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Cuomo Prime Time
Coverage of Hurricane Florence. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 14, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Anderson, thank you very much.
I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
The witching hour is here. Florence is right on top of north Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Everything has changed in the last hour. The gusts that they predicted are here in full effect. We've been told there'd been steady winds just at about 30, 40 miles per hour and everything has picked up.
The water has everything working in concert for the storm. The wind and the tide is coming in. The surge, which is all of this energy that has been held up by this storm and rotation, the wind went from blowing into the waves, now is carrying the waves on to shore.
So everything is working together to create a real problem for this and the surrounding areas. We're going to have a couple of different shots for you to show you what is happening with the sea shore. This is the first level of urgency here.
As this water gets closer and closer, there is not enough protection to keep it from these homes. What's being called dunes or berms really are just landscaping. And if they get three or four feet of water, that is whipped by the wind, with that surge potential, it will come into the homes. They have been shaking underneath our feet all day long. Over 650,000 are without power.
It has been intermittent right now and we don't have any power in the homes and we're working off our battery and all other technology we use to keep broadcasting. But what will it mean to these homes?
The last time they got hit with anything like this, it was Hurricane Hugo. Everything was erased. It changed how this place looked for a generation. It was the most expensive storm ever.
Now what we're seeing is that you only have about 20 percent, 30 percent of these homes that have flood insurance which is a tricky game. Inland, less than 20 percent of homes have flood insurance. So, if all of this water comes in and sits and pools and creates destruction, that will be flood effect.
So, this is the moment that they waited for here in South Carolina. We'll see how it goes. We'll take you through the best and the worst throughout the hour. Let's now go to Miguel Marquez, Carolina Beach in North Carolina.
It's been a long day for Miguel.
Miguel, can you hear me?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been a long day and a long 24 hours. We have seen just about everything. You talk about storm surge down there. We saw that much earlier today when the tide came in.
There was water up to my waist here. It was an area in town that often does flood but they were surprised at how quickly that water went up. About a half hour, it went from -- in the marina and just where the water was supposed to be up to just waist high.
We've seen wind and rain if the last 24 hours, but in the last few hours we've seen more wind and rain at the same time than almost the rest of the time that Florence has been blowing through here. The rain tonight is just intense. They're expecting up to 40 inches in some places and they may get that here in Carolina Beach.
The entire county, including Carolina Beach, is out of power or at least the most of it is, Duke Energy saying they have 128,000 customers and 108,000 are out of power in this county. What they are concerned about now are the hours ahead. And not having any major emergencies. They have not had any so far.
But cell phone towers are going down, some of the emergency responders, the communications are going down. And there is concern that they will not be able to get to people given the conditions right now in this area. We've had some roofs blow off. We've had some walls come down in Carolina Beach, but for the most part, as far as they know, it is as smooth sailing as it can be.
Once this blows through, they'll be able to get out there and figure out what the damage is more specifically and then figure out whether or not they could let people back into this town.
Chris, back to you.
CUOMO: Right. So, Miguel, let me ask you something. Right now, the first responders and local officials are telling us the window is closed. They can't get out now, at least not here in north Myrtle Beach in South Carolina and this whole coastline here that they're worried about now with exactly the combination of wind and water that we're getting. It is happening in the dark is an added element of distress for people.
What have you heard about that? We've been hearing stories and you find out here you find out your home is flooded in the dark and it's just that much more disorienting, the distress not being able to call.
Have you been hearing stories about that where you are? MARQUEZ: Well, this is a problem for emergency workers going out in
the dark because of trees down, because of roads washed out, they don't know how deepwater is, they can't see what's around them, and at this point because communications are so poor, this area, even if someone is having an emergency situation, it is not clear other than maybe using a CB radio or some sort of old school sort of way of communicating with somebody that they happen to know is tuning in, it's not clear how they would get to reach out to emergency management or emergency folks to get -- to get the help they need.
So, it is a mess. At this point, there are 6,200 people who live here, but 90 percent of them left, but 600 people decided to stay here. They are in it for the night. They're going to have to stay hunkered down and ride this up through the morning and hopefully nothing major goes wrong -- Chris.
CUOMO: Right. What will day break bring? That is the big and really vexing problem right now.
We have a number of five fatalities from the storm so far. That number, one is always too many. But given the amount of time and saturation let's hope it just stays at that number and the first responders continue to be the angels among us that they've been thus far.
Miguel, stay safe. I'll check back with you. Let us know if I need to come to you right away.
Now, we have Ben McMillan. He's a storm chaser. And he's in North Myrtle Beach here with me.
Now, Ben, if you can hear me, it really seems that things have just changed. I was looking at the radar before we went on and I wasn't expecting it to pick up like this.
What's hitting us right now?
BEN MCMILLAN, STORM CHASER: Well, Chris, as you mentioned, we had the wind shift and the winds were blowing the ocean out to sea and then it switches and pushed the water inland. So you are dealing with the surge at the height of Florence, flying debris was a huge concern. You could see this huge tree fell on top of a steakhouse. Thankfully, it was closed at the time, but numerous hazards here in the North Myrtle Beach area.
CUOMO: Ben, let me ask you one more thing. If we can, while Ben is talking, give us the shot from above with Jake if you can to show the water -- because, Ben, I have to tell you, I'm fairly familiar with the ocean. I spend a lot of time in the ocean and dealing with the tides. It seems like it moved five or six feet toward us in the last 25, 30 minutes.
Is that what they're expecting now? Do you have the combination of high tide and energy being released and the picking up of the winds working in concert? MCMILLAN: Look, Chris, we had numerous inches of freshwater rainfall.
I was on South Ocean Boulevard, that area without power and surrounded by several feet of water now, and when you have the freshwater added to the surge, which is a gradual pushing of water, a gradual rising of water from that tide as it slowly pushes into the shores and then up over the shoreline and into the city, it's just way too much water, way too much fast and that's what we're dealing with here in South Carolina tonight.
CUOMO: Yes, the storm equivalent of a rock and a hard place. You have the ocean chasing up from one way, being turbo-charged by the storm winds, and then you have the freshwater flooding coming the other way, who gets stuck in the middle and what happens to them and for how long? Those are some of the questions that the first responders are going to have to deal with.
Ben, please stay safe. As you get information, come back to us and I'll check with you as soon as I can.
Now, Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina has been the tip of the spear of an effort that by all accounts thus far has been everything it's needed to be.
Again the numbers, 650,000 or so customers without power. Customers means a household, how many people in each home? It varies.
People have lost their lives because of this storm, stands at five. Let's hope it stays there.
Governor, can you hear us?
GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Yes, I can, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Governor, thank you for joining us.
What can you tell us about the kind of rate of response that you're getting and the need that you're finding out about in North Carolina?
COOPER: We have brave first responders who are out in the water right now rescuing people. We have had loss of life and we mourn that. I'll tell you, this storm is relentless and excruciating and very slow, moving at three miles an hour. And with every inch of rain that falls in our rivers, it's that much closer to significant inland flooding.
We've already experienced the ocean surge that you're about to experience in South Carolina and now, we're deeply concerned about massive flooding inland and we're still evacuating areas all along the rivers in North Carolina.
There is probably not a county or a person that won't -- won't be affected in some way by this very massive and violent storm.
But we in North Carolina, we're pulling together and we're going to get through it and we're going to recover as well.
CUOMO: And you know, I think that you're going to wind up finding out you had friends that you never knew about. Not just in this state or the neighboring states, but all across the country. People are watching the storm. We come together in moments like this. It is one of the signature traits of us as a people. And God willing, it will be there in a moment of need as we start to recover from this event.
Now, you said there's been loss of life. We've been reporting it at five. Is there any update on that, Governor?
COOPER: Well, there are three confirmed deaths. But we are investigating other deaths that have occurred to see if they are related to the storm. You mentioned the help that we have gotten -- Chris, we've received personnel and equipment from 23 states across this country. I've talked to numerous governors who have sent help here, first responders who are putting their lives at risk. We're all Americans when something like this happens.
And I'm very grateful for our local, state and federal partners and the volunteers, the faith-based groups, and particularly people who have come from far away as California to help us out here in North Carolina.
CUOMO: Governor, what are your emergency experts and officials telling you about the biggest concerns with the duration of this? I've stood in worse, you've lived through worse, you know, different times here in North Carolina. I'm in South Carolina.
But I've never seen anything be so consistent for so long. What are they telling you about their concerns on this level?
COOPER: The problem is the combination of the ocean surge that we're getting, the storm surge from the sea on top of the relentless rain that we're having. There is really nowhere for the river water to go. It usually discharges into the ocean. But the surge is backing it up. Rain on top of that is causing massive flooding and the flooding is going to occur for several days because the rivers are going to continue to rise.
Water is our main problem right now. And we know that floodwaters kill and we're urging North Carolinians to stay in place and unless you're told to evacuate, and if you are, go. Get out of there. Get to higher ground.
CUOMO: We heard the one horrible story -- heartbreaking about a tree falling and crushing a home taking a mother and her child. A man survived in that situation. That is the -- that is the rarity actually in hurricanes. People think it's the wind. But it is the water, three out of fur time -- out of four times that winds up taking life because of how quickly it comes in and with so much force.
And just as we've been speaking, Governor, again, everything is working in full effect here in South Carolina now, the wind is being -- has shifted at this part of the storm sitting on top of us here at North Myrtle Beach and pushing the -- the tide in. So the tide is already coming in so that is a combination effect. It's releasing energy and they had added about four to five feet of sand to this stretch of beach we were told. It is already been erased and the water line is plateau with it. So we'll see where it goes from here.
Governor, as you need to get the word out, we're here to get assistance and getting information out to the public, especially those in the immediate vicinity. Let us know how to help and God bless going forward.
COOPER: Thank you, Chris. Stay safe down there.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you, sir.
So we're going to take a break and something I'll show you when we went there -- we still had daylight, Jay McMichaels (ph) and I, who's the photographer who is braving the weather right now, that is the hard job being behind the camera because he has to look right into this stuff. That is happening right now.
We went out on to the beach to show you how the water is being affected by the storm. So you had -- my producer Brian, our cameraman Jay and I went down there to show you and when we come back, you'll get with the combination effect is that could make Florence so dangerous for this area.
We have continuing coverage of the rescues and the continuing problems up and down this coast as soon as we come back in our special coverage. Stay with CNN.
CUOMO: Hurricane Florence is now in full effect in South Carolina. We're in North Myrtle Beach. We've been told that the wind was going to shift. It was going to start blowing in the ocean.
Show 'em the shot of what's happening right now. It has moved ten to 15 feet up the shoreline since we came here. Now, that's not surge, OK? Surge is about a volume of water that this storm might deliver and that energy is being released right now.
So, you have the wind driving the ocean up on to the very, very basically flat shoreline. There is no big assent for water to make it up. There is no big protective berm. You hear about sand dunes. They're more landscaping than dunes.
So, it's all working now and the water is creeping this way. It's from the other side of South Carolina flooding down from North Carolina, that's freshwater flooding. And in the middle is where people could be trapped. So that is what we're dealing with right now.
So, before it was dark, we went down to the beach, our photographer Jay McMichael, my producer Brian and I went down there to show you what is happening with the water and what (AUDIO GAP) this shoreline got that a storm like this once before a generation ago, and it changed everything. That was Hurricane Hugo. Take a look at what we saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You see how this sweeping down like a moonscape. This is like little sand blasting material coming. But I've got to get you to the beach. You've got to see the water. All right?
Jay, if you can, turn a little bit, don't mess yourself up, but you see the water. Here is the risk. Now, we're going to get a full tide -- a high tide coming in at about 2:00 in the morning, local time.
What will that mean? Everything is going to be working toward flooding this area. So look at the sweep of the beach. Jay, stay here. If you look at the sweep of the beach, OK, it is not just that you have 50 to 60 mile-an-hour gusts, but you're going to see the water is going to start to move this way and then in.
So, Jay, angle it this way and you'll see what the angle of assent will be. It only really has to get a couple of feet up and then a plateau and it's going to run like it does almost every night when it isn't a hurricane.
This is mostly landscaping. The water will come right up and over it. Now what is the force of the water? That's what I'll show you. Nothing stupid, don't get in this water it would be silly and stupid.
But as the sense of the motion, just the hydrodynamics that are at play, this water is going to be moving this way and then up. And the tide will be to its advantage. And all of the water that stirred up -- do you see that layer of foam?
It's not just a normal sand bar. Energy is being contained by the storm. It is literally whipped in a circle motion like when you have your finger in a drink and you're stirring it around, it keeps going and going. It's going to be released and then come up.
All of this energy that is being fought back now won't be sent this way, it's going to come up this thing -- you want me to get it for you. Let me get it for you, hold on. OK.
So, it is all going to be coming up this way, right to this very vulnerable area of seascape. All of these buildings, when it was Hurricane Hugo, they're all gone. They're all taken out. Why? No protection.
Once you get up on to here, you get a plateau effect like I told you, up over the berm and into the buildings. They've been raised up on chicken legs, those little stilts. It is not proper protection. Not from something like this.
So where does the water go? It is a little bit of a plateau and basin effect through all of North Myrtle Beach. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. So that's what we're dealing with. And now if we could take Jay's shot and show the water now, you could see exactly what we were concerned about is happening. Look at how much farther up the shoreline is now and you see that it met the top plateau of all of the extra sand that had been put here to make it four feet higher. It's been erased. It's now at a deficit and the water is coming closer about every five to 10 minutes.
Now, obviously, we have the ability to leave here and get to higher ground and be safe but people a few blocks inland do not and that is the concern and the first responders have said right now the window is closed. They can't come out in these kinds of conditions. There is too much risk to them.
The other problem is, as we've been saying, right now, the number at 650,000 customers without power. So people are waiting for this in the dark. That is really frightening. Because when that water comes, it comes unannounced and it comes quick and it comes ugly. So that is the situation we're going to be following.
That is what they've been living with in North Carolina for 24 hours already. That is where we have Brian Todd, he's in Wilmington, North Carolina, on the Cape Fear River.
Now, Brian, I've been telling people, you have storm surge coming one way from the ocean and then coming down the rivers as well and people could get pinched in the middle. What's the situation where you are?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, some powerful stuff you just showed viewers about the power, and the surge and the sheer energy of the ocean where you are. That is at play here. You just mentioned, Cape Fear River is right over here beyond this barrier. You can't see it because it is so dark and that's part of the fear that's going on in the city because as you mentioned, Chris, the darkness is what people are really concerned about, when is it coming and when is this river going to breach, when could my home be flooded.
High tide is coming in a few hours and that is what officials and forecasters here are concerned about. This area where I'm standing just a couple of hours ago was heavily flooded. Now the tide has pulled it back out. But the river there is -- believe me, you can't see it but it is surging. There are a lot of whitecaps and the tide is really ripping downstream.
This river, Chris, today is setting records. A few hours ago I was told by the weather people that right here where the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean right here where Wilmington is, it broke out of the records for surge at high tide. It was 8.5 feet which is way above the normal records.
Now that is downstream. Upstream on the Cape Fear River, up this way, it is -- where they are really concerned about flooding because those records are going to really shatter everything that has come before. It's going to be about 20 feet above their normal levels on the Cape Fear River up north where the tributaries are, where it's even more low-lying, where a lot of people live near those tributaries.
They are really fearful tonight about what's going to happen at high tide when the water, as we've been telling everybody all week, has absolutely nowhere to go but into the homes and into the streets and elsewhere.
Now here in Wilmington, there is a key question here. Where we are is Water Street, right next to the water. Every street that runs perpendicular from Water Street inland to downtown Wilmington has an incline. At least several of the ones right around here.
A key question tonight: is the incline going to be enough to protect these people up here from the storm surge from the flooding? Are they on high enough ground? We're going to find out in the next couple of hours, Chris. But there is a lot of concern, a lot of worry about what this river can do because of how easily it floods even in normal circumstances, Chris. Very dangerous situation here tonight.
CUOMO: All right, Brian, thank you very much. Please keep an eye on it. Come back to me.
While you were talking, this isn't just water that is coming this way. The ocean and the winds are forcing sand up into the air and they're literally -- it is like they were a fist and they're throwing all of that particulate matter toward these homes. The camera downstairs couldn't take it any more, because it is literally sand that is getting hit into the lens and it shut the camera down. We have a second shot ready, came up and we're ready to go.
A lot of people aren't going to be able to make any adjustments in these situations right now. This is just about making TV. How you survive in a situation like this gets very, very complicated very quickly. So, we're making our calls to emergency officials, someone is going to join us tonight but they can't because the situation is changing too quickly here.
This amount of wind and this amount of water has never been dealt with here before. So they don't know what to expect. They know, though, that the first responders have to hunker down and wait.
So, if you are blessed with power or able to still watch the coverage, know this -- they have an unprecedented army of first responders ready to help. We've been talking to them, we know what vehicles they have, we know what equipment they have, we know what communications they have. They are ready to do unprecedented types of rescues.
But they're not going to be able to come out right now until the situation calms. Now that makes sense except for one really frustrating factor -- time. This is going to last for another five to seven hours. They don't know what that means in terms of the combination effect of freshwater flooding and storm surge.
You see that it's coming up. How far will it go? We don't know. It is moved considerably in just under an hour. Will it continue at that rate? High tide locally is at about 2:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
How long will the wind shift and the power be this way? They're all unknowns and there are a lot of people who have a lot of fear right now and it is understandable, but we've been talking to emergency officials and they believe that as soon as they can, they'll come out and be doing the work that only they can.
So, we're going to take a break right now. When we come back, we're going to show you proof positive of what's possible once the first responders can get out. There have been rescues that will blow your mind and lift your spirits about what's possible even in conditions like the ones that Hurricane Florence are bringing to bear in the Carolinas. So we're going to take a break and then please come back for our continuing coverage of Hurricane Florence.
CUOMO: All right. Welcome back to our coverage of Hurricane Florence here on CUOMO PRIME TIME.
This is what the meteorologists were afraid of for this area of South Carolina. Everything is in full effect for this storm Florence right now. The wind has shifted. It's now coming from the ocean in.
It's driving what will already be a high tide up against this very shallow coast. They had ended -- they had added sand to try to create more of a barrier but it is already been met by the water.
If you could take a look, if you were to count the waves by white lines, you go about one, two, three for lines what they see and call sets of waves. It's moved in by about half. So what you are seeing was two waves back or is two waves back now, it was four waves back. So, it's come up considerably in just a little amount of time.
How far will it go? We don't know. This is going to continue for five to seven hours.
Now on the other side, inland, there is freshwater flooding and water is actually coming down from North Carolina, not just from above but from below, ground water. All of it is pooling, all of it is creating flash flood risk and people will literally be trapped in between them.
Now, how dire is it? Not that dire at this point. The officials believe they're going to be able to sustain, they'll be able to tolerate the time. They have an amassed army ready to come out and do the right thing and act as only first responders can in these types of situations.
But we have many hours to go before that becomes a scenario. This is a long night and many are spending it in the dark. Six hundred and fifty thousand customers at least in the Carolinas don't have power. We don't have power here, but we have our own generators and a lot of resources that others do not. So, now, we want to tell part of the story that has been going on all
day. Dianne Gallagher is in New Bern, North Carolina. And what we've seen is that the bigger cities have been okay so far. But it's the smaller places where there is really concentrated pain.
And, Dianne Gallagher -- Dianne, you got a personal taste of that today. Thank God you're okay. Tell us what you saw today.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris. So we've been going out with these rescue groups throughout this kind of -- first of all seeing what they're up against, to show people just how dire the situation is, but also to get a look at this flooding here.
Now, I want to tell you, we were embedded with the North Carolina National Guard a little bit earlier. We were in a vehicle that looks just like this one except it was painted differently. So, it's an LMTV. We were in the back there -- you see that covered canvas area, we were in the back there, they had members up in the front and we were riding in the back with another member of the North Carolina National Guard.
Now, we were in a heavily flooded area on our way to rescue three people here in New Bern, a very heavily flooded area when it appears that part of the road had washed away and that vehicle there began to slide down and sort of tip over. The back part began to fill up with water, Chris, I believe you are seeing images of that right now.
The good thing is we were with the North Carolina National Guard. These guys could not have been any better. They got us out of there. They made sure that everything was good. They pulled it around and got us situated, themselves situated, they are trained for this. They've said we've done this in training before so they knew what they were doing.
The vehicle is back and it's okay. All of the National Guardsman are back and okay.
This is Sergeant McKinney (ph). He was riding in the back with me.
We were talking about the importance of evacuations right about the time this happened because of how dangerous these missions can be.
SERGEANT MCKINNEY, NATIONAL GUARD: Yes, it's very important for people to follow the evacuation orders because, you know, especially if you have children. You're putting their lives in danger and as a parent, you're responsible for their lives and they have no control over what happens. You do. And you're putting yourself in danger, especially the elderly. You need to make sure you get out before the floodwaters hit during the evacuation orders.
It is real dangerous for the crews going in. You know, right now, we've got a whole lot of evacuation we've been doing. We've rescued over 80 people ourselves in the last stages, my small crew, and we're working around the clock to continue these missions.
[21:35:03] GALLAGHER: And I want to verify to everybody at home. Everyone who was on our vehicle is okay now.
MCKINNEY: Yes. Everybody is fine. We got out of there real quick like and everybody is good.
GALLAGHER: Excellent. And he can't say too much about it.
But I can talk about how we got out, Chris. And the way we got out, these guys right here. We have a bunch of teenagers from the New Bern, North Carolina, area who were in a boat nearby, just like you see them here.
And I just want to get from you guys real quick, we're not the first rescue. Talk about the rescues you guys have been doing real quick, and why it's important to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've grown up here and they have too and we help each other out when -- from around here. And I'm an Eagle Scout and so, from scouting, I know to help people and help everyone out best I can, I used my boat, used my truck and got everyone that could get out, out.
GALLAGHER: Thank you so much. And these are guys, again, they came in their boat, everyone, if you are out in this weather, please be careful.
CUOMO: All right. Dianne, thank you so much.
Look, your story ended the right way. There are going to be so many people in trouble. There is nothing like knowing that your vehicle all of a sudden is no longer attached to the ground. So thank god, you're all right and the crew is okay and the people you were with are all right.
There is a long way to go. There are a lot of people who are going to be in lots of different types of peril. So, thank you, Dianne Gallagher. Stay safe up there.
Let's bring in now Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan. He is in charge of the U.S. military efforts here on the ground.
Can you hear me, sir?
LT. GEN. JEFFREY BUCHANAN, U.S. MILITARY (via telephone): I've got you loud and clear, Chris. Can you hear me?
CUOMO: Yes, I can. Thank you for spending time with us, sir. I know you're very busy. Can you tell us a little bit just to reassure some of the people who hopefully still have the power and able to observe the coverage waiting for sun up here and to see if there is a better day ahead for them.
How much different layers are there of response available once you can get out into the weather? BUCHANAN: Well, shortly, we have our first responders, county and
local officials, firefighters, police officials, et cetera, and then the heavy lifting in the situation like this comes from the state, the National Guard troops and other state resources. Emergency resources that are under Governor Cooper's control in North Carolina and Governor McMaster's control in South Carolina.
And then on the federal side of the government, we in the military are in direct support of FEMA which is helping out -- helping the state governors work on their priorities.
So, all in all, we've got a number -- in total probably right today more than 9,500 troops and about 6,500 and a bulk from the National Guard and about 3000 federal troops. About 70 helicopters in the area but a bunch more outside of the area and ready to come in, and more than 800 troops are -- or 800 high-water rescue trucks just like Ms. Gallagher just showed from both the state and federal government.
CUOMO: General, do I still have you there?
BUCHANAN: You do. Can you hear me?
CUOMO: All right. Oh, good. I do. Thank you, sir. It's good. You know how communications are. I don't have to tell you.
In terms of what it will mean for the recovery, this big x factor of duration of this storm that it is just hour after hour of pounding saturation and wetness and wind, what does that cause for you in terms of risk and what do you see in terms of the biggest need as a function of the duration?
BUCHANAN: Well, initially, the hard thing is that, you know, in a situation like this, we have a lot of aircraft and we can't get the helicopters into the rescues yet because of high winds.
Now, as those subside and move to the west, we'll be able to bring in aircraft from within the states and also from offshore. We've got a couple of navy ships off the coast, Kearsarge in Arlington where we could bring in aircraft, or from the states themselves. That is -- so the initial problem is because of high winds, we're limited to surface rescues, both trucks and small boats.
Over time my -- an emerging concern you mentioned right now, it's not as bad in South Carolina. But it's going to get worse because of all of the rainfall and the water coming downstream from both North and South Carolina, it will converge in that area of northeastern South Carolina, so we think the peak of the floodwaters may still be a couple of days away. And it will take some days to recede. So, we're anticipating a long-duration response.
CUOMO: I mean, look, it's always going to be in phases, right? I mean, right now, we have this phase that is just the straight storm phase and then you're going to have sitting water. There is a lot of problems with what happens with sitting water. How long it takes to reabsorb when people can get back and what kind of remediation is needed, it's all in phases but you have to take one at a time and there are plenty of people here ready to do the right thing as soon as they get a window of opportunity.
Lieutenant General, thank you so much for your effort and thank you for your service.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So we're going to take a break. When we come back, there have been windows where it slowed down and first responders had to rush out. So, this isn't just about the weather. It is also about the human factor and the rescues and the recovery that is already happened is really impressive.
So when we come back from break, we're going to take you through to the Cajun Navy, you've heard about them. This famous locals who come together as volunteers and help out their fellow man and woman. We're going to take you through what they've already done and what they're promising to say here for all the way to the end.
CUOMO: All right. Florence is in full effect here in South Carolina. We're in North Myrtle Beach. We've been watching the ocean behind us move up the beach embankment.
We're about a couple of hours into the high tide, that is when it would move up any way. It is going to crest at about 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m. local time. It is being turbo-charged by the winds of Florence which have shifted in the kind of radar -- if you look at radar in the circular motion, the centrifugal motion of the storm, it's now blowing water in.
So, this is the witching hour. This is what they're worried about here and we'll see what happens throughout the course of the night. They're going to get many more hours of exactly these conditions.
Let's check in now with Miguel Marquez. He's up in North Carolina, Carolina Beach. It has been very tough there. A lot of flooding.
Miguel, what's the latest?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we saw the exact -- the exact process you are talking about there, we saw today in action, where the water very quickly during high tide came up to about waist high on me in an area that often floods but certainly not that quickly. I thought you were going to come to us now and I would say, well, Chris, the rain has stopped but it had for about 20 minutes and now, it is back in full force.
It is just dumping it down here again. The wind maybe let off for a little while but right back up to where it was before. It is just incredible how slow this storm is moving and how much power, despite being either a category one or now a tropical storm, how much power Florence is packing.
Authorities here very concerned about the aftermath tomorrow and getting in there to try to figure out where the damage is. Some roofs have been ripped off, some walls have come down but for most part things are good in Carolina Beach, as good as they can be given the conditions. They -- all of the electricity is off here. Cell phone service is starting to go off, around the town and across the county. That will be difficult for them to deal with.
But right now, it is battening down the hatches and waiting this storm out. It is going to be several more hours before it is done -- Chris.
CUOMO: Oh, absolutely. All up and down the coast, it will be an overnight event and so many people will have to suffer through in the dark. Hopefully they stay dry during that period.
Miguel, thank you very much. Be safe.
All right. Now, we have Clyde Cain. He's a member of well-known and much renowned Cajun Navy. A volunteer (AUDIO GAP) in these situations.
Clyde, do you hear me?
CLYDE CAIN, CAJUN NAVY: Yes. I can hear you.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you for joining us. What have you heard in terms of (AUDIO GAP) you've had to address?
CAIN: You're breaking up. Can you say that again?
CUOMO: Clyde, can you hear me?
CAIN: Yes, sir.
CUOMO: What have you had to deal with so far?
CAIN: Downed power lines, downed trees. We traversed over from New Bern, we're in New Bern this morning and came on over to (AUDIO GAP) I'm over at the church over here in Wilmington. But we've been there a couple of days. And we head to Wilmington and now, we're dealing with the surge that is coming up.
And high winds and we haven't lost (ph) any boats today (INAUDIBLE) with our air boats. So we're dealing with -- dealing with this -- all kind of weather conditions right now. So, we're just going to stand down at the moment just waiting for the conditions to change so get our guys out there and everybody with boats and medics to get out there and help the people.
CUOMO: Well, look, you're doing God's work but discretion is often the better part of valor, especially in these kind of conditions. Have you ever seen a storm dump so much over such a long period of time as we're dealing with, with Florence?
CAIN: Well, I think the thousand year flood when we started our chapter, the Louisiana Cajun Navy. That was, of course, you guys know, that was 10 million Olympic size swimming pools worth of water I think two or three days and then we dealt with Harvey for five days. So this is a different beast. It's all along the coast so it is -- and in several states.
And we're dealing with a lot of conditions after -- after the fact and after it made landfall. We have these surges and downed power lines and everyone down inside and can't drive. It's dark. We couldn't make a rescue tonight if we wanted to because of the winds and the gusts because we can't take a air boat or boats out there in that condition.
So, it kind of leaves us feeling helpful, at the same time we have to think about our crews and ourselves first because without that, we can't rescue anybody else.
CUOMO: All right. Well, listen, Clyde, thank you so much for what you do. It means so much for people to know that people are willing to volunteer, come up with their time, bring their boats, but bring their hearts along with them to try to help in such a difficult circumstance.
What matters most is safety. You can't help anybody if you're in trouble yourself.
So, be safe and the best to all of you. Let us know how we can help, OK?
CAIN: Yes, sir. We just think of all the states have come together here. We're about six or seven guys that came over and met up with a lot of different states. So, it's really often to see all these different states, everybody working together. Everybody, you know, uniting over a disaster.
CUOMO: You know, look, sometimes you look for silver lining in a tough place. You know, these types of events show what you're made of and show what the people you're connected to are made of. And often, worst of situations brings out the best. It sounds like a cliche, but it's just true as it is cliche.
So, God bless and be well.
We're going to take a break right now. When we come back, we're going to give you latest on just how long, just how (AUDIO GAP) water, just (AUDIO GAP), and where will it be. We're going o get all the latest information, a fresh forecast for you, right after the break.
CUOMO: All right. Welcome back to CUOMO PRIME TIME. Here, the ocean is right even with the protective berm. How long will
it stay there? There are a few more hours of tide. The wind has shifted. It's blowing it in. The energy of storm surge is being released.
What happens if it gets over that berm?
It's got a straight run into what's being called a dune, but really it's just landscaping. From here, it's through the homes and into the streets. What will happen then?
Brett Adair is a storm chaser. He's living that reality in Goldsboro, North Carolina, right now.
Brett, you're dealing with flash flooding. That's what we're worried about here in North Myrtle beach, South Carolina. What's it like where you are there?
BRETT ADAIR, STORM CHASER (via telephone): Yes, Chris, we're on U.S. 70, which is a business highway right in the middle of town. It's East Ash Street, the 1200 block, and North Pine View Avenue, the 200 block. We've got two, three feet of water across the roadway and a flash flood emergency in effect.
We've been watching some of the vehicles unfortunately not use the turn around and don't drown policy, and they've been driving through this. We're really fearful as to what might happen when one of these vehicles gets in this floodwater and stalls out. But multiple flood rescues have been ongoing in and around Goldsboro and the flash flood emerges (INAUDIBLE) this area now.
CUOMO: Turn around, don't drown. I mean that makes it pretty obvious. And yet as we both know, people make that mistake of trying to go too far, too fast all the time. What do you know about duration? How long are we expected to see these types of bands of intense wind and water pushing water onshore?
ADAIR: Chris, as long as that center is sitting down near Myrtle Beach, I mean, it's been there all day long since it came ashore early this morning around 7:30 Eastern Time. As long as we continue to see this onshore fetch, we're going to continue to see very, very heavy bands of rain from Raleigh Durham all the way down to Morehead City, and you got another intense band from Wilmington that's going all the way over to Lumberton.
So, two weeks to get this to move inland and move on out, we're going to see this big moisture fetch produce these bands of significant flash flooding. And down on the coastline, you are going to continue to see that storm surge at high tide cycles.
CUOMO: High tide is about 2:00 a.m. local time here. So, we'll see. A lot of people are going to have to go through the night hoping they don't have any residual flooding or flash flooding. Most of them will be doing it in the dark. The number now is over 650,000 -- 790,000 customers without power.
Customer means a home. There could be multiple people living in that customer home.
So when you're looking at what to expect, Brett, going forwards, we keep hearing about water coming down from North Carolina to South Carolina. Does that mean that's what Florence is bringing with her, or is there another phenomenon or dynamic in effect?
ADAIR: Chris, you've got the mountains in western North Carolina. As Florence continues west, there's going to be heavy rains that will progress with her. This significant flooding has to go somewhere and most of the time it's going to go into the river systems. The easiest drainage for the river systems will be going down to work the Atlantic coastline.
So, you're going to see that go south and toward an outward motion toward the coast. So, that's going to cause problems with the river systems for several days. But the biggest factor is until this system can really pick up some speed, you know, we're going to deal with this inland flooding which will for river flooding for North and South Carolina.
CUOMO: And it's already all sponged up in this area. That's a problem, right, because even once the wind goes -- once Florence dissipates or moves inland or does whatever she does, then you have standing water, and how will it get absorbed? How long will that take? All of those phases will bring their own difficulties.
Well, thank you, Brett Adair. Check back with me if there's something I need to get out to the audience. Otherwise, be safe, OK?
ADAIR: You do the same, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So from where we are in North Myrtle Beach, next is Myrtle Beach, all right? So, they're next as the storm moves, and she's doing so very slowly. But there's already been plenty of wind and water there softening her up.
A meteorologist told me yesterday this storm is working the body. If it were a boxing match, it's working the body, soft ping you up. Then when the big wind comes, those are the potential knockout punches.
Don Lemon has been living in as a reality all day long and through the night.
Don, what's it like now?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT': Yes. Hey, Chris, you're right. It's just sort of just sitting here, just punching, punching, punching at the gut and not moving. You've covered as many as these hurricanes or storm systems as I have. I don't know if I ever remember one just sitting this long and dumping so much rain for so long.
You have been talking, Chris, about the beach and about high tide, and you said for you where you are -- I would call it a berm, not really dunes. The water is up over that berm, and the flooding is going to start. Here the beaches, we haven't quite reached high tide.