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The Lead with Jake Tapper

South Carolina Braces For Storm Surge As Hurricane Bears Down; Destruction Across Florida "Indescribable; Catastrophic Flooding, Winds Destroy Florida Neighborhoods; Putin Celebrates After Illegally Annexing One-Fifth Of Ukraine; Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson Takes Ceremonial Oath. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 30, 2022 - 16:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: To see all the ways that Carie is helping senior citizens and senior dogs, you can go to right now.

OK. In other animal news, members of Orange County Fire Rescue, the sheriff's office and the National Guard rescued a slew of pets big and small from the flood waters this week. Here are some of the pictures they have posted with the caption "pets are family, period".

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Hurricane Ian hitting South Carolina as we speak.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Ian strikes again, lashing South Carolina's Lowcountry, pushing heavy rain and wind into cities that are vulnerable with flooding.

This after Ian's destructive path already wiped out parts of Florida's West Coast, leaving other parts of the state swamped, flood waters in some areas chest deep, draining vital resources, long waits for gas, stores wipeout, emergency rooms forced to turn away patients -- all this in what may end up being the state's costliest hurricane on record.

Plus, Putin makes his land grab official, the biggest annexation and absorption in Europe since 1945, as protesters here in the U.S. leaving their mark, vandalizing the Russian consulate.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Hurricane Ian right now making its third landfall in South Carolina after previously hitting Florida and Cuba earlier this week. Residents of South Carolina are looking southward no doubt at what happened in Florida with dread. In the sunshine state, clean up just beginning.

Ian decimated parts of Fort Myers Beach, winds ripping hotels, restaurants, even the pier itself right out of the ground. It's a similar scene on Sanibel Island in Florida, homes, hotels, docks, destroyed, littering the beaches with debris.

Listen to how President Biden described the destruction earlier today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're just beginning to see the scale of the destruction, was likely to rank among the worst in the nation's history. You have all seen on television homes and property wiped out. It's going to take months, years to rebuild.


TAPPER: As of now we know of at least 25 people in Florida killed by this storm. Right now in South Carolina, Ian is just beginning its attack. You're looking right now at already flooded streets in Pauley Island, that's between Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Water rising several feet off the ground and Cherry Grove, just north of Myrtle Beach, that city's pier collapsed and it's beginning to float away.

We're going to start our coverage with CNN's Nick Valencia who's in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, just north of where the storm made landfall. Nick, tell us what it looks like right now.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it was just about two hours ago that Hurricane Ian made landfall south of us in Georgetown. We're still feeling the intensity of the wind, though the rain has sort of stopped for now giving us a brief pause here, and one of the good signs is they were expecting coastal localized flooding. We did see that. That water is starting to recede. At the height of it, though, we saw water levels at 10 feet high and storm surge about 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet.

And just a few moments ago, pretty dramatic images that we shot video of. As you can see in the distance, seemingly out of nowhere, a shrimp boat emerged. We don't believe there was anyone on the boat. It did cause enough of a scene for residents to come out here and go towards the boat. We're going to go investigate it as soon as this live shot is up.

But, really, there's no shortage of drama here. Not necessarily the damage that we saw in Florida, but there have been some significant reports of damage specifically to the piers in and around this area. There's portions of the pier in the water as well as fallen trees and power is a factor here, 13,000 people without power in this area.

Talking to the mayor, though, they do believe that the worst of it has passed and they think they dodged a major bullet, especially considering that they were expecting to see a lot more widespread flooding here in this area. As I do mention, though, all that wind is going to continue to be a factor as this intensifies in the coming hour -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Brian Henry. He is the mayor of Pauley's Island, just south of Myrtle Beach.

Mayor Henry, thanks for joining us. So, we have a photo of the pier collapsing in Pauley's Island collapsing from the surging ocean. Are you worried about structures all along that beach, I imagine.

MAYOR BRIAN HENRY, PAULEY'S ISLAND, SC (via telephone): Jake, thanks for having me on, and yes, we are concerned about that. It was a category 1 hurricane but we experienced tremendous storm surge today, probably beyond what most people anticipated here in Pauley's Island. The storm surge started around 10:30 this morning and to be honest with you, it's beginning to recede but we have a huge amount of water on the road ways and across the island.


TAPPER: You just got an update of the storm, I understand. What did you learn?

HENRY: Well, we know that there are always predictions in forecasts and there are always warnings. We need to heed those and make sure that we plan for the worst case scenario. It's not to say we were not flat footed, but most of us did not believe we would see the storm surge at 7 plus feet that we did tonight.

TAPPER: Have there been any rescues of the citizens of Pauley's Island? And if so, how many and can you tell us anything about it?

HENRY: I can tell you that there was one rescue, towards the north end of the island. There was a couple with a number of cats and dogs in a one level house that we're experiencing chest level flooding, and they needed to get out and local fire and rescue did a fantastic job getting in there and taking care of it.

So we appreciate them and all of our police force that's been doing yeoman's work today, serving the island and its residents.

TAPPER: And Mayor Henry, what are you most worried about going forward?

HENRY: Well, the main thing for us is we have not been able to do an assessment of the damage because both of the causeways, on to the island are still flooded and impassable. So our biggest concern is that how do we get all of the degree off of the roadways, and off of the properties and make sure the island is safe to enter.

We will close the island more than likely for a few days to make sure structures are secure, electrical is safe. There's no gas leaks, the roads are safe to pass. We've got quite a mess on Pauley's Island, and we need to make sure it's safe. And we need resources from the state to make sure that we can get the island cleaned up in an expeditious fashion.

TAPPER: And, Mayor Henry, I know I don't need to tell you but for anybody from Pauley's Island listening or anybody in the path of the storm, sometimes the most dangerous part is in the days after the storm hits. That's when trees fall, that's when power lines are down and electrocute people. So, please, please be careful. Listen to the authorities.

Brian Henry, mayor of Pauley's Island, South Carolina. Thank you and best of luck to you.

HENRY: Thanks, Jake. I appreciate the opportunity.

TAPPER: CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is tracking Hurricane Ian's latest path.

And, Jennifer, Ian has weakened since it hit Florida, but it still remains a powerful storm system.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, it is powerful. It's got rain. We still have gusty winds and as you mentioned, we could see trees down, power lines down. We have big trees across the Southeast and we could see branch and trees fall. But the storm is pushing inland and it is winding down. The storm is weakening.

We still have breezy conditions along the coast. However, the storm surge is subsiding. All of that has peaked. Really our two main threats moving forward will be the heavy downpours, and also the tornado threat moving into the evening hours.

Look at this, this is Myrtle Beach earlier today. This peaked as the third highest storm surge on record, passing Isaias. Now, it's coming down. You can see back into minor flood stage. That's the good news. We have the outgoing tide also helping the storm surge go down, and so we have already peaked and things are improving in that category.

Tornado watch in all of these areas until 10:00 tonight. Tornado, brief spin ups a definitely common. We have tropical systems because of all of the rotation. So, this storm is going to be on the move throughout the rest of today and the weekend, we are going to have a rainy period for all of Virginia, including D.C., West Virginia, we're going to see some showers even pulling into portions of the Northeast. So while this is pulling away from the southeast and conditions improved there, all of this rain will be soaking portions of the mid Atlantic and the Ohio River Valley as we go through the weekend.

So, additional rainfall looks to be anywhere from say 2 to 4 inches. Could see isolated amounts up to 6 and remember in some of these locations, we have some higher elevations as well. We will need to be on the lookout for some flash flooding around some of the higher terrain, Jake. Things are improving along the coast by this evening. We should be in better shape there.

TAPPER: All right. Jennifer Gray, thanks so much for that update.

As Hurricane Ian lashes the coast of the Carolinas, President Biden warnings it could maybe take years for Florida to recover from this monster storm.

CNN's Brian Todd joins snow live from Naples, Florida.

Brian, tell us what you're seeing there. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jake, this is about 48 hours. A

little over 48 hours since the storm passed and some of the water, of course, has receded. Some has not.

Take a look at this intersection, Gulf Shore Boulevard. This is not deep, of course, by any standard. This water, especially by the standards of this town is used to, but it's still tough for vehicles to navigate 48 hours plus since the storm passed in earnest. This comes today as just the damage and the overall sense of devastating loss still being assessed by local officials.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing left, zero.

TODD (voice-over): The full extent of Hurricane Ian's destruction now coming fully into view. Aerial damage assessments showing coastal Florida neighborhoods with roofs torn off, homes flattened, house after house flooded or wiped out. Some buildings with nothing less but the concrete slab. Remote locations like Pine Island and Sanibel Island cut off from the mainland. These before and after images showing how hard Sanibel was hit. So far, more than 700 people rescued, the governor says.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Rescue personnel have gone to 3,000 homes in the hardest hit areas.

TODD: This car in Orange County was filled with water up to the seats when the passengers were rescued, the coast guard making rescues by air from flooded communities along the coast. Here, a rescuer is lowered into the water, finds a woman in a house surrounded by water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure you have a bag, drop your clothes with ID, cell phone, wallets.

TODD: A basket is lowered. She climbs in, clutches her pet, and she and her pet are hoisted to safety. Volunteers pitching in as well, using boats to evacuate survivors stranded by the flood waters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The surge was higher than 9 feet.

TODD: Harrowing stories from the deluge still emerging, including from the survivor who took this video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Initially, the water pushed me up the stairs, and then it sucked me back down as well. I got completely submerged under water, all above my head.

TODD: Among residents returning to survey the damage, distress and determination.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's emotional is all I can say. Put a lot of hard work into it.

TODD: Even inland, in places like Orlando, flood waters still high today. Authorities warning residents of lingering dangers. What's the biggest danger that the community is facing right now.

CHIEF PETE DIMARIA, NAPLES FIRE DEPARTMENT: Multiple, multiple dangers out here, downed power lines that might be reenergized. Just try to stay home, try to stay safe and call us if you need us.

TODD: The death toll now at least 25, including a 67-year-old man who died in flood waters last night before rescuers could reach him, 1.8 million customers still without power. Some could take days or weeks to restore, crews clearing debris and sand from the streets but gasoline still scarce in some places.

DESANTIS: The fuel supply is flowing. It's just a matter of the gas stations need to have power to be able to operate.


TODD: And again, here's a look at how some of these streets are still very tough to navigate. Some of these vehicles coming through here, having a tough time crossing this intersection. Again, it's only a few inches deep, but the water, 48 plus hours since the storm has passed, not receded yet.

You see the scene with all of these items from the house put on the curbside, we have seen this dozens of times, couches, beds everything on curbside that has just been ruined.

And to give you a sense of the loss, Jake, we have some figures from the property analytics firm CoreLogic. They say that Hurricane Ian just in Florida could have caused about $47 billion worth of damage. That would make it the most expensive hurricane in this state's history.

And that's -- so that's the property assessment and the damage assessment, but the dangers are not passed yet. I just spoke to the police chief, Pete DiMaria, who you saw in the piece. He said that a lot of structural fires still going on in the city because, you know, downed waters inside houses are causing shortages. It's still really a scramble this afternoon to keep people safe, and again, 48 hours later.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd reporting from Naples, Florida, thanks so much.

Then there's what Ian already did on Florida's west coast. Look at this, home after home after home gone in Fort Myers, Florida. We're going to go live to areas of Florida likely reshaped forever because of Ian's destructive force. And areas swamped in chest high flooding well after Ian has moved out.

Stay with us.




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All that debris is littered everywhere. These were buildings. This was the building right there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were buildings, restaurants and what used to be the Fort Myers pier.


TAPPER: CNN's John Berman getting a devastating aerial view earlier today of the damage along Florida's west coast.

Let's head north of Fort Myers up into Sarasota County, Florida, in the town of North Port.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is there live.

Carlos, are the flood waters there, have they receded?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Jake, they haven't. In fact, in this one neighborhood just south of I-75, the flooding has gotten worse. This is how things look right now. Just a few minutes ago, several boats went out, trying to go ahead and rescue some folks that have been stranded in their homes. Some of them for several days now. There's one boat that's about to come in.

And just a few minutes ago, anywhere between six to nine people were brought in three boats, the effort out here has been going on for the better part of the entire day. We're talking about folks with the Army. We're also talking about North Port police.

We're also including in this neighbors, also just showed up because they heard what was happening. And they brought out their jet skis. They brought out their kayaks. They brought out their airboats, all in an effort to try to get all of these folks stuck in their homes to a safe place -- Jake.

TAPPER: Have rescue crews been able to get to any of those individuals who are trapped in their homes?

SUAREZ: Yeah, it's our understanding that they have been able to rescue dozens of folks. We did ask them exactly how many individuals have been able to get out of their homes, and we were told, look, we have been busy the entire day. There are a number of law enforcement agencies involved, they couldn't give us an impact number, they said they are going to continue to work through the night because the situation out here doesn't seem to be letting up.

Dom, I don't know if you want to show them, this canal that runs along the neighborhood, the water is continuing to come in from a nearby creek. We interviewed a number of families earlier today including one woman who left her home, she tried to get her grandmother. Her grandmother said, no, she wished she had in the end, though.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My grandparents are still at the house. We have animals there.


They don't want to leave the animals. So whenever we left on the boat, it was just a scary feeling like you don't know if you're ever going to see them again f you're going to see your house again, your animals again.

So that's why I'm a little shaken up. You never know what you're going to come back to. I mean, we already lost both of our cars. So it's very scary feeling.


SUAREZ: And, Jake, you're taking a look at the army as they bring yet more equipment out to this one neighborhood. We're told that the Red Cross is helping these folks with a place to stay, but this is how it has been the entire day out here, a number of agencies working together to try to get all of these folks out.

We did talk to some of these law enforcement agencies earlier today and we asked them just how long they expected us to be out here. And, Jake, they told us they're going to do it well into the night, as long as it's safe for them to do so, they're going to go ahead and continue around this neighborhood.

Every couple of minutes, these boats will come in. Someone will be here and tell them, look, I need you to go up the street, hang a right and go all the way to the end. The family that's there, they're ready to be rescued -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Carlos Suarez, and we're watching it happened right in front of us. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in Amanda Trompeta and Dimitrios Frantzis, who's home in the Orlando area, specifically, Winter Springs, Florida, was flooded by hurricane Ian. We should note that unlike parts of the Florida West Coast, there was no evacuation order where they're from in Orange County.

Dimitrios, let me start with you. Early yesterday morning, your dog was the first to alert you that water was rushing into your home, rising about 3 feet in less than an hour. Take us through what that was like.

DIMITRIOS FRANTZIS, HOME IN WINTER SPRINGS, FL, FLOODED BY HURRICANE IAN: So, I was still sleeping and Amanda got woke up by the dog, he was barking around 5:00, 5:30. She stepped on the floor and started screaming that there's water on the ground, and it was only ankle deep at that point. But it only took about a couple of hours until it was about 3 foot, like waist height for me basically and I'm about 6 foot.

TAPPER: Amanda, I mean, is it overstating matters to say the dog helped save you?

AMANDA TROMPETA, HOME IN WINTER SPRINGS, FL, FLOODED BY HURRICANE IAN: I think if he hadn't started to bark at that time, we probably would have woken up because the bed would have been wet, and by that point, you know, we wouldn't have saved the important documents that we saved, which hopefully are going to help us with the insurance, and just a couple of really important things that we were able to save at that time.


TAPPER: Well, it's a good dog either way. You both were finally rescued around noon. There's some video that you recorded that we're showing right now as you left your home on the rescue boat. I mean, what was that experience like?

FRANTZIS: It's weird to see a boat float in the street where we usually drive our cars, and then see our cars fully submerged under water. It was surreal.

TROMPETA: I don't think we knew what was happening, and I don't think we still have grasped all of it.

TAPPER: Do you know, Amanda, if your house is still flooded? Are you worried about this happening again in the future? What's your -- do you want to rebuild? What are you going to do?

TROMPETA: We spent the majority of the day there today. It's still pretty flooded on the outside. The inside is mostly -- the water is gone, but everything is obviously damp and ruined, so as far as what we do from here, it's very scary. We just bought the house two years ago, we were planning to live there for quite a lot more.

And at this point, I think we're just planning to rebuild slowly, and then after that, potentially leave because we just can't go through this again.

TAPPER: And, Dimitrios, my understanding is you left with only your pets and a backpack. So much of what you own, your cars, your furniture, so many possessions just destroyed, and we should also note that you two are set to be married in a couple of weeks, and one of the items left behind was Amanda's wedding dress, how difficult has this whole situation been?

FRANTZIS: So luckily -- we could not be luckier for the support we've received from friends and family and even strangers online. They're offering help. Amanda's sister did a go fund me for us. It's raised a lot more money than we ever would have hoped it would.

But like you said, yes, the cars are gone. The wedding dress hopefully can be saved. We went back and got it, but it did get damaged. So many of our personal belongings are just -- you know, they can be replaced but it's hard to see your life just be destroyed like that in just a matter of -- matter of hours, you know?


And you sit there idly, you can't do anything about it unfortunately.

TAPPER: Amanda, you're still planning -- the wedding still going through in two weeks?

TROMPETA: Yes, we are still moving forward with it. All of our friends and family that have been so incredibly supportive, they're all going to be there, and I haven't cried once throughout this whole experience, but I think when I see everyone, it's going to be a tearjerker.

TAPPER: You guys get us the go fund me you talked about, I'll tweet it out and maybe people watching will feel moved enough to get you some wedding presents. We're glad you're okay and obviously your pets. We're glad they're okay. That's the most important thing. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Amanda and Dimitrios, thank you so much.

FRANTZIS: Thank you so much. We appreciate your time.

TAPPER: They're just, of course, two of the hundreds of thousands of Floridians impacted by the storm and now facing an uncertain future.

For more information about how you can help victims of Hurricane Ian, whether financially or through other ways, volunteer work, you can go to, and as I said, I will go on Twitter, and give t go fund me for that sweet couple if you want to help them out.

The Orlando area in Central Florida, it didn't take a direct hit yet many parts look like this. Crews are still going door to door, making rescues. We'll take you there live next.



TAPPER: And we're back with breaking news, the death toll in Florida from Hurricane Ian is regrettably rising. Lee County sheriff confirmed just a short while ago 16 hurricane related deaths in that county, which is in the area of Fort Myers. That would bring CNN's tally to at least 42 dead in Florida alone as a result of this monstrous storm, 42.

Much of Central Florida is reeling from historic flooding brought about by Hurricane Ian. We introduced you to a couple in the last segment recovering from that.

Take a look at this CNN drone video from Orlando showing dozens of homes and streets still under water in that city again. That's in the center of the state. That is not at the coast. Officials there are warning that residents need to know it could be days before the water recedes.

CNN's Ryan Young is live for us in Orlando. Ryan, tell us what you're seeing there.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, as you can imagine, we have just seen devastation all over the place. You can see the homes here covered in water, and we noticed this boat going back and forth trying to help neighbors get some of their supplies. We even saw them rescuing someone's pet, because obviously, people had to get out of here in a quick fashion.

And everyone here says they knew they were near water but never expected this much water to be in their neighborhood. And some folks are even coming back from medicine because they left so quickly. I mean, the National Guard was here yesterday and so were firefighters.

As far as the eye can see, you can see cars, you can see everything that's still under water here. People just leaving their doors open to their homes trying to escape. And the people who were actually helping them right now are not rescuers, not first responders, these are neighbors who decided to get from point A to point B.

You said you probably helped 40, 50 people get back to their homes.

EMORI RIVERS, RESCUING NEIGHBORS: Sixty. Yeah, a lot of people out here, man.

YOUNG: And what is the impact on the families. I saw a woman crying earlier when she was with you guys.

RIVERS: Yes, I have about four or five friends, and almost of their places die (ph), so far, crying and trying to get hotels, trying to contact their family to get them to safety.

Sad out here, man, and waiting for the fire rescue for hours trying to come get them and rescue 'em. And so, that's when I stepped in, and said, my dad has a kayak, let me try to help as many of you guys as I can. Anything to help.

YOUNG: And this all started with a kayak, and moved to a boat. Henry is the captain, who's guiding us around, have you ever seen anything like this in your neighborhood?

HENRY LAWRENCE, RESCUING NEIGHBORS: Back in 2017, it was like this, but nothing like this. Nothing like the water at all.

YOUNG: And we saw some older residents that you guys were helping out earlier because people were talking about trying to get their medicine. How heartbreaking has that been to see the pain throughout the last few hours?

LAWRENCE: I just couldn't -- I couldn't live knowing that the people in my neighborhood was surfing from this hurricane, Ian, what's the name, Ian, and I just had a boat and me and my sister-in-law, my daughter, we just dropped it and went to saving people, helping people out.

YOUNG: Now, Jake, one thing they have been telling you, first responders were here quickly, and they were able to get folks out. The problem is today, we haven't heard from anybody, and what they were hoping for, they're older neighbors sitting in the garage actually, and we pulled up on them. They don't want to leave their home. They don't want to leave their stuff. They don't plan to leave. They're hoping the water actually recedes. As you turn around, you can see one of the lakes that spilled over.

You can see the heavy equipment that's been covered with water. People say they have never seen the water this high in in area. There's been work to drain out some of this over the years. That hasn't helped.

So, every hurricane from Irma to Charley has hit this neighborhood hard. As we go back this direction, every single home is dotted. The deepness catches your breath. The fact that one lady told us, she saw pets trying to escape homes. They did not make it. Some people were able to keep their pets on their kitchen table. They have come back to get to those pets.

But at this point, what are you hoping the city does in the next few hours to help your neighbors?

RIVERS: My first thing is to get the water to not be here.


It's way too high. It shouldn't be like this. The drainage should be better. I don't understand. That's my first hope for the water to come down because -- I mean, what else can we do? We can't come in, can't come out, unless you have protective gear, some type of a boat or a kayak, you know? And there's trash everywhere. You get trash.

YOUNG: And I heard there's been gators and snakes so far seen today.

RIVERS: Yes, I killed about two or three myself.

YOUNG: So you're not worried about the snakes.

RIVERS: I'm not worried about the snakes.

YOUNG: Look, Florida we're built differently, I guess, at the same time.

One of the people I saw said thank you to you earlier. How did you feel about the thank you got from that family that you helped rescue earlier.

LAWRENCE: A couple of people tried to offer me money. The type of family I come from, it's about me helping them, and I think that, you know, by me helping and not receiving money from them, I think I'm going to get many blessings -- many blessings from up above.

YOUNG: I appreciate it so. Thank you so much.

So, Jake, as we tour the rest of the neighborhood, you can understand why they continue to need help. Power companies are in the area trying to restore power to other neighborhoods. But as you can, it's going to be a long time before these folks can dry out.

BURNETT: Ryan, let's stay with you a little bit. This is pretty incredible.

If you can ask them, first of all, tell them how much admiration we all have for them, and what they're doing.

YOUNG: He says thank you to you guys, by the way.

TAPPER: Are they frustrated at all that it's on them to do this and not, you know, the government that is a multibillion dollar enterprise in Florida that should be there doing this work?

YOUNG: That's a great question. So Jake wants to ask, are you frustrated that you haven't seen any city officials or anyone in the city to help out especially after what happened to you guys yesterday?

RIVERS: Yes, I am frustrated because looking at the news and everything, I think my neighborhood exactly has got it worse than any other neighborhood. Yes, other neighborhoods have flooded, but I haven't seen not one other neighborhood where their house is under water. Going by, I'm seeing water all the way up to the door. I'm really frustrated. We need help out here.

YOUNG: Has anybody from a city government, has anybody reached out at all, have you seen a city truck out here today?

RIVERS: Not today at all, and I have been here since 8:00 or 9:00 this morning.

YOUNG: Yeah. I mean, Jake, that's how we first got here. We stopped at a gas station, and one woman was telling us, hey, the other neighborhoods have gotten a lot more attention. You guys need to come here.

If you look this direction, you can see every house is dotted by water. Every single car is flooded. Doors are left open, and as we were talking to people, they just wanted some sort of response, and there are not city cones to block off the street. The neighbors are pretty much doing this on their own at this point. And the response they have seen in other neighborhoods has been better, so that's part of the point. Jake, I guess we'll have to keep watching this neighborhood to see what happens next.

RIVERS: Ryan, the people, is it only that one older couple that you ran into who's still in their home, in their garage or are there other families.

YOUNG: No, there are people -- yeah, there are people who have returned so there's at least four or five families, maybe more, that are still in their homes, you think?

RIVERS: Oh, yeah.

YOUNG: So, they have gone by and offered a way out. Some people don't want to leave.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Young, stay in touch. This is a pretty incredible story you're telling, and we appreciate it. And god bless, I'm sure they are getting their blessings for their incredible work and philanthropy and altruism.

Ryan, we'll come back to you. Thank you so much.

More from Ian in a moment. We're also getting in White House response to Putin's audacious move today, formally stealing four parts of Ukraine, the largest land grab in Europe since the end of World War II.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Turning to our world lead now, Vladimir Putin moved to illegally seize a large chunk of Ukraine in a signing ceremony at the Kremlin today. Ukrainian land that Putin claims will now, quote, forever be part of Russia. Putin's illegal land grab comes after the sham referendum where some Ukrainian citizens were in fact forced to vote at gunpoint.

Let's bring in CNN's Matthew Chance, along with CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

Matthew, what is Putin trying to accomplish here? No one in the Western world, no one in Ukraine is buying this.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and I'm not sure there's that many people in Russia that believe that these four regions of Ukraine wanted to join the country either but it's the line Kremlin propaganda has been putting out, so in some ways it serves a domestic interest because he can say, look, see, they voted for this, and now it's happening.

But it also sends a powerful message as well that despite the military costs of the military adventure Vladimir Putin is causing, despite the global criticism and the economic sanctions that have been redoubled now, as a result of this for lack of a better word, annexation of these territories, Vladimir Putin and his country have -- he's decided the path for his country, no matter what the consequences, it seems he's going ahead with this, and vowing at the same time to defend those newly defined borders, even potentially with the nuclear deterrent that Russia possesses, you know, in kind of vast quantities.

We're in a very dangerous predicament and situation at the moment, Jake.

TAPPER: And on that note, Kaitlan, Putin seemed to have nuclear weapons on his mind today, what did the White House have to say about that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, even from Putin, it was a chilling speech. He had ominous comments about nuclear weapons, saying the United States has used them, there is precedent for this.

And I asked Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan who came to the briefing room to detail the sanctions that the White House says that they are imposing on top Russian officials and also preparing to use on countries or entities that support what Putin has done here.


But we asked, you know, just how worried are you about the language Putin is using when it comes to nuclear weapons.

This is what he told us.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I have been clear myself, President Biden has been clear, the administration has been clear that there is a risk given all of the loose talk and the nuclear saber rattling by Putin that he would consider this, and we have been equally clear about what the consequences would be. We have communicated that directly to the Russians. We do not presently see indications about the imminent use of nuclear weapons.


COLLINS: That last part there is critical, obviously, Jake. They're saying they do not see any kind of movement that it's imminent from Russia's behalf but saying that the risk is clearly there. That's blunt language coming from the national security adviser and it came after President Biden himself spoke on the matter saying the United States and the West is not going to be intimidated by Putin's actions today, by the brazen words he was using in the speech earlier, and also warning that anyone who tries to support this, that they are going to face consequences.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins and Matthew Chance, thank you so much.

A first in U.S. history and a major moment at the U.S. Supreme Court. See what the celebration was all about. That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, an historic moment at the U.S. Supreme Court today, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has taken her ceremonial oath today, at here investiture ceremony, emerging for a time-honored photo-op with the chief justice of the United States, in this case, it's John Roberts. This means she has officially assumed her position on the nation's highest court.

In a speech this afternoon, the justice acknowledged the historic nature of her post as the first-ever black woman to ever serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.


JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT: The people who approach, and especially the young people, they are seeing themselves portrayed in me, in my experience, and they are finally believing that anything is possible in this great country.


TAPPER: CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer Joan Biskupic joins us now live.

And, Joan, Justice Jackson joins the bench at a really rough moment for the court, tensions inside the court reached a boiling -- have reached a boiling point, it seems, and some of the justices are even publicly taking obvious shots at each other.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: You know, Jake, there's such a contrast between what happened today, the pageantry in the courtroom, her speech at the library of Congress that you just showed, you know, kind of the enthusiasm that, frankly, a lot of people across the partisan divide feel about having the first black woman on the court, and then you have, as you say, these tensions reaching a boiling point.

You have the liberal dissenters out this summer, you know, casting doubt on the court's legitimacy. Elena Kagan said the court should be acting like a court, not a group of partisans. The chief justice has taken issue with that.

And just this week, Jake, Samuel Alito, who wrote the opinion last June rolling back a half century of abortion rights, said: It's okay for people free to distress disagreement with our decisions, but saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line.

It almost felt like a warning of sorts, but just think of how much this court affects American life, so you understand why dissenting liberals would be complaining and you would also understand why the public itself is concerned about the justices rolling back precedent and voting along lines that look highly partisan.

TAPPER: Yeah, and there are a lot of progressives and Democratic senators who think that Justice Alito and others misrepresented their views in confirmation hearings.

Public trust in the institution, the judiciary is plunging. Tell us more about that.

BISKUPIC: You know, the recent Gallup poll shows that 58 percent of the people polled felt like the court was not performing the way it should. It's such a high number, like a record high for as long as gallop has been surveying things, and it repeats what we had seen consistently through the summer by the university poll and other institutions that were asking public opinion.

It's really at a point that could be seen as a crisis of legitimacy, which is exactly what the Chief Justice and Samuel Alito say people shouldn't second-guess on. But they're starting a new term on Monday and we'll see where they go from here.

TAPPER: All right. Joan Biskupic, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Joan is also featured in a special report this weekend you're not going to want to miss "Supreme Power" with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, reporting on why the U.S. public seems to be losing faith in the U.S. Supreme Court.

This new investigation, "Supreme Power" airs Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

We're going back to the aftermath of hurricane Ian. The death toll in Florida stands at 42. CNN's Bill Weir made it to the barrier island of Sanibel Island, which is cut from the mainland, only accessible by boat or by air now. We're going to talk to Bill Weir about what he saw on Sanibel Island. That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, Vladimir Putin's most audacious move yet, declaring huge chunks of Ukraine to officially be part of Russia, as his forces continue to be beaten back even further. Now the U.S. is responding.

Plus, obliterated, that's the only word to use to describe what Hurricane Ian did to large swaths of Florida. CNN's death toll in Florida has regrettably risen. It now stands at 42 people killed. In the past 48 hours, the Coast Guard has been going door to door rescuing Floridians trapped by the destruction.

The scale of damage and destruction is, frankly, mind-blowing. This is Fort Myers and the surrounding coastal communities. Water so strong, it punched holes through exterior walls of houses, entire buildings reduced to pieces of lumber.

No electricity, no water, no fuel. Right now, Hurricane Ian is making its third landfall in Georgetown, South Carolina, just south of Myrtle Beach. And you're looking at the surging ocean, washing away the pier at Cherry Grove.