Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Dorian Unleashes Fury On Bahamas Before Heading To The U.S.; Officials on the U.S East Coast Brace For Dorian; Texas Reels From Second Mass Shooting In A Month. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: -- as often.

Right now, Hurricane Dorian unrelenting as it batters the Bahamas. The damage even worse as the storm moves at a staggering one mile an hour if you call that moving.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WALKER: Catastrophic record-setting Hurricane Dorian steamrolls the Bahamas. The southeast is next. Who gets hit and when.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Still, few answers after another mass shooting in Texas. A 17-month -- a 17-month-old girl, one of the 22 injured, and seven were killed.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody, on a Labor Day. I'm Dave Briggs.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker in for Christine Romans -- about 30 minutes past the hour.

And we begin with breaking news. Hurricane Dorian seen here from a calm International Space Station, unleashing her category five fury on the Bahamas.

[05:35:12] 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 also been expanded to the same regions. Evacuation orders now in effect for much of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coastal areas.

The Atlantic basin has now experienced a cat five hurricane four years in a row, unprecedented, since reliable data began in the 1960s.

Chad Myers tracking the system live in the CNN Center in Atlanta. Chad, if there's any good news, it's for the southeastern United States. You're seeing a little bit of that northward shift? CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think so. I'm going to draw it on the radar because it is a subtle shift because it's only moving one mile per hour. So to see anything to the north, Dave, is very, very good.

One hundred sixty-five mile-per-hour now for a while. We were at 185 so we've come down a little bit. It's still above 157 to get to the category five, moving west at one mile per hour.

But here is the radar out of Miami and obviously, the eye right over -- just to the east of Freeport to the west of Sweeting Cay, right over Grand Bahama Island.

But I want to take you back. This is going to be about six hours. You're going to notice that the bottom of the eyewall, right there -- right there on the island. Now watch where it is at this hour. It's up here, so there is some type of movement to the north.

Yes, obviously, it's still moving to the west as well, but it's that turn that we've been waiting for. It's that turn that sometimes doesn't happen. You don't turn a cruise ship around all at once. You don't turn something this big all around all at once.

But if it does get to the north, that's when we get -- at least get a skirting hit from it. This is not a line.

There will be hurricane conditions along the coast of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. So even though it says offshore -- this is 100 miles wide, so even if we're 40 miles offshore, 100 miles wide takes some of the effect onto the U.S. East Coast, absolutely, with wind damage, with storm surge, with very, very heavy rainfall.

You've prepared, you've let your guard down. Now, re-prepare if you're along the coast because it is still coming. It is still a very large storm with storm surge to seven feet.

That will be in the intracoastal as well. That will be in the back areas of the intracoastal. In those canals where people's boats are, that water will be four to seven feet higher than it is right now.

And then we get up toward the northern part of the storm. Charleston, Wilmington, you are still very, very close to what will be a 120-mile- per-hour storm there -- a big storm in its own right at that point even though it isn't what it is right now.

I don't have words for what the people of the Bahama islands are experiencing right now -- catastrophic, unprecedented, unbelievable. No, it is going to -- we're going to wake up tomorrow morning and look at pictures because we can't even get them today, and realize what's happened down there. It's devastating.

BRIGGS: So tough, Chad. And they almost entirely depend on tourism, so the recovery is going to --


BRIGGS: -- be difficult. Chad, thank you.

Catastrophic damage is already being reported in the Bahamas.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, RESIDENT, ABACO ISLAND, BAHAMAS: 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 homes.


HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: This is probably the most saddened and worst day 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: Chilling.

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 live for us from Freeport, Bahamas with the latest. Hi, Patrick.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, conditions are just getting worse and worse. We're getting beaten around here by the winds.

And you look out in this city and there are almost no lights because we lost power last night. So you imagine for thousands of Bahamians to go through an entire night and now morning of hearing the sound of this hurricane. It sounds like a jet engine just roaring all night long. You don't really know what's happening.

We've seen some videos that people have sent us of water in their homes -- the water rising. Other people have lost the roofs and reported worse damage. But it's just a terrifying scene.

[05:40:00] You don't have power. You don't know when you're going to get it back.

This is a hurricane that is moving so slowly and it just gets stronger as it inches closer and closer to us and has really stalled out over us. And so, it is a worst-case scenario. You have a category five that is not moving hardly at all -- it's basically going at a walking pace -- and then it's over a very low-lying area of the Bahamas.

Many houses here are at water level, others are just above it. And we're talking about a storm surge of over 20 feet and that is just going to wipe out whole communities. You hope the people who live there have already evacuated.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: Worst-case scenario there.

Patrick Oppmann live for us there in the Bahamas -- stay safe.

WALKER: And in contrast with Patrick Oppmann there is seeing an eerie calm in coastal Florida as Dorian inches closer.

Tolls now suspended on the state's major highways to assist evacuation efforts. Evacuation orders now in effect for Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Brevard, Indian River, Volusia, and St. John counties.

Martin County's sheriff warning a near-miss or devastation are both possibilities.


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


BRIGGS: Joining us now via Skype, Vero Beach, Florida Mayor Val Zudans. Thank you for being with us, Mr. Mayor.

Chad Myers told us about that slight movement where you expect a hard right turn and north move of Dorian. But if that does happen, of course, worst-case scenario with still potential there.

What do you prepare for?

MAYOR VAL ZUDANS (R), VERO BEACH, FLORIDA (via Skype): Well, first of all, thank you, Dave.

And our prayers in Vero Beach go out to those people in the Bahamas. They're -- it's just devastating. I can't believe how bad it is there. I can't imagine 20-foot storm surges and what it would do.

In Vero Beach, today is the day for following through on the plans that you already made. We have -- mandatory evacuations start at 8:00 a.m. this morning. Our shelters -- special need shelter opens at 8:00 and the other shelters at noon.

We had some extra time because the hurricane stalled and so everyone should be prepared at this point. If you're -- this is a time to remain calm and follow through on the plans that you already made. If for some reason you're in a situation where you don't have plans and you do want to leave now, the shelters will be opening at noon.

And if we -- and as far as the hurricane looking like it's turning to the north, I personally wouldn't count on that. It's moving at one mile an hour and we just have to prepare for the worst and follow through on our plans. And I hope that's right and I pray that's right, but in the meantime, let's just follow through and do what we were planning on doing all along and be safe.

WALKER: Yes, and to make matters worse, the King tide is in effect, starting just a few days ago on Friday. And, King tide is when the -- it's the highest tides of the year along the Florida coast, which adds a couple of feet to the storm surge that is possible.

ZUDANS: Right.

WALKER: I mean, how concerned are you about the storm surge, and how does this King tide exacerbate the situation?

ZUDANS: Yes. So depending on the direction we go -- the storm goes, if it does not go to the north and if it does turn to the left and we get the -- get a direct hit somewhere on the coastline, you have estimated four to seven feet of storm surge.

If it happens during low tide, that's better. If it happens during one of these King tides -- at the high tide -- you can add three feet in our county. And as you go further up the coast it actually is even more of an elevation into the four feet and more to the north of us.

So -- and then there's waves on top of that. And during a hurricane, as you might imagine, the waves are pretty high, so this can be quite devastating.

I don't want to be in that situation and -- but we can only control what we can control. We do the things -- we follow through on our plan, listen to the officials.

If you're east of U.S. 1 in Indian River County, you are supposed to evacuate. Or if you're in a mobile home or low-lying area, you're supposed to evacuate today.

We're expecting the tropical-storm-force winds this evening and so during the day you'll be able to evacuate and follow through on your plans. Once we get to sustained winds above hurricane-force -- above 39 -- they will close the bridges and it will no longer be safe to be on the roads.

So just remain calm, follow through, and protect your family. And this is not really the time anymore to worry about your property. It's your safety is number one, two, and three on the list at this point.

BRIGGS: Some will heed those mandatory evacuations, but this is Florida -- no stranger to massive hurricanes and warnings. To those who will not evacuate, what do you say to those people this morning?

[05:45:11] ZUDANS: I would say reconsider it. If you're in a mandatory evacuation zone and if you don't have a place to go, that's what the shelters are there for. There is something available to you.

And, you know, I'm not going to give advice to people who are ignoring what the recommendation is. You do that at your own peril.


ZUDANS: So I think that people should just advise -- and if you made a mistake and you didn't make plans for that, it's OK. Just look online or call the local number, which is readily available, and find out where you can go -- and just go stay in a shelter.

And this is going to be -- you know, we're going to get our most intense weather on Tuesday and we just have two days left. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Some people got a little complacent because it slowed down.

We had this extra time and they don't know what they're supposed to do. Well, this -- pay attention again. We just have two more days to get through this and then the recovery starts.

And I've been pretty impressed that all the people who have contacted me, from the White House to the -- to our senator, Rick Scott, to local officials elected -- our State Rep. Erin Grall, all of the -- our county is actually leading this. It's not -- it's not led by the city. The county leads the emergency management planning.

But we really have all the support we can have. We've done everything and our local community is taking it very seriously. I think we have one of the best communities --


ZUDANS: -- for preparing. And just follow through on that plan. Don't get complacent at the very end.

WALKER: Yes, a very important message. You can see there on the radar. I mean, it really is a massive storm and it's not the time right now to get complacent.

Mayor Val Zudans of Vero Beach -- mayor there -- thank you so much. Appreciate you joining us. Nice talking --

ZUDANS: Everyone be safe --

WALKER: Everyone be safe.

ZUDANS: -- and we're praying for you all.

WALKER: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Thank you, sir. We'll check back in the next couple of days.

WALKER: Well, the worst mass shooting in Texas in almost a month. What we're learning about the gunman and the victims.


[05:51:12] BRIGGS: New details overnight as Texas comes to grips with its second mass shooting in a month. "The New York Times" reporting the Odessa shooter was fired from his trucking job just hours before killing seven strangers, miles apart. Twenty-two others were injured.

After losing track of the gunman Saturday, police were able to stop him by engineering a collision with a mail truck he hijacked. He was then killed in a shootout.

They still don't have a motive.

WALKER: But his face isn't the one you should remember. It is faces like this one, 17-month old Anderson Davis. Her mom says she will have surgery today to remove shrapnel from her chest.

Her mom saying this, 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.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Amara, still so many questions about this shooting. In fact, it started Saturday around 3:17 and since then, investigators have been working to figure out exactly what was going on. What was the motive behind this case?

What we do know is that a 36-year-old white male was getting pulled over for not making a proper lane change. And when that happened, as officers started walking up to that car, he started using the AR-15 to fire through that back window toward 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 corralled by police.

But since then, this fallout has been amazing in this community. We saw it a candlelight vigil. So many people -- hundreds of people coming together to try to pay their respects to the fallen. You're 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's gone, she's still here in our heart. And this is all for her so people could know who she was because she was everything. And everyone misses Leila Hernandez.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think that she needs to come -- like, in my mind, I want her to come back but she can't and let her know I just pray to God that she's 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've figured out there is they believe he was a truck driver. He's been arrested before for minor offensives but nothing, so far, points to the sort of destruction that was created in the streets between these two communities.

What we 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 the cycle of violence?

Dave and Amara.


BRIGGS: Ryan Young, thanks.

A series of new firearm laws actually loosening restrictions went into effect in Texas Sunday.

President Trump, who has suggested support for stronger background checks, would recently only say this Sunday.


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 U.S. history have taken place in Texas.

Congress returns to session on Monday, one week from today. Hopefully, at least some discussion, but we won't hold our breath.

WALKER: I can't imagine much action will be done.

Well, that's our time, everyone. Thanks for being with us. I'm Amara Walker.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" has continued coverage of Hurricane Dorian, next.


[05:59:20] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a special edition of NEW DAY. It's Monday, September second. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east.

John Berman here in Jensen Beach, Florida. Erica Hill joins me in New York. You can see all around me. The wind is already starting -- beginning to blow. The sand kicking up on the beach, intermittent rain showers here.

But the real concern, over there. Not even 100 miles east of where I am, Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the Atlantic basin is over Grand Bahama Island right now, causing devastation -- catastrophic devastation.

This storm has.