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Catastrophic Flooding In Ocracoke Island From Dorian; Officials Say 18 Dive Boat Victims In South California Identified Through DNA So Far; American Woman Is In Custody Today After A Six-Day-Old Baby Was Found Hidden Inside Her Bag At The Airport. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 6, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE LOGGINS, STATESIDE REGION DIRECTOR, FEDERAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: You're not walking through other classrooms to get to classrooms, your teacher doesn't have to come in on a cart to teach you is a much more appropriate learning space for academics and for meeting those social and emotional needs.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Jane, thank you so much. Jane Loggins, we really appreciate it.
LOGGINS: Thank you.
KEILAR: And that is it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, thank you so much. Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN on this Friday afternoon. Starting with Hurricane Dorian. Dorian will soon turn toward the Atlantic after weakening to a Category 1 storm and making landfall just off the coast of North Carolina. We'll have more on the fury that's still being felt in that area in just a moment.
But in the Bahamas where Dorian hit last weekend only to stall and then heavy, heavy rain and high winds for three days in a row. Shell shocked residents are struggling to make sense of what happened during the strongest storm to ever hit the island nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERRIE ROBERTS, SURVIVED HURRICANE DORIAN: Words can't describe it. I don't wish it on nobody. No amount of words can describe it. They could never categorize this. Never.
NATHAN SWEETIE, SURVIVED THE HURRICANE: My grandfather ran out in the middle of --
ROBERTS: It was like an atomic bomb went off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Bahamas Prime Minister tell CNN that the official death toll from Hurricane Dorian now stands at 30. But in an interview with a local radio station, the Bahamian Health Minister said that people should prepare for -- his words here, "unimaginable information about human suffering," end quote, saying the numbers will go significantly higher. So we start with our correspondent Patrick Oppmann. He has been in the Bahamas throughout the storm. He's currently in Bevans Town and Patrick, your reporting has been nothing short of extraordinary. Tell me what you're seeing today.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And thank you and we've been going down -- now that we can get in this area finally, down the road rushing to the town of High Rock right now, just down the road from Bevans Town, and we are with one of the local pastors, his name is Joey Saunders. We are in front of the place that used to be his house and used to be his church just back that way.
I drove by here yesterday. I did not realize it. I would have thought this was an abandoned building. You were here on Sunday night when the water came in, it came in that way from the north -- actually we're farther from the ocean, is that about right?
And sir, sorry, I'll just repeat that. This is your house. This is the church. What happened on Sunday when the water came in?
PASTOR JOEY SAUNDERS, SURVIVED HURRICANE DORIAN: This Saturday, I make it to the second floor of the house and I've been up 10 minutes inside, I flew up to the third floor. You know, in about a minute, it flowed up to our head. I felt like this you know, strong current trying to break loose everything in the cracks --
OPPMANN: And this was in the middle of the night.
SAUNDERS: About 1:30 in the morning, and then the current was so strong then the roof started to lift and the next thing I remember, I was underneath the water. My son was standing and I know he had the search light and he just disappeared with search light. I heard then screaming, "Daddy, daddy, daddy."
OPPMANN: He was in the water at that point, right?
SAUNDER: He was already gone. And minutes later, when I came from underneath the water, I threw my hand, I caught on to the truss the roof carried me away.
So we were like but 600 feet away from each other for about two days, and we caught up into the pine tree about 32 feet high.
OPPMANN: So the water carried you into a pine tree in the middle of the night.
OPPMANN: Your son was ways away from you.
OPPMANN: What was going through your mind? You must have been terrified.
SAUNDERS: Yes, I was hoping that he was alive and he thought I had died also. It wasn't until, you know, two days later that we saw one another. He was under the trailer right there and that's where we saw one another.
OPPMANN: How would you describe the damage in this area?
SAUNDERS: It was very devastating. You know, it is major damages.
OPPMANN: Do you recognize your own town anymore?
SAUNDERS: Not really. No. It would take a while. You know, everything looks different. Even in my own premises here, my house is another city. I don't even recognize because we were in the pine tree and the wind was so severe. And the consistent rain. You could not recognize anything. Even as I'm standing here talking to you, it is unrecognizable.
OPPMANN: How much help has come from the government? I don't see much. People are asking us for water.
SAUNDERS: Yes, the government is on its way. It's going to take a bit of time to go to the settlements. But they are doing everything gradually, you know.
OPPMANN: Do you wish they were moving quicker?
SAUNDERS: Yes, I wish they can move quicker than they are moving.
OPPMANN: And tell me what you need here. What are the priorities?
SAUNDERS: A lot of people have lost most of the clothes, water, any food. We are suffering a lot. You know, cosmetic stuff, basic stuff right now.
OPPMANN: And you can't tell from here, but your church was behind your house. What is left of your church where you used to preach to this community?
SAUNDERS: Everything is gone now (INAUDIBLE) ...
BALDWIN: Okay, we're losing them for understandable reasons. But Patrick and to the Pastor, thank you so much. It is just shocking all the way around and we're hearing more from those who battled Dorian as they fought for their lives.
This is Adrian Farrington and his five-year-old son, AJ. They treaded water for an hour as the storm raged, trying to stay afloat, and in a desperate effort to keep his son safe, Adrian put little AJ up on the roof planning to join him minutes later. But what happened next is something no parent should ever have to experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADRIAN FARRINGTON, FIVE-YEAR-OLD SON SWEPT AWAY BY STORM SURGE IN THE
BAHAMAS: A gust of wind blew him off the roof on the next side of the home, back into the surge water. I still got to see my son getting dragged across the roof reaching out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Adrian Farrington says he jumped in to search for his son, but couldn't see anything in the debris-filled water. He'd been dove down a second time, but eventually went to higher ground after being battered by all the waves. Adrian, who is being treated for broken bones suffered during the storm, he told a local paper that he can still remember his son calling him "daddy" as he was swept away. He said if his son was rescued, he would, quote "Praise the Lord."
A disaster relief foundation has been set up by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and joining me now is Rupert Hayward, Executive Director of that organization. So Rupert, thank you so much for coming on with me there. And first, I know you took a private charter into Freeport loaded with supplies. Tell me what you brought with you and what you're seeing and hearing from people there.
RUPERT HAYWARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GRAND BAHAMA PORT AUTHORITY: Hi, everyone. Well, sadly, the stories that we're hearing are very similar to the ones that you have just been hearing about. It's a very tragic time here in Grand Bahama. It's very emotional.
You know, I actually wasn't here during the hurricane. I was off- island on annual leave, but I've been lucky enough to get in now with surprise over the course of the last few days.
And we're bringing water. Water is still not connected on the island. There is not water that you can drink, and we're bringing medical aid, we're bringing blankets. We're bringing basic food. There's a large proportion of the population who simply have nothing.
BALDWIN: And Rupert, you know, you flew privately because several of the main airports on Grand Bahama are closed, you know, roads have been destroyed. Those who survived, as you well know are in dire need, how big of a challenge is it to physically get them that aid given the current conditions?
HAYWARD: So our harbor is not open, it is actually receiving aid by various shipping lines coming in, in bulk. We do have, you know, distribution capabilities here on the island, and we're working very hard to get supplies out as quickly as possible. We're working obviously, in conjunction with government as well.
Our primary function really is to get the city up and running again. So we are working very closely with the power company, which we regulate. We own the water company, so we are making sure that hopefully in the next few days, we'll have drinkable water.
And the power will be up, you know, within the matter of -- well, I wouldn't say, it won't be months, it should be more like weeks. We're lucky in a sense that our infrastructure here in Freeport, certainly in the south shore, and our power (INAUDIBLE) has actually survived relatively well.
Unfortunately, the storm surge that came through took out the airport, which means bringing in commercial flights now is impossible, and it took out a huge number of homes which were either in low-lying areas or near the north of the island.
The east of the island, sadly, has been -- I don't quite know how to describe it. It is an awful, awful scene. And the roads have been blocked. We've been spending the last few days working with our sanitation company and with government administrative work to clear the roads out east so that we can get the basic supplies out to them.
I mean, everyone is indeed here at the moment. But it is a really tragic scenario.
BALDWIN: Now, it looks -- it looks apocalyptic. And I have seen -- you know, I have reported on locations where it's one thing for everyone to take it in through the television, it is quite another to see it with your own eyes. Rupert Hayward, thank you so much for all the work you are doing in all the many months that will be endured by these Bahamians.
And even as Dorian is expected to move out to sea later today, the Governor of North Carolina had this message from folks who live there, "Don't let your guard down." He urged them to stay off the roads. Continue to shelter in place. The storm surges could reach seven feet in some areas.
BALDWIN: In Hyde County, North Carolina, it is now preparing to evacuate folks by air. On Ocracoke Island where the Sheriff says there have been reports of catastrophic flooding. At least one person there tells CNN that the water was knee-deep in some homes and that several people had to be rescued from their attics. No details yet on when those evacuations will begin. Officials say that the island is without power.
CNN's Alexandra Field is in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. That's part of the barrier islands known as the Outer Banks. And so Alexandra, the state ordered evacuations in the area earlier on in the week. But not everyone heeded those warnings.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely Brooke. These were considered mandatory evacuations. This is a state where they have prepared for three hurricanes in the last three years, some people felt comfortable to ride it out.
For those who did say a curfew was put in place, and this is really all in an effort to help the emergency responders who will have to get to areas where help is really needed. They don't want to put anyone's lives in danger, if not necessary.
Look, the good news, Brooke is that this storm seems to be starting to move off here. We've been really feeling the effects here for the last few hours. This is just about high tide. We're a few minutes off from it. You can see the water approaching the dunes out here on the beach.
But it's the backside of this storm that could bring the majority of the issues out here in the Outer Banks. That's of course because they are concerned still about storm surge in the south. The prediction was four, as many as seven feet.
So we know that the kind of flooding that they're seeing down south. That kind of flooding is still a possibility up here, that's why they want people to stay inside. Really wait for this to pass.
We're experiencing power outages here. Of course, hundreds of thousands of people across the state, also without power. But again, it does feel like Dorian is starting to move out to sea, something a lot people have been waiting many days for -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Good. Get her out of there. Alex Field. Thank you very much, in the Outer Banks for us this afternoon. Meantime, new details today in that dive boat tragedy that killed 34 people off the Coast of California. We are learning more about safety onboard the Conception, but still no official cause.
And a six-day old baby was found hidden inside a bag, and now this American woman is under arrest accused of trying to smuggle the newborn out of the Philippines.
And Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets grilled by Charlamagne 'Tha God. His answers to blunt questions about polls, debates and race. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: Welcome back, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. It could be at least a week before we learn more about the cause of that deadly dive boat fire off the coast of Southern California. But as the NTSB works to determine what happened, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says it is working to identify the victims and that will not be an easy task.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BROWN, SHERIFF, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY: So far, the Sheriff's Coroner's Office has received a total of 33 of the 34 victims from the Conception due to the intense fire that occurred on the vessel. All of the recovered remains have suffered varying degrees of fire damage which requires DNA analysis to confirm the identities of the victims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: In the meantime, the company that owned the Conception is preparing for possible lawsuits. The owner of Truth Aquatics has filed a petition to avoid or limit his liability for the fire even as he expresses grief over all the victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GLEN FRITZLER, OWNER OF DIVE BOAT INVOLVED IN DEADLY FIRE: A lot of
these customers that come out with us are like family and a lot of them that were on that particular voyage have been coming out with us for 20 to 30 years. So it's a tough, tough time for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The Conception caught fire while the victims were asleep early in the morning on Labor Day. Of the 39 total people on board, only five crew members including the Captain survived. They were on the upper deck of the boat. The others were apparently trapped below in the sleeping deck.
Here's a photo of what that area looked like beforehand. Surviving crew members have told Federal investigators they tried to get those passengers out, but were blocked by the raging fire.
Lawrence Brennan is a retired Navy Captain and a Maritime Law Professor at Fordham Law School and so Captain, a pleasure to have you back, but awful circumstances.
I want to back into the lawsuit, but first beginning with what you think is the most important nugget which is the Coast Guard is reporting that there was no roaming night watchman, right? There's normally one crew member awake and alert looking for ships in the middle of the night. That didn't exist. How big of a problem is that?
LAWRENCE BRENNAN, RETIRED NAVY CAPTAIN: It could be -- it could be the decisive problem in the lawsuit for the ship owner, particularly in its limitation petition. A. You should have a lookout at night on board ship.
But here more specifically, the Coast Guard document required the ship owner to have this roving watchman, and the purpose of the roving watchman is to avoid precisely what happened here, complicated with the inability of people to escape.
BALDWIN: In addition to this key detail, the NTSB inspected a similar boat owned by the same company. And so she was quote, "taken aback" by the size and location of that emergency hatch where presumably these passengers if they, you know, have woken up could have made their way out of, and two, that the smoke alarms were not connected through the boat.
BRENNAN: Exactly. These are things that you would expect in a modern boat. You'd expect more attention to safety in a wooden hull boat that was hired to carry passengers.
The forward to ladders that went up from the berthing compartment and the shower compartment, the adjacent ladders were blocked by the fire. The after emergency escape may well have been blocked by the fire. But it seems virtually -- it seems difficult, if not impossible -- for someone to escape, for everyone to escape at that time is hard to understand.
There also is some unclear evidence as to the bodies who were initially found. The Coast Guard report today or the state report, Ventura County says that all bodies were recovered had some sign of burns and injury. But the initial statement on Monday said that four or five of the passengers had escaped and drowned.
Now drowning may have been the cause of death, but we would have expected that there would be some evidence of burns, like we would expect on the people who attempted to rescue them. We haven't heard that.
BALDWIN: Got it. We know that they're still looking for this 34th victim. Back just to the lawsuit. Investigators are interviewing surviving crew members, none of the victims' relatives has sued. But the timing here, how big of an upper hand legally speaking does this -- you're shaking your head -- that the boat company has?
BRENNAN: Yes, I'm shaking my head because in limitation of liability petitions, the ship owner has six months from the date of the first written claim. So six months from Labor Day would be sometime in early March.
The individual states could sue, and then when the Federal limitation proceeding were started, they would all be stopped by the court order. And they would all be consolidated to this one Federal proceeding in Los Angeles.
There's not really much of an advantage. There are some tactical advantages of having limitation.
BALDWIN: But massively --
BRENNAN: No, and I think just in terms of the image that's projected, some people may take offense. We go through that with clients regularly and say, "You have a few days. Wait until you're sued."
BALDWIN: Yes. Just wait, instead of them looking for the 34th body.
BALDWIN: Larry Brennan, thank you very much for coming by. Appreciate your expertise, as always.
Coming up next. Walmart addresses the gun violence epidemic and other companies are now following suit. What does this mean for corporate America in terms of taking action when lawmakers will not?
Plus this American woman is in custody today after a six-day-old baby was found hidden inside her bag at the airport. We will show you the video and tell her story, next.
[14:57:43] BALDWIN: There are a lot of questions right now about an American
woman being held in the Philippines charged with human trafficking. Officials in Manila say Jennifer Talbot tried to smuggle a six-day-old baby out of the country hiding the newborn in a bag. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports -- Kristie.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Brooke, it is such an alarming case. In the Philippines, an American woman has been charged with human trafficking after officials said that she tried to smuggle a six-day-old out of the country. The woman is a 43-year-old originally from Ohio. Her name is Jennifer Talbot. We don't have any other details about the newborn.
At a press conference in Manila, an official involved in the investigation said that Talbot used a sling bag to hide the baby while passing through immigration. The official also said that after immigration, Talbot was carrying the newborn when she tried to board her Delta Airlines flight.
At the boarding gate, Delta crew asked the woman to provide documentation for the child, when she didn't have it, that was when Philippine authorities were contacted.
Now, Talbot has been charged with violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. She had on her a notarized affidavit declaring that she intended to adopt the baby, but it was not signed by the child's mother. That's according to CNN Philippines.
She gave no formation on whether the child had been given or sold. Authority said that the mother of the infant has been identified and will be charged. But police have not been able to find the child's father. Investigations are ongoing and one can only imagine what the newborn had to endure while inside that carry-on bag, going through security, going through immigration in this brazen attempt to smuggle a six-day-old out of the Philippines -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Putting a baby in a bag. Just when you think you've heard it all. Kristie, thank you very much. And it's also unclear when Talbot will appear in court and if she is being represented by an attorney.
Did you know that across the United States, most states currently allow open carry of handguns and most states currently allow open carry of long guns? Now there are different rules regarding licensing and whether those guns can be loaded.
But in the wake of recent mass shootings in this country, some major U.S. retailers are stepping up where politicians apparently fear to tread.
Earlier this week, Walmart and Kroger announced they're asking customers to refrain from openly carrying firearms at all of their stores. And now at least three more retailers are jumping on the bandwagon -- Walgreens, CVS and Wegmans.