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Category Five Hurricane Dorian Pounds The Bahamas; Another Mass Shooting In Texas; New Tariffs On Chinese Goods; Kevin Hart Hurt In Car Crash; Israel And Hezbollah Exchange Fire; Texas Looses Gun Laws; U.S. Tariffs On Chinese Imports Take Effect. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 04:30   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Catastrophic record-setting hurricane Dorian steam rolls the Bahamas. The southeast is next. Who gets hit and when?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Few answers after another mass shooting in Texas. Seven killed and a 17-month-old girl among the 22 injured.

WALKER: Items people will need to recover from the hurricane will be pricier. A new round of tariffs on Chinese goods now in effect.

BRIGGS: And serious back injuries for actor Kevin Hart. His car rolling down an embankment. Welcome back to "Early Start" everybody, I'm Dave Briggs.

WALKER: I'm Amara Walker in for Christine Romans, 31 minutes past the hour right here in New York.

And we begin with breaking news. Hurricane Dorian seen here from the calm International Space Station unleashing her category five fury on the Bahamas. You can hear those gusts over 200 miles an hour. Sustained winds now at 175. The hurricane made landfall on Grand Bahama Island overnight. It is the strongest storm anywhere on the planet this year, and the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the Bahamas.

BRIGGS: Hurricane watches in the state of Florida now extending all the way north to the Georgia border. And a storm surge watch has been expanded to the same region. Evacuation orders now in effect for much of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coastal areas. Officials calling that inconvenience a small price to pay for the damage Dorian might deliver.


SHERIFF DAVID SHOAR, ST. JOHNS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Think of the worst case scenario. This is a storm of storms. Don't know where it's going to hit. Don't know what the impact is going to be, but it's not going to be good if it gets close to land.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): North Carolina has to take this seriously. Be ready. The storm might look far away, but it's already kicking up dangerous surf and rip tides at our coast.

GOV. HENRY MCMASTER (R-SC): And with these announcements we know that we cannot make everybody happy, but we believe that we can keep everyone alive.


WALKER: The Atlantic basin has now experienced a category five hurricane four years in a row. That is unprecedented since reliable data began in the 1960's. Dorian will be crawling along at 3 miles per hour over the next two days. A walking pace for most of us. So the worst of the storm is clearly not over. Ivan Cabrera tracking the system live from the CNN center with more. That is concerning that it is so slow and the storm is over the warm Atlantic waters.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Amara, Dorian has stalled out basically over Grand Bahama Island. Right now, we're looking at a category five hurricane that is not moving, rested one, basically stationary, it has stalled at this point here and that is horrible news for Grand Bahama, because it is right on top of them right now.

I have to tell you, we may not be able to get a live shot from Patrick Oppmann, but if we do, it is going to be quite dramatic in just the next few minutes. He's going to experience as the rest of Freeport in the Bahamas will experience 165-mile-an-hour winds which is where we are right now, gusts to 200. That wind is going to come from the north and then it's going to go calm. You will be able to see the stars in the sky from that center of the eye zero in and then on the back side, 180, 165 at this point-mile-an-hour winds coming from the other direction.

So no matter how you slice it with an island, you're going to get a storm surge on either side. This is not as populated as certainly as Freeport is. We about of 20, 25,000 folks here. Not as much across east, but there you see the eye wall beginning to approach Freeport. And that will happen within the next hour or so hopefully, because it's moving so slowly that once it does get there, they're going to be in that wind for hours and hours and that is going to be a disaster.

Some of the pictures we showed you there, by the way, that is going to be nothing compared to I think once we get aerials from up above. Once this thing is done with the Bahamas, it's going to be devastating to see that. There's the center, 45 miles out. That's where we are spending the hurricane force winds.

[04:35:07] So we have hurricane warnings that are now in effect of course, from Boca Raton as mention up in Melbourne, but that has now been extended up into Cape Canaveral. Then we have watches, and the difference is the timing, 24 hours here, 48 hours here to the north and then tropical storm watch in effect for central Florida, Disney world might be seeing some tropical storm force winds by the time we get into the middle part of the week.

Because again, this is a slow mover. Now what is horrible for the Bahamas may actually be good for Florida, because the longer this waits for the steering currents to pull it to the north, the further away from Florida it is. If this was rolling through west of 15 or 20, we'd be in a heap of trouble here.

But once it does make that turn, it is still going to be close enough, it's a cat four, to provide us with significant impacts along the coast. We're talking storm surge. We're talking this significant wind damage and also of course, the torrential rain that is going to be with us as well. We'll have a brand-new cone coming up at 5:00 a.m. Chad Myers will have that for you in just a few minutes, guys.

BRIGGS: All right. Thank you, my friend. That update coming at 5:00 a.m. Still that right turn has not started yet.

Catastrophic damage already being reported in the Bahamas.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone pray for us please. Please pray for us.


BRIGGS: The first areas hit by the storm are devastated. Dorian ripped the roof off of this home.


HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: This is probably the most saddened and worst state of my life to address the Bahamian people, and I just want to say that as a physician, I've been trained to withstand many things, but never anything like this.


BRIGGS: Storm surges are still expected to lift water levels as high as 18 to 23 feet above normal producing large and destructive waves. Patrick Oppmann is live for us in Freeport, Bahamas, with the latest. Patrick?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. Good morning, again. And yes, Grand Bahamas just getting lashed by this hurricane strength winds all night long. This is what we have heard in the dark here because much if not all of this island is without power. It is a haunting and frankly terrifying scene. I'm just going to step out of the way. Cameraman Jose Amijo shows you how this hurricane is whipping around these very tall pines behind me.

And these are pine trees that were told by resident's that survived hurricane Matthew just three years ago. That was a category four storm. And Dorian is just whipping these trees around and we have yet to see the worst of this hurricane. It has stalled out over us, but we have yet to see the worst that Dorian is going to do to this island. Certainly when the sun comes up we will have a better sense of damage. But it is absolutely impossible, guys, to go out and see what has taken place here because the winds are so strong.

We are very concerned about that storm surge. Over 20 feet we are expected to see here, 20 feet of storm surge probably by the end of today. It's a terrifying thought because there are islands around us where people live that are just about sea level. There are people there who said they were going to brave out the storms on those islands. There are people here on coastal parts of this island, right on the water and they said they were going to stay in their homes that they had done in previous hurricanes.

So the highest point on this island is only 30 feet. The highest point of land. We're luckily on the third story of a building here, but for so many people in the coming hours on this island, their houses, their possessions, their lives are going to be underwater. Back to you guys.

BRIGGS: Patrick Oppmann there for us in Freeport. Stay safe, my friend.

WALKER: All right. An eerie calm in coastal Florida as Dorian inches closer. Tolls have now been suspended on the state's major highways to assist evacuation efforts. Evacuation orders now in effect for Palm Beach, Martin, Saint Lucy, Brevard, Indian River, Volusia, and St. John County. Martin County sheriffs warning a near miss or devastation are both possibilities.


SHERIFF WILLIAM SNYDER, MARTIN COUNTY SGERIFF'S OFFICE: We are within 20 miles of an apocalyptic hurricane coming to shore on the treasure coast. If it does what the models are predicting, we will be OK. If on the other hand the storm wobbles 20 miles to 30 miles off its current path, and that is not a lot, we will have landfall.


BRIGGS: Steady stream of power trucks arriving in Florida. They are being stationed all over the state. At noon today Orlando, Melbourne International Airport and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport will suspend commercial flights and close their terminals.

[04:40:00] WALKER: All right. Joining us now on the phone, Palm Beach county Florida Mayor Mack Bernard. Mayor Bernard, I appreciate you joining us. First off, I mean, the track of the storm remains unclear. We don't know where exactly -- you know, where it's going to make landfall. Despite that, are people heeding the warnings? Because as we just said, there is a mandatory evacuation order in affect for your County, Palm Beach in the coastal areas, have you seen people leaving?

MAYOR MACK BERNARD, PALM BEACH COUNTY, PALM SPRINGS (through the phone): We have not seen people leaving in Palm Beach County, but we are just making sure that all of the residents in Palm Beach County and are adhering to some of the concerns that we are concerned about, because this hurricane is one of the most dangerous hurricanes that can impact the state of Florida.

And so we've issued a mandatory evacuation areas for our mobile homes and the barrier islands. And what we want is some of the residents to wake up this morning to not get on the road because around noon this county will change and any change in this hurricane can impact the residents.

BRIGGS: And we understand your airport will be closing. Do you prepare as if this is worst case scenario or this will take that hard right turn and you might see the luster side of the storm? What do you prepare for at this point?

BERNARD: We prepares for the worst case scenario, because this storm heading towards West Palm Beach and with its slowing down and we have no idea what it's going to do for hours as it slows down, and because of that we have to prepare for the worst case scenario, and which means that, you know, we want all of our residents to be prepared and all of our residents have made their pre-storm preparation and we want the residents to have their water, their food, their medication, we have our shelters open and we still have plenty of spaces, but this is a worst case scenario.

WALKER: I just want to clarify what you were saying, Mr. Mayor. You were saying that you don't want people to hit the road just yet. Can you clarify that? Because again, from what I understand, there are evacuation orders in effect along the coastal area in Palm Beach, correct?

BERNARD: Well, remember, this storm is heading north and so we don't want residents to get on the highway and head north on I-95 and get stuck on the road. And so if any of the residents want to -- we want the residents to shelter in place. And if they have substandard homes, we have shelters that are now open. We have nine shelters that are open. We have a special needs shelter in Palm Beach County that is open. I believe we have over 200 residents who are in there right now. And so, if any one -- if any resident wants to leave, we prefer them to head west instead of heading north. Because we don't want them to get stuck on the road.

BRIGGS: Drive straight inland west, not with this storm. You will not get the 18 to 23 foot waves that they are seeing in the Bahamas, but still some estimated 7 feet surge will hit West Palm Beach and parts of Florida. How do you prepare for that?

BERNARD: Well, that is the reason why we've had the evacuation orders. You know, we're working with all of our county officials to be prepared and, you know, we want our residents to know that this is a major storm. And please, if you know you have substandard homes, or you have a mobile home or live in the barrier islands, please evacuate. Adhere to all of the orders that we're asking you because this storm is dangerous.

WALKER: And just quickly in terms of closures, school closures, airport operations, what's the latest on that?

BERNARD: We have -- our schools is closed for Tuesday and this is Monday, which is Labor Day. The airport is closed. So most of these functions that are needed are basically closed. What we want is for our residents to really stay home today, because I drove on I-95 this morning and you know, there's a lot of -- the road is slippery and we don't want to have any accidents and so that is the reason why we want our residents to stay home. This storm is dangerous and any change that, any movement that it moves to -- it would impact Palm Beach County.

BRIGGS: Indeed, we are hoping for that hard right turn has not started yet. Palm Beach Mayor Mack Bernard, thanks so much for being here. Stay safe and keep us posted.

All right. New details overnight as Texas comes to grips with its second mass shooting this month. "The New York Times" reporting the Odessa shooter had been fired from his trucking job hours before killing seven strangers, miles apart, 22 others were injured after losing track of the gunman Saturday. Police were able to stop him by engineering a collision with a vehicle he hijacked. He was then killed in a shootout. They still have no motive.

WALKER: But this face isn't the one you should remember. Its faces like this one, 17-month-old Anderson Davis. She is one of the injured. And her mother said she will have surgery today to remove shrapnel from her chest and fix her mouth, tongue and lip. Her mother texting Governor Greg Avid in part, toddlers are funny because they can get shot, but still want to run around and play. We are thanking god for that. CNN's Ryan Young is in Odessa Texas.


[04:45:12] RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Amber, still so many questions about this shooting. In fact it started Saturday around 3:17. And since then investigators are going to be working and figure out exactly what was going on. What was the motive behind this case? But we do know is a 36-year-old white male was getting pulled over for not making a proper lane change. And when that happen, as officers started walking up to that car he started using an AR-15 to fire to that back window towards officers. From there it was an all- out spree in terms of gunshots and police trying to track this man down.

And according to authorities, he then met up with a postal worker, he carjacked her, shot and killed her before being shot and (inaudible) by police. But since then, this fallout has been amazing in this community. We saw at a candlelight vigil, so many people, hundreds of people come together to try to pay their respects to the fallen. You are talking about seven people dead and 22 injured. So many questions not only about the shooter's motive, but how this community moves forward. In fact, we talked to two young ladies who lost a friend during the shooting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though she is gone, she is still here in my heart. And this is all for her, so people could know who she was because she was everything. And everyone misses Lailah Hernandez. I just think that she needs to (inaudible). In my mind I want her to come back, but she can't. And I don't know, I just pray to god that she is OK wherever she is doing well and we'll see her again.


YOUNG: We do know FBI investigators executed a warrant at the suspect's house. And what we figured out there, they believe he was a truck driver. He's been arrested before for minor offenses. But nothing so far points to the sort of destruction that was created in the streets between these two communities. What we've also heard a lot about is how this community plans to step forward. But one question came over and over again, how do we stop this cycle of violence? Dave and Amara?


BRIGGS: Indeed, Ryan Young, thank you. A series of new firearms laws went into effect in Texas on Sunday. They further loosen gun restrictions. President Trump who has backed stronger background checks after recent mass shootings would only say this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we're going to see this really hasn't changed anything. Sadly, if you look at the last four or five going back even five or six or seven years, for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it.


BRIGGS: Four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have taken place in Texas. Congress returns Monday. Doubtful any action takes place, but one can hope.

WALKER: Don't think anyone is holding their breath.

A major escalation between Israel and Hezbollah, rocket fire exchange at the Lebanon border for the first time in years. We're live in northern Israel next.


BRIGGS: Let's check on CNN Business at 4:52 Eastern Time. The U.S./China trade wars has escalated again, 15 percent tariffs are an estimated $110 billion worth of Chinese goods kicked in Sunday. These tariffs are big hit to consumer goods. Popular items like bed sheets, sneakers, sweaters, and power tools, items people will be looking for after a hurricane are on the list. Meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables also targeted.

Beijing's retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of U.S. goods also took effect Sunday. This is the third round of tariffs increases in the trade war. Why is this different? Well, they directly target popular shopping items many Americans are, indeed, going to pay the price. High level trade talks with China are still planned for later this month.

WALKER: A dangerous escalation in violence along the Israel Lebanese border. The Iran-backed military group Hezbollah attacking an Israeli military base. The Israelis responding with artillery strikes marking the first exchange of fire at the border with Lebanon in nearly five years. Oren Liebermann tracking the latest developments live from northern Israel. Oren, walk us through what happened? And is there concern there will be further escalation?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: Amara, the Israeli military, IDF, remains on high alert in Northern Israel and we have heard Israeli drones above our heads since early this morning. We also saw U.N. helicopter patrolling the border a short time ago, but it remains a very different story than it was here on Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday at 4:15 p.m. Local Time, Hezbollah in Lebanon, right here behind me on that hill, fired a series of anti-tank missiles, one of which hit a building in this battalion headquarter near behind me. Another of which hit a military vehicle a quarter of a mile away from where we were standing right now.

Israel says, there were no injuries or casualties in those anti-tank missiles strikes. Israel responded with about 100 artillery missiles launched at the precision over those anti-tank missiles were launch as well as they say where other military targets inside Lebanon. They also say, -- had very limited helicopter strikes as they carried out their retaliation.

But just as quickly as it started, it seemed it was over. Two hours later Israel said all restrictions on civilians on Northern Israel were lifted and that is a very strong indication that (inaudible) it's coming to a close. Amara, you mentioned early 2015. That was the last cross border exchange and that was certainly violent with casualties on both sides. But just as that was limited in scope and depth, it seems at least for now so is this.

WALKER: All right. Oren Liebermann, live for us there in northern Israel. Apologies for the week signal. We'll be right back.


WALKER: Actor and comedian Kevin Hart seriously hurt in a car accident in Calabasas California. According to an incident report obtained by CNN, Hart and the driver Jared Black sustained major back injuries. Both were taken in a nearby hospitals. Black was driving Hart's 1970 Plymouth barracuda when he lost control of the car and then rolled down an embankment. This video shot by TMZ shows where the car went off the road. Officers determined Black was not under the influence of alcohol.

BRIGGS: All right. A brand-new update on hurricane Dorian as it devastates the Bahamas. That is 5:00 a.m. "Early Start" continues right now.