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At This Hour

Tropical Storm Else Takes Aim at Florida, Hurricane Watch Issued; Security Officials Concerned Not Enough Being Done to Prevent Another Attack 6 Months After Insurrection; Hasty Air Base Handover Sums Up U.S. Exit from Its Longest War. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 06, 2021 - 11:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Kate Bolduan.

Here's what we're watching for AT THIS HOUR.

Threatening Florida. Tropical Storm Elsa gaining strength and lashing the Sunshine State. Millions on high alert this morning.

Plus, could it happen again? Six months after the Capitol insurrection, police and security officials worry not enough is being done to prevent more violence.

And summer camp outbreak. More than 125 coronavirus cases linked to the church camp. In just hours, President Biden addresses the pandemic.

We start with Florida on high alert AT THIS HOUR, as Tropical Storm Elsa takes aim at the Sunshine State.

The storm's outer bands are already pounding the Florida Keys with the heavy rain and winds. Hurricane watches are in effect for parts of the state's west coast. Forecasters now are expecting it to gain strength before landfall tomorrow. A potentially life threatening storm surge is possible.

Elsa has already dumped heavy rain on Cuba, leading to significant flash flooding and even mudslides there.

Chad meteorologist Chad Myers has the new forecast track from the National Hurricane Center.

Chad, what are you seeing?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The 11:00 advisory is out, Boris.

Sixty miles per hour right now, 65 miles west-northwest of Key West. So, if you're in the Keys. If you're Lower Keys, Middle Keys, Key West, this should be as bad as it gets for you as the storm will pull to the north and away from you. But the rain has been heavy. The surge has been pushing up on to the shores. Some of the shores that haven't really recovered from Irma and here we go, that happened years ago. Winds in homestead 25 miles an hour gusts and every time the storm

comes on shore today, those gusts can get higher even on the Surfside where they're on the hunt for the rescue effort.

Here we will see the potential for some tornadoes today. We will see waterspouts can come on shore. One thing here a little bit, is that by 8:00 tomorrow morning, this could be close to the hurricane and just north of Tampa, which Tampa puts you on the wrong side of the storm, on the bad side of the storm. So, hurricane watches had been posted. Also, three to five feet of storm surge floods is possible.

Here's noon. One hour from now, there's the storm. I'm going to move you ahead hour by hour. What the computer is thinking the radar is going to look like. Storms coming on shore in the East Coast, certainly storms in the middle.

Fort Myers, that's where you're probably closest to the big problem and Tampa overnight, 3:00, 4:00 a.m., that's when the storm is closest to you. That's when Tampa Bay is going to get that surge, that water is going to get pushed up into the bay and back into the estuaries.

Well, the salt water is trying to get up to the estuaries and flood water trying to go out. It will be raining all day and night, so that's going to be a problem here. So, that's going to be a problem here. You have to really watch, make sure you have a NOAA weather radio on today, because there will be flash flooding in Florida, not only of salt water but fresh water, rain water, too -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Now, Chad Myers, thank you so much for that update.

And as Chad just noted, millions of Florida residents are keeping an eye on tropical storm Elsa as it begins to batter the Florida Keys.

Let's go out to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam who's live in Fort Myers with more on the preparations.

Derek, what are residents there telling you is their biggest concern?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, they're worried because they don't anticipate tropical activity this early in the season so it's catching them off guard slightly. You heard chad talk about the potential of tornadoes. Well, Storm Prediction Center just put out an 80 percent probability of issuing a tornado warning in the next hour. Water spouts, tornadoes, that is the nature of tropical storms like Tropical Storm Elsa that we are experiencing now.

The threats here, storm surge, as we coincide the strongest pass of the storm with high tide. Tornadoes, flash flooding. And let me tell you why the National Hurricane Center has put that hurricane watch up from basically St. Petersburg up to the Big Bend of Florida. The water temperatures here about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just like jet fuel. So, storms like this need that type of warmth to generate and strengthen.

And that's why they anticipate the storm makes the final approach tonight and into Wednesday morning, it's a near hurricane strength storm -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: We know you'll keep an eye on it. Derek Van Dam from Fort Myers, thank you so much.

Let's dig deeper into the preparations on the tropical storm. Joining me is Hagen Brody, the mayor of Sarasota, Florida, not far from where Derek just was.

Mayor, we appreciate your joining us this morning. We know you're going to have a busy day ahead.

First of all, how are the conditions in Sarasota right now? Are you seeing rain or high winds yet?

MAYOR HAGEN BRODY, SARASOTA, FLORIDA: Thanks for having me, Boris.

Here where it's still -- it's a little overcast. We haven't seen the rain or the wind pick up.


We have had intermittent showers throughout the night and the morning, but here we're just finalizing our preparations for the storm which is supposed to hit hardest here this evening and into the night.

SANCHEZ: Walk us through those preparations. What are you encouraging people in the community to do?

BRODY: Sure. Well, here, obviously, with city hall, we're making sure that we have our generators out. All of our city functions are prepared for any kind of loss of power. We're working with our power company FBL to -- and our utilities department to make sure any breaks in service are addressed quickly and we're just recommending that people play this one smart.

Folks here are very adept at dealing with the storms, Floridians in general are adept at dealing with the storms so they know they need to bring in the loose items from outside or around the house or outside on the balconies of their condos and just make sure that people know where they are, particularly our medically vulnerable and elderly population. Make sure your friends and family know where you are as you ride out the storm.

But we think this is mainly a water event for Sarasota so we're looking at the traditional areas that see some flash flooding and making sure that we have our law enforcement and first responders ready to help address those situations.

SANCHEZ: So, Mayor, you did declare a local state of emergency, no evacuation order because of the storm. As a Floridian, I know unless it's a category 4 or 5, many people refuse to move. I'm curious if you found any resistance to your calls to prepare for Elsa?

BRODY: No, this one is earlier in the year than past years but we're all familiar. I mean, we had Erma come through Sarasota a couple of years ago that brought high winds and a lot of water. And we don't think that Elsa is going to be as bad as that. Here in Sarasota, we're kind of on the southern end of where it will eventually make landfall. So we think we'll be spared the brunt of it. But we're preparing for a serious weather event but hoping for the best.

Obviously, you know, our thoughts and prayers in Sarasota are with the town of surfside who are dealing with the storm and in conjunction with the rescue effort. We're all thinking of them.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, unfortunately, the outer bands may have some impact with wind and rains in Surfside.

You mentioned working alongside the power company there. How concerned are you about power outages?

BRODY: Always concerned. You know, power outages can occur for a lot of different reasons during these type of storms and we need to make sure that we have our assets in place to address any kind of break in service because loss of power particularly in Florida in the summer can obviously become very serious for certain people that are in circumstances where the heat or loss of power can affect their living situations.

So that's always a primary concern. We haven't as of yet opened up our shelters. We just don't think it will rise to that level yet, but we're keeping an eye on it. It's an active monitoring situation here in Sarasota.

SANCHEZ: All right, Mayor Hagen Brody, keep us updated. We appreciate your work during the storm. Thank you so much.

BRODY: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Now despite the tropical storm, the crews are continuing at the site of the condo collapse in Surfside. The mayor is saying that operations are back at 100 percent full strength. Remember that workers had to pause over the weekend as the remaining part was demolished for their safety so they could access other portions of the site.

We've got an update on the status of the search a short time ago. The count so far, 32 people confirmed dead, 113 others remain unaccounted for.

Let's go to Surfside and CNN's Rosa Flores. She's live at the scene with the latest.

Rosa, a short time ago, officials from the governor's office and local officials from Miami-Dade County gave us an update. What did you hear from them?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, according to fire chief, they have not found any signs of life, Boris. Now, they do say and officials maintain this is still a search and rescue effort, but the fire chief said it multiple times that they have not found any signs of life. Not even in the new areas that they were able to search after the demolition of the partial building. [11:10:00]

What the fire chief does say, though, is that they're using every resource very aggressively. The big machinery, also their firefighters, about 200 firefighters are on the mound at any point in time. I can tell you that these men and women are working about 12- hour shifts. They only take breaks to check their pulse to make sure that their oxygen levels are to a degree that they can continue working. The fire chief is saying they haven't had any firefighters injured, only some minor dehydration and, of course, they have resources on the scene to help them out.

Boris, according to the mayor, she says that they are working diligently with detectives on that number of unaccounted for. Right now at 113 and they're trying to get more information from family members, from people who have reported people missing to make sure that they have a better account of that number.

As of now, the total death toll is at 32. The number of unaccounted people is at 113 -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Just excruciating for those families to go another day without answers, especially watching the weather conditions that these rescue crews are working through. Rosa Flores from Surfside, thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, six months after the Capitol insurrection, police and security officials have new fears that enough is not being done to prevent more violence. We have details and a live report next.



SANCHEZ: Developing this morning, six months after the Capitol insurrection, there is growing concern that we could see a repeat of this.

Capitol police officers and security officials worry that not enough is being done to prevent a future attack.

CNN's Whitney Wild is live in Washington with more.

Whitney, what are the officials telling you that they would like to see done?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of the concern is coming from this -- from the rank and file. So they have this granular experience as well as members of Congress who oversee Capitol police. Both ends of that spectrum lamenting that this cultural shift, this re-imagining of the department, that many people have recommended and frankly say is necessary, Boris, simply is still elusive. For the Capitol police's part they're trying to make changes within their control and within their budget and for example, they have issued new pieces of security equipment, that includes riot shields, batons, goggles, other pieces of equipment that they woefully did not have on January 6th.

Further, Capitol Police leadership has expanded the intelligence pool and they send it out to the rank and file officers who before were very upset that think simply felt minded by the attack on January 6th. Even though they later learned their leadership had some indication they could turn violent.

Now, as I mentioned, they're getting the intelligence briefings that are intended to keep them in the loop. Other changes that they're making, hiring former Capitol police officials and they have hired a former U.S. secret service agent to handle the large-scale events. However, they would be the first to tell you that if a revamping of the department is necessary, it's going to take funding.

And at this point, it's hard to, you know, say that there is enough on the horizon to actually make this happen because as we know, Boris, the security supplemental is being hung up in congress. There are lists of head winds facing them that they say are preventing them from becoming the department everybody says they need to be, which looks a lot more like the secret service and to do that you have to fund the department like the Secret Service -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, there's so much about backing the blue. Here's an opportunity to do it.

Whitney Wild, thank you so much for that report.

Joining us now to discuss further is CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe. He's the former deputy director of the FBI.

Andrew, thanks for joining this morning.

I'm curious to get your reaction about these warnings that not enough is being done to secure the Capitol?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Boris, I think there's no question that those warnings are accurate. I mean, here we sit six months after the greatest attack on our nation's Capitol since the War of 1812 and we have done really nothing other than take the fencing and the barriers away. So I think all the points that Whitney brought up in her reporting are really important.

This is a department that we all know needs to change fundamentally from -- in every way, from the way they understand and disseminate intelligence to the way they equip and train their officer, to the people they're hiring, bringing on more officers and we don't seem to be closer to doing that because it's an uncomfortable political realty for some folks on the Hill.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, it has taken an enormous effort to prosecute the 500 plus cases of insurrectionists that have been processed so far, but I'm curious about the arrests.

How worried are you six months after the insurrection, authorities still haven't caught some of the most serious offenders including the individual who planted pipe bombs outside the offices of the RNC and DNC?

MCCABE: Well, Boris, I'm not worried about the progress that the FBI is making on the rioters themselves.


As you mentioned, it's been an enormous scope of effort in my 21 years in the bureau, having been involved in some of the largest, broadest investigations, like 9/11 and others, I can tell you that this effort is right up there with those. And the fact they have taken 500 people and indicted them and charged them so far is incredible.

However, the lack of progress on identifying and charging the Capitol Hill attempted bomber is really concerning. It's concerning because here we are, still waiting to know who this bomber is that's apparently walking free among us. But also because if you look over the significant bombing investigations, we see that many of these take a long time and oftentimes bombers will try again and again perfecting their craft as they go.

So it's very concerning situation.

SANCHEZ: There are about roughly 300 people that the FBI's labeled as unidentified that took part in the insurrection. How confident are you that they'll be found and is there anything that people watching right now might be able to do potentially to help that effort?

MCCABE: I'm confident that many of them will be found. I can't say, of course, how many. But think for a minute about the scope of this effort. So, all of them have to be identified. That comes from surveillance video, from inside the Capitol, from publicly available social media posts and also from crucially information submitted by the public.

We know from Director Wray's testimony they are looking at hundreds of thousands of pieces of evidence just like that, all of that stuff has to be reviewed by agents and analysts and others to identify individuals and then build cases around them.

So it's incredibly important that the public continues to support this process by bringing to the FBI's attention those folks who they see and recognize and realize were involved in something wrong that day. So I would strongly encourage them to do that. It's help that we absolutely need.

SANCHEZ: And, Andrew, I would imagine another way to prevent further violence is to cut through the nonsense that's being put out there about the last election and about what happened during the insurrection. A lot of Trump acolytes whitewashing what we see with our own eyes. How does that play into this effort?

MCCABE: It's incredibly destructive and counterproductive. The events on January 6th remain and increase in significance to the extremist community. It's a point of inspiration. It's a day to live on in infamy and they'll recruit others into their schemes. So to have lawmakers and people in positions of authority not out

there clearly identifying this as what it was, an attack on our democracy and an antidemocratic act in the most fundamental sense is really, really hurting our ability to counter this narrative. We're seeing it even with the profusion of the sovereign citizen groups like the one we saw active in Massachusetts over the 4th of July weekend. You had the March of the patriot folks in Philadelphia, so this thing is building around us in a very dangerous way.

SANCHEZ: It is a cancer on our nation and it's one that should be eradicated.

Andrew McCabe, thank you so much.

MCCABE: Thanks, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

We have an update for you on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It is well under way, but there are worries that a quick exit is leaving the country more vulnerable to the Taliban. We'll take you there live next.



SANCEZ: We're just about 28 minutes past the hour.

President Biden pledged to bring all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, and the administration is following through on that promise. But the way it's happening is causing new concerns about Afghanistan's future.

CNN's Anna Coren is live in Kabul with more.

Anna, you were given a tour of Bagram Air Base shortly after the U.S. soldiers left.

What are hearing from officials there? What are their impressions of what the U.S. left behind?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a deep sense of abandonment from the Afghans. You know, basically they did not know that the Americans were going to be flying out, that last flight very early Friday morning. The brigadier who is now in charge of Bagram Air Base were told to secure the perimeter on Thursday night, and it wasn't until the Americans have left that they were then told.

There was some looting before the Afghans properly secured the American section, but it was just, you know, whatever had troops had left behind. I think there was some, you know, computer screens, some monitors. There was some American footballs. A bit of, you know, memorabilia. A chair with stars and stripes on it.

But otherwise, it was pretty much scrap metal.