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Puerto Rico Needs Basic Supplies in Storm Aftermath; Defense Minister: Russia to Call Up 300,000 Reservists; Leaders of Iran, U.K., Ukraine and U.S. to Speak at U.N. General Assembly; Iranians Protest Death of Woman in Morality Police Custody; U.S. Teachers Struggling to Find Affordable Housing; Football Fan Walking From Spain to Qatar for World Cup. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 04:30   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we hope for residents of Bermuda that it does stay west. Pedram, thank you very much for now.

Well, across the Caribbean, at least five deaths have been reported from the hurricane as recovery efforts began. Puerto Rico has managed to restore power to some 300,000 customers, as we've been saying but more than a million remain without power on Tuesday amid a difficult cleanup. CNN's Leyla Santiago spoke with residents still in need of the most basic supplies.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Fiona wiping out power to the majority of the roughly 3.1 million residents here, 60 percent of them without water and about 1,200 people housed in shelters.

Five years ago today, Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Now barely recovered from that catastrophic storm, the island and its people are suffering again.

Officials say at least two have died on the island as a result of the storm. One man, swept away by a flooding river behind his home. Another man died while trying to fill his generator with gasoline, setting it on fire.

We traveled with the National Guard, as they tried to clear roads in the mountainous region of Cayey. Their goal, access and to start moving in much-needed supplies to these isolated areas.

SANTIAGO: In the island's interior like Cayey, a very mountainous municipality, this is part of the problem, the mudslides that block the road and block access to that power substation.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Hector Rivero Santiago was gathering drinking water off the mountain side.

SANTIAGO: So, he came to the mountain side to get water because there's no water at his house.

CARLOS VARGAS, RESIDENT, CAYEY, PUERTO RICO: Power. We know that, you know, we're going to face that and we can deal with that, but the biggest concern is water, can't live without water.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Carlos Vargas lived just beyond a big mudslide that blocked access to the road. The National Guard had to evacuate about 35 elderly patients from a facility here before the mudslide demolished the building.

LT. COL. JOSUE FLORES MORALES, PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD: We carry the elderly, their chairs and their beds, and we just ran over and carried them over the landslide so we could get him out before the house collapsed.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The recovery ahead not without its own set of challenges.

PEDRO PIERLUISI (D), PUERTO RICO GOVERNOR: The hurricane and now the storm, the related storm has impacted the whole island. So, we're still in the middle of this event. We're basically responding at this point. The next step will be recovery. We're not there yet.

SANTIAGO: And in Cayey, the gas stations are busy. Lines are forming, people coming to get gas, diesel to power those generators they need to be able to turn the lights on at home since there is no power.

But the governor says he expects that by tomorrow night, a good chunk of the island will have power restored. One big exception though, the southern part of the island, one of the hardest hit areas in Puerto Rico right now.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Cayey, Puerto Rico.


MACFARLANE: All right, time for a quick break now but when we come back, gathering in crisis. The U.N. General Assembly begins day two in the hours ahead, but Ukraine isn't the only issue topping the agenda.



MACFARLANE: Let's get you up to speed on our top stories this hour.

Russia's defense ministry says the country will call up 300,000 reservists as part of the country's partial mobilization announced earlier by President Vladimir Putin. The move is meant to boost Russia's military readiness in Ukraine. And it means members of the reserves and people with previous military experience will be subject to conscription. Take a listen to the Russian President in his address that aired earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In order to protect our homeland, sovereignty and its territorial integrity, in order to provide for safety of people of liberated territories, I think it is necessary to support the decision to partially mobilize citizens of Russian Federation. I would like to underline this is a partial mobilization.


MACFARLANE: Well, there's been swift global reaction to this announcement from the Russian president.

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine says quote: Sham referendum and mobilization are signs of weakness of Russian failure. The United States will never recognize Russia's claim to purportedly annexed Ukrainian territory, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Germany's economy minister was also critical calling Russia's partial mobilization a bad and wrong development. And Britain's defense secretary says the Russian president is breaking his own promises not to mobilize parts of his population and that illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine is an admission of failure.

Now day two of the U.N. General Assembly kicks off in the coming hours and we're expecting more world leaders to address Russia's war on Ukraine and the stalled Iran nuclear deal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to speak virtually to the assembly. And U.S. President Joe Biden has meetings with the U.N. Secretary-General, as well as British Prime Minister Liz Truss. CNN Senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth has more.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: It's rare for a U.S. president to adjust his speaking slot at the U.N. General Assembly high-level debate, but that's what Joe Biden has done. Instead of going in the traditional U.S. slot, second behind Brazil, which was yesterday, he will go later today. In fact, he will be going several speakers after the president of Iran.

U.S. officials say President Biden will condemn Russia strongly for its invasion of Ukraine and also comment on Security Council reform. Many world leaders criticized Russia during their speeches on Tuesday. The French president denounced Russia for its invasion and condemned those who are trying to remain neutral on the affair.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Those who are keeping silent today actually are, in a way, complicit with the cause of a new imperialism, a new order that is trampling over the current order, and there's no peace possible here.

ROTH: The French president denounced as fake the planned referendums announced in Eastern Ukraine yesterday.

As for Iran, the French president also met with Iranian President Raisi yesterday. The two men discussing the stalled nuclear deal that died after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement. The Iranians want guarantees. The Western countries feel they've gone far enough.


The French president said the ball is in Iran's court.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


MACFARLANE: A group of Iranian protesters rallied in Istanbul Tuesday in yet another demonstration over the death of a young woman in custody of Iran strict morality police. An aide to Iran's supreme leader has promised a thorough investigation into Mahsa Amini's death according to one report. And that pledge came during a meeting with her family Monday. Still the rare public show of defiance there is growing despite the protests turning violent. Where at least five protesters killed by security forces according to Human Rights Monitor.

Iran hasn't seen protests on this scale since 2019 when the government raised gas prices. And what's notable this time is the number of women who are taking part. Some chanting, women, life, freedom and burning their head scarves.

On Tuesday in this extraordinary video the woman in this video stood on top of a utility box and cut her hair in protest with the crowd chanting, death to the dictator.

All right, still ahead, soaring inflation is forcing some California teachers out of their homes. So where are they going? We'll tell you next.


Hi, welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Investors worldwide will be keeping a close eye on the U.S. Federal Reserve today where another interest rate hike of 3/4 of a percentage point is expected to be announced in an effort to cool inflation. Major companies like Ford are really feeling the pinch from inflation. Shares of the automaker fell on Tuesday after a warning of rising costs and parts shortages. And the Gap is facing challenges as well. The clothing retailer says it's cutting about 500 corporate jobs.


Inflation and surging rent prices are pushing out teachers who can't afford to live in the areas where they work. CNN's David Culver takes a closer look now at how the problem is affecting educators across the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): For Shanika Whiten, it is a struggle that starts before the sun's up. A single mom living in Los Angeles, battling debilitating MS.


CULVER (voiceover): And yet, still determined to get on work to time. She let us tag along. On the drive, telling me about her journey.

WHITEN: There's been months where I would worry about, oh, you know. I'm not going to be able to afford to pay rent this month.

CULVER (voiceover): Shanika has worked more than 20 in special education, always for the L.A. school system. But rising rents and a surge in cost of living have nearly forced her and other school employees out.

WHITEN: It's sad to live the way we are because of inflation. And everything is going up, except your paycheck. Your paycheck is not going up. It's, like, oh, the hard time, I don't seem to survive.

CULVER (voiceover): It's a common burden felt by teachers and other school employees nationwide. On average, rents have nearly doubled in the past 10 years. Cost of living, increasing at roughly six times the rate it was a decade ago.

To retain teaching talent, school systems are now doubling as both employers and landlords. From mountainous Eagle County, Colorado to the beach paradise of Maui in Hawaii, school districts are funding affordable housing for staff. But construction is often years off leaving some school districts, like Milpitas in San Jose to act are urgently. Asking parents in this message to step forward if they have a room for rent. Some 66 people are already offering their homes to educators.

Also, in Silicon Valley, this former convent, no longer for nuns. Now, used as teacher housing. The National Education Association supports these kind measures, affordable housing and more pay for teachers. Back at Norwood Learning Village in L.A., where Shanika lives, the need is now.

CULVER: The demand for these apartments is soaring. This property has 29 units altogether. Nearly 600 people are on the wait list, hoping just one of them opens up. Most of those individuals, work for the school system.

SAM CHANG, MANAGER, NORWOOD LEARNING VILLAGE: Yes, the need is really great. That's just basically what that means.

CULVER (voiceover): Sam Chang manages the facility, and lives here with his wife, a teacher, and their kids.

CULVER: When you hand over the keys, what the reaction?

CHANG: Normally it's a very positive, joyous, momentous type of reaction. A lot of people, they almost feel in disbelief because of not only the price that they're getting the unit for, but also the quality of housing here.

CULVER (voiceover): In a county where the average rent for a three bedroom is $3,000 a month, Shanika is paying less than half that, and feels like one of the lucky ones.

WHITEN: Living where I am. Paying what I pay. It's a blessing. It's a blessing.

CULVER: Teachers here in Los Angeles start with a salary around $56,000 a year. Now, that puts them in this difficult middle ground. They earn too much to qualify for California's affordable housing though not enough, they point out, to cover comfortable, convenient housing. It's left school systems desperately trying to find creative ways to both recruit and retain what is a dwindling workforce.


MACFARLANE: David Culver there.

Now still ahead this hour, how far would you go to cheer on your favorite team -- 500 miles, 1,000. How about walking from Spain to Qatar. That's what one football super fan is attempting his goal. Coming up next.



MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Crews are working to contain a fire at an oil refinery in Ohio. The fire broke out on Tuesday at the BP refinery just outside Toledo. A company spokesperson says two people were hurt. All other employees were accounted for. The refinery has been shut down while crews work to put out the fire.

Meantime in Chicago, fire officials say eight people were taken to hospital from the scene of a building explosion on Tuesday morning. At least three of them are listed in serious to critical condition. What caused the explosion remains unknown. Officials in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the Chicago Police Department's bomb unit were assisting on the scene.

And a Washington monument was temporarily closed on Tuesday after being vandalized. The U.S. Park police say a man splashed red paint and wrote a profane message on the base of the monument. He was taken into custody a short time later. The attraction was due to be reopened today. But Park officials don't yet know if the temporary closure will affect visiting hours.

And finally, this hour, one football super fan is doing the foot work to motivate himself and others by walking all the way from Spain to Qatar in time for this year's World Cup. CNN's Michael Holmes has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To paraphrase the old saying, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Well, a journey of over 4,900 kilometers begins here for this man, Santiago Sanchez. The 41-year-old set out on foot from his home in Madrid, Spain with one goal in mind, to reach Doha, Qatar by November in time to cheer on the Spanish national team at the 2022 World Cup.

Towing a camping kit on wheels and averaging 14 to 15 kilometers a day since January, he's traveled France, Monaco, Italy and San Marino, then by boat to Albania, Greece and Turkey. Now he's reached Iraq's Kurdistan region. Along the way he says he's been greeted with offerings of tea, food and lodging. Kindness is a universal language. Many are surprised at the distance he's traveled. Others feel inspired.

SANTIAGO SANCHEZ, WALKING TO 2022 WORLD CUP IN QATAR (through translator): Oftentimes I have to take out the map, show where Spain is and what the route is.


The route I took to get there and what I have left.

SERJAN RAMADAN, HOSTING SANCHEZ IN KURDISTAN (through translator): Yes, I was really surprised especially when I found out he came from Spain on foot. So, I was very excited about this. And now I hope to become like him in the future. To go to other countries and be in good health like him.

HOLMES (voice-over): Sanchez says the decision to leave his comfortable life and loved ones back home was not an easy one yet to him it is not about the destination but the journey itself.

SANCHEZ (through translator): I had my job, my football team, my friends, my family. A life of comfort. If you don't set a date for your dreams, you don't realize them. You have to say on this day I go and on this day I left. Eight months later and here I am.

HOLMES (voice-over): He will next head to Iran before crossing the Persian Gulf to Doha. He hopes to teach others the essential wisdom of slowing down life's hectic pace and following one's dreams.

SANCHEZ (through translator): Solitude is often good and necessary. We're all living at a very fast pace and you have to push the pause button and realize that you are alive. Open your arms, breathe. I found my button. Many people do not know where their button is and this can be a good way to inspire other people so that they can find this pause button.

HOLMES (voice-over): A message he also hopes resonates with his national team.

SANCHEZ (through translator): In the end, I go to support my national team. I go to support Spain. It is not easy to reach Qatar and I want to give them a little bit of motivation so they give it all on the pitch.

HOLMES (voice-over): Michael Holmes, CNN.


MACFARLANE: Let's hope Spain does well at this year's World Cup.

That does it for this edition here of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Christina MacFarlane in London. Stay with us, "EARLY START" with Kristin Fisher is up next.