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Don Lemon Tonight

Hurricane Ian Is Battering Florida. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 28, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. You're watching our coverage of Ian making its way up to Florida Peninsula. We have all the news coverage for you this evening. It is dumping rain on this entire area, lots of water, and also the wind, pushing the wind all across the state of Florida.

Our crews are out in the field. We're covering it all for you. We've got Bill Weir. Bill is joining us from Punta Gorda, Florida, also Brian Todd is in Largo, and Derek Van Dam is Bradenton for us.

I want to start with our meteorologist, our expert, Mr. Tom Sater, who is in CNN Severe Weather Center. Tom, I am getting so much rain, buckets of rain that have been dumped on me for the last hour, and it seemed to come in on cue. We're watching the radar and the rain came right in. It's just sitting on top of us, not going anywhere.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, Don. In fact, that northern periphery of the storm system in the last couple of model runs in the last couple of days really has been showing that that northern periphery is where we're going have that heavy rainfall.

Already, we have seen as much as 12 to even 19 inches of rain. That's two to three months-worth of rain that is falling. We've got a flash flood emergency across the area from Arcadia up toward Orlando. It won't be long. They're going to be in the clearing back in areas of Fort Myers. Dry air to the south. Rain totals will be much less.

But again, you look at the loop, we're going to find out better about the totals of the surge, how high did it get, we know close to a foot in some areas. The gauge broke in Naples after it hit seven feet. But again, the storm continues to move up, now passing just north of Sebring.

But again, the winds were so strong it knocked out a lot of our weather instruments in this area. So, again, we're not exactly going to know how strong the winds were in every area, but Cape Coral, 140 miles per hour, sustained winds were quite strong for some time, even around Venice where, again, they were in (INAUDIBLE).

Now, we're looking at this band. This is that rainfall, two to three months-worth of rain, and it's already a very saturated ground because the rainy season coming to an end. And here's our emergency that we're going to be watching very closely. There will be water rescues in this area. There's no doubt. There has been many already throughout the entire region. We've been watching, of course. The surge didn't get up to 18. We just don't know.

So, they're going to assess this, Don. Of course, the crews will be out tomorrow and they're going to be looking at this for weeks and weeks and weeks.

However, the surge has come to an end. Now that it's on shore, it's going to take a while for some of the waters to recede. In other areas, it's moving out quickly. The worst is going to be the ponding of water that could be around for many, many, many days.

LEMON: Yeah, we are watching the ponding of water here. I got to ask you on some of the stuff I know that you've gone over, but, listen, we have not seen -- maybe we are being protected by the building, but we really haven't seen the wind. The wind hasn't hit us too hard here. I'm wondering if we are going to get that because, as I said, we are getting just -- I mean, it's just sheets and sheets of rain.

And usually these bands, as you know, when we cover these things, these bands of rain, they come and they go. This one has come in and hasn't gone, Tom.

SATER: No, you're in the circulation right now in that northern part of the heavier bands of rainfall. In fact, it's going to continue to be quite heavy until the system moves out near on the back edge, but because it continues to circulate counterclockwise, Don, we're going to be looking at heavy amounts of rain continuing to move in. And you haven't seen the worst of it yet. It's much heavier just to your south and areas to the southwest.

So, this is what they've been putting up with, these 12 to 19 inches, which is over 20 in some cases, and that was the fear growing in towards central areas and north central areas of Florida, that this heavy rain band was going to be an event all by itself even without the landfall occurring. Crazy situation.

LEMON: Yeah, it is a crazy situation. Punta Gorda now, my colleague, Bill Weir, is there, Tom. I want you to help me talk to him because we were watching Bill today really get the strong winds. I haven't seen the winds that Bill has seen. So, Bill is joining us now. Bill, I understand that you are under a curfew. I'm not sure exactly what the conditions are where you are right now. I can't see you. But what's up?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Actually, it's much better, Don. It's both the radar and the evidence in the sky above us here, is that the worst of the event has passed Punta Gorda, thankfully, because it has been a marathon of just buffeting winds and intense rain, which you're tasting now.


The good news is we haven't seen the storm surge in the 15, 17, 19- foot range we were worried about this morning.

LEMON: So, Bill, the curfew that you're under right now, and I'm wondering, I'm hoping that people are abiding by the curfew, but, you know, as you said, the worst to be in is behind you. People start to come out and they say that's the worst thing that you can do obviously, especially at night, especially when there are downed power lines and there are other dangers.

Quite frankly, critters here in the state of Florida that you can see, snakes and alligators and such that have been driven from their homes. That's serious stuff. And debris, let's not forget the debris.

WEIR: Absolutely. Look, I'm not diminishing the danger, saying that the winds have died down here a bit. When the sun comes up tomorrow, people have to be very careful when it comes to venturing out to check property and proof of life and those sorts of things because, yes, downed power lines, standing water, these are all hazards.

In some places, the water was so intense from below that it would pop a manhole cover. You don't want to drive into that hole. There are all kinds of hazards. So, caution is the watch word tomorrow.

I'm really worried about communities like Naples where the flooding we've already seen is just going to be catastrophic for folks. Your heart breaks when you realize that just as the storm passes, it's just the beginning of their sort of personal nightmare as they wrestle with this, the scope of this, how many lives will be affected by this.

I just watched this great documentary about the Katrina generation, the kids who live through that storm in New Orleans, and it affected them for the rest of their lives. You got to wonder if there will be an Ian generation. We don't know yet. We don't know the full extent.

A lot of it will depend on response, frankly. And, you know, quick disasters, I found, pull communities together. When you all go through something like this traumatic, it's hashtag we will rebuild, hashtag we are strong, but as it drags out over months and years where communities are trying to heal and are running into red tape or whatever reasons, that's when things begin to pull apart.

So, you know, the next few days, few weeks will be vital in just how much damages storm does to people long term, Don.

LEMON: Yeah. I remember in Katrina, there were cities along the East Coast that people moved to. They moved to Louisiana, to my hometown of Baton Rouge. The infrastructure could not support them, number of people who moved out of New Orleans. So, yeah, you do have the generation of folks who come up after these storms, who are displaced from their homes.

Stand by, Bill. I want to get to Derek Van Dam. Derek is in Bradenton. Derek, I understand that you're seeing some issues right now. I got to tell you, guys, Derek, you're a meteorologist, Tom, you're a meteorologist as well, I mean, this rain is really coming down. I have not really experienced this much rainfall, I have to say, so consistently from a hurricane that I can remember. Derek, take it away.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, you know, you're talking -- I heard Tom say something about 12 to 19 inches of rain being reported, up to 20 inches in some instances, that is two to three months-worth of rain for the central portions of Florida. That is just incredible, copious amounts of moisture. It's not done yet. And guess what, Don, it's headed your way. You know that, right?

We are on our number 12 of, at the minimum, tropical storm-force winds. We've had a solid six hours today in Bradenton where I'm located of hurricane-force winds, and that caused power outages. We're part of the two million customers or so in Florida that are without power. They are plunged into darkness tonight. They have to ride out the storm. And then tomorrow, at first light, seeing the devastation that hurricane Ian left behind, just incredible.

The National Hurricane Center acting director talked to our colleague, Anderson Cooper, early this evening, saying that storm surge rose five feet in a matter of minutes. This storm is literally rewriting the history books here. We saw debris getting lifted into the air with some of these hurricane-force gusts here in Bradenton, transformers lighting up as they sparked and plunged us into darkness as well here.

This is a dangerous storm as we know, but the threats do not stop at the coast. It is a slow march inland across the interior. And one thing that I feel like we've missed that is so important, Don, is that the potential of this storm to reemerge into the Atlantic is there.

Remember, we already have a supply chain issue across the United States. Think about what happens when they deploy resources to Florida, and then we have another hurricane strike in South Carolina or Georgia. It's on the table.


LEMON: Yeah, it is. Do you notice anything? Have you -- hang on one second. Sorry. Let me get -- I want to get to Brian Todd. Sorry. There comes a point where there's so much rain that the rain gear doesn't matter because I'm getting soaked even through all the rain gear that I'm wearing. My boots are becoming filled with water.

Brian Todd, you have been able to assess the damage in the region where you are. Tell us what you're seeing and what you're experiencing right now.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I heard you guys talking about the dangers of venturing back to property that's been damaged. This is a place where the damage is really acute tonight. This is a property in Largo, Florida. We talked to the owner a short time ago. His family has had this house for 50 years. He just inherited the property. He returned to it to try to start renovations on it. And this is what happened today.

Our photojournalist, Wayne Cross, will take you in there while we just look at some of the incredible damage. This was the result of a fire today at the height of the storm. We were told by a neighbor who filmed it and gave us some video of the fire when it was at its height. The fire started when a power line snapped right off of a transformer across the street. And then look at this damage throughout this house.

And we talked about dangers, downed power lines, debris all over the place, broken glass, protruding objects of metal and wood all over this place. It's not safe to go into this place. The owner said it's fully insured. He's probably going to try to recover some of this.

And what's interesting is, when we pulled up to this property, we got a tip about this fire, we pulled up to this property, and it looked almost intact from the front with maybe a blown-out window. Then I walked around to the side here and saw this. It was just incredible to look at. And then we saw the video that that neighbor shot and sent to us. It was really just a devastating fire.

Again, people don't associate fire necessarily with hurricanes, but this is how it starts. It does this all the time. We've also ventured to another neighborhood in Largo where there are manufactured homes, and we saw at least two of them where the roofs were completely ripped off.

So, this is just the kind of the initial damage assessment we found out when this storm was at its height this afternoon to try to assess some of the damage. We saw a lot of the storm surge in St. Petersburg and elsewhere around that area, and then fanned out to assess damage. Don, this is just the beginning of some of the damage that's going to be assessed in this area and throughout southwestern Florida.

LEMON: And it's not over yet, Brian Todd. Wait till the sun comes up in the morning and they start to see crews are able to go out, emergency officials as well. Stand by.

I'm going to get back now. Tom, I understand this has been downgraded now to Category 1, but that doesn't mean the danger is over.

SATER: Oh no, not at all. In fact, the entire peninsula of Florida right now is experiencing tropical storm-force winds. And with that, the rain that comes with it. In fact, it's going to continue to be a hurricane up near Orlando where you are and maybe just kind of fall off at that hurricane status to tropical storm as it exits the other end of the state.

You know, I want to show you, don, when we're talking about areas, of course, that we're talking about the surge. This is a map that we were talking about earlier to give you an indication. He is Cape Coral. You can see Fort Myers here. The surge map projected in blue. You can just see how many miles the system went inland.

We don't know the exact total sometimes in some areas, we only have so many gauges, but you can just see from some of these models here exactly what it was projecting for us. You can actually see the grids of the roadways in the communities here, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers. You can really see how it was just inundated with 6 to 9 feet that we believe. So, this is something we're going to continue to watch. But we've got hurricane winds that will stretch all across from areas of the midsection southwest off to the northeast. And then it gets to the north, you're still looking at tropical storm winds, and we're going have a surge of 3 to 5 feet up in Georgia and parts of South Carolina.

So, this is a multiday event, but at least the rain is coming to an end now in Fort Charlotte, Fort Myers and Naples. The skies will be clearing shortly.

LEMON: But not here. I mean, look at this. It's just really quite unbelievable. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Todd, Derek, and also Bill Weir. We will check back in with you, guys, if needed throughout our hours here on CNN.

We're going to check in with an official, a former official from the emergency management and also from the weather center, in a moment right here on CNN. Don't go anywhere.




LEMON: We're back now live in Florida. We're going to go straight away to Craig Fugate. He is a former FEMA administrator. Craig, thank you so much for joining us here. You've been watching the coverage. You're also in Florida, as I understand, experiencing this as well. It is now downgraded in to a Category 1. How do you even begin to assess the damage?

CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, again, when light comes up, they're going to go to the areas that got the worst flooding from the storm surge, and we'll start working from there. They got teams that are already moving out tonight. By first light, they will start getting the drones up, get the aircraft up, people will be on the ground, and that will start giving us a sense of what has been devastated.

But we still got a storm that is going through the state. We're going to have more power outages, more trees down, and we've got the potential, as you are right now seeing, extremely heavy rainfall, and that is forecasted to produce potentially life-threatening flooding across central Florida and the north parts. This storm is not over. The wind is coming down. The rain threat has not decreased.

LEMON: Yeah, the ground is saturated, right?


I mean, I understand this is a rainy season, so we're going to see -- you know, you will see trees that are down and, obviously, the wind pushing down, but it's also because the ground is so saturated, right, that they become detached.

FUGATE: Yeah, I mean, and this is going to cause a lot of power outages. These big limbs on these trees, these trees coming down, they're going to hit things and they're going to hit a lot of power lines. So, we're going see the power line issues. More power is going out as it goes across the street.

We're not going see probably structural damage we saw closer to the coast. But we're still going to have some light damage there. But the big thing is, trees are coming down, power is going down, and then heavy, heavy rain and a lot of risk of flooding.

LEMON: What do you need to do? What are you going do to restore services? You're going to have emergency services, medical services, power, obviously, cable, internet, that sort of thing.

FUGATE: Well, you're going to focus, again, search and rescue on the hard-hit areas, and then the big thing, as you've seen, utility trucks coming from all over the nation start putting lines back up.

And in a lot of these areas that are not where the devastation from the storm surge and high winds are, once you get power back up, a lot of the other services come back online.

So, that's going to be a key factor, how much can you get power back on quickly over the next couple of days. There would be areas that it's going take longer. And once you get to areas with heavy devastation, your real focus down there is just getting roads open to do search and rescue, and then starting to get those critical infrastructures back online.

LEMON: Basic housing, I mean, what do you do? Some people are going be out of their houses for quite some time.

FUGATE: Well, again, that's something that we at FEMA are prepared, to support the state. What FEMA will do is provide people with temporary rent assistance, get hotels and motels across the state to get people into.

LEMON: All right. We lost Craig Fugate. I'm just going to sort of tell you what is happening here because I can't really see the pictures of what's up on the screen right now. I have no idea. I'm sort of flying blind here. But, listen, this rain has not stopped and the winds are coming where I am.

I just -- I have to show you -- I've been standing here just for a couple minutes. I just want to show you just how -- this is from the hood of my jacket. Check this out. Let me do this. Go with me. This is from -- I did this in the commercial break. Just so you can see this, too. How much rain is coming down here.

In the commercial break, I do it. These are rain pants. And still, at some point, the rain gear doesn't really matter because the rain is coming down. I just want to show you how much that is. Imagine, you know, just from standing there out of the commercial break, imagine how much rain is pulling all over the area. But as Craig Fugate said, this is going to be an event mainly of water, right, and of rain, and also a wind event. When you tie the two together, especially considering it is a rainy season, the end of the rainy season and you have grounds that are saturated, you have the trees that are going to be toppling over, the big limbs, and also falling on electrical lines and power lines there.

Up to two million are without power here. It is going to get worse. I know it has been downgraded to a Category 1, but that does not mean that the danger is over.

We're going continue our live coverage of hurricane Ian that's making its way up the Florida Peninsula right after this very quick break.




LEMON: Okay, so, here we go. We're back now in Orlando. I understand now that we are under a tornado watch until 1 a.m., 1 a.m. where I am. I want to get now to another official, Rob Herrin, with the Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue. Rob, we appreciate you joining us. I understand that you can talk to us about some of the damage happening in Tampa. What do you know?

ROB HERRIN, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY FIRE RESCUE, PIO: Yes, sir, we have already encountered roof fire rescue and response delays from trees -- a lot of trees taking out power lines, power outages, some transformers, fires that were brief, and just roads that are difficult for our units to pass right now. We are still responding to calls. It's just been challenging.

LEMON: Yeah. I understand that the 18-foot storm surge, what kind of problem does that pose for you?

HERRIN: Eighteen-foot storm surge, I don't know if we experienced that here in Tampa. We do have a significant rain event, you know, and that's kind of what we're guarding against now.

We're urging our citizens to please stay home, shelter in place. There's no reason to be on the roads right now. We're still several hours away from this being something that our citizens can be out. We have to wait until we hear the all clear from local government.

LEMON: As I understand, Rob, there are about 200,000 people without power. What do you know about that?

HERRIN: You know, I can speak to what fire and rescue have seen locally. We've run a lot of power down, a lot of power lines down.


You know, I know our local emergency, our local electric companies are prepared to respond to electrical problems when it's safe to do so, and I think they're standing by. We have a lot of assets to our fire rescue standing by as well to do a rapid need assessment after the storm has passed.

We have 11 teams around Hillsborough County ready to go to do what's called a windshield assessment where they just drive and assess where the damages are so we can send technical search and rescue teams there to effect rescue as necessary.

LEMON: I know that here in Orange County where I am, I saw fire and rescue crews just going around before it hit here checking on people, trying to get them to leave when it was proper for them to leave, now it's obviously hunkered down, trying to get them to leave, checking on them. Did you do a similar sort of operation before it came through in Hillsboro County?

HERRIN: In Hillsboro County, we did a full call back of our firefighters yesterday and law enforcement may have done that, but really ours was just messaging, getting out the message through the media to get those folks that are in those evacuation zones to evacuate and get to safer locations inland or to one of our 45 shelters that we have opened.

LEMON: Tampa's mayor is warning that the worst is yet to come. Do you agree with the mayor? What are you concerned about?

HERRIN: You know, the big challenge right now is we don't know what don't know. You know, as what said, before sun is up, we're going be able to see what's coming. We do have a lot of rain still in the forecast. This storm has just camped out. It's kind of like it hit the state and stopped. It was moving slowly, anyway, but it really slowed down.

It's a significant rain event, dropping rain on an area that was already saturated. So, a lot of flooding. We're still paying attention to river cresting and what that's going do and how that might affect flooding as well.

LEMON: What's your advice now for people in Hillsboro County?

HERRIN: Right now, stay home. There's no reason to be on the roads. Pay attention to trusted news sources and your local government. And please don't go out until you received that all clear. There's a lot of trees down, there's a lot of electrical lines down, don't approach any electrical lines. You don't know if they're powered or not. Electricity and water, not a good combination, so stay away of all from all of that until you hear from local officials.

LEMON: All right. Rob Herrin, we thank you very much. We really appreciate you joining us. I'm trying to get the latest information here on my phone. I can't get it to pop up. But I do understand that we're dealing with possible threat of a tornado where I am. So, we're going check in with Tom Sater in the CNN Severe Weather Center in just moments to figure out what's going on here.

Listen, this has been downgraded to Category 1 hurricane but that does not mean the danger is over here. We are still getting rain and wind here. This hurricane is still making its way up to Florida Peninsula. It is not done with the state of Florida yet. Don't go anywhere.




LEMON: I tell you what, adding insult to injury would be a tornado on top of a hurricane. I want to get to Tom Sater in the CNN Weather Center. Tom, where I am in Orlando now, there's a tornado watch. There have been tornado watches and warnings over the state of Florida. Explain to us what's going on. It would be insult to injury at this point?

SATER: Well, it's not unexpected when you have a tropical landfall. We had about eight tornadoes last night and significant damage from Broward County, Pembroke Pines, and course the airplanes and the airplane hangars.

We had a few more today, Don. Yours is just a watch right now until 1 a.m. It does include the Orlando area. Most of that tornado activity is in this feet or band (ph) that's been moving through the Bahamas and as well offshore.

But to give you an idea, Don, what we've been dealing with, we knew this system was around off the coast of South America since last Wednesday, and we've been watching the system as it kind of pulls through the area, obviously, making landfall at a Category 4.

When you look at the system right now and what's left of it, it will be lifting up quickly. But still, there's still some heavy rainfall to move through your region, up areas to the northeast.

The entire coastline of Georgia and South Carolina and North Carolina is going to get into this, but already clearing is beginning on the southeastern coastline -- southwestern coastline. We still have heavier amounts of rain for you and points up to the north and northeast.

This is what I was talking about, since last Wednesday, we didn't have one named storm for the entire month of August. That hadn't happened in 25 years. And then it really started to blow up. September 10th is around the peak of the season, so we're past the peak, but this is when the activity picks up.

All of Cuba lost power and most of them are still without power. Making landfall, we're now at a Category 1. Look at the bright yellow. These are tropical storm-force winds for the entire peninsula. We lose the hurricane-force winds tonight into tomorrow morning, but then we'll find this also producing a 3 to 5-foot surge in parts of Georgia.


So again, the eye is breaking down. All of the rainfall is just to the north of it. And again, it's going to continue to rain, already a good up to 20 inches in some spots, could see another eight in some areas.

Comparing Ian to Charlie, we've been doing this for a while. The tracks are pretty close, not at the onset, but making their landfall really close to each other. Both had winds at 150 miles per hour. They could revise. Ian today, pressure both but the same (ph).

When you look at the size, however, you can take the core with such a small storm. You could take the core from Charley and put it into the eye of in. That was so massive.

Don, I will leave you with this because I know last night, you were on the air, you were talking about climate change and the storms, again, the differences we're seeing, you were on with the acting director, Jamie Rhome, last night from the National Hurricane Center, and he answered it correctly, you know, not one storm -- any one storm can be really tossed into the equation, and there will be a time to talk about climate change.

But let me leave you with this tonight, because I know it sparks an interest in you and so many others. This is not my statistic. This comes from Professor Phil Klotzbach. He's a doctor, a professor at Colorado State University. Since 1950, there have been seven landfall hurricanes in Florida that were a Category 4 or 5, seven of them. The first four were each in a different decade. The last three, all of them in the last five years.

Coincidence. Could be. Could be not. There will be a time to talk about that in the near future. Right now, we still have heavy rain, tornado watch, and downed trees and power lines, and some other things that will be happening, of course, in the next 24 hours.

LEMON: Well, listen, I'll just say that the science shows what the science shows. It's undeniable, what is happening. Listen, let's talk about the storm surge. Really, what I was trying to explain is it is just a phenomenon of the intensifying storms over the years and what it is, not trying to say that it's one particular storm could gauge something.

But listen, you get an idea, you've been doing this for a while, I've been covering this since I've been in the business for 20 years, I've lived in the Gulf Coast, you see the intensity of the storms increasing, and that's -- the science definitely shows that.

I want to ask you about the storm surge because the mayor here is saying we could get up to two feet of rain on a very short amount of time. We got the storm surge that happens close to the coast. We saw what happened to Tampa Bay, sucking the water right out of Tampa Bay. And then you had that inland flooding, as I get this barrage of rain on top of me right now.

SATER: Right.

LEMON: The concern is about inland flooding here. This is, I would say a bigger water event, I'm not a meteorologist, obviously, than it is a wind event. There's certainly a combination but way more water. So, talk to us about the surge and the inland flooding, please. SATER: Well, the surge that was expected in Tampa Bay didn't turn

out. In fact, the heavy rainfall we were expecting in the Tampa St. Pete area really didn't turn out as well. So, they really dodged a big bullet. I mean, yes, last night, we talked about what the pictures would look like when the return flow pushed all the water out of the bay and, of course, we showed the video all day long.

But then after the threat for the surge went down to the south, they were breathing a sigh of relief. Of course, every community along the coastline as the path and the track was changing, every community wanted that center, that storm to be south of them, and that was the reason why. Unfortunately, you know, the relief of some communities is just, you know, dire straits and heartbreak for areas of others.

We don't know the official highest surge just yet. They're going give us that information, I believe, probably in the next 24 hours. It could take even longer than that. We do know the gauge in Naples registered up to seven feet and then broke or broke off. We don't know. It didn't measure anymore. We may never know that hype. But they will assess that and they'll be able to tell from water levels and things of that nature.

However, Venice was in that northern eye for quite some time and almost all day long. So, the wind damage is going be putting us that instead of the surge. South of that, you get into a harbor, Charlotte Harbor, and that's where it got pretty bad in Punta Gorda, but really down toward parts of Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and down in Naples.

That's the area I think that the aerial pictures are going tell us more tomorrow. We could see images much like Mexico Beach when Michael moved in. I don't think -- I mean, I don't know, I'm just guessing right now, I don't know how many homes are going be off slabs, probably not a great number like in Mexico Beach, but it's going to be more about the surge in this area.

So, again, Michael, when it first made landfall, registered at Category 4.


They changed it much later after the assessment to a Category 5. I don't know if they're going do that within but it is something to watch. The other event is all of this rain to the north. Now, you take the landfall out of the equation, this is an incredible weather event by itself. I mean, already the ground is saturated. For the last two weeks, it had doubled the amount of rainfall. Many river gauges around many of the rivers have been at flood stage before Ian even moved in.

So, that's the inland flooding problem, even at the Peace River when it comes off Charlotte Harbor, many miles inland. We already saw before Ian was long before here that they were at flood stage already. And that surge, moving in, that rain on top, it is not allowing that water to flow back out into the harbor and back into the gulf.

So, you know, we are in darkness right now. A lot of people evacuated. They're either inside. And again, emergency services and rescue personnel, which have been busy, are going be maybe busier now in the northern half of Florida and areas where you are and off toward the northeast.

LEMON: Yeah. I mean, you get the pole and you get drains that are clogged, and so you get the flooding, even a street flooding and flooding in residential areas as well.

Tom Sater, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Listen, there are lots of folks who -- you know, this is one of the vacation capitals in the world because you got all sorts of theme parks here, universal, right, and Disney. Also, you've got major airports. People are stuck. Lots of flights have been canceled.

We are going to talk to a family who is sheltering, hunkering down in Disney, and they couldn't get home. So, they are stuck here. We'll talk to them right after this break.




LEMON: One of the vacation capitals for families in the world, obviously, Orlando, Disney, correct? I want to get to Kelley Zimmerman and Ashley Garrett (ph). They came here for vacation, to take their kids to Disney, and they ended up in a hurricane.

Hello. I'm glad you're doing okay. I understand you're hunkering down. My question to you is, first of all, how are you doing, and secondly, why did you come if you knew there is a hurricane on the way?

KELLEY ZIMMERMAN, SHELTERING IN PLACE AT DISNEY: Well, we're doing good, and the reason I'm here is because of this one. She did promise to my three-year-old and two-year-old to go to Mickey's Halloween party on Sunday. Our flight was supposed to be on Thursday. I moved it to Wednesday. As we watched, we moved it yesterday, Tuesday. So, we make sure we got in so that we could make it to Sunday's Halloween party.

LEMON: Yeah. So, what have you guys been doing? I mean, you didn't get to experience much Disney, did you?

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. In fact, we knew that and that's why we plan to get here and hopefully make it to the hotel. And so, she's amazing. Packed everything together so we're able to get out early. The airport was going to be closing. And we were told we have to shelter in place. We thought we'd have to stay in a hotel. And so thankfully --

ASHLEY GARRETT (ph), SHELTERING IN PLACE AT DISNEY: We have been able to go swimming in the pool earlier today. They have characters out in the lobby dancing and doing games for children. So, it hasn't really been that bad. It's actually good. It's almost a normal day here for the most part. The restaurants are open all day yesterday. Nothing too crazy.

LEMON: Okay. So, are you glad you came?

GARRETT (ph): Absolutely.


ZIMMERMAN: Ask me another day.


LEMON: Yeah. So, I understand you guys are from Colorado, correct?


LEMON: So, you have not experienced weather like this before, a hurricane?

ZIMMERMAN: No. It's our first time.

LEMON: No. So, listen, we're in a hotel and people came here because, especially from the Tampa area, thinking that they would escape the bulk of it. You came here because you wanted to see Disney. And I would imagine, hoping that you would -- that the hurricane would not come through or at least to Orlando, but it did.

So, what's it like at the hotel where you are? Are people out and about? You said you were able to get in the pool earlier and there were some characters or what have you, but take us behind the scenes, what's happening?

ZIMMERMAN: So, when we got to the hotel, there is most definitely a long line to check in. A lot more than normal. And there was a lot of frantic because they did say at 3:00 there is probably going be a shelter in place. So, at that time, we don't know if they were going to close.

There was a huge line for the dining room. They're having meal packets ready just in case. They were already open the next day, so they're just was a ton of people trying to get a bunch of food as they could to store for the family in case they could not leave the hotel rooms.

But thankfully, that didn't get to happen until, I mean, at 8:30, everything is still running smoothly. Again, they're trying to make the best of it, trying to make sure the kids' area have coloring, dance parties. They're trying to make the best out of not being able to go anywhere.

LEMON: How much longer are you guys here? Are you going to get out as soon as the airports open up? Because the airport in Orlando closed today.


Tampa Airport closed yesterday. Are you guys going to leave right away or are you planning to stay longer?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, we are planning to be here from Thursday to Tuesday. So, we're still planning to leave Tuesday. We just have to extend our stay knowing that we will probably get stuck here.


LEMON: All right. Ashley (ph) and Kelley, hey, listen, you're adventurous, I have to say that. So, you guys be safe. We appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much. Okay?

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. All right, hey, listen, at least they're adventures. I have to say that it is -- even though Ian has been downgraded to a Category 1, we cannot stress enough. The danger is not over. Stay at home.

Even when the sun comes up tomorrow, you should try to stay in until emergency crews tell you that it is safe to go out. You still have downed power lines, you still have debris, and other things that are out there that can be very harmful and very dangerous.

The storm is not over yet. So, pay attention to your local forecast, pay attention to the emergency officials, and make sure you continue to watch CNN. We're going to continue to update you on the weather here.

That's it for my portion. I'm going to see you again tomorrow morning. But I just want to tell you, my friend and colleague, John Vause, is going pick up our coverage live right after this break. We will see you later. Be safe.