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8-Year-Old Drowns in Floodwaters in Bahamas; Hurricane Dorian Headed for U.S.; NYT: Odessa, Texas, Shooter Fired from Job Hours Before Shooting. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- and all around the world. I'm John Berman, live in Jensen Beach, Florida. Erica Hill is with me in New York.

[07:00:08]

You can see it right now. These are the outer bands of Hurricane Dorian passing over Florida right now. The winds are picking up. You can see that the rain has fallen intermittently and fallen very hard. We expect that to only get worse throughout the day.

Now, the real danger, though, about a hundred miles over my shoulder that way. And I can tell you millions of people in Florida have their eyes pointed in that direction right now, because the storm is over the Bahamas, a devastating Category 5 hurricane, packing winds of 165 miles per hour. They were as high as 185 miles per hour with gusts over 200, tied for the most powerful storm ever -- ever -- to make landfall in the Atlantic basin.

It has been devastating over the Bahamas. We talk about the wind speeds of 185 miles an hour. The most dangerous speed is 1 mile an hour. It is creeping over the Bahamas. Creeping with simply horrifying winds.

We learned of our first fatality from Abaco Island, an 8-year-old boy who drowned in the powerful storm surge.

Again, as we sit here in Florida and start to experience the outer bands of this storm, the rain, horizontal rain, and the driving winds, everyone is looking at the path. It is expected to turn north. I say "expected," because you never know.

What you're going to hear from Chad Myers in a second, a wobble just a little bit to the west, and it could make landfall. This storm still could. And even if it doesn't make landfall, we will experience hurricane-force winds.

Let's get right to Chad Myers for the very latest forecast from Hurricane Dorian -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, what you are experiencing, John, is one of the outer bands, a very small one at best. But every time a band comes by, that's when the wind will pick up. When the band goes by and the sun can come out, the wind will die down again.

One hundred and 65 miles per hour at the 7 a.m. advisory. Moving west, slightly north of west at 1 mile per hour.

Here is the radar. Now there is Freeport. Our Patrick Oppmann is right there. This over here in Marsh Harbor. This is the Great Abaco. This is the area that got hit so very hard when it was 185 miles per hour.

I'm seeing a northward drift just a little bit. Maybe I'm being hopeful, but I do see it. It is beginning to turn to that right-hand turn that we had all hoped for.

There's Jensen Beach. There's John right there. And only one little band just came over. But that's what happened to an almost sunny live shot. Turned into what you just saw there. And that's going to happen over and over and over as these outer bands, these arms of the hurricane, come on by.

Now, I heard it best about 5 a.m. this morning. When we talk about these models. These models are built by man. These models are put together in a computer built by man and run by man. But the computer doesn't know what the hurricane is truly going to do. We try to model what the computer thinks is going to happen, what may happen.

But like a car model, sometimes it all doesn't go together perfectly. Sometimes you get a wheel that falls off.

Stewart, Florida, tomorrow morning 70 miles per hour. Melbourne, 73. Daytona well over 72. And there will be hurricane gusts up and down the East Coast.

If that eye is 20 miles farther west, we take that number and move it to 100 miles per hour. Twenty miles the other way, we drop that down to 50.

There will be surge. There will be rain. And there will be damage with this. If you have started to prepare, do not stop, because it still will be an impressive storm. As you can see what John is going through right now, over 120 miles away from the center of the eye.

BERMAN: That's right. As you said, we will see much worse than is already happening right now. And that's no matter what. That's best- case scenario. The conditions will get worse than even this.

And there are mandatory evacuation orders underway for several counties up and down the Florida coast. And in a few hours, mandatory evacuations in Georgia and the Carolinas, as well. It really is starting to come down much harder right now.

But again, just one of the narrow bands Chad was talking about, the narrow outer bands. This is nothing compared to what they are experiencing 100 miles that way in the Bahamas.

Our Patrick Oppmann is in Freeport riding out this storm. The most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the Bahamas. Patrick, if you can hear me, tell me what you're experiencing.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can hear you, John. And the sun has begun to come up here, and we can see a lot more. And we can just see the wind coming in sideways, some pretty incredible waves out there. Trees whipping around.

What we can't see is any lights on, because we've lost power on the island of Grand Bahama since last night. And I think a lot of people may be somewhat relieved that we do have some daylight coming.

[07:05:12] I mean, it's very cloudy. You can't see the sun at all, but you can look out and finally see something, because it has been such a long night. I don't think anybody on this island slept at all with the roaring winds that sounded like a jet engine all night long. Just probably the loudest hurricane I've ever experienced. We could feel the building shake at certain points.

So it is good news if the storm is starting to move north. Because that would be the opposite direction of where I am in Freeport, but of course, it is going so slowly we just continue to get lashed here by these very, very strong winds. It's been hour after hour of this. And I know it's going to continue on for most of the day.

The other concern, of course, is the storm surge. Looking down at the beach, which, you know, has been beautiful all this week and is now underwater. We expect that water to continue to rise. There are homes right on the bluff there that usually would be some pretty incredible real estate. And those homes are probably going to be underwater by the end of the day, because the predictions have been that we could have --

Oh, wow. The wind is just picking up, and it really is a sight to see when you just get a big gust like that.

But -- but we have been lucky that we have been able to stay on air all morning long and actually be on air now as the sun comes up. Because it is a sight to see.

And for so many people here, John, who are being affected by this storm surge, who are not in a building as secure as we are, this just must be the most terrifying sight of their lives. Because once again, the -- the Bahamas has never gone through a storm as powerful as this one.

And I'm going to toss it back to you, Erica.

HILL: All right, Patrick. We will take it. And as you point out, it really is remarkable. Glad that you and the crew are staying safe there.

We lost John's shot for just a minute. But I think, John Berman, I think you're back with us now. There he is.

BERMAN: I am back. You can imagine, Erica. With the water and the rain and the sand and the wind, sometimes the equipment goes on the fritz here. But we're back up and running.

I have to say, Patrick Oppmann there, it was amazing to get that forecast there. And I want his team to stay safe.

Let's bring in the director of the National Hurricane Center, Ken Graham.

Ken, we only have you for a few minutes. But I do understand that this storm is doing exactly what you forecast. Explain.

KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Yes, John. I can hear the wind and the rain in the background where you are. It's doing exactly what was forecast. We talked about this stall, and it has right: now the movement only going west at 1 mile an hour. So now it's a waiting game, now that it's stalled. Now we're waiting for that second system to pick it up and start moving it to the north. So it's a waiting game now. How far -- how far west it goes, that's what we're really watching real close.

BERMAN: All right. Along the Florida coast, if it does ride the center of the path, I want you to explain to people what they are still going to feel and the impact that they still will endure.

GRAHAM: Yes. Definitely trying to be making this point so strongly that, you know, independent of this forecast, we're so close. I mean, it's not just the center. We're talking about 140 miles out. You're talking tropical-storm-force winds; 40 miles or so, hurricane-force winds.

So independent of where this goes, you're going to see the impacts. You're going to see the storm surge. And it's a very dangerous situation. And that's why we're having everybody make sure that they get ready.

BERMAN: And talk to me about the Bahamas. It's been called the most powerful storm ever, tied, to hit the Atlantic basin. What does that mean?

GRAHAM: Yes. Think about that. I mean, the most powerful to hit that basin. The strongest one we've ever had in the Bahamas.

But even worse than that, this stalled right over. So it's not like it's over yet. You're still going to get up to 30 inches of rainfall, 23 foot of storm surge. And the winds, the battering winds right now, 165 miles an hour, just stalled out over the island. Just absolutely devastating, life-threatening situation.

BERMAN: All right. Ken Graham, thank you for being with us this morning. Thank you for the work that you do. We'll check back in with you in a little bit.

All right. Right now I'm going to bring in the mayor of Fort Pierce, Florida. She's going to walk over to me right now.

Mayor, very nice to meet you.

MAYOR LINDA HUDSON, FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA: Nice to meet you.

BERMAN: Thank you so much for coming on --

HUDSON: Sure.

BERMAN: -- and being with us this morning and standing in the rain. Tell me how your city is preparing for this.

HUDSON: We are very prepared, because my city is very experienced, Fort Pierce. We're just north of here, and we're an old city for Florida's standards. And we have a great staff.

BERMAN: Experienced enough to know not to take anything lightly, though, I hope.

HUDSON: Correct. Correct. Experienced enough to take it very seriously.

BERMAN: And we've all been -- we were just talking to Ken Graham at the National Hurricane Center, and the storm is doing so far what's predicted and turning north. But still, the people along the coast here, what do they need to be prepared for?

HUDSON: The people along the coast need to be prepared for high winds and storm surge, some rain. And they can't take this lightly, even though it looks like it's treating us nicely.

[07:10:07]

BERMAN: Yes. And this is nicely.

HUDSON: Yes. This is nice.

BERMAN: This is nicely.

HUDSON: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: I do want to point out, again, the storm surge, as you can see the surf kicking up here, this is heading out toward low tide. The storm surge of four to seven feet, it could bring the water up --

HUDSON: Yes. Over the dunes, absolutely.

BERMAN: -- over the dunes. And what would that mean?

HUDSON: That would mean that some houses would have damage. That would mean that -- a lot of sand would be pushed on the road. In the hurricanes of 2004, A-1A was interrupted and almost created a new inlet. So it can -- it can do some damage.

BERMAN: And again, the -- Ken Graham at the Hurricane Center was saying we can expect hurricane-force winds here and along the coast. And in Fort Pierce.

HUDSON: Yes. BERMAN: What do your residents need to know as the storm bears down and is hitting? If they've decided to ride out the storm, what do they do?

HUDSON: They stay inside, first of all. And they -- they prepare for no electricity. And so hopefully, they got plenty of water and medicine and all the things. And they need to ride out -- and they need to understand that first responders will not go out after a certain -- 45 miles per hour winds. So --

BERMAN: That's such an important message. Right now can people still get out?

HUDSON: Right now, they can still get out. Yes, they can. But they have to have a place to go. And that's going to be problematic in Florida.

BERMAN: And now, talk to me if things do get worse. If the storm does move further west and you get a landfall somewhere along the Florida coast, how much of a concern is that for you?

HUDSON: Well, that concerns me, because the longer it stays, the more damage it could do. And the storm surge with the king tides that are imminent. So all those things make a perfect storm, if you don't mind the pun.

BERMAN: I have to say, I was surprised arriving here. We drove about ten miles to get to the beach here. There was standing water all along the road on the way here, and that's just from the rain, from the tide lapping over in some places. You've been inundated with rain the last month already.

HUDSON: Our state is saturated already, at least south Florida is. And that -- that is a concern, yes.

BERMAN: And there's nowhere for the water to go in the storm. Even in the best-case scenario, it's going to rain over the coast here until Wednesday.

HUDSON: That's right. That's exactly right. So we have to hunker down and make sure nobody's going to starve to death in two days. Right? So we'll be fine. We'll be good.

BERMAN: How many of these have you been through?

HUDSON: Well, I was born in Ft. Pierce, so a lot of -- I can't even count them. I was in my first one in 1949, and it was not named. And it was a bad storm. I remember my parents were very scared. Very scared.

BERMAN: I don't -- I don't believe you that you were here in 1949.

HUDSON: Thank you.

BERMAN: Too -- too young for that. Listen, Mayor, thank you very much for being us. Any last message you want to send to the people here on the coast and Fort Pierce?

HUDSON: Yes. We've been through this before. We're seasoned, and we've got this.

BERMAN: All right. Please be careful. Keep the people in Fort Pierce careful. Thank you so much. Thank you for standing out here in the rain with us. You're a true Floridian. This -- this didn't scare you at all.

HUDSON: No problem. Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks very much.

All right, Erica. So as you can see here, again, it's raining. It will be like this now for days, with the rain coming in and out. By later today, it's going to come in, and it's just going to stay and pour. Four, seven inches of rain along the coast, and that's best- case scenario.

The winds, as you were hearing from Chad Myers, by tomorrow morning expected to pick up to near-hurricane-force winds under the best-case scenario. And what everyone's worried about as they gaze out to the Bahamas over there and the storm as it moves closer here is that it wobbles and somehow drifts a little bit westward. And then things could get much, much worse, Erica.

HILL: Yes. That is certainly what no one wants to see. It's so interesting, too, listening to the mayor there talking about it. And as you pointed out, on your way to your live location this morning, the amount of water that's already there, how saturated the ground is at this point. And the concern, too, for erosion in these coastal communities and what could be eroded as the storm sits there and then what is left behind, of course.

BERMAN: She was telling me -- she was telling me off camera, they've already had enormous erosion in Fort Pierce over the last several years because of all the storms that have happened. So this will have a very damaging impact, no matter what. Again, best-case scenario, this is going to be a real problem for the beaches there, Erica.

HILL: It certainly is. And we'll be watching that impact. Obviously, all of the East Coast there, too. Not just in Florida but up into the Carolinas, into Georgia where we're looking at it, as well. John, we'll continue to check in with you.

We also do want to update you on another major story that we're following from over the weekend. "The New York Times" now reporting the killer who police say went on that shooting rampage that took seven lives in Texas had been fired from his job just hours before carrying out the attack. Does that change the investigation at all? The former acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe joins next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:17:05] HILL: "The New York Times" now reporting the killer who went on a shooting rampage that claimed seven lives and injured 22 others in West Texas was fired from his job hours before that attack. How does it change the investigation in the wake of yet another mass shooting?

Let's bring in Andrew McCabe, CNN contributor former acting director of the FBI.

Good to have you with us this morning. As we look at that bit of information that we have now learned, in your mind, does it change the investigation?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it doesn't necessarily change the investigation, but it adds a crucial fact to the time line that the investigators are trying to assemble.

So they are sorting through every aspect of this man's life as he kind of progressed up that escalation towards violence. The firing could have been what we refer to as the trigger point or that -- that fact or that occurrence in his life that caused him to -- instead of just thinking about these things and harming himself, and planning an attack, that caused him to actually step forward and do it. We don't know that for a fact yet.

I think there are many more questions, Erica, to be answered here by the facts that the investigators will uncover through the course of their investigation.

HILL: There's certainly a lot to learn.

I was really struck by two things. And I'm just curious your take on them.

First of all, a neighbor who told CNN that she had had an encounter with him a few weeks ago. That he came to her, had been holding a gun, that she called police and reported it. They did not ultimately come out to the property. She said she believes part of the reason could be that the address doesn't show up in GPS, could have been tough to find.

For incidents like this, as we talk about background checks, as we talk about some sort of a profile of who a person was, if there a not follow-up for whatever the reason may be, how does that complicate matters moving forward, to try to get a picture of who this person was?

MCCABE: Well, it does complicate them. These are incredibly complicated and intricate matters. There is no one thing that law enforcement or anything of us can do to prevent these incidents from occurring.

But one of the many things that law enforcement is constantly asking people to do is to report incidents exactly like this. So the report of the neighbor is incredibly important, and it's one that, I'm sure, investigators will look at closely as they go through this person's background. Whether or not the report was handled properly by local police is also

something that I'm sure police leadership will be looking into. You know, the neighbor has said she doesn't think the police came out, because she didn't see them. You know, that's not necessarily definitive at this point. And I think it's important that we hear from the police themselves to report on exactly what actions were taken.

HILL: When we heard from authorities, once they had identified the killer, they made it a point to not mention his name when releasing it. It was released after. I'm just curious your reaction to that decision.

MCCABE: You know, it seems to be a more common one lately. And I understand that law enforcement doesn't want to add to the kind of fame and the media splash that some of these attackers are getting in the aftermath of their violent efforts. It's a matter of respect for the victims, and it's also tactically a matter of trying to tamp down the sort of attention that they get that might be attractive to other violent and disturbed people who are thinking about taking similar actions.

[07:20:33]

Unfortunately, the name does eventually get out. I think it's an important piece for folks to understand exactly who commits these actions and also to be able to go back and talk to all the people in that attacker's network to understand that rich picture of understanding about how and why they took this path towards violence and ultimately, you know, victimized so many people.

HILL: As you mentioned, there's no one thing that is going to completely stop this from happening in the United States. There has been so much talk, though, especially since El Paso and Dayton, just over a month ago, about universal background checks. Here's part of what the president said in response over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Been speaking to a lot of House members. A lot of Republicans, a lot of Democrats. And people want to do something. So we're going to see this really hasn't changed anything.

I will say that, for the most part, 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: As strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it.

Just the most recent polling, which was released on Thursday from Quinnipiac, finds 93 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers, according to that most recent polling.

I know you've said that background checks could be stronger. They could also be streamlined. Obviously, when we talk about something like the universal background check.

Do you think, if they were strengthened, they could have helped in any of the situations that we've been talking about over the last few weeks?

MCCABE: Well, they obviously could have. I don't know about in the last few weeks, but if you look back historically over the most significant, the most deadly mass shootings we've had, certainly right there in Texas at Sutherland Springs, Devin Kelley was a prohibited person under the Brady Act. Devin Kelley should not have had the firearm that he used to slaughter 26 innocent people in Sutherland Springs.

If you go a little bit further back, Dylann Roof, of course, another great example of a mass shooter who should not have had the gun that he used to commit that crime.

So to say that stronger background checks wouldn't have an impact on mass violence and the incredible lethality that we're seeing in mass shootings today, I think is just -- it's just not correct.

HILL: Andrew McCabe, always appreciate the perspective. Thank you.

MCCABE: Thank you.

HILL: John Berman is starting to feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian. John, though, I can see you now. It looks like the rain's let up for at least a small window here for you.

BERMAN: Yes. The good news is it's dry for the time being. But we can expect more of those bands to come through, dumping more rain.

And the wind has been consistent. And the seas are really kicking up. I know there have been some aerial shots over the seas here in South Florida. And you can see the white caps simply everywhere. Where I'm standing, the ocean has been churning for hours now.

Much more of CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian as it moves toward Florida. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:28:07]

BERMAN: All right. Welcome back. John Berman here live in Jensen Beach, Florida. This is CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian.

We're getting a really good look now on what this storm is doing to the waters on the coast of Florida while it's still a hundred miles away in the Bahamas, just kicking up the waves in the surf. It really is extraordinary to see even where we are in Jensen Beach. We can see the ocean already kicking. It's been like this all morning long. And we can expect it only to get worse over the next several days.

Let's go to Chad Myers in the weather center now, Chad.

Chad, the center of the storm moving over the Bahamas, past the Bahamas.

MYERS: Right.

BERMAN: Talk to me about what's going to happen here in Florida as these bands pass through.

MYERS: I think the real issue that, you know, we're not addressing is that this closest approach of the eye to you, John, won't be for 48 hours.

This is going to sit where it is for much of the day today, then begin to drift to the north and approach you on the morning of Wednesday. So those waves are going to build and build and build. And then every time a band goes by, you're going to get what you had about an hour ago where just the winds were 50 or 60; and then that's when the winds begin to come down with the rain.

When it doesn't rain, you don't get mixing. You don't get the atmosphere to mix in it. The winds kind of blow over your head. When it rains, that's when the wind brings in with the rain those 50- or 60-mile-per-hour gusts.

We are still seeing the eye right where it was about 12 hours ago. It hasn't really moved very much. We do have bands coming at you. There's another one still offshore about 15 more miles.

But as this thing begins to drift to the north, it is going to affect the beaches. We are going to get waves, and there are waves at the Bahamas at 30 feet right now. They're not going to be 30 when they get to the U.S., but they'll be 15. And that will erode the beaches. That will erode and push water into the intercoastal, into those canals, into those rivers that are to the west of you.

So we always think about surge being on the coast. This is going to surge inland, too.

END