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Hurricane Dorian Relentlessly Batters Bahamas, Approaches Florida; 34 Feared Dead In California Dive Boat Fire; Police Say Alabama Teen Confesses To Killing Five Family Members. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 3, 2019 - 07:30   ET



ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, AUTHOR: "TRUMP: THE BLUE-COLLAR PRESIDENT": -- presidential race, if he makes it to the presidential race. I mean, it's not clear to me that he's going to make it. I still predict that poll numbers are going to go much lower and I predict that, like Lyndon Johnson, he'll likely leave the race before he gets there.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Anthony Scaramucci, you make a lot of predictions that are really fascinating and some of them --

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, but did Mattis say more or less what I said?

CAMEROTA: -- and some of them come true.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, and so here's what going to -- here's what's going to happen --

CAMEROTA: Quickly.

SCARAMUCCI: -- quickly. He's going to continue to dissemble. He's going to amp up the bullying and the nastiness and it's going to turn off at least another 10 percent of his base, and then it's basically over.

CAMEROTA: Anthony Scaramucci, thanks so much for being here with your perspective.

SCARAMUCCI: Good to be here. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, what would you like to see done about the climate crisis? Presidential hopefuls, Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Booker, O'Rourke, Yang, and Castro will take the stage tomorrow night starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern to discuss this very critical issue.

OK. Meanwhile, the search for survivors from that inferno on a dive boat in Southern California continues. So we have a live report for you on that investigation, next.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. John Berman in Jensen Beach, Florida. This is CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian, which is still about 100 miles away from where I'm standing, inching over Grand Bahama Island.

We're on the Florida coast. As you can see behind me, this is the intracoastal waterway, which has been kicking up for more than a day now, but this is as bad as we have seen it. And this is where the storm surge would come in from as Hurricane Dorian moves closer to Florida.

Over there is the mainland. You can see the boats that are still tied down but have been moving up and down now over the last several hours.

And if you point out there, you can see the barrier island. That's Hutchinson Island right there.

That's one of the barrier islands that will bear the brunt of Hurricane Dorian, much like they did in Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which did not make landfall on the Florida coast but caused all kinds of damage. They were without power for more than a week right there on Hutchinson Island and they are still rebuilding from that there. So that's the area of concern.

As I said, this is the intracoastal waterway. Obviously, the water is kicking up something fierce and you could say oh, it's always like that. I don't think it's always like that given that there are picnic benches here. So normally, people come out here and they sit -- you know, they have a barbecue and they look out over the water. You can't do that now because the water here is lapping up over it.

They're still expecting a storm surge here in this area around four or five. Yesterday, they were talking about seven feet. That would be enough to bring the water over the banks here, to be sure, and the barrier island back there would suffer quite badly.

They're expecting hurricane-force winds will impact the Florida coast all the way up, potentially, to Jacksonville. Still not expecting a direct landfall but if the hurricane moves even a little bit to the left -- a little bit westward, it could be more problematic for the Florida coast.

You can see the water coming up here. And the bands of Hurricane Dorian have been passing over us all morning long. And when the bands come over, the wind speeds pick up about 20 miles per hour or more than they are right now.

So that is the situation in Florida.

And they've been preparing for this now for days. They saw Hurricane Dorian coming. There have been evacuations in place for some time and they've been preparing for days.

Joining me now to talk about some of the preparations and some of the infrastructure concerns, Col. Andrew Kelly of the Army Corps of Engineers. Colonel, can you hear me?


BERMAN: All right, thank you so much for joining us, Colonel.

I know one of the concerns in Florida is the canals and waterways that really snake through so much of the state. How have you been preparing for Hurricane Dorian?

KELLY: Well, during the preparation phase -- and as you've mentioned, you know, we've been preparing for quite some time as this storm has slowed down. But during the preparation phase, we have lowered with our partners, especially in the South Florida Water Management District -- lowering the canals that will be able to better handle the rainfall predicted.

BERMAN: Now, Lake Okeechobee, which is the biggest lake in the southeast of the United States, there's the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds it and water levels in Lake Okeechobee can often be of concern under severe storms.

How does everything look down there?

KELLY: Herbert Hoover Dike is looking quite good at this point. We made efforts over the fall and dry season and the water level is low enough where we could absorb this storm.

About a week ago, we stopped releasing water from Herbert Hoover Dike in preparation for the storm to, again, allow some of the canals to be lowered to handle the local basin runoff. And our structures, although that is under construction -- we've got many construction sites along Herbert Hoover Dike -- but those construction sites have all been shut down. They are safe and the dike is stable.

BERMAN: I understand you have received some news over the last few hours about the expected storm surge up in Jacksonville. And there's been issues in Jacksonville over the last few years as these storms pass through, one after the other.

What have you heard about the storm surge from Hurricane Dorian?

KELLY: Currently, we are under -- we've been informed that the storm surge, we believe, is going to be approximately two to four feet. But again, those are early projections. And as you've mentioned, the storm has been unpredictable thus far, so we could see increases to that.


BERMAN: And a storm surge of two to four feet, it would be problematic -- certainly, where I'm standing right now as you can see the water splashing over my head. But certainly, problematic in cities on the coast that have the rivers that pass through them.

How do you deal with that? How do you deal with a 4-foot storm surge? KELLY: Absolutely.

Well, the first -- the first step that we do -- as the Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, we are focused post-storm on basically two areas with a storm like this. It's ensuring the ports are open and helping the port captains see the channel and be able to open those ports as soon as possible. And then, getting a good assessment of the coastline immediately following and be able to assist there as well.

BERMAN: All right. Colonel Andrew Kelly, Army Corps of Engineers.

Thank you for standing watch. Please stay safe. We'll be talking to you over the next few days. Thank you, sir.

KELLY: Appreciate it. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, Alisyn.

As I'm standing here on the water with the water splashing up, my cameraman is getting angrier and angrier at me because I'm making him point into the wind, which means the water and the wind blows right into his lens. But it gives you a sense of what's already happening and going to happen over the next 24 hours here right along the coast of Florida.

CAMEROTA: It feels to me like there is no direction our cameraman could point where there wouldn't be water on the lens at this point, OK? You can tell him my message there.


CAMEROTA: But, John, thanks so much for showing us what the situation is. And be careful because the water -- a wave is about to splash over your head -- just FYI. We'll be back to you momentarily.

Meanwhile, we do have developments on the dive boat tragedy that is still unfolding off Santa Cruz Island in California. The bodies of 20 victims have been recovered from that deadly boat fire.

The Coast Guard officials believe passengers were sleeping below deck and were trapped when this fire broke out Monday morning.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in Santa Barbara with more. What have we learned, Stephanie?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, Alisyn, we know that this trip was just hours away from wrapping up when this fire happened in the middle of the night.

And as the Santa Barbara County sheriff put it, it was the worst-case scenario -- the fact that they were so far off the coast here, the fact that it happened in the middle of the night, and the fact that they were trapped by fire.


ELAM (voice-over): A devastating inferno engulfing a 75-foot dive boat off Santa Cruz Island in California, with 39 people on board.

BOB HANSEN, OWNER, GRAPE ESCAPE: It was fully-engulfed from bow to stern. I mean -- and flames probably 30 feet high.

SHIRLEY HANSEN, OWNER, GRAPE ESCAPE: It was such a hopeless, helpless feeling to watch that boat burn.

ELAM (voice-over): Officials telling "The New York Times" that they have recovered at least 20 bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday, mayday, mayday! Conception.

ELAM (voice-over): A harrowing mayday call capturing the last contact with the ship.

U.S. COAST GUARD DISPATCH: What is your position and number of persons on board -- over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe.

ELAM (voice-over): Thirty-three passengers were asleep on the bottom deck when the flames consumed the ship just before 3:30 in the morning on Monday.

Five crew members were able to jump off ship and were helped to safety by Good Samaritans onboard a nearby ship.

B. HANSEN: I wish I could have picked all 35 of them up. I mean, I've got the space, you know. If they could have all just gotten in the water -- I mean, I could have got them out of there.

ELAM (voice-over): As the boat burned, frantic dispatchers tried to regain communication with the ship, desperate for more information --

U.S. COAST GUARD DISPATCH: Roger -- are they locked inside the boat?

Roger -- can you get back on board and unlock the boat -- unlock the doors so they can get off?

Roger -- you don't have any firefighting gear at all? No fire extinguishers or anything?

ELAM (voice-over): -- but no response heard on the recording.

Fire crews and emergency responders tried to battle the flames but it was too late.

AARON BEMIS, SENIOR CHIEF, U.S. COAST GUARD: The fire was so intense that even after it was put out, you know, we were not able to actually embark the vessel and, you know, look for survivors.


ELAM (voice-over): Authorities looking for answers, unsure what started the deadly blaze and why the passengers could not escape. SHERIFF BILL BROWN, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This is probably the worst-case scenario you could possibly have. Fire is the scourge of any ship.


ELAM: And back out here live at Santa Barbara Harbor, this is where Conception would have embarked on its dive journey -- those three days out at sea.

And as you can see now, there's flowers out here, there's candles out here. People writing messages and leaving them out there, thinking about the people that have lost their lives, those that are still missing, and their loved ones.

And, Alisyn, because there are so many questions about how these people could be trapped in there -- those -- one question was, was this boat in compliance? And the U.S. Coast Guard saying yes, this boat was in compliance. Those boats are checked every year, they're saying.


But still, so many questions on how people could get trapped and not find a way out.

But none of that eases the pain for the people who are still looking to find out whether their loved ones made it off that boat or if they are still even in the process of recovering them -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Stephanie, we're going to have an interview coming up with another dive boat owner who knows the owner of that fated ship and about how the safety -- if there are any safety precautions and what they'll change as a result of this.

Stephanie, thank you very much.

So, Florida's east coast, of course, bracing for the impact of Dorian. We'll take you back live to one community that is inside the evacuation zone. How they are spending their morning.


BERMAN: All right, welcome back. John Berman in Jensen Beach, Florida. This is CNN special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian.


We've just had one of the outer bands from the hurricane pass over us and it's like night and day. When the band is on top of you, the wind speeds 20 to 30 miles an hour or greater.

And it is simply pouring when it happens right now. You can see the entire roadway here is now filled with water. I'd say we've had nearly an inch of rain there in less than five minutes. It just came down so incredibly fast. Those are the bands that pass over us and pass over the entire state as the eye of the storm, which is still 100 miles, I guess, in that direction -- 100 miles in that direction. As it creeps closer and closer to Florida, those bands will become more frequent.

And ultimately, it's possible that the width of the hurricane -- hurricane-force winds -- certainly tropical-storm-force winds and rain will pass over the coastline all the way up to Jacksonville and they could experience much of which we just experienced here.

Now, what Florida is getting is nothing compared to what they've been enduring on the Bahamas -- particularly, Grand Bahama Island and Freeport.

We just got some video in of the airport in Freeport and I think this illustrates the challenges that they are facing there. The airport is simply inundated with water. There would be no way to land an airplane, even if you could -- even if you could get through the wind and the rain, you could not land at the airport in Freeport just yet because of the strength of the storm and the devastation there.

We spoke to Capt. Stephen Russell, the man who is potentially in charge of the rescue and relief efforts in the Bahamas, who told us the operation is mammoth. (Audio gap) anything like it before.

The British Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, this morning, is beginning to assist in the search and rescue operations by boat. They're doing it by sea and they have been able to land some helicopters and they're trying to reach Abaco Island, which is the one area they can get to this morning by helicopter.

And over the next few hours, we should begin to get a much bigger and better sense -- a clearer sense of the devastation there.

And also, the need there because every official you speak to in the Bahamas, when you ask them what the need is, what they will tell you is (audio gap). Everyone just needs to stay safe because it's not over there just yet.

Our Patrick Oppmann, who has been in Freeport, says he's still feeling hurricane-strength winds of a category one or a category two-level. He has not been able to go outside for about a day and a half, so this afternoon will be the first time he's able to venture out of the safety and security of the structure that he's been in to get a true sense of what's happened there.

Now, it's not even raining at all. So you can see when the bands pass over it's raining so hard that you can barely see the camera, which is about 20 feet from where I am. And now, it's clearing up almost completely. That's the cycle as the storm passes through here, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Hey, John, now I understand why your cameraman didn't want to get any moisture on the lens because you say it's clearing up where you are. You are disappearing for us, as we can see, which is the aftermath of getting -- BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- moisture on the lens.

BERMAN: That's the filter that I demand. I look better through the completely wet, foggy lens.

CAMEROTA: Well, it's true. You look -- it's really shaved years off your -- years off your look.

But, obviously, the situation is changing rapidly, hour-to-hour. So, John, we're going to take a very quick break and then get back to you and see what the situation is in Florida and beyond. So, stand by if you would.

More NEW DAY when we come right back.



CAMEROTA: All right.

Breaking overnight, we're learning chilling details about a deadly shooting in an Alabama home. Police say a 14-year-old has confessed to killing his family members.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins me now with more. Brynn, what is this about?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is chilling, indeed. Officials say a 14-year-old killed his family inside their Elkmont, Alabama home.

Now, the Limestone County Sheriff's Department says the teenager is the one who called 911 and authorities responded to the home and found his family, five family members, shot. Three died in the home and two were airlifted to the hospital in critical condition and have since died.

The sheriff's department says the teenager confessed to the murders and now is helping authorities with finding the 9mm handgun he allegedly used in that crime that he also allegedly tossed away.

So this is a developing story, Alisyn. We're going to work to get more details and, of course, update our viewers.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, it's horrible, Brynn. Thank you very much for that and bring us more when you have it.

All right, thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM WITH MAX FOSTER" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, the new advisory just coming in on Hurricane Dorian's path and intensity. So, NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, BAHAMA RESIDENT: Pray for us. Pray for Abaco, please. I'm begging you all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hurricane Dorian, a deadly, slow-moving monster.

HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: We are in the midst of a historic tragedy. The devastation is unprecedented and extensive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here in Florida, more than 10 coastal counties are under a mandatory evacuation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're ordered to evacuate, you need to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You board up your house, you're inside of the house, you're waiting for it to arrive. The anticipation of it is nerve-racking.


BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a special edition of NEW DAY. We are tracking Hurricane Dorian.

I'm John Berman live in Jensen Beach, Florida this morning. Alisyn Camerota is in New York.

We just got some new information from the National Hurricane Center and we will bring that to you very.