Return to Transcripts main page


Dorian Batters Bahamas, Southeast U.S. on Alert; Dozens Feared Dead in Boat Fire; Texas Shooter Failed Background Check; Investors React to New Tariffs on U.S.-China Trade War. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 3, 2019 - 04:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A dangerous category 3 hurricane stalled over the Bahamas. The damage unprecedented. The death toll expected to climb. Today, this storm heads for the East Coast with a new path.


CONCEPTION: Mayday, mayday, mayday! Conception.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Dive boat disaster. Dozens feared dead after a holiday boat fire off the California coast. Search effort returns to recovery this morning.




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

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. Good morning to all of you. I'm Dave Briggs.

Four-thirty-one Eastern Time right here in New York City.

We start with breaking news overnight. Hurricane Dorian doing something hurricanes rarely if ever do, stalling completely for a full day now over the Bahamas. Look at the radar. Essentially just spinning in place as the storm completely flattens parts of the Bahamas. In the words of the National Hurricane Center: Dorian won't budge.

ROMANS: When Dorian finally does head for the southeastern United States, forecasters warn it could push a life threatening storm surge.

Hurricane expected to start moving again early this morning with a new target on the East Coast.

Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera live in the CNN weather center.

Stalled there over the Bahamas. This must be a devastating night for so many people there as it scours that island chain. And then where does it go from there?

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good point. I mean, think about that. Over 24 hours now. There's no power there. It's the middle of the night. It's dark. And people are just wondering why is this noise going on? Why is this hurricane still on top of us? Because they come and usually they go within just a few hours, right? Twenty-four hours.

I've been covering hurricanes for CNN 10 years, been doing this for 25. And I'll tell you, never seen anything like this.

The steering currents are to blame. They just got together. We have this big ridge of high pressure, Bermuda high that basically pushed this almost into Florida. And we have another high to the north and west. It stalled out.

But you see the arrows there. That's where tropics going to be coming in. And my goodness, finally, that is the one that will be pulling our hurricane up to the north away from Grand Bahama. I think that will happen today, say in about six to eight hours, six to eight hours more of this, 120-mile-an-hour winds. A category 3.

Of course, it has weakened some. It looks like it's begun to move to the north. It hasn't. It's a wobble. The eye just kind of goes a little bit haywire trying to reform in some areas here.

But it doesn't matter at this point because the damage has been done. And I think we won't really know the scope until we get some aerial pictures of Grand Bahama, and devastating to see. Outer rain bands impacting Florida, tropical force wind gusts have been reported here.

We've been looking at that all night, anywhere from 35 to 45 miles an hour. That is not devastating at all. It's going to continue though throughout the day. And I think as long as we get movement to the north, we'll begin to push some of that water in. So, we could get some coastal flooding, some storm surge along Florida's eastern coast, not just today, but notice the track here Tuesday and into Wednesday and then finally, Wednesday and thereafter, it moves away from Florida but typically cyclones that move away from Florida and north could impact the Carolinas just because of the shape of the coast line here. We could be looking at that as we head through the day on a Thursday with 130-mile-an-hour wind. That is a possibility, and so as landfall as well.

So, this is what we're concerned about, Christine and Dave, for the remainder for the next two days, anywhere from Florida storm surge and then eventually getting up as well into Georgia and into the Carolinas.

We should have another cone, another update. Not expecting any huge changes from the track. But Chad Myers will have it for you coming at 5:00 -- guys.


BRIGGS: OK, 25 minutes from now, National Hurricane Center update. Thank you, Ivan.

At least five hurricane-related deaths reported on the Bahamas' Abaco Islands. 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: With power cut throughout the island, residents of Grand Bahama are left to huddle in the dark as water levels rise.

CNN spoke to one woman who rode 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, the automatics (ph) of hope.


ROMANS: More than 20 U.S. Coast Guard cutters and four helicopters are conducting rescue operations. They've already saved 19 people.

Patrick Oppmann is on the ground in Freeport.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN 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.


BRIGGS: Patrick Oppmann, thank you. Stay safe.

Mandatory evacuation orders now following Dorian's new track. Expanding up the coast and the North and South Carolina. The hurricane is expected to reach the Carolinas by Thursday evening.

Ahead of the storm, the Charlotte Motor Speedway has opened its camp ground 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 and boarding up their homes.

ROMANS: 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 evacuating.

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.

BRIGGS: Even if Dorian doesn't make landfall in Florida, hurricane force winds could devastate the coast line.

Derek Van Dam live in Stuart, Florida, with the latest there.

Derek, good morning. What do you expect?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Dave.

You know, every 30 to 45 minutes, including right now, we get the sudden gust of wind and a heavy downpour associated with the outer rain bands of Hurricane Dorian, which by the way is still churning about 100 miles just to my east. But this is nothing compared to the never-ending nightmare that is unfolding across the Grand Bahama Island as we speak. But here in Martin County specifically, if you have not evacuated, there are no chances to do so, because the evacuation centers are close, about 1,300 people chose to ride out the storm within those shelters.

The rest of the individuals who decided to ride out the storm at home in the evacuation zones will have to shelter in place going forward because storm surge, the potential for hurricane force winds and flash flooding exists as Hurricane Dorian makes its closest approach to the barrier islands on the East Coast of Florida here within the next 24 hours -- Dave.

BRIGGS: OK, Derek Van Dam there in Stuart, Florida, thank you. Stay safe.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us now via Skype from Orlando, Florida, American Red Cross spokesman, Anthony Tornetta.

Good morning. I know it's been a busy, busy night for you. Now, if you look at the map with all of the mandatory evacuations of the coastline there, in theory, there should be millions of people on the move to get to safer ground.


What are you seeing? Are people heeding the warnings and how are you preparing?

ANTHONY TORNETTA, SPOKESMAN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Yes, in theory, you would think. We have about 60 evacuation centers and/or shelters set up on stand across Florida and through the Carolinas. Last night, over the last 24 hours, we have about 2,000 people or so stay in the evacuation shelters. We expect that number to grow as Dorian makes its approach.

But we've talked to a lot of people that say they have boarded up and say they're going to stay safe. So, we really have encouraged them to take steps to be prepared and make sure they have everything they need inside their house.

ROMANS: Remind us, what are the steps to say safe if you're -- I mean, how much water do you need? How much fuel do you need? What do you -- you know, what is your 30-pinch to folks to keep them safe there?

TORNETTA: Yes, if you're going to evacuate, or if you're going to stay, we encourage you to have a three-day supply of food and water for everyone your house. Extra medications, make sure you have your documents electronically filed if you can and nonperishable food items. So, if you do lose power, you still able to maintain a stable food supply. So, we really want people to take those steps now before that approach.

BRIGGS: If you could rely what information you have from your colleagues in the Bahamas?

TORNETTA: Yes. So, right now, we know the Bahamas are prepositioned emergency release officials. They also had more than 200 volunteers and team members standing by to assist. They are working with the Bahamas Red Cross to set up shelters. So, it was a team effort not only there in the Bahamas but across the southeastern U.S. as well.

ROMANS: It's still a slow moving disaster for those in the Bahamas, though. It's just sitting there. The storm is just sitting there on top of the Bahamas and hasn't really started moving yet to the United States. That's going to make it difficult, I think, to see the damage and to understand what we need to do to help rebuild. Any comments or advice you have about the sort of nature of this storm

and how it might be different?

TORNETTA: Yes. The we-shall-see approach with storms of this size and this scope is not OK. We want people to heed the warnings of their local officials. If a mandatory evacuation is put in place, listen to that, follow those instructions and just stay safe. Stay safe. Take care of each other.

BRIGGS: OK. Anthony Tornetta in Orlando, from the American Red Cross. Appreciate you being with us early this morning. Best of luck throughout the storm. Keep us up to date.

Ahead, more bodies discovered overnight from the awful boat fire off the California coast. Why wasn't there a way out for dozens trapped in the inferno?



ROMANS: This morning, a search and rescue mission becomes a recovery mission for victims of a holiday dive boat tragedy off the southern California coast. More bodies were recovered overnight. At least 20 bodies, that's according to "The New York Times."

There were 33 passengers on board. No known survivors among the passengers so far. 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?



BRIGGS: Coast Guard officials saying we should be prepared to move onto the worst outcome. Divers spent much of Monday in the water looking for victims. Six crew members who were on the deck in the main cabin made it off safely. They were picked up by Good Samaritans boating nearby.


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


ROMANS: All of 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 Harbor, near the Conception's home base. So far, no word on what sparked that fire.

BRIGGS: 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 stressing the shootings were not caused by his 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.


ROMANS: 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 and the people in it because they rally and they come together.



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

All right. A big decision expected today that could cost Democrats a Senate seat in a very red state.


ROMANS: West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin expected to announce a decision on a possible second run for governor in 2020. Manchin already served as West Virginia's governor from 2005 to 2010 and calls it the best job in the world. The state's current executive Jim Justice was elected as a Democrat

but switched parties.


A run by Manchin could open up a blue Senate seat in a red state. But Manchin does not have to relinquish his Senate seat to run for governor.

BRIGGS: A Singapore man has been arrested for buying an airline ticket just to walk his wife to the gated Changi airport. In fact, 33 people have been arrested this year for accessing the airport's new Jewel Terminal without intending to fly. The terminal features a butterfly dome, a cactus garden, a four-story slide and the world's tallest indoor waterfall. It's so cool, it's becoming a destination. Police are warning all visitors that are entering the terminal without plans to fly is punishable by a fine of $14,000 and up to two years in prison.

ROMANS: All right. Kevin Hart's wife selling TMZ the actor/comedian is going to be just fine after sustaining major back injuries in a Sunday morning crash. A friend identified as Jared Black was driving Hart's 1970 Plymouth Barracuda when he lost control and rolled down an embankment. Police say Black was not under the influence of alcohol. He and Hart both suffered back injuries and were taken to a local hospital.

BRIGGS: A big upset at the U.S. Open.

Defending women's champion Naomi Osaka is out. She was beaten in the round of 16 in straight sets by Belinda Bencic, the 13 seed from Switzerland. With the loss, the 21-year-old Osaka was also toppled from her world number one ranking.

ROMANS: All right. Jus about a top of the hour, so let's get a check on CNN Business this Tuesday morning.

A look around the world shows you markets barely moving here. You got European shares opening lower here, but a mixed performance in Asia.

On Wall Street, futures are down a bit. Looking for triple-digit loss in the Dow if this kind of sentiment holds this morning. Investors are back on the trading floor after Labor Day, a long holiday weekend. It's the first time they will be able to react to the new tariffs that have kicked in on Sunday.

China has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the latest U.S. tariffs. In a statement, China said U.S. tariffs have seriously breached the consensus reached by the two leaders at the Osaka G20 Summit and China is firmly opposed to this. Beijing's retaliatory tariffs on a whole bunch of things, including soybeans also kicked in on Sunday.

As the U.S./China trade war escalates, Huawei is getting ready to launch a new phone without Google. The Mate 30 is expected to come out later this month. It will be Huawei's first smartphone to hit the markets since being put on a trade blacklist by the U.S. back in May. That blacklist cuts off its access to popular apps like YouTube, Google Map, and Gmail.

Huawei had secured Google licenses for several smartphones before it was placed on this blacklist. But the Mate 30 series wasn't one of them. Google declined to comment.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now with the 5:00 a.m. hurricane update.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating Hurricane Dorian parked over the Bahamas and still barely moving. Now, a new path for the storm to head north. An update from the National Hurricane Center straight ahead.


CONCEPTION: Mayday, mayday, mayday! Conception.


BRIGGS: 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 on Saturday. He had failed a background check. Now, a 17- month-old shot in the chaos is back home.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, September 3rd. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

BRIGGS: We start with breaking news this morning.

Hurricane Dorian doing something hurricanes rarely if ever do, it has completely stalled now for a full day over the Bahamas.

Look at the radar. Essentially just spinning in place as the storm completely flattens parts of the Bahamas. In the words of the National Hurricane Center, Dorian simply won't budge.

ROMANS: The new update from the National Hurricane Center shows little movement but movement is expected later this morning.

I want to bring in meteorologist Chad Myers. Chad is live in the CNN Weather Service.

This thing just stuck there for so long over this island and island in the dark and underwater. Where is it going now?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, as Americans we're saying, please move, but as the Bahamians are saying, oh, God, please move, you know?

This thing is 120 miles per hour storm still. And the word there, stationary. It has not moved.

I plotted this center yesterday when I left after noon and it is only 6 miles from where I plotted it yesterday. So, six miles in, what, 16 hours.

So, there you go. Here's the storm right just to the north and just the northeast of Freeport. So, Freeport, you're on the backside of the eye, the worst side here for this matter, for at least landfall, a little bit more over here towards the east for convection.

But we're noticing some dry air getting wrapped into the storm.