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CNN This Morning

Little Richard: I Am Everything Airs Tomorrow At 9PM ET; Opioid Overdose Antidote Narcan To Hit Shelves This Week; 93-Year-Old Fighting To Save Family's Land; Deion Sanders Has Dream Coaching Debut For Colorado; Jessica Pegula Marches Into 4th Round At U.S. Open. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired September 03, 2023 - 06:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, hello. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Amara Walker.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Omar Jimenez in for Victor Blackwell. We got a lot to talk about this morning. A lot is going on.

WALKER: Yes. I'm glad you came back this morning. You woke up, you're here.

JIMENEZ; You didn't scare me off. You didn't scare me off. It was intimidating but we made it here on day two for me filling in for Victor Blackwell.

We want to start with, look, we have got a lot to talk about. Lawmakers are getting ready to return to Capitol Hill. They are facing a critical deadline crunch. Will they be able to avoid a government shutdown?

WALKER: Plus, stranded in the desert. Right now, tens of thousands of people stuck at the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert after torrential rain in the area. They are being told to shelter in place and conserve food and water.

JIMENEZ: And those scorching hot temperatures just won't let up. We'll tell you how hot it's going to get if you are heading outside for Labor Day and when you could see relief.

WALKER: This week a drug use to reverse opioid overdoses will become available over the counter for the first time. We're going to talk to an expert about the impact it can have on the opioid crisis.

JIMENEZ: Congress is getting ready to work and hit the ground running. Senators are back in D.C. on Tuesday followed by the House the next week after that. Both chambers are facing a time crunch on a number of key issues.

WALKER: That's right. On October 1st, funding for the federal government expires along with the FAA's authority to operate. Also on the 1st, federal wildland firefighters are facing a potential huge pay cut if Congress does not act. The top priority for the White House is funding the government. Of course, President Biden is urging Congress to pass a short-term spending bill, but there are likely to be some major disagreements on what that bill should look like.

JIMENEZ: So, let's talk about it all with CNN White House reporter Jasmine Wright who joins us now. Jasmine, for starters, good morning. But also, how is the Biden administration working with key players to ensure that this legislation gets passed?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Omar. Well, President Biden made it quite clear yesterday in Florida he wants the government and Congress to pass a short-term funding bill preventing a partial government shutdown and protect the American people. Now, September 30th deadline is when Congress and the government will be -- basically will run out of money. And so, the White House wants to prevent that.

We know from their perspective it's coming closer and it's basically crunch time to get something done. So, the White House has already sent a formal call to action to Congress to speed this process up. Now, they talked about something called anomalies. Basically, it's what would face disruptions if the government were not funded by October 1st really as they try to get that short-term funding in place. And that includes things that the budget office from the White House identified like food aid for women, infants, children as well as rental insurance. Things that are very important priorities for this White House.

Now, the problem comes in here is that there are major disagreements between Democrats and Republicans specifically when we talk about House Republicans. They want to enact some deep spending cuts, a priority of theirs since they took back the House over the midterms. Now, these are such deep cuts that as of this point Democrats won't even entertain exactly what they are, which is where we find ourselves in that sort of stalemate.

So, the Biden administration is trying to push pass that -- trying to work through that, of course, but these major roadblocks remain. Of course, the House is not in session until September 12th. The Senate is in session September 5th, making that month long to September 30th even shorter making that sprint even faster to that deadline.

WALKER: Yes, you are right about crunch time. And you talk about Republicans pushing for spending cuts. And we know that another priority for the White House is an additional $16 billion -- excuse me -- funding for FEMA's disaster relief program. Is President Biden prepared to make some concessions to make that happen?

WRIGHT: Yes, Amara. Well, it was no coincidence that after President Biden and the White House asked for an additional $4 billion to replenish that FEMA disaster fund after their initial $12 billion ask. That we saw President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden head to see the hurricane damage in Florida really as they try to use the picture of devastation to make their point to Congress and the American people why this money needs to be funded. But of course, the question of whether or not it's going to move the needle is still, obviously, outstanding. Take a listen to President Biden making his case in Florida.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These crises are affecting more than -- more and more Americans. And every American rightly expects FEMA to show up when they are needed and to help in a disaster. So, I'm calling on the United States Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to ensure the funding is there to deal with the immediate crises, as well as our long-term commitments to the safety and security of the American people.


WRIGHT: So, as the White House worked through that short-term funding as well as FEMA disaster funding the president has made it clear that he is ready to blame Republicans if there is not enough money in that FEMA disaster fund to respond to future crises.

WALKER: Yes, very important stuff. Jasmine Wright, appreciate you. Thank you very much.

Let's turn now to Politico White House reporter Daniel Lippman. Good morning, Daniel. Good to see you.


WALKER: So, you heard there from our Jasmine, I mean, there is obviously some major disagreements as we are very well aware between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans pushing for a lot of spending cuts, and this is a very short window, right? I mean, we just heard that the Senate returns next Tuesday, then the week after that will be the House. How do you expect this fight to play out?

LIPPMAN: Well, there is probably going to be that grand congressional leader meeting at the White House that we're used to where they try to hash out things. But of course, their staffs will be hard at work in the next month to try to figure this out. I'm sure they're going to be even working over the Labor Day holiday.

And I think House Republicans know that they don't want to get blamed if there is a government shutdown, but also there is this rule that they passed where unless the 12 government spending bills have been passed, there's going to be a mandatory one percent cut in government funding. And so, Speaker McCarthy and, you know, the Senate leadership in Chuck Schumer are well aware of that and are trying to work through these matters as we speak.

WALKER: Well, the House Freedom Caucus is saying that they won't back a short-term bill unless it includes a House border bill, a rollback of certain military policies at the Pentagon, and deals with what they call the unprecedented weaponization of the justice department. Obviously, referring to the indictment that Trump is facing. How much could this hold up the process? LIPPMAN: Well, the House Freedom Caucus always brings up these types of topics. They are kind of a gadfly in House Republican leadership. And so, McCarthy has to make sure that they get some type of win, you know, get votes on some of their policy priorities, but he is also facing something we haven't talked about, which is increasing calls from the right to amount to an impeachment against Joe Biden.

And so, if they start that process in a few weeks in September, when they come back, then that's going to take up a lot of time and congressional energy and even less time can be devoted to actually keeping the lights on in the government. So, that's a big risk for Congress.

WALKER: Yes. We'll obviously be watching that together closely as, of course, you know, we get closer to those deadlines. Let's pivot now to Florida, because President Biden was there yesterday on the ground seeing those hard-hit parts of Florida from Hurricane Idalia.

What did you make of that back and forth between him and DeSantis and the fact that Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, did not ultimately meet with Biden despite, you know, you had Republican Senator Rick Scott there on the ground meeting with the president? I mean, it was quite a departure from the norm, wasn't it?

LIPPMAN: It was. And I think this comes as DeSantis' campaign continues to try to revive itself. Their slide in the polls has been very concerning for their donors. And so, DeSantis didn't want to give any grist for the Trump campaign and for other campaigns saying, hey, you are too close to the person you're trying -- we are trying to defeat here. And he doesn't -- he didn't want to a Chris Christie 2012 Hurricane Sandy moment where that kind of sealed Christie in the eyes of Republican voters as being too close to Democrats.

And so, as long as the cleanup for the hurricane is effective then I don't think he is going to get blamed. If he had not rushed back to Florida to be on the ground then, of course, he would. But it even affected his mansion where there was tree that fell on some of the cars there.

WALKER: Yes, yes, I saw those pictures that were tweeted out. So, if you look at the state of the race now in terms of the Republicans, the latest CNN Poll of Polls Trump, you know, showed that Trump is still well ahead of his rivals which is obviously no surprise with 58 percent, 16 percent DeSantis, 7 percent Ramaswamy.


I do want to ask you, though, about Senator Tim Scott because we understand that he is planning a more aggressive approach with more pointed attacks against his rivals after, you know, what was -- I guess he faded into the background, we will say, during that first Republican debate. And also, there was Axios' reporting -- exclusive reporting that some conservative donors are a bit concerned about his bachelor status.

It seems like there is a lot working against him, Scott, at this point. I mean, he is going to need to do something miraculous to turn this around, no?

LIPPMAN: Yes, I don't know. His play seems to be maybe vice presidential candidate for Donald Trump, who is a person he has criticized on issues like race and after Charlottesville. And so, I think the donors -- donors are very important to all of these campaigns except for Trump it seems because he has those small dollar donors sewn up.

And so, for Scott he has to kind of find a narrative about why he is running, especially when he is polling in the low, you know, single digits under 10 percent. In terms of what's your path? Are you going to win Iowa, New Hampshire? You know, can you leverage the Trump indictments to serve as a weapon against Trump, or are you going to be kind of running for, you know, your legacy, your place in the history books?

But the more candidates are in the race, the easier it is for Trump to win. So, if you actually want to stop Trump then you kind of have to consolidate.

WALKER: Daniel Lippman, always great to see you. Thanks for the conversation.

And coming up after CNN THIS MORNING make sure you stick around for "STATE OF THE UNION." Dana Bash will sit down with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds and South Carolina congressman -- Congresswoman Nancy Mace. This starts at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

So, surprise, surprise. Labor Day weekend is here. And so is the sweltering heat. Sorry about that, Omar. I know -- actually yesterday was a pretty nice day.

JIMENEZ: It was really. Yes, it wasn't too bad.

WALKER: But brace yourself for today. Record temperatures are building once again across the Midwest and the Eastern U.S.

JIMENEZ: I can't get everything I want. Look, it's not just the heat that could mess with your Labor Day plans. Western states are seeing late summer rainfall that's causing flash floods in places like Nevada. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is here to break it all down for us. All right. What are we looking at?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right. We are looking at a couple of different things. So, let's begin out to the west.

This is where we've had a lot of rain for a lot of these places. Las Vegas breaking daily rainfall records two days in a row. Now all of that rain begins to shift farther north. So, while we have seen it in Nevada and areas of Utah now we're starting to see it spread into Idaho and into Oregon. So, places like Boise, Elko, and Salt Lake City all under flash flood watches today as a lot of this moisture is going to develop this afternoon and continue to spread west.

And, yes, you are talking about the potential for flooding, one to two inches of rain possible. Keep in mind that may not sound like much but if you are getting it all within just a couple of hours it causes a lot of big problems out to the west.

Farther to the east the big concern is the heat. You've got heat advisories out for numerous states across the Midwest. This does include Sioux Falls as well as Minneapolis. They'll top out at 98 today. Same thing again tomorrow before finally dropping back at least a few degrees Tuesday. But even then, you are still talking 15 to 20 degrees above average.

Chicago, St. Louis looking at the next several days all with high temperatures in the 90s. Lots of records likely to be broken. In fact, over 100 records possible not just in the Midwest but as this spreads east into the mid-Atlantic and the northeast you're also going to start to see some records being broken there as well.

Looking at Washington, D.C., look at this. Two separate days where we could end up getting awfully close to that triple-digit mark.

JIMENEZ: My gosh. All right. Well, you know what? Short sleeves for a reason. Allison Chinchar, thank you.

Look, weather-related, right now tens of thousands of people are literally stuck in the mud and trapped at that popular Burning Man Festival and this is after heavy rain swamped camp sites in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Thick, ankle-deep mud is making it impossible to walk or drive.

WALKER: It's unclear just how many people are stranded. But the festival typically draws about 70,000 people, and everyone there is being told to conserve water, food, and fuel. The mess was caused by less than an inch of rain. Just less than an inch of rain but it's an area that's not used to seeing much rain, especially in three months, not a few hours.

Sadly, the sheriff's office says they are investigating a death that happened during the rain. Organizers say there is no timeframe yet on when the roads will be open. Only emergency vehicles are being allowed in or out of the temporary city.


That's a tough situation. Of course, we'll talk more about that throughout the coming hours.

And coming up, we will be speaking with the operations commander for Burning Man. And that's ahead at 8:00.

JIMENEZ: Yes. And coming up after that, a home insurance crisis in America. Major companies are now limiting coverage and even dropping customers as wildfires and floods dominate the headlines. We'll take a look at the growing problem.

WALKER: Plus, another night of attacks across Ukraine as Russia carries out several attacks. We're going to have an update from the battlefield. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALKER: President Biden is vowing to help Florida communities rebuild from the devastation caused by Hurricane Idalia. He and the first lady toured storm ravaged areas yesterday. The visit was clouded though by politics after Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for president, skipped meeting with Biden. But the president said he wasn't disappointed by the snub.


JIMENEZ: And instead, he focused on recovery efforts, urging Congress to make sure there is funding to help respond to this and future disasters. Natural disasters like this have caused insurance prices to soar in states like Florida. And in fact, Farmers Insurance announced in July that it's pulling out of the state.

CNN's Camila Bernal explains how homeowners in multiple states are dealing with struggles to find affordable coverage.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Devastating fires, powerful hurricanes and unexpected earthquakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disasters are getting to be a part of our normal.

BERNAL (voice-over): And in this new normal, home insurance is only getting pricier and harder to obtain.

GABRIEL ALBARIAN JR., HOA PRESIDENT, WESTLAKE POINTE: When the embers from the local fires came in and settled on a rain gutter.

BERNAL (voice-over): Gabriel Albarian Jr., the HOA president at Westlake Pointe in southern California, has lived it firsthand. It's a high-risk fire zone, and in 2018 four homes in this community were lost to the Woolsey Fire. He says they were all insured through the HOA until it became impossible.

ALBARIAN: We went to many insurance coverage companies, State Farm, Allstate. Farmers was the one who denied us and dropped us. All of the primary insurance companies were not providing us coverage.

BERNAL (voice-over): In states like Florida, Louisiana and California, some insurance providers are no longer issuing new policies. And in areas where insurance is becoming tougher to find, double-digit rate increases are common.

PETE MORAGA, SPOKESMAN, INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE: You have increased costs in construction, labor. You have what's called a cost surge where everything goes up because you have so many claims in one place it does become difficult.

BERNAL (voice-over): Pete Moraga, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, says insurance companies can and will pay claims after natural disasters. The problem comes when renewing a policy or buying a new home.

MORAGA: In many cases, many of the homeowner insurers are actually losing money.

BERNAL: How much was it to rebuild and how long did it take to rebuild?

ALBARIAN: Yes. Curious question. $6.8 million was allotted for these four properties and it took roughly four years.

BERNAL (voice-over): The community has since switched from an association insurance to an individual homeowner's insurance, but it's still not easy.

ALBARIAN: We are seeing premiums go up and our renewals coming up in December and to be quite honest I am quite concerned about it.

BERNAL (voice-over): According to the latest data from the California Department of Insurance, about 13 percent of policies were not renewed in 2021. And recent decisions by major insurance companies to drop policies in California could increase that number dramatically in 2023.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The long-term solution probably will take some serious rethinking of the entire insurance industry and in taste of new realities.

BERNAL (voice-over): But in the meantime, at Westlake Pointe, they are implementing mitigation measures to make their homes more fire resistant.

ALBARIAN: We are taking measures into our own hands and saying, we are making ourselves more fire safe, and that, to me, is powerful.

BERNAL (voice-over): They believe they won't just protect their homes but also lower their insurance prices.

ALBARIAN: We are a living example of what happened during that fire. It would be a shame for me to put a blind eye to that.


WALKER: All right. Camila Bernal, thank you.

Still to come, law enforcement is zeroing in on a convicted murderer who escaped a Pennsylvania prison. They have narrowed their search after he was caught on camera, there he is, near the prison from where he escaped. The latest on the manhunt next.



WALKER: In your headlines this morning, the manhunt is still on for an escaped inmate in Pennsylvania. We want to show you newly released surveillance video by the Chester County district attorney's office of Danelo Cavalcante spotted in a residential neighborhood about a mile and a half from Chester County Prison west of Philadelphia. You see him there behind that tree.

In August, he was convicted of stabbing his former girlfriend to death. Cavalcante was sentenced to life without parole Thursday. There is a $10,000 reward for anyone with information leading to Cavalcante's capture.

JIMENEZ: Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has died at the age of 75. Richardson was a fixture in Democratic politics, first elected to the U.S. House in 1983. He served as ambassador to the U.N. and secretary of energy in the Clinton administration and was elected governor in 2002.

He traveled to Moscow last year and met with Russian leadership over WNBA star Brittney Griner's release from a Moscow prison. She released a statement along with her wife today saying in part -- quote -- "We will be forever grateful for all of his efforts to help bring me home from Russia. We applaud his years of tirelessly representing many families of other wrongfully detained Americans." Wow. Such a fixture.

Now to Russia's war on Ukraine now where overnight Russia targeted southeast Ukraine in a wave of deadly attacks. In Kherson, at least one person died, several more injured when homes and religious buildings were struck by shelling.

WALKER: And in the critical port city of Odesa, crews rushed in to quickly put out this fire that Ukraine says was caused by Iranian-made drones launched by Moscow. CNN's Katie Polglase joining us now with more. Good morning, Katie. What is the latest?

KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Well, as you can see, this is another assault by Russia on various areas across Ukraine and really a reminder here that Russia has had aerial superiority in this conflict for quite some time. And also, of the civilian toll in this conflict. You mentioned one killed in Kherson, several others wounded.

There was also two killed in Donetsk -- Ukraine area of Donetsk and several others killed and wounded as well in that area.


A cultural center also damaged, a cemetery also damaged. And then in Odessa in the south, like you mentioned, the port, there was a fire there, two wounded as a result.

And it's notable amid the civilian casualties that there are drones, again, that are appearing in this conflict. We've been talking about them all week. This time they're Russian drones. Supposedly Iranian- made drones, potentially Shahid drones. That's what Ukraine is claiming.

But also, this is notable that Ukraine said they downed 22 out of 25 drones over the Odessa region. That's a vast quantity of this equipment really, and shows how much drones are becoming a key part of this war and this conflict in a week when Ukraine have also been heavily using drone attacks, suspected over deep into Russian territory.

It's notable on that that there was a fire this morning in St. Petersburg. It's unconfirmed the cause at this stage, but it is notable from videos we've geolocated here that there's a large plume of smoke erupting near to an oil depot in St. Petersburg.

Now, emergency services are on the scene from just before 11:00 a.m. local time. It's unclear if this was a drone attack or if Ukraine is behind it. But very notable in a week of suspected Ukrainian drone attacks deep into Russian territory near Moscow, near St. Petersburg, as well as on the regions close to the Ukrainian border. This is a drone warfare that we are continuing to see from both sides, Russia and Ukraine. And clearly, it's here to stay.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Katie Polglase, thank you so much.

Just ahead, a major step towards saving lives. The drug used to reverse opioid overdoses will be available over the counter this week. We'll discuss the significance next. And he was the highly influential architect of rock and roll, but did he ever get his due? CNN Films presents the story of a music legend, Little Richard: I Am Everything, tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just like a shot out of a cannon. His voice, he created the rock and roll icon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, you all. It wasn't Elvis.

LITTLE RICHARD, SINGER: I am the king of rock and roll.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first songs that you love that your parents hate is the beginning of the soundtrack of your life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Little Richard's lyrics were too lewd to get their play on the radio.

LITTLE RICHARD: It was as clean as you were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was very good at liberating other people. He was not good at liberating himself.

LITTLE RICHARD: Michael was inspired by me, Prince. James Brown, I discovered him. Jimmy Henderson is my guitar player.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to stand on a desk and do a Little Richard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone was beholden to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Little Richard: I Am Everything, Labor Day on CNN.




JIMENEZ: This week, the makers of a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses will make the drug available over the counter. The nasal spray, Narcan, will be the first brand name version of Naloxone available in stores. A package of two doses will have a suggested price of $45.00. It will be available online and in stores including Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, and CVS. Walgreens chief medical officer told CNN that everyone should consider putting Narcan in their first aid kit.

So, joining me now to discuss this is Dr. Scott Hadland. He's an addiction specialist and chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Mass General Hospital. It's so good to see you. Thanks for being with us this morning. Let's start with just the overview here. Why is this move to make Narcan over the counter -- an over-the-counter drug so important?

DR. SCOTT HADLAND, CHIEF OF ADOLESCENT AND YOUNG ADULT MEDICINE, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: These are truly unprecedented times. You know, we are at a point now in this crisis where more than 100,000 people die every year of opioid overdose. And we've had more than a million deaths since the turn of the century so we really need every tool that's available right now. Narcan, and I have some here, is a medication that is just so easily sprayed up the nose and can reverse an opioid overdose within minutes and save a life and it's safe and it's effective. And there's virtually no downside to administering it which is why the FDA has made the decision to make it over the counter and why we're seeing this rollout across the country right now.

JIMENEZ: And part of this discussion is that people might say, you know, well, this is a good thing, pharmacies are necessarily the primary location where people who need Naloxone get it -- because a lot of times it's distributed through organizations that help get it out into the communities. And so, I'm curious from your perspective. While it may not be the end all be all to solve the underlying problem which is the opioid crisis, what place do you see this over-the- counter Narcan having in that overall solution to this crisis?

HADLAND: Yes, that's a really good point that many people who overdose aren't necessarily going to go to a pharmacy to pick it up. I work with a lot of families, I work with teenagers and young adults who struggle with addiction. There -- I think there might be a new avenue for some families. You know, we are actually at a point in the crisis where each week the equivalent to a high school classroom of teenagers dies from overdoses. Most of those are caused by fentanyl, a highly potent opioid which can again be reversed by Narcan. And most of those overdoses are actually happening in people's homes.

And so, there's the potential for a parent around their loved one to be able to respond. And so, I can see for many of my patients, families being very interested in buying this either going into a pharmacy or buying it online and having it in their house ready to administer in case something happens. And again, this may not be your child but it might be a neighbor or other loved one and maybe somebody that you know is in your neighborhood. And I think it's just so critical that everybody be prepared and poised to respond right now. [06:40:14]

JIMENEZ: Just to add a tool of response essentially for either families or someone who may be trying to help someone in in some of those crucial moments. And obviously, this is going to be over the counter as opposed to prescription. You don't -- do you see any issues there or why do you feel it's so important for this to be over-the- counter potentially?

HADLAND: Well, I think making it over the counter makes this more normalized. It makes it a medication that more people are likely to just have. And I think in a crisis in which so many people who use drugs or overdose or experience addiction experience enormous stigma, I think the more that we can do to normalize rescuing people who have experienced an overdose, the more we're going to help this crisis.

You know, I think many families will be interested in this. But I do think that it's important that we keep up the same lines of distribution of Narcan that we've had up until now. So that includes prescriptions through doctors, what are known as standing orders across states where people can just walk into a pharmacy and have their health insurance pay for Narcan distributing it into communities.

I think that all of these avenues are really critical because a concern that I have is that the price tag of Narcan, which is $45.00 for a kid, two of them, is probably going to be out of reach for many people. Many people who are affected by addiction and overdose will need this medication at little to no cost. And so, I want to make sure that these other avenues that are lower cost in many cases remain in place.

JIMENEZ: Yes, it's an important discussion. And, you know, hopefully, a tool that can help a lot of families and a lot of folks who need it, especially in those crucial initial moments when an overdose is happening.

Dr. Scott Hadland, thank you for your time.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, still ahead, a true tale of David versus Goliath. We'll show you how a 93-year-old South Carolina woman is fighting for her property in a bitter dispute with the developer who wants to build in her backyard.



WALKER: A 93-year-old Hilton Head resident is fighting back against developers that are threatening to take land that has been in her family since the Civil War.

JIMENEZ: It's pretty incredible. Josephine Wright faced a lawsuit from developers who claimed part of her home is on their land. Wright decided she wasn't going to back down. She filed a countersuit and she said she hopes her fight will inspire other Black landowners to defend their property.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher met with Wright.


TRACEY LOVE GRAVES, JOSEPHINE WRIGHT'S GRANDDAUGHTER: We are connected to this land. Our blood runs through these trees.

JOSEPHINE WRIGHT, HILTON HEAD ISLAND RESIDENT: No matter what, we will keep this land. So, this land is going to be here with us if it's going to be another 200 years. That's the way we look at it.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): But not everyone has that same view. The serene marsh and sandy beaches of Hilton Head Island have been home to the Gullah Geechee community since before America became America. But today, community members say development threatens those families who still call it home.

WRIGHT: Why should we give up such a precious gift that God has given us?

GALLAGHER (voiceover): Josephine Wright has lived in this house on Hilton Head Island for 30 years. But she says her family's home has been on this land since the Civil War, purchased by Friedman and passed down for generations. Her husband, a Gullah descendant, wanted to be sure to keep the land in the family after his passing.

WRIGHT: I feel so much pride and comfort in knowing that this is where I will be for the rest of my life.

GALLAGHER (voiceover): But the 93-year-old great-great grandmother has felt little comfort here over the past few months.

WRIGHTS: This is when we start hearing the trees say boom, boom.

GALLAGHER (voiceover): Wright is being sued by a company with plans to build 147 three-story townhomes along this Jonesville Road community, a historic Gullah Geechee neighborhood.

GRAVES: Our blood, sweat and tears are in this land. My ancestors are buried here down at the end of the road.

GALLAGHER (voiceover): Today, construction is closing in around Wright's modest home.

GALLAGHER: Has the developer at any point come to you to speak face- to-face about this?

WRIGHT: No. I have never spoken to any one of them. They have never knocked on my door.

GALLAGHER (voiceover): She says about five years ago, a woman did ask her about selling the land to an interested anonymous buyer for $39,000.

WRIGHT: And I said, you insulted my intelligence. And would you give them that message?

GALLAGHER (voiceover): She says her first communication with the company, Bailey Point Investment LLC, was being served legal notice, which alleges a satellite dish, a shed, and a portion of Wright's screened-in back porch are sitting outside of her property line, encroaching on theirs according to their land survey. The lawsuit seeks removal, plus just an adequate compensation for its loss of the use and enjoyment of their property and expenses related to delays in development.

GALLAGHER: Bailey Point says that the corner?

WRIGHT: That little corner is on their property.

GALLAGHER: So, the issue is that corner?


GALLAGHER (voiceover): Wright has filed a countersuit alleging Bailey Point and their affiliates are using harassment and intimidation tactics to pressure her off the land. Now, Bailey Point has filed a response denying any harassment, as well as any previous offers to purchase her land. She has received an outpouring of support and donations, even from celebrities like Tyler Perry, Snoop Dogg, Fantasia, and NBA player Kyrie Irving.

The town of Hilton Head just announced it is pausing all construction in line with their town code, refusing to issue Bailey Point building permits until the lawsuits are resolved. But Josephine Wright isn't alone in her fight.


LUANA GRAVES SELLARS, FOUNDER, LOWCOUNTRY GULLAH FOUNDATION: She speaks to the Gullah culture and the Gullah desire to fight back.

GALLAGHER (voiceover): Luanna Graves Sellars runs a nonprofit called the Low Country Gullah Foundation, focused on helping prevent land loss in the Gullah Geechee community. Her nonprofit estimates that since Hilton Head Island became a vacation destination after mainland bridge was built in the 1950s, the Gullah Geechee have lost nearly two-thirds of their acreage, mostly due to rising property taxes and problems with something called heirs' property.

GALLAGHER: How pervasive is that on this island now?

SELLARS: It's pervasive here, but it's pervasive throughout the South. And unfortunately, heirs' property is the primary way that black people in America are losing their land. Heirs' property is a type of land ownership where a single property may be inherited by multiple members of a family for generations after the original owner passes away. But there's often a lack of clear legal documentation, making families vulnerable to land loss when there are disagreements within the family over selling. In some of these cases here, the land is being purchased by developers.

WRIGHT: Just look at this. This is one of the most peaceful areas.

GALLAGHER (voiceover): And lost by the Gullah Geechee. But in the case of Josephine Wright, she's standing firm on her ground.

WRIGHT: Well, let me put it to you this way. I've never backed down on anything that was right.


GALLAGHER (on camera): For the past couple months, up through this week, CNN has repeatedly reached out to Bailey Point Investment LLC. Really, we've tried to contact anyone we can find associated with this project. Now, one named organizer did respond telling us that they are not the developer of the project, but rather an investment company that financed the deal. But look, we've also tried to get in contact with lawyers for Bailey Point, the architect, even the engineer for the proposed subdivision. No one has responded to us. We, of course, would love to hear from them and welcome any sort of comment on our story.

Now, Omar, Amara, as far as Josephine Wright goes, she says that she is in this fight for the long haul. She hopes that her 40 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren, and 16 soon-to-be 17 great- great-grandchildren are able to enjoy all of her property when they themselves are 93 years old. Omar, Amara?

JIMENEZ: Diane Gallagher, incredible reporting. We know she'll stay on it, and we'll keep you all updated as that story continues.

Now, ahead for us this morning, college football is back. If you didn't notice, Deion Sanders couldn't have been happier at an incredible game if you didn't see it. We'll talk about it coming up. But it was another member of his family that stole the show on the field. The highlights from Primetime's Colorado coaching debut next.



WALKER: After months of waiting, college football fans finally got to sit down and binge-watch a full slate of games yesterday. And it was a debut to remember for, of course, Deion Sanders at Colorado.

JIMENEZ: This guy cannot help but put on a show. But it wasn't just him. Coy Wire has more in the "BLEACHER REPORT" for us. Coy, how are you doing, man?


JIMENEZ: Primetime.

WIRE: He's got me so hyped, I need to get by pads on.

JIMENEZ: Oh, my God.

WIRE: He had me wanting to play, baby. JIMENEZ: Oh, my God.

WIRE: When Deion went to Colorado, he cleans house, 86 new players. People criticize his tactics. And he said he's getting rid of all that baggage. That's what he calls it. He says I'm bringing my own baggage. And it's Louis, as in Vuitton. And in Fort Worth, Texas, it was on. The Buffalo is playing at a high-end fashion level. Coach Prime brought several kids with him from Jackson State, including his own son. Record-setting performance from his son, Shedeur Sanders, 510 yards passing, school record, four touchdowns. This is against TCU. Last year's runner up in the title game.

And they also have one of the most exciting players in the nation, Travis Hunter, playing defense coming up with a spectacular interception. But he plays offense too, 11 catches, 119 yards. He played 129 snaps in that sweltering Texas heat. That's like two games worth.

Unranked Colorado won just one game last season. They pull up a shocker, 45-42.


DEION SANDERS, HEAD COACH, COLORADO BUFFALOES: Thank you, Jesus. I'm so thankful right now. My son, man.


D. SANDERS: My son, my other son. Man, I'm loving these kids. Rick George has given me this opportunity, man. This is a blessing. Everybody, Buff Nation who supported us, in all of hood that have my back, I thank y'all. God, this is good.


WIRE: Let's go four-box. Top four, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Bama all winning by at least 20 points in their openers. Three of them doing it with new QBs. Bama's Jalen Milroe put on the best show of them all. Sophomore, back up last year to Heisman Trophy winner, and number one draft pick, Bryce Young. He threw for three touchdowns down passes, ran for two more. Can you believe it? No quarterback in Alabama history had ever done that.

Roll Tide, 56 to seven over Middle Tennessee.

Let's go tennis now, U.S. Open, world number three, Jess Pegula, hanging tough against Elina Svitolina, but this is no new kid on the block. The 29-year-old has made it to the quarterfinals and every grand slam, a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win. Next up, a clash with fellow American Madison Keys in the fourth round.

And today, we have a huge fourth-round showdown. Six-seed Coco Gauff, Caroline Wozniacki. Coco seeking her first-ever major title while Wozniacki is quite the story, retired in 2020, had two kids, but now she is back. And she is balling. That's going to be must-see T.V.

WALKER: Yes, I look forward to watching that.

JIMENEZ: You need to get those pads back on.

WALKER: Yes. That's what I'm saying.

JIMENEZ: those are real pads, by the way, for those who are watching. He did not hold back.

WALKER: I think he wears that during each game. Coy Wire, thanks for your show.

WIRE: You got it.

WALKER: all right, the next hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts now.