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Hurricane Dorian Devastates Bahamas en Route to Florida; From Vacation to a Tragic End, Fiery Dive Boat Disaster; Disgruntled Employee Killed Seven and Injured Dozens in Texas; Mandatory Evacuations Underway as Dorian Threatens U.S.; British Monarch May Find Herself in Center of Political Storm. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 3, 2019 - 00:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. Thanks for joining us, I'm Robyn Curnow in Atlanta.

At this hour, we are watching this. The Bahamas are being devastated by their strongest storm ever. Hurricane Dorian has been pummeling the island for more than 24 hours, packing category 4 winds and storm surge is over 20 feet in some places.

But the movement is slow, as it sits over the Bahamas. You can see from the images, we know that residents are being hit over and over again. The prime minister of the Bahamas says at least Five people are dead and he is calling it a historic tragedy.


HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: The initial reports from Abaco, is that the devastation is unprecedented and extensive. They are deeply worrying. The images and videos we are seeing are heartbreaking. Many homes, businesses and other buildings have been completely or partially destroyed.


CURNOW: Meanwhile, in Florida, millions of people have been ordered to evacuate, officials say Dorian will move close to Florida, at least 2,700 flights into, out of and within the U.S. have been canceled so far.

We are covering the story from all the angles. Derek Van Dam is in Stuart, Florida, along with Nick Valencia a little bit north and Ivan Cabrera is tracking this storm.


[00:05:00] CURNOW: We are talking about Bahamas, Grand Bahama Island, we know has been getting the worst of Dorian. Well, Patrick Oppmann is there in the resort town of Freeport.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, it has been hours and hours of Hurricane Dorian battering the island where I am. And only now are we seeing some of the worst weather conditions.

I can tell you what an extraordinary weather event this is to have a hurricane as powerful as Dorian stalling over the Bahamas as low-lying as where I am right now. In the last few hours we have seen people come here, searching for refuge.

One woman had broken her hip and had to be carried in, other people shared a car because their cars were underwater. These are people that had been steadily watching throughout the day, the water in their homes rising.

And as night was going, down they realized it was not safe to stay in their homes and they came here. It's not a shelter, they just came here because it was close, they are completely soaked. We gave them some towels and some water and they will spend the night here, because they have nowhere else to go.

And that is a scene all across this island tonight. Everyone is in the dark; there is no power, the wind is still howling. There are times when it sounds like a jet engine roaring next to your head.

And the storm surge remains a major concern. There was a prediction that it could raise especially as 20 feet, that is putting much of the island underwater. And despite the fact that the Bahamas has received such punishing winds, such a battering from the storm, there is no relief in sight.

CURNOW: Thank you so much for your report, Patrick Oppmann.

Now as Dorian sits over the Bahamas, the next few hours are crucial in telling us where it will go next. Derek Van Dam is in Stuart, Florida.

Derek, explain to us where you are and it is make-or-break in the coming hours for the Florida coast.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. We are talking about a game of miles here, Robyn. Good morning to you, good morning to our viewers.

The coast is about a mile to my east; every 30, 45 minutes, you are getting walloped by a heavy rain shower, bringing strong gusty winds, as the energy transfers from this powerful, powerful hurricane, still centered about a hundred miles to my east, bringing all that energy to the coastline.

And we feel the impacts here. We've seen the latest National Hurricane Center update, we know the storm has weakened slightly. One thing I want our viewers to understand is that, with these weakening hurricanes, still a formidable, powerful hurricane.

But with a weakening hurricane, the actual wind field expands, even though we may have a storm that stays off shore, the impacts will be felt along Florida, Georgia and into the Carolinas.

Here in Martin County, where I am located, where Stuart is located, Stuart, Florida, there are temporary shelters that have been set up. But they are closed down are no longer accepting residents here because the tropical storm force winds have set in and it is too dangerous for them to accept residents moving about.

The causeways, the bridges that connect the inter coastal islands to the mainland, the peninsula Florida, those are closed down as well. The immediate threats going forward as the hurricane makes its closest approach in the next 24 hours, we are expecting 5 inches or 120 millimeters of rain for, some flash flooding, we know storm surge is a potential, especially along those susceptible areas for flooding, near the barrier islands, three to seven feet of potential storm surge, that will definitely cause some coastal storm surge and coastal erosion for those communities here. Reporting live from Stuart, Florida, on the East Coast. Robyn, I'll, send it back to you in the studio.

CURNOW: Thank you. Let's go to Nick Valencia, he is live this hour in Melbourne, Florida.

You just heard Derek there give us a sense of the preparations taking place where he is.

What is it like where you are?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, we are not seeing the rain that Derek is seeing. Not quite the serious conditions yet but they are on their way. Right now, as I mentioned, no rain but what we have noticed in the last hour or so is that the wind is slowly starting to pick up.

Behind me is the causeway that connects this part of Melbourne to Melbourne Beach, where we spent much of the day yesterday.


VALENCIA: But what really stood out in our conversations with residents are the various attitudes, the various levels of seriousness that people are taking this storm. The track has changed so much. We've been out here for a week, we thought landfall would be Sunday night.

And after the track changed, showing that it would not make a direct impact on coastal Florida, I think a lot of people let their guard down and dismissed that any serious impact would be felt here.

Mandatory evacuations went into effect for Brevard County at 1:00 pm yesterday. But most of the residents that we spoke to said that they were going to stick it out. And what has stood out to us at our time here, just driving around this community, are the lack of preparations.

Some people have been taking it seriously but many of the businesses that we saw going up and down the main roads had not taken the precautions of deploying shutters or boarding up.

More people have started to board up, put up plywood, deploy the shutters but really the attitudes toward the storm are, since it will not hit directly here, many people will stick it out and say they're going to take their chances with this storm.

CURNOW: (INAUDIBLE) perhaps. We'll check in with you again later, Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

Joining me now on the line, Jim Hill is the mayor of Sebastian, Florida.

Hi. Thanks for joining us. You just heard our correspondent, folks are not really taking this seriously where he is, what's it like where you are?

MAYOR JIM HILL, SEBASTIAN, FLORIDA: Good morning, Robyn. I appreciate you having me on. And let me express the extent that our hearts are break for our friends in the Bahamas right now. We understand they are going through a devastation right, now so we are very sad for them.

And we pray for them but in Sebastian we are prepared. We have been preparing for days, almost one week now, for the storm and as it was said, we expected this storm to make landfall on Sunday. That did not happen. This thing is stalled over the Bahamas, it's still is a serious storm.

The people of Sebastian came together, as they always do, it's a wonderful community, they came together as family. When we were in Home Depot on Saturday, we saw people not rushing after the plywood and trying to get the last generator, they were asking the neighbors if they needed help, what can we help you do to get boarded up.

Going to the neighbors and making sure that they were all set up and ready to go. It's more of a family atmosphere here. We're very well prepared for the worst. We thank God it looks like we may not get the worst, but we are ready for it and have been preparing for many days. We hope it does not, come but we are ready if it does.

CURNOW: As you say, it's times like these that show the strength of a community.

What can you tell us about the shelters?

Are people being welcomed into shelters?

Derek was saying that some were full.

What's the situation there?

HILL: For sure. We do have several shelters open, people are still being welcomed, we are about halfway between Melbourne and Stuart and we are still welcoming people and. Those who are needing to evacuate are being welcomed into the shelters.

And we hope that those that are in the low lying areas will take heed and go to those areas. We are under a mandatory evacuation, like most of the other counties, so we hope that most of the folks that are in the area, that are affected by the evacuation, take heed and move on.

CURNOW: The invitation is out from you, you have some beds, people need to know.

At times like this, we are concerned about the most vulnerable, which are folks in hospital, elderly people, moms who have just given birth.

What is the situation for backup generators, electricity, hospitals, how are you doing on that front?

HILL: The hospital was evacuated, so we've taken those who were affected and moved them to a hospital that would not be affected. That's a very serious situation and I believe that process started yesterday. They were moved to a different hospital. We take very seriously. And we're kind of professionals at this. We've been doing this for many years.

But this is a very bad storm, we are ready for it, our hospitals are evacuated or the folks that moved into a hospital that can handle them. And our shelters are open and we want people to be safe. The most important thing is that we have no loss of life.

The storm is not look like it will be as bad as we originally anticipated but it may be. It is still stalled and still not moving. So we are not sure where it will go. So our staff is doing an outstanding job, really protecting the city and it's the responsibility of the folks that live in Sebastian to make sure they protect their families.


HILL: And they've done that, from what I've seen. They've done that and they've helped their neighbors and it's really exciting for me to know that I live in a community and lead a community that is family oriented and willing to help each other prepare and deal with these very difficult situations.

CURNOW: Thanks so much for joining, us for giving perspective there, the mayor of Sebastian, Florida, speaking to us live.

So coming up, a boat goes up in flames off the California coast. Now the search is on for dozens of missing passengers. An update on the search and the captain's desperate call for help.

Plus what authorities are learning about the man who went on a shooting rampage in Texas over the weekend. We have new details on that.



CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN.


CURNOW: Hurricane Dorian is barely moving, as you can see from these images. It has been pounding the northern Bahamas for more than 24 hours now. We know that at least five deaths have been reported.

Meanwhile in the U.S., mandatory evacuations are underway in four states. This storm has been weakening but it is still very, very strong.

We have an update on the death toll also from that devastating fire on a dive boat off the coast of Southern California. Eight people have died and we know 26 passengers are still unaccounted for. Sara Sidner is near the scene, where there are still so many questions about what went wrong, here is Sara.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday, mayday, mayday. Conception --

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, the desperate search for survivors after a 75-foot dive boat caught fire off Santa Cruz Island.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vessel in distress, this is Coast Guard sector Los Angeles on channel 1-6, what is your position and number of persons on board?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Coast Guard has received a mayday call from an unknown vessel. All mariners are requested to keep a sharp lookout. Assist if possible and report any sighting to United States Coast Guard.

SIDNER: The 34 passengers were below deck in an area used for sleeping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, are they locked inside the boat?

Roger, can you get back on board and unlock the boat, unlock the door so they can get off?


SIDNER (voice-over): All five of the crew members on board in the main cabin escaped.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The crew was actually already awake and on the bridge and they jumped off. Five people were evacuated aboard a good Samaritan pleasure craft, known as the Grape Escape.


SIDNER: Authorities say the boat was burned down to the water line.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, you don't have any firefighting gear at all?

No fire extinguishers or anything?

SIDNER (voice-over): It's believed the 34 passengers below deck may have been trapped there by the flames.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire was so intense that, even after it was put out, you know, we're not able to actually embark the vessel and, you know, look for survivors.


SIDNER: The Conception is owned by Truth Aquatics, which does boat charters. According to the company's website, the Conception left Saturday on a three-day cruise and was scheduled to return this evening.

The Coast Guard says the vessel is in good standing and the owner- operator is cooperating with them at this time.

James Kohl's brother works on the boat but hasn't yet heard if he made it off OK.


JAMES KOHLS, BROTHER OF CONCEPTION CREW MEMBER: He's the galley cook and the deck hand on the Conception. They do a lot of research and diving and fishing trips on it. It holds about 30 people, maybe as many as 40.


SIDNER: We have been told that that crew member's family have been reunited with the crew member.

But we should also mention the devastation being felt by 26 other families. Twenty-six people still missing. We now know that four bodies have been recovered, taken to the coroner's office on Monday. Four more bodies were seen but remain at the bottom of the ocean -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Ventura County.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CURNOW: So many people. And as Sara reported five people were able to escape the flames and were rescued by a nearby boat. Now the owner of the vote spoke to one of our affiliates about his rescue efforts and why does not feel like a hero.


BOB HANSEN, OWNER OF GRAPE ESCAPE: I wish I could've picked all 35 of them up, I mean all of them. I've got the space. You know, if they could of all just gotten in the water, I could've gotten them out of there.

I don't feel like I deserve being called a hero, I was just a guy there in that place and I would hope that anybody would do the same thing.


Well, Hansen and his wife discovered the disaster after they were jarred awake by the sounds of pounding noises on the side of their boat from the dive boat crew, who were seeking help. We will continue to monitor that story.

Also new details are emerging about the man who went on a shooting spree in West Texas on Saturday. Seven people were killed there, more than 2 dozen injured, Ed has the latest on what authorities are learning about the gunman and the calls he made before and during the shooting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh god, they are shooting there.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fifteen minutes before the 36-year-old gunman engage in a deadly shooting spree, he called a FBI national tip line with a rambling incoherent series of complaints. He had been fired from a truck driving job earlier in the day and also called 9-1-1 but left the office before police arrived. Even before being fired, law enforcement says he was starting to spiral.

CHRISTOPHER COMBS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: He showed up to work in a very distressed mental state, so it's not because he got fired. Right, this did not get happen he was fired which other active shooters have occurred. When he showed up to work, he was already in raged.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): There are also troubling questions about where the gunman obtained the assault style rifle used to randomly murder seven people and wound at least 25 others in Odessa, Texas.

Investigators say the gunman failed a background check but still somehow managed to obtain the firearm. Investigators have not revealed why the shooter failed the background check.

[00:25:00] JOHN WESTER, ATF ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: ATF with in partnership with the FBI, DPS and all the other federal and local agencies are aggressively following up on the source of the supply for the firearm on this.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The shooting started Saturday afternoon after a routine traffic stop. The gunman started firing randomly as he drove around the city. Authorities say he then shot and killed U.S. postal carrier Mary Granados before taking her mail truck and continuing the shooting spree through the city.

Mary was FaceTiming with her twin sister when the shooting erupted.

ROSIE GRANADOS, VICTIM'S SISTER: She was screaming, so I mean, I was hoping that he could have been just a dog bite, you know but it wasn't. It was something worse.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The call then went silent.

GRANADOS: She was laying there. I just wanted to run to her and hug her, you know, kiss her.


GRANADOS: I didn't. I didn't get to. They wouldn't let me get close to her.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): CNN sat down for a one-on-one interview with FBI special agent in charge Christopher Combs, who says he has seen too many mass shootings up close and that these atrocities are happening every two weeks.

He gets emotional, trying to talk about how this should be a wake-up call to the country.


LAVANDERA: The phone rings yesterday. You get the call about this. And whatever is going through your mind is -- it makes you tear up, which is not something we normally see from an FBI agent.

CHRISTOPHER COMBS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: I can't. I can't. I'm sorry, man. There's no way.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): The realities of another mass shooting that has left a veteran law enforcement agent struggling to find the right words.

LAVANDERA: We have a couple of updates on survivors of the shooting. The 17-month-old girl that was wounded and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas, she is out of surgery and back home already here in the Odessa area.

And the Odessa police officer that was wounded here at the very end of the chase of this suspect, he is doing well and is expected to be released from the hospital on Tuesday -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, Odessa, Texas.


CURNOW: Thanks, Ed, for that.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian remains a living nightmare for the Bahamas. The latest on this monster storm when we come back.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers watching in the United States and around the word. I'm Robyn Curnow.


CURNOW: Now, Hurricane Dorian has certainly been weakening over the past several hours, but it remains a powerful, powerful and dangerous storm. Now mandatory evacuations are underway in coastal communities from Florida to North Carolina. It's still not known how close it might come to the U.S. mainland, but many people are heeding the warning.

And they can see how Dorian has battered the Bahamas over the past day and a half. The storm is blamed for at least five deaths in the island. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter medivacked 19 people from Abaco Island to Nasale (ph), but bringing in aid will have to wait until the storm passes.


REAR ADMIRAL ERIC JONES, SEVENTH DISTRICT COMMANDER, U.S. COAST GUARD: It's absolutely catastrophic conditions, those weather, what we're seeing with the hurricane is absolutely overwhelming. And we're obviously getting our rescue crews that are in the Bahamas as close as we can to help out, but the conditions with the hurricane stationary over Grand Bahamas Island, there's no ability to get in there with any assets right now.


CURNOW: CNN is monitoring the hurricane minute by minute. Derek Van Dam is in Sebastian, Florida. Nick Valencia is a little further south in Melbourne. And Ivan Cabrera is tracking the storm right here at the CNN Center.

So let's go to Ivan first. Ivan, have you ever seen a storm that sits over one place the way it's doing in Bahamas like ever before?

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I have not actually seen anything like this, and in fact, certainly a Category 5 sitting over the same place. I've been doing this for CNN for ten years, 25-year career. And I've been talking to colleagues left and right here, and we have not seen anything like it. It's unprecedented. And we're running out of adjective to describe it, but I'll tell you

what. catastrophic is a good one here, because that's exactly what our good friends in the Bahamas are going through, specifically Grand Bahama.

I mean, this was going to be terrible for them anyway, even if the hurricane had been moving west at 15 miles an hour or north or whatever direction and moving out of the way.

But it hasn't. It has sat here for over 24 hours, pummeling the same area. That is bringing the Atlantic Ocean into people's houses, into their second-story rooms. I must imagine that people, probably on the rooftops are waiting to get plucked from out. I mean, this is going to be quite something here, and the problem is we can't get that help to them, because we have a major hurricane lurking just offshore here.

So it's dangerous for the first responders to get in. So it's going to take tomorrow, I think, for this to finally begin to lift out, and we can finally get the help that they are going to desperately need, because this is going to be quite an event, and you'll be able to see that with the aerial pictures.

There you will see some of the way out rain bands that are affecting Florida shore. Some gusty winds and some rain showers continuing here, but it won't be until this gets a little bit closer. And I think that will happen tomorrow when we began to feel less effects for Grand Bahama and more effects for Florida.

So let's track this as far as the occurrent winds. These you see these guests. These are not sustained winds. Anything, essentially, over 39 is tropical-storm-force and, really, we're not picking that up along the coast. It's a gusty, it's a windy night but nothing that would cause any significant problems.

Some of the buoys depicting the 40s (ph) here. You see the tropical- storm-force winds extend well out to the north of the center and then the hurricane-force winds, of course, are reserved, unfortunately, for the Bahamas, for the next still, I think, ten to 12 hours.


There are the hurricane warnings that continue up until the Florida and Georgia line there. And then the watches are going to be up to the north. A hundred twenty-five-mile-an-hour winds. That's a Category 3, and then we continue with that so we head through tomorrow.

And then eventually, we're tracking this thing right through the end of the week. And with the latest advisory of the National Hurricane Center, we're down to 130. So this is a weaker hurricane, but it's not a week hurricane. And that's the message I'm driving out, because, you know, once these categories start coming down and you're, instead, ramping down instead of up, people tend to let their guards down.

And we can't do that, because it is still, I think, going to a close pass enough to Florida to have some significant impact there. And then our friends in the Carolinas could be hit directly by Thursday and into Friday, as well.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks so much. We'll check in with you again.

Ivan Cabrera, thanks so much.

Nick Valencia is obviously covering this hurricane for us in Melbourne, Florida. We saw you a little bit earlier on. I can see even just in the last half an hour that we've been talking that the wind seems to have picked up behind you.

We've just heard Ivan describe how people must not let their guard down. What are folks saying to you where you are?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that's a great message, not to let your guard down. And it seems as though, just from the conversations that I've had here with people, Robyn, that people outside of the state of Florida are taking it more seriously than the ones I've talked to here in the state.

Of course, there are newly-arrived Floridians that have never been through a hurricane before. They might be a little bit more anxious than longtime residents of the state.

But we have to remind our viewers, you know, this is a state that's had a direct impact or has been affected by major hurricanes, five of them in the last four years. And as soon as that track shifted for Hurricane Dorian, as soon as it shifted from not making a direct hit to coastal Florida, I think a lot of people have the inclination to let their guard down, to not take it as seriously as -- as emergency management officials would like them to take.

I'll give you an example. Mandatory evacuations went into effect in Brevard County at 1 p.m. yesterday. We were on the beach here just across the causeway. Hard to make out in these dark morning hours behind me. But we were there on the beach, and the conversations that we had with people, despite those evacuations that are mandatory.

People here said that they were just going to stick it out. We were driving around this community. What was sticking out to me, as a reporter, is just how few of the businesses had taken the precautions to board up.

Yesterday, we did a live shot in front of a business that faced the beach. Much of that business was glass. They hadn't deployed the shutters just yet. That changed in the hours after we were there.

And as you were leaving town, we did see more people start to take those precautions. But really, this is something that concerns emergency management officials. You're putting their lives in danger when we don't evacuate. Unfortunately, the truth is a lot of people say that they're going to stick this out, Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. You don't want to mess around with Mother Nature, do you? Thanks so much. We'll check in with you, as well. Nick Valencia there on the ground.

VALENCIA: You got it.

CURNOW: OK. So Derek Van Dam is in Stewart, Florida.

Derek, my friend, how are you doing down there, because I think it's really important also to try and warn people that, because we have been able to forecast exactly where this is going to hit doesn't mean you should also let your guard down.

Why has it been so difficult to pinpoint the direction of this -- this monster storm?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, quite literally -- well, first of all, good day to you, Robyn. But quite literally, to answer your question, it's because of the snail pace of the storm. The fact that it is moving slower than an average walk.

We're talking about an average human being walking three miles an hour. It's literally moving at one mile per hour. That is a snail's pace. It is crawling along, and when it does that, it wobbles back and forth, left or right, west or east. And we know that this is a game of miles here, so any wobble to the west and we have more impacts on the coast.

Speaking of the coast, I'm located in Stewart, Florida. That's just about a mile inland from the east coast of the peninsula. You can see the rain. It picks up periodically every 30 to 45 minutes. We get one of the outer rain bands.

You've got to think about what's happening. We are taking the energy from the center of this powerful, Category 4 hurricane, 100 miles to my east, transferring it to the coast line, taking some of those winds from the upper levels of the atmosphere and slamming them into the coastline.

And we expect these conditions to continue to deteriorate over the next 24 hours, as Hurricane Dorian makes its closest approach to us by this time tomorrow, or at least, rather, in the afternoon.

So the threats here going forward, flash flooding, coastal storm surge as well as erosion. And we also know that the evacuation zones here are in place, especially for the barrier islands and some of those susceptible communities to storm surge and flooding -- Robyn.

CURNOW: And as you say, the wobble, in many ways, makes the difference between a major disaster or a near miss, and that's why this is all still on a razor's edge. Derek Van Dam there on the ground. Thanks so much.

OK. So coming up, the British monarch knows one secret to her longevity is her ability to keep her thoughts to herself. But that may not keep are out of the U.K.'s biggest political crisis in recent history.


We'll tell you why. That's next.


CURNOW: Hurricane Dorian is barely moving. Intense flooding has also raised the line between ocean and land. We know at least five deaths have been reported.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., mandatory evacuations are underway in four states. The storm has been weakening, but it's still very, very strong. We'll have more on Dorian in just a few minutes; time.

I want up to update you on another story we are following here at CNN. Hong Kong's embattled chief executive is speaking out. In a news conference just a short time ago, Carrie Lam says she thinks quitting would be an easy out but not one for her.


CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, HONG KONG: From the very beginning until now, I have never -- I have never tendered a resignation to the central people's government. I have not even contemplated to discuss a resignation with the central people's government.



CURNOW: Lam talked to the media after a leaked audio recording by Reuters has her saying she would quit if she had a choice. Lam goes on to blame herself for causing, quote, "unforgivable havoc" that has led to months of anti-government protests in the city.

She told a group of business leaders she deeply regrets pushing that a controversial extradition bill that sparked the demonstrations, but insists it has been her decision to do so.

And in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to seek an early election to keep lawmakers in his own party from blocking a no-deal Brexit. Now, U.K. media reports say a snap election could come as early as October the 14th, if so-called Brexit rebels voted against the government in the coming hours.

Now, Mr. Johnson offered this message to the rebels and to the E.U.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We're leaving on the 31st of October, no ifs or buts. We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum.


CURNOW: As M.P.s return to work Tuesday amid Britain's escalating Brexit crisis, the queen could find herself at the center of this political storm. The British monarch only acts on the advice of our prime minister, but CNN's Max Foster shows us now why that could certainly become tricky in this report from London.

Here's Max.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does it get any more British than this? The monarch carried by a horse-drawn procession to Parliament to speak from her throne.

QUEEN ELIZABETH, UNITED KINGDOM: The government will use the opportunity of a strengthening economy.

FOSTER: Her voice but not her words, because the queen is simply reading a speech written for her by the government. She's mastered the skill of keeping her thoughts to herself. We never have any idea what she thinks, and that's one of the secrets to her longevity.

She never offends, because she never expresses a political view, allowing her to retain cross-party support in Parliament, which is the one body with the power to take the crown from her.

High above her, in the Victoria Tower, centuries of legal papers and parchments are kept, but none are entitled "the Constitution," because there isn't a written version. All these laws, taken together, along with various conventions, form an unwritten constitution that's tested from time to time to keep it relevant. No time more so than now.

(on camera): Well, if Parliament is the highest authority in the land, and the queen is accountable to it, then so is the government. And the convention that protects the queen from accusations of political interference is that she only acts on the advice of the prime minister.

And the most recent example of that was when Boris Johnson asked her to approve a suspension of Parliament, which she agreed to without questioning it.

JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT: There's far too much noise in this chamber.

FOSTER (voice-over): So far, the system is working. But it could grind to a halt if one of two things happen this week.

If Parliamentarians want to block a no-deal Brexit, they could pass a bill to that effect. But then Boris Johnson may refuse to send it to the queen for approval.

Or they could call a vote in no confidence in Boris Johnson's government, and he could refuse to resign.

(on camera): Both of those scenarios are being openly discussed in Westminster, and they could ultimately end up here at Buckingham Palace at the desk of the queen. There is nowhere else for them to go. And she'd be left in the horribly uncomfortable situation of having to choose between her prime minister's advice and the will of Parliament. That places her right in the middle of the biggest U.K. political crisis in modern times and exactly where she does not want to be.

Max Foster, CNN, Buckingham Palace, London.


CURNOW: Thanks, Max.

Now the latest on Hurricane Dorian is straight ahead. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.



CURNOW: You're watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks for joining us. And we continue to track this breaking news.

Millions of people have been ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Dorian creeps closer to the U.S. state of Florida. But for now, the year's most powerful storm is still turning over the Bahamas. I want to show you these NASA images. They show Dorian from space. And you can see the outline of Florida. But you can't see the Bahamas, because they're totally covered by the storm.


CURNOW: So joining us now on the line is Brendon Barber. He's the mayor of Georgetown, South Carolina.

Thank you very much for joining us. It's still unclear where this hurricane is going to go, where it's going to hit, but how prepared are you?

MAYOR BRENDON BARBER, GEORGETOWN, SOUTH CAROLINA (via phone): Well, the not knowing is one of the largest problems we face but preparation, we're prepared because we work with our county emergency operations center and also our state operations center just to have -- Governor McMaster have given orders for mandatory evacuations.

So we're prepared from the standpoint that, starting first thing in the morning, which is Tuesday morning, we'll start doing an overall cleaning of our storm water system. So we'll start cleaning catch basins and stormwater cribs (ph).

And then on top that, we'll stop doing what we call trash and debris removal, so that we won't have any hazards when the wind and rain starts around Tuesday or Thursday. So that helps cut down on flooding, since we're in a low-lying coastal area.


CURNOW: Yes, that was going to be my next question, is how concerned -- even if this hurricane doesn't land you a direct hit, in many ways, you're still facing potential storm surges and flooding.

BARBER: Well, as we're riding around town today, we saw that we did have water on the road throughout the city because of the king tide. So what we're doing in our water utilities department, they are putting up barricades and we're letting all our citizens know now, please do not take down any barricades, or do not attempt to go through any roads that are covered with water.

We have a saying: turn around, don't drown.

CURNOW: And are folks listening to your warnings, the evacuation warnings, as well? Are people going? Are they doing what they're being told to do?

BARBER: Well, they're starting to go, and we're providing transportation for those who do not have transportation. We have emergency shelters located throughout the county. There are actually two. So we're providing transportation at three different stops throughout the city, and the people can use public transportation to get there.

CURNOW: Thank you so much for joining us. Brendon Barber there, the mayor or Georgetown, South Carolina.

BARBER: And thank you so much and keep us in your prayers.

CURNOW: We will. Good luck, sir.

BARBER: Thank you.


CURNOW: I'm Robyn Curnow. So there's going to be much more on Hurricane Dorian after this. Stick with us. You're watching CNN.