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Hurricane Dorian Tied For Most Powerful Storm To Make Landfall In Atlantic Basin; Hurricane Dorian Slowly Moving Over Bahamas; Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) Talks About Hurricane Dorian As It Moves Ever Closer To The Florida Coast; Seven People Dead, 22 Injured In Another Texas Mass Shooting. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is Monday, September 2nd. It is 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 New York.

And you can see the surf behind me. This is hurricane Dorian. About 100 miles from the center. This is what it's doing already. Some of the outer bands have passed over us the last hour or so. We've had winds here, I would say, at 50 miles an hour or higher, and driving rain at times.

Right now is dry. But out in that direction, again, I'll point to it right now again. Out in that direction about 100 miles, hurricane Dorian is passing over the Bahamas. The winds have been as high as 185 miles an hour with gusts over 200 miles an hour. This is the most powerful storm ever -- tied for the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the Atlantic Basin.

We know of one fatality already, an eight-year-old who drowned in the storm surge there, which has been 20 feet or higher. The storm is moving along at one mile per hour right now, inching over the Bahamas, inching toward the Florida coast. And the longer it lingers, the more devastation it causes.

There have been mandatory evacuation orders for several counties in Florida. In just a few hours we expect mandatory evacuation to go into effect in Georgia, and South Carolina as well. This is a huge event which has the potential to impact millions. And even if it doesn't make a direct hit on the Florida coast, we do expect hurricane force winds and the impact of a storm surge or even worse.

Let's go to Chad Myers at the Weather Center. Chad, 8:00 a.m. advisory, brand-new information, what are you seeing?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's 165 moving west at one mile per hour, just as we had at 5:00 a.m. There has not been a new hurricane hunter aircraft in it yet. It will be on its way. That will be for the 11:00 advisory.

But what we know is that this storm is devastating the northern half of the Bahamas. An eye you can see on the satellite now. Sun now finally coming up. You're going to be able to see the ocean and likely the land when we get the sun angle high enough.

Here is the eye, not quite to Freeport, but the outer eye is to Freeport. Winds there have been over 100, not 165, but they are on the way if the eyewall gets to them. It's been slightly drifting to the north, and I do mean slightly. There are you John, up there, Jensen Beach. There are more showers offshore. As one comes down, the wind will come with it. All of a sudden, you'll go from sunny and 20 miles per hour to windy, rainy, and 50 miles per hour.

This storm is forecast to stay offshore still. There's a chance still the cone is onshore. But even if this is, lets' say, 40 miles off, the eye is 20 miles across. The hurricane force winds are 40 miles from there. There will be hurricane force gusts all along the coast.

So let's get to it. By Tuesday -- this is Tuesday, and this thing is just north of West Palm. Think about it. It's right here right now. Tuesday at 1:00 it only gets that far. So hour after hour of these winds, not just one minute or two minutes, 73 miles per hour over Melbourne by tomorrow afternoon, and then finally moving on up. '

The onshore flow will push water on land. That will cause surge without a landfall. We will get seven foot of surge behind the barrier islands in the inner coastal and into the neighborhoods that are along that inner coastal, up the rivers, up the canals where all those boats are parked. We will see between six and 10 inches of rainfall. The heaviest rain may be in Carolinas because that could be the closest approach.

Hurricane warnings are in effect. There will be hurricane conditions in parts of Florida. There are still models, John, there are still models at this hour that just ran that still have a landfall not that far from the Space Coast. Let's hope that's wrong. These models are built by man, put in together.

Sometimes you have bad data, you get garbage in, garbage out. We will have to see what happens with this. It's not over. Don't let your guard down. If you've been preparing, continue to prepare. It's that simple.

BERMAN: All right, Chad. Chad Myers in our Weather Center. Thank you very much.

I think I'm going to Ken Graham now, the director of the National Hurricane Center. Ken, if you are with me, we just heard Chad give us some of the information from the 8:00 a.m. update. This storm inching over the Bahamas. Has it taken its turn northward yet?

KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Not yet, John, because let's draw a circle right around that eye. And if you notice in the last four or five hours or so, just no change whatsoever, just battering the Bahamas. And you'll actually see some of these rain bands into Florida as well. So it hasn't made the turn yet. What a battle with time here because that high pressure that's been steering it, John, has collapsed.

[08:05:04] Now we're waiting on this little low pressure system to pull it northward. So we're going to watch that today, we're going to watch that tonight eventually start to pull it to the north.

BERMAN: And again, as it does move north, what can the people here on the coast of Florida expect?

GRAHAM: We've really got to keep our guard up with this one, because it's not just exactly where the center moves, because in the area cone, we can still see that center offshore, we can see it right on the coast, we can see it a little inland. But the other part of this that's so incredibly important is we've got to realize it's not just a center point. That's tropical storm force winds extending 120 miles out and they expand with times. So we could see some expansion of that wind field.

Hurricane force winds stretching 30, 40 miles from the center. So think about that. And you could start seeing some of those tropical storm force winds, you could start seeing hurricane force winds. People on the coast have to be ready. And the dangerous storm surge, that's the other factor here, we could see four or even seven foot of storm surge in some areas.

BERMAN: Talk to me a little bit more about that, Ken. I don't know if you can see where I am, but the high tide came up just to where my feet is here last night. You can see it's only a few feet from the dunes. A seven-mile storm surge, what would that mean for the Florida coast?

GRAHAM: Yes, four to seven feet, that could go inland. Depending where you are, you look at Titusville, you look at Melbourne, some of these areas it's not just on the coast. Some on it is right there on the beach depending on the terrain. But other flat areas, it can go inland as well.

And we run 1,000 different scenarios that go into the storm surge forecast, bigger, smaller, faster, slower, left and right. So even if we have changes in the track, even if we have changes in the intensity and even the structure, those values are already built in. So some places -- not everybody -- but the most susceptible places could get four to even seven feet of that storm surge, very dangerous situation.

BERMAN: I know it's a few days out from now and the forecast grows a little more hazy as time goes on, but what can we expect in Georgia and the Carolinas.

GRAHAM: With time we'll be dealing with this hurricane all week. Look at this timing along the Florida coast Tuesday and Wednesday. And on Thursday -- Wednesday night, Thursday morning, off the Georgia/South Carolina coast. And even on Friday you'll be off the North Carolina coast. So all week, they can also see some of the high winds, they can see some of the rain, the storm surge, these areas are very susceptible to storm surge with a lot of the river, inlets, and the Carolina coast, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. So very dangerous up there. Storm surge, rain, and they're going to get some winds, too. Still a hurricane, its' still a hurricane. Even on Friday, we're still forecasting this could still be a hurricane.

BERMAN: Wow, that just shows you how powerful it is. It makes you feel even more for the people of the Bahamas about 100 miles that way. What does it mean? We hear this is tied for the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in the Atlantic Basin, 185 miles per hour with gusts over 200 miles an hour. But what does that mean for the people in the Bahamas who have had to endure this for over 24 hours?

GRAHAM: John, it's devastating, because it's one thing to get those conditions in and out, it's another thing to get those conditions for 30 hours or more, 36 hours. It's devastating. So think about 165- mile-an-hour winds now, 185 before, prolonged for a day, and then starting to see rainfall continue to accumulate, 30 inches possible in some places. And the other part, the storm surge. The forecast there 18 feet, maybe up to 23 foot of storm surge, just water, water everywhere. Such a dangerous situation, not only this strong, but the prolonged nature of this just compounds every one of those issues.

BERMAN: Ken Graham with the National Hurricane Center, thank you very much for being with us and letting us know what's happening.

I want to go right to Patrick Oppmann, who is in Freeport in the Bahamas. We have his shot up. I don't know how long it will last. Let's get the news from where he is. Patrick?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Guys, just look beyond me here at the waves. It is a stunning sight. We believe this maybe storm surge as the water is getting pushed back up all around us is nonstop wind, it has been going all night long, it has been battered by the wind. There are moments when it sounds like a jet engine next to your ear. We're looking out over this way, and there's trees that have just been absolutely ripped of all their leaves.

The eye still remains to the north of where we are, so we are on the weak side of the storm, but it doesn't feel very weak. It is an amazingly powerful storm. And the problem here is it is hanging out over Grand Bahama. No signs yet that we can see here on the ground that it is leaving. So as the sun comes up, we are seeing more of the island and we are hearing across the island of Grand Bahama, there is flooding, there are people who have lost their roofs.

Certainly, if you were trying to walk out of the building where we are, you would not be able to stand up. You'd get knocked over by the wind. So even though Grand Bahama, perhaps, doesn't have of the damage that we've seen in other parts of the Bahamas, and even though we are now in the light of day, it is not safe to go outside. The storm remains over us and remains very dangerous. I'm going to throw it back to you guys.

[08:10:05] BERMAN: All right, Patrick Oppmann and his team there, please stay safe. I can't imagine what it has been like over the last 24 hours to be there, and it's miraculous that we're getting a signal out from Freeport right now given what they have been through, Erica, 165-mile-per-hour winds right now, was 185 yesterday.

Patrick says he didn't get a wink of sleep, and you couldn't stand up. There would be no way to stand up if you were going outside. Waking up there this morning and assessing the damage is going to be so difficult for the people on that island, Erica. ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: It will be so tough, and not just because

obviously of the conditions themselves, but because as you've been pointing out, as you and Chad were just talking about, because they're lasting for so long. You also mentioned, Patrick saying he couldn't sleep. I was just struck by him saying for hours and hours it has now sounded like a jet engine just consistently overhead there in the Bahamas.

BERMAN: And I think one sound that no one should ever hear is the sound of the building you're in creaking, the structure actually moving. And that's what Patrick had to deal with overnight. Erica, thank you very much. Stand by. We are here on Jensen Beach. It is getting darker now. It is raining, and the wind is picking, so one of those bands passing over us.

When we come back we're going to speak with Florida Senator Rick Scott. He of course was governor for a long time as well, dealt with a number of these hurricanes. We'll get an update for how the state of Florida plans to deal with hurricane Dorian next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:37]

BERMAN: All right, welcome back. This is CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian. I'm John Berman in Jensen Beach, Florida. This is one of those bands passing over the beaches here where I am. The wind you can see it going horizontal sideways. The wind when these bands passes over picks up 50 miles per hour or higher than that, maybe dying down just a little bit right now, but it's powerful.

You can't even look into it when it's coming down because the rain pierces your skin. Pretty harsh stuff. And again, this is what it's going to be like for the next two days along the Florida Coast and this is only a fraction of what they're enduring in the Bahamas right now, Grand Isle just about 100 miles away from where we are, as Hurricane Dorian inches over the Bahamas and moves ever closer to the Florida Coast.

There are hurricane warnings up and down the coast, which means that they can expect -- not possible -- they can expect, they will experience hurricane force winds, and of course, the devastating storm surge as well.

Joining me now is Florida Senator Rick Scott. He was governor of this State for eight years as well. Governor, Senator you lived through it and governed through some terrible hurricanes over the last several years. This one as people look at the forecast, they might get complacent, and that's a serious problem. In your experience, what have you learned from these storms?

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Well, John, first off, think about it as simple as this. You can rebuild houses, you can't rebuild lives, just like we all heard the story of the young boy that died in the Bahamas. Nobody wants that to happen to their family or to their loved ones. So here's the concern. If you listen to the National Hurricane

Center, what they'll tell you, and I just got a briefing from them is two thirds of time it's outside that cone, it could be further east could be further west.

But even if you follow that path, it's going to be very -- almost right on the coast of Florida. We can get seven foot of storm surge. Now think about it, if seven feet of water is coming to your house, you don't survive it. There's no way. So you've got to take this seriously.

My biggest concern is people are looking at that path and saying, "Oh, it's not going to hit Florida. It's going to go up and hit someplace else." If it hits -- even if it doesn't hit Florida, and we get that storm surge, it's deadly.

But assume that it might hit your house. So in that case, if you're an evacuation zone, don't wait until they say it at eight o'clock tomorrow morning. Start moving today because who knows what the traffic is going to be. You know, do you have -- is there going to be plenty of gas? Take your life -- take control of your own life. And if you think you might have any need to evacuate get out now.

BERMAN: Senator, you just said a couple of things that I think bear repeating. Number one, this storm could still make landfall along the Florida Coast.

SCOTT: Yes.

BERMAN: Landfall is within the cone and the storm could go outside the cone so people absolutely have to pay attention to that and second of all, the storm surge, just to make it perfectly clear, if there's a four to seven foot storm surge where I'm standing, we will be covered in water -- well-covered by water -- and it will go into people's homes and you pointed out the one fatality we know of a boy who drowned in the Bahamas, it's the water that takes lives, isn't it?

SCOTT: It is and you know -- and you didn't just hear stories. And you know when Michael -- what would happen with Michael last year is that everybody said, "Oh the category wasn't that high." It ended up being a five, but I keep saying, nine feet of storm surge and we saw Mexico Beach, people didn't leave and what happened is? We lost people.

I remember talking to one young man looking for his mom, her body was found three blocks away, you know, swept away because of the storm surge.

I mean, don't -- I mean, I just tell people, we all love our families. Don't take a risk of this stuff. I mean, look, no one wants and likes to evacuate. No one wants to go to shelters. We all understand that. But I want everybody to stay alive. I like people to complain afterwards that you know, "Rick Scott, he blew out of proportion." I'd rather have that than lose one life in this state.

BERMAN: There's a reason you're out there warning people because it can absolutely save lives. Every storm is different. Right? And I remember being in Florida with Michael last year with you, Irma, Maria the year before that. What is unique to Dorian that concerns you the most?

SCOTT: It's big. I made it's got -- you know, 160 mile plus winds. I don't think -- I can't -- John, I can't think of anywhere except down the keys, at least for my life that we've seen seven foot of storm surge along the East Coast.

[08:20:20]

SCOTT: So people just -- I think, people know it and then there's a lot of people that have come here. I mean, we have -- you know, we have 400,000 people moving here a year. There's a lot of tourists. I'm just concerned that people are not taking it seriously, but I watched -- you know, remember Irma? You know, down there, that 30- mile stretch between Cadjoe and Big Pine Key. They -- I mean they had 145-mile per hour winds, six foot of storm surge.

And you know, I met one person that stayed and he was lucky because it got up to here and it started to recede. Everybody else was smart enough to get out. But I just hope people would take care of themselves.

I've spent -- I've been at FEMA. I've been with the President at Camp David. We went to FEMA yesterday. You know, FEMA is going to do their job. I know local law enforcement, local officials in states, they're all focused, but you've got to take control of your life.

BERMAN: That's right. And that means right now, there's still time. You have a few hours left to move if you need to move, but people do need to know that by tomorrow, when they are experiencing the hurricane force winds, if they have made the choice to stay, what then, Senator?

SCOTT: Well, first of all, John, the bridges are going to be -- they're going to close bridges. I mean, the bridges are going to be closed. You're not going to get off those islands. That's one thing.

Number two, you don't know how bad the traffic is going to be. You don't know if there's going to be any gas, all right. And so the longer you wait -- and think about it, if everybody is leaving the same time, what if people run out of gas? What if cars break down? How bad is the traffic going to be?

I mean, this is not a time to take a chance. Just say to yourself, "Do you want to be stuck in seven-foot -- potentially, seven-foot of storm surge or more during a 160-mile an hour winds or more, okay, and then potential flooding on top of that." Remember, these bands can drop and -- if we come -- if it comes a little bit further to the west, you could have 12 to 20 inches of water coming down. We will have flooding then.

Now I hope -- I hope none of this happens. But if it does, I want everybody in my state to survive. I want everybody -- we don't want to lose anybody. I know, I'm thinking about the same thing for Georgia and the Carolinas. We want everybody to get prepared, be safe.

BERMAN: And Senator, I should point out that there's already water on the roads. So much rain over the last month here in Florida. The ground is saturated. There's nowhere else for the water to go at this point, so there will be flooding.

Senator Rick Scott, thank you so much for being with us and sending out these warnings. I got soaked during the interview because the band passed over while we were talking. It's a sign of what's going to come over the next two days here in Florida. Thank you very much, Senator.

SCOTT: All right. See you, John.

BERMAN: All right, Erica, let's go back to you in New York.

HILL: All right, John. Thank you. We are also covering of course, this deadly shooting in Texas over the weekend. Seven people dead, 22 injured, so the question now, what will Congress do this time after yet another mass shooting in America? We discuss the debate over gun legislation, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:27:08]

HILL: New details emerging this morning about the killer who took the lives of seven people and wounded 22 others in West Texas. "The New York Times" is reporting the gunman had been fired from his trucking job just hours before going on that shooting spree.

CNN's Scott McLean is live in Odessa, Texas with more. Scott, good morning.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning again, Erica. There are some 130 F.B.I. investigators here in West Texas coming through 15 different crime scenes trying to figure out what exactly took place here on Saturday and why the final crime scene is here behind this theater where the suspect was shot and killed in a shootout with police.

Now from start to finish, this gunman who is armed with an AR-15 type weapon, he was on the loose for about an hour. He covered a lot of miles here as well.

At one point, he even hijacked a U.S. Postal Service van. You can still see it back there which added to some of the confusion as to where exactly these shots were coming from. That van was driven by 29-year-old Mary Granados, who was killed while talking to her sister on the phone.

The shooting continued after that going along another busy street here in Odessa. One of the victims who was shot during that time was just 17 months old. Her name is Anderson Davis. She actually had surgery yesterday to repair a hole in her bottom lip and her tongue and remove shrapnel from her chest. She is expected to make a full recovery, but she has another surgery scheduled for today.

As you said, "The New York Times" is reporting that the suspect had lost his job on Saturday. He has a pretty scant internet footprint as well, and just a couple of minor criminal incidents in his past.

Authorities were searching his property which is about 15 miles west of here, in a pretty rural part of this county. A neighbor actually told CNN that he would often sit on top of his roof and shoot at animals in her yard.

Authorities though they are not drawing any conclusions at this point as to what the motive might be. But that is what they hope to find out in the coming weeks and months -- Erica.

HILL: All right, well, we know you will continue to stay on top of it, Scott. Thank you.

President Trump was asked about the shooting, he was asked about gun legislation after what happened in Texas. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... I have 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: Joining me now Charlie Dent, CNN political commentator and a former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania and Anna Navarro, CNN political commentator. Good to see you both this morning.

So Congressman, I want to start with you on this because what we heard from the President there is, this isn't really going to change anything. We know that the Senate is not due back until a week from today.

[08:30:10]