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Millions Ordered To Evacuate As Dorian Starts Hitting U.S.; South Florida Spared As North Florida, Georgia, Carolina Brace for Dorian; Marine Doesn't Evacuate Daytona Beach So He Can Help Senior Citizen Ladies; Walmart To Stop Selling Certain Guns, Ammunition In Wake Of El Paso Mass Shooting. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 3, 2019 - 14:30   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Welcome back to CNN's coverage of Hurricane Dorian. I'm Victor Blackwell, standing alongside the intercoastal here in Jensen Beach. It's been sloshing around like this for a couple of days now.

Although authorities here in Martin County have lifted mandatory evacuation orders and will soon reopen bridges, they warn that there still will be strong winds that come in. Hurricane warning continues.

But there will also be storm surge along the barrier island, Hutchinson Island, just about 1,000 yards or more from where I'm standing.

Now, the sheriff here says that they have been spared in this part of south Florida, here in Martin County. But that may not be the case for points north.

We know that just moments ago, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order ,ordering evacuations of the North Carolina barrier island from the South Carolina line all the way up to Virginia. I-26 in South Carolina, all lanes are headed west now to get people out of Charleston, to get people away from the coast for evacuations there. I-16, in Georgia, all lanes headed west there to get people out of Savannah and the Georgia barrier islands and coastal communities.

So, while the southern communities here in Florida believe they have been spared, there still is a sense of urgency, as you head north in Florida and into Georgia and the Carolinas.

Let's go up the coast of Brevard County. And my colleague, Drew Griffin, is in Titusville.

I know you're not seeing what we're seeing here. What are officials expecting and what are they hoping people will prepare for?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're hoping they stayed prepared, Victor. Just a half hour ago, Brevard County officials sent out a tweet saying, listen, stay put, everybody, the mandatory evacuations, at least for here, are still in effect.

We are getting some strong winds. They are expecting the winds to get stronger as the bands continue to come off of Hurricane Dorian.

But like you said, it's about managing what is going to be, they hope, a miss for central Florida, keeping in mind, at any point, this hurricane could change force.


The fact that the forecast shows this staying off the coast and that the winds will not get much stronger than this has been very hopeful that they dodge this bullet.

You can see that the water behind me continues to build and push up. I've got to think, from our meteorologist, that the water that this is being pushed by Dorian is all going north and not inland.

So I expect coastal flooding, Victor, possibly some wind damage from maybe tropical-storm winds here in Titusville, but not much more.

They already planning on what to do afterwards. Titusville City will reopen on Thursday -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: Drew Griffin for us there for us in Titusville, up the coast here in Florida.

We know from Martin County officials, where I am, there has been some localized flooding in some communities. We're getting some pictures of those.

The water to Hutchinson Island had been shut off. The water service, suspended, they say, to preserve the integrity of the system. We're told that will be resumed, water service will be back on. But they're under a boil water advisory.

Brooke, again, as even the wind whips up now, there's a moment of sunshine. And anytime you see there's no rain, we're seeing people come out of their homes and there's more traffic around us here, near the causeway, along the intracoastal. The moment that water comes back, the moments it starts raining, it clears out.

It's really erratic, really sporadic, I should say. The weather here at the edge of Dorian as it starts to climb up the Florida east coast.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Maybe erratic and sporadic.

Victor, thank you.

Drew was just in Titusville. Speaking of, my next guest lives there. But she's packed her bags and need move to hunker down with a friend in the town of Celebration right near Disney world. Lisa Simpson is with me on the phone.

Lisa, I know you got out of dodge. Your brother, though, lives on one of those barrier islands. He's not heeding those mandatory evacuation orders. Are you worried about him?

LISA SIMPSON, TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA, RESIDENT (via telephone): Yes and no. I used to live on that island as well a few years ago. I stayed home because we knew where that storm was going. And we just kept in contact the entire time.


SIMPSON: I know that he has, you know, boarded up his house. He's got all of his water, food, batteries. So, I know he's very resourceful. He knows what to do if anything happens. At least, it's in contact the entire time.

BALDWIN: I think I did the same with my own brother.

We were just listening to Drew Griffin. He's our correspondent in Titusville right now. That they may actually miss major flooding, which is wonderful. Are you in touch with any of your neighbors? Are they optimistic?

SIMPSON: Unfortunately, I just moved there at the end of April so, I don't know a lot of my neighbors.

BALDWIN: Gotcha.

SIMPSON: Folks to the left of me, I believe they actually left on Wednesday, when it looked like the storm was going to hit like Friday/Saturday. And we kind of look out for each other. I think they like just got up early Wednesday morning and just got out of town.


BALDWIN: I am sure you will be getting to know your neighbors a little bit better as you head back --

SIMPSON: Oh, yes.

BALDWIN: -- and everything is past and everybody changes their own, "where did I leave and how am I doing" stories.

I want to bring up, I know you're in Celebration, and that's just southwest of Orlando. The Orlando airport closed this morning. Disney is closing all of its parks the next hour. But you actually went yesterday to take advantage of the short lines.

But, you know, these are Orlando mainstays.


BALDWIN: You know, Disney world is usually open all the time, all the holidays. So, as an annual pass holder, Lisa, can you think of the last time Disney world actually had to shut down?

Actually, they shut down for Irma.

BALDWIN: They did?

SIMPSON: They shut down for Irma.

And actually, they just came out and said they're extending Epcot until 8:00 tonight and Disney to 8:00 to tonight. Because the storm shifted so they were able to extend both of those areas.

I think my friends and I are going to take advantage of Disney Springs being open later and go there for dinner.

BALDWIN: Well, enjoy it. Bon appetit. I hope you guys stay high and dry. I hope your brother is OK on Merritt Island.


Lisa Simpson, thank you so much in Celebration, Florida.

SIMPSON: Thank you.

BALDWIN: You got it.

A programming note. Join CNN and 10 presidential hopefuls for an unprecedented town hall on the climate crisis. That's tomorrow night starting at 5:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Our special hurricane coverage continues. Coming up next, at look at the impact on one of Florida's most popular beaches, Daytona Beach. Why people there have refused to evacuate.



BLACKWELL: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of Hurricane Dorian. I'm Victor Blackwell, in Jensen Beach.

I want to show you the intracoastal in just the last couple of minutes during that break. The wind has picked up. The intracoastal, this is the most movement here on the water that I've seen for most of the day. You can see just how active. And maybe the boats, you can see some of those. I don't know which angle my photographer, Amanda, has but this is really on the move.

Now, just a couple of hours ago, Martin County officials ended the mandatory evacuation. Said the bridges would be back open. But people need to be especially safe because that does not mean that the threat is over. Because this wind on the bridges, on the causeways onto Hutchinson Island can still be very dangerous.

Now, we know the beaches will remain closed on the other side of the island there. But I just want to give you a picture. If you've been watching throughout the day, you know that this is the most action we've seen or on the intracoastal.

Let's heads up the coast near Daytona Beach. My colleague, Rosa Flores, is there as officials there are preparing for this storm to head north -- Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Victor. As you can see behind me, the seas are a bit rough, but it's pretty clear right now. It's sunny. Every now and then, we get wind gusts and we do get some of those outer bands from Hurricane Dorian.

Now, this is a barrier island. It's under mandatory evacuation. But some people are not evacuating.

Now, one man that I met stands out because he is a retired Marine on a noble mission. He moved to this community back in November. And he was welcomed by the senior citizen ladies in that community with cookies and was made to feel like family.

Well, now that this hurricane is about to hit somewhere along the Florida coast and those ladies do not want to evacuate, well, he is not evacuating. He is staying here, to make sure that they are safe. Take a listen.


JAY ESTES, DAYTONA BEACH RESIDENT: I'm very well prepared. But we have some senior citizens here that have been living in this neighborhood for a long time. And they're just scared and got nobody. And I decided just to stay, not just to protect my home, but to protect them, too.

And they're bunkered down in their houses right now. And they're confident that Jay's here. They're going to look after me. The power goes out, I'll be there for them. I'll start cooking meals and make sure they have water and everything.

ESTHER STROUD, NOT PLANNING TO EVACUATE: Oh, I'm going to stay this time. I stayed -- I evacuated in two of the hurricanes and I had to sit in a straight chair for three days and nights.

I try to do everything that I can for myself. There's a lot of things I can't do. I'm just thankful to have somebody checking on me, make sure that I'm all right.


FLORES: And, Victor, I'm going to be checking on them to see how they're doing throughout the storm to make sure that they're safe -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: Rosa Flores, for us there, near Daytona Beach.

Again, we're seeing a lot of action here on the intracoastal near Jensen Beach. But perspective is especially important. We are 100 miles away from the storm.

The worst of the damage is in the Bahamas. And we have our first aerial pictures of that damage, as our special coverage of the hurricane continues.


Stay with us.


BALDWIN: A major announcement today from Walmart. The retail giant says it will end all handgun ammunition sales and will no longer allow customers to carry guns into stores. It is also halting handgun sales in Alaska. That's the only state where it was still selling them.

This comes just a month after that horrific mass shooting in El Paso, where a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart there.

CNN's Cristina Alesci is with me.

Obviously, the pressure has been mounting. We've been covering so many mass shootings in the last while.


BALDWIN: Do you think that this will actually affect their bottom line?

ALESCI: I don't think any company is going to make a decision that's truly going to hurt their bottom line in a material way.


ALESCI: In this case, the biggest change that Walmart is making it its ban on open carry. It says it's making this decision because it's seen a recent uptick of people coming into the store, trying to scare consumers.

In reality, Walmart has been pressured with this for a while. Walmart feels the tide has changed and is actually responding to customers who say, hey, we feel unsafe walking into your stores. I think some customers will actually applaud it and help the bottom line.

[14:55:16] That said, there will be a few people who will try to make a statement and try to test Walmart's resolve, especially in states where open carry is still allowed.

I think the other symbolic move that Walmart made was sending a letter to lawmakers, especially House and Senate leadership, calling for common-sense gun reform. Specifically the letter says, "There are multiple bills before the House and bill to address the issue of gun safety and are worth examining. We believe it's time for action on these common-sense measures."

This is something that Walmart has said publicly, but they're specifically calling out lawmakers now. We'll see how that plays out.

BALDWIN: They're back in session next week, after their August recess. We will see if the momentum continues into Capitol Hill.

Cristina, thank you very much for the update. ALESCI: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Of course, we continue covering this hurricane, Hurricane Dorian. We have a new update from the National Hurricane Center. We will update you in just minutes.