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Update on Hurricane Dorian's Path; Hurricane Update from Daytona Beach; Update from Vero Beach; Hurricane Update from the Bahamas; Dive Boat Fire in California. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 13:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live in Washington. John Berman is standing by for us in Florida, where the effects of a powerful category four hurricane are starting to be felt.

Millions of people are in the path of Hurricane Dorian and are waiting to see exactly where this storm is headed next. Most of Florida's east coast is now covered by either mandatory or voluntary evacuations, along with the entire east coast of Georgia and South Carolina. And now the National Hurricane Center is giving hourly updates on the storm.

Let's get to meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She has a brand new update on the path and the intensity of Dorian, Allison, which is very important.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is, yes, and also the direction, finally some good news to provide.

This storm is now moving west-northwest instead of due west. That may seem like such a nominal thing to point out, but it's very important because it now means we're starting to see that gradual shift off to the north. This is great news for not only people in Freeport, but also along the Florida coast because it begins it's beginning that shift away from Florida and up the coast rather instead.

Now, I want to emphasize, this does not mean Florida will not be impacted. It just means that we're starting to see that northward trend. So the landfall across Florida is starting to come down, at least the chances.

However, because impacts will still be in place, we have hurricane watches, warnings, as well as tropical storm warnings across the east coast of Florida, mainly due to the fact that the winds are still going to be a large factor here. Because this is a large storm and it is expanding, when you look at this, again, that wind field is also getting bigger. That means that those strong winds will still be impacting the east coast of Florida regardless of whether an actual landfall takes place. Looking at some of these numbers, again, 60s, even the 70-mile-per-

hour range here on some of these cities along the east coast. And, again, it's going to slide up the entire coast. So everywhere from Miami all the way up to Jacksonville, you're likely to get some of those strong winds.

Here's a better idea. So this yellow color here, those winds are likely going to be 39 to 57 miles per hour. This narrow path of orange here, 58 to 73 miles per hour. But the red area here for places like West Palm Beach, Ft. Pierce, Melbourne, the space coast, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, even just east of Jacksonville, now you're talking winds of 74 to 110 miles per hour. So those gusts are going to be extremely strong and that could likely lead to some pretty widespread power outages.

Storm surge is also going to be a big factor. The highest numbers are obviously going to be in the Bahamas, about that 18 to 23 feet. But even, look at this, stretching from Jupiter up towards Jacksonville, you're looking at about four to seven feet of storm surge in these areas.

The track is still about the same. We still anticipate it to just slide along the east coast, not just of Florida, but also for states like Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina. Now, one bit of good news for those last three states, it is expected to weaken some as it slides up there. So your wind speeds are likely not going to be as strong as they will be in Florida.

However, some of these areas may end up having a greater storm surge threat just because of the direction in which that storm is headed and the direction of the water and wind flow that goes around it. So keep that in mind. While the winds may not be, Brianna, as strong for Georgia and the Carolinas, the storm surge threat and the rainfall threat may end up actually being higher for those states.

KEILAR: Wow, take note up on the east coast there.

Allison Chinchar, thank you so much. We'll be checking in with you.

I want to turn now to my colleague, John Berman, who is in Hutchinson Island, Florida. And he's already starting to get hit by Dorian's rain and wind.

Tell us what you're seeing, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now, first of all, I was listening to that forecast so carefully from Allison Chinchar because here on Jensen Beach, Florida, we are already starting to feel the wind picking up. It's been a steady, heavy breeze all day, maybe 20 to 30 miles an hour. When the rain starts falling, when those bands pass over us, the wind picks up to 50 miles per hour or stronger.

One of the biggest concerns here is the storm surge.

I think I can give you a sense of it behind me. The water has been coming up this high. You can see where the seaweed is right here. It's been coming all the way up here. The dunes, they're three feet away from that, right? So if we get a storm surge of four to seven feet, which is what they're expecting, the water could easily push past the dunes and that is the area of greatest concern now.

Allison was saying the hurricane is starting to turn north now. And while that is good news, we are going to get hurricane wind impacts all up the Florida coast, everywhere on the Florida coast.


They need to be prepared and be ready for this. And they are taking precautions. Mandatory evacuations underway in many counties all the way up to Charleston, South Carolina, as well.

I'm going to go to Daytona Beach, Florida. Daytona Beach might be where the storm gets the closest to the Florida coast. There are mandatory evacuation orders underway there.

Rosa Flores on the ground.

Rosa, tell us what you're seeing.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now it's nice and sunny and beautiful, but just as you've been saying, John, we're getting those outer bands of Hurricane Dorian. So every now and then, that's why I'm keeping my rain gear on because every now and then it will start pummeling with rain, the winds pick up. They are brief but very powerful.

Take a look behind me. We're seeing high tide right now. And we've been seeing people come along the beach all day long. But as John mentioned, this barrier island is under mandatory evacuation. That evacuation order was issued as 10:00 a.m. this morning. And this is what officials don't want to see, people just hanging out in these areas.

But businesses are heeding the warning. Take a look and you'll see that they are boarded up all along this beach front. Now, the evacuation order is for this entire barrier island, it's about 47 miles long. It's for all the low-lying areas and anyone living in a mobile home or an RV park. And here is why officials here in Volusia County, which is a county the side of about the state of Rhode Island, they are expecting thunderstorm-force winds starting tomorrow, at about noon or 1:00.

Now, this island, of course, is connected to the mainland through bridges. Once the wind speeds increase to 39 miles an hour, those bridges will be closed. And, of course, we hear this every single time we cover a hurricane, first responders will not be going out during these hurricane conditions. So even if people call for help, there will be -- there will be no help on the way.

Now, here's the other thing that this area is expecting, four to six inches of rain and also four to seven feet of storm surge.

So, John, it's exactly what you were describing where you are except here that storm surge, of course, that's why those low-lying areas and the barrier islands are under a mandatory evacuation because you just can't control storm surge once it starts coming in.


BERMAN: Nothing you can do to stop the water.

Rosa Flores. Rosa, thank you very much.

I do want to note one thing, which is that about an hour ago, this beach was full of people. Not sun bathing, but looky-lous (ph) out here to see the waves and to get a look for what Dorian is doing for the ocean themselves.

It's empty now. Why? I suspect because they're running out of beach to stand on as the water moves in, surges ever closer to the dunes. The other reason is because on this barrier island they've shut off the water. So if they're going to ride out the storm in their house, they're going to do it without water. It becomes a lot less appealing.

We're going to go to Martin Savidge now, who is in Vero Beach, Florida, to get a sense of the things there.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the weather conditions here are actually still pretty good. The sun's been out most of the day, but the surf is really rolling in now and it's going to be a clear problem for beach erosion later.

Let me show you another problem, people going in the water. These people that are just getting back onshore. They've been jumping in and out of the waves there. The storm surge is just part of the problem. Then you've got the rip tides that are out there and the wave action there is just really, really dangerous. So it's not only an indication of people just not taking the evacuation order seriously, they're not taking the whole safety issue about being in the water with the storm approaching too seriously either.

The other lesson clearly for at least Indian River County here is that if you want to draw a crowd, just declare a mandatory evacuation. All day long people have been drawn to the waterfront here.

Now, the reality is that this storm has been forecast for a long time and a lot of people realize that they're going to get some cabin fever over the next day or so. They want to get their last look into the water. Many of them are not going to stay. They're coming from the mainland, they're coming over here for a few hours, then they're going to go back.

However, there are several thousand people who live on this barrier island. We talked to a few and they do intend to ride it out, even though we know it's going to be hurricane-force winds potentially at some point. The storm surge could overtop the dunes. So there are severe concerns.

County officials say they're ready. Local people say they've been ready for days. We'll see how both cope in the next 24 hours or so.


BERMAN: Yes, Martin, there's going to come a point soon where you can't go out at all and we hope people heed the warnings then to be sure.

Martin Savidge at Vero Beach, thank you very much.

As windy as it is here, as rainy as it gets occasionally, it is just nothing compared to what they've been enduring about 100 miles that way in the Bahamas as Dorian just inches at this glacial pace over the islands.


It moves so slowly.

Our Patrick Oppmann has been in Freeport. We've had communications with him on and off for hours. Moments ago he filed this report.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And while the wind and the rain just will not stop, it has been hours of this. Late last night, early this morning, first the power went out and then it sounded like a jet engine running next to where we were sleeping. My crew and I, Jay Garcia (ph) and Jose Armigo (ph), we have actually come into a couple's apartment that has this amazing view and are sort of squatting with them and they're riding out this storm as well.

And in the middle of the night you could just hear this incredibly loud sound. And then let me -- let me show you this. This is something I've really never seen with a hurricane because you usually can't be this close to the ocean. You see the ocean out there. It didn't look like that a couple of days ago. It is much higher today. And that doesn't make sense except with a hurricane it pushes the water out and out and out and finally sort of creates a bulge of water.

But when the hurricane leaves, the danger won't be over. That water has to go somewhere. And it will -- most likely it will rush in here. It will probably top the barrier between where we are and the beach. Luckily, we're on the third floor. But it would seem very likely that there would be extensive flooding here. The Bahamian authorities said to expect up to 20 feet of storm surge once the hurricane leaves, and that is, as you know, the most deadliest part of a hurricane. They say you hide from the wind and you run from the water. And, in this case, many, many people will not be able to run from that storm surge.

Another gust right there. This -- Dorian just is not done with the Bahamas.

But when that storm surge does come up and if it is 20 feet high, that will cover most of this island. This water has already covered islands that were off the coast that are much more low-lying. And there were people who had said they were going to ride out the storm there. You just wonder how they are doing. And as well the people who are under the category five eye of this hurricane and have been there for hours. You can only imagine what that has been like. Dorian has devastated parts of the Bahamas and the sad thing is this powerful storm is not done with the Bahamas just yet.


BERMAN: All right, our thanks to Patrick Oppmann and his team out in Freeport, in Grand Bahama.

Simply cannot imagine what they've been going through. They've been doing unbelievable work in unimaginable circumstances. That's -- it has matched the greatest power of landfall for a hurricane ever in the Atlantic basin in the Bahamas.


KEILAR: That's right, John. And we'll be waiting to see once some of the storm clears exactly the damage that is done.

Thank you so much.

We'll be coming right back to you there in Florida.

Plus, we'll speak live with hurricane hunters who have flown into this storm.

And also developing right now, 34 people are missing and feared dead after a diving boat catches fire off the coast of California. We are going to take you there.

And we're also learning what happened to the west Texas gunman in the hours before he opened fire, shooting strangers in two communities.

This is CNN's special live coverage.



KEILAR: A major search and rescue effort is underway off the coast of southern California, where a fire broke out on a dive boat that was anchored off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. And the Coast Guard says at least 39 people were onboard and only five have been rescued. Authorities have also said that there are numerous fatalities.

I want to get to CNN correspondent Nick Watt.

You're there in Oxnard, where a Coast Guard presser just wrapped up. What can you tell us?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say, Brianna, they say that they are still in so-called response posture, which basically means that they are right now combing the shore of Santa Cruz Island looking for any survivors. This boat caught on fire, sank just about 20 yards from that shore in about 64 feet of water, we're told. As you mentioned, five people have been rescued. Let's take a little bit of sound from that Coast Guard to find out a bit more about those five people.


CAPTAIN MONICA ROCHESTER, U.S. COAST GUARD LOS ANGELES LONG BEACH SECTOR COMMANDER: The crew was actually already awake and on the bridge and they jumped off.

QUESTION: That was a rescue vessel? Those were not crew members?

ROCHESTER: It's a good Samaritan -- what we call a good Samaritan is a person that offered their services to help.


WATT: So what we know is that about 3:30 this morning Pacific Time the Coast Guard got a call that there was a major fire on a boat. No more detail than that.

As you just heard, the five crew members were awake, they were upstairs. They managed to jump off the boat and were brought back. We saw them coming ashore. One person on a stretcher, taken to the hospital. One other person with what looked like a sore ankle, a hurt ankle. Two others in t-shirts and shorts, no shoes, bewildered, as you would expect, and shocked as they were being brought ashore.

But, Brianna, this is now seven hours since this incident and we cannot stress this enough, 34 people, 34 of the 39 onboard are still unaccounted for at this hour.


KEILAR: Did they say anything about how they were going to be investigating this or what limitations they may have because of the condition of the ship? As you mentioned, it sunk. It burned down to the water line, the "Conception" did.

WATT: Yes. Yes. And, listen, that was a major problem in the rescue effort as well. We heard from the Coast Guard earlier this morning, they were saying that they would put the fire out and it would reignite, the Coast Guard told us. Perhaps that was because of the amount of fuel onboard. They did not know. But that meant that rescue personnel could not even get onboard that boat.

We're told that they are, right now, working with the owner of the vessel and the National Transportation Safety Board is on its way right now. But that is for further down the line. Right now, as I say, they are still trying to find any more survivors and there are 34 people still unaccounted for 20 miles off the mainland coast here in California, just off Santa Cruz Island. This was a dive boat. This left Santa Barbara Saturday morning. Thirty-nine onboard, 34 we still don't know.

Back to you.

KEILAR: All right, Nick Watt, thank you so much.

And for more on this let's talk now to Petty Officer Mark Barney with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Sir, what can you tell us about the current search and rescue operation?


So right now, like Captain Rochester stated, that this is still very much a very active search and rescue case. So we are combing the shoreline. We have vessels -- two vessels from Coast Guard Station (INAUDIBLE) Islands Harbor. We have a Coast Guard helicopter, air crews, so we are throwing everything that we have in the nearby area to search for these missing 34 people.

KEILAR: How far is it approximately from where the "Conception" was moored to the coastline of Santa Cruz Island, where you're going to be looking to see if maybe there's other folks you can account for?

BARNEY: Unfortunately, I don't have those details with me right now. But what I can tell you is that we are saturating the area -- the nearby area with a commercial vessel, "Conception" was, to the air and the sea. And we are doing everything that we can to not only respond effectively to this case, but also to communicate with the families of the passengers and the crew onboard the vessel so that they are informed, they're kept up to date on what's going on.

KEILAR: And so what kind of injuries are crew members -- what kind of injuries did they turn up with? Did they have injuries -- burn injuries?

BARNEY: From my understanding of the five people who were able to evacuate off the "Conception," two of them sustained leg injuries. I don't have any information as far -- regarding to any burns or anything like that.

KEILAR: Have they said anything about how quickly this started? I mean they were awake and had to jump off of the boat. And it seems at this point that there were many people who did not have the luxury of time to do that and they were not able to do so.

BARNEY: And we understand that. Right now, since it's an active search and rescue case, we don't have a lot of the information of how the fire started, when it started, how long it was engulfed before responders got on scene. Our primary focus right now is just getting as many people as we can to the area to comb those waters, to make sure we can find someone, anything, any sign of life so that we can bring them home to their family. That is our utmost concern right now.

KEILAR: Are you getting the cooperation you need from Truth Aquatics, which owns this dive boat?

BARNEY: So right now we are -- we are in coordination with the people who are directly involved, interested parties, as well as our partner agencies, the Santa Barbara Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department, vessel assist, the Coast Guard and any other local responder who's available to get on scene because we -- it's a lot of people, 34 people are still unaccounted for.


BARNEY: That's 34 families that we have to contact to let them know the update. So a lot of the information isn't coming out as fast as many people would like it --


BARNEY: But we are doing our best to ensure that the families are notified first, that they are notified so that they don't find out information over the news.

KEILAR: Understandably so.

All right, sir. Petty Officer Mark Barney, thank you so much.

BARNEY: Thank you, ma'am.

KEILAR: And just ahead, we are getting some new updates now about Hurricane Dorian's constantly shifting path. It's moving incredibly slow. So these coastal communities are now expecting to be under siege for hours. I'm going to speak with former FEMA administrator -- a former FEMA administrator about how officials can prepare.


BERMAN: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian. I'm John Berman in Jensen Beach, Florida.

This is just one of the many parts of Florida that are under a hurricane