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At Least 5 Killed as Hurricane Dorian Devastates Bahamas; Dorian Batters the Bahamas, Approaches Florida; Bahamas Resident: "Utter Destruction Everywhere We Look"; Bahamian Parliament Member Iram Lewis Discusses Hurricane Dorian Hovering over the Bahamas and the Rising Waters; Counties Along Florida's Coast Under Hurricane Warnings, Mandatory Evacuation Orders as Dorian Moves Closer; Vero Beach Vice Mayor Anthony Young Discusses Hurricane Dorian, Hurricane Fatigue, Preparedness. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired September 3, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.
We are following the massive and slow-moving storm that is Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record. The National Hurricane Center has just put out a new update on the track and the strength, which could provide some more clarity on where this beast is headed next and what this means for the coastal United States.
For the last 12 hours plus, the storm has been pretty much stalled over the top of the Bahamas. Authorities say there have been five confirmed deaths from the storm. Thousands and thousands of homes and structures damaged and destroyed. And the threat is not over as folks there are still needing rescue.
We're going to have much more on that in a second.
My colleague, John Berman, is on the Florida coast. And he's going to be joining us throughout the hour to give us perspective.
John, I've been watching you all morning. One moment, relative calm, and then a band come rolling through. What have you been seeing?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is sort of outer band central here on the Florida coast. We're in Jensen Beach, Florida, about 100 miles that way from the center of the storm. But that means, over the last 30 hours, we've had winds that have been tropical-storm-force for some time.
And you can see the storm surge pushing the intercoastal waterway behind me into white caps that have grown increasingly ferocious and the ways have been kicking up. When the storm surge comes in, it could add another two feet. And where I'm standing could be completely covered in water.
They're still very concerned here. One of the things they want to guard against is hurricane fatigue and complacency. The Florida coast still much at risk.
As Kate said, we just got some new data. You can see what the wind and waves can do here.
We just got new data from the Hurricane Center so let's go to Chad Myers for that -- Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, down to a category two now. So there's something good there. But the wind field has expanded, which means that we don't have the 130 or 140 in the middle but now we have 60, 70 and 80 now almost 100 miles, both sides of the eye. So that will affect Florida and out here in the Atlantic.
But we're only worried about what's going to affect the Florida coast. That's going to take the wind speeds to 60 or 70 as the storm makes its closest approach.
There's the eye and the bottom is still hitting Freeport. They are not out of it yet. But as it moves up toward the north, they will eventually clear.
Every time a band goes by your wind goes from 30 to 55, John, and that's going to be the case for much of the afternoon. One band, one feeder arm coming by about every hour. So there you go.
We're still 110 off the coast of Daytona and Melbourne for tomorrow. And then eventually up farther to the north making the closest approach to the North Carolina coast. South Carolina, North Carolina, you're all really in it.
Notice how wide the wind field is. Even right now, Stuart at about 59 miles per hour. We move this to the north and this is 2:00 in the morning. Right after midnight, you're going to see Melbourne at 64 and Daytona, wind gusts of 62 by morning hours.
And then toward the north, we get a little bit farther away from Jacksonville and St. Simons, but then, all of a sudden, the land kind of gets in the way. Charleston gets 67. And then that's when the curve of North Carolina and South Carolina may very well get in the way.
We still have storm surges across parts of the Bahamas at 10 to 15 feet. We talked about and showed pictures of that airport. The airport is six feet above sea level and there's five feet of water on top of that. And we're hearing reports from officials there that there were places with 20 feet of water on top of the land that was just inundated by all the storm surge.
We're looking at about three to five feet where you are. Right now, it's 1.5 feet, but that could still be another 1.5 to two feet over that barrier that you're standing right by.
Why is it moving so slowly? We have two high-pressure centers, one trying to push it to the south and one trying to push it to the north. It's like missing third gear and hitting reverse. That's not going to go well. Don't try that at home. It's a grinding sound. And right now, this thing is grinding between two highs. One will get out of the way. A low pressure up here will suck it up and bring it to the north. That will finally get it moving.
It's going to have to move quite a bit, because for this to be where the hurricane center has it tomorrow, it's going to have to move 160 miles from where it is now in 24 hours. And right now, it's moving northwest at two. It's going to have to get to 10 miles per hour to get that far north.
We'll keep watching it for you. You have hour after hour after hour of what you've seen. But multiply it by three or more, and that's what the Bahamas have seen for 36 hours -- John?
BERMAN: And I think that's so important to remind people of.
Chad Myers, thank you very much.
As the wind picks up here, it's almost unimaginable that the eye has been sitting over Freeport as long as it has.
Our thanks to Chad Myers.
Kate, let's go back to you.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I was thinking the same thing, John.
We're going to get back to John throughout the hour. Thank you so much, John.
Less than 100 miles east of where John is standing, they are stuck in a nightmare that just won't quit, as Chad Myers was just describing.
Just listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That is the wind in Freeport in the Bahamas. After making landfall late Saturday night, Hurricane Dorian has essentially parked itself for hours and hours, spinning in place over that part of the island chain for more than a day.
One resident in Freeport describing to CNN this way, "It's utterer destruction everywhere we look."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened to it?
(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. It's gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That's one early snapshot of the damage and destruction.
To be honest, getting information and a clear picture of the scope of the damage has been really tough so far as many people have been completely cut off. Search-and-rescue has been hard because the eye of the storm is still over Freeport.
The storm is indiscriminate as well. Let's show you one government minister describing the shock of seeing waves crashing against his windows 20 feet up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRAM LEWIS, BAHAMIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: That's the water hitting my front window, which is extremely high. Completely flooded out. That's my kitchen window that water is hitting and that has to be a minimum of about 20 feet off the ground. And this is the water by my back door and glass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And then there's the Freeport airport. We're going to show you on the right part of your screen, you can see the waves just past the railing and all you can see is water. That is supposed to be the airport's runway. On the left side of your screen. The right side is what they have now. The left is what it should look like on a normal day.
Then there's also the satellite comparison that we want to show you. This is Grand Bahama Island from space before Hurricane Dorian arrived and what it looks like now, submerged.
Patrick Oppmann, he rode out the storm in Freeport. Communication has been really spotty, understandably. He sent in this in a short time ago.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Grand Bahama, the winds have died down somewhat, but the devastating damage and weather conditions still make it very difficult to venture out and get a sense of how bad things are.
We have heard reports of the hospital here being flooded, of an animal shelter being completely under water. People who have lost their homes and have basically had to escape with nothing but the clothes on their back.
Late last night. a group of people near the building where we're staying showed up completely soaking wet. They were carrying a woman who had fallen and had broken her hip. Many of the people were carrying their pets. Some were very distraught that they had to leave their pets behind in homes that had very quickly flooded.
They told us how just in the matter of hours the water began quickly rising in their homes and, by the time they got their belongings together and were preparing to evacuate, they said the water was so high they could not open the doors of their home. Some people had to break through their roofs to climb out of their homes.
And the sense here is that things have completely broken down. The cell phone service is spotty at best. Electricity is out. Many people have run out of food and fresh water. So it is a dire situation.
But until the airport opens here and the government is able to bring in boats with resources and supplies, it's not clear how the situation can improve or when there can be a wide-scale search-and-rescue effort.
So for the moment, even as the weather slowly clears, people here in this part of the Bahamas are still very much on their own.
Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Freeport, the Bahamas.
BOLDUAN: Patrick, thank you so much for bringing us that report. He's going to be up live again soon. We'll hopefully bring more information from Patrick.
Now Iram Lewis, he's a member of the Bahamian parliament. He represents a central party of Grand Bahama Island. That footage that we showed you a moments ago of the Freeport airport, that comes from him. The airport in Freeport under water. Really unrecognizable from what you should be seeing there. He also sent in this video showing some of the flooding devastation in that city.
Iram Lewis is on the phone joining me now.
Iram, can you hear me?
LEWIS (via telephone): Yes, I can here you. Good morning. And thank you very much for contacting us.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for getting on the phone.
The videos that you've been sending out have really shown just kind of a snapshot of the breathtaking flooding and damage and destruction and the water that has been coming onto the island. It's been unbelievable.
What are you seeing? How is your family?
LEWIS: Right now, it is still ongoing. I am happy to report some good news. My colleague cabinet member and his family, they have been rescued a few minutes ago. But I just can't imagine having to be in those conditions overnight in the dark. Thank God the team was able to get in there and pull them out.
As far as my family is concerned, I'm still out of touch with my sister-in-law and her two young children. We haven't heard from them yesterday. I made an attempt to go out and rescue them this morning, but the road was impassable. There was too much water so I had to turn back. I'm hoping to hear from them real soon.
But as I said earlier, we are in -- right now, taking a beating. The all-clear sign has not been given. The wind is still howling. In some areas, the water is rising. In some areas, the water is going down, so we thank God for that.
I was able to visit one or two of the shelters and the persons there are in dire straits. The persons who had to leave their homes at the last minute and they couldn't take any food stuff with them. And the shelters are limit supplies. And the shelters are now pretty much over-populated.
And one of the critical things to bear in mind is that there are critical patients because of the hospital being compromised. We have hypertensive patients. We have dialysis patients, diabetic patients. We need wheelchairs and hospital beds. We need more walkers.
We're just in a lot of problem right now.
BOLDUAN: And right now, we just got the latest update, Iram, that the bottom of the eye is still hitting Freeport. And this is now 36 hours of this area of the Bahamas being hammered.
When you said when you went out this morning to try to rescue your family and to get to them, you had to turn back because of the water. Can you describe what kind of damage you saw, not just the water, but what else that you saw when you were able to make it out today?
LEWIS: Along the way, trees down. I noticed one or two houses that lost their roof, was lying on the side of the road. People standing outside just stunned. It is unbelievable. It is certainly unbelievable.
But we have more water damage than wind damage right now. And even persons on high grounds that needs to be rescued that are trapped in their roofs, up in the attic space and we cannot get to them. So I guess we need some air lifts by the U.S. Coast Guard who can come with helicopters and perhaps help us to get them out.
We've tried heavy equipment, some of the big trucks and the payloaders. They were able to rescue one or two families, but even they began to stall out.
And one other thing is, I spoke to our rescue agent a few minutes ago and he's now running out of fuel. Most of our gas stations are closed down. So again, that poses another problem. The rescue team that can get to these individuals cannot drive because they're out of fuel.
So I'm hoping that even the gas station operators will be able to get to these stations as soon as possible and open up the fuel tanks and allow these trucks and heavy-duty equipment to get through.
BOLDUAN: And that's where the problem sets in when it comes to recovery, Iram, because the supply chain of all of these life- sustaining things is breaking down while folks are still in the middle of it.
BOLDUAN: I mean, from your perspective at the moment, 36 hours into this kind of hammering, and the storm has not yet been -- is so stubborn and not gotten off the island, are folks just on their own at the moment?
LEWIS: Folks are on their own but we are doing our best. Our EOC is very active. Our emergency lines went down earlier and we were able to get them back up. The EOC is properly manned.
Our defense force is doing their best. The police department is doing their best to rescue. However, the police department, yesterday, of course, is in a flood zone so they lost a majority of their vehicles. So right now, they're on the ground.
We have the U.S. Coast Guard in Abaco. And as far as the Bahamas is concerned, our rescue teams, we're doing our best.
We understand that persons right now, they're in shock. And, of course, they're going to need some therapists to come along. And also, from a psychological standpoint, to offer therapy in terms of recovery.
So once again, we are not leaving persons alone. We are doing our best. And as much as the weather allow us to go out, we are doing our best as fast as we can for as many as we can while we still have daylight.
BOLDUAN: I heard a government official today say that, based on the damage and the data that's coming in on the storm, that the death toll is likely to rise from the five people that have been confirmed killed so far in the Bahamas.
BOLDUAN: Do you think that that's going to be the case?
LEWIS: It is safe to say that. Based on the areas that were hit, particularly the Abaco area and even Grand Bahama, we have persons trapped in their roof and they're saying there's water coming up to the roof space. And a lot of those individuals, we haven't been able to hear from them and we cannot get to them.
So it is safe to say, unfortunately, that that number will go up. It's not good news. But that is the reality at the moment.
But we want all who can hear us to rest assured that we are doing our best to rescue them.
And we really appreciate the efforts of the United States and the rest of the world who are paying attention and partnering with us to help us get through these very, very trying times. We need help more than ever.
We are a nation of faith. Individuals are praying as much as possible. We are trusting God to help protect us as much as possible.
And at the end of the day, we are doing all that we can under the circumstances, all that we humanly can do possibly.
BOLDUAN: You need help on the front end of this, right after the punch from the initial hit --
BOLDUAN: -- and it is going to be a long recovery. It would be for any island that's been facing what you guys are just faced over the last 36 hours.
Iram, thanks so much for getting on the phone. We'll stay in touch. I really appreciate it. Thank you.
LEWIS: Thank you very much. We appreciate you. And when you call next time, I may have a list of pertinent supplies that we need right away to be brought to the island to --
BOLDUAN: Is there something that you need most immediately? Please broadcast it here if there's something that you want to make sure.
LEWIS: Medical supplies, of course. And again we need a way to move. A lot of homes are wet. We need tents. We need sleeping bags. We need considerable mattresses. Chain saws.
In terms of personal items, we need clothing supplies. We need women's sanitary supplies. We need baby supplies, Pampers, wipes. We need Depends for some of our elderly folks.
On the medical side of it, again, we have hypertension patients, dialysis patients, diabetic patients. We need to be able to get them to be mobile. So wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers. We just need help.
With respect to rescue items, we need flat-bottom boats, inflatable rafts. We need rope, life vests. We need lights, flashlights, life rings, water boots, raincoats. We just need it all right now.
LEWIS: Whatever you can send, we'll take it because we are in trouble.
BOLDUAN: Gosh. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it, Iram. We will definitely be checking back in. Thank you.
LEWIS: OK. Thank you very much for the attention. And we hope to hear from you real soon.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.
They need everything. They need help. That is very clear coming from that member of the Bahamian parliament right there.
Coming up for us, we're going to continue watching the devastation that is playing out. Much more on Hurricane Dorian's latest movements. It's going to be bringing some dangerous conditions now as it's slowly moving off the Bahamas toward the Florida coast.
Plus, there's also hope fading for any additional survivors after that tragic boat fire off the coast of southern California. Twenty confirmed dead, 14 people still missing. The latest on the desperate search and the investigation into what really happened, that's ahead.
BERMAN: Welcome back. This is CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian. I'm John Berman, in Jensen Beach, Florida.
Still about 100 miles from the center of the storm. But all the way from the center here, you can feel the wind bearing down and getting stronger slowly over the course of the day. And the seas picking up behind us on the intercoastal waterway.
There are still several counties along the Florida coast that are under hurricane warning and mandatory evacuation orders.
We're going to go up the coast to my colleague, Miguel Marquez, who is in Vero Beach.
Miguel, what are you seeing there?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is one of those places that are under mandatory evacuation and hurricane warning.
The wind, amazingly enough, hasn't changed much since we were here 24 hours ago. We're seeing some blue sky above us.
What is different are the oceans. The tide is coming in. They're experiencing king tides here because of the position of the moon and the earth. Some of the highest tides of the year are coming in, as well as storm surge.
What authorities are battling now is complacency in this place because they have been preparing for this storm for about a week now. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued. Most people got off the barrier islands. Many people, though, stayed, thinking that it's not going to be as bad as they are concerned about.
The big question for everyone is, when does that storm take the turn north? Everybody waiting for that.
Watching what's happening in the Bahamas and the power that that storm is putting out there, and seeing these seas right now, you get a very good sense of just how powerful that storm is. Despite it being a long way away from where we are right now, it is having a major impact here.
The beaches here are, in many ways, devastated. We're literally watching them erode in front of us every wave that comes in. And that is a big concern.
As the tide comes in over the next several hours and as the storm surge pushes toward this area, there are concerns that there will be some flooding. And it's that wind that is going to pick up later today and the water that could be deadly -- John?
BERMAN: Miguel Marquez, for us in Vero Beach.
As Miguel was saying, we could see the beach literally being swept away piece by piece as the waves were pounding on it yesterday and that will continue for another day.
I want to bring in Anthony Young, who is the vice mayor of Vero Beach where Miguel was just speaking with us.
Mr. Vice Mayor, thank you for being with us.
Miguel was talking about what has almost become a hurricane fatigue for some of the people in Florida who have been preparing for Dorian for days now. What is the message you want to send to people in Vero Beach?
ANTHONY YOUNG, VICE MAYOR, VERO BEACH (via telephone): The most important thing is -- this is kind of like a protracted boxing match. You've got to keep your guard up because, actually, in the next 24 hours, with the forecast to have the storm move along our coast, it will be offshore probably early evening into this evening. So this is when you're going to have the most impact in our community.
And it's not only the beach side. If you think about the impact of the winds on the interior of Vero Beach, and many of the roads will have branches that could be obstructing the way. But we've done a lot of preparation.
And so the most important thing is for folks to stay indoors and realize that the conditions are going to deteriorate as the storm progresses.
BERMAN: How have people been responding to you this many days in?
YOUNG: Actually, it's fantastic in the fact that people have taken it seriously. I think they've paid attention to the media and they realize the potential consequences of this storm. And if you look at the streets, I was out earlier this morning and the
main street of Vero Beach looked like a ghost town. So that is good.
But what we don't want to do is say, OK, you know, we can take a breath and go out, because really now is the time to make it across the finish line, stay indoors. Because as the winds pick up, that's when you have the lines go down. That's when you have a potential for electricity to be disrupted. So that's the important thing.
BERMAN: Stay strong, stay vigilant. The worst is still to come for Vero Beach. You have another 24 or 36 hours of this.
Mr. Vice Mayor, Anthony Young, thank you very much for being with us today. Really appreciate your time, sir.
YOUNG: OK, take care. And I expect that we will be fine.
BERMAN: Good, good. Because you've been so careful, that's why you've been fine.
BERMAN: We really appreciate it.
BERMAN: Yes, sir. Thank you very much, Vice Mayor.
We're getting some new information into CNN right now about the boat fire disaster in the Pacific. We'll bring you that information on what is still a rescue operation there, next.