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Slow-Moving Dorian Devastates Bahamas; Dozens Feared Dead in Boat Fire; Texas Shooter Failed Background Check; Jaguars Cancel Practice Due to Hurricane Dorian. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 3, 2019 - 05:00   ET


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.


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 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. That's because it's not a perfect circle anymore. Not a great eye anymore. That's great news.

Even if it doesn't move, if it would just die, I would be OK with that, it's been over the same water for so long the water is getting colder so we don't have the fuel to the fire to keep this going.

Florida, Georgia, you are now officially out of the cone. Now, as the Hurricane Center will tell you, only 2/3 of the storms stay within the cone, that's what the cone means. So, we're still going to move it up toward Savannah, and to Charleston, eventually towards the North Carolina coast slowing down in intensity, 115 off the coast of Savannah. It will take a long time for this to spin down, it really will.

We still have hurricane warnings along the coast from about Sebastian, all the way up to about Ponte Vedra. Those are hurricane warnings. We expect at least some hurricane gusts from every one of these cells that goes on by, those outer bands. We talk about those a lot.

Category 3, making wind somewhere right now around 23 to 25 mile per hour mark, although we do know that we've had some reports over 50 miles per hour overnight. Four to seven foot storm surge because that wind is going in the same direction for so long. The water is piling up in the inner coastal, rivers, streams, creeks, canals, in places where people park their boats, the water is going up this morning simply because the wind, just like the coffee cup, when you try to blow your coffee cup, make it cool, if you blow across the top of it, the waves take the coffee to the other side of the cup. The waves take the ocean current to the other side and that's right now the Florida east coast -- guys.

BRIGGS: Yes, still pretty dramatic. Seven-foot storm surge. So, do not relax entirely.

Chad Myers live for us. Thank you, sir.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BRIGGS: At least five hurricane-related deaths reported on the Bahamas Abaco islands. And 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 the 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 right now in the Bahamas. They've already saved 19 people, we're told

Our Patrick Oppmann is there. He's 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: All right. Patrick Oppmann there, thank you.

Mandatory evacuation orders following Dorian's next track, expanding up the east coast in the North and South Carolina. The hurricane is expected to reach the Carolinas by Thursday evening.

And 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 evacuate. 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. He was trying to board up his windows. At least seven hospitals along the East Coast are 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 bucks instead of the usual $4.

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

BRIGG: Correspondent Nick Valencia keeping an eye on conditions in Melbourne, on Florida Central Atlantic.

Nick, good morning. What are you seeing there?


The wind has been steady all morning long since we've been out here in these overnight hours. In just about 45 minutes or so ago, we got hit with our first significant band of rain, but as quickly as the wall of rain came down, it left. And now we're left with the drizzle here.

What is happening, though, among residents that we've been speaking to is this fatigue. They've been prepping for what they thought last week was going to be a direct hit. And as that track changed and as we now see that Hurricane Dorian is likely to skirt up and grind up the coast of Florida, that sort of shrugging their shoulders at their storm, thinking and dismissing that there's going to be any significant damage.

That, of course, is dangerous and not what emergency management officials want to hear. Part of Brevard County, where we are, is under a mandatory evacuation, though, yesterday, you wouldn't be able to tell it. It went into effect at 1:00 p.m. yesterday. We were on the beach. More and more people started to show up and look at the waves and say that they are planning on waiting this storm out. They were planning on hunkering down and taking their chances.

That, of course, puts emergency management officials in a lot of danger if they have to go about rescue operations for those who did stay behind. But that, of course, is what's happening here, those long-time Floridian residents say they've been through worse than what is expected from Hurricane Dorian -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: Shrugging their shoulders. Nick Valencia live for us this morning in Florida, thank you, sir.

ROMANS: All right. Joining us now via Skype from West Palm Beach, Florida, Palm Beach County Fire and Rescue chief, Reginald Duren.

Good morning, chief. Nice to see you.

So, the most recent update from the National Hurricane Center is that this monster storm, a category three dangerous hurricane is 105 miles to the east of where you sit right now. How are you preparing?

CHIEF REGINALD DUREN, PALM BEACH COUNTY FIRE-RESCUE: Well, we've been preparing ever since the previous hurricane season. In this area, preparing for hurricane is a constant operation in our part. It will take every step to make sure we're prepared by training our personnel continually, by reassuring the other resources in place to have a successful operation, reassuring the community that we're here and ready to provide for needs and additionally through education, also give them all the tools they need to be successful, both pre-storm, during storm and post-storm events.

BRIGGS: Our reporter there, Nick Valencia, just reporting that people are shrugging their shoulders and dismissing the storm. Now, he's in Melbourne, but we're seeing similar reports from West Palm Beach and along the Florida coasts.

What are your words of warning to those people who are dismissing the danger of this storm?

DUREN: We still have a very strong storm off our coast. And as many of us have seen with this very strong storm recognize, there's no real absolutes when it comes to Mother Nature. Its behavior is really unpredictable in many ways. You've seen some strong winds, we've seen some gusts, we may see some tropical storm winds, so we're very concerned.

We've also had issues regarding water, and rain, and many people have previously said, one of the biggest hazards associated with events like this is with the water and being concerned with that, and the possibility still of having downed power lines.


DUREN: And the possibility of people getting out too early. So, we still have a number of concerns. We'll continue to educate our

public to not let our guard just yet, certainly Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue is still staffed up and ready and prepared for an event this storm does take a more significant turn our way.

ROMANS: Yes, just some last advice for you from people who might listening in your area. I mean, one of the things we've noticed covering these storms is sometimes people wait too late to try to leave and they get in trouble as the storm approaches and sometimes they come back too soon and that's where the downed power lines and the water in the roads can be really deadly even if the skies are clear.

DUREN: No, that's absolutely correct, and that's one of our concerns. That's why, again, we have continually public education to make people aware and pay attention to the warnings and look at the media, and pay attention to social media.

Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue has a significant presence in the social media to try to contact people and keep them abreast of what's going on, and let them know that even though things may look safe, they can become unstable fairly quickly.

ROMANS: All right. Chief, nice to see you. Thank you for spending some time with us this morning to give us the important advice.

Chief Reginald Duren there in West Palm Beach, nice to see you.

BRIGGS: All right. Coming up here, more bodies discovered overnight from the awful fire off the California coast. Why wasn't there a way out for the dozens trapped in this floating inferno?



BRIGGS: 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 of them according to the New York Times. Thirty-three passengers were on board. No known survivors among them so far.

New pictures show firefighters losing battle to put out an inferno raging on the 75-foot Conception off of 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? CONCEPTION: (INAUDIBLE) I can't breathe (INAUDIBLE).


ROMANS: 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 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. I mean, and 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 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.


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, MO7THER 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.


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

Ahead here, Hurricane Dorian has the Jacksonville Jaguars scrambling to prepare for their week one opening game against the Chiefs in Jacksonville. Carolyn Manno with the "Bleacher Report", straight ahead.



BRIGGS: The Jacksonville Jaguars will have one less day to get ready for their season opener, thanks to Hurricane Dorian.

ROMANS: Carolyn Manno has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Welcome aboard. Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. Good morning, Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: Good to see you.

MANNO: Good to be with you this morning.

The storm is threatening Florida's eastern coast line as we know. And Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone telling players and coaches to stay away from the facility today and tomorrow. The means no practice until Thursday, weather permitting. It also means that he team is going to be cramming two days of work into one before hosting the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Marrone says the priority is making sure the team and their families are out of harm's way.


DOUG MARRONE, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS HEAD COACH: People have been through this before and all the things can change, and you have to be ready. There's been a lot of discussion about a lot of different things. So, I think the first priority was to make sure everyone is safe and have a plan. And then once we know everyone is safe and has a plan, what they're doing, then I think we just take things as they come.


MANNO: And the Atlanta Braves are offering to help displaced residents by providing a few hours of distraction from the storm. The team is inviting anyone coming to Atlanta because of mandatory evacuation to be their best for a game. Evacuees can get free admission to watch the Braves take on the Blue Jays tonight, and the Nationals on Thursday.

Complimentary tickets are available to residents of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Some of the proceeds from the games will go towards relief efforts as well. So, a thoughtful gesture for some of those impacted, David and Christine.

BRIGGS: Nice gesture. They shouldn't have tickets available. They are in first place. Braves should be selling out games. Come on, Atlanta.

Carolyn, good to see you, my friends. Thanks.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

All right. It looks quiet from space, but it's anything but peaceful in the Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian had a 24-hour standstill over the Bahamas. Officials in the U.S. now warning people not to let their guard down. A brand-new update puts states in jeopardy.



BRIGGS: Devastating Hurricane Dorian parked over the Bahamas and still just barely moving, now a new path for the storm to head north. A brand-new update from the National Hurricane Center.


CONCEPTION: Mayday, mayday, mayday! Conception.


ROMANS: 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 back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is 29 minutes past the hour.

We begin with the breaking news. Hurricane Dorian doing something hurricanes rarely do, not moving, stalled for a full day now over the Bahamas. Look at the radar essentially just spinning in place here as the storm flattens parts of the Bahamas. In the words of the National Hurricane Center, Dorian won't budge.

BRIGGS: The new update from the National Hurricane Center shows little change. But movement is expected later this morning.

Meteorologist Chad Myers live in the CNN Weather Center with the latest.

Chad, good morning.