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NHC: Dorian Won't Budge; Dozens Feared Dead in Boat Fire; Texas Shooter Failed Background Check; U.K. PM Boris Johnson Threatens Early Election. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 3, 2019 - 04:00   ET



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating Hurricane Dorian parked over the Bahamas. The damage unprecedented. The death toll expected to climb. Today, the storm heads for the East Coast with a new path.


CONCEPTION: Mayday, mayday, mayday! Conception.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Dive boat disaster. Dozens feared dead after a holiday boat fire off the California coast. The search effort turns to recovery this morning.




BRIGGS: New insights but more questions about the Texas man who shot 29 people Saturday. He had failed a background check. Now, a 17- month-old shot in the chaos is back home.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, this is EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, September 3rd. It is 4:00 a.m. here in New York.

And let's begin with Hurricane Dorian. Breaking overnight, this hurricane doing something hurricanes don't ever do, stalled, completely stationary for a full day now over the Bahamas, just parked there. Look at the radar, essentially just spinning in place as the storm flattens parts of the Bahamas. In the words of the National Hurricane Center, Dorian won't budge.

BRIGGS: When Dorian does finally head for the southeastern United States, it could push a, quote, life threatening storm surge. The hurricane is expected to start moving again early this morning with a new main target on the East Coast.

Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera live in the CNN weather center.

Before we get to the United States, how long before this thing gets to move and get off of the Bahamas?

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hours, Dave, Christine. Good morning.

This is still going to be another six hours before we begin to move this to the north. Stationary right now. This stalled during our show yesterday. So, we're now a good 24 hours into this.

It's just incredible to see if this well-defined eye still at this hour over the same location, getting pounded, of course, over Grand Bahama Island. By the way, this is a cat 3. So, this is new, 120- mile-an-hour winds. Not as of this advisory but through the last couple of hours we've been seeing the number come down. So, it's no longer a 5, 4, formidable cat 3.

So, we like to say it is a weaker hurricane but not a weak hurricane, right? Right over the same area here. Now, by the time we get into this afternoon, I do think this thing will begin to move. The problem is it's not going to go from stationary all of a sudden to north at 30 miles an hour. It is going to be incremental. And, unfortunately, that is going to be too late for the Bahamas, particularly for Freeport.

Look at this radar here. Now, we've been checking in with our reporters panned out across the east coast of Florida. They've been dealing with heavy rainfall, tropical storm force rain gusts. That will continue and, in fact, intensify as we head through today, once the system begins to move to the north. It is stuck between two highs.

Hurricanes do not steer themselves. They depend on the upper atmosphere. And it has not been conducive for movement. It has stalled it here. We do have a disturbance that is going to begin to draw and allow for an escape here with Dorian as we head through today.

Look at this, finally, by tonight at 8:00 p.m., we have this now southeast of Melbourne as a category 3, perhaps even weakening to a category 2, as it heads up towards Jacksonville. That remains to be seen at 120.

But notice, Florida's out of the cone but not out of the danger. Why? Because the tropical storm force winds extend over 100 miles and I think that's going to be the case. And also, the water is going to get pushed on shore. And that's the storm surge you've been referring to. Potential here through Jacksonville and then continuing as we have our catcher's mitt here as far as the coastline of southeastern U.S.

And, yes, by the way, by the time it does get up there, we could be looking at a scrape of the Carolinas Thursday or potentially land fall. Put this into motion, one of our computer models, anyway, look at that, 50, 60-mile-an-hour winds and this continues throughout the day Tuesday and then heading into Wednesday.

So, it's prolonged. You don't need to have hurricane force winds to have problems. The prolonged hurricane force winds will be an issue. And then look at this, by the time we get into Thursday, Friday, look at Hatteras gusting perhaps with triple digits. That would be hurricane force easily by Thursday afternoon and into Friday -- guys.

ROMANS: Certainly a terrible night in the Bahamas and a tough, tough dangerous week ahead for parts of the coast line.

Ivan, thank you so much. We'll check in with you again and another national hurricane update advisory will come in just less than an hour.

A mandatory evacuation orders now following Dorian's new track, extending up the East Coast, into North and South Carolina. The hurricane is expected to reach the Carolinas by Thursday evening as Ivan said. Ahead of the storm, the Charlotte Motor Speedway has opened its camp grounds to hurricane evacuees.


So has the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

In Charleston, South Carolina, I-26 is now one way in both directions. So, visitors and residents can get out of there. In Myrtle Beach, residents are taking the warning seriously. They are boarding up their homes.

BRIGGS: Storm preparations turning deadly for a 68-year-old man in Indialantic, Florida. Police say he fell off a ladder three stories to his death trying to board up his windows. At least seven hospitals along the East Coast now fully evacuated.

Florida officials are already seeing a rise in price gouging as Dorian nears. One Shell gas station selling cases of water for $9 instead of the usual $4.

And in Jacksonville, animal lovers are stepping up in a big way to help local shelters, taking 140 cats and 70 dogs into temporary foster homes.

ROMANS: All right. Correspondent -- our correspondent Nick Valencia keeping an eye on conditions in Melbourne. That's on Florida's Central Atlantic coast.

Nick, we've got reporters up and down the east coast of Florida trying to get a sense of what's coming your way. What do you see there now?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the wind has been steady all morning long here, Dave and Christine. And just about hour ago, we felt our first band of rain. But even that has passed.

The truth is, that officials here, emergency management officials are dealing with some fatigue among residents who have been preparing to see Hurricane Dorian's impact for at least a week. And there are parts of Brevard County where I'm at, they're under mandatory evacuation as of 1:00 p.m. yesterday, that you wouldn't be able to tell that being on the beach.

People are outside, looking at those waves turning and the conversations we've had, not a lot of nerves. Of course, there are newly arrived Floridians who are anxious, they've never been through a storm before, some of them anyway. But long-time Floridians here, they feel as though after this track change, they're sort of shrugging at this storm saying that they've been through worst.

It's exact thing that hurricane and emergency management officials do not want to hear. They don't want people to let their guard down. And they're telling residents that even if you don't expect the worst, you should prepare for it -- Dave, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Nick Valencia, thank you so much for that, Nick.

BRIGGS: At least five hurricane-related deaths are being reported on the Bahamas Abaco Islands. There are concerns that number could rise sharply.


HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: The devastation is unprecedented and extensive. Many homes, businesses and other buildings have been completely or partially destroyed.


BRIGGS: The power cut throughout the island, residents of Grand Bahama are left to huddle in the dark as the water levels rise. CNN spoke to one woman who chose to ride out the storm.


SHARON ROLE, BAHAMAS RESIDENT (via telephone): I think everyone here is pretty much in shock. It's utter destruction everywhere we look. Everyone kind of happy that we're alive, but it's just realizing, you know (INAUDIBLE)


BRIGGS: More than 20 U.S. Coast Guard cutters are conducting rescue efforts in the Bahamas. They've already saved 19 people.

Patrick Oppmann on the ground in Freeport.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CUBA CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, hurricane Dorian continues to batter Grand Bahama hour after hour. You would think this storm would quit, but so far, it is not showing any signs of easing up on this island where people have lost roofs, they've had their cars submerged, their houses submerged under water. There is the fear here that people here could have lost their lives.

On the island of Abaco, we know that at least five people were killed when Dorian passed through there on its way to Grand Bahama. Authorities say they will be going house to house in the coming days, both here and there to look for more victims. Here in Grand Bahama though, the situation is complicated because the storm continues to rage here. It is whipping wind, rain is coming down. Some of the most powerful parts of this hurricane now we've only felt in the overnight hours.

So, it is a hurricane that simply does not want to give the people on this island that have already suffered so much a break -- Dave, Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, Patrick.

All right. It's very early going here, but this is a big storm. It is now a category 3 hurricane, but it had been a category 5 when it slammed right there into the Bahamas. AccuWeather estimates the total damage and economic loss caused by Dorian could be between $8 billion and $10 billion.

Analysis shows that much of those costs will be losses to travel and tourism industry, possible flooding, storm surges, and wind damage in coastal areas, as well as damage to citrus and vegetable crops, all of those a factor here.


Several large companies in Florida will most likely be affected by this hurricane. The cruise line industry could take a hit. Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival all located in Florida.

We've already seen cruise lines divert and cancel several ships. Energy provider Next Era Energy is at risk because high winds and heavy precipitation, it serves more than 5 million customers in Florida.

The health care company Humana is also at risk. You can see that cost increase as Dorian's track changes.

BRIGGS: President Trump keeping tabs on Hurricane Dorian while on the golf course. The president was on Trump National in Virginia in Monday, the 289th day he spent as president at a Trump property, the 227th day he has golfed at one of his clubs, a far cry from this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf. Believe me, believe me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: The president's mind at least was in part on other things other than the potentially catastrophic storm, he touted the economy on Twitter and slammed his political foes. He also engaged in a Twitter spat with a reporter who pointed out despite President Trump's claim, Alabama is not in danger from Dorian.

ROMANS: All right. Eleven past the hour.

This terrible story this weekend, more bodies discovered overnight from this boat fire on a dive boat off the California coast. Why wasn't there a way out for all of these people trapped in the inferno?



BRIGGS: Four-fifteen Eastern Time this morning.

A search and rescue mission becomes a recovery mission for victims of a holiday dive boat tragedy off to Southern California coast. More bodies were recovered overnight. At least 15 of them, according to "The Los Angeles Times". Thirty-three passengers were onboard, no known supervisors among them at this point.

New pictures show firefighters losing battle to put out an inferno, raging on the 75-foot Conception off Santa Cruz Island.


CONCEPTION: Mayday, mayday, mayday. Conception. Platts Harbor. Northside. Santa Cruz.

CG DISPATCH: Vessel in distress, this is Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles on Channel 1-6. What is your position and number of persons onboard, over?



ROMANS: Coast Guard officials saying we should be prepared to move onto the worst outcome. Divers, rescue divers spent much of Monday in the water looking for victims. Six crew members who are on deck in the main cabin when this inferno started, they made it off safely. They jumped off the ship. They were picked up by Good Samaritans boating nearby.


BOB HANSEN, OWNER OF GRAPE ESCAPE: It was fully engulfed from bow to stern. Flames probably 30 feet high. It was totally gone. You know, and it was like, my gosh, what do we do?


BRIGGS: All the dead and missing passengers were trapped below deck raising questions about the need for a second escape route. Signs and flowers being laid in their honor at Santa Barbara near the Conception's home base. So far, no word on what sparked the deadly fire.

ROMANS: All right. The 36-year-old Texas gunman who killed seven people and injured 22 others applied to purchase a gun but failed a background check. That has federal agents aggressively pursuing the source that supplied the firearm to the suspect. The FBI says the shooter was already in a distressed mental state when he showed up for work on Saturday and was fired just hours before the massacre. Agents say the shootings were not caused by the firing.


CHRISTOPHER COMBS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, SAN ANTONIO DIV.: He was on a long spiral of going down. He didn't wake up Saturday morning and walk into his company and then it happened. He went to that company in trouble.


BRIGGS: We now know the gunman called 911 twice during his rampage. Those calls are being described as, quote, rambling statements about some of the atrocities he felt he had endured. One of his victims 17- month-old Anderson Davis had surgery Monday to remove shrapnel from her face.


KELBY DAVIS, MOTHER OF ANDERSON DAVIS: I'm so grateful Anderson is here. I'm so thankful that we're not one of those families that's on the other side of this and it makes you feel guilty almost.

That's why we're proud of this town because people rally and they come together.


BRIGGS: Little Anderson is out of the hospital and her parents say she is expected to make a full recovery.

ROMANS: Yes. Those calls to authorities, to 911 talking about lamenting how life is not fair for him.


ROMANS: We're glad to see that Anderson is doing better. 27, 29 people overall shot there.

All right. We are keeping an eye on Hurricane Dorian still battering the Bahamas before heading to the U.S.

And another power play by Boris Johnson to keep Brexit on schedule but members of his own party could stand in the way. CNN live at parliament, next.



ROMANS: Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a new strategy to achieve a possible no deal Brexit by the end of October. He's threatening to call an early election. It is an attempt to thwart members of his own party who are trying to stop him from splitting from the E.U. without a deal.

Max Foster live from London with the latest twists and turns in the Brexit saga -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there really is genuinely this time, Christine, going to be a showdown here in parliament today.


What we've got is a situation where a large group of parliamentarians, amongst them a group of rebels in Boris Johnson's leading Conservative Party all getting together to try to block Boris Johnson's Brexit strategy. So, what they're going to do, they're going to introduce a bill today to try to delay Brexit. Boris Johnson's side are saying if they do that, he's going to come out tonight and call a snap election, which will effectively block that bill from becoming law.

Bear with me because in response to that, the Labour Party, the opposition party which would normally jump at the opportunity you would think at a general election are now saying they would block a general election because they don't want to see the strategy unfold and they want their bill to go through.

So, this is high politics and Boris Johnson has really put his neck on the line. But fundamentally, his argument is, he can't get a deal with Europe unless he has some sort of negotiating power, an argument to say he's in control of parliament and parliament is saying you're not going to control us. Thank you very much.

ROMANS: Wow, fascinating.

All right. Max, I know you'll keep it watching it for us and let us know what happens. Thanks, Max Foster.

BRIGGS: All right. Straight ahead, when will Hurricane Dorian finally get moving off the Bahamas? It's been at a standstill for more than a day, but officials in the U.S. are warning people not to let their guard down. The latest update straight ahead.