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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Dorian Unleashes Heavy Rain And Tornadoes On The Carolinas; Up To 12 Inches Of Rain Could Cause "Life-Threatening" Flood; Mayor Brenda Bethune Of Myrtle Beach Discuss Their Condition Amidst The Impact Of Hurricane Dorian; Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) Discuss Their Preparations And Expectation Of Hurricane Dorian Impact; Hurricane's Eyewall Expected To Move Over Or Near North Carolina; Governor Warns Of "Long Night Ahead"; Dorian Death Toll Rises, Official Says It's Expected To Soar; Bahamas Survivor; "It Was Like An Atomic Bomb Went Off"; Official: Up to Thousands Are Missing in Bahamas After Dorian; White House Issues New Statement to Defend Trump's Alabama Storm Blunder. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 5, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: ... relatives today. So happy he got out and he's back with the family. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Hurricane Dorian targets the Carolinas, hurricane-force winds and tornadoes tearing apart homes, conditions only getting worse. Also breaking, Bahamas Health Minister warning the death toll is about to soar as we take you to one of the hardest hit areas where rescuers are now in a race against time to save those still trapped without food or water. And the White House with a new explanation as to why the President continues to insist that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. Let's go out front.

Good evening. I'm Poppy Harlow in tonight for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, Hurricane Dorian right now carving a destructive path of the eastern seaboard. The category two storm now pelting North and South Carolina with drenching rains and hurricane- force winds.

You are looking at pictures from just off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. It is getting hammered right now. In South Carolina, the dangerous storm surge leaving entire neighborhoods underwater. This was the scene in Charleston.

Now 1,600 National Guard troops have been deployed across South Carolina's coast to help with rescues. The storm leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power tonight. Also tonight, this is one of the biggest threats to those in the storm's path, tornadoes. Look at that video.

Tornadoes that have already leveled homes across the Carolinas. And as the storm continues to move north, let me show you just some incredible video from inside of Dorian's eye. As you can see, clear skies above surrounded by what is called a stadium of thunderstorms rapidly circling the center.

That storm now responsible for at least 23 deaths in the Bahamas and the island's Health Minister just said moments ago, the public needs to be prepared for an unimaginable death toll. We have teams of reporters standing by tonight from the Carolinas to the Bahamas where search and rescue operations are still underway.

Let's begin with Martin Savidge. He's out front live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And Martin, conditions seem to just be getting worse and worse by the minute for you.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are. The wind has been increasing dramatically in the last hour or so. The rain, of course, hitting your full face on just feels like needles and it's been driving more and more rain into this area on top of the high winds and the high surf they've been dealing with.

This is one part of North Carolina where they expected that they would get an unusual storm surge anywhere from five to eight feet. Fortunately now the tide is on the way up. But the other thing that was not anticipated as much were the tornadoes.

It began very early this morning when the first warnings happened and then almost every half hour There was another tornado warning that was being alerted to the public. Frightening too many folks because they knew to anticipate a hurricane.

But these kind of spin off tornadoes are really something that no one could predict. They strike very quickly. They're not as severe as the Oklahoma or Kansas variety, but they still can do a lot of damage and then they're gone. The fear tonight is that people will be able to see them only hear them as well as Dorian itself as that fury is being unleashed here in South Carolina and will move on to North Carolina.

Hundreds of thousands of people without power and many of them wondering when will Dorian finally be gone, Poppy.

HARLOW: And that is the increasing danger of this storm that is so slow moving and just sits and sitting there is what caused all of that destruction in the Bahamas. Martin, for you, I mean, you're a big guy and you're having a hard time holding your ground there. You're wearing a hard hat. You've covered a lot of these hurricanes, does this one feel different?

SAVIDGE: Well, the thing about this that's so amazing with this storm is how long it has persisted. You take a look at what it did with Puerto Rico and then what you saw over the weekend to the Bahamas. How this storm has still held itself together, there's nothing like what it was when it struck the Bahamas but still a powerful storm that has continued to keep millions of people wondering and worrying about where it's going and that worry continues tonight.

There is a curfew in many parts of this county that's in effect, which means until 7:00 am tomorrow people are going to be just hunkered down, hoping for the best. HARLOW: Martin Savidge in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Thank you so

much, Marty, you and your team for braving that to bring us that reporting tonight. We appreciate it.

And the destructive storm surge left entire city blocks just completely underwater in Charleston, that's where we find our Brian Todd tonight. Brian, are the waters receding there?

[19:05:02]

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Only slightly, Poppy. We've been getting hammered with rain and wind now for really more than 15 hours and the flooding is still present and it's still very dangerous here. This street behind me flooded. I'm going to show you kind of three different angles down to different streets to illustrate for you the adversity that Charlestonians are feeling tonight.

We have just been in touch with the Mayor's office who says that they had to close 137 roads throughout the Charleston area and so that is part of the problem here. Here's another part. They've got cherry pickers down streets like this.

This one has been here for several hours. A large tree fell on power lines down there and they're still trying to cut parts of that tree off the power lines just to try to get this street out of danger, much less restore the power. The power may not be restored for days, they're just trying to eliminate some of the dangers involved in trying to walk down the street.

HARLOW: Sure.

TODD: And we can pivot down here. If you look down here beyond where these cars are, there's a large magnolia tree that did something similar. It fell on right in the middle of a series of power lines.

Those power lines, they drag down two power poles that are now leaning dangerously close to some houses. Police officers had to go to houses on the left side of the street there to get people out of those houses to eliminate some of the danger to them because it's still a fire hazard with those power lines down with the magnolia tree.

We saw transformers blow, we've seen a down power line whipping around causing transformers to explode. So the danger in Charleston - this is what they're looking at tonight and this is why local officials are saying do not venture out. And people who have evacuated, do not be so quick to come back.

HARLOW: And we're just looking at those images from a little bit earlier tonight of that live wire just exploding on one street in Charleston as well. That's where a lot of the danger lies. You're exactly right. Thank you so much for that report.

Let's go now to our meteorologist Tom Sater. He's out front in the Weather Center. So where is Dorian going now, Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND WEATHER ANCHOR: Well, it's picking up speed, Poppy, and that's what we want to see. But it's also getting broader in its wind field. Hurricane warning south of Charleston all the way up to the lower neck of the Chesapeake right now.

We thought maybe this eye was going to be collapsing for a while but now the eye wall is at its closest approach to land within about 15 miles, a little concern about the curvature of North Carolina taking those winds straight on with that storm surge. At least the winds are coming now offshore in Charleston.

The harbor not quite matching up the onshore winds with high tide at 2:00 pm. So they didn't get those high levels they were expecting.

But as Martin mentioned, the tornadoes today on these feeder bands well to the north. Typically they spin up just like EF1, EF2. They're quick. They can do damage. But the video today shows that many of these were quite large in size.

As the storm approaches areas to the north already some winds around Southport, 60 miles per hour. We could still have landfall worried about the Outer Banks. They're one of the more susceptible places in the world for storm surge four to seven. May have travel disruptions Saturday morning as the storm continues to move out.

This is day 13, Poppy, of forecasting. Tomorrow day 14. It's already traveled 3,000 miles and look where it goes, Nova Scotia, across the northern Atlantic, up near Greenland. By the middle of next week, we'll be talking about strong winds in the United Kingdom. Crazy storm.

Current position is 45 mile south southeast of Myrtle Beach.

HARLOW: Wow. It is just one for the record books.

SATER: Amazing.

HARLOW: Thank you so much for that. We appreciate it. Out front now with me is the Mayor of Myrtle Beach, Brenda Bethune. Mayor, thank you so much for being with me and I spoke with you this morning. I know conditions were bad. How much worse are they now?

BRENDA BETHUNE, MAYOR OF MYRTLE BEACH: We're still getting some of the hurricane effects, Poppy. And for the most part though, when I look at what the Bahamas got and our neighbors in Charleston to the south of us, we're OK.

HARLOW: I'm glad to hear it. One of the big concerns tonight, Mayor, as you know we heard from our Marty Savidge there is the tornadoes that have been spawned from this storm that comes so quickly without warning for many people. Is that your biggest concern tonight?

BETHUNE: That was a shock, I think, to everyone because they started around 3:30 or 4:00 am this morning and we have been told all along that there was a very low risk of tornadoes. And that's something we don't usually get in this area, so yes that was a shock to us, very unexpected. And really not a lot that you can do to prepare for it.

HARLOW: Yes. I know that you also issued a declaration of civil emergency today and some officials there in the reporting I've read are estimating that really only a small percentage of people in your area are actually evacuating and following the evacuation orders. In fact far fewer than evacuated during Hurricane Florence. Are you seeing the same thing?

BETHUNE: Well, we did not have as large of an evacuation area as we did for Hurricane Florence.

HARLOW: Right.

[19:10:005]

BETHUNE: The evacuation for this storm was really only zone A, which is the coastal area. But we also had 100,000 visitors in town for the Labor Day weekend. So we do feel that they did get out of town safely. As far as residents, I really don't have a gauge on that at this time, but our streets are very, very quiet.

I know that people are inside just waiting this thing out and tomorrow we have crews that are ready to hit the streets to do damage assessments and get Myrtle Beach cleaned up and ready to welcome our visitors back.

HARLOW: OK. And they will be back, for sure. Mayor Bethune, thank you so much for being with us. We know how busy you are. I appreciate it.

BETHUNE: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, more on this breaking news. Hurricane Dorian's winds now tearing into North Carolina. There is a growing threat there as well of those tornadoes I just told you about. The State's Governor who was just briefed on this hurricane is my next guest. What he's learning tonight?

Plus, new video just coming in as CNN takes you to one of the hardest hit areas in the Bahamas. Hear the unbelievable stories of survival. And as investigator search for answers in that deadly boat crash off the coast of California, I speak with an incredibly strong woman who lost both her daughter and her husband.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:15:39]

HARLOW: Breaking tonight, Hurricane Dorian is creeping closer to the coastline as it approaches North Carolina. Officials are bracing for a possible landfall in just a matter of hours. This storm is already bringing heavy rain and tornadoes knocking out power for thousands of people in that state.

Drew Griffin is out front tonight and Wilmington, North Carolina. Drew, What is it like there?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We just drove down from Morehead City to Wilmington and came through, Poppy, sheets and sheets of rain and some of these bands. But then intermittently you get into a period like this relative low.

Wilmington is waiting to find out if this storm which has just been popping up and down the Coast of the United States will actually make landfall here or out at Carolina Beach where they're already getting some pretty strong winds. Right now there is a flash flood warning for this area. Rain is going to be potentially a really big problem.

But right now we're just waiting to see if in fact Dorian makes landfall here for the first time in the United States in what seems to be a storm that just never seems to end, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. It just will not quit. Drew, thank you very much. Hoping for the best for you and your crew there.

Out front now, North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper. Governor, thank you very much for being with me.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): Thanks a lot, Poppy. Great to talk to you.

HARLOW: You were just briefed on the hurricane moments ago. You say, "Look, it's going to be a long night." So what should people in your State expect?

COOPER: Well, Dorian has North Carolina in its sights. It will be a long night and we know that already we've had about a dozen tornadoes. The wind is picking up significantly. Already we have some roads that have been closed because of flooding.

We need people to hunker down and stay safe. We don't need people leaving their homes.

HARLOW: Right.

COOPER: And particularly, we don't need people driving through flooded streets. It puts your life at risk and also the lives of first responders who may have to save you.

HARLOW: Sure.

COOPER: That's important. Safety is our number one effort tonight.

HARLOW: I know and you have activated 527 additional North Carolina National Guard members to ensure that safety. Again, your message don't let your guard down. Is that in park, Governor, because you're concerned that too many people are not taking this storm seriously enough?

COOPER: Well, North Carolina has had - this is now our third hurricane in less than three years. So we can't let familiarity contest our judgment here. We need to make sure that we are making smart decisions. I believe that people of North Carolina understand firsthand the dangers that come with these storms. I believe that we are ready.

We have significant number of search and rescue teams, swift water rescue teams. We even have teams in from other states to help us. We're working closely with the Coast Guard. So we're ready at a moment's notice to save people who may get into situations where they're being flooded out.

We hope this thing moves quickly and out to sea quickly. But we know that at least part of our state is going to get it. It'll likely come overland but certainly even part of that it doesn't go over that eyewall will have significant effects. We're already seeing it right now.

HARLOW: Governor, what's your concern level about these tornadoes? I mean in South Carolina they've just been popping up very quickly with a lot of strength and people are just unaware of the risk.

COOPER: These tornadoes that come about as a result of these hurricanes, one of the problems that the meteorologists was talking with me today about is that they do come up very quickly with little warning and here we are approaching darkness in North Carolina. So on top of that, you likely will not be able to see them.

So it's important that people in their homes have multiple ways to listen for tornado warnings to make sure that they get to an inside room in their house and to make sure that they are safe. Because we need to stay on our toes tonight because particularly the counties that are on the coast and are just inland that these tornadoes can hit pretty hard.

[19:20:07]

We've already had a significant tornado in Emerald Isle. Unfortunately, we had a mandatory evacuation in effect and there were very few people there. When you look at that RV park and the destruction that occurred, you got to think that if there had been a lot of people there that probably someone would have lost their life.

HARLOW: Right.

COOPER: So we're pleased that we were able to issue that evacuation order and glad that no one got seriously injured in that tornado, that was some terrible damage.

HARLOW: And Governor before you go, because I know it's a busy night for you, do you feel like you have the resources to handle the aftermath of whatever Dorian will bring?

COOPER: There's no question that we have the resources. We are on ready. We want to keep people safe in North Carolina. So we'll be ready for this storm. If the will of the people of North Carolina could have pushed this storm off into the sea, then that would have happened because you can't match the determination and resilience of North Carolinians.

But we know we're in for a long night and we'll be eager to see the sunshine in the morning.

HARLOW: All right. And so will we all, we'll be watching for it. Governor, good luck to you, to your State. We'll see you tomorrow. Thanks so much.

COOPER: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, new video as CNN takes you to one of the hardest hit areas in the Bahamas. I will speak to a storm survivor who is running out of food and water. Plus, new questions about who is briefing the President and with what information after his own administration puts out yet another explanation as to why the President claimed Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian this week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:25:42]

HARLOW: Breaking news tonight out of the Bahamas, the Minister of Health is warning the death toll there from Hurricane Dorian will soar saying, quote, the public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and human suffering. The current toll, 23 people dead and that is again expected to rise significantly.

And dramatically new drone video shows a tiny island in the Abacos torn apart by Dorian. Every building and home damage most completely destroyed. Our Paula Newton is out front tonight in Nassau.

Paula, you and your teams have been remarkable. You were able to get to great to Great Abaco. You spent 24 hours on that island. Walk us through what you saw.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR: Yes, when you're looking at those drone shots, Poppy, it's utterly unspeakable what these people have been through. You are looking at debris. You are looking at homes that do not exist. Walk you through this.

The roof blows off. Then, they're looking for any room in the house, any wall still standing to try and take shelter. This storm, Poppy, went on and on and on, over 200 mile an hour winds. All of this debris was hitting at them, getting into buildings with lethal force hour after hour through all of this.

The whipping water, they said it was like water cannons coming directly into the homes. They were pulling mattresses off beds in order to prop them up against windows and doors so they wouldn't blow out. Unimaginable, people telling me, Poppy, that in fact they have yet to come to terms with everything that they have been through. They are still so shocked and cannot believe they've survived it. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERRIE ROBERTS, SURVIVOR: I just want to let my family know in the States now that we're OK. NEWTON(off-camera): I'm so sorry.

ROBERTS: (Inaudible). It's not just us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's everybody.

ROBERTS: Everybody is hurting. They could never categorize this, never.

NEWTON(off-camera): My grandfather (inaudible) ...

ROBERTS: It was like an atomic bomb went off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: I mean, the magnitude of this and these are people, Poppy, that had been through storms before. The reason they stayed is they're self-reliant. They have good quality homes. They've survived those other storms. They knew they would be OK, because they survived all the other storms before Dorian.

And what they said to me was that they never expected this kind of storm. And they do not know what they're going to do now or if they can even stay on the island where a lot of these people were born and raised and continue to raise their own families.

HARLOW: And Paula, I mean, you actually ended up getting stuck with your team, your producer, your cameraman overnight on Great Abaco, but yet a family who had been through this hell, their home partially destroyed, took you guys in. What was that like?

NEWTON: Yes. I mean, Poppy, imagine, I mean, we're parents, you have young kids.

HARLOW: Yes.

NEWTON: They have Ariane (ph) and Channing (ph), eight and four. They took us in. They took those mattresses, Poppy, that were propped up against windows. They were trying to get their house together. They let us sleep on their beds.

We didn't want to be a burden to anyone. It is very chaotic out there and we ended up having to stay on the island. We said we would sleep anywhere. They wouldn't hear of it, Poppy. The people on Man-O-War in the Abaco Islands said, "No, we will take you in."

And that's the kind of spirit, that's the kind of humanity that got them through this storm, Poppy. The issue is now what do you do. That family that let us in, Marsha (ph) and Angel Cruz (ph), they have a family in Florida. They can go back there. They don't want to leave.

And yet the question that continually pops up is, look, what can we do here, the kids needed to go to school. They're not going to be able to go to school for a long, long time and so that's what they're coming to grips with. Poppy, I want to tell you that it was chilling to hear the alert from

the Health Minister. Nothing that we could report on earlier, but I can tell you I heard personally from people give me a death toll that was much higher than 23. People they had seen die in front of their eyes or bodies they had seen.

Until we have the verification from the government, we certainly can't go with any of this information. But the stories that I have heard are just absolutely horrendous. People basically clinging on for dear life hour after hour and now dealing with the aftermath.

HARLOW: My goodness. Paula, thank you so much for your remarkable reporting there and for bringing us the story of that family with such a big heart in the middle of such a tragedy. Thank you, Paula.

[19:30:00]

With me on the phone is Perdallion Nixon who rode out the hurricane in South Abaco.

Perdallion, thank you very much for being here. You have put it this way --

PERDALLION NIXON, RODE OUT HURRICANE DORIAN IN SOUTH ABACO, BAHAMAS (via telephone): No problem.

HARLOW: You say unfortunately you are in an episode of "The Walking Dead".

NIXON: It's definitely that without the walkers. We have a struggle for food and water like you (INAUDIBLE) to find it, it's really hard out there.

HARLOW: You have also talked about seeing people forced to give up their homes.

NIXON: Yes.

HARLOW: With guns pointed at their heads? Is that right?

NIXON: There are people looting. People looting over here at the moment. And they are looking for places to stay. So, people that homes are standing, they are going into the homes and kicking them out, and just taking over.

HARLOW: You're currently with your sister, mother nephew and your uncle rationing food. I know you lost power, cell phone service for a while.

NIXON: Yes.

HARLOW: Nowhere to go because it goes --

NIXON: I have -- I had to stand on the beach to find a tower to get service. Where we are, we are blocked off on every side. The roads are flooded we can't get past without a high level vehicle. We can't get food or water. Our rations are getting low.

We're trying to signal any NEMA helicopters flying over. No one is stopping. They're not getting any drop soon.

HARLOW: Can I ask you this? Because our colleague, Patrick Oppmann, who has been reporting on Freeport throughout the storm said that he really doesn't have a sense at all that anyone is in charge there. There is chaos and it doesn't seem like anyone is in charge. Is that how it feels where you are as well?

NIXON: Yes. Yes. I saw people coming out of Marsh Harbour, they say no one is getting rations. They are stealing from food stores that are flooded and broken down to get food and get whatever they need. And we -- we have no way no help where we are. There is no one focused on the central Abaco.

We are blocked off. We have no power. We have no water. It's just you get what you get.

HARLOW: You get what you get.

Perdallion Nixon, I'm so sorry. You shouldn't have to be going through this in the aftermath. You should have all the aid that you need. We'll keep spotlighting the story.

I'm so sorry. We wish the best for you and your family. Thank you for calling in.

NIXON: Thank you very much. No problem.

HARLOW: Yes, of course.

OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the White House out tonight with yet another reason why President Trump said Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. The thing is why is he talking about in and tweeting about this when you have the tragedy in the Bahamas that you just heard from our last guest? Why isn't that top of mind?

And Hurricane Dorian bearing down on North Carolina as residents are told to seek shelter right now. The state's governor is with me. What he's expecting tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:36:38]

HARLOW: All right. More breaking news out of the Bahamas tonight, hundreds if not thousands of people still missing there after Hurricane Dorian. That is according to the director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism tonight. And this is crews and volunteers scramble across the islands to rescue residents.

The Coast Guard just announcing it alone has rescued 201 people at this hour, 11 different helicopters are being used for the search and rescue missions and support. OUTFRONT now, seaman Erik Villa Rodriguez. He has been supporting the

U.S. Coast Guard relief efforts in the Bahamas, flying over the damage from Hurricane Dorian since Tuesday.

Erik, thank you for doing that appear for being with me tonight.

This is video you shot showing some of the coast guard rescues taking place in the Bahamas. How many more people from your assessment do you believe need to be rescued?

SEAMAN ERIK VILLA RODRIGUEZ, U.S. COAST GUARD: Yes, thank you for having us. We have been developing rescues since day one. We have around 200 people rescued until this time and we have assets on air looking for any way to provide assistance to the Bahamian people best way possible.

HARLOW: Can you tell us a little bit what people that you rescued told you? What did they tell you about their experience? How many people they may have left behind who still need to be rescued?

RODRIGUEZ: OK, so we were approaching to the pressure Cay area there was around 8 people in need of critical medical assistance. So, our members, they provided transportation and delivered them in order to provide us that medical assistance that they needed so hard.

HARLOW: The minister of health in the Bahamas just said in a radio interview tonight that the public needs to be prepared for unimaginable information about the death toll and human suffering and said make no bones about it, the number will be far higher than 23. From what you have seen, do you share the assessment?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, we don't have a specific number confirmed yet. But we want to tell the public the Bahamian people, if you are in distress, please use 911 or 919 in order to request assistance, if any case of distress.

HARLOW: OK, 911 or 919 for anyone there who needs help. Thank you, again, Erik for all you guys are doing.

RODRIGUEZ: Definitely.

HARLOW: So the White House tonight trying to defend the president's claim this week that Alabama was this week in the path of Hurricane Dorian. Their explanation raising even more questions. Plus, why is he focused on this right now anyways?

Also, breaking news, investigators revealing new details tonight about the ship that went up in flames, killing 34 people onboard, what the ship's crew is now telling investigators.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:44:03]

HARLOW: Tonight, the White House is trying to defend President Trump's Alabama storm blunder with a new statement from an adviser they say showed the president a map with Alabama as part of the path of the hurricane this week. But it just wasn't. The president continues to insist in multiple new tweets today and tonight that Alabama was in that path this week. Even though it clearly wasn't when he said it was.

Kaitlan Collins OUTFRONT tonight at the White House.

You have no reporting on this new statement issued by the White House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy. If the tweets weren't evidence the president is not going to drop this and admit he was wrong about Alabama. The White House had the homeland security adviser issued a statement defending the president, insisting what he was briefed on on Sunday related to Alabama. And now, we are told it was the president who personally directed that homeland security adviser, Rear Admiral Peter Brown, to issue this statement defending the president and his claims about Alabama potentially being in Hurricane Dorian's path.

[19:45:01]

That's significant because the homeland security adviser used to be a job that carried a lot of weight, but after John Bolton became the national security adviser, he downgraded the position twice, so it was no longer someone who reported to the president directly but instead regularly to Bolton. However, instead, today, they are using the homeland security adviser to give the president cover as he's doubling down on the claim that he was right.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump is now on day five of insisting Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was the original chart.

COLLINS: After being ridiculed for displaying a forecast map altered by a black marker to prove his point, Trump tweeted more dated maps today, claiming just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The fake news denies it. He now says he was referencing early predictions when he claimed Alabama could be impacted.

TRUMP: I know that Alabama was in the original forecast.

COLLINS: But he first made that assertion Sunday, long after the state was ruled out as a potential target.

While the Gulf Coast was shown as a possible threat for Dorian's track in early projections, by Friday, the guidance had shifted to Florida's East Coast, two days before Trump said this.

TRUMP: This just came up unfortunately.

COLLINS: The president cancelled a trip to Poland to monitor the storm. And the White House said he was being updated every hour. Meaning he would have known that information.

Instead of admitting the error and moving on, Trump is insisting he is right, even tweeting out projections last night from over a week ago with dated information. The spaghetti models the president is using as a defense are updated four times a day. Meaning by the time Trump made this claim Sunday --

TRUMP: Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that it could be.

COLLINS: -- they had been updated at least 15 times. It's against the law to knowingly issue or publish a false weather forecast, though right now, both FEMA and NOAA are referring all questions back to the White House, where aides are refusing to say who it was that altered the math and won't rule out that it was the president.

TRUMP: I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Poppy, my colleague Jake Tapper and Jeff Zeleny are now reporting that this afternoon, the president summoned the Fox News White House reporter to the Oval Office to convince him that he was right about the claim about Alabama after he had been criticized on the air and even in an email that that reporter sent to his colleagues and said the president just wanted acknowledgement he was right about Alabama even though we should note when the president sent the tweet on Sunday, he was not.

HARLOW: Wow. Kaitlan, thank you for that reporting.

OUTFRONT now, politics editor for "The New York Times", Patrick Healy.

So, Patrick, the president will not stop on this. He continues to tweet about it. At a time when at least 20 Bahamians are dead, the death toll expected to go way up we heard tonight. You've got the storm battering South and North Carolina tonight, and yet the president is mainly talking about Alabama.

Why?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a president who does not and seems to be unable to admit that he was wrong. This is a president who as we saw from the very early days when he came into office when he was so focused and preoccupied on the size of his crowds at the inauguration that he was ordering up visual evidence to try to sort of support the false claim.

And it's really, you know, striking now Poppy, because as you said, you know, there are lives that have been lost.

HARLOW: Yes.

HEALY: There are lives that are at stake. This is still a very serious storm. And the president is now in day 5, you know, talking about how right he was when he wasn't right. Look, people to be -- we all like to talk about the weather. But this

is a very strange preoccupation of the president. I mean, his need to sort of show that he was right about a weather forecast, you know, again, when the storm is very serious when there are serious issues facing Congress like background checks on gun control --

HARLOW: Sure.

HEALY: -- he just can't get off it.

HARLOW: Patrick Healy, thank you very much.

HEALY: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, a heart breaking story, a woman loses not only her husband but her daughter in the tragic boat fire off the coast of California. I will speak to her next, and we will honor her loved ones.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:53:14]

HARLOW: Breaking news. Investigators are revealing tonight what they were told by the surviving crew members of the Conception, that dive boat that caught fire off the coast of Southern California earlier this week, killing 34 people on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER HOMENDY, NTSB BOARD MEMBER: One crew member reported that he awoke to a noise and left his bunk to -- and out of the wheel house deck, and saw flames erupting from the galley area. He tried to get down a ladder. Flames had engulfed the ladder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: OUTFRONT now, Vicki Moore. She lost her beloved husband Scott and their beautiful 26-year-old daughter Kendra in that fire.

Vicki, I don't know where you get the strength to be here, but thank you for being with us tonight.

VICKI MOORE, HUSBAND AND DAUGHTER KILLED IN BOAT FIRE: Oh, I'm doing this to honor them.

HARLOW: Of course. And that's what we have you here for.

So let's just begin with Kendra, your firstborn, 26 years old. As a mother, I cannot imagine losing a child, no one can, until it happens to them. But can you just spend some time telling us about her? What do you want everyone to know about Kendra?

MOORE: Well, yes, Kendra was -- I don't like to use the word "was", but amazing and beautiful and accomplished, curious, adventurous young woman. From a very early age she wanted to explore, was so curious, particularly her love of the marine environment and ocean life and is -- was in the pursuit of an amazing career in wildlife biology -- wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and about to embark on applying for graduate school.

[19:55:13]

She wanted to devote her life to protection of coastal areas. My husband and I were incredibly proud of her.

HARLOW: Well, she was also incredibly grateful for both of you. I want everyone to take a moment.

Just listen to this video, because as you said, she worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She was part of this video where she talked about her passion and how much she loved her work, and she credits you and your late husband with giving her that passion. Let's watch a little bit of her.

(BEGIN VIDEOI CLIP)

KENDRA CHAN: I grew up really fortunate to have parents that were both majored in science and they definitely encouraged me to pursue my interest. I grew up scuba diving here in the Channel Islands. I would go with my dad every year. And I love it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: She credits the two of you, Vicki, for that gift.

MOORE: Yes, well, we -- yes, we did everything we could to encourage her and expose her to so many things in the world, and it obviously rubbed off on her, yes.

HARLOW: It's the greatest gift you can give your kids, right, to help them find what they love, and you did that.

Your husband Scott --

MOORE: Yes, thank you.

HARLOW: You lost your husband. You were married for 35 years. You met at age 19. And what I love about his story is he left this, you know, hot-shot tech job to pursue his passion, to teach children.

What do you want people to know about Scott?

MOORE: Yes, again, you know, you really don't think about all these things until you have questions like this that happen about what an incredible person he was, you know, intellectually, incredibly gifted in his electrical engineering and hardware design, his first career.

And all of the times, all the years that I've been with him, he has been an outdoor adventurer. He was avid cyclist. Still -- to this day, I mean, he's just -- almost to this day he's been out there cycling, hiking, skiing, of course, scuba diving and just multifaceted. He has great appreciation for the arts and culture and we had amazing

travels together and just -- amazing, wonderfully complete and well rounded and, like I said, multifaceted person, and a loving father, an amazing father, an amazing husband. And, yeah, you know, when you really think about it, you realize the totality of it when you have to actually -- it's not every day somebody asks you this question, right?

HARLOW: Of course.

MOORE: And then you have to think oh, yes, well, he does this, and he does this. And then you're like, oh, my God, that's a lot. That's who he was.

HARLOW: How do you sum up the love of your life and your firstborn? I know you can't, but what I am so, so glad for, Vicki, is that you have your son, your 22-year-old son Kevin who has been by your side through all of this.

MOORE: Absolutely. Thank God. And we are here for each other and it's -- we both know, not just us, but our extended family who has been here with us. We know that our journey is -- I mean, our lives are forever changed. It's just the experience, it's somewhat surreal really, but we're going to be on this journey whether we like it or not, and, you know, we're going to make it.

HARLOW: Yes.

MOORE: We really -- I think we really are going to be thinking about my husband Scott and my daughter Kendra and a lot of what we do in our lives, we hope to continue to honor them because they did such amazing things. We're going to honor that.

HARLOW: They clearly lived the fullest lives that they possibly could, even though they were taken far too soon.

MOORE: Yes.

HARLOW: Vicki, again, your strength is remarkable. I am so sorry from the bottom of my heart. I really don't have words, but please know that we are all with you, and thank you for sharing about Scott and Kendra with us tonight.

MOORE: Thank you. Thanks a lot.

HARLOW: We'll be thinking about her for a long time.

Thank you all for joining me tonight. Erin will be back with you tomorrow night.

"AC360" starts now.

END