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More Devastation Brought By Dorian; President Trump Stands On His Claim About Alabama; Hurricane Dorian Batters The Carolinas; Fear Of Hurricane Dorian Death Toll; Rescue Efforts Continue In Bahamas. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 5, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We have breaking news. We have a brand-new forecast for Hurricane Dorian. The storm slamming the coastal Carolinas right now.
CNN's reporters are out in force all across the storm zone. And we're learning just how deadly Dorian has been, five storm-related fatalities in this country and two in North Carolina.
And in the Bahamas, the death toll is rising with at least 30 people losing their lives. That as an official there says that hundreds of people remain unaccounted for.
We're going to get straight to our meteorologist Karen Maginnis in the CNN weather center with the brand-new forecast. Karen, good evening to you. Give us the latest on Dorian's path. Where is this storm headed?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it is still trekking rather rapidly to the northeast at about 13 miles an hour. The faster it moves, the less the impacts will be. So, we're still looking at a system that is chugging along, and it is now located about 30 miles to the south of Wilmington.
So right now, up and down the coast of North Carolina, they are being battered by high winds, winds associated with Hurricane Dorian at 100 miles an hour. It has sustained this for about the last 24 hours at least. What I see that may be some slight improvement is there's a little bit of dry intrusion. That is filling in the hurricane.
As we see that dry air start to move on in, we might start to see this weaken just a little bit. But we've got a long way to go, Don, as this continues to traverse right along the coast. This coastline of North Carolina is very fragile.
There's a national seashore. A lot of people go there. They visit Kitty Hawk. You can better believe there's beach erosion. We already have in excess of 200,000 people without power both in North and in South Carolina. LEMON: Karen, before we let you go, I want to ask you about these and
put up this video. You've seen it, these multiple tornadoes throughout the Carolinas. How does this happen, and should we expect to see more of that?
MAGINNIS: Typically, when we talk about tornadoes, Don, we're talking about them during the spring and the summer months in the open plains and not something you typically think about with hurricanes. But actually, this is relatively common.
You get a lot of moisture. You get a lot of instability, and you get that moisture lifting with something like a hurricane. So, at the surface, you can get these powerful spin-ups. They don't usually last very long, but we certainly did see them during the early morning hours.
And on the radar, as I was looking at it, there are some of these arms associated -- the feeder bands associated with the hurricane, and I'll show you right here. Where you see those dark red shaded areas, that's what we're looking at the potential for tornadic activity in through these areas.
And indeed, until 7 a.m. in the morning, those areas pretty much from the central coast of North Carolina all the way up to the border with Virginia, that's where we have the potential for some of these tornadoes to spin up and produce damage.
So, on top of the high winds, the very heavy rainfall, some areas could see 15 inches of rainfall. There's going to be beach erosion. There are already power outages, and now we have to worry about tornadoes.
LEMON: Karen Maginnis with the forecast. Karen, thank you so much. I appreciate that. Martin Savidge now, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Martin, Dorian continuing to make its way up the coast. What's happening where you are?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we're still getting hit by these winds here. It may be easing just slightly as Karen points out, but very slowly is it easing. The gusts here are still pretty strong. We're still getting pretty good bouts of rain.
One of the reasons I can tell you that we know it's easing a bit is it doesn't sting as much on your face.
There are hundreds of thousands of people that are without electricity tonight. They're still hunkered down in their homes. We know that as a result of those spinoff tornadoes, that there has been damage in and around the north Myrtle Beach area, and people are still fearful about the possibility of more tornadoes tonight.
All in all, this is still a storm that packs a punch. It's still being felt, and as you say, it is now moving into North Carolina, but South Carolina is still bearing a lot of the brunt of it still.
LEMON: All right. Martin, be safe out there. I want to get to Randi Kaye now. Randi is in Charleston.
Randi, good evening to you. Massive storm surge left parts of Charleston underwater throughout the day, closing 50 roads. That's according to local media reports. Give us the situation now, please.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes, Don. A lot of those roads were closed due to flooding, including this one. Some of this rainwater has dried up. When I was out here earlier, it was all the way up my shin. Now it's certainly dried up.
If you look at these palm trees over here, the water was quite a way up those palm trees as well. That's gone away. But there are still parts of this street, if you look around here, if I just step into the water just a little bit, you can see there's still plenty of rainwater here.
Normally, this would sink down into the grates in a road like this and go underneath and go out to sea and disappear. But this is such a flat city. It is barely above sea level, Don. It is very flat. It's right next to the ocean, so the water with such heavy rains and so much rain, it simply has nowhere to go.
LEMON: What do they do? Is it like New Orleans? Do they have a pumping system, or do they just have to wait for it to seep or for it to run off?
KAYE: Both actually. In some areas, just like the high tide brings it in, the low tide will bring it out, but that takes a long time. And the neighborhoods don't want to wait, and the city doesn't want to be so inconvenienced.
So, they do have pumps in some areas of the city that do work, but a lot of the time they come in and do it manually. We saw that happen today. We caught up with some crews who take the manhole cover off and put a hose down underground and actually manually pump the water back out mainly to the Ashley River where we are, send it back out that way because they just don't want to wait.
We did see some neighbors trying to do it on their own. One guy was trying to remove leaves from a grate in front of his house, but that system just does not work. They do need help from the city and the crews on the streets.
LEMON: Randi Kaye in Charleston. Randi, great reporting. Thank you so much. I'll see you soon.
Storm chaser Mike Theiss has been out in the storm all day today. And he joins me now on the phone from Charleston. Mike, good evening to you. First, I want to get your reaction to Dorian's latest forecast because you've been in the thick of it for days.
MIKE THEISS, STORM CHASER: Yes, I have been in the thick of it for days. The latest forecast again is unpredictable as usual, but it does look like it's just going to skim off the coast there. It's been a very stressful day today.
It started off with these intense feeder bands coming in in the Myrtle Beach area with embedded supercells and very potent and powerful tornadoes as we've seen the images. That's how they started, and then as the storm got closer, we got tropical storm sustained winds on the coastline with maybe a few hurricane gusts, but mostly tropical storm.
But the big story for me in maneuvering was the flash flooding. It was hard for me to get where I needed to be because the floodwaters were just rising on all the little side streets everywhere, and I decided actually to abort mission because I didn't want to get stuck in those flooding waters.
LEMON: Interesting. Interesting. You know, you spent most of the day up and down the South Carolina coast. You posted video outside of Pawleys Island in South Carolina, showing hugely powerful wind gusts. Can you talk to me about that, Mike?
THEISS: Yes. Right where I was there, it was fully exposed to the ocean, and it had that open view of the wind just coming right off the water. And it was pushing the water over the bridge, and it was piling up there. So that was probably the most intense scene that I personally saw on this coastline.
But it was kind of the same story up and down the coast is that wind pushing the water up, you know, over the roadways, and the other story, too, that I didn't mention was trees. There were many areas where there were big trees that went down in the road.
So, if you didn't have your route blocked from flooding, you had a problem possibly with trees blocking the road. So, it was definitely one of those days you did not want to be outside on the road. You wanted to be in the safety of your house.
And like I said, I actually decided to just come on back to the hotel because I'm not -- my truck is not designed to drive and float in water. It's designed for heavy wind. So, once the really heavy flooding was involved, the mission was over.
LEMON: A storm chaser heeding the warnings. Mike, thank you. Glad that you're safe. We'll get back to you as well. Drew Griffin live in Wilmington, North Carolina, for us. Drew, talk to me about the conditions in Wilmington at this hour.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It is going to be the big event here if it causes problem because of the low-lying nature of this area and the way it can flood in very quick timing, especially overnight what it's dark and you don't sense the water is coming up. It can come up quickly in low-lying neighborhoods.
We've had a steady rain like this for about three hours. The wind is on and off. The bands are on and off, but the rain has not stopped, and that could create some very big problems, especially in this area that saw the flooding from last year from Florence. So that is the concern right now here, Don. LEMON: I'm not sure if everyone heard you, but Drew is saying that
rain is the biggest problem where he is. But Drew, you know, we're also seeing photos after a tornado touched down on the barrier island, Emerald Isle. What more can you tell us about that? What do you know?
GRIFFIN: You know, first of all, I've got about a gallon of water in my ear, Don. But that tornado, I mean that was bizarre. Early this morning like 9 o'clock, it really wasn't that bad of weather. But all of a sudden, one of these bands spun off a couple of tornadoes that came through North Carolina, waterspouts.
One actually did some real damage at an R.V. park in Emerald Isle. That's up the coast of it by Atlantic City, Atlantic Beach, I should say, a couple hours up the coast. And the owner said he was on his way to work and he just heard the classic freight train sound, and the next thing you know, all of these R.V.'s were being whipped around so it did do some serious damage. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
But you know, we've talked about the death toll here. It's now reached five. A person in North Carolina, a man trying to secure his boat yesterday in Oriental, North Carolina, had some kind of a medical emergency, possibly a heart attack trying to secure his boat. He is the fifth death on the mainland of the U.S. that's been attributed to Hurricane Dorian.
LEMON: Terrible news. Drew Griffin, thank you very much, reporting from Wilmington, North Carolina tonight, getting bombarded by rain there as you can see.
President Trump continued to falsely claim that Alabama was threatened by Hurricane Dorian, going as far as personally directing a homeland security official to put out a statement supporting his claims. Just how dangerous is to lie about a deadly hurricane? We'll discuss next.
LEMON: Hurricane Dorian still hammering the Carolina coastline. That as the president is focused on defending an altered map of Dorian's projected path that he showed earlier this week, a map with an extended track over Alabama that was added in sharpie.
"The Washington Post" is reporting that a source says it was the president himself who scribbled on the map in an attempt to justify his claim on Sunday that the storm could impact Alabama.
Let's discuss now. Juliette Kayyem is here, Brian Stelter, Max Boot, the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."
Max, I'm looking at you. Good evening, everyone. The Post is reporting --
(CROSSTALK) JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good evening.
LEMON: -- this is the Post reporting that is the president who used a black sharpie on the NOAA map. Is that your shocked face I'm looking at?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I confess with any other president I would be shocked. With this one, hardly surprising. I mean, but this has to be the most absurd episode yet in the most absurd presidency we've ever had. I mean, with any other president, you would think this is a Saturday Night Live skit. You couldn't believe it's real. With this guy, it actually is real.
And this is just a sign, Don, of how the president is focused on trivialities. We have real problems. There are real people being affected by --
LEMON: That's what your column is about today.
BOOT: Yes, exactly. My column is pointing out there's a crisis going on between Japan and South Korea that Trump is ignoring, but you can repeat that endlessly. There's Iran, there's North Korea, there's climate change, gun violence, a slowing economy.
We have real serious problems, and the president instead is fixated on his fragile ego and creating this brouhaha over nothing, literally nothing. Nobody cares that he made a small flub over whether the hurricane was going to hit Alabama or not, but he is fixated on it. He can't think about anything else.
You know, I think Mayor Pete on New Day today said this is sad. I agree. This is disturbing that the president of the United States is so fixated on something so trivial.
LEMON: Brian Stelter, this is something we heard from the president when he was asked about that. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the map you used today it looked like it almost had like a sharpie written --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, you heard him there, right?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right.
LEMON: I don't know, I don't know. That was a kind of I don't know that sounds like he was caught, right? Don't you think?
STELTER: It does seem like this was his writing on the board. But, look, the bigger picture problem here is that this is about an actual emergency situation. Most of the president's lies are not about actual emergencies. This one is different. It's about a hurricane. He's been lying to the country about the hurricane with regards to Alabama ever since Sunday.
Now he's watching TV coverage. He's getting mad at our fact checks and he's lashing out again and again and again. It's a real sign of weakness, not strength. When he doubles down, it's a sign of weakness. And I think if we were to take him at his word for a moment, which is dangerous because he is usually not telling the truth.
If we were to take him at his word, if he actually believed that Alabama was in danger, that shows a shocking lack of knowledge about geography, science, and storms. Anybody who has watched cable news for a few minutes knows how hurricanes work. You all would know just by looking at a map that on Sunday morning, Alabama was going to be spared. This was going to be a Florida and the Carolinas storm.
Everybody watching television knew that. If the president really thought this was going to affect Alabama, that's a disturbing, startling lack of knowledge, and I think maybe that is the big story here. Does he know so little about this, does he have so few critical thinking skills --
STELTER: -- that he's not able to process severe situations, emergency situations --
LEMON: Brian, before we get too far off from I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, and I said pay close attention to that because I want to play this. Because it -- this is the president's reaction aboard Air Force One. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
TRUMP: No, no. What else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why did Michael -- why did Michael Cohen make it if there was no truth to her allegation?
TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my -- an attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know, no. (END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So, you're saying he doesn't have a very good poker face?
LEMON: Well, I'm just saying is that this I don't know, in both of these cases we know that it was a lie, right? So now we know that it was a lie. It was a lie then, but he said he didn't know. And he said it was the same sort of I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.
STELTER: It's a way to get out of it. But everybody except his most ardent supporters he threw it.
BOOT: I mean, given how much he lies, you'd think he'd be better at it, but he's not.
LEMON: Juliette, why can't he just let this go?
KAYYEM: Yes. That's a psychological question. I mean that's a hard one to answer, but I don't think that this is trivial. I mean, for the points that Brian said.
KAYYEM: So, I come from the world of disaster management, so let me just explain very quickly how it works. You have an incident command. You have the professionals who are assessing water and air and wind and resources and what people need to be told to do.
And then you have the political overlay, and their only job is to tell the truth and to provide focus or to force focus of the first responders. In other words, you want the politicians to say, all I want you to be thinking about, first responders, is saving lives.
Instead the president has sort of -- has obviously lied about geography and what happened with Alabama. He makes it undermines the capacity of the first responders to be believed because everyone is sort of having to cater to this lie. And obviously, it makes people lose focus.
We -- I have no problem talking about this because it is dangerous. I don't think this is trivial. But imagine if you're like, you know, the first responder in, you know, South Carolina, and you have a Republican governor who has to cater to Trump. That is trickling down to the operational level in ways I've seen before in other disasters.
And so just to think like this is not like some theoretical, isn't the president wacky. This is literally impacting the first responders and, of course, the community that needs to believe the first responders and the incident command to evacuate, to stay put, or whatever else it is.
LEMON: Well, we had Monica Medina, former --
(CROSSTALK) KAYYEM: Whacky talks.
LEMON: -- a NOAA official under in the Obama administration and also the general counsel under the Clinton administration basically saying the same thing you're saying, Juliette --
LEMON: -- that this is important. It's important for forecasting. It's important for the emergency officials, and it's also important for the people who are watching who may think that they're in the path of the storm.
Before we go, Brian, I got to ask you this because this is important. It's about how this is being reported because our colleague, Jake Tapper, is reporting president Trump called Fox News Correspondent, John Roberts into the Oval Office today to argue that he wasn't wrong about Alabama.
LEMON: What is that about?
STELTER: He sees John Roberts on Fox telling the truth about Trump being wrong about this. Trump calls him into the Oval Office apparently to tell Roberts, I'm not wrong. I'm right. Here's how I know I'm right. Just an incredible example of this Trump TV feedback loop and how damaging it is to the White House, to the president.
The president actually by his obsession with television, it actually gets him into trouble in cases like this where we're spending days talking about him being wrong about an emergent situation. He's trying to show charts now and show graphs now to prove that he was right. He's throwing up all this misinformation to try to confuse people.
I think the challenge for our viewers is refuse to be confused. Don't get exhausted by all this B.S. that he's putting out there. This is very simple. He was wrong then. He's wrong now. He's trying to confuse everybody now and make you believe there is no such thing as truth. He's trying to destroy a shared truth, Don. That's the big story here. Hopefully it doesn't work.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it.
KAYYEM: Can I --
LEMON: I got to go. Can you do it in five seconds, Juliette?
KAYYEM: Just very quickly there's going to be another hurricane, and he has denigrated the entire homeland security apparatus at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security. There's going to be another hurricane, and no one believes them anymore. That's the final -- the final verdict here.
LEMON: Wow. And that's sad. Thank you all.
The core of Hurricane Dorian brushing the coast of North Carolina right now. How people in the most vulnerable places are preparing for a possible life-threatening storm surge.
LEMON: Hurricane Dorian brushing North Carolina's coast tonight with fears of life-threatening storm surges. It could be a really rough night there.
Joining me now on the phone from Jacksonville, North Carolina, Norman Bryson. He's the emergency services director for Onslow County. Thank you, Mr. Bryson, for joining us. Tell me about the latest conditions on the ground where you are.
NORMAN BRYSON, SERVICE DIRECTOR, ONSLOW COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES: In the last few minutes, we actually started seeing the heaviest winds come through of the storm. We're actually expecting over about the next eight hours, seeing hurricane-force winds through Onslow County.
The rains have started to pick up, and of course being later in the evening time at this point in time, we have curfews throughout the county. So, we're hoping most people are sheltered at this point of time and have the least amount of traffic out on the road.
LEMON: Onslow County is under a volunteer evacuation right now. If people haven't left by now, what should they be doing?
BRYSON: At this point in time with the hurricane-force winds coming in, it's going to be the most difficult time to travel. The rains will be pretty much blanketing the roadways. The good news is we do not have any flooded roads in Onslow County other than one, and that's a very coastal road at this point in time that's lightly traveled.
At this point in time we would recommend to people that they would need to shelter in place. We've had -- of course we've had shelters open ever since last night here in Onslow County, but this is the point in time that people need to start to think more about sheltering in place and not being out on the roads and traveling.
LEMON: Storm surge obviously a huge problem. What about tornadoes and all of that stuff? What are you keeping your eye on?
BRYSON: We've been watching. We've had a lot of tornado activity throughout the day. As a matter of fact, in the years that I've been with the county, this is the most amount of tornadic activity ahead of a storm that we've seen, and I've been dealing with this for almost 23 years now.
So, you know, the rains have started to pick up. For the most part, it has not been too heavily throughout the day. We do have about 254 people that are sheltering with us currently. Right at this moment, we are going throughout this evening, going in tomorrow morning seeing how we come out of the storm.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. We appreciate you joining us. Stay safe.
I want to go now to Andy Stewart, Kitty Hawk town manager. Andy, hello to you. You really camped out at your town hall all night. Conditions on the ground now?
ANDY STEWART, TOWN MANAGER, KITTY HAWK: Just in the past 10 ten minutes, we started to see some wind and some rain events. There's some lightning and thunder that's going on outside. We expect the majority of the effect from the storm to come in around 3:00 p.m. tonight and into the early morning, tomorrow morning.
The forecast says that the storm is supposed to move out of here by noon tomorrow, so that will be a good sign for us. The quicker the storm obviously, the quicker it's out of here. So, we're starting to see some rain and some wind.
LEMON: Yeah. You've got a mandatory evacuation in effect as well. The area is not only flash flood and hurricane warnings, but it's also under tornado watch. Which of these, do you think, pose the biggest threat for Kitty Hawk?
STEWART: Yeah, Don. The biggest threat that we're looking at now is Sound side flooding. Kitty Hawk is a little unique in Dare County. There are outer bank areas surrounded by water on both sides. You've got the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Albemarle Sound to the west.
So, the further the storm tracks to the west, we're going to start seeing some of those winds push water up the Sound and that causes -- usually causes some significant flooding on the Sound side.
This storm has sort of tracked similar to Hurricane Irma in 2011 and Hurricane Michael in 2018, and those storms weren't really powerful when they came, but they did cause some flooding in our village here, which we have about 400 homes.
So for right now, we're concentrating on that. We know we're going to get some wind from the ocean. The town has done a great job and the county in general of re-nourishing our beaches, so we hope that provides some protection from the ocean overwash and those winds. But for right now, our big concern is Sound side flooding.
LEMON: Andy Stewart, thank you very much, sir. Be safe. I appreciate it.
STEWART: Thank you. I appreciate it.
LEMON: The death toll in the Bahamas now up to 30, with that number expected to rise. How those who survived are coping in the midst of so much destruction. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [23:35:00]
LEMON: The Bahamas is suffering almost unimaginable grief after Hurricane Dorian obliterated parts of the Abaco and Grand Bahama. This drone video is showing the sheer level of devastation in the Abaco. The death toll across the Bahamas is now up to 30. Officials fear that number will rise. CNN's Paula Newton reports from Nassau. Paula?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, you know, the people of the Abaco Islands say that Hurricane Dorian basically broke all the rules. They've been through many stores. They've never seen anything like this. They said they can barely process the fact that they've been through it and how they actually got through it.
I mean, the video is incredible and when you think about what people went through just to survive through one of these storms, a Category 5, they say, doesn't begin to cover it in terms of the winds and what they actually had to do to try and survive. Take a listen.
NEWTON (voice-over): It is so much worse than they had feared. The Abaco Islands forever scarred now by mass destruction. Home after home, entire rooftops blown away, debris scattered in unrecognizable heaps, boats tossed like confetti. The images belie the obvious question, how could anyone survive this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, OK, OK. You're OK. You're going to be OK. You're going to be OK.
NEWTON (voice-over): We arrived by helicopter in Man-O-War in Abaco with Billy Aubrey (ph), embracing his wife, Shawna (ph), after days of not knowing if she was dead or alive. Shawna (ph) hunkered down with friends in their seaside home until the roof blew off, and they all scrambled to find anything still standing.
So, Nancy (ph), this is what kept you guys alive, this little bathroom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This little room kept us alive. This is it. We came in and hunkered down, and Shawna (ph) was on the ground crying, and we were just trying to --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was hysterical.
NEWTON (on camera): What did it sound like in here at the time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it was loud. Well, there was a lot of crashing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember all the crashing and banging and whirling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crashing and stuff we thought was coming through this wall.
NEWTON (voice-over): So many in the Abaco Islands lived through hours that resembled a horror movie, exposed to winds that topped 215 miles an hour like tornadoes touching down every minute.
SHERRIE ROBERTS, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: Words can't describe it. I don't wish -- no words can describe it. They can never categorize this, never.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): My grandfather ran out --
ROBERTS: It was like an atomic bomb went off.
NEWTON (voice-over): Residents here tell me their little island paradise is unrecognizable even to them. They're resourceful and self- reliant, they say, but they could have never imagined a storm as powerful as Dorian.
(On camera): You know, there's no better way to describe to you the force of Hurricane Dorian to be right here where people rode out the storm in their living rooms, in their dining rooms. I mean, look at this. The roof blew off the house here. The entire kitchen came down. Their refrigerator ended up here on the ground. Their living room and dining room furniture is strewn all over.
People described these things being tossed around the island like projectiles. They all cowered, hovered in their bathrooms and closets, anything they could find to take shelter.
(Voice-over): There are now the beginnings of recovery, but only the basics: Medical attention, private helicopters to take out those who are sick, the elderly, young families.
JEREMY SWEETING, ISLAND COUNCILLOR: I'm sure it will never be the same again but -- I mean, the people are strong here. We're going to try to do our best to rebuild the best way we can, but we know it will never be the same.
NEWTON (voice-over): This was a storm of biblical proportions, Abaconians tell me. And, yes, they worry it will take a miracle to recover from it all.
NEWTON: And most chilling of all at this point, Don, is the death toll. Anecdotally, people know that, you know, so and so, their friend can't find their sister, their other friend can't find their uncle, they're missing whole families. They know.
They're terrified about how difficult this could get over the next few days and also about what comes next, not only how to rebuild, but can they rebuild given the magnitude of the destruction, Don?
LEMON: Paula Newton, thank you so much. Amid the destruction, moments of hope. I'm going to speak with a man who has rescued dozens of people from the floodwaters in the Bahamas. That's next.
LEMON: Recovery teams are making their way to the hardest hit parts of the Bahamas devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Our CNN team on the ground captured this new video from Grand Bahama from an area that was totally cut off until today.
The prime minister, Hubert Minnis, saying he expects the death toll to rise significantly as rescue workers search for survivors. The government is deploying hundreds of police and marines along with doctors, nurses, and other health care workers.
Joining me now is Iram Lewis. He is a member of parliament representing Central Grand Bahama. Thank you so much for joining us. What are the --
IRAM LEWIS, MEMBER, BAHAMIAN PARLIAMENT (via telephone): Pardon me?
LEMON: What are the most urgent needs?
LEWIS (via telephone): Our most urgent need right now is basic life supplies. We need water. We need food. Time is running out. I suspect that if we don't get sufficient help within the next 48 hours, we're going to be in worse trouble than we were during the hurricane.
And you'll have to forgive me right now. I'm slurring a bit because I'm tired. I haven't had a good night's sleep in days. But, you know, still thanking god for the strength to go there and help others.
So, basic supplies, food, water. There are a lot of homeless individuals right now, so if we could find some tents, A.C. tents, sleeping bags, cots. We just need basically everything that you can think of to survive until we have our utility services back up and running.
Even after we have the utility services back on and we have the roadways redone, the question is going to be where people will stay. So that is an issue now because we lost a lot of homes, particularly in the eastern area and on the northern side of Grand Bahama, and some in the west, but particularly in the eastern and northern side. We lost a lot of homes, so we have many displaced persons right now.
LEMON: Yeah. Listen, we can understand that you're exhausted and it's emotional. It's really draining. The damage there, especially in Abaco, I mean it is indescribable. The island has been decimated. We're looking at some of the pictures now.
LEWIS (via telephone): Yes.
LEMON: What do residents there need to know about when help is coming and how to get it?
LEWIS (via telephone): Well, let me say this. I was so pleased today. I was at the airport to receive members of the United States Air Force, Colonel Will Reid (ph) and his team from the 821st Contingency Response. They were at the airport doing their assessment, and I was very pleased with the report.
The unofficial report that they gave me is that the airport is adequate to receive the largest carriers that the response team would need. The area to stage the response team is more than adequate. We located a spot today where they will come again tomorrow, and they will set up.
So, it is good to know that the United States and the rest of the world, particularly South Florida, they are here. There are numerous Coast Guard plane and helicopters flying over, rendering assistance. So just seeing the help in the air and landing on the ground right now, it gives hope.
LEWIS (via telephone): The harbor is cleared. The harbor control, they are waiting to receive ships, to receive volunteers, to receive help. So, again, you know, god is now giving us good weather. The sky is clear. The seas are calm and help is on the way. So, we are hopeful that -- it's going to take a while, but all will be well.
LEMON: Yeah. I got to -- you mentioned that you were at the airport. You are meeting the members of the military who are coming to help. So, you can get supplies into the airport, I understand.
LEWIS (via telephone): Yes, we can.
LEMON: I'm wondering if you're able to get the information to people and if they know where they can get immediate food and water right now.
LEWIS (via telephone): Yeah, well, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, they brought in quite a bit of food this morning. They brought in lunch and dinner package. So, we had five members of parliament actively receiving the goods at the harbor. We had our team on the ground distributing the food to Grand Bahama from east to west. We took care of our workers. We took food to the shelters. So, again, that was welcome. They promised to be back tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.
LEWIS (via telephone): And they'll be back at noon, to serve breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and lunch at noon.
LEWIS (via telephone): So, help is there. We are very grateful to all the support that we can get right now.
LEMON: Iran Lewis is a member of parliament. Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it. Best of luck to you. We are certainly thinking about you. Well, the U.S. Coast Guard, Britain's Royal Navy, the United Nations, the Red Cross are all part of a growing effort to rush food and medicine to survivors and lift the most desperate people to safety by helicopter. Many residents are bonding together to rescue their stranded neighbors themselves.
Joining me now is Paul Mellor, who has rescued some 75 people by his count from the deadly floodwaters. Paul, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. Even before Dorian moved off the island, off the islands, you got in a boat, looking for people in need, and you helped them. Who did you find?
PAUL MELLOR, FREEPORT RESIDENT (via telephone): Well, it all started right after the storm, and I can't say after the storm, it went from a Category 5 to a 4. And once it got down to a 1, we decided that our neighbors, our friends, there were people in need over the bridge.
There's a bridge here that kind of separates the island. And we were able to get a jet ski in. There were other people there, other volunteers, and we just started going house to house to house. We found children. I mean, babies, people that were crippled that we had to carry down and put on the jet ski. We made sure everyone had a life vest.
It was like something almost out of a movie. You just couldn't imagine what you saw. It was absolute total utter destruction. And, I mean, the storm just sat off the north side of the island and kept pushing water and more water and more water.
There was a family we found. They were up in the attic and before the water had got in the attic, they decided to jump out of a window and into a boat. And this was about a 21-foot boat. They had tied it to a telephone pole. They spent 36 hours in this boat in a Category 5 storm and survived.
MELLOR (via telephone): When they saw us, they were -- they were just -- I mean, thank God, thank God, you guys are here to save us, and we were really happy to be there. I mean, this is just one of many, many stories that me and -- I mean, several other volunteers just went down there. We put ourselves in harm's way.
LEMON: Who are these volunteers? Who else is doing what you're doing?
MELLOR (via telephone): Well, these are just all local Bahamians. These are local Bahamians. These are friends of mine that I know personally along with people I didn't know at all. And we just all came in solidarity.
We went down there. Nobody really talked a lot. It was just a mission to go, seek the people who needed help, get them out of their attic and get them out of their houses, they were freezing cold, and get them to safety.
LEMON: Yeah. MELLOR: And it was just one thing after another. Towards the end of
the day, we -- when the seas were coming down, we had a friend of ours bring in a big loader (ph) from sanitation services. Jason Auberry (ph) --
LEMON: Paul, I've got to go. There are so many people who need to be commended like yourself and the person that you mentioned and many others. Unfortunately, we're out of time.
LEMON: You keep up the great work. You be safe. Thank you so much for what you're doing, OK?
MELLOR (via telephone): Very good. You guys, please get the word out. We need your help. Thank you, everybody, for all of your support.
LEMON: All right.
MELLOR (via telephone): It's really going a long, long way.
LEMON: Paul Mellor, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you for watching, everyone. Our live coverage of Hurricane Dorian continues with Natalie Allen.