Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Dorian Lashes N.C. as Category 1 Storm; Parts of Bahamas Cut off by Hurricane Dorian; Trump Marked Up Hurricane Map With Sharpie. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurricane Dorian's power has arrived in North Carolina with wind, rain, and tornadoes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was outside when I heard the roar and saw things start churning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Abaco Islands, forever scarred now by mass destruction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure it will never be the same again. The people are strong here.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that Alabama was in the original forecast.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The president is still defending presenting this doctored map to back up his false claim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States is in the Situation Room getting briefed on a disaster, and this perception gets created as if he's not engaged on this.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

CAMEROTA: And welcome back to you.

BERMAN: You keep looking at me like you're surprised I'm here.

CAMEROTA: You're here. You're here, and you survived it.

BERMAN: And completely dry.

CAMEROTA: That is shocking. I haven't seen you dry in, what has it been? A week. You've been soaking wet. Soaked through. BERMAN: The towels that were used, the blow dryer. You know, the

hair changes I've had to go through in the last few days is extraordinary.

It is Friday, September 6th. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. And Hurricane Dorian, it just won't go away ever. Look at it.

At this moment, the eye of the storm is just off of Cape Lookout in North Carolina. There's still the possibility the eye could make landfall, but even if it doesn't, they're still concerned about life- threatening storm surge and flash flooding.

Overnight, the storm did weaken to a Category 1. But more than 340,000 people are without power this morning, and that number is rising.

Meanwhile, the official death toll in the Bahamas has grown to 30. Officials expect, they say, that number to increase drastically in the coming days. Hundreds of people, maybe even thousands, are still missing.

The need for basics -- food, water, medical supplies, everything -- is being hampered by limited access to the only international airport on Grand Bahama, which is so badly damaged.

CAMEROTA: You know what else is not going away? Sharpie-gate. It is not over.

President Trump appears to still be fixated on his false claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. And this morning, "The Washington Post" is reporting that it was President Trump himself who altered that official weather map with a black Sharpie to include Alabama.

CNN has also learned that President Trump called FOX News White House correspondent John Roberts into the Oval Office after a live report that the president was not happy with, thinking that he can change the news. Mr. Trump argued he was not wrong when he said that Alabama was threatened.

But let's focus on where the storm really is hitting. So we begin our Hurricane Dorian coverage with CNN's Ryan Young. He is in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Ryan, what are you seeing?


We are getting pounded here. Look, around 2 a.m. this morning, we could feel the pressure in this building changing as the wind speeds increased. We experienced gusts above 65 miles an hour.

And as you look out over here, the waterway behind me. You can really see the power of the storm as it moves in this direction. Now, over 176,000 people in North Carolina are without power right now. The good news so far is we haven't learned of any structural failures

at this point. But the wind has been pushing through stronger than what we've experienced in the last 12 hours or so.

And I mean, you can even hear the wind as it's picking up and increasing during this live shot. There was an evacuation order given for this area where we are. Most of the residents that we saw were heeding that warning.

But then yesterday afternoon, when they didn't see the strength of the storm increasing. We did see people who were sort of getting cabin fever, coming out, see what was going on.

In fact, this area had been hit pretty hard by Florence, the downtown area was -- had a lot of water filling up the streets. We didn't see that yesterday.

But since 2 a.m. this morning, that pressure has increased. The rainstorm has moved through. Pretty significantly, we believe the eye wall is getting ever closer to this area. Alisyn, it will be interesting to see what happens as we get closer and closer to the 7 and 8 a.m. hour as they expect some of the storm to increase.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I think it's going to get worse, Ryan, so please be careful. Thank you very much.

YOUNG: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Let's get an update on Dorian's track right now. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us live with the latest.

Where's it headed, Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. So it's headed towards Hatteras as we speak. And that would be our last possible point in which we could have a landfall. It is still very possible, coming just within a few small miles, less than ten miles, really from around the Morehead City area. But not a technical landfall there.

It's still moving to the northeast at 14 miles per hour, 90 mile-per- hour sustained winds with gusts over 100 miles per hour. The heaviest rain is -- is just south of Hatteras, but it's making its way up to the north. That's where they're just getting pummeled by some of those very heavy rain bands.

Tornadoes also possible as some of those outer bands continue to push onshore. Flash flood warnings and flood watches are still in effect here for numerous states, because even states like Maryland and Delaware are still going to be impacted by heavy rain, even though they won't necessarily get quite the winds that some of the other states have been getting.

Look at this. Both North and South Carolina have some areas that have reported over 10 inches of rain. Wilmington picked up over 9 inches yesterday, actually setting a daily rainfall record there at the airport. Again, here is a look at the forecast accumulation. The thing you

have to keep in mind, too, is that some of these places are still going to get an additional 2 to 4 inches on top of what they've already had.


So here's a look at the storm. Notice the center of the storm does technically pass right over Hatteras around 9 to 10 a.m. this morning. That would be the potential -- the highest potential we would have for a landfall. But any shift in that track could prevent that from happening.

This is not the only area that's going to get rain, though. I mean, even states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine are still going to get some rain from those extreme outer bands as we go through the evening hours tonight. Thankfully, though, they are not expected, Allison, to get quite as heavy of rain as the Carolinas or Georgia or even Florida did.

BERMAN: All right, Alisyn. I'll take it. Let's get rid of this thing and fast. We appreciate it, Allison Chinchar.

Morehead City is on the coast of North Carolina. They are being pelted by the strong winds and heavy rains. Right now, they're feeling the worse of it.

Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones joins me by phone.

Mayor, I know you just lost power not long ago, which is why we're talking to you by phone. Why don't you tell me how your town is doing.

MAYOR JERRY JONES, MOREHEAD CITY (via phone): Well, it's been a sleepless night, no doubt. I just heard the report. And we've been pounded and pounded all night long. The whole county is without power now. I was just looking on our county website, and everybody's without power. So it's -- it's widespread.

BERMAN: You know, Morehead City is pretty much surrounded by water. There's water everywhere on a good day. So talk to me about your flooding concerns. What are you most worried about this morning?

JONES: It's still dark here, so we haven't -- and we're still under curfew; and it's still all emergency operations have been suspended. We are getting battered with 60 mile-an-hour-plus winds, probably 100 miles up to a gust. It's just a guest, but I know my house has been shaking all night.

But we'll get out of daylight when the winds subside a little bit, start assessing. But I do know they're -- I've been looking on the website. There's already been reports of flooding in our lower-lying areas.

I'm afraid our Morehead City waterfront has probably gotten pounded again like it did in Florence and probably going to have a lot of rebuilding to do there from floods. But we will know more in a couple hours.

BERMAN: Now, you needed a curfew. You were mentioning a curfew, a 7 p.m. curfew but not a mandatory evacuation. Why'd you make that decision?

JONES: Well, the curfew is for public safety and also for the safety of our first responders. Even though we have an evacuation, if people are cruising around at night and somebody gets hurt, you know, we will respond, but we don't want to put anybody in danger.

BERMAN: What about storm surge? You're talking about the flooding. Getting reports of flooding from low-lying areas. One of the biggest concerns all along the coast has been the surge, which has created some problems. Are you getting any information this morning?

JONES: Not really. But high tide passed, just peaked out about two or three hours ago. So that's good news.

But I know in my neighborhood, we did get some minor flooding. Not high as Florence, thank God, but we did have some flooding here.

BERMAN: Yes, and again, that's important to remind people. You've been through this almost every year for the last three or four years with these storms, and the recovery over Florence is still very much going on there.

Mayor Jones, thank you for being with us. Get ready. Get those galoshes set. You have to go out and assess the damage as soon as it gets light out. We really appreciate you being with us.

JONES: All right. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Well, the death toll from Dorian has gone up in the Bahamas. It is now at 30 people, but the country's health minister says that number may increase significantly and, quote, could be staggering.

Search-and-rescue operations continue as officials struggle to get food and water and other supplies to these devastated areas that you see on your screen there.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is on the ground in Grand Bahama. And we're going to speak with him live in a moment.

But first, here's what Patrick and his team found when they managed to get to parts of the island that have been totally cut off by this storm.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're in the town of Hayrak (ph) on Grand Bahama Island. Or I should say what used to be the town of Hayrak (ph).

This behind me is the clinic, and it has been leveled by Hurricane Dorian's Category 5 winds that came screaming through here. There are people in the Bahamas who say that the Abacos, different islands, received the worst damage; and they need to come here. They need to come to remote places on Grand Bahama Island that very few have visited.

We're only about an hour from Freeport, but it took us much longer to get here, driving around debris like this. You can see in every direction for miles all the power lines are down.

Most of the poles are down. There are trees down. You don't see any cars coming back and forth, because there's nothing or nowhere to go to here.

This was the town center. Over there, look at this. It's amazing -- is -- was the police station. Hurricane Dorian came here and ripped the roof clean off.


But not only that, you think of the power that a storm needs to knock down entire cement walls. We don't know if anybody was here, but it's hard to imagine they could have survived, because residents say the storm surge -- and you can see the line just up there -- got this high, almost all the way to the roof, 17 feet, they said. They measured it. You can see the water stains all the way down to the ground, devastation everywhere you look.

And the town goes all the way back to the water. There are some 300 homes here. Every home is either damaged or destroyed. You can see where the wind smashed into the sign but somehow didn't tear it off.

These are slabs of concrete, and they've been thrown around like they were nothing, like they weighed nothing.

This is the High Rock Prison. There's only one jail cell, and it's not guarding anybody now. We don't know if anybody was here when the storm came behind bars. They surely didn't stick around. There's nothing left in this town, and the people say they've yet to receive any help from the government. Like so many Bahamians, they are waiting for that assistance to come.


CAMEROTA: Patrick, what a remarkable piece, as all of your pieces have been over the past days. We would not be able to see all this loss and all of this devastation and destruction if you were not on the ground there.

And so I'm just wondering if you can tell our viewers how and where you have weathered the storm for all of these days and how you've survived.

OPPMANN: And you know, as you know, we choose to get on the plane. This is our job, and we're happy to be here, as happy as one can be.

We got here. All hotels were closed. There was a couple we met within the first hour filming on the beach. Christine is leaving today, thank God. She's getting on a Royal Caribbean ship to leave. It's been -- it's been tough on them, as it has been on everybody.

But they just brought us into their home. They've cooked and fed us for the last week. They keep refusing to take any money. They love us, they said, and they love our generator a little bit more.

We filled up -- we fill our toilets from their pool and downstairs. It's three flights down, three flights up. And we -- we're fine. We've eaten a lot more peanut butter than I ever hope to in my life. But we get through it, because with my producer, Jay Garcia, my cameraman, Jose Armego (ph), and they're just tremendous, tremendous colleagues, and friends, and they're probably even family.

You know, yesterday we got around Freeport a little bit more. And you can see life returning, restaurants opening. And it seemed like -- it's definitely not normalcy, but life is coming back. And then you get outside of town, and you go to those little towns that used to be towns that probably will never be rebuilt, and you know, it's like the hurricane just hit.

We'd see people asking for bottles of water and he -- it was like gold. And so it's always a tale of two hurricanes. You know, in the cities, cruise ships come in like they are now. We believe the

airport is almost ready to open. But we keep being told it has not opened yet. Things are really slowly getting better.

Here, you go a little bit up the road and nothing. It's like help has not arrived and people, after all this time, are still very much stranded on their own and waiting for that help to arrive to them.

CAMEROTA: Patrick, listen. You are obviously tackling this with uncommon good humor, which we really appreciate. But you already showed us the picture of the devastation of the airport. I mean, it's destroyed. How is help going to get to these folks?

OPPMANN: You know, not soon enough is the answer. People are hanging on by -- by a thread. You see the lines at the gas -- we don't have power or water. Nobody does. We have a generator. We're CNN. We have all the resources. I see people worried every day, trying to get us what they need.

Most Bahamians, by and large, don't have that. People -- people are, by and large, pretty poor on a lot of these islands. And they are -- they are hanging on by their fingernails.

When we got out there yesterday, I don't want to be graphic, but the stench of death is -- is everywhere. And so, you know, I don't pay a lot of attention to the official government death count, because I know that is nowhere near what it's going to be.

You look into these towns and so there's -- many of them are going back there today. It's town after town that was just one town we shot at and we had to do quickly, because we had to get back before nightfall. But town after town, please tell me everybody left, because the damage there was just not survivable.

[06:15:08] CAMEROTA: Yes. And that's everybody's worst fear, that obviously, the death toll today of 30 is nowhere close to what we're actually going to find out.

Patrick Oppmann, again, we just thank you so much for your reporting that has revealed to the rest of the world what's happened on the Bahamas. Obviously, we'll check back with you through the program.

So for more information on how you all can help support the people there and get them the help they need, there's a whole list of nonprofits that are working to help Hurricane Dorian victims. You can find it on our website at

BERMAN: Can I just say, when you hear the scope and the breadth of the problem that Patrick is witnessing there, the bigness of the catastrophe, it makes what's been going on in the White House seem that much more pathetically small.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But I would say significant.

BERMAN: I'm not saying insignificant. I'm not saying insignificant. I just think the discrepancy there is so glaring. I mean, I don't have the words to describe how alarming it is.

CAMEROTA: No, I understand. But I mean, I think that, because of that discrepancy is why we continue to report on it and why the president is still fixated on it.

We have new developments today. And I just think that the illustration, as you say, of that split screen of what is truly happening, and then the imaginary world in Alabama where something else is happening is really important to continue to report the development.

BERMAN: It should be the source of shame. Nine tweets, at least five maps, a Sharpie marker, an ever-changing explanation from the White House. Why is the president obsessed with his false claim about Alabama and Hurricane Dorian. Think about Patrick Oppmann and what he's seen recently and then think about this picture. We'll discuss next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump is still fixated on defending his false claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

"The Washington Post" reports this morning that it was President Trump himself who marked up that official weather map with a black Sharpie, trying to get people to believe his false claim.

CNN has learned that the president called a FOX reporter into the Oval Office to argue that the facts were not the facts.

Joining us now is Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for "The New York Times" and CNN political analyst.

Maggie, we've talked so often how the president makes false claims. I think this one's in its own category. This one is so different, because there's a visual. There's actually a cartoon that goes along with this false claim, where the president is asking millions of Americans not to believe their own eyes and ears. But they do still believe their own eyes and ears.

Other than the people around him that you see in this meeting here in the Oval Office, who are forced to go along with him and even fall on their sword, as homeland security advisor Rear Admiral Peter Brown, who is now saying, "Well, I -- I suppose I was the person who originally said that -- that projection."

But for the rest of us, this has just been a really disturbing, disconcerting episode.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- I would actually take issue with the idea that his aides are forced to do anything. They could quit. They don't have to stay there and repeat the things that he says and reverse engineer his claims when they turn out not to be true.

Look, clearly, at some point in some briefing, someone said many days ago, could be Alabama. The problem is that was not current information when he did that tweet.

And he then changes the -- the whole nature of the argument to be "Alabama was there. It was Alabama." Right, but not when he said it. And there was this idea that he espouses and his supporters espouse and many of his aides espouse that it's really all our fault, the media's fault for focusing on what he says or what he -- what he meant and why are we trying -- I mean, he is the president of the United States, and this is actually not just some -- a tweet about witch hunt or any number of the ones that he's done in the last two years. This is about a hurricane, and this is about people's lives.

And we're talking about this when the images that we just saw on this show are devastating and terrible. People are really hurting. People are hurting in the Bahamas. People are hurting in South Carolina where there's a lot of flooding. And instead, he's been tweeting about how he was right about Alabama. And his focus, as it often is, is on himself and not the people he's supposed to be serving.

BERMAN: And I think that is what is important on day 12 of his coverup or cleanup of this whole thing, is you know, I can tell you the view from -- from underneath the storm clouds is WTF.

This does less than zero from the people being affected by this. It does less than zero for the people in the Bahamas, less than zero to inspire the rescue crews flying there right now.

And if a president is taking the time to focus on this, he or she may not be doing that president job quite the right way. I mean, if you have the time to do this.

HABERMAN: It's also -- it's worth remembering that the whole reason that he stayed home this weekend and didn't go to Poland and, instead, sent the vice president in his stead on a trip he was supposed to take was, ostensibly to monitor this storm. And he was monitoring it so carefully, supposedly, that he was aware of the details and up to date. And clearly, he tweeted about an outdated briefing.

And so who's fault is that? Is that the fault of his briefers? Is that the fault of the fact that he may not have been paying very close attention and just had to fire off a tweet himself or have his aide, Dan Scavino, do it? I don't know. But this is the White House's own doing. And as always, they find some reason why it's someone else's fault.


CAMEROTA: I also think that it -- when you see someone who is divorced from reality, it is confusing to everyone around. So of course, there are always questions of why, what's happening? Why do the rest of us see one thing and feel one thing and feel the 150 mile- per-hour winds, and he sees something so different? And when it's the president, of course, you need to ask why somebody is divorced from reality.

HABERMAN: I mean, I don't think it's divorced from reality. I think he's trying to create reality. And I think these are two different things. And actually, one is a little more cynical than the other. Right?

I don't think this is that he necessarily genuinely believed that Alabama was in the path on Sunday of this hurricane. Because he always doubles down, refuses to admit errors ever, everything becomes that he had to be right. He's now just trying to bend reality to his will.

But I don't -- I mean, I think it's -- it's, frankly, a different -- a different thing. And it's equally troublesome and problematic for him. But it's that he tries to make everybody see it as he wants it to be. It's not -- and what he wants it to be is that he wasn't wrong.

BERMAN: So the president took time out from covering up over this bizarre episode with Alabama. Yesterday, apparently, to meet with Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia, in the White House, who was there because Jerry West, a basketball player, was getting a medal.

But he did talk about guns with the president. We don't know exactly what was said. You know, the after readout of the meeting is they talked about common sense gun measures. I don't think the Manchin people have been optimistic for weeks about the possibility of getting background checks. But what are you hearing now?

HABERMAN: We actually have additional reporting on that, which is that at this meeting, they heard they met for about half an hour, and the president suggested my colleague, Jonathan Martin, and I have reporting on this that Manchin came away, I think, according to people briefed on the meeting, hearing the president say that -- that his background checks proposal that Manchin has worked on for some time wasn't off the table. But aides then piped up that they have that data back that we had

heard that the campaign was working on polling to try to figure out either what was possible or what could be OK for the president.

And the polling was not good for the president, if he went along with a bunch of background checks and a bunch of different pieces of gun control legislation.

So I think if we see anything at all -- and that's a big "if" -- it's going to be piecemeal, smaller bore, focused in part on mental health, which we've heard the president talk about for several weeks now.

And again, it's not clear to me that there is either either momentum or appetite for it after the Senate was in recess following the back- to-back shootings in Ohio and El Paso that helped get this conversation going in the first place.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, thank you very much for sharing all of your reporting with us.

So our next guest was visiting her mother in Grand Bahama and chose to ride out Hurricane Dorian with her family. And her harrowing story of what happened that night is next.