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Hurricane Dorian Pounds The Bahamas, Heads Toward U.S.; Trump: Background Checks "Would Not Have Stopped Any Of It"; Kevin Hart Suffers Major Back Injuries In Car Crash. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 07:30   ET



CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: -- intracoastal 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.

If you're looking at four to eight-foot surge where you are on the canal, and your home is only four feet above sea level, your house is going to get wet most of the way -- all the way up the East Coast because of the day after day after day after day of wind blowing in that direction. It's blowing the water in that direction.

I often say it's like trying to cool your coffee cup. By blowing on the top, you push the coffee away from you. We're pushing the ocean water on land hour after hour after hour at 60 miles per hour.

Here's Tuesday at 1:00 p.m., still not to Melbourne -- still basically 70 miles per hour at Stuart, finally moving up to the north. Here's Tuesday, closer to Melbourne. And then finally, as we move ahead into Tuesday night, closer to Daytona -- and then into Wednesday.

That's 48 hours from right now -- Wednesday morning -- and it's only to Daytona Beach. That's moving like --


MYERS: -- four miles per hour -- John.

BERMAN: That's not fast at all, Chad.

I want to show people -- you were talking about the storm surge here. I can give people a little bit of a demonstration about what it would mean where I am.

Look at the water right now. This is basically full low tide. Low tide was about 40 minutes ago. It's going to start to come in right now.

I think I can show you where high tide was last night. See this line right here -- this line of debris right here? This was high tide last night. And then look at how close the dunes are here. The dunes are just a few feet away. So if you put a storm surge on top of all of this at four to seven

feet, which is what you're talking about Chad, the water could very well go over these dunes and, as you said, pour over and into the intracoastal. So you are not far away at all from serious, serious problems from the water.

And I know you were talking, Chad, of a surge of seven feet, and that's if -- four to seven feet if the storm stays on its current path in the center, correct?

MYERS: Correct. If it's closer, the number will be higher. But it doesn't have to go over the dune to get into the intracoastal. It's going to go through the cuts where most of the boats come out. So the water will get back there whether it goes over the dune or not.

There will be a four to seven-foot surge inland simply because the water will go through those cuts. And those cuts may -- the water may be going through there at 40 knots.

BERMAN: Right.

MYERS: Never would you get a boat out of there nor would you ever want to put a boat in the water at this point in time. But that water will fill in whether it goes over that dune or not.

BERMAN: And talk to me about rainfall, Chad. What's the rainfall expectation on the Florida coast?

MYERS: Well, it was a lot worse. We were looking at 10 to 20 inches of rain along the coast. That now appears to be slightly offshore.

Here's the rainfall map.

Orlando, here -- you're seeing in the white and the green here -- somewhere between two to three inches of rain. But along the coast -- this is Space Coast all the way up to Jacksonville and not quite on up there but we're looking at the orange to the red. I know you can't see this where you are John, but that's six to 10 inches of rainfall there.

And then, in the ocean where this white is, that's 20 inches and that's only eight miles offshore. You push this storm eight miles farther to the west and that's 20 inches on land.

BERMAN: Chad, we're getting a new forecast from the National Hurricane Center in just a few minutes. What will you be looking for?

MYERS: I won't be looking for much because there hasn't been a hurricane hunter aircraft in the storm for a couple of hours.

There's been one flying overhead at 40,000 feet, dropping these little dropsondes -- these things we talked about yesterday -- this little thing. You put it down, you send it off, and it goes down into the water, and they know all the way down to the ocean what the weather is like everywhere. It's like an inverse weather balloon, essentially.

That's what they're doing. They're going to put that into the new model this morning.

But I don't expect too much of an update. Unless we see a northward jog -- a little bit of the eye -- I don't think the Hurricane Center is going to change very much at 8:00.

BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers. We will check back in with you shortly.

I have to say, I learn so much from these conversations. Just once, I wish I weren't standing in the rain for it, but that's a --

MYERS: Right.

BERMAN: -- that's a whole nother thing.

So, Chad, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

I want to bring in Miami fire chief, Joseph Zahralban right now. Chief, thank you so much for being with us. You, too, have been so helpful throughout this storm and so many others in the past, understanding how people need to be prepared.

The way the storm looks now, Miami not going to see the worst of it. It's headed north -- well north of you. But still, you're talking about the water and the storm surge.

What are your main areas of concern?

CHIEF JOSEPH ZAHRALBAN, MIAMI FIRE-RESCUE DEPARTMENT, FEMA URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE, FLORIDA TASK FORCE 2: Well, yes, it is true that Miami seems to be out of the cone and in that respect, in the clear. However, we're still going to see the satellite effects of the storm and water is always a concern for us -- water in low-lying areas.

But it's also important to point that the storm has been, if nothing else, tremendously unpredictable. So we're going to maintain our level of readiness. We're going to maintain it a heightened level of alert.


We're going to have all our resources ready to bring to bear. And if we don't need to use them for the citizens of Miami we could offer them, potentially, to our brothers and sisters to the north of us so that we can ease their burden as they deal with this.

BERMAN: And sure, you work with FEMA also as a responder and emergency crew.

What message do you want to deliver to people this morning as they experience some of the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian -- these bands that are passing over? What do they need to know?

ZAHRALBAN: Well, it's important, depending on your respective area, that you continue to monitor the local news, you continue to monitor the weather, and you heed the warnings. If you are in an evacuation area, heed those warnings.

And it is the knowledge that you're going to get from your local responders -- from your local emergency management agencies that are going to give you the most up-to-the-minute information. And if they advise you to move in a certain direction, then please heed those warnings.

BERMAN: And it's important to do it when they tell you to do it because as the storm gets more powerful and it really starts to bear down, by that point it's too late.

What do people need to know? By tomorrow at this time along some parts of the Florida coast, they could be experiencing hurricane-force winds -- 70 miles per hour or greater. If it's then, people need to stay home.

What can they expect in terms of help from responders?

ZAHRALBAN: Well, once the winds exceed a certain level, then it's going to be difficult for responders to get out and help them. So what we always say in Miami is that the community needs to help us. We will get to you within a reasonable period of time but you need to help us.

You need to fortify your home if you are sheltering in place. You need to have enough provisions for seven days. You need to have your food, you need to have your water, any medications you might need.

If you are met with an emergency, emergency responders will do their very best to get to you. But you have to understand that there will become a point in time -- or there may come a point in time when they are unable to reach you due to the high winds. So you have to keep that in mind and do your absolute best to be self-sufficient for a period of time.

BERMAN: And again, the winds you're talking about, this is just the beginning. We're starting to feel, where I am in Jensen Beach -- we are getting gusts. This feels 40 to 50 miles per hour at times with the gusts coming through. And again, by tomorrow, it will be 70 -- even stronger.

One of the characteristics of this storm is how slowly it's moving now. It will pick up a little bit as it moves up the Florida coast tomorrow but still, some parts of Florida where I am and a little bit north of here, it's going to be 2 1/2 days of rain and wind.

What kind of challenge does that pose to you?

ZAHRALBAN: Anytime you have a long period of time -- extended duration where you're receiving rainfall, especially in saturated soil, the soil can only absorb so much. And that rain will begin to build, that rain will begin to collect in low-lying areas, and people find themselves unexpectedly in areas of deep water.

And in our case, in particular, what we try to advise people is -- especially if you're out on the roads -- if you're driving -- if you see water, you can't tell how deep that water is. Turn around. Do not drive through it because you would be surprised how many times in our response to federal disasters -- how many times we see unknowing individuals drive into water. And before you know it --


ZAHRALBAN: -- they are in a very dire situation and we need to go out and rescue them.

BERMAN: I have to tell you, even driving here this morning before the storm really passed over, they have had so much rain in Southern Florida over the last several weeks. The road -- it's just saturated. There were -- there were puddles and standing water at so many places.

That's such an important warning. Don't drive over it.

Chief Joseph Zahralban, thank you, as always, for your help understanding this. Please stay safe. You have your work cut out for you over the next few days.

ZAHRALBAN: Thank you, John. You stay safe, as well.

BERMAN: Obviously, as you can all see, while I've been talking to the chief here, once again, this is one of the outer bands. This time, it's coming right into my face, which is why I'm squinting and holding my arms up, Erica. The rain is picking up here. The wind, again, steadily coming in.

And on the beach, now it's a little bit wetter so you don't have quite as much sand. But there was a steady -- you know, stream of sand just blowing down the entire length of this beach, which is just completely empty now behind me. And you can understand why given what is going on with this storm, Erica.



You know, you talked a little bit this morning John about making your way there in the -- and seeing the --


HILL: -- standing water this morning, with the caveat that I know that it's dark out, obviously, at the hours that we all go to work.

But as you were making your way there and as some of the team was getting there, even overnight, did it seem like a lot of people were still out and about -- or at least in the area -- or are you hearing that people really are picking up, leaving, taking it seriously knowing that this is a sustained event and they may want to leave town now?

BERMAN: Like I say, we flew into -- we flew into West Palm Beach yesterday and the airport, itself, was empty. And then, every step of the way we kept on remarking -- it's about a 60-minute drive to here from West Palm Beach -- it was just empty.

People really have heeded the warnings for the most part. And if they have stuck around, I just think they're inside. They're not coming out. They know this is going to be a few days.

I think they're hopeful they might be spared the worst of it. They may even not lose power. But I think they're inside and they're just going to ride this out.

Ah, the rain has stopped for a moment and we have bright skies for what might be just a few minutes, Erica. But again, I don't expect it to last long.

And just so people know one last time, before we go to break, it's just over there. The Bahamas just over there. You can see a little bit darker -- not even 100 miles. That's where Hurricane Dorian is and has caused so much devastation.

We'll be right back.



HILL: New details are emerging this morning about the killer who took the lives of seven people and wounded 22 others in west Texas.

"The New York Times" reporting the gunman had been fired from his trucking job just hours before going on that shooting spree.

Police, at this hour, still do not have a motive.

President Trump spoke with reporters shortly after the shooting. Here's some of what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've 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.


HILL: Let's bring in Bianna Golodryga, CNN contributor. And, Frank Bruni, "New York Times" opinion columnist and CNN contributor.

There's a couple of things that I want to pick up on there in what the president had to say, specifically in saying this really hasn't changed anything. He's right in a lot of ways. It hasn't changed anything.

It also, in no way apparently, has motivated the president to do anything to change anything, and that's important to point out.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. Well, I didn't hear any note of urgency in his voice just then. I mean, he seemed very matter-of-fact and onward remarks, you know.

It's so frustrating because we constantly show these graphics and these numbers that 93 percent of Americans --

HILL: Yes.

BRUNI: -- support background checks, which is true -- and which tell us something important that the problem here is those 93 percent of Americans don't make it nearly their number one or number two or number three political priority.

That's what the president knows. He knows that those people who are attached to their guns make that a number one issue for them.

And what needs to happen in this country for us to get to a better place is people who are worried about these mass shootings understand the importance of chipping away a little bit at gun culture, which I'm coming to see as an oxymoron along the lines of jumbo shrimp, right?

They need to make it a priority to push through these background checks to get assault-style rifles off of the streets and that sort of thing. It has to be a political priority.

HILL: And the other things that interesting in terms of it being a priority, you have to have more of a conversation. And to have that conversation you have to have people who want to make their voices heard in a different way.

Bianna, in the 6:00 hour when you and I were talking, Phil Mudd was also with us. And he said the voice that's missing from this conversation is law enforcement.

The fact that officers were fired on here, the fact that we are seeing more officers in the line of fire, do you think that is chipping away at all at the Republicans who are still supporting President Trump but may be hearing, perhaps, from their constituents or may even personally be saying wait a minute, maybe now it's time for something?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you would think so, especially for a president who takes pride in the fact that he supports the blue more than any other president, as he would like to say, and that he's on the side of "Blue Lives Matter" as well. And that, of course, is an important argument to make.

Look at the shooting that we saw in Philadelphia just a couple of weeks ago where police officers were shot. A few years ago we saw that in Dallas.

You're right, the president seemed much more subdued. There is the sense of just numbness, you know, when these continue to happen and we just anticipate that more shootings will continue to happen.

When the president said that nothing would have changed over the past four or five years, that clearly sounds like talking points --


HILL: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: -- from the NRA or somebody within his administration. This doesn't seem to be a tipping point for the president, especially going into an election year.

And ironically, one could argue that the only person who could really make a significant difference is a Republican president and --

HILL: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: -- perhaps this president as well, because any time this issue comes up when there's a Democrat in office, all of the sudden you have people at the NRA or what have you, concerned about their guns being taken away.

HILL: Right.

GOLODRYGA: The Second Amendment comes up.

If you have a Republican president who can come out and say I support the Second Amendment just like any other American, but there have to be certain limits, maybe you would see a difference.

And I think a lot of people who voted for President Trump thinking that he wasn't an ideologue coming from New York City, that he might view this differently, it doesn't seem like they're getting what they hoped for.

HILL: It's interesting to the different reactions you see and not surprising, perhaps, that we heard from a lot of the candidates on the trail.

But, Beto O'Rourke, especially fired up, as we know, over the weekend. Take a listen to what he told Dana Bash.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The rhetoric that we've used, the thoughts and prayers that you just referred to, it has done nothing to stop the epidemic of gun violence to protect our kids, our families, our fellow Americans in public places who are averaging about 300 mass shootings a year. No other country comes close.


So, yes, this is (bleep) up and if we don't call it out for what it is and if we're not able to speak clearly, if we're not able to act decisively, then we will continue to have this kind of bloodshed in America.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HILL: Is that helpful for him that he went there -- that he, you know, dropped an F-bomb on live T.V. and said enough is enough and used that to illustrate his point?

BRUNI: I mean, I think he's genuinely upset about this and I think that's what it -- I think that's what it conveys. I don't think that was strategic or anything.

HILL: Yes.

BRUNI: I don't think it's unhelpful. I mean, I think it's a pretty good reflection of the frustration that so many of us feel.

And I think -- I've been impressed with Beto O'Rourke, you know. I mean, he's from the state where all of this has been happening lately where -- you know, where you had El Paso, et cetera, so he's got an invitation into the debate that he didn't have before. He's got, for lack of a better phrase, a little bit of moral authority here and I think he's using it to convey very strongly the way a lot of us feel about the gun culture, again, and gun laws.

HILL: As we look at what's happening with the president when it comes to guns, right -- the president choosing, essentially, not to act, there may be polling, as you point out, that shows that a number of Americans want something done. He's choosing to ignore that. That plays well with his base, as we know.

Stay with me on this analogy here, sort of, as we go down this road.

But as we're also looking at the tariffs that went into effect over the weekend there's not a clear strategy to those tariffs, at least not one that has emerged or that the White House has been able to articulate in terms of where these are supposed to bring us.

But those tariffs also can play well to the president's base because he can say I am being tough -- in his mind, I am being tough on China -- again, ignoring what he's hearing from the American people, just as he did on guns.

I mean, is there -- I mean, do we see sort of similar behavior in those two?

GOLODRYGA: Well, the president seems to be making a lot of these things up as he goes, walking into a situation assuming that maybe perhaps we'll get expanded background checks -- maybe not. Maybe red flag warnings will come into effect, maybe not.

We're hearing nothing, by the way, from Mitch McConnell, so he's clearly following the president's lead.

I think with tariffs, as well, the administration is finally coming around to saying this is sort of your patriotic duty to finally go head-to-head with China. Whereas, just a few weeks ago it was there's going to be no cost to you. This is not a tax. China's paying for all of this. So whatever strategic plan went into the tariffs, the president's saying that that's not coming to fruition. So he's making things up as they go because China's willing to wait this thing out.

I think with guns -- I think the same thing could be said -- you know, let's wait this out.

And what happens is we become more numb to it, unfortunately. Oh, only seven today. Whew, not 22 as a few weeks ago. And I think other countries look at this and think that we're crazy.

But that having been said, you have the NRA, you have Republicans, you have even Democrats all acknowledging that something needs to be done but all have differing opinions as to what the solution should be.

BRUNI: I think -- I think you're on to something, Erica. In both of these instances, you have him emphasizing image over actuality. Image of tough guy taking on China, image of an unsentimental guy who's not going to be moved by just a couple of deaths into chipping away -- you know, Second Amendment.

HILL: Yes.

BRUNI: Never mind the real-world consequences. This is how a tough guy behaves.

HILL: Frank, Bianna, appreciate it, as always. Thank you, both.

We are closely watching Hurricane Dorian as it moves now closer to Florida. A new advisory from the National Hurricane Center in just minutes. We will bring that to you.

Plus, comedian Kevin Hart in the hospital after a serious car crash. We have details this morning on what happened and also how he's doing.



HILL: Actor and comedian Kevin Hart in the hospital this morning after being seriously hurt in a car accident in California. Police say the driver lost control of the vehicle and veered into an embankment.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in Los Angeles this morning with more. Stephanie, what do we know?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. Well, it could have been so much worse.

What we do know is that this happened just before 1:00 a.m. Sunday when a friend, Jared Black, was driving Kevin Hart's 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. "Menace" is its nickname there. As you can see these pictures here from TMZ how bad this car was.

In fact, what we understand is that Kevin was not driving. Jared Black was driving and there was another female passenger in the car. The other two were trapped in the vehicle afterward. We know that Kevin left because he lives nearby, presumably to get help.

But we do know is that Kevin Hart, as well as Black, both have major back injuries from this. The female passenger -- she actually just was complaining of pain but no substantial injuries according to the police report here.

But we can say about this vehicle here because he posted it on his Instagram in July. Kevin Hart turned 40 at the beginning of July -- July sixth.

July eighth, he posted this picture of this car. You can see him standing in front of it. He said, "Welcome to the family, 'Menace.'"

And just looking at it, it is a big-time muscle car. From the outside, it looks like an old-school 1970 car but everything inside it has been restored. It's called a restomod.

So it has a lot of power and that could have actually attributed to the reason why this accident happened. But right now, we just know major back injuries -- Erica.

HILL: All right, Stephanie Elam with the latest for us. Thank you.

A new advisory on Hurricane Dorian. Our breaking news coverage continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, September second. It's 8:00 in the East.

This is our special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian.

I'm John Berman in Jensen Beach, Florida. Erica Hill is in.