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New Aerial Footage Of Destruction In Grand Bahama Island; Carolinas Facing Near-Record Storm Surge As Dorian Closes In; Rescues Underway After Dorian Devastates The Bahamas. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 4, 2019 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:30:00]

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- that we saw from President Trump against Westerhout. When he said, yes, she has an NDA but I don't think I'll have to enforce it. Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: It is noteworthy that the conversation between two men who were once close, you know, Kelly and Trump that the question on the President's mind is, are you going to write a tell-all.

BROWN: Yes.

BALDWIN: The agreement sticks, at least for now. Pamela Brown, thank you very much for the update there.

BROWN: Yes.

BALDWIN: We are now getting some new information in from the Bahamas and new pictures. So we'll roll them and you can just see this is Grand Bahama. This is Grand Bahama Island and just, again, more and more of the sheer devastation.

Meteorologist Tom Sater is back with me. As we take a look together for the first time, Tom, I mean --

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.

BALDWIN: -- we were looking, you know, at Great Abaco yesterday and now this and it's just, I don't know. I don't even have words for this.

SATER: Well, it's what we feared --

BALDWIN: Yes.

SATER: -- for the most part but it's always worse than you can actually imagine in your head. I mean when you're over Mexico Beach, the difference between a Category 5 hitting a beach land like Mexico beach, when Michael made landfall and what we're seeing in the Bahamas is basically elevation.

BALDWIN: Yes. SATER: Mexico Beach, when you flew over that Brooke, obviously mass destruction from not only winds but the surge. The problem with the Bahama Islands really is that when you have a storm like Dorian, make its way 1,700 miles toward the area, rapidly intensify from a one to a four inside the eye, it's like a vacuum and it's sucking up water. And the harrowing stories we've heard when Patrick Oppmann were there from some of the survivors is, they could see the storm surge coming and they could measure the waters rising. But then, they were shocked to get hit by this large wall of water.

In the Abacos, it's only 11 feet high, that's highest elevation. And that bubbling of water in the eye is 25 feet to 30 feet. Different from the Puerto Rico devastation when they had higher elevation, it was mainly wind damage and that's what this looks like here. Even though they had on that Northern Coast quite a bit of surge, it's nothing like they had up East in the Abaco Islands where --

BALDWIN: Look at that plane, Tom.

SATER: -- that surge of water that destroyed everything. Now there --

BALDWIN: Look at that plane on the side of the road.

SATER: Yes. These are winds that are equivalent to an EF4 and an EF5 tornado. And that, you know, what -- Brooke, that's couple minutes in the U.S. and around the world but not sustained for hours. Now, that is quite a distance to put a catamaran that far in.

BALDWIN: In the middle of the road.

SATER: That is storm surge. That is storm surge. Look at this.

BALDWIN: I'm still reminiscing of Mexico Beach but you're right. I mean, no two storms are the same. And I just keep thinking of the people, you know, Bahamians. It's one thing if you live in Coastal Florida and, you know, if you do heed the warnings, you know, you can bounce, right, you jump in a car, you drive inland. When you're stuck on, you know, when you're stuck on one of these islands, you are stuck unless you can fly out --

SATER: Yes.

BALDWIN: -- or you have a boat. You're there.

SATER: Yes. And the other factor is that like with Michael in Mexico Beach, I mean, once that storm made its way inland, it broke down. But because the elevation of these islands are so low and are surrounded by water, it did not lose its strength.

BALDWIN: Yes.

SATER: So, it was a bulldozer of wind and high water across the entire region. Something like we've mentioned last couple days, we just haven't seen the likes of something like this.

BALDWIN: Just showcases --

SATER: It is. It's so sad

BALDWIN: -- you know, when we talk about storm surge and you see a catamaran in the middle of the highway or a roadway there in the Bahamas, it just shows you how powerful, how massive it was. As soon as we get more video, we'll continue rolling the same because seeing these pictures is just such a huge part of the story in the wake of Dorian. Tom, you are the best, thank you very much.

As we continue our coverage of Hurricane Dorian, we will take you back to Charleston, South Carolina that is in the direct path of the storm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:38:31]

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Dorian. I'm Erica Hill in Charleston, South Carolina. And there is a major focus on this coastal city because of the track that the storm is now taking, still currently a Category 2.

The governor in this state, Governor Henry McMaster, just giving a briefing a short time ago with emergency officials and he was clear, he was blunt. There is a potential for a life threatening storm surge. The time to evacuate is now and that window is closing, is what we are hearing from officials.

About 830,000 people in the state of South Carolina under a mandatory evacuation and the most recent update that we have is that they estimate some 360,000 people have heeded that warning. Here in the city of Charleston, the mayor also very clear, a short time ago saying, if you haven't left, you need to stay inside and he does not want to see you. He does not want anybody out on the streets. We know, of course, how dangerous that can be, not just for folks who go out but also for the first responders.

I just want to give a sense of where we are. So, we're in downtown Charleston. And we're on the banks of the Ashley River. And just over my shoulder here, you see a number of boats. We could see a few folks out there on the docks.

Earlier today our team saw battening down the hatches as it we're making sure that they're prepared for the storm. This is where you will find the marine is on the usher in the city of Charleston. So obviously, a lot focus will be on what could happen in this area.

If you're familiar with Charleston, that area down by the battery, we know that folks on there have been asked to please move their cars. In fact, within the city they have said they have opened up a number of parking garages for free parking for people to put their cars there.

[14:40:04]

They don't want them on the streets. They don't want them there because of flooding, also because when they may need to get through the streets to help people out. Keep in mind we were looking at the window here as the storm is gaining strength, as it's getting closer to us. This is going to be a long event.

High tide in the wee hours tonight, 1:11 a.m. is going to be a little over 10 feet, 10.3 feet. Keep in mind, that is without any rain added on to it. And there will be another high tide at 2:00 tomorrow, that one about 9.5 feet. And that is really where the focus is.

In between those two high tides, we're going to see a lot more rain, a lot more wind picking up this evening, as well as into the morning hours. And in terms of preparation, the city has actually stationed temporary pumps in a number of the low lying areas so that they're ready to go if and when they are needed. High water vehicles, swift water boats have also been brought in, small boats are available for rescues, the National Guard and FEMA also on hand.

We know that there are a number of first responders. Of course, everybody on call at this point, they will be hungering down until they are needed to go out. And just a reminder, if those calls come, when the conditions are not favorable, they cannot get out to help you, it is putting them as we know in harm's way.

Brooke, we'll have much more of our coverage continuing from here in Charleston, right now, will sent it back to you in New York.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Erica. We'll see you in just a bit. And as the storm closes in on the United States, just more than two hours from now, there will be an unprecedented political event right here on CNN.

Ten presidential candidates on the Democratic side, of course, will each take part in his or her own town hall in an issue that the vast majority of the party believes needs to be urgently addressed, the climate crisis. So get ready for the 7 hour ride. CNN's David Chalian, is here to explain how tonight will work.

And so what is it incredible, right, of all the issues that this campaign and these candidates are going to focusing on. It is the climate crisis in which we, here at CNN, have received the most questions from folks like you.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, 17,000 questions --

BALDWIN: Wow.

CHALIAN: -- have been submitted over the course of our brief time of making it available to send in question ideas. This is an animating issue in the Democratic base and specifically with younger voters which is an important demographic. They don't always necessarily show up at the polls.

We did see in the 2018 midterms, they did. But it is a key core constituency if Democrats are going to actually energize their troops and defeat Donald Trump. Young voters will be a key part of that calculation. And this is issue certainly animates them. But Democrats, more broadly, we see it in poll after poll, and you'll recall, Brooke, there's been a lot of pressure from climate change activists. They wanted the DNC to do a climate change debate, sole -- single issue, sole topic debate. The DNC said, we're not doing single issue debates.

So, here we are at CNN, as you said, creating this unprecedented event. You're seeing the top 10 candidates all of them have qualified from next week's debate and they're just going to focus on this one important issue of climate change.

BALDWIN: And how many of them have put out plans and specifics?

CHALIAN: I mean, this is also amazing, right. Nothing like a deadline, right, to focus the mind.

BALDWIN: Yes.

CHALIAN: But just in the last, I don't know, 36 hours, five of the 10 tonight, put out their plan. In the last week and a half, eight of them have. So -- And a couple did earlier than that. You see Buttigieg, Harris and Warren, just today, put out their plans basically.

So these candidates are now sort of preparing for this primetime television event by getting that plan out there and I'm sure studying up all their details to be prepared to take these voters questions tonight on all of the issues. And you know climate change touches sort of every piece, right, the economy, national security. It's not just about climate change in and of itself. It is about how it impacts sort of every facet of society.

BALDWIN: OK, so let's tell everyone when and how to watch, of course, this unprecedented town hall even here on CNN. It is starting at 5:00 o'clock Eastern here and it goes on through every single one of the candidates there on your screen. Good luck. Thank you David Chalian, very much.

Our special coverage of Hurricane Dorian continues. CNN has now reached some of the hardest hit areas including the airport and Freeport in the Bahamas which we are told is devastated.

Plus, as we learn new disturbing details about the Texas shooter and how he got that gun, the nation's CEOs are taking action when lawmakers will not. We'll discuss that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:49:36]

HILL: We have seen the images from the air, and they are breathtaking and heart stopping. What is being found on the ground is frankly even yet another story.

CNN's Victor Blackwell has made it unto the Bahamas. He is in Nassau now, and joins us now with more live. And I imagine that as awful as the pictures are that we've been seeing, Victor, it may not begin to do justice to what you all are finding on the ground there.

[14:50:13]

HILL: We are working -- understandably communications are very difficult just getting in and out of the Bahamas, the communications as well. We're going to try to reestablish communication with Victor. But while we do that, I just want to share with you some of the interview that Victor did just a short time ago. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN ROLLE, HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: It's a disaster, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about it.

ROLLE: We got people everywhere. We got the medical staff doing everything they can do. EMS, we got the defense force. You have doctors there. You know, you have a lot of injuries going on, deaths as well. Can't confirm how many.

This couldn't have been a Cat 5. If they had a category for this, this had to be like an 8. We were trapped inside our apartment. The wind came, blew every window out. I had to improvise, use a drop cord actually. He had to hold the other end. We had to make a run for it out during the winds.

The only thing would saved our life is our pump truck. We have a business in Abaco. We had to huddle up in our pump truck. The glass started to break. We just had to stick through it. The eye came and that's what also saved us to head over to the clinic. The clinic is basically one of the two shelters that's holding up strong, and everyone is going there, it's crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: You listen to those stories of survival and so many that will come here in the coming days. I think we may have Victor Blackwell back up, we're going to try to reestablish that. Victor, can you hear me? It's Erica.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR, WEEKEND NEW DAY: Yes, I can hear you, Erica. I apologize for the technical glitch. I have with me Toby Smith with HeadKnowles, a volunteer trying to bring aid to the people of Abaco and bring them over to Nassau. Tell us what did you see when you were there today.

TOBY SMITH, HEADKNOWLES FOUNDATION: I saw absolute devastation, the place has been leveled. (INAUDIBLE) buildings remaining, but complete devastation. People are walking around just absolutely flabbergasted. There's a quiet peace amongst the people. We as Bahamians we are resilient bunch, and we're coming together to try to help out our own.

What we're appealing for is financial aid. HeadKnowles is non- charitable organization, they have 501(c)(3), the Rotary Club International. But we if have financial assets, that would allow us to buy heavy equipment, provide fuel, charter (ph) vessels. BLACKWELL: You said that there's a calm peace there, we've heard reports of violence that the national -- the Ministry of National Security is investigating.

SMITH: Right. So I haven't been there, I basically hitchhiked a ride on the chopper this morning, went in (INAUDIBLE) or Abaco which is one of the areas that is most devastated and then called a chopper ride back. I didn't see any violence. I walked through where the violence allegedly occurred but I saw none.

All I know is there was one gunshot. There were five yesterday which could this be a warning shot. There is Armed Forces there. We've got the coast guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, you got Special Forces, you got the Bahamas -- the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defense Force, they're keeping the area calm.

BLACKWELL: We heard that from the minister of national security. Today is the day, the first day he's able to get on the ground now that the all clear has been given, and they're trying to build some structure. They're trying to start a system to make sure there is not chaos there. But this will be a long, long process. Too long, some of the people who have been brought in on those coast guard choppers say. But this is the beginning of it, and we're told that there are hundreds of people in buildings there waiting for rescue, Erica?

HILL: It is amazing. Victor, we're so glad you're there on the ground that you can bring that to us. We'll continue to check in with Victor.

And when we return, we will have the latest update for you on the path of Hurricane Dorian as it's picking up speed now and taking aim at the Carolinas. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:58:48]

BALDWIN: Just in, British lawmakers have just approved a bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit. This is a huge set back for the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. So let's get straight to CNN Correspondent Bianca Nobilo in London. Bianca, what does this vote now mean for Boris Johnson?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It's a crushing defeat, Brooke. It's his third in his many votes. So he's only been prime minister a matter of weeks. And already last night and two today he's had three defeats by a margin of 28 votes tonight, which is quite comfortable against him. Aided in no small part by the fact that he's had rebels from within his own party vote against his government.

And why this is so damaging to him is the fact that it's a key part of Boris Johnson's negotiating strategy to maintain that leaving the European Union without a deal is still in the table. It's how he thinks the best deal can be achieved. Parliament is trying to thwart him in that agenda, it's also trying to ensure that he has to leave the European Union with a deal or ask for an extension. Something that he's promised he's not prepared to do.

So what does that leave him with? What he's doing right now in the chamber of the House of Commons, is tabling a motion for a general election. He wants Britain to go to the polls again to give him a fresh mandate to deliver --

[15:00:00]