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Rescues Begin in the Bahamas Following Hurricane; Boris Johnson's Brother Quits Politics; Flooding in Charleston, South Carolina as Hurricane Dorian Approaches. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 5, 2019 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, welcome back. This morning, as the sun has come up, the widespread devastation in the Bahamas has become very clear. At least 20 people are dead in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. That number, unfortunately, is just expected to go up, potentially much higher.

We've just heard from the U.S. Coast Guard. They have rescued at least 135 people, so far, from the Bahamas, and they are working around the clock to rescue more.

The conditions, not ideal at all. The airport, completely under water there. Homes and businesses, wiped out and in some cases, entire neighborhoods were flattened. To date, this is the strongest storm ever to make landfall on those islands.

With me now on the phone is Olivia Dorsett. She is joining us from Freeport in the Bahamas. She rode out the storm there with her elderly father, 77 years old, in Freeport. Good morning, Olivia. Thank you so much for doing this. How is your father doing this morning? How are you?

OLIVIA DORSETT, HURRICANE SURVIVOR (via telephone): My dad's OK, my family's OK. We are just thankful for life right now. We did very well, compared to some of the other people on this island, and even worse in Abaco.

HARLOW: Just thankful for life. I mean, it says a lot. We know at least 20 people died in the Abaco Islands, from this storm. What about your loved ones? You're from Nassau, what about your loved ones across the islands?

DORSETT (via telephone): No, I'm actually from Freeport. I'm living in Nassau right now, and I just came back home to stay with my dad during the storm.

HARLOW: And your loved ones? Is everyone you know OK?

DORSETT (via telephone): Everyone that has been missing, is now accounted for. Just a few minutes ago, I got news that some of my friends that (INAUDIBLE) are OK right now. So yes, everyone that I know, right now, that I know is missing, is accounted for right now.

There may be other people that we haven't got wind of yet, that may have passed away. But it's a small community, and you're going to know everyone. So I'm just hoping that the death toll, when it comes through, that they're not people that I know --


HARLOW: Yes, yes.

DORSETT (via telephone): -- closely, but it's going to be -- it's very unlikely that we don't know the people that may have passed away.

HARLOW: Of course. We can hear the desperation in your voice. I know you spent much of the last 24, 48 hours, trying to reach your mother. The communication kept, you know, coming in and out because you're on a different island from her right now. Is she OK?

DORSETT (via telephone): No, she's on the same island. We're both in Freeport. And she's not staying in our home, she was staying with another person who is in their 80s, and she didn't want to leave her so my mom was staying with her during the storm.

And because the storm lasted for so long, people were trying to conserve their battery on their phone. So you would disappear for several hours, and come back in to check in. And it was making people absolutely insane and worried sick, even just on the island alone, much less on other islands that weren't as affected.

But she would disappear for several hours and come back and say, "We're still here, we're OK."

HARLOW: Yes, yes.

DORSETT (via telephone): She tried to evacuate because the waters were rising. They couldn't get out because the waters were up, were flooded the only street that could get out of that part, and so they had to retreat and just wait through the night and take watch because the high tide was rising while it was dark.

HARLOW: That's terrifying. Olivia, before you go, our colleague, CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann, has been on the ground in Freeport from before the storm hit, through it and until now. And he just told us, a few minutes ago, that it is his observation that it is completely unclear who is in charge there, let along who is organizing rescues. Is that how you feel?

DORSETT (via telephone): Yes, but I do know that the -- in Grand Bahama, it's a little bit different because we have the Port Authority, and they're working with the government and other groups.

But there are a group of people that have taken it upon themselves to coordinate rescues with BASRA and people that have personal vehicles and jet skis to rescue people. And they are the ones that have been working together as a community to rescue people, because we just don't have time to wait because are stuck in their attics, and they've been there for days. And we don't know --


DORSETT (via telephone): -- if we're not going to get to them in time, we have to do something. We can't wait for the authorities to all come together and make a plan, we have to work right now.

HARLOW: Of course. People stuck in their attic for days, unacceptable. I'm so sorry that you're going through this, your community. We are thinking of you, we are here and we will keep the spotlight on this tragedy. Olivia Dorsett, thank you for calling in.

DORSETT (via telephone): Thank you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Just a moving interview there.

Still to come this hour, the U.K. prime minister's bad week, only getting worse. Not only is his Brexit agenda facing immense backlash from both parties, many parties, his own brother says he is quitting politics over the issue. We're going to have new details, coming up.



ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Charleston, Carolina, we are certainly feeling the effects of Hurricane Dorian. And just to give you a sense of how the city is handling things at this hour, we know from the mayor's office, 85 roads are closed, 26 of those are flood-related. A hundred and fifteen trees, downed trees that they know of.

And when it comes to power, which is always an issue, we've seen the lights flicker on and off where we are. They are out, trying to assess downed power lines and damage to those. But of course, when you're dealing with these conditions, they can only be out there when it is safe.

As we continue to watch this sustained event here, it's important to point out it's not just in Charleston, as you know. It is on all up through the coast, and we're watching this storm as it tracks. Is it going to move in that northeast direction, where it was trending a little bit? That will make a big difference.

Right now, what we're feeling is a little bit more of the eyewall, which is probably about 35 miles from us, and that's where you feel the strongest winds, that eyewall, closest to the wall, the eye there (ph) of the storm itself.

I also want to point out, the mayor here, yesterday, made a point to say that they are thinking of the folks in the Bahamas. So many of you, I know, as well, are asking how you can help. CNN has put together some very important resources for you, and you can find those at "Impact Your World." Just go to for ways that you can help -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Erica, thanks so much. Please stay safe there as the wind picks up.

Other news we're following this morning, and it's significant. Another major blow in a series of defeats for the embattled British prime minister, Boris Johnson. The House of Lords in now on track to pass a bill preventing a no-deal Brexit on Friday.

Johnson, you'll remember, has vowed to leave the European Union, with or without a deal, by October 31st. This, of course, these votes would stand in the way of that.

HARLOW: And look at that guy. That's not Boris Johnson, that is his brother, who quit, in the last 24 hours. He said it was very hard to choose family or country. But ultimately, he chose his beliefs and his country over this whole Brexit shutdown.

TEXT: Jo Johnson: It's been an honour to represent Orpington for nine years & to serve as minister under three P.M.s. In recent weeks, I've been torn between family loyalty and the national interest -- it's an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles as M.P. & minister.

HARLOW: All of this, as the prime minister meets today with the vice president, Mike Pence. Bianca Nobilo joins us now from the U.K. parliament.

I mean, I think Jo Johnson, stepping down in that way, just says it all.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. And it's damaging for the prime minister because unlike so many of what's going on behind me over the last weeks and months in Westminster, which is arcane and esoteric and difficult to understand, somebody's own brother resigning from government -- he used to sit in cabinet -- because he doesn't agree with his strategy and the way that he's -- the direction in which he's taking Britain, is unequivocally damaging.


It's something that cuts through and reaches the electorate, here in the United Kingdom, that Brexit is literally pitting brother against brother. And this is a party which has been called "fratricidal" for many years, the Conservative Party tends to have these very public disputes. But this is taking it to a whole new level.

And not only has he had to ensure the resignation of his brother this morning, this comes after the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill was also essentially sacked from the Conservative Party, just a few days ago.

And this is a figure that is totemic and symbolic of the Conservative Party and what it represents. So both of these things just show that the governing party of the United Kingdom, one which has been around for hundreds of years, is going through some form of identity crisis.

So Boris Johnson is going to address the nation today. We're expecting that in about half an hour's time. He desperately needs to try and regain some momentum, to capture the political narrative because it's just running away from him.

Not only has he had resignations from his government, he's lost many M.P.s, he's lost his majority, he suffered four difficult parliamentary defeats, and he's now had his key negotiating ploy taken away from him because he can't go for a no-deal Brexit. So, today, it really is an important moment for the prime minister, try and regain control of events.

SCIUTTO: To new elections there.

Tell us about Vice President Mike Pence, diving into the midst of this. Of course, President Trump has made his preferences very clear, supporting Johnson, supporting Brexit. Does Johnson meeting the American vice president complicate things for the British prime minister domestically at this point?

NOBILO: It does. And in fact, how Boris Johnson had to meet at Downing Street today, not just with Mike Pence, but also with Benjamin Netanyahu, it just underscores how many of these issues he's having to juggle. He's got to think about a potential trade deal between the U.K. and the U.S.; the other global alliances, which are important for Britain, and somehow sort out this Brexit mess.

Where it gets very complicated for Boris Johnson vis-a-vis any trade negotiations with the U.S., is the fact that Boris Johnson and your president can say that they want to come to some kind of trading arrangement together, but the parliament behind me is currently blocking Boris Johnson at every one of his attempts to leave the European Union without a deal or with a so-called hard Brexit, which would give him a lot more maneuverability in his trade deal with the United States.

So even though these discussions are going on, it's something of a fancy, when you look at, empirically, what Boris Johnson's options are, he's not really in the position to be striking any kind of trade deal with the United States.

HARLOW: Realizing just how hard this is to accomplish, right? What Theresa May couldn't do that he thought he could, now seeing within his own family --


HARLOW: -- how hard it is. Bianca, great reporting. Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Three years since the referendum there.


Back here at home, heavy rain, high winds, flooded streets. Dorian is now moving past the Carolinas. Charleston, getting hit, though, with the worst weather that they will see from the storm in the coming hours. We will have more from the Carolina coast when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCIUTTO: New this morning, a U.S. service member has been killed in a suicide car, a bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. That, according to a U.S. military official. The attack happened at a checkpoint near the U.S. embassy. This is the 16th death of a U.S. service member in Afghanistan in 2019. There's been an uptick in deaths here for U.S. service members in America's -- what remains America's longest war.

HARLOW: As Dorian continues to batter the Carolinas with strong winds and heavy rain and storm surge, Charleston, South Carolina, seeing the worst of the storm right now. Let's go to Athena Jones, our correspondent on the ground there.

You are standing on one tiny dry patch of what is becoming a flooded tourist district of historic Charleston.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy, that's right. This pavement that I'm standing on, this patch has been slowly getting smaller as the morning progresses. You can see the flooded street behind me. This is us, in the midst of 15 to 20 inches of rain we're expected to get, in and around this area.

We are only about a block or so off the Battery, which is Charleston's harbor. As you know, we're on a peninsula, we're surrounded by -- on three sides by water, two rivers and that harbor, which historically has seen very high water levels with storms like this. Forecasters are saying we could reach levels almost as high as the high-water mark in 1989 with Hurricane Hugo. That is why there's so much concern about flooding, because we're in this low-lying area.

I should tell you that many of the streets around where I am, are flooded. The Charleston Police Department has been sending out frequent updates about streets that have been shut down due to flooding, but also due to things like falling trees and branches, and also fallen power lines, which, of course, are very, very dangerous.

And so authorities from the mayor to the Emergency Management Division, everyone saying that for the folks who didn't go out of town, the folks who are still here but don't need to go anywhere, they should stay put, stay where they are. They don't want to have to risk the safety of first responders in responding to emergencies, for people leaving their homes.


And, of course, here, we have another strong gust. They're warning folks that if you do hit the road because you have to, make sure you stay away from any of these standing water, because you just don't know how deep it is. Six inches, they say, can knock over a person, six inches in rushing water --



JONES: A foot can carry away a car, and even if you're a big car, a couple of feet will wash you away -- Poppy, Jim. HARLOW: OK. Athena Jones, thank you so much for being there. We

know how hard it is in the field, around the clock. Thank you for bringing us this story.

Of course, we're all over it. We'll continue to stay with the latest on Hurricane Dorian. A new advisory on this storm, coming out in just a few minutes. Stay with CNN for our live coverage.