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Hurricane Dorian Moving Dangerously Close to Florida Coast; Mandatory Evacuations Underway as Dorian Heads to U.S.; Police in Daytona Beach Conduct Door-to-Door Checks as Florida Airports Begin to Close; Mayor of Broward County Mark Bogen discusses Hurricane Dorian, Evacuations; Gunman Fired From Job Hours Before Deadly Texas Massacre. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 14:30   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Welcome back to CNN special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian, now a category-4 storm, a very strong category 4.

Here on Jensen Beach, the winds have picked up in the last couple of minutes. What were gusts maybe 10 or 20 minutes ago are now stronger sustained winds.

We know that this area is under a hurricane warning. These winds will get even stronger even as Hurricane Dorian's eye is not expected to make landfall here in south Florida.

Let me send it in to meteorologist, Jennifer Gray, who is watching the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

What is this area expecting? What should they expect, and where is it now?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you're going to get a very close brush with this storm, Victor. You are going to have very, very high winds. You're also going to have a lot of rain, as well as the storm surge there.

The hurricane hunters have been out in the storm pretty much around the clock for the past several days sampling the atmosphere, not only within the storm center but even the atmosphere around the storm. So they can tell us pressure, wind speeds, the environment around it, which helps with the track of where this is going to go. And they've determined that we have about 150 mile-per-hour winds now with gusts of 190.

It's only moving at one mile per hour, one. This is just walking by. And you can see the eye right there on Grand Bahama Island. Looking like the eye is finally emerging on that north side, just offshore within the next couple of hours, hopefully.

But that still means the strongest winds within the storm, the 158 mile-per-hour winds with 190 gusts, will still be impacting Grand Bahama Island even for the next several hours.

We talk about these storms, these hurricanes, they normally come and they go over an area. They don't just sit right on top of you with winds this ferocious. It's actually excruciating to watch. The six- hour loop, just seeing that storm basically just staying put.

Also, Victor, you're about 112 miles from the center of the storm. Jensen Beach right there. And you can see the rain bands. You're getting the first outer bands of this storm.

So when those downpours happen, expect the winds to be rather gusty and to die down a little bit, pick up. And that's typical with these rain bands as they move on shore in your area.

BLACKWELL: We've had significant wind for a couple of minutes now. Just a few drizzles in and out for the last 20 minutes.

Jennifer Gray, there in the CNN Weather Center, thank you so much.

Let's go down a short drive here on the Treasure Coast to Stuart, where my colleague, Brian Todd, is.

Brian, any discussion of a hurricane here on Florida's Treasure Coast immediately brings up comparisons to Frances and Jean in 2004. Many of the people are not expecting that type of weather, those conditions here. Still, authorities are asking them to take this storm very seriously.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. Those two hurricanes from 2004 still very much on the minds of people here. We talked to people here about the two storms, and they have not forgotten them at all.

We are, as you are, starting to get some of the outer bands of Dorian, some of the tropical storm-force winds. Check out the violent nature of the way the waves are hitting up against the seawall here at this park in Stuart. It's only going to get worse in the next couple of hours.

We're going to walk this way as we get hit with some of this and angle over here where I can tell you about some of the dangers here.

We are at the confluence of two rivers that come right off the ocean, the St. Lucie River, to my immediate right over here, and the Indian River lagoon, which is just over there.

Now that's part of the problem, too. The storm surge from two rivers and the ocean creating more force to hit in these low-lying areas and create flooding.

Also, that piece of land right there that you see in the distance, that is Hutchinson Island. That's a barrier island. There are barrier islands up along -- up and down the Treasure Coast here and really along the whole part of the east coast of Florida. All of those barrier islands have been placed under mandatory evacuation orders. [14:35:16]

You know, we know that in the barrier islands here and the one Jupiter Island just to the south, there are about 30,000 people living on both islands combined. A lot of them have elected not to leave.

And we just talked to emergency management officials here in Martin County. They're saying, look, we're not going to be able to get out to you with at the height of the storm in the next few hours and we may not be able to get to you, depending on the condition of the bridges, after the storm hits.

They are worried that the people on Hutchinson Island there and Jupiter to the south are going to be isolated, Victor.

As you can see, it's getting a little bit more violent on our end over here.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Brian, authorities here in Martin County have shut down traffic into -- onto Hutchinson Island, through the Jensen Beach causeway, the Stuart causeway, as well. Only those who live here and can show that they are residents of the island, have business here, are allowed to come over.

Brian Todd, in Stuart for us, thank you so much.

Now, of course, the storm surge, the big story for the barrier islands. We're expecting a four to seven-foot storm surge. It would take the Atlantic over the dunes. It doesn't have to get to seven feet. It can cut between the dunes and get into the parking lots, some of the communities.

I also spoke with the mayor of one of the towns here on Hutchinson Island, who said the intercoastal, on the other side of the barrier island, will come over as well.

Before Dorian started churning in the Atlantic, this area was saturated, so they are expecting significant flooding from the rainfall, the storm surge, in addition to any damage that the wind will cause.

We're going to take a quick break now but will continue our special coverage in a moment. We're going to take you north to Daytona Beach where authorities are going door to door to tell people in those mandatory evacuation areas it's time to go.



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: As Hurricane Dorian moves even closer to Florida, police in Daytona Beach are conducting door-to-door checks just to see if people need any help.

Airports in Florida are beginning to close. Daytona Beach International Airport is set to close just in the next couple of hours.

CNN correspondent, Rosa Flores, is live in Daytona Beach.

Before, Rosa, we talk evacuations, and I see the sun is shining on you for now, are people heeding those warnings? What are conditions set to be like?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, some people are heeding the warnings and others are not.

Let me show you around and tell you about it. If you look here in the tourist area, all of the businesses are boarded up as you go up and down the beach.

But CNN Producer John Couwels went to the residential area not far from here, and there are people that are not leaving. They have decided to hunker down and ride out the storm in their homes. Take a listen.


MARY GORDON, DAYTONA BEACH RESIDENT: As far away as it is right now, I see more scary things than I have in the past. I mean, the water at the last ones was never this high at this had far ahead of the actual storm. So I just think it's just so unpredictable, that we'd better be prepared.

MARTY GORDON, DAYTONA BEACH RESIDENT: Nobody's ever ready for a hurricane, nobody. We're waiting to see what happens. Hopefully, it won't be as bad as they're predicting. I hope that the water -- the hurricane goes off the shore quite a ways.

I've had two docks that have been blown away from Irma and Michael. And I don't need another one this year.


FLORES: Now, Brooke, here is why county officials are so concerned. They are worried that Dorian will wobble to the west. Right now, they're expecting winds between 40 and 50 miles per hour starting tomorrow at about noon with wind gusts from 75 to 85 miles per hour and possible tornadoes -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Rosa, thank you so much.

That's the issue, when the wind comes, the hurricanes and the winds, tornadoes are a huge, huge worry, as well, especially the farther you go inland.

That's Rosa in Daytona Beach.

Let's head back to Victor Blackwell out at Hutchinson Island there, the barrier island, sort of in the West Palm area if my -- my geography of Florida is serving me correctly.

I see the rain is pelting you, my friend. BLACKWELL: Yes, the conditions have deteriorated. And it happened

really quickly. The wind picked up -- you saw that the last time I was with you. Then the temperature dropped a bit. And now the rain has picked up. And it feels like, if you've never stood in these conditions, like someone's just pelting gravel at your face. And it's coming from the side.

This is one of those outer bands that we've been told to expect more of as Dorian continues to spin out there. But not essentially moving this direction -- just moving this direction at one mile per hour.

We are seeing more of those. This has been the strongest one we've seen in maybe about 45 minutes or so. But we're told to expect more of these.


I want to go now to Mark Bogen, the mayor of Broward County, just south of West Palm Beach, Palm Beach county.

Mr. Mayor, thanks for being with us.

First question here, according to the latest update from the governor's office, Governor Ron DeSantis, there are no mandatory evacuations even for the barrier islands in Broward County. What are you expecting for Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, for Dania Beach, for Hollywood Beach, for those communities?

MARK BOGEN, BROWARD COUNTY MAJOR: As everyone has seen the past 24 hours, the storm continues to go west, one mile-an-hour west. So we're still on alert here. We're at the emergency operation center 24 hours a day.

Until the storm goes north, we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Right now, we're under a tropical storm watch, getting rain, getting wind. But we're just watching and waiting.

BLACKWELL: Despite the lack of those mandatory evacuations, have you seen more people start to leave as we've gotten closer to the middle of the week, when we're expecting Dorian to come closer to the Florida coast?

BOGEN: We're watching -- we're opening up shelters for people with special needs. We have three general population shelters for people who don't feel comfortable in their home.

It's not mandatory. It's voluntary. I think most people here are -- (AUDIO PROBLEM)

BLACKWELL: We're having technical issues with your call. And I can't hear you, maybe for obvious reasons. But I don't think the viewer can hear you either according to our producers.

So thank you for being with us. Mark Bogen, the mayor of Broward County. Again, we're getting one of those extreme outer bands to come because

we know, still 112 miles from where I am, that's the center of Dorian. The rain has slacked up just a bit but we're still feeling those winds.

We'll continue our live special coverage in just a moment.



BALDWIN: Right now, investigators are trying to answer the question why. Trying to figure out why a man murdered so many innocent people in west Texas. Seven people were killed, 22 injured, including members of law enforcement.

A law enforcement official tells CNN that the gunman was fired from his job as a truck driver hours before he started shooting.

Today, the youngest victim of that violent rampage underwent surgery. Here she is. And 17-month-old Anderson Davis was shot in her face, shrapnel in her shoulder, hole in her lip, missing her teeth. She is expected to make, thank goodness, a complete recovery.

Other family members dealing with the reality that their loved ones, though, of course, will never come home.

Mary Granados was on the phone with her between sister, Rosie, when the gunman hijacked her postal truck and killed her.


ROSE GRANADOS, SISTER OF SHOOTING VICTIM MARY GRANADOS: It is the worst thing somebody can go through. It's -- it's just like seeing anybody you love in your life because we were always together. We made so many memories. And she was just part of my life, part of my whole world. She was taken away from me and my mother, my family.


BALDWIN: Dustin Fawcett witnessed the chaos as it unfolded.

Dustin, thank you so much for being with me.

I was in Odessa with you yesterday. We were having this conversation. I wanted to invite you back on. You have an incredible story.

You were -- you were there at the Starbucks kind of on this main drag in Odessa with your 3-week-old baby girl in your truck when you heard the pops. Tell me what you heard and what you saw.

DUSTIN FAWCETT, WITNESS: Thanks for having me on, Brooke.

So we're sitting there, just any other Saturday afternoon, getting out of the house after being cooped up a little bit. And you know, out of nowhere, began hearing these loud popping noises,

which I told you yesterday is not all too unfamiliar in our area. We are a rural country. We do have a lot of heavy equipment, loud trucks and stuff like that.

But then the repetitive center and the just the eeriness of the situation, the noises that followed. You know, I began to identify these are most likely gunshots.

I am an avid hunter. So you recognize the gunshot. But even then you still think it's a truck backfiring. You think, no, that's not what this is. We don't have drive-bys or anything like that, especially in this particular area.

But then as more bullets began ringing out, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 -- you know, no one ever can count how many of these things happen whenever it's happening -- I then began to realize this is what's happening. I duck, and then I go into my back seat and check on my daughter who is in her car seat.


And then after the shooting has stopped, I got out, and there were a couple of folks who had hit the deck near me at Starbucks outside. And then checked around there. There's a shopping area, a couple of restaurants and such around there. And checked to make sure everyone around us was OK.

And then that's when I began to realize where the carnage had taken place was on the roadway. And that's whenever I saw the -- three vehicles had stopped in the middle lanes there.

The front one was the first one I identified that had gunshot, you know, imagery as the passenger window was shot out. It was spider webbed, you know, what you'd expect from a bullet going through it. There was a middle car there, a truck in the middle. And behind that was the red SUV.

And about the time that I -- my eyes -- laid eyes on that, they opened up the door, the back door, and out crawled a mother with a baby girl who we know now was Anderson. And she was bleeding profusely from her face and had all of her hands and --


BALDWIN: You saw that? You saw the mom? You saw the 17-month-old? We know she underwent surgery. She's supposed to be OK.

But I do want to ask you because you and I had a healthy conversation I thought off camera yesterday.


BALDWIN: You know, you mentioned you're an avid hunter, a responsible gun owner. You told me that you agree both sides need to talk, need to find some solution to gun violence. I would love your opinion on what one Texas state legislator, Matt

Schaefer, said on Twitter. Let me read this, and I want your two cents.


BALDWIN: He wrote, "I'm not being to use the evil acts of a handful of people who diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texas. Period. I say no to red flag, pre-crime laws, no to universal background checks, no to bans on A.R.-15s or high-capacity magazines, no to mandatory gun buybacks."

When you hear all of that, Dustin, what goes through your head?

FAWCETT: What goes through my head is we need to bring this to the situation and bring our thoughts to this situation.

This isn't about the failures of laws. This is about the success of law enforcement yesterday. This isn't about politics. This is about the people. This isn't about the crazed gunman but about the horrible acts of this crazed gunman, but the heroic acts of the law enforcement and the average citizens, the people that ran toward these people to go save their lives.

That's what this is about. It's about one community coming together, no one gunman tearing us apart.

BALDWIN: You agree on red flag laws. That's what you told me yesterday, right?

FAWCETT: Not -- so the term red flag laws is a tough one to talk about. And you and I talked about it.

One of my biggest fears is that we begin doing these red flag law checks -- and many veterans are gun owners.

And if you were to have the red flag laws, these veterans will not get checked for mental health because there are fears that PTSD will prevent them from keeping a gun. That may be the one thing that keeps them secure when they come back home.

And so if they're not getting mental health checkups for fear of being put on some list where they can't own their gun for their safety, I fear that.

But there has to be an honest conversation about what we are doing with all of our law enforcement, with -- with our judicial system, of who's getting in, who's getting out, what kind of offenders are on our street.

We have to have honest conversations. It can't be entirely one way or entirely the other. You can't place blame on anybody but these --


BALDWIN: I appreciate that. And I appreciate -- I really appreciate our very lengthy conversation yesterday. I think we should continue to talk offline.

Justin Fawcett, thank you so much for jumping back on TV with me.

FAWCETT: Yes, ma'am.

BALDWIN: I'm so grateful to you. And good luck with the three-week- old. Thank you.

FAWCETT: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.


Breaking news coverage continues. We are minutes away from the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.