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EARLY START

Hurricane Dorian Threatens Charleston with Catastrophic Flooding; Breathtaking Devastation in the Bahamas After Dorian; Trump Uses Hurricane Map Altered with Marker; U.K. Parliament Defies Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 5, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:25]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Hurricane Dorian regaining strength battering the South Carolina coast, flooding streets and cutting power. And rescue and cleanup efforts getting underway in the battered Bahamas.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A doctored, phony map in the Oval Office. The president pushing a fake narrative that Dorian was a threat to Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHANEL MILLER, SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVOR: In newspapers, my name was "unconscious intoxicated woman."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: She was raped by a college athlete then devastated at his light sentence. Five years later she wants you to hear her story.

ROMANS: Brave, brave, brave, brave, brave.

BRIGGS: Indeed. It is nice to hear her courageous statements.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, September 5th. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York.

Let's begin with the breaking news overnight. A sudden resurgence for Dorian. The hurricane regaining strength and now once again a major category 3 storm. Officials say landfall is possible anywhere in the Carolinas. And right now Dorian is approaching the coast of South Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center warning of life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds along parts of coastal Georgia, the Carolinas and some of southeast Virginia.

BRIGGS: Dorian is forecast to run parallel to the coast of North and South Carolina into Friday. Any swerve to the west could bring the eye of the hurricane on shore.

This morning more than one million people in the Carolinas are under mandatory evacuation orders. In coastal South Carolina they are bracing for catastrophic flooding. Parts of downtown Charleston already underwater. Already more than 34,000 customers without power. Officials are asking residents to shelter in place.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is there for us this morning.

Derek, good morning to you. What are you seeing?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Dave. This is a city on edge this morning. Facing a triple threat -- storm surge, flash flooding and the potential of hurricane force winds which we have been battered by through the course of overnight period. Every so often, about every five minutes, we get a green illuminated sky behind me that's indicating the transformers that blow around the area. We are surprised that we still have electricity.

We know that this area is so vulnerable to the potential of heavy rainfall moving from the inland areas towards the coast. And then you get an approaching category 3 hurricane, it only makes matters worse. We have reports of flooding downtown. And the threats going forward here are real. And people are taking them seriously.

You can see how I'm getting battered by these gusts of wind. These are the outer rain bands. The National Weather Service starting to pick up on a real flood threat here. I can't overstate that enough as this eye wall makes its closest approach this morning coinciding with high tide, we have the potential here for over 15 inches of rain. That is a serious amount of rainfall in a 24-hour period. That will lead to more flash flooding in this area.

Dave, Christine, back to you.

ROMANS: Wow. All right. Stay safe. The triple threat. We'll continue to watch Charleston this morning.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest on the hurricane. He is in the CNN Weather Center for us.

What are you seeing on the radar and the maps?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. Yes, you know, this storm system on approach here, of course, within the next, say, 12 or so hours we're going to begin to see really the closest proximity towards areas around Charleston. Right now, the eye wall, the area with those 115-mile-per-hour winds sits about 60 miles away from Charleston. So of course it is really getting uncomfortably close across this region.

But notice the incredible organization with the storm system that has really dealt with quite a bit of land on its western periphery but still maintaining its intensity as a major hurricane. In fact wind gusts into the next couple of hours easily could push towards hurricane strength there into places such as Charleston, Savannah, also beginning to see these tropical storm force winds. And notice if you go in from 6:00 to 7:00 and eventually 8:00 a.m., we're going to see these wind gusts exceed 80 miles per hour.

And of course, we think the storm system kind of approaches the coastal region in North Carolina later on Thursday night into the overnight hours and early morning hours of Friday where landfall is going to be likely around the outer banks. But notice this, Morehead City and on to the Hatteras regions, winds potentially upwards of 115 miles per hour at the time of landfall there into the early morning hours of Friday.

But this is what Derek was talking about. That western periphery of the storm system on approach here producing a tremendous amount of rainfall coming in, in the next couple of hours. That is when 10, maybe 15 inches of rainfall could come down across the greater Charleston over this, say, 12 to 24-hour period.

[04:05:04]

If that happens that's three to four months' worth of rainfall coming down on the city. And of course, we know the storm surge threat is going to significant, as much as five to eight feet. Now essentially, we often talk about we get, say, a storm surge of two to three feet. That will knock you off of your footing and knock you down to the ground.

Once you get to six, seven and eight feet as is forecast across to places such as Charlestown that is really vulnerable to such setup here, you're going to begin to push some of these homes right on the immediate coast off of their, of course, foundation, and that becomes a major, major (INAUDIBLE) factor with storms like this in a city like Charleston that's surrounded by two rivers and of course on its doorsteps the Atlantic Ocean. So the storm system, a major hurricane, is going to be within just a 30 to 40 miles of Charleston on its closest approach -- guys.

BRIGGS: Important illustration there, Pedram. Heed those warnings, folks. Thank you.

Rescue and relief efforts just getting underway in the Bahamas this morning. The CNN team on the ground says, quote, "The level of devastation is breathtaking." The official death toll is 20 this morning, but that is expected to climb. CNN spoke to a storm chaser who went quiet for days in the middle of the storm. He shot this video and turned up alive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH MORGERMAN, STORM CHASER: Where I were at the storm in the front center was in a school on a hill and I did that on purpose because I didn't want to worry about the storm surge. Now there's a neighborhood near that called The Mud, OK? And it's a low-lying poorer neighborhood. And that neighborhood got swept by a tremendous storm surge. The whole neighborhood now, and it's a very large area of the city, is just wiped out. It's just -- it's like football fields of rubble. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: People everywhere stepping forward to help. In Freeport, a volunteer looks for the owner of a dog he rescued from rising waters and others rescued a stranded family from the deluge.

ROMANS: In Jacksonville, Florida, a Good Samaritan walked into a Costco and left with 100 generators, all of them bound for the Bahamas at a cost of $45,000.

And then there was this really emotional moment captured by CNN. A 10-year-old boy reunited with his relatives after being separated during the hurricane. Many families are hoping for similar outcomes but fearing the worst.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is on the ground for us. He has been on Grand Bahama Island.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, for the first time, U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and airplanes have begun conducting flights over the island of Grand Bahama. This is incredibly encouraging because up until now, there has been no sign of any assistance from outside, from the outside world to this isolated island.

There's so much need here right now. People are running short on water, on food. We need more generators brought in because there's still no power on the entire island. So, we drove out to the airport today. We were able to get there. We tried the day before and it was impossible. But many of the roads have begun getting cleared up.

But what we found at the airport was a scene of total devastation. One of the terminals was completely ripped open. There was part of an airplane wing inside that terminal with the wheels still attached. We saw other planes swirled around like toys outside the airport.

It was hard to imagine what could have caused this incredible destruction. The storm surge from Dorian did cover the airport, did submerge the airport in water for two days, and the other terminals while still standing, were also badly damaged by this flooding. One of the terminals we're told was too dangerous to enter because no one had come yet to do a damage assessment.

The runway was littered with metal, concrete. There's so many debris that it's impossible to imagine a plane landing or taking off. And that is really a challenge for this island because on an isolated island like this one, the airport is a vital link to the rest of the world. That is how aid can come in. That is how people and there are many people we've seen who have injuries that need to be medivaced now, that is how they could leave. That is how they would normally leave.

And right now, although we are told cleanup crews will begin work at the airport very soon and that it is a priority to open up the airport, it doesn't seem like that can happen very soon. It certainly won't be soon enough for the many residents in desperate situations here on the island of Grand Bahama.

Patrick Oppmann, Freeport, in the Bahamas.

BRIGGS: Indeed a long road ahead. Patrick, great reporting. Thank you.

Pay no attention to the man at the White House if you're looking for an accurate hurricane forecast. President Trump, in the Oval Office, showing an early prediction of Dorian's trajectory. A closer look reveals someone extended the target area to include Alabama. It's a false narrative the president has been peddling for days now.

[04:10:04]

That map was handed to him by the acting Homeland Security, by the way. A White House official tells CNN there was a discussion in the Oval about how the storm could have been worse in earlier projections so someone extended the cone with black marker. The source would not deny President Trump personally drew the extension.

ROMANS: OK. So, you know, it's just false. You know, an archived version of a NOAA map from last Thursday showed Dorian veering left toward Florida. It did not show Alabama would be affected. CNN meteorologist confirmed one forecast on Friday showed 1/10th of one county in extreme southwest Alabama was included in the model but that map, there's little resemblance to the one President Trump used on Wednesday.

For what it's worth, it is a federal crime to publish a phony weather report. And maybe the president just got it wrong when he mentioned --

BRIGGS: No big deal, right?

ROMANS: Just say, you know, I got it wrong.

BRIGGS: I made a mistake.

ROMANS: Instead, you have the White House, the White House, working overtime to try to make what he said was wrong true when it is not.

BRIGGS: Real fake news, and no one around the president of the United States to tell him, don't do this. Don't take a Sharpie to an official weather map. Folks, 2019.

Ahead, was your phone number left exposed by Facebook? New trouble for millions of people next.

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[04:16:08]

ROMANS: All right. Take a look at Wall Street this morning. Investors return to risk Wednesday buying stocks again. The reason is largely about global growth. The Chinese data did not show the implosion President Trump often touts. Tensions cooled in Hong Kong. But this market is prone to trade tantrums. The president continues to live in an alternate reality about how the economy works. He thinks a trade deficit, for example, is lost money or being ripped off. For example, that $600 billion he said China steals from the U.S., you know, it's not for nothing, right? Consumers get things like oh, Trump ties and a lot of other stuff like electronics and clothes and shoes in return.

Also, an alternate reality, the president treats tariffs like a pool of money collected from China put into a pot that then he can allocate, saying this as people prepare for Dorian to hit the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You will have probably some hit on farms up along the coast. We have a lot of money because of the tariffs we've taken in. We've taken in tremendous many billions of dollars of tariffs from China and we will have a lot of money to be helping our farmers along the coast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So that's just not true and it's not how the economy works. U.S. companies pay tariffs, China does not pay tariffs. As the trade war rages on, though, the U.S. and China have agreed to resume in- person talks in Washington next month. It will be the first meeting since new tariffs kicked in on Sunday.

BRIGGS: Hundreds of millions of phone numbers once linked to Facebook accounts were posted online in an unprotected database. Facebook says there's no evidence any accounts were compromised. But this latest discovery is a reminder that strict new security policies don't necessarily address past data leaks or abuses. Before April of last year Facebook users could enter a person's phone number to find them on the site. The company shut down the feature because, quote, "malicious actors" abused it.

ROMANS: After years of anonymity the survivor of Brock Turner's sexual assault is letting the world know her name. It's Chanel Miller and she is telling her story for the first time since the 2015 rape in a new book aptly titled "Know My Name." Miller was attacked by Turner while unconscious after a fraternity party at Stanford University. In an upcoming interview with "60 Minutes," she reads part of her powerful impact statement from Turner's sentencing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: In newspapers, my name was "unconscious, intoxicated woman." Ten syllables and nothing more than that. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Miller's impact statement went viral. Turner, who could have been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison, got six months in county jail and served just three. The decision by Judge Aaron Persky was met with outrage, citing Turner's age and lack of criminal history. The judge said a tougher sentence, quote, "would have had a severe impact on him."

ROMANS: She's so --

BRIGGS: Still impossible.

ROMANS: And she so eloquently talks about the severe impact on her and on rape survivors writ large. You know, I mean, she was so brave. That was such a beautifully, horrifyingly written impact statement she gave. We read --

BRIGGS: Strength.

ROMANS: We read it word for word on CNN. And it was just -- it was remarkable.

BRIGGS: Taking control of her narrative.

Ahead, parliament says a no-deal Brexit is not an option but they refuse to agree on a plan to leave the E.U. What's Boris Johnson's next move? Who knows? CNN live at parliament next.

[04:19:49]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: One of the world's oldest democracies disintegrating in real time. Here's a recap of just the last few days in Britain. Prime Minister Boris Johnson ejecting 21 lawmakers from his own party. Rebel conservatives seizing control of Parliament's agenda. The House of Commons approving a bill to stop a no-deal Brexit. And now, Parliament has rejected the prime minister's call for a snap election.

[04:25:05]

Even Winston Churchill's grandson who served in Parliament for 37 years decided he'd had enough. There he is one day after Boris Johnson expelled him from the Conservative Party for defying his authority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIR NICHOLAS SOAMES, INDEPENDENT MP: And it is my most further take that this House will rediscover the spirit of compromise, humility and understanding that will enable us finally to push ahead with the vital work in the interests of the whole country that has inevitably have to be so sadly neglected whilst we have devoted so much time to wrestling with Brexit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CNN's Max Foster standing by outside the Houses of Parliament.

Max, Boris Johnson is going to need a hell of a lot more than a Sharpie to change the projection of Brexit. Where are we headed? MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no doubt two major

defeats for Boris Johnson in the House last night. Initially this bill, which would outlaw a no-deal Brexit, that passed through the House of Commons and then there was this defeat as well for a snap election.

Now the reason this is happening is because the opposition Labour Party say they will not agree to an election until this no-deal Brexit is taken off the table. So the government will fight it -- fighting it than early this morning, 1:30 in the morning, the government suddenly relented and agreed to turn this bill into law. That will not happen for next week.

So you can either see that as a climb down by Boris Johnson or as a tactical retreat because that's what it's looking like this morning. We expect Boris Johnson to come out today and call the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn out effectively saying OK, we've agreed to take no-deal off the table. Now you have to agree to an election. And he might be able to squeeze that in before Brexit and then he's on the front foot again. That's the argument anyway.

I'm not saying we're definitely heading towards an election, but you can't imagine any other scenario actually at the moment, Dave, because you can't run a country without a working majority in Parliament. And Boris Johnson's just doesn't have one. So I think we're heading that way. It's just about when rather than if.

BRIGGS: Boy, no clear path. Max Foster, live for us this morning in London. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, Hurricane Dorian battering the South Carolina coast, flooding streets in Charleston. The Bahamas finally in the clear but, wow, years of cleanup and recovery remain.

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