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At This Hour

Hurricane Dorian Slowly Moved Over The Bahamas, Stranding So Many People For Days In Category-5-Strength Winds; Climate Crisis Front And Center In The 2020 Democratic Primary Today; U.S. Navy Moves Ships, Aircraft Out Of Norfolk Ahead Of Hurricane. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 04, 2019 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the most dangerous aspects of Hurricane Dorian is how slowly it moved over the Bahamas, stranding so many people for not just hours, but days in Category 5 strength winds.

The conditions were so tough that even military helicopters were forced to turn back. But with locals desperate for help, neighbors - neighbors started taking matters into their own hands.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann caught up with a group of what became volunteers trying to make rescues on their own.


ROCHENEL DANIEL, RESCUER: Some, we had to carry. Some couldn't even make it. Some, we put on - on the jet ski. We turned the whole jet ski over because they - they couldn't hold their weight up.

First - first that we found is my brother. He was clinging on to a tree. And he - he made out safe but we wasn't - we aren't - unable to locate his wife at the moment. We hope that she's OK.

But the rescue goes on and on. We have a lot of people supporting us, everybody working as a team we're here, you know, it's very hard, but you know what I'm saying, but we shall overcome.


BOLDUAN: Some people on Grand Bahama were able to find shelter at one of the beachfront resorts there.

Here's how Michael Scott, the Chairman of the Grand Lucayan Resort and Casino described the destruction that the storm left behind. He put it this way. "It's a catastrophic and dystopian mess."

Michael Scott joins me now by phone. Michael, can you hear me?

MICHAEL SCOTT, CHAIRMAN, GRAND LUCAYAN RESORT AND CASINO: Yes, I can. Thank you, Kate. BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for getting on the phone. I really appreciate it.

Your hotel has - your hotel or your resort has become a really a refuge for many folks seeking shelter from the storm on Grand Bahama. How many people are sheltering at your hotel right now?

SCOTT: Well I mean we're back down to a 170. But, at yesterday, we were up to 700, because we were the hurricane shelter - makeshift emergency hurricane shelter of last resort.

BOLDUAN: Where were you keeping all of these folks? 700 people just coming to your hotel in the middle of this--

SCOTT: Well we have - we have - we have, yes but--

BOLDUAN: --I mean, where do you go?

SCOTT: --we have - we have ballrooms. We have - we have reception areas. We have a convention center. And then, again, we have - we - we opened some of the rooms to accommodate these people. It was a matter of literally life and death.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I mean what are you--

SCOTT: And we were able to--

BOLDUAN: Sorry, go ahead, Mike. Go ahead, Michael.

SCOTT: Sorry, go ahead. I said that--

BOLDUAN: No, no, no, no, please go ahead.

SCOTT: --we were - we were able to - because I got noticed at the last minute - well not the last - a day before, from the Prime Minister because he warned me that most of the shelters in Grand Bahama were going to become compromised and unusable.

And so, he asked me if I could arrange that, which I quickly turned around, and did.

And I'm grateful to - to the valiant and courageous security team that we have there as well as the engineering team, we were able to - we were able to keep the - the property functional.

We brought in extra generation pumps and so forth. Plus, in addition to our catering staff, we work - we linked up with Social Services in order to provide these people with meals and, of course, dry shelter.


And - and it worked out very well. People are, having had their all- clear this morning, people are leaving, going back, looking for their - their properties. But, you know, I'm glad that - that we were able to help them this way. BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean you've described the situation with the storm as catastrophic, as apocalyptic. I mean what are you hearing from - what have you been hearing from your teams on the ground there now?

SCOTT: Well let me--

BOLDUAN: And from the stories that they're hearing from folks who came to your hotel?

SCOTT: Well let me - let me say this to you. I've been receiving a - a number of videos. Plus, I was tracking the storm myself on a - on a - a database that I have, a satellite database.

And - and the storm, you are quite right, sat over the Bahamas for 36- plus hours. And so, we were just getting ravaged with, you know, winds approaching, and gusts to 200 miles per hour.

There's - there has been horrendous flooding in Grand Bahama. There's been horrendous flooding in Abaco. I'm getting photographs. Teams have been up to do aerial reconnaissance. It's dreadful.

I mean this is - these two islands, which by the way, are the second and third economic centers of the Bahamas, are now dystopian wastelands. It's - it's - it's beyond - it's beyond belief. And I - it's - it's - it's a complete - it's a complete mess.

And so, when I use words like apocalyptic and catastrophic, you know, I don't think that that can, and calamitous, I don't think that those words can be in any way characterized as hyperbole. It has been - it was violent. It was - it was - it was intense. And, you know, the way I would sum it up, this was our Maria.

BOLDUAN: It is tragic to hear you say that, especially, and you know better than - than so many how important the tourism industry is for, especially this part of the Bahamas. I mean what do you think--

SCOTT: Oh, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: --what do you think this storm means for the tourism industry?

SCOTT: Well let me put it to you this way. It is going to - we're - the tourism industry in the Bahamas is going - definitely going to take a hit in the short-term. But I can assure you of one thing, right, that Bahamians are strong, resourceful, and resilient.

And, you know, in - I would be remiss if I didn't pause for a second and pay tribute to the Prime Minister whose quiet, methodical and - and firm grip on the relief agencies in the Bahamas, the mess would have been much greater than it is.

We have teams up there now. Helicopters are going in and so forth.

The - because the airports, both in Marsh Harbor and in Treasure Cay, are unusable, I - I - I'm trying to get up there myself with some of my Directors tomorrow, and I'm told that the Freeport International Airport has - still has several feet of water on it.


SCOTT: We're considering the other option of going into West End and perhaps driving if it's safe the - the long road from West End to Freeport. But it's - it's - it's - it's been, Kate, an absolute mess.


SCOTT: And - and, you know, the other silver lining, if I can use that expression, is that Bahamians, we stick together, by and large.

And there are hordes of people in - in Nassau plus the Jose Andres' outfit with Atlantis who are agitating to come up here as soon as we can get, you know, the airport facilities operational.

And plus, there are other local groups like well obviously our - our Red Cross, our - our - there are private relief agencies like the HeadKnowles group, and even private businesspeople.

I mean, for example, my wife, Myomi (ph) who's a chef and restaurateur has been - is clamoring to go up and - and help with feeding people. You've got our - I mean you've got people whose lives are being wrecked beyond comprehension. I mean it is unbelievable.

And - and - and - and - and - and the other silver lining that I can sort of put a gloss on the whole situation is that we're getting tons of offers from - from the United States, from Florida, private sector groups.


SCOTT: Your federal agencies there like FEMA. And, in fact, the U.S. Coast Guard is already in the - in Abaco.

So, I think that, to answer your question, in very long and roundabout way, I think that while it's - it is, as I describe it, catastrophic and apocalyptic, we will recover quickly. We are a strong resilient people, as I say. And--


SCOTT: --but, you know, this is an epic human tragedy. And, you know, I've watched several broadcasts with the Prime Minister, and you can see that the emotion, and the shock, and the trauma is palpable.


I mean he's a doctor. And so, this is not, you know, clinical calculation or expediency resonating. This is real, real horror and sadness.

BOLDUAN: Yes. That's right.

SCOTT: So, we're - we're - we're doing the best and--

BOLDUAN: And the trauma.

SCOTT: --and we're trying--

BOLDUAN: And the trauma you can--

SCOTT: --to get it done.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and the trauma you can see--

SCOTT: Oh, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: --on the faces of all the people that - just all the people that we're now just starting to come in contact with us. We - we now have a reporter try and working her way there to get on the ground in the Abaco Islands as well, as you've noted how tough it is.

But Michael, thank you so much for getting on the line and for what you did to shelter so many folks at the height of the storm. Michael Scott, thanks so much.

SCOTT: Thank you. Bye.

BOLDUAN: We'll - we'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: The climate crisis is front and center in the 2020 Democratic primary in a big way today.

Today, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg are the latest candidates to roll out their plans to tackle the crisis. This is ahead of tonight's big event on CNN, an entire evening with the candidates focused on this very issue, back-to-back Town Halls with 10 of the candidates starting at 5:00 P.M. Eastern tonight.

Joining me now, for a look ahead, to tonight, the CNN Chief Climate Correspondent, Bill Weir. It's great to see you, yes, Bill.


BOLDUAN: Our boss laid out a fascinating statistic this morning that really grabbed a lot of our attention. There is something like 17,000 questions submitted--

WEIR: Right.

BOLDUAN: --for this round of Town Halls from 1,600 people. That just show - that's more than have been submitted for any of the Town Halls that we have done--

WEIR: Yes.

BOLDUAN: --prior to this. That really shows the interest level in this topic though it's an - near-impossible one to tackle. What should - what are you looking forward to?

WEIR: I'm just looking for finally a conversation.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly.

WEIR: There's so much--

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

WEIR: --pent-up need for this because it is the biggest issue that any politician in human history will have to deal with. So, what do you do for these incredibly complex issues?

And there's no real way to tell other than sort of looking at their plans that they're laying out, Mayor Buttigieg and Senator Harris sneaking theirs in right before the Town Hall. And you can really only compare them on since dollars and cents, you know.


WEIR: Pete Buttigieg is less than a trillion dollars in his plan. He's going to pay for it with sort of like climate war bonds, the way grandpa (ph) did during World War II.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bernie Sanders, $16 trillion, this massive, he's - he's going to treat this like a 100 World War IIs, nationalize the - the - the grid, do all of these drastic steps, and is more vague on how to pay for it.

So, and in between, you got sprinkled in there, Joe Biden's down at the more modest and $1.6 trillion or so. Kamala Harris, this morning, a $10 trillion plan with a pollution tax, but she doesn't specify the mechanisms.

So, I've been reading through the questions. They're astounding. And especially, anybody under the age of 25, you know--


WEIR: --this is the story of their lifetime.

BOLDUAN: It's I - and it's one of those things. Town Halls offer a unique opportunity where you can give your plan. You can answer - you - you can't answer every question the same way.

WEIR: Right.

BOLDUAN: You really will show, hopefully, I'm wondering, if there's a way to gauge who is most serious about tackling this issue. Jay Inslee is out.

WEIR: Right.

BOLDUAN: This was his entire campaign.

WEIR: Right. BOLDUAN: He's not - he's not running anymore. In the way of how serious they are and how achievable these goals are, right?

WEIR: Yes.

BOLDUAN: It's one thing to campaign. It's another thing to govern. And it's another thing to have to pay for it.

WEIR: Yes, exactly.

BOLDUAN: And that's a real thing that I'm really interested in is like are - what you're laying out is this so pie in the sky, or is it achievable, and how - how is it possible?

WEIR: Well those are the knocks against Congressperson Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal.


WEIR: It fits - it has so many people, so many constituencies it's trying to please.


WEIR: Social justice and all that, so it's easy to poke holes in.

But yes, I think we - I guess we grade this tonight the way, you know, an eighth grade teacher would grade science projects. How prepared are you? How much did you think about it? How much detail is it?

And if you want to look at that, Beto O'Rourke was the first one out with a really detailed plan. Elizabeth Warren is tackling this, the way she - you would expect in - in her background, going after dirty money, from Wall Street to oil companies and - and whatnot.

So, just seeing how their minds works, yes, it's one of those things where ultimately it's going to be all hands on deck. And Elizabeth Warren actually took a lot of Jay Inslee's plan yesterday.


WEIR: She said I'll take a trillion-dollar idea that he did--

BOLDUAN: If you're not--


BOLDUAN: --go to somebody who's become--


WEIR: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: And that's one of--

WEIR: And he had it down cold for him (ph). BOLDUAN: Yes. This will be - it's really - if it's just starting a conversation, let's call it a win, just the beginning.

WEIR: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: It's great to see you, Bill. Bill is taking part in the coverage tonight.

WEIR: That's great.

BOLDUAN: It's always great to see you.

Don't forget to watch the Climate Crisis Town Hall tonight, starting at 5 o'clock Eastern, only on CNN. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We've just learned that the U.S. Navy is moving ships and aircraft, out of harm's way, along the East Coast, as Hurricane Dorian is now approaching.

Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr joins me now with an update on this.

Barbara, what are you hearing?


The U.S. Navy already having to move 26 ships from Florida to Virginia out to sea on the other side of the hurricane, and some 260 aircraft, both Navy and Air Force also, moving out of the Hurricane's path. These are very expensive assets. So, they have to get them out of the way.


But we have new developments as well. Four MV-22 aircraft, Marine Corps aircraft are moving down to the Bahamas. They are now going to work out at Freeport and Nassau, and try and assist with relief and recovery efforts.

They will be able to ferry supplies on shore. They will be able to help with relief efforts. And this will also back up some of the initial Coast Guard efforts. But expect to hear much more in the coming hours and days about more U.S. relief headed to the Bahamas. Kate?

BOLDUAN: And we're definitely hearing from the ground, they need all the help they can get. Barbara, thank you so much.

STARR: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead, CNN - CNN crews are on the ground, and flying into the Abaco Islands, the hardest hit areas of the Bahamas from the hurricane. A first look on the ground. Stay with us.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to our special live CNN coverage of Hurricane Dorian.