Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Dorian Makes Landfall in North Carolina; Amid Heartbreaking Stories Official Says Prepare for "Unimaginable Information" on Bahamas Death Toll; "Washington Post": Trump Himself Doctored Hurricane Map; At Least 30 Dead, Hundreds Still Missing Across the Bahamas. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 11:00   ET




"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.

This morning, Hurricane Dorian makes landfall in North Carolina with strong winds, rain, and storm surge to talk about.

Already at least two dozen tornadoes have been reported across the Carolinas from this storm along with pretty extensive flooding. And the power is out on Hatteras where the storm made landfall this morning.

There's a new update on the next moves of this unbelievably stubborn hurricane. Hopefully, finally, after a week of following the destructive path, it will be on the way out. We'll get to that in a second.

Even as Dorian heads off, there are new images and new stories coming in of the destruction Dorian left behind in the Bahamas.

The official death toll now is at 30. But the health minister says this, "The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll." That's how he's putting it. That ominous warning confirming what everyone has feared, that the number of people who have perished there will be soaring once they get their arms around what they're dealing with. We'll take you there in a just a moment.

But first, let's get to the CNN Weather Center. Allison Chinchar is standing by with the latest on where Hurricane Dorian is and is headed at this point.

What's the latest, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A brand-new update at the top of the hour. The biggest change we've noticed is that forward speed picking up a little bit. Now moving to the northeast at 17 miles per hour. So a much faster pace than we've seen the last several days for sure.

What that's going to do is take the worst of the winds, some of the heavier rain bands out to sea. But it's going to take it some time. Even moving at 17 miles per hour, you're still going to be able to get several more hours of the gusty winds and the heavy rain bands here.

You can still see we have numerous wind gusts along the coast of 40, 50, even 60 miles per hour. The heavy rain bands will also continue. And some of those outer bands, as they push back into portions of North Carolina as well as Virginia, also still have the potential for tornadoes. Do keep that in mind. We have over 20 reports of tornadoes just the last few days.

We do have flash flood warnings and flood watches for numerous states here that's likely going to last for several more hours because, even as those rain bands exit, it's a lot of rain. It takes time for that rain to go somewhere.

Portions of North and South Carolina picking up over 10 inches of rain. Wilmington, North Carolina, over nine inches. They set a daily rainfall record yesterday.

We do still expect some additional rain. Most of it likely up to maybe an additional two inches. That may not sound that bad. But remember it's on top of six, eight, even 10 inches of rain that's already fallen in some of these areas.

From here, the storm goes back out to sea. Notice some of those outer bands still push some heavy rain into places like Portland, Maine, Hartford, even around the Boston area. So later on this evening, Kate, we're still going to see some impacts from this.

The good news is cities like Boston aren't going to have as significant of the impacts as places like the Carolinas and Georgia and Florida did.

BOLDUAN: And as you're talking about it, more bands of wind and rain are on the ground in North Carolina. We're going to try to get to them in just a second.

Allison, thank you so much.

But they're getting hit with one of those bands right now. We're going to try to get connected and we're going to get to Alexandra Field in North Carolina as soon as we can to see what the latest is there. They're still getting hit with some pretty tough stuff.

Right now, let's get back to the Bahamas and the really scary warning coming from the nation's health minister when he said, "Prepare for unimaginable information" to be coming out about the death toll from Dorian.

Officially, the death toll stands at 30 but, basically, we should say it stands at unknown. Another government official there tells CNN hundreds and up to thousands of people are still missing.

Survivors are telling some truly heartbreaking stories. Adrian Farrington, he is one of those stories.

He says that he was caught wading in the water with his little 5-year- old son that you see there. He says he put his son on top of a roof to protect him and was climbing up to join his son, but before he could, Farrington said a gust came through and pushed his boy into the surge water. And that was the last he saw of his son.

Farrington spoke to a local paper from the hospital where, right now, he is being treated for broken bones that he suffered from. And he told the paper this: "I still could remember him reaching for me and calling me daddy."

That's -- there just are no words for that. There are no words for that. And that is just one story coming from the Bahamas.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has been in the Bahamas since before the hurricane hit. Patrick's joining me now.

I can only imagine, Patrick, the accounts that you have heard. What are you seeing there now?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing just utter devastation, destruction. The only reason we haven't been able to show you these pictures before, Kate, is we couldn't get here.


Only yesterday afternoon, were the waters low enough. We drove through two spots where a car was almost completely swallowed in the water that still remained behind Dorian.

And this is what roads look like in east Grand Island Bahama. This is the hardest hit area. Category 5. Winds came through here. Storm surge of 20 feet or more. And you can see where the road is now and where the road was is the difference from my feet to above my knees. It is just absolutely torn off sections of road, whole houses.

And we were talking before about the death count. We know from residents that yesterday they recovered five deceased people from this small town. Town of only 300 people. High Rock in the eastern Bahamas. Probably can't find it on the map. It's certainly not on the map now.

But the residents say another 14 people who rode out the storm here that no one has heard from. They are officially missing.

But if they're not here and their families don't know where they are, you just wonder where they could be. Could they have been evacuated? No. Because they were unable to evacuate this area. These people have been holding on by fingernails here and help has not arrived here.

We've been handing out water to people, which is a precious commodity because they don't have any. They say what government has come here has not brought any supplies. And you understand that even Freeport, where we're staying, supplies are slow to move in there. Help is slow to move in there but here it has not arrived at all. We're still seeing Coast Guard helicopters and planes fly overhead.

But essentially, for everybody in this part of the Bahamas -- remember we're talking about the hardest hit part of this island in the Bahamas, as hardest hit as you can get. The category 5 storm stalled out here for 50 hours, residents tell us. And help here has not yet arrived. Help is yet to arrive here. They need help. They need help today.

BOLDUAN: I would have said, Patrick, you were on a beach not a road in the slightest, unless you had shown us.

Now when you see Patrick's shot there, you can understand how residents say they themselves cannot even recognize or point out their neighborhoods because it is unrecognizable, Patrick.

OPPMANN: People say like a bomb hit. But it's so much worse because there'll be one house -- I'm looking at a house here that's badly damaged and the house next door, they said they were talking about their neighbors. I said there's not a house there. Then I look at the house, there were foundations.

You realize that the storm came -- and this is important to notice -- the storm surge didn't come from the water next to me. The storm surge came from the north, miles away, and it came over these houses, submerged these houses.

In the case of the house I'm referring, it's just the foundation. The family inside is one of the missing families. The house was taken off the foundations like it never existed. Probably out in the ocean. You hope the people got out in time. We just don't know.

Now it's been a week. The storm hit here a week ago, Friday night. And help has yet to arrive. You know authorities are doing everything they can. But the longer it takes, the worse it is for the people here.

It's almost a second disaster after the storm. Because this island is only 50 miles away from the United States. We are so close and you feel like you were in a world away because help is still not arriving to places like High Rock.


Patrick, thank you so much for your continued reporting. We'll get back to you.

Some amazing, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching stories coming out from what we can see in your shot.

Thank you so much.

That is in the Bahamas. We're going to continue to follow that.

I do want to get back to where Hurricane Dorian is right now and headed. Let's get back to North Carolina. We think we've been able to reconnect with Alex Field, who is in Kill Devil Kills. Alex, what are you seeing?

Do we have Alex?

I think we've lost the shot again.

They have been hit. They've been getting hit with one of those bands that Allison Chinchar was talking about. Some really tough wind and rain coming through. We're going to try to reconnect to get a shot so she can give us the lay of the land of what it looks like there. A lot of power outages we're dealing with.

Right now, let me now go to Gary Tuchman, who is on a boat in the Bahamian waters who I believe has been bringing aid in.

Gary is joining me by phone.

Gary, what's going on?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Kate, the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard are working to help the people of the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

As I said, we are steaming through Bahamian waters on a 154-foot cutter headed for Marsh Harbour, the latest town in the Abacos, which were heavily destroyed. We're still a couple of hours out.


Before that, very early this morning, we stopped at the Bahamian port, which I've been told I can't name for security reasons, but at that port, the Coast Guard men and women delivered 1300 pounds of material for temporary housing consisting mainly of tarpaulin, which is critically important because so many people lost their homes and they're sitting without any shelter right now.

When we get to Marsh Harbour, a search-and-rescue mission will begin with the 25 Coast Guardsmen and women who are with us right now. Also, two paramedics are on this cutter along with the police department will help in helping and treating injured people they find. There will be at least seven other Coast Guard cutters at the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island.

The Coast Guard has told us, Kate, it has saved 164 lives on the islands and delivered 3700 pounds of supplies. The people I'm with are ready to save more lives. They're noble people and they're ready to get to the task. It should be a couple of hours when they get to Marsh Harbour.

BOLDUAN: That's going to be so well received. We were just talking to Patrick Oppmann who says they're desperate for supplies in these hard-to-reach places.

Everyone from the prime minister on down, every government official has expressed how thankful they are, Gary, for the support that the United States provided on the front end and is sending in right now because of just how hard up the Bahamians are.

Were you able to see how the Coast Guard was received when they were able to pull into that one port?

TUCHMAN: It's a little difficult to hear you because the cutter is so loud.

But I can tell you that this is what the Coast Guard is trained to do. (INAUDIBLE) -- the United States. They go out -- (AUDIO PROBLEMS)

BOLDUAN: Gary Tuchman, on a Coast Guard cutter right now, which is bringing in aid to the Bahamas. We're going to have much more on those efforts.

Thank you, Gary, for jumping on the phone. Really appreciate it.

We'll also try to reconnect with Alex Field in Kill Devil Kills in North Carolina, which is feeling the effects of Hurricane Dorian that will not quit and will not end. We'll have much more on that coming up.

But also coming up for us, it was the president after all, after claiming he did not know who doctored the hurricane map he presented in the Oval Office this week. The "Washington Post" now reports that it was the president himself. The reporter who broke the story joins us next.

Plus, an American airlines mechanic is accused of trying to sabotage a plane that was about to take off with 150 passengers on board. He is in court today.

Stay with us.



BOLDUAN: Appears at this point this should come as a shock to pretty much no one. President Trump he just won't drop it when it comes to his tweet about Alabama being in the path of Hurricane Dorian. And the reality that it was not by the time that he made that declaration on Sunday.

He's now gone from tweeting about it to pulling out the map about it to directing his Homeland Security advisor to issue a lengthy statement defending about it.

In part, saying this, "While speaking to the press Sunday, September 1st, the president addressed Hurricane Dorian and its potential impact on multiple states including Alabama. The president's comments were based on that morning's hurricane briefing, which included the possibility of tropical-storm-force winds in southeastern Alabama."

And there's more. Sources tell my colleagues, Jake Tapper and Jeff Zeleny, that the president called FOX News correspondent, John Roberts, into the Oval Office, actually, after Roberts called out the president's inaccurate claim in a live shot.

And according to the "Washington Post," it was the president, after all, who doctored that hurricane map with the black Sharpie.

Joining me now is one of the "Washington Post" reporters who have been covering this, Josh Dawsey, really covering everything.

Josh, that's how you work.

Josh, what are your sources telling you about the president's involvement in this?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president's been frustrated for five days in a row. We've seen more than a dozen tweets now. Lots of maps. A doctored map being shown in the Oval Office. A national security statement that he's being criticized for saying the storm was going to hit Alabama. That's not what the national weather forecast and others said at the time when the president made those arguments.

Instead of moving on, talking about it hitting North Carolina yesterday and hitting other places, the president repeatedly continued to defend his argument from a few days ago.

In some ways, it would not be a big deal but the president keeps saying it and saying it. Even though the people in the White House criticizes us for saying it, even though the president keeps talking about it. So it's like a catch 22.

BOLDUAN: Something like that. Or we're all being gaslighted, gaslit, whatever.

When he was asked by reporters, Josh, if the map had been written on or drawn on with a Sharpie, he said, I don't know. That doesn't coincide with your reporting.

DAWSEY: Right. The president obviously wanted the map to show that it could hit Alabama as well and used a Sharpie to change the map. You saw the map, from what the map actually showed, and he improvised it.


BOLDUAN: Do your sources get a sense on why he just can't drop it?

DAWSEY: Well, the president often pushes back when he's criticized by the media and he continues to push back, push back, even if it's a topic that others around him don't think is advantageous.

He spent several days a couple of weekends ago hitting Anthony Scaramucci when people said to let it go. The actress, Debra Messing, he's gone after repeatedly. A story in Axios that he went, nuke hurricanes, that he went after several times while at the G-7.

The president when he gets something -- when he's fixated on something, he doesn't drop it. Whether the argument is in his benefit or not, whether it's working for him or not, he continues to just push, push, push.

BOLDUAN: I also heard one very smart Republican say last night that the president just loves any fight he can get into with the media. Even though I would argue he's the only one trying to make this into an actual fight. Could that be what this is?

DAWSEY: The president certainly sees the news media as a useful foil in his campaign. If you talk to the folks around him, they say to expect a ratcheting up of criticism and complaints towards --


DAWSEY: -- the media as the election gets closer.

They regularly cite polls that show many Republicans don't have trust in the news media and many Democrats do. And they like to just hit that point over and over and over.

You've seen the president's tweets recently where he said the news media is more the enemy to us than the Democrats are. And his rhetoric and what he's saying and going, it's pretty clear that that is what he's going to do for the next 14 months. The media is going to be his main punching bag at least until he gets a Democratic opponent, until the nominee is chosen.

BOLDUAN: And even then, he still --


BOLDUAN: Let's be honest. Even then we will see.

Good to see you, Josh. Thanks, man.

DAWSEY: Nice to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, the desperate search to find hundreds and maybe even thousands of missing people in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. One woman is spearheading an effort, of volunteers really, to try to help with that. She joins us next.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Hurricane Dorian made landfall this morning in North Carolina.

Let's get back to North Carolina. We've reconnected with Alex Field who is in Kill Devil Kills getting whipped around.

Alex, what are you feeling there at this point?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Kate. We are absolutely feeling the peak of Dorian here at Kill Devil Kills. Sustained winds really picking up now. That sand is blasting us right off the beach.

As you look at the surf, you'll see that tide starting to come up. We won't hit high tide here until about 2:00. Expecting some eight to 10 inches of rain.

But even as this thing finally makes its way out to sea, still a lot of concerns here and throughout the Outer Banks about what happens on the back side of this storm, particularly what we can see in terms of storm surge, also flash flooding.

They're predicting storm surge could get as high as four to seven feet. So once this storm finally clears out of here, people still having problems to deal with.

Hearing reports further south of here about flooding and also power outages. Several hundred people in North Carolina are without power.

Obviously, at this point, I can attest to the fact people are asked to stay home, stay inside. And I agree, they certainly should.

BOLDUAN: I think just looking at you, Alex, message received.

Thank you so much, Alex. I really appreciate it. You poor thing. That ocean looks angry and those winds look fierce.

Alex Field in Kill Devin Hills for us. Thank you so much, Alex.

Hurricane Dorian needs to get out of here as quickly as possible. It has been over a week that folks have been dealing with this. In the aftermath of it, there has been a desperate search for survivors still in the Bahamas.

A top Bahamian official says hundreds, up to thousands of people are still missing.

At the same time, grim predictions are coming out from the Bahamian government about how high the death toll could be. And residents are still trying to come to grips, quite frankly, with the devastation. Look at this.


SHERRIE ROBERTS, HURRICANE DORIAN SURVIVOR: Words can't describe it. I don't wish it on nobody. Nobody. Words can't describe it. They can never categorize this. Never. It was like an atomic bomb went off.


BOLDUAN: And in the midst of this, one woman is spearheading an effort to try and track down those who remain unaccounted for.

Joining me right now is Venessa Pritchard-Ansell, whose Web site,, has really become really a go-to place for family, friends and anyone to try and find and connect with loved ones in the Bahamas

Vanessa, thank you so much for coming on.


BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

PRITCHARD-ANSELL: And thank you so much for bringing focus to this effort, this mass efforts. So thank you.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

At this point, how many names of missing and unaccounted for has been added to your Web site?