Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Dorian Lashes North Carolina as Category 1 Storm; High Death Toll Expected in the Bahamas; Search and Rescue Operations Ongoing in Devastated Bahamas; U.S. Economy Adds 130,000 Jobs in August; American Airlines Mechanic Accused of Trying to Sabotage Plane. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 09:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Friday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto here in Washington.

Right now, Hurricane Dorian is slamming into North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane bringing powerful wind gusts, storm surges and heavy rain. Officials are warning of life-threatening flash floods as the storm slowly creeps along the coast.

Also a threat today, tornadoes formed from Dorian's outer bands. Already at least two dozen tornadoes have been reported in the Carolinas just over the last 48 hours.

HARLOW: And in the Bahamas prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll. That is what officials there are warning this morning saying while the number of people killed in the storm is at 30 right now, it is expected to climb much higher. Hundreds of people still missing as searchers continue to look for survivors. The situation on the ground is so grim right now that officials are bringing in extra body bags, morticians and coolers to store those bodies.

We will bring you a live update from the Bahamas in just a moment. Let's begin, though, this hour with our Alexandria Field. She joins us this morning in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and we're just learning that the National Hurricane Center says Dorian has made landfall over Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

What is the situation where you are?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Poppy. That is just south of where we are in the outer banks. We are certainly starting to feel the effects of Dorian here. We should be feeling it over the next few hours before it goes further out to sea. But if you look behind me you can see that surf certainly ripping and the winds that are going now, the rains that's coming down. We're expecting maybe eight possibly 10 inches of rain at this point.

But really the big concern here in the outer banks would be storm surge. They're expecting the possibility of four, even seven feet of storm surge. This is something they've been preparing for obviously. We've been watching this storm make its way slowly up the East Coast. So, we did have time to order a mandatory evacuation. For those who chose to defy that, who decided to stay in town a curfew was implemented.

They really want people off the streets, off the roads, away from falling utility poles or trees. I am still seeing some people out here on the beach. They I guess can't help themselves but come take a look. That's exactly the opposite of what officials want.

Look, North Carolina has had to prepare for hurricanes three times in the last three years so people do, to some extent, have some preparation. They know what they're doing. But officials just don't want anyone to become too comfortable with the idea of a hurricane. So, they are asking people to take precautions. They've shut down a number of roads. They have readied hundreds of additional National Guards men and women.

They've got search and rescue crews at the ready, swift water rescue crews at the ready, but they don't want to have to deploy those resources so really they are asking people to stay inside and wait this out -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Alexandra Field, it is amazing to see where you are when they pulled that shot out and the way it was behind you. Thank you for being there and for that reporting. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Right, Poppy. I mean, it gives you such vision of the power of the storm and how it's continuing.

Let's get to meteorologist Allison Chinchar. She is in the CNN Weather Center.

So this has been going on for a week now. This storm has amazing life and power to it. What are we expecting from Dorian just over the next few hours now?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. Still very heavy rainfall, very strong winds. Again, the most impressive thing about this storm is the slow movement but the fact that it's been able to maintain an eye for so long. This storm really has not gone through very many weakening phases. Yes, it is weakening now. This is good thing we like to see. It's obviously down to Category 1 but the winds are still sustained at 90 miles per hour.

Again, I mean, I think that's the takeaway here. This can still cause significant damage not only from the winds but also the incredibly heavy rain that is coming down. Look at some of these wind gusts right now. 61 in Hatteras, 64 around Elizabeth City, you've got 26 around Kill Devil Hills. So you've got some very gusty winds. And all of those areas have had fluctuations of anywhere from 40 to 70- mile-per-hour wind gusts.

The one of the other concerns will also continue to be tornadoes. I say continue because we've had over 20 reported tornadoes in the last 48 hours. And as those outer bands continue to push onshore for states like North Carolina but as well as Virginia tornadoes will still be a threat. Flash flood warnings and flood watches are in effect for several states now because of those heavy bands of rain that will continue to come in.

You have to keep in mind even though additional rainfall may not seem that high, it's on top of what they've already had. Portions of North and South Carolina already reporting over 10 inches of rain. Wilmington, North Carolina, but claiming over nine inches of rain. Keep in mind yesterday they actually broke a daily rainfall record. And we're likely to add about an additional two to four inches widespread for some of these areas. And again I know two to four inches may not sound like that much. You just have to remember it's on top of what they've already had. North Carolina, Virginia, likely going to be the spots for the heaviest rain today.


But it's not the only areas. Keep in mind, guys, later on tonight, Boston, Hartford and Portland also likely to get some rain out of the outer bands.

SCIUTTO: The whole East Coast getting some experience of this storm it seems.


SCIUTTO: Allison Chinchar, in the Weather Center, thanks so much.

HARLOW: All right, to the Bahamas now where officials say prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and human suffering. That is what the Bahamas health minister has said. The Abaco Islands, one of the hardest hit places from Dorian. Buildings ripped apart, boats scattered inland by the force of the wind and the water.

SCIUTTO: Just look at it, communities wiped off the face of the earth. One resident telling CNN it is like an atomic bomb went off.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann, he's been on the ground in the Bahamas for days. He joins us now from eastern Grand Bahama Island.

And Patrick, we've appreciated you taking us and our viewers on the ground there just to get a sense of how the power plays out. Tell us where you are now and what you're seeing.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the first time we've been able to get into this area because even today we're still driving through high water, cross roads that are no longer roads. This is one town, it's a town of Bevans Town. From here to the eastern tip of the island of Grand Bahama it's about 30 miles from the water. There are lots of little towns and communities or I should say there used to be. Every house, every structure, every life has been essentially destroyed in this area.

We are in the house of a man named Smithy (PH) Washington. He rode out the storm here, you can see, and this is just one side where the roof has been completely torn off, the side of the building. This used to be the front of his house. The side of his house is gone. We see cars of his over that way. They're flipped over. The water came in here about 11:00 at night on Saturday. Right, Saturday? Thank you. Friday. It was Friday.

Got over 20 feet high and stayed here for 50 hours. He said it was 50 hours of torture. Imagine riding out with your daughter as he did this storm, your house under water, the wind pounding you knowing that no help was on its way. And this is not unusual. This is the new norm here. Every house from here to the end of the island, this is the story. People who evacuated, they have their houses completely destroyed, or people like Mr. Washington who rode it out and lucky to be alive and as well as people we don't know about. Residents -- several residents tell us that they recovered the bodies of five people who died in this storm just yesterday.

There are many more here. When we were driving up, we could smell the smell of death. Assistance still has not arrived here. We haven't had any help here. There's so much to be done.

HARLOW: Oh, my goodness, Patrick, the smell of death. Thank you for being there for us and bringing us that reporting. Again, that is what they're warning of, a surge in the death toll. We'll get back to you soon.

But joining us on the phone now is Gary Tuchman. He just joined the Coast Guard team off the coast of the Bahamas. He's with us on the phone.

Gary, you just heard Patrick's reporting and you're with the folks that are going in to help, right, to bring in this aid, to rescue people, to retrieve the bodies of those who died in the storm. What can you tell us?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, that's right, Poppy. We're on a Coast Guard cutter, one of at least eight right now from the Coast Guard, working to help the victims of Hurricane Dorian. And our cutter which launched from Miami beach but was based in Key West yesterday, we got here last night, there are 25 Coast Guard men and women and two paramedics from the Miami Fire Department because the main purpose is search and rescue and help the people who they find are injured, who are trapped. And we're going to be working at Abacos.

We arrived at nightfall last night so we could get on the island because it's too dangerous for this (INAUDIBLE) area to get close. They did take a small aluminum boat which is on the cutter for an initial check. Four Coast Guard men were on that boat to the southwestern portion of the Abacos. It was there to their surprise and happiness, a bit of happiness is there wasn't tremendous damage on the southwest coast.

It hasn't explored yet by any outside authority. Some of the people there said it wasn't as bad as they expected there, however they wanted to get out and get to Nassau. And arrangements were made to try to get them out of there to Nassau because there were no resources. But -- HARLOW: Gary, can I --

TUCHMAN: Shortly after morning, after dawn broke we made a delivery to a port in the Bahamas, (INAUDIBLE) which cannot be reported for the security situation. We had on this cutter 1400 pounds of temporary shelter materials, tarpaulin and material for housing which is badly needed. We've seen that a lot over the years when we covered the horrible earthquake in Haiti, the USA Organization with so much tarpaulin, that's all you saw (INAUDIBLE) with these blue tents where people lived for months and months.


And of course we're going to see that in the Bahamas. The (INAUDIBLE) of people in United States of America. We will tell you that other Coast Guard units are here, have already rescued many people. The Coast Guard very proud to be here. Their work will be cut out for them but grateful to have the opportunity to help the Bahamian people -- Poppy and Jim.

HARLOW: Gary, thank you so much for being there, for bringing us some of that good news and more aid on the way. We will check in with you a little bit later. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Listen, they're doing their best, right, a lot of people there. But it just seems there's a lot more need.

Joining me now is Sarah Ann Showell. She's a business owner on Green Turtle Cape in Abaco. She evacuated to Florida before the storm hit but has been back to survey the damage.

Sarah, thanks so much for coming on today. Describe what you've seen there as you go back to the island in the wake of this storm.

SARAH ANN SHOWELL, EVACUATED BAHAMAS AHEAD OF HURRICANE DORIAN: Hey, Jim. I've only seen our island from the air. I'm going to get on the ground there today and it's really hard to believe all these buildings that you walk around every day are just really flattened and there's nothing left. Like nothing I ever expected or ever thought I would see in my lifetime. And it's just completely shocking. I don't know how to describe it really.

SCIUTTO: You, one of the lucky ones. You were able to evacuate before. Of course a lot of people could not do that. They suffered as a result. Our reporters on the ground have been there for days. They say that in their experience it's hard to see who's in charge, right? Who's delivering the aid to the people who need it most urgently. Is that your sense? Do you see leadership there from the local government authorities or are they simply overwhelmed?

SHOWELL: It's definitely going to take some time for order to set in. It's chaotic at the moment because so many people are wanting to help and get over there and bring aid and bring supplies. And that's what we're focusing on. It's just getting items over there and getting them into the hands of people. But order will come. It's just too soon. The storm hanged around for a long time and that has extended the life of this organization process.

SCIUTTO: You have a lot of staff down there and I'm sure as someone who's part of that community, you've got a lot of friends, people you know. Do you have a sense of how they weathered the storm? Are you hearing from people on the ground and I imagine you're having some trouble tracking some people down?

SHOWELL: Yes, so we have minimal communication by a couple of sat phones that we've confirmed everyone in Green Turtle Cay, my island, about 500 people are safe and accounted for. However, the people that rode out the storm that work for me (INAUDIBLE) which are basically family to us we're not sure where everybody is yet. But that's not a reason to (INAUDIBLE) and freak out automatically because it's so minimal communication that we don't know. Got to remain strong and hope that we hear from them. Once we get better communication and get (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: Listen, I know a lot of people at home are watching this, the scenes from here. They want to help. What do you think is the best way for people outside watching this looking in for them to help, to send aid, to just do their part?

SHOWELL: Find a trustworthy organization, send money. We're sending flights over. We've sent 11 planes in the last 48 hours. It goes to fuel, goes to (INAUDIBLE) direct to people. Finance definitely important. There's so many Amazon lists right now you can just order and ship them to West Palm here where (INAUDIBLE). There's a lot of ways to get involved and help. Actually a lot of people I never (INAUDIBLE) about, even if you just send out (INAUDIBLE) your business contact, (INAUDIBLE) farther reach, (INAUDIBLE) expanding over here.

SCIUTTO: Listen, we wish you the best. We wish all the people who you're friends with, your staff down there, the best in just recovering from this horrible storm.

Sarah Ann Showell, thanks so much.

And Poppy, as you know, CNN has on the Web site, it has a lot of organizations.


SCIUTTO: Including of course the Red Cross.


SCIUTTO: Being the most prominent where folks at home, if you're watching now.


SCIUTTO: You want to do your part, look there. Those are reputable organizations and it's a good way to lend a hand.

HARLOW: That's a great point. If you go to you'll see all of the ways you can help right there. All right, so still to come, we will speak to a storm chaser who rode

out Dorian on the Abacos Island. His followers terrified when he went dark for almost two days. That incredible journey ahead.

SCIUTTO: Plus, news this morning, the August jobs report just out shows the economy added 130,000 jobs in August, that however is below expectations. We're going to discuss how this fits into the broader economic picture coming up.



JIM SCIUTTO, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: However, it's below expectations, we're going to discuss how this fits into the broader economic picture coming up.


POPPY HARLOW, CO-ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, new this morning. The August job reports, the U.S. economy added 130,000 jobs in August, that is slightly below what had been predicted. The unemployment rate though, still really low, 3.7 percent. Let's talk about all these numbers -- our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is with me and Douglas Holtz-Eakin; the former director of the CBO, former economic advisor to Senator John McCain.


And he also worked in the George W. Bush White House as the chief economist. So, let's begin with you, Romans --


HARLOW: On the numbers. Good toppling number --

ROMANS: Yes --

HARLOW: A little below expectations, and African-American unemployment --

ROMANS: Yes --

HARLOW: Really low.

ROMANS: Yes, some of these nuggets are pretty interesting, so, 130,000 net new jobs. I mean, you put that into context in the last couple of years, and that shows you that there's hiring, but it's -- the pace is slowing.

HARLOW: Yes --

ROMANS: It really is, and more recently that hiring pace has slowed, 3.7 percent unemployment, that's a good number, a generational low. And what I really like about these numbers too about 575,000 -- 571,000 people entered the labor market. So, they've been hearing about people getting jobs, and they think that now it's time for them to come back into the Labor market.

Where was the hiring? Business and information services, anybody with a kid in college, there's something called Computer Systems Design, those people are in really high demand --

HARLOW: Right --

ROMANS: Every month at these job numbers, health care, a steady performer in the economy. But there is a tale of two economies here because making stuff, manufacturing, mining, this part of the economy has stalled lately.

And in fact, manufacturing hiring only about 3,000 there. When I look over the past 12 months, it looks as though manufacturing hiring has really cooled here.

HARLOW: Yes --

ROMANS: And that is something troubling. Exactly as the president has put tough tariffs and tough talk on trade there. You mentioned the African-American unemployment rate, a record low there, and it's driven by black women, 4.4 percent unemployment rate for black women, a real -- the lowest since we've been keeping these numbers since 1972 --

HARLOW: Which is such a good thing --

ROMANS: That's a good number --

HARLOW: To see. So, Douglas, what's your read on this because you've got a strong-ish --


HARLOW: Top line number. But when you look at manufacturing, you couple that with the ISM reading this week that said you've had the contraction manufacturing sector for the first time in three years, and the lowest consumer confidence reading out of the University of Michigan since 2016. Which is it? Which is more telling of the real state of the U.S. economy right now?

HOLTZ-EAKIN: Well, I think first just on the report, at this point in the expansion, I think the jobs numbers itself is less illuminating about how we're doing. The -- you know, really, you want people to go back to jobs so that the unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent. So, success is measured by paying them better, and for production workers, wages were up by 3.5 percent over last year, that's very good or by getting more people to come into the labor force and we had a big jump in that.

So, I think this is a very solid report. What's so interesting about it is, it really does illuminate the sort of contradictions that are going on out on the grounds right now. These are the August data, they show a very strong labor market, they show wages rising, the employment opportunities.

In that very same month, consumer confidence fell by the sharpest amount since 2012. So --

HARLOW: Right --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: In a very good environment, they're worried about what's going on especially their expectations of the future, and that's something to keep an eye on, I'm worried about that. Of course, in the manufacturing weakness, you can draw a straight line from that to the loss of business confidence and the poor investment climate. So --

HARLOW: Yes --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: There are some things out there that are negatives, but we're still doing pretty well --

HARLOW: Yes --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: On the whole.

HARLOW: Jim, you have a question too, right?

SCIUTTO: Christine, I'm just wondering if how folks at home balance what are conflicting economic numbers here. I mean, yes, it's below expectations and there's a --

HARLOW: Sure --

SCIUTTO: Downward trend on the jobs numbers. Global economy is slowing, there's no question, trade war is having an economic impact on the U.S. economy, no question. Manufacturing is slowing down, no question. Should folks at home look at that as an indicator of where things are going in the coming months just for their own economic situation?

ROMANS: So, I think people look at their paycheck, really, and you saw wage growth of about 3.2 percent, which is, you know, 3.2 percent. It hasn't been gain busters, it hasn't been as big as, say the Fed would like to see it, but it has been holding in there.

And I think that this has been a ten-year expansion that it took a lot of people a long time to really believe it because the recession was so terrible. So, I think that people have been kind of late to really embracing that the economy was so -- was so solid.

I will point out, Jim, that 25,000 of these jobs created were census, temporary census jobs. So, that --

HARLOW: Right --

ROMANS: Take those away and now you're closer --

SCIUTTO: Right --

ROMANS: To 100,000 net new jobs here. But --

SCIUTTO: Yes -- ROMANS: Look, you've had so much hiring for so long, at some point,

you're going to be talking about where are we going to get more workers if we keep, you know, adding jobs --

SCIUTTO: Right --

ROMANS: At this pace.

HARLOW: And Doug, not to be all, you know, you know, bad news bearers here. But I do want to point out, there is this other indicator that a lot of people look at in terms of risk of a recession, that is what does the New York Fed say?

And when you look at the number of people that are predicting a recession over the next 12 months that ticked up to 38 percent in August, of course, you saw the inverted yield curve, so there's a lot of concerns on that front.

And then you even heard Michael Steele who, you know, used to run the RNC say that the economy for this president is everything, and right now, looks like they're riding in his words a rubber ducky into alligator-infested waters. Fair?


HOLTZ-EAKIN: I think that's a bit strong. I mean, let's put this in perspective. We expected job growth to slow. You can't create 200,000 jobs forever --

HARLOW: Right --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: That number was going to come down. It's inevitable. Manufacturing, yes, it's in trouble, but there are 11 workers outside of manufacturing for every manufacturing worker, it's really not the whole economy. So, we are seeing the economy slow, that was probably inevitable.

That's not the same as actually going negative and having a recession. So --

ROMANS: Yes --

HARLOW: Right --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: So, I do think it's important to keep those distinct. For the president, slowing can be political danger. There's no doubt about it, he doesn't need a recession to get in trouble. A very slow growth can get him in trouble. So, this is -- this is an economy that is really at a some sort of inflection point. It's got a strong household sector and a weak business sector. They can't stay that way forever. You pray the business sector comes up to the household sector and not the reverse, that's what we have --

HARLOW: Yes --

HOLTZ-EAKIN: To watch. HARLOW: Yes, OK, thank you both, good to have your brains on all of

this, this morning. Christine Romans, got this whole taken, have a good weekend. Mechanics are hired to fix problems, right? Yes. But an American Airlines mechanic is now accused of tampering with a key system on one of their planes. The latest on this sabotage investigation, next.