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Hurricane Dorian Could Be Cat 4 When It Hits Florida; Pete Gaynor, Acting FEMA Administrator, Addresses Hurricane Prep; Biden to Be Flanked by Warren, Sanders in September Debate. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 30, 2019 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- all do. And does she know how to work a crowd or what, at age 15?


BERMAN: Andy Scholes, thanks so much for being with us.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: All right. We have a big change in the track and intensity of Hurricane Dorian. NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: this is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right. Welcome to the viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. Alisyn is on assignment. Julia Chatterley joins me this morning. Quite a morning to be here.


BERMAN: Florida is on high alert. Hurricane Dorian has gained strength overnight and is heading directly at Florida. We are standing by from a -- for a new update from the National Hurricane Center in just minutes.

Let's tell you what happened overnight. As we said, Dorian got stronger. It is now a Category 2 storm, 105 mile-per-hour winds. It is expected to become a catastrophic Category 4 storm before making landfall. That means winds as high as 130 miles per hour, which would easily make it the strongest hurricane to hit -- hit the east coast of Florida in decades.

CHATTERLEY: The forecast models are also coming into alignment here. So what we're looking at, we're getting a better picture now of where Dorian actually could come ashore. The hurricane is forecast to slow down once it's over land and then dump a lot of rain. Flooding, and life-threatening storm surge are also major concerns here with as much as a foot of rain falling in the hardest hit areas.

BERMAN: All right. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Chad, you've been looking at the new data coming in overnight. Give us the latest forecast. CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, coming on shore, John, in the

middle of 140 mile-per-hour Category 4 storm. Now, it could be 135; it could be 145. That all depends on the size of the eye. Like a ballerina spinning around or an ice skater spinning around. When the arms are in, the person goes faster. When the arms are out, the skater goes slower.

So it depends if it's going to be a 10-mile-wide eye or a 15-mile-wide eye. The devastation will be exactly the same if you are under that wind speed there.

It comes on shore some time during the day on Monday night into Tuesday morning as 140. It dies off to a 130 by the time it hits land, or at least slightly inland, because water makes it stronger. Land makes it less strong.

And then for somewhere around Wednesday night, we'll probably have this thing not that far north of Orlando. So a slowing down of the forward speed. Not much of a slowdown of these wind speed around the eye. Right now, 105 miles per hour.

Hurricane hunter out there looking at it right now. Yesterday at this time, we didn't get a new update at 8 p.m., because there were no watches and warnings in effect. But now we have hurricane watches for the Bahamas. So we will get a new update in one hour. We'll certainly have that for you.

The models have turned the storm to the southern half of Florida landfall and then turning it to the north. We've seen this over and over with every storm.

Could it turn a little bit sooner? Sure. Could it turn a little bit later? Sure. What's the difference whether it turns on the middle or on the east side or the west side, well, a whole bunch compared to how many people will be hit by this storm.

There will be surge. Significant surge with 140 mile-per-hour storm to the north of the eye. That surge could be 8 feet. It could be more. But I'm going to go eight feet.

Plus, we had king tides going on this week, so that's going to hurt for another two or three feet. So that's a big story.

Wind damage, absolutely, and inland fresh water flooding. There will be places with 20 inches of rainfall on the ground before the storm finally exits.

And what do you do with 20 inches of rain? You flood things. So keep that in mind. All three things in play this time. Not just one.

CHATTERLEY: We will keep them all in mind, Chad. Thank you. We'll be back with you later on in the show.

For now, though, Florida residents bracing for a direct hit from this catastrophic hurricane; stocking up on things like water, plywood, food, gas, and emergency supplies. Lines at some stores are stretching out the door.

CNN's Rosa Flores live in West Palm Beach for us at a Home Depot store. Rosa, you were talking to us about queues earlier. You're seeing more, I'm assuming, right now.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The word here is "busy." Take a look around. Folks here picking up plywood. They're picking up generators, pretty much anything that they can use to board up their homes.

State officials asking residents in Florida to prepare with seven days' worth of water, food, medicines. Those items flying off the shelves across the state of Florida as people prepare.

We're also seeing long gas lines around the state as people try to prepare just in case of an evacuation.

Now, Governor DeSantis has issued a state of emergency in all 67 counties in Florida. Now, that eases up me rules. It allows more gas to flow into the state.

Now, the governor has also activated the National Guard. Twenty-five hundred members of the National Guard have already been activated. There's 1,500 that are on standby. There are hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that have also been pre-staged. More than 1.8 million meals that are ready to be distributed, as well.

And on top of all of that, 860,000 bottles of water have been already pre-deployed to some of the counties that are impacted.

And Julia and John, I want to leave you with this. We're talking to a lot of people here. And they have one word to describe this storm. And this is why they're so concerned. It's the unpredictability of this storm that they're so concerned about -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Rosa Flores for us in West Palm. Rosa, thank you very much.

Obviously, this is a holiday weekend, which means even more tourists than usual for Florida. Let's go straight to Nick Valencia. He is in Daytona Beach. Nick, what do you see?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's gorgeous right now. No doubt about that. But it's not going to stay that way. And if you are planning on coming to Florida this weekend, you're likely in for a very stressful holiday weekend. You know this. Florida's tourism is the No. 1 industry here in the state.

And we have been checking in, and this is what we can tell you with airlines and airports. No closure, as yet. No cancellations. But we do know some airlines are already offering to waive those change of ticket fees if you are changing your plans.

Here is what we are hearing, though. Up and down the east coast of Florida, there have been hotel cancellations, really, left and right, at least in the Orlando area. One hotel group is offering distress rates in the event that people want to evacuate north.

Three days away -- at least three days away from hurricane landfall here in Florida, but a lot of people very nervous. And we're seeing a lot of the normal preparations taking place. Cruise lines are changing their itinerary. College football is back. Florida State/Boise State expected to play a game in Jacksonville. Now they've changed that venue further north to Tallahassee.

We can also tell you that theme parks are keeping a close eye on this, especially in the Orlando area. It's only been a handful of times that they've closed because of hurricanes. The last time they did that, Hurricane Matthew. Restaurants, local business owners very nervous, keeping an eye on this, they're telling us. Listen to the local officials -- John.

BERMAN: Indeed. Listen to the local officials. The local officials are saying get ready now. Nick, thank you very much.

Joining us now is Ken Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center.

Director, thank you so much for being with us. Tell us when and where Floridians can first expect to feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian.

KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Yes. Let's look at the path here. And really, what we're looking at is, you know, not just concentrating just on that center.

Already, we have the tropical-storm-force winds extending about 90 miles out from the center, so it's so important not to think of this as -- as a point or a line. It's -- it's larger than that.

Let's look at the onset. This is the beginning of tropical-storm- force winds, based on the current forecast. In other words, too dangerous to be outside. Have to have things wrapped up. You know, you don't want to be carrying plywood around in those type of winds.

So by Sunday, Sunday at 8 p.m., we're looking at the potential of those tropical-storm-force winds right offshore. And then moving overnight through Monday over the -- over the -- from the coast all the way inland.

CHATTERLEY: OK. So we're talking about starting to feel the effects by 8 p.m. Sunday. Then what about the path? How long are we expecting this to be moving over the state? So we're talking how much time to feel the effects of the rain, the wind here at this stage?

GRAHAM: Yes. One of the big factors in our forecast, you know, we always think about the wind speed. We always talk about, you know, the strength of the wind and the forecast for the rain.

But a lot of it has to do with the speed. And one of the changes overnight has been to slow down the storm a little bit. So one way to look at it is each one of these points is really where we think the center could be. Of course, the impact is much larger than that. But the closer those

are together, the slower the storm. So you know, we could have a very major hurricane right on the coast, and we're looking at, you know, going into Monday.

But even by -- even by Wednesday, very slowly moving up the coast of Florida per the current forecast. So, you know, we're talking a day or two with some of these hurricane-force winds.

BERMAN: Is there anything at this point, about 20 seconds left, that could have a major impact and shift this even more in one direction or another?

GRAHAM: I think at this stage, even if there is some sort of shift, you know, if you're any one of these areas, you've got to be prepared. And you're going to see some sort of impact from the storm.

BERMAN: All right. Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, thank you very much for being with us.

We do want to note, we're getting a new update at 8 a.m. So brand-new data coming then. We'll talk to the director at that point, as well.

Joining me now is the FEMA acting administrator, Pete Gaynor.

Administrator, thank you very much for being with us. We've looked at the map. A huge area of concern now in the state of Florida. Tell me how FEMA is getting ready.

PETE GAYNOR, FEMA ACTING ADMINISTRATOR: Well -- well, I think our message today is make sure that the residents of Florida are ready. As you listen to Ken Graham describe the storm, it's going to impact the entirety of Florida, and residents need to be prepared for that eventuality.

So take the time now. You can take action by downloading the FEMA app to understand what your local risk is and make sure that your family and yourselves are protected.

BERMAN: Any talk of mandatory evacuations at this point? I know that's a state issue, but you'd certainly be aware of it.

GAYNOR: Yes. So if I could just talk to that a little bit, having been a former local and state director, the best advice I could give residents of Florida and south Georgia is to tune into your local county and state emergency managers. They have the best advice for you, should they tell you evacuate or shelter in place. Understand your evacuation routes. Understand where your shelters are.

[07:10:21] And again, take that time now to take all those actions now so you keep your family and yourself safe.

BERMAN: Every storm is different and has its unique, in some cases uniquely dangerous characteristics. What worries you most here?

GAYNOR: Well, first of all, I think the uncertainty where it's exactly going to go. I think a lot of people believe that the wind is the thing that kills people. It's actually flooding.

Ninety percent of all disaster-related deaths are from flooding. So whether it's surge or inland flooding. And 50 percent of that, 90 percent are people in cars driving through flooded waters.

So again, turn around, don't drown. Don't put yourself, your family, your neighbors in danger. Don't put first responders in danger. You know, keep yourself safe. The clock is ticking right now. Don't waste time. Prepare yourself and your family.

BERMAN: And we understand there's something of a triple threat when it comes to the water here. First, a storm surge which could be huge, given how slowly this is approaching the coast.

No. 2, what's called a king tide, a particularly high tide this time of year. And the third thing is up to 20 inches of rain in some places as it will fall for as much as three days. How does that affect your job?

GAYNOR: It just makes it more difficult. And again, the best defense is to prepare. You know, the hurricane will do what the hurricane does. You know, our entire family, federal family, our private partners, our NGOs, DOD, we are preparing. We're coordinating with state and local officials right now in Florida and Georgia to make sure that we're the best prepared. And that -- that goes right down to the individual. So, you know, take the time now.

BERMAN: You say take the time now. This is your chance to speak to people of Florida, because they still have electricity and television coverage and cell phone service. They won't in two days. So walk us through what they have to be doing.

GAYNOR: You have to be making sure that you're able to be by yourselves for three to seven todays. This is going to be a long duration, major storm.

Again, I think wherever it makes landfall, it has potential to go up the 95 corridor of Florida into Georgia. Rain, flooding, debris. It's going to be -- it's going to be a large impact storm. Don't dismiss just because you don't live on the coast. Just because you don't live in West Palm. You have to believe that's going to impact you.

And again, the clock is ticking. It's up to you to take proactive action to keep yourself and your family safe.

BERMAN: Now, of course, the geography of Florida is unique. It's a peninsula. So in some cases, if a storm like this falls for a long period of time, it's hard to get in or out. What are you doing in terms of prepositioning resources?

GRAHAM: We are working with the state right now. So from our warehouses across the United States, we're moving in commodities like food, water, generators in and around Florida to make sure that, should the state have a need, we can meet that. We have incident management teams that are embedded with the state

today. That will continue through the weekend to make sure that we are one team on this. Local, county, state, and the federal government. Because that's what it takes to -- to respond to these major disasters.

BERMAN: Any update on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands? It did have some impact on those U.S. territories.

GAYNOR: I think we were extremely fortunate in both Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Some minor power outages in St. John's, St. Thomas. I think the majority of those are -- are completed. But that was Dorian, part one. This is Dorian, part two, and this is what we're really worried about this weekend.

BERMAN: All right. Acting FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor, we do appreciate you being with us.

And in case you weren't listening to everything the administrator just said, pay attention to your local authorities. Get ready now. That is the big message, I think, that everyone needs to take away from this.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. And 8 p.m. Sunday, feeling the first effects. So two days to get ready.

All right. We're going to take a break. There's new scrutiny, though, this morning over a story former Vice President Joe Biden has been telling for years. We'll discuss. All the details next.


[07:18:12] BERMAN: We've officially entered a new stage in the Democratic nominating process. The next debate stage is set. Just one debate, ten candidates. And at the center of that stage will be the matchup that a lot of people have been waiting for: former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

We should also note that Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Kamala Harris, those are the four leading contenders, all at the center of the debate stage in a couple weeks.

Joining me now to discuss where we are and where we are headed in this contest, someone who's been there. The former head of the DNC and a presidential candidate himself at one point, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Governor, thank you so much for being with us.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER HEAD OF THE DNC: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren side by side. What does that mean? What will you watch for?

DEAN: It doesn't mean much right now, to be honest with you. We still have four or five months to go. And it's likely that there will be a couple of other candidates that didn't get on this time that will get on the next time, because the criteria are the same. So we shouldn't get too excited this far out.

But it is true. There are five or six actual candidates that actually are in the lead. And they're -- I expect one or two of the ones, perhaps even the ones that didn't get on the stage this time to make a run before we get done.

BERMAN: In terms, though, of a confrontation of ideas at this point, you have Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, who I think have been circling each other in many ways over the last month. They'll be standing next to each other. It'll be hard to circle without making contact.

DEAN: No, that's true. And I do think you're going to see a difference in philosophy. Joe is more classic Democratic politician. And he's, you know, been in the Senate for 40 years, really, if you include his time as vice president, which is an officer of the Senate, as well.

And Elizabeth is relatively new, even though they're more or less the same age. I think Joe is about five years older than Elizabeth.

Elizabeth really has a lot of -- generated a lot of excitement in the younger generation. That's very important, because our party is mainly young people, women, and people of color. And those are the three groups that you must get out and very enthusiastically in order to beat Trump.

BERMAN: Although the counter to that is that, as we all know, older people are the ones who vote in higher numbers, and that's true in primaries and in general elections.

But I'm glad you brought that up. And I've been looking forward to speaking with you for some time. Because we were talking about some of the energy that seems to be following Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail. She's had these events with giant crowds in Seattle and also in Minnesota. What does that tell us?

And the reason I wanted to ask you was there was a period of time in 2004 where you were generating huge crowds. Thousands of people were showing up to your events, and you were the front runner for a time. But that did come to an end.

DEAN: Well, I was -- I was -- yes. I was not as well-organized as Elizabeth. We had a lot of passion. We had a very strong message, and we had young people.

You know, the campaigns were a little bit different. I didn't realize until after this was all over that I was actually running against the Democratic Party, which at that time had voted for Bush's tax cuts, had voted for the war in Iraq, and I didn't. So it was a different kind of dynamic. I don't think you see that much division.

I also think you see something that is very, very powerful: the desire to beat Donald Trump. Now, there was a tremendous desire to beat George W. Bush among Democrats. But people wanted ideology, and that was just as important. Today, most Democrats mostly want to beat Trump, and they are not so particular about which candidate they have.

BERMAN: That seems to be something that the Biden campaign is leaning most hard into at this point, the idea of electability.

Let me ask you about him and this story that's been out there for the last day. And not to relitigate the details of it, but he's been telling a story on the campaign trail for some time about pinning a medal on an Afghan vet. And he seems to be conflating a few different versions of the story.

The question is -- and Joe Biden didn't apologize for it last night. He said he got the gist of it right. Is there any reason to believe that this will have an effect on him? Because if you look back at the last three months, there have been a number of things that have come to the surface. His -- his ties to segregationist senators at one time, the women who said they felt uncomfortably close to him in some spaces. None of that has seemed to have any effect on Joe Biden, at least in the opinion of Democratic voters. Why is there any reason to believe that this will?

DEAN: Well, first of all, he -- to think -- to say he had ties with segregationist senators --

BERMAN: Friends with.

DEAN: -- duration, even.

BERMAN: Worked with. Look, you're right. He was in no way a segregationist senator, but he talked about working with the segregationist senators.

DEAN: Right. No, this is -- this is a serious choice. This is a generational choice. And it's funny that somebody who's 71 years old is representing the younger generation, but Elizabeth is.

My kids are for Elizabeth and Castro for V.P. Now, that will probably change, but it's definitely generational.

And I do want to correct you. It is true that older voters vote more often. But in fact, Barack Obama was elected by younger voters. The only election in my lifetime, in 2008, where more people under 35 voted than over 65. So there are no rules that can't be broken in the Democratic primary.

Look, it's going to be a fascinating confrontation here. I actually don't think it will be that much of a confrontation. I think Joe and Elizabeth will both be polite to each other, because they know that antagonizing Democratic voters is not something either one of them wants to do.

But it is a great contest, and it really is -- again, I don't want to exaggerate this. It's a little bit for the soul of the Democratic Party. But the Democratic Party is changing. And the question is do we have a candidate everybody knows and

probably can beat Donald Trump? Or do we sort of advance the ideological ball down the field and have somebody who's more exciting and more with au courant with ideas that appeal to particularly young people and women?

And you know, I think -- I think either one of them could beat Trump. I think it's a fascinating confrontation.

BERMAN: To my question, though -- to my question, though, about Joe Biden specifically, it does seem that every time a story like this comes out, the voters don't seem to care. It doesn't seem to be what they're most interested in, does it?

DEAN: Look, if the voters can forgive Donald Trump being corrupt and feathering his own nest with money, they can certainly forgive Joe Biden a few lapses of memory.

I mean, I think Trump has lowered the bar so much that, you know, as Trump famously said himself, you'd have to shoot somebody on 5th Avenue, and you might not notice then. So I do think the rules of the game have changed.

Joe -- look, Joe has been Joe for 40 years. And he's not going to change. So what you see is what you get.

[07:25:08] Do I think he can't be president? Of course I don't think that. Obviously, he served vice -- vice president very, very well.

But there is going to be a contrast. And that's what Democrats are going to have to decide.

And let's not forget the other eight people on the stage. I really do think that -- that they're -- any of these people could be president of the United States. And I even think some people who are not on the stage can still come back.

BERMAN: Former Governor Howard Dean, always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks so much for being with us.

DEAN: Thanks a lot.

CHATTERLEY: All right. We're just minutes away now from a fresh update on Hurricane Dorian. The latest on the storm's intensity and its track after this. Stay with us.