in the White House. I mean, every president, every candidate has to deal with family in different ways. Now, that being said, the president has hired some family. That's a different thing.
FINNEY: Right. Yes.
BERMAN: But family can be awkward. FINNEY: Oh my goodness, children in particular. Family can be
awkward but children in particular, you never talk about the kids, you know? You -- and pets is the other thing. You don't talk about the pets. Don't talk about the kids.
And even the awkwardness of family, you know? And, look, here is the other thing very quickly -- President Trump is someone we know who demands loyalty. And so again, he clearly was sounded like he was trying to be gracious there but to speak at a school, if you work for someone like that and we've seen, you know, staffers not be treated so well on the way out, you got to really have good judgment and know that certainly when you're talking about something so sensitive as someone's children, you know, don't do it.
BERMAN: No matter what she heard or think she heard.
FINNEY: That's right.
BERMAN: Karen Finney, Scott Jennings, thanks very much.
Scott, I just want to note, I hope people don't take your advice. Drinking with reporters is OK. I don't want to drink alone for the rest of my life.
JENNINGS: No, no, this is -- do not listen to John Berman. This is the worst idea. This is terrible.
BERMAN: I'm a good guy to have a beer with.
JENNINGS: Do not take his press relations advice. No, no, no.
BERMAN: I'm a good guy to have a beer with.
FINNEY: Oh, just one or two drinks. Just one or two.
BERMAN: You're buying next time. All right, up next, we'll take you to the southern border where there's worry the Trump administration will break the law to seize private land in order to build that long promised border wall.
BERMAN: Along the border with Mexico tonight, there are growing concerns that the Trump administration could seize private property by imminent domain without first complying with all of the legalities, this in order to fast track that long promised border wall.
Those concerns, of course, went into overdrive after President Trump offered aides pardons should they commit any illegal acts while pushing the wall construction. The White House later said the President was joking. But it's no laughing matter at all for one Texas woman that "360's" Gary Tuchman spoke with whose land is smack dab on the border. Here is his report.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even before you meet Elsa Hull, you'll certainly know what's on her mind as you enter her property.
ELSA HULL, LIVES ON U.S. BORDER WITH MEXICO: It would j be total destruction of my life.
[20:35:01] TUCHMAN: The 51-year-old mother of two lives in the tiny town of San Ygnacio, Texas. There is no border wall on or near her three acres, yet.
(on camera) When you heard this report, and the White House doesn't deny it, they say President Trump was joking when he was talking about pardoning people who started construction of the wall without following the legal regulations, environmental regulations, do you believe he could have been joking?
HULL: Why would he be joking? They are willing to break every law there is out there.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Elsa Hull believes the President's words mean her property where she's lived for almost two decades could be taken by the government at any time for construction of a barrier.
HULL: I cannot convey how angry I am.
TUCHMAN (on camera): I'm standing right on the international border line, adjacent to Elsa Hull's property. This is the Rio Grande, doesn't look like it though because portions of it are dry this time of year. So it looks like it would be very easy to cross for Mexico into the United States right now.
(voice-over) But, it's far from any major population centers.
(on camera) In 20 years, how many people have you seen crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States?
HULL: Absolutely zero in this location, zero. I trip sensors all the time here and other places along the river and border patrol will magically appear in the middle of nowhere. I'm tripping sensors. The technology works. They don't need a wall.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Hull says she was told earlier this year by a border patrol supervisor that a wall was "going to happen" on her property and throughout this area. After she heard that, she painted this on her roof. And now, the President's pardon comment has made her scared that her life may be about to change forever.
(on camera) The international border of the Rio Grande is 200 yards to our left, that's the border. HULL: Yes.
TUCHMAN: But you've been told by a border patrol chief in this area that it's going to have a wall and it could go through your land. They'll seek to buy your land or then take it if you don't give it up, or put it just to the north of your land, putting you in the middle of a no man's land. The wall would be there, but the international would be there and you'd be between two down countries.
HULL: Yes. I mean --
TUCHMAN: In which could you live like that between two countries?
HULL: I would not leave. I can't leave.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): She says she's been worried about this possibility throughout the entire Trump presidency.
HULL: I don't think there has been a day gone by since all of this started that I am not in tears at one point or another over all of this.
TUCHMAN: But, now, that concern has reached a much higher level.
HULL: They're going to have to drag me off of here. I'm not leaving willingly. There's just no way. I can't leave my home.
TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, San Ygnacio, Texas.
BERMAN: One congressman who has a great deal about these kinds of concerns and represents the district where that woman Gary profile lives is Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar. I spoke with him earlier.
BERMAN: Congressman Cuellar, what do you say to your constituents who might be afraid that the President is going to take their land with maybe not going through the proper legal channels?
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): You know, I'm very concerned that the President is even saying things like don't worry, if you get it done, even violate the law, I will pardon you. Whether he said that joking around or whatever way he said it, that's wrong. We have to respect private property rights. We have to respect private property rights.
There are some of my constituents that have owned land along the Rio Grande for so many generations. And for the President to come in and say that he's going to take land is just the wrong way.
If you look at this, if the President gets all of the fencing that he wants to get, all of the fencing in the state of Texas, for the first time in American history, we will have a President that will seat over 1.1 million acres, 1.1 million acres and that is wrong. BERMAN: Have you seen any evidence at this point that the administration has started doing this to go around the imminent domain process? Has this started happening yet in your district?
CUELLAR: Well, you know, we're looking at that. Today, I'm in the southern part of my district and I've been hearing from folks that they're starting to do surveys and they're trying get into properties to do the surveys. Again, I don't know. This is something that we are going to investigate.
But the problem is, the President and administration have to respect the law. There is a thing called imminent domain that you have to go through the courts and you have to respect the law.
BERMAN: Well, if they start going around the imminent domain process, what will you do? How will you help your constituents fight?
CUELLAR: Well, you know, certainly two things. I mean, certainly I will be talking to the Secretary of Homeland, Kevin McAleenan. He's a good man and I know that he will do everything to respect the law, talk to the local border patrol chiefs to make sure that they understand that the members of Congress are watching and we don't want them to circumvent the law.
[20:40:12] And of course, appropriations is another way. The problem is by the time we do appropriations, which could be by the end of the year in December, if there is any damage that could be done, that will be something.
BERMAN: The reporting you mentioned from earlier this week that the President offered a pardon to any officials who might break the law and their attempt to make sure a large portion of the wall is built. The White House says the President was joking, but do you believe officials would actually do it, break the law for the President?
CUELLAR: Well, you know, even joking around, you shouldn't even say that. You know, the people that I know, the border patrol folks, the chiefs that I know in the Laredo sector, the Rio Grande sector, which is down in this area, they're good men.
They're good men that are trying to do their job. I don't think they would do that. And certainly I will make sure that we work together, that we follow the law. But the men and women that I know that are serving down here, I know they're not going to do that.
BERMAN: Some of your colleagues say if the stories are true, it constitutes an abuse of power by the President. Is this something you think should be investigated?
CUELLAR: I mean, certainly. I mean, I think there are committees that will be looking into this. And again, you know, we don't know. You know, he said it was a joke but, again, you can't say that because there's been too many actions that, you know, after one, after another one that President keeps doing, even if he jokes around, we're going to think that it's true. So, I hope that the President just understands that he's not joking around. You can't make fun of people that have had lands for generations and we got to respect those private property rights of those individuals.
BERMAN: Congressman Cuellar, thank you very much for joining us.
CUELLAR: Thank you so much.
BERMAN: Just ahead, we're going to return to Florida and have more on the preparations in advance of Hurricane Dorian still on a potential path to impact millions of people.
[20:45:55] BERMAN: We just received yet another update from the National Hurricane Center that Hurricane Dorian is now a category four hurricane. That is a catastrophic hurricane. So the concerns about that, plus once in a year high tides are raising concerns about all of the low lying areas in and around Miami, which are already prone to flooding.
Congresswoman Donna Shalala is a newly minted (ph) representative from Miami who served for a long time as president of the University of Miami and was a member of President Clinton's cabinet. She joins me now.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us. The fact that this hurricane could make landfall during what's called a king tide, one of the highest tides of the year, how concerned are you about the degree to which that could magnify the storm's impact?
REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Very concerned. Already Miami Beach is flooding. We've already seen the initial effect of king tides which, of course, are the highest of the highest tides. So, we're very concerned and we're preparing for the worst.
BERMAN: How are you preparing?
SHALALA: Well, we're doing everything we can. Both the mayor of Miami-Dade County and the governor have already issued warnings in the community and everybody is gassing up.
They're boarding up their houses. They're putting their shutters in place. They're getting seven days of food and water, because that's our estimate. This is going to go on for a while from every evidence that we have. It's not just going to be one hit. It's going to go on for two or three days.
BERMAN: As of now, any evacuation orders planned?
SHALALA: There are none so far, just preparations for everyone to stay in their own homes at the moment. But, I would not be surprised if we do get evacuation orders. I'll be at the emergency operation center tomorrow to talk to the mayor and we'll see where we go from there.
BERMAN: And to be clear --
SHALALA: But of course, we're not very precise about where it's going to hit. But we do know that we're -- it's going to have a huge effect in Miami-Dade County, in South Florida and all the way up the coast. So, everyone has to be prepared. And, frankly, Florida -- Floridians are pros. We've been through this before. We know how to prepare. And that's exactly what we're doing.
BERMAN: We just got word and then people can see it on their screen, we just got word there are going to be a mandatory evacuation order in some parts of Brevard County starting Sunday. So some communities in Florida are beginning to make that decision.
And despite what the President said earlier, it's a local decision. Evacuation orders are made at the local level, not made at the federal level. Nevertheless, people need to pay attention. And the storm has been so difficult to predict, which is why I know some of these local officials are waiting.
Just to be clear about the flooding, it doesn't have to be a direct hit on Miami or Miami-Dade for there to be flooding. It's almost inevitable that there're going to be some serious flooding in these areas that you know about, correct?
SHALALA: There is going to be serious flooding. And we've already had that experience. It's going on now. I'm as worried about the flooding as I am about the other direct hits from the hurricane.
Remember, after Hurricane Andrew, this community and many of the communities in Florida change their building codes. So we have much stronger building codes than we've ever had before. But trees fall on houses and we have flooding across South Florida. And so we have to be prepared for everything.
BERMAN: Congresswoman Shalala, thank you very much for being with us tonight and getting that message out. Hopefully people will heed the warning.
Up next, we're going to go back to Tom Sater for more on the storm that has just become a category four hurricane.
[20:53:45] BERMAN: All right, the news hit just before the break, mandatory evacuations are now being ordered for parts of Brevard County. They affect those who live on the barrier islands, including areas from the Kennedy Space Center south to the beaches and Merritt Island.
Also being told to evacuate, people in mobile homes or manufactured housing or in flood prone areas and those with special medical special needs. And, again, Dorian was just upgraded to a category four hurricane. So let's go right back to Tom Sater. Tom, give us the latest on that. TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not a big surprise, John. At the top of the hour, I mentioned at the 8:00 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center that we saw the greatest drop in pressure from any advisory to the next. It's a 20 millibar drop. What that means is when that pressure drops significantly, it takes a while for the winds then to pick up. It's just getting stronger.
Yesterday at this hour, it was a category one. Expecting to go to two at 11:00 p.m. and it did. That means in a 24-hour period, we have now jumped from a category one hurricane to a category four. This is amazing. Could it get to a five? Yes, it can, and most likely will now.
When you look at a well-defined eye like this, and we've got -- you know, we're still over 500 miles away from let's say the coast of Florida, we've got a lot more warmer water to contend with. I mean, we go from the mid-80s to the upper 80s, and that's significant.
[20:55:10] Now, when you look this track, I want to point out a few things. Here we are currently at a category four. Then notice how it goes to three, then back to four. This is going to be a new track in two hours. So what they're showing us here still the older track, but what it is currently.
So at about 11:00 p.m., we're going to get a new track from the National Hurricane Center and it's going to be interesting to see. Are we going to see a five moving into the area?
A couple things to just recap this 8:00 p.m. advisory, what does this tell us? First and foremost, all of Florida is still in that cone of uncertainty. As this storm now continues to build, those strong winds, hurricane winds and tropical storm-force winds will continue to expand. So that storm not only will look larger on a satellite imagery, those winds will be wider and stronger. So everyone is still involved here.
The other thing to look at is when we're getting closer, we're looking at a slow process of heavy, heavy, heavy rainfall. Again, saturated ground, it can't take much. It's like trying to pour water into an empty bucket. Well, now, this bucket is full and we're going to drop a dump truck on top of it.
The other thing, we still have the possibility of this thing sliding off the coast and edging to east. But one last thing, it is going to make landfall right now as a category four. Here's the definition of category four. Catastrophic damage will occur. Well-built frame homes can sustain severe damage with lost of most of roof structures and some exterior wall. Power could be out for weeks or months and most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks.
BERMAN: Tom Sater, thank you very much for joining us. Stay with CNN, special coverage of Hurricane Dorian all weekend long. And when we come back, "A.C. 360" special, Anderson's remarkable conversation with Howard Stern.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:00:00]