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Irma Pounds Florida with Violent Winds, Torrential Rains. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:27] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news right now, Hurricane Irma absolutely slamming Florida as it moves north spreading destruction from coast to coast. The center of that storm is about 50 miles southeast of Tampa right now.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is there, Ryan Young is not far away in Clearwater and Karen Maginnis is in the CNN Weather Center. Ryan, I want to start with you because while this storm's path is changing you're still getting the brunt of it in Clearwater.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Still getting the brunt of it. Look, we went from Tampa to Clearwater to St. Pete, back to Clearwater today. I can tell you the wind here has been relentless. This has been going on for hours at this point.

And we talked about the fact that we have seen debris flying through the air. We've also kind of switched positions a little bit and have Larry kind of come close to me. We are going to walk out toward the street here.

One of the things that we've noticed is all the sideway water that just sort of blows in different directions. And we have seen sort of the wind crisscrossing. We even have gusts up to 80 miles an hour throughout this afternoon and into the evening.

One of the things that we've noticed is the signs or some of them have started to come apart. We've also noticed the billboards have started to shear just a little bit. Now we've been watching that large billboard up there, so far so good.

But the real conversation is about the decisions that people made to stay in their homes. Now there are some people who were told they needed to evacuate but they wanted to stay in their homes.

And as we walk out here, you can see the difference in the wind -- Don. It has been relentless for hours in terms of just the gusts and the direction keeps changing. So the last half hour we talked to you, the wind wasn't this strong from this direction.

We've actually changed position and kind of walked away from the building. And it's just It is a crisscross of winds and you think about the pounding on a roof or small space you can understand what some of the homes are going through in Florida right now. In the last half hour, we also noticed an emergency vehicle on the way to a call. You've got to think about law enforcement officials who are putting their lives on the line especially as they try to make these rescues out here, so the first car that we have seen on the road in several hours.

And it seems like, you see my camera man getting blown around a little bit. The wind is actually picking up even stronger as we talk to you.

We will have to see what happens overnight. But so far every time we think there is going to be a break in the wind, it seems to get a little bit stronger -- Don?

LEMON: All right. I want you to be safe. Ryan, we will get back to you. Ryan Young in Clearwater, Florida.

Stephanie Elam now in Tampa. So Stephanie -- when we saw you last, you were out there Stephanie -- right there. Stephanie -- you're out in the street in downtown Tampa, what are you seeing now?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the wind's really picking up there. I just took a little bit of a beating. I'm trying to get to know what Ryan has been talking about over there in Clearwater.

But it comes up and it kind of surprises you when it happens here. The wind is so strong that I'm watching the water going down the side of the street here. The wind is so strong it changes the direction of the water flowing down to the drain. Pushes it back and then wind stops and it pushes it back the other way. That's how strong the wind is when it comes through here.

And for the most part, I can tell that you downtown Tampa, folks have heeded the warnings. I did talk to a few people yesterday that said that they were going to stay here in their high-rise building and just ride it out. They may feel the swaying a little bit more but they are planning on staying here. But for the most part, people have heeded warnings.

Gosh -- take a look down here. Look down the street. You can see, hopefully you can see, the rain coming down in bands. And I think I see a couple more people out there and this car coming down this way as well which -- there is a curfew in effect here in Tampa that started at 6:00 p.m. and that is through the duration of the storm for the city of Tampa.

The mayor has made it very clear that they do not want people out here because things are falling. Things can start falling. For the most part I see palm fronds; nothing huge has fallen down where I am here in downtown Tampa.

But we also know that this is just the beginning of it for us. We're going to see more. The winds are going to pick up. The rain is going to pick up here. We're going to see more of that here.

And even if we did get less of a hit than we thought we might get, it is still going to be very serious out here. It's nothing to play with.

And that wind can catch you off guard. And it really does blow you around. It's no joke.

So unfortunately, I'm seeing people out here still. But it does seem like most people here in Tampa had heeded warnings and have stayed away from this area right now.

LEMON: All right. Stephanie Elam. Stephanie -- be safe down in Tampa.

I want to get to Karen Maginnis now. Karen is in the CNN weather center. And she joins us now.

[00:05:01] So give us the latest forecast for Irma. How much longer is this storm going to pummel Florida/

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like over the next several hours -- Down. This is when we're going to see perhaps the worst impact right across Tampa.

Its position puts it about 35 miles to the south-southeast of Tampa. This is a water vapor image. And what I noticed most strikingly is that that this southwestern edge has really got a little bit more dry air into it. That's because it is not sitting out over the open waters any more. It doesn't have anything that's going to fuel this system any more once it has made land fall now.

But here is the worst part is as Irma continues to trek towards the north, we are going to start to see Tampa on the back side of this so that water starts coming in.

What do we estimate? Well original estimates were maybe five to ten feet. That was about 24 hours ago. But now we are looking at a different animal.

As the wind comes back around, that's going to draw that water into that Tampa Bay maybe between one and three feet -- still substantial. May not be what we were looking at 24 hours ago. But still kind of a superlative amount, if you consider that most of these homes, these beautiful lovely homes that have been built on these canals and through these bays are going to be very vulnerable.

Then what will happen? This transitions just from the east of Tampa, up towards Gainesville, Florida perhaps as a category 1. So it still has legs even as we go into Monday early morning.

In southern Georgia, it is going to be the drenching rainfall that would be very problematic. But not just in south Georgia, also some coastal areas in South Carolina -- significant rainfall expected here. Don't be surprised if some of these rainfall amounts amount to 10, 15 inches certainly possible.

All right. This is the wind forecast. There you can see the winds right now offshore Tampa; offshore some of these other coastal communities to the north of Tampa. But once you're on the back side of this, that's when we've got these real problems. And we're going to see that water start to rush in.

Then it transitions to the north. How long will this last? It could be over the next three to five hours we could see that. It's going to be very dramatic.

And then we start to see this transition more towards the north; so even into Atlanta, some gusty winds. We're going to see perhaps downed trees and power lines.

Already in Florida, Don, they're saying about 3.5 million customers without power. The estimate on that is that is about half of the customers that Florida Power and Light has. So when they go in to do the restoration and do the restructuring of all of the power grid that is necessary there that is going to be a huge undertaking.

And that's just one element of what we are seeing with Irma. It is going to be the electrical grid. It is going to be rebuilding of homes. It is going to be different infrastructures that perhaps over time have been neglected.

But it has taken Irma to really meet its match in the state of Florida where it made landfall at Marco Island around 3:30 in the afternoon. We had some wind gusts there reported at 140 miles an hour.

So Don, Irma continues to make its trek more towards the north. It is just now about 35 miles to the south-southeast of Tampa.

LEMON: Karen, I've got to ask you. So listen, we always talk about the flooding and the storm surge, where are the storm surge concerns right now?

MAGINNIS: It is all in this area from right around Fort Myers, Florida. There you could start to see some of these bands already coming ashore. That is because on the south side of this system, still for Tampa it's still going out.

So in the next couple of hours as Irma transitions more towards the north, then Tampa is going to be on the back side of this and that water is going to start rushing into some of those bays even to the north of Tampa.

And right now Fort Myers is seeing that as well. Maybe one to three feet storm surge is what we are expecting. But I wouldn't diminish that. Those don't sound like staggering numbers.

But we know for the financial district down in Miami, they had essentially the flooded areas due to the storm surge. Now they did have a lot of rain fall there as well. But this storm surge is so destructive. And I know a lot of folks that they look at Tampa Bay or some of those other canals and see the water rush out when in fact in the next couple of hours that water is going to be being pushed in again.

LEMON: Karen Maginnis -- thank you very much. Appreciate that.

Hurricane Irma spreading destruction across Florida. Brynn Gingras in Orlando for us right now. Brynn -- looks like you are getting blown around there.

[00:10:01] BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Don. I mean we were told that the beginning of the worst for Orlando was going to hit around midnight and Irma really arrived on time.

It is really eerie, I've got tell you because we're in downtown Orlando. And so we have a lot of tall buildings which create a lot of alley ways for this wind to travel through and I'm standing in one. And all I can tell you is that here, a whole sheet of water coming down from this direction and then next thing I know I'm getting hit by it.

It's almost like if you were standing in the ocean and you see a big wave coming and you turn your back to it and you get knocked over. Certainly this isn't the most -- as strong as a wave would be but it's a lot of water that just comes gushing at us. And I know we're expecting to get a lot worse.

In this direction we are being blocked by our hotel building but in this direction I can tell what you I'm seeing is just the trees sort of bending over. The wind tunnel is extremely bad over there.

And what's even worse is an eerie sound. We keep hearing these little like almost car-crashing sounds. And that is what we are hearing. These light posts with these sort of globes around them -- they keep coming and crashing those glasses on to the concrete. We've been hearing one after the other and it just sounds like mini car crashes happening on the street.

But yes, we are certainly getting a lot of wind. And we've been paying attention to this light post right here because that has been really shaking. But as you've been talking all throughout your newscast, Don, there is a lot of projectiles, particularly here to my -- behind me to my right where there is an entire construction site.

We've got two cranes and tons of supplies. One person told me, which I really didn't want to hear is this, one person told me, you know, even a nail that isn't tied down at a construction site can turn into a bullet. And he's absolutely right.

With these wind gusts, you never know what can come flying at a home or a person. And of course at this hour, a lot of people inside safely, probably, hopefully getting some sleep because it's not going to stop for another few hours -- Don.

LEMON: That is a very wise person. It's been concerning me all day watching you guys stand out there. Thank you -- Brynn. Be safe. I appreciate it.

Sara Sidner now, Daytona Beach. Sara -- you're on the east coast, on the east coast of Florida. What are you dealing with?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let me just tell you, Don, that basically what is happening and we apologize. The lights going off and on, there's a lot of wind, a lot of rain that is affecting our equipment as it is affecting this whole entire street. This is A1-A. We are on the back side of a huge concrete hotel that is hurricane graded. And so we have some protection but it is still blowing us around.

Now this is a squall. We are told by CNN meteorologists that this actually is about 60 to 70 miles per hour. That's the heaviest that we've seen over the past few hours. We are talking about tropical storm force winds that are blowing around.

But remember that just five miles more per hour it's a Category 1 hurricane winds. And so what you're seeing right now is really quite a bit of blowing that's coming straight down A1-A.

Also, what we are also seeing is a lot of projectiles that you have been hearing from everyone -- that's the danger here. There are things like the top -- the things that cover the lights are flying around. You're seeing the tops of trash cans flying around.

And this wind -- I am not a small woman, as you know, Don. I'm a chunky girl and it is blowing me around when the gusts come really, really hard. So this is nothing to play around with. Everyone has been told that over and over and over again that you really have to respect this wind.

The reason why we are out here is because this is our job. We choose to do this and we get paid to do this. But we are here to be eyes for you, the witnesses for you so that you folks at home that are worrying about your homes, that are worrying about your businesses, that are worrying about your family that is in the way of the storm, you can see what is going street to street where we were but you don't have to put yourself or your family in danger.

This is an incredibly strong storm. And we are about 200-plus, about 225 miles from the eye of the storm. So we're nowhere near the eye and yet we are seeing these incredible winds. We are also on the east coast while the storm eye is on the west coast -- Don.

LEMON: Thank you -- Sara Sidner. You're a beautiful woman no matter what size you are. And there is nothing wrong with having a little curve.

Thank you -- Sara. Be safe out there. I appreciate it.

When we come back -- Irma pounding Florida from coast to coast with violent winds and torrential rains as it moves north.


LEMON: Here are your live pictures from Orlando. And this is our breaking news tonight.

Violent winds and torrential rains as Hurricane Irma pounds Florida from coast to coast.

Joining me now on the phone in Fort Myers is Ben Hemmen. He's the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Fort Myers Miracle, the double-A team for the Minnesota Twins.

Thank you. I'm so glad that you could join us here. Listen, you're in Fort Myers right now and you didn't evacuate. So what does your yard -- what does your neighborhood look like right now?

BEN HEMMEN, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FORT MYERS MIRACLE: The neighborhood has some trees down, debris everywhere, roof tiles. Some storm shutters actually came off from windows. There was water in the drive.

I have a lake behind our unit and then -- the lake filled up a little bit more. And then there is water in the circle drive around. Mild debris but stuff everywhere -- it was so dark at the time this all ended so we fully (ph) haven't really assessed but normally you'll have trees down, debris everywhere and water filling up.

LEMON: So listen -- I understand you're from Kansas where there are tornadoes. Does this compare? How do you compare this today? Can you?

HEMMEN: Man -- when I first moved down here in November everyone told me about hurricanes and being a kid from Kansas, you know, get limited warning the minute it comes through and it's kind of there and gone, unless it's a big one.

And I chased them for a while in high school and college. Not a smart thing to do but we were way far away from them just to see them develop.

And I've got to say, this is worse. I mean just the idea of -- we saw it earlier in the week. We're supposed to go to Carolina then up the East Coast and then the middle of Florida. And you wake up this morning and you see the eye headed straight for you.

[00:20:01] It is pretty agonizing just to be able to see that and then when it finally comes, it sits on you for so much longer than a tornado and affects you.

We've been without power this morning since 9:00. And we still don't have it right now. And that's going to be probably, you know, the worst aftermath.

I've got to say, I was not able to click my heels together three times and say there's no place like home with this one.

LEMON: Not with a hurricane.

Listen, I know that you're with the minor league team, the Fort Myers Miracle. How are you hoping to help your community tomorrow morning?

HEMMEN: You know, it's interesting because Harvey just hit Houston and Minor League Baseball put together an effort for Harvey relief and to help out the Corpus Christi Hooks Club.

And the moment that Irma looked like it possibly could be heading this way, we were in contact with something called Grandiose (ph) to try to brainstorm and think of ideas. And I called Minor League Baseball and said if (inaudible) relief I want to be one of the first ones there with Fort Myers Miracle and help them lead the charge.

You never hope for this. We just raised over $3,000. Our ownership just matched it for the Harvey relief. We raised over $6,000 for Harvey. And we collected water, toilet paper and canned goods. We got flooding from Harvey. We had over 17 inches of rain during that here in Florida so our ground was drenched. We did some local support.

So as a Minor League Baseball team you're the front porch of the community and we've had people coming together naturally for 25 years. This is our 25th season celebration this year. So as the front porch community we're going to lead the community in relief effort any way we can.

And you know, we will know the damage of Santabel, Captiva, Fort Myers Beach with all those surges, or any of the winds up in Lee High and (inaudible) that got the eye until tomorrow and the days coming. So Fort Myers is going to need more than a miracle. That is why we're here to help and that's why Minor League Baseball is so great.

LEMON: Good for you. Thank you, sir. Thank you. Ben Hemmen -- we appreciate it. Good luck to you, ok?

HEMMEN: Ok. Thanks -- guys. I appreciate anything you can do.

LEMON: Absolutely.

When we come back -- Hurricane Irma still slamming Florida tonight, leaving a trail of destruction across that state.


LEMON: These live pictures coming at you from Tampa, Florida tonight. You could see they are getting wind. Not that much rain at the moment but it comes and it goes -- Hurricane Irma just really barreling through Florida. People who live in the Keys are beginning to assess the damage there.

On the phone with me now is Randy Towe, resident of the Keys and business owner. He and his family rode out the storm.

Randy -- when I spoke to you on Friday, you know I was worried about you. We were concerned. So take us through. Tell us what happened. You hunkered down and didn't evacuate.

RANDY TOWE, RESIDENT OF THE KEYS: Well, Don, you know, our plan was to just ride it out. And we knew we were in a very secure strong house and we were on high ground and it did come through the Upper Keys. We did not get the eye like they did down in the Lower Keys, Key West area. But we did get some pretty substantial winds for quite a while -- a lot of damage up here with trees.

I did not see any structural damage with homes. There was some flooding. There were boats that sank. And all in all the Keys fared pretty well up here. We did have a tide surge like they were talking about but it wasn't as severe as it could have been.

LEMON: Were you scared there for a moment at moments?

TOWE: Well there was certainly concern as it was approaching, you know, it's coming this way, it's going left, it's going right. It's -- you know, we just kept watching the weather minute by minute and it kept going to the west, going to the west when it was down near Cuba.

Plus it got hit by those mountains in Cuba and it got knocked down a little bit. So we were pretty -- we were ready for whatever was going to happen. And as it turned out, we did not take the brunt of it. And we were -- we were all pretty much in a safe haven.

LEMON: Did you lose power?

TOWE: We did lose power this morning about 2:00 and we are still without power although there is a neighbor of mine right down the street that has power and never lost it.

LEMON: Wow, interesting. So listen, you say that you witnessed the destruction from Hurricane Andrew that it left behind and you learned a lot from that experience. How does Irma compare to that?

TOWE: Well, this is a landscape event for us up here -- a lot of trees. Wilma was devastation with houses missing and roofs gone and just a lot of destruction. We did not get that up here.

Now, Lower Keys, they did get quite a bit of damage, you know, it's a lot more severe down there because they took the brunt of it, the eye of the storm. I know they had about a 10-foot, 12-foot tide surge down there. So they had a lot of problems but from what I hear it's not as bad as it could have been.

LEMON: I have to ask you, are you -- you're not -- are you regretting your decision not to evacuate? Or you're ok with it?

TOWE: No, not at all. I mean as it turned out, you know, the family was safe. We were secure. We weren't at a place where we didn't know anybody or we had to, you know, try to fend for ourselves. And that storm is still going.

It is hard it run from a storm when it's going to move to the north and we live in Florida. There is only so far can you go left or right. So you're going to deal with it sooner or later.

And as it turned out we made the right decision staying home. We were all, you know, very comfortable and we didn't have any problems. And I'm glad it all worked out the way it did.

LEMON: Randy -- I've got to tell you, everyone here, we were all worried. We were like we hope we're talking to him on Sunday night when we come back on the air with this particular program. And we're glad that we are. We're glad that you're safe. Thanks for joining us.

TOWE: I appreciate that. Thank you. [00:29:58] LEMON: Ok.

Florida won't know the extent of the damage from Hurricane Irma at least until dawn. But there's no question, there will be a lot of rebuilding to do all across the state.

Joining me now is Nigel Holderby, American Red Cross spokesperson as he joins me via Skype. Nigel, thank you for joining us. What type of resources --


LEMON: -- Red Cross have in place in Florida right now?

HOLDERBY: Well, this is really a massive relief effort and I'm actually sitting here in the Orlando Headquarters Office where we're really, kind of, hunkering down and I can hear the winds roaring outside.


And we're on the ballroom area here so feel really secure about that. And knowing that we have thousands of volunteers that are really literally working out with our evacuation centers, you know, providing that support to the communities that that's happening now.

We have the truck loads of relief supplies that are headed this way that are responding, trailers with shelter supplies. One of the things that we know is right now people are in evacuation mode.

And those evacuation centers are really there to just make sure that people's lives are saved from this weather. So when we look at what comes next and we're on the response phase right now, when we look at recovery, that looks a little bit different.

And there may be the opportunity where we would need to stand up a full-blown shelter where we'd have cots for everyone to sleep, and food, and that shelter would be a little bit more long term.

So we're prepare to do that. We have those resources staged in the area so that they can get where they need to go pretty quickly.

LEMON: So, what does, what does the Red Cross need and how can people help?


HOLDERBY: Well, we have, like I said, thousands of volunteers --


HOLDERBY: -- we have all of these opportunities for people that are helping. The other way that people can help is to make a donation. We cannot do what we do without the power of those volunteers and the generosity of the donors. And if you'd like to help, you know, we have the responses that are happening. Harvey, still on going. We're still there. We're working with Irma right now, watching while -- what happen as it goes up into Georgia and up into the -- to the south area or the northern area of that.

So people can make a donation. That donation goes to help get those volunteers where they need to be and to provide the people in recovery.

You can text the word Irma to 90999 and that'll make a 10-dollar donation. All those donations add up with the generosity to make this possible.

LEMON: Text Irma to 90999, and what is the donation for with that?


HOLDERBY: That 10-dollar donation, the --

LEMON: Ten dollars.

HOLDERBY: -- that donation is going to support the relief operation --


HOLDERBY: -- and then that recovery phase as well.

LEMON: All right. Text 90999, text Irma to that number and that'll give a 10-dollar donation. The Red Cross is amazing work.


LEMON: So obviously, Nigel, Irma is still very much an active situation.

But let's talk about response to a storm of this nature. When the storm clears out, what are the first tasks the Red Cross gets to?


HOLDERBY: Really we look at the people that are in the shelter and in the evacuation centers, are they able to go home? And then we're waiting for those words from the county, from the government to be able to say that they're all clear there, the people can return to their home.

And then start assessing the damage. And then the Red Cross comes in and we start looking at that damage as well. We're looking at people who may not be able to go back into their homes. People who have lost or have complete destruction.

Or then you have people who have just minor damage. And so we look at those and we make those assessments and then we'll be able to provide the relief for that recovery. Sometimes that means a cleanup kit. Sometimes that means providing some bleach to, kind of, clean things up and get things, you know, that are, you know, pretty minimal. Other times that means that we're providing a little bit more in different areas.

But it is definitely individual assistance and working with those families provide some case work to really talk to them and see what exactly those needs are. And then we're working with them individually and then as a community to put them back together and get them back on their feet.

LEMON: Nigel Holderby from the American Red Cross, thank you, we appreciate your time.


HOLDERBY: Thank you. Have a good evening.

LEMON: Thank you as well. Listen, I just want to read something that a viewer sent and just to give you an idea because I don't want people to think that anyone is taking this lightly.

But it said, "Hey, Don, the damage to middle and lower Keys is substantial," and all capital letters." I'm sure he's a nice guy but don't let the guy in Islamorada leads you to believe that it wasn't a big deal.

His area didn't get hit as badly there. There's a major humanitarian crisis happening in the Keys. There is no cell service, no power, no internet. Roads are impassible. And the area is down. The area impassible and the area is down.

Marathon where my house is suffered huge damage. None residents are -- aren't allowed into Monroe County. The National Guard is deployed. So this is still a big deal." A lot of people suffered major damage in the Keys.

You know, Mr. Touz's area didn't get as much damage as he thought but there's still humanitarian crisis in the Keys (00:05:00) and far beyond that. Obviously in the Caribbean and also in other parts of Florida.

And for ways that you could help those affected by hurricane Irma, go to We'll be right back.


LEMON: Here's our breaking news right now. Hurricane Irma absolutely slamming Florida as it moves north spreading destruction from coast to coast. The center of the storm about 50 miles southeast of Tampa.

Ryan Young is not far away in Clearwater and Brynn Gingras is in Orlando for us. Brynn, I want to start with you. There's also a curfew in place where you are. What are you seeing?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, we have a curfew until 6 o'clock tomorrow, Don. Now, listen, I play basketball my entire life, I'm pretty comfortable with the defense of fans, but when we get these wind gusts coming down this alley here in downtown Orlando, I'd much rather take a charge, I can tell you that much.

We are just seeing these heavy wind gusts that are just, sort of, like I said, coming right through alleyways really of downtown Orlando because we have so many tall buildings in the downtown area.

And my producer, Lynn Tran, you can't see it because of our cameras taking shelter, but to my right are two enormous (00:10:00) cranes and they had rotated a full 180 degrees and now they are about lopsided this way with this wind.

And I got to say, this is the outer bands of the storm. I know that my colleagues at CNN were getting much stronger wind gust to the south earlier today.

So I have some serious sympathy for them because I can tell you right now, we're getting a really tough right now, Don. And again, this is Orlando in the middle of the state. We're not by coast and we're still seeing these facts.

LEMON: All right, Brynn. Brynn, I want you to stand by and Brynn I need you to keep safe down there. We're going to get back to you because, boy, it looks like it's really happening where I just also want to get to Clearwater.

We'll check, we'll check in with Brynn in a moment, back in with her. But Clearwater, that's where Ryan Young is. So the path, obviously, it changed a bit but you've been getting pummeled all night in Clearwater. What is going on?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have. Look, we've been live since 5 o'clock this afternoon and now we're stretching into the evening here. And the power of the wind just seems to keep ripping up.

Every time I think it's about to die down we see a little more in terms of the wind. Two more important things to add over here, we noticed in this direction over here, we've noticed some more transformers that have been blowing in that area.

And in fact, you might be able to see some of the lights that are flickering in that direction. A couple of more loud booms. That's something that we've seen throughout the night.

So I think we've counted at least seven transformers in the area that have blown, and some sparks in the area. Now we've talked about that emergency vehicle that passed by, still no word about exactly what there has been.

But the real conversation is just how powerful the wind and how consistently it is. And now I'm going to ask Larry to take one step back.

Something that we want to show is sometimes is just all about where you're standing because when you stand here and this is, kind of, where our anchor point was, the whole conversation changes because the wind dies down.

We have this big piece of concrete that's between us and the wind and it gets you to settle down just a little bit. And when you talk about the idea so many people going through this for hours and hours, just stuck in their homes, maybe they lost their power.

We're in a commercial area, so maybe the power is on here but there's some people who are just listening to their radios. Folks have actually called in to a place that we are to say, hey, they watching because they wanted to see where the storm was going.

And there's some other breathing a sigh of relief but it's not over just yet because when you step back out this way, you know the power of the storm is still out there.

And what you don't want to happen is don't want to step outside where there's a power line or an object that gets blown by. Because we've seen pieces of roof flying in our direction and luckily we haven't been hit all night.

But there's some cool people who helped us stay on. And this has been going pretty smoothly, so far so good. No major power outages to report but of course, we'll have to reassess in the morning the kind of punch the storm left behind.

LEMON: Yes, and you took the worst right there enough. I'm wondering, though, if it's just because you're in a commercial area or if you have maybe a backup generator in that area but we'll figure it out, Ryan.

We're going to -- we need to get to Sara Sidner, she's in Daytona Beach. Sara, east coast of Florida, what are you dealing with?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, we're Ryan is, we're about 225 miles from where he is and we are still getting this incredibly strong gust. It's actually gusting stronger than a lot of folks thought it would here.

It's gotten up to 70 miles per hour in those gusts that is just under a category 1 storm. I'm going to get out of the way of the camera, but I want to mention some things too that are really important.

You see how the trees are whipping around there and you see how every now and then things look like they're spinning a bit? Well, we're hearing now from Brevard County which is about an hour drive south from here.

An hour or so, 60 miles or so. That's where Cape Canaveral is, NASA, you should be familiar with that. We all love the NASA Space Program.

So in that area, we just talked to an emergency management person who was there at the EOC, who has been unable to sleep because he is up working and he's getting time and time again, 40 times he's been warned tornadoes are coming. We now know that two had been confirmed touched down in Brevard County. There are no injuries at this time, no (INAUDIBLE) at this time in Brevard County.

But that gives you some idea that within this storm, as you see these winds whip around and as you're feeling these gusts which are here where we are on Daytona Beach, we're at tropical storm force wind and at the, at the higher end of tropical storm force winds, of those gusts actually.

But what's happening in Brevard that some of that is turning into tornadic activity. So two confirmed tornadoes touching down in Brevard County. And we're also getting tons of warnings there in Brevard. Sorry, fixing in our light here.

The wind's really whipping about. And the thing that you have to be careful about not only these gusts which can blow you over and can blow projectiles at you but also tornadoes. And there have been a lot of warnings.

Some going to touch down, some have just been warnings, but there is a sense in some of the counties around here and we're in Volusia County that there will be (00:15:00) some tornado damage after the storm goes by.

By the way, it is supposed to, according to our CNN Meteorology Department they're supposed to get the strongest and most dangerous at 4:00 am local time here, so Eastern Standard Time. That's in three hours.

And then the storm is supposed to move on. And we just heard from some of the linemen who are here, who are contacted to go out and try to take care of some of that power that has gone out.

Unprecedented number of people without power in the storm. Well, they say they are going to get on the road if they can at 6:00 am and if they can't they'll start at 8:00.

But they are planning to get out there first thing in the morning, as soon as these winds die down. And a lot of them we know are headed to Miami. Don?

LEMON: Sara Sidner, stay safe. Great reporting out there. We appreciate it. When we come back, Irma pounding Florida with violent winds and torrential rains as it moves north.

But in the midst of the destruction we've got some stories of good news. You're going to hear one of them. That's coming up.


LEMON: The middle of the devastation from this storm there are some stories of good news. And joining me now via Skypes -- via Skype heroes of the storm, Officer Nick Lentz and Major Richard Rand of the (00:20:00) North Miami Police Department. It's good to get some good news and we thank you both gentlemen for joining us. So, Officer, I want to talk to you first, there are so many people in desperate need tonight. You helped the woman and her baby today, tell us what happened.

NICK LENTZ, NORTH MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICER: Approximately talking about 4:00 -- 4:30 that a structure or a house was compromised and there was water coming in. And there was a female on -- and her child inside.

I believe her neighbor actually called for her. We got, we got to dispatch and the only way we could respond was with our MRAP which is our larger vehicle because the water is about three feet high. We're entering the neighborhood and we're able to locate the house.

We came entering her -- through her doorway and gave her a few minutes to patch some things for baby and then we're able to track the baby out of the house safely, moves to the MRAP and the mother as well. And take her to -- on North Miami Beach High School.

LEMON: Well, that's great. So tell us about the family you rescued. How are they doing tonight?

LETZ: I'm sure they're doing great. I haven't actually really seen her. We -- we've been still taking calls since 4:30 this afternoon, but we left her in good hands.

LEMON: Yes. So, Major, what is the need like there? Our police and emergency officials getting lots of calls?

RICHARD RAND, NORTH MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT MAJOR: First, let me just, let me just touch base a little bit on what Officer Lentz said. This is just one example of what our fine men and women are dealing in uniform.

Officers Lentz is an -- a certainly proud officer along with his team. And it took a lot of guts for these guys to do what they're doing and continue doing. And so let me tell you what's going on here in North Miami Beach.

We are putting boots on the ground. As soon as the storm pass us we got teams of officers could go out there. The street to street, business to business, alleyway to alleyway making sure that the residents are safe, reporting all the live wires down, putting out fires, helping people through these very difficult times down here.

LEMON: Yes. So listen -- and that's what the police officers around the country do every day but especially now so considering the destruction that's happening.

And also I've got to ask you, since the, you know, in all this destruction, for all the destruction from this terrible storm there are always inspiring moments and this is certainly one of them. I got to ask you how you feel tonight about making, you know, such a big difference. LENTZ: I mean, I'm a father as well so I got two young daughters at home right now, so it definitely made me proud of being an officer today, I was happy I was there. I knew every -- anyone on the team, you know, was -- everyone on the team was right there next to me doing it all with me.

LEMON: Yes. Well, Officer Nick Lentz and Major Richard Rand, thank you so much. And North Miami Police Department, you guys are fantastic, we appreciate you joining us here on CNN.

RAND: Sure. It's North Miami Beach Police Department.

LEMON: Thank you so much. That's OK. Thank you. We appreciate it.

RAND: Sure, thank you.

LEMON: The storm that's battering Florida right now has cut a path of destruction across the state beginning in the early hours on Sunday. Let's recap what happened. At 7:00 hurricane Irma --


LEMON: -- first makes landfall in the Keys with devastation force, flooding the streets. And we don't know yet the full extent of the damage but there are reports tonight that it could be very severe.

And then at 7:40 CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam has battered by violent hurricane force winds in Miami Beach. And you can see as the camera turns around, look at that street sign. Watch, it is unbelievable.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It have to be higher than that.

LEMON: There you go. Also in Miami Beach, CNN's Kyung Lah fights to stay up right. Watch what happens as the street signs come -- comes down -- the street sign comes down and imagine if it hit someone. It's incredibly dangerous.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- around you but it becomes increasingly more difficult (INAUDIBLE) up and it comes in your head and if you're not ready (INAUDIBLE) protected -- for example like that, you want to just make sure you're --

LEMON: In allover Florida marinas were flooded, boats rocking and coming loose. And also look at this shot. It's a -- down trees. It's going to take a long time to clean up after this storm.

But right now, nobody knows what the landscape is going to look like in the light of day. Let's take a look now at John Berman, he's in -- was in Miami. And you can see how strong these winds really are and what kind of damage they can do.

And by 3:00 pm, the storm makes landfall again in Marco Island. And you can see the damage Irma is doing to trees all over the southern half of that state. And by 4:00, our Chris Cuomo taking winds of a hundred and thirty miles per hour, it's not easy to stand in that kind of wind and rain. And then at 6:00 pm you can see with Miguel Marquez standing in Punta Gorda.

All the sea water was sucked out of there and you can see boats (00:25:00) on the bay floor, mired in the mud. Miguel reported juts a short time ago the water has now returned.

And just in the last few hours our Ryan Young in Clearwater grabbing hold of a chain wrapped around the concrete column to keep steady. Irma delivering a powerful, powerful blow all across the State of Florida and it is still going on.

So make sure you stay with CNN for live coverage throughout the night.


LEMON: And when the "NEW DAY" breaks for a continuing coverage. It has been amazing to see we've witnessed, we've spoken to people, officers, several officers and members of the military who delivered a baby.

We just spoke with two police officers who helped a mother and her four-month-old as well. This is live pictures now from Tampa, Florida. We're seeing winds are still whipping, the rain is coming down.

We have seen some street -- some stop signs or stoplights that are barely dangling. Dangling just by a rope. And there's concern about power outages, more power outages with 3 million people now without power.

And the worst is yet to come for some parts of Florida. And a live picture as we leave you now from Orlando, Florida. Our live coverage is going to continue now with Michael Holmes in Tampa and Isa Soares in Miami. I'm Don Lemon, thanks for watching, goodnight.