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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Hurricane Dorian Devastates The Bahamas, Targets Southeast; Walmart Halts Handgun Ammunition Sales; British Prime Minister Loses Key Vote On Brexit. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 04, 2019 - 05:30   ET





HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: We have been attacked by a vicious, devastating storm.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Unspeakable devastation in the Bahamas. Entire towns flattened by Hurricane Dorian. The storm now stalking the Florida coast with possible landfall in the Carolinas.

A brand-new storm track just in from the National Hurricane Center.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Walmart takes action on guns and wants lawmakers to do the same. What the retailer is telling its customers who carry.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs, 5:33 Eastern time and in the Bahamas. That's where we begin with the breaking news.

The Bahamas obliterated by Hurricane Dorian; the scope of the devastation finally coming into view. Thousands of homes and communities just flattened. The official death toll stands at seven this morning and that number is likely to climb.

ROMANS: On Grand Bahama, an estimated 75 percent of the homes underwater. Recovering from this storm will cost billions.

Take a look at what used to be the runway at Freeport International Airport. That is a runway.

Listen to the prime minister of the Bahamas describe the destruction.


MINNIS: We have been attacked by a vicious, devastating storm -- an enemy that we would have had very little defense against such an enemy -- and it's caused severe damage to two of our major islands -- that is Abaco and Grand Bahama.


BRIGGS: From overhead, the scene is sobering. The photographer who captured these images describes what used to be a vibrant community on the Abaco Islands.


BRANDON CLEMENT, STORM CHASER, LIVE STORMS MEDIA: There's a lot of homes -- you can't tell there are any homes there. It just looks a bunch of building materials were put in a big grinder and just thrown on the ground. It's just completely gone.


ROMANS: Throughout the Bahamas, locals are navigating waist-high waters, some with their pets, looking for dry land.

Howard Armstrong was rescued from the deadly storm surge. His wife did not make it.


HOWARD ARMSTRONG, LOST HIS WIFE AND STORM IN HURRICANE DORIAN: It came over the roof, I would imagine 21 feet at least. We were doing alright until the water kept coming up and all the appliances were going around the house like a washing machine. That's probably -- I got hit with something in there.


And my poor little wife got hypothermia, and she was standing on top of the kitchen cabinets until they disintegrated. Then I kept with her and then she just drowned on me.

REPORTER: What was the last thing your wife said to you?

ARMSTRONG: I'm not going to -- I think I'm going to die. And I said, "No, you're not" and that was it. She took a little mouthful of water and that was it.


ROMANS: Oh, just awful.

Take a look and these before and after satellite images. Before the storm is on the left, after the storm is on the right.

Tens of thousands of people struggling now to survive.

Our Patrick Oppmann is there. He rode out the storm. He has more.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA-BASED CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, finally, after days of being battered by Hurricane Dorian, we were able to get out and see other parts of the island. Much of this island is still off-limits there. There are flooded roads, there are roads that are blocked by submerged cars.

But we did get to one area where rescue missions are underway by volunteer civilians -- people who are just going out in their own personal boats, their own jet skis, and trying to rescue their neighbors and their friends, and even strangers -- people they've never even met.

It was pretty harrowing because hurricane conditions are still battering much of this island. Several boats and jet skis did flip during these rescue attempts. Other times, they said, the water just was too shallow as the tide rose and fell with the hurricane to get the houses.

But we saw dozens of people rescued. They were in awful shape. They spent days now without food or water. Some of them hanging onto their roofs, some of them swimming in the water, some of them having seen their relatives carried off by the storm surge.

We are hopeful, though, by the sight of a Coast Guard helicopter that flew over this island late last night. Hopefully, this morning, more rescues will begin. We've been told by some of these volunteer rescuers that they're working around the clock until everybody is safe and sound -- Dave, Christine.


BRIGGS: Patrick Oppmann, thank you.

Hurricane Dorian is finally moving north, lashing Florida's east coast. It could make landfall in the Carolinas later this week.

Let's get the latest on the track from CNN's Chad Myers. Chad, good morning. What's that update?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: North-northwest at eight. I think that's the big update. Of all the things we had this morning Dave, that is the big number here.

We're still going to have winds, 105 around the center, but the center is not on land. We have winds somewhere around 40 to 50 right along the coast. I'll show you those latest gusts.

But there is the eye right there. It kind of disintegrated a little bit with some dry air today, but if you look at the radar it doesn't look that bad.

There's still kind of a big circle there trying to get organized again. Why is it trying to get organized? Because it's back in warm water. It's back in the Gulf Stream.

This thing truly died as it worked its way across the Bahamas because it used up all the warm water there. But now that it's moving again it can actually go get more warm water from the Gulf Stream and try to regenerate. The forecast is for it to stay exactly the same for a very long time.

There is the eye right there. It's a very wide eye. This is about 50 miles across here.

And, Daytona picking up lashings this morning, somewhere in the ballpark of 40 to 50 miles per hour. Daytona Beach, 44 was the latest gust; St. Augustine at 41; and even Orlando, 28.

And, like, The Villages, Lady Lake, Leesburg, all picking up wind gusts to around 35 miles per hour, and that's well inland. It's 40 or 40 miles inland there as you take a look at that wide arms -- those wide arms of the storm as you get those outer bands to come across.

We're going to get the closest pass, I think, to Charleston, somewhere between 8:00 and noon tomorrow, and Charleston Harbor is going to be a problem with flooding. Storm surge is going to be somewhere in the four to seven-foot range.

Hugo is the benchmark. Hugo, the water was up to 12.5 at the Harbor, and for this storm, 10.3. So only 2 1/2 feet less than Hugo, which made a direct impact here. So, September of 1989, 12.5, more than 1940 -- certainly, more than Irma and also, Matthew. So this is going to be a push of water up into that Charleston Harbor.

And then we're going to scrape the coast all the way from Charleston right along up to about New Bern with eyewall very close to, if not on land. Heavy rainfall for sure. Winds will still be about 90 miles per hour when that happens.

So this could still be a storm that makes landfall somewhere in the Carolinas. The center of the eye has to make landfall, but that's not the worst part. Christine, the worst part is the eyewall, itself -- the center of the eye is calm.



MYERS: We don't care about that.

ROMANS: And it's sitting there in the jet stream, you say, right, gathering some more heat --

MYERS: Yes, the Gulf Stream.

ROMANS: -- and potential momentum -- the Gulf Stream. Thank you, sir.

MYERS: I knew what you meant.

ROMANS: That's why he's a meteorologist. Thank you so much for that.

For more on the current conditions in Florida, we go live to Jensen Beach and bring in CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Good morning, Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine.

You know, we've been here for about eight hours now and we've endured driving rain, we've had tropical-storm-force gusts all night, and also surging ocean as well. That's the threats going forward as Hurricane Dorian continues to pull away from Martin County.

Speaking of the county that I'm located in, we managed to talk to some of the officials from the Martin County sheriff center and they told us that little if any damage was reported across the county -- great news. A gigantic sigh of relief for the residents here. Evacuation orders have been lifted.

And this storm is going to pull away and we know that now we have to focus our attention on the northeast coast of Florida into Georgia and the Carolinas going forward as this storm slowly creeps up the southeastern parts of the United States with its rain and storm surge threat -- Christine.

ROMANS: Creeping up and then the Carolinas up there in its sights.

Thank you so much for that.

BRIGGS: President Trump has approved emergency declarations for both North and South Carolina, and new evacuation orders have been issued for residents of both states.

Charleston International Airport, in South Carolina, will close today at 3:00 p.m.

Both lanes of I-26 in South Carolina have been one-way out of town to assist with evacuations. At noon today, that ends so emergency crews can come in and seek shelter at safe locations.

With Dorian as a backdrop, join CNN and 10 presidential candidates for an unprecedented town hall event on the climate crisis. That's tonight, 5:00 p.m. Eastern time right here on CNN.

Ahead, could Boris Johnson's reign as prime minister last just three months? Snap elections could be on the way as Brexit drama consumes the U.K.



ROMANS: A snap election is now a real possibility in the U.K. after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffers a devastating loss on his first key Brexit vote. That compounded a rough day for Johnson.

Earlier, 21 members of his Conservative Party joined opposition parties to take control of Parliament. A former conservative member even crossing over to sit with the liberal Democrats while Johnson was speaking.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: -- our exports to the United States. I wish -- I wish -- I wish --- all of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order! Order! Order! Order!


ROMANS: CNN's Max Foster is live outside Parliament with the latest. I'm shaking my head because the twists and turns of your Brexit saga just are confounding to try to watch.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM WITH MAX FOSTER": Yes, and it's pretty extreme when you consider that a group of Tory MPs have all effectively been expelled from the party today. Amongst them, Winston Churchill's grandson, Nicholas Soames, a real grandee of the party. So extraordinary sort of conversations going on around here in Westminster today.

We can expect now this bill that's going to be presented to Parliament today to pass. It will effectively block a no-deal Brexit.

If a deal can't be reached, Boris Johnson will be dispatched to Brussels and he'll be ordered, effectively, to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline. So it won't be happening in October. It could possibly happen in January.

He's literally lost control of the agenda here. He's lost control of Brexit, at least for now.

His response, he's tabled a motion tonight calling for a snap election. That would normally be a given -- it would be approved -- but on this occasion, the opposition Labour Party are saying they're not going to approve it. They're, effectively, going to block it.

Christine, we don't know. We literally don't know what happens after that. This is meant to be the nuclear option --


FOSTER: -- so everyone's really scrambling around trying to make sense of this today.

ROMANS: And when you say "table the move" that means they put the move on the table. Here, when we say "table to move" we mean take it off the table.

FOSTER: Yes. So they'll present a vote to Parliament.


FOSTER: Two-thirds of Parliamentarians need to agree to it and he just doesn't have the numbers.

ROMANS: OK, all right. Max Foster, nice to see you. Thank you so much.

Breaking news. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam set to fully withdraw the extradition bill that triggered 13 weeks of violent protests. That withdrawal just one of several demands of protesters. They also want Lam to step down.

There's been a broad push by protesters looking for more autonomy from the Chinese government.

BRIGGS: And a shocker at the U.S. Open. Five-time champ Roger Federer knocked out of the tournament by an unseeded opponent.

Andy Scholes has more in the Bleacher Report. Good morning, Andy.


You know, the stars seem to be dropping like flies at the U.S. Open.

The reigning champs, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, losing earlier in the week. Now, Roger Federer is out. Twenty-time grand slam champion knocked out in five sets by unseeded Grigor Dimitrov.

Now, Federer seemed to be struggling with upper back discomfort. Just wasn't making the normal shots he usually does in this match. Federer, he had been seven and zero against Dimitrov in his career.

All right, let's talk about the New York Mets. Pete Alonso crushing his 44th home run of the season last night. That put the Mets up 10 to four on the Nationals in the ninth inning. Easy win, right? Wrong.

The Mets' bullpen completely implodes after giving up four runs. Closer Edwin Diaz comes in and immediately gives up a 3-run walk-off home run to Kurt Suzuki. This is the first time ever the Mets have lost a game with a 6-run lead or more in the ninth inning.

And this is your cover of the "New York Daily News" this morning. The headline, "National Disgrace."

And, you know, after that second-half charge Dave, the Mets now five back of that second Wild Card spot in the N.L. It's not looking good.

BRIGGS: "Worst loss ever." The back pages were ugly.


Andy, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

We'll be right back.


ROMANS: A big move on guns from Walmart, ending all handgun and assault-style rifle ammunition sales. The nation's largest retailer also tells its customers don't bring your guns to our stores, even in states where open-carry is allowed.

The move comes one month after a massacre at an El Paso Walmart killed 22 people. There was a shooting that killed several people even a few days before that in another Walmart.

Walmart is also lawmakers to do their part. CEO Doug McMillon sending a letter to Congress that reads, in part, "There are multiple bills before the House and Senate that address the issue of gun safety and are worth examining."


McMillon specifically cites stronger background checks and reauthorizing an assault weapons ban.

BRIGGS: The search for victims of a deadly dive boat fire off the California coast have been suspended. Thirty-three passengers and one crew member now presumed dead.

We have new video of the U.S. Coast Guard responding to the Labor Day disaster. The Coast Guard spent 23 hours searching 160 square miles for victims.

We're also learning more about victims this morning, including a family of five from Stockton, California, and a 25-year-old woman from Cincinnati whose mother is devastated.


CHERIE MCDONOUGH, MOTHER OF CALIFORNIA BOAT FIRE VICTIM: She was just following her dream. She loved it here and she loved the boat -- she loved diving. And she would just do -- could do anything she wanted.


BRIGGS: Of the 39 people aboard, only four crew members and a captain were found alive.

ROMANS: Former Defense Sec. James Mattis is defending his reluctance to openly criticize President Trump. He's been taking thinly-veiled swipes at his former boss as he promotes his new book.

Mattis telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour he will weigh his responsibility to speak out as the nation faces geopolitical challenges from Iran, Syria, and North Korea.


JAMES MATTIS, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This president, the Secretary of State, the secretary of Defense, they have big responsibilities right now and I don't believe that I add anything to it by representing contrary views or something like this. There will come a time when it's right for me to talk about strategy and policy.


MATTIS: I will know it when I see it.

AMANPOUR: But will it be before the next election? MATTIS: I can't say that.


ROMANS: General Mattis decided to resign at the end of last year after President Trump decided to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, admissions officials at the University of Southern California considering how much wealthy parents could donate. It's the latest fallout from the college admissions scandal.

Court filings included e-mails between USC admissions personnel and parents of prospective students. They reveal how the university flags children of possible donors and other influential families.

A spokesperson for USC claims the admissions office, alone, decides which students will be admitted.

Health officials in Oregon are investigating a death that could be linked to vaping. It occurred in July and the individual had recently vaped products containing cannabis.

Last month, Illinois health officials announced the first vaping- related death amid a growing number of similar lung illnesses nationwide.

New national figures released last month revealed 215 cases of severe lung disease that are possibly linked to vaping in 25 states.

ROMANS: All right, it's that time of the morning. Let's take a look at markets around the world.

Big gains for the Hang Seng on news Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will formally withdraw the extradition bill that has sparked weeks of protests.

On Wall Street, futures also moving higher here this morning, looking at a little bit less than a one percent gain for the Dow and the S&P 500 if this tone holds. Look, Tuesday was rough. Investors sought safety in gold and government debt. Ten-year note yields at the lowest in several years.

The Dow closed down 285 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also down.

The problem, a new round of U.S. and Chinese tariffs began over the weekend, and this. A critical manufacturing report in the U.S. renewed concerns that the president's trade war is hurting the very part of the economy it was designed to help. Manufacturing in the U.S. contracting for the first time in three years.

All right, stepping up to help in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Royal Caribbean and the Walt Disney Company will donate $1 million to disaster relief efforts.

Chef Jose Andres and his team are on the ground in Abaco, delivering sandwiches to the Bahamas. Verizon granting its customers unlimited texts and calls from the U.S. to the Bahamas until next Monday. Customers in Dorian's path in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina will also have unlimited calling, texting, and data.

And we know the airlines have waived all those fees for flight changes.

BRIGGS: Yes, 800 flights canceled today, already.

ROMANS: Yes, and 1,600 yesterday.

Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Here's "NEW DAY." We'll see you tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Devastating damage out of the Bahamas.

ARMSTRONG: We were doing alright until the water kept coming up. My poor little wife got hypothermia. I kept with her and then she just drowned on me.

MINNIS: I want to assure and inform the Bahamian population that we can expect more deaths to be recorded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Florida is feeling the first effects of Hurricane Dorian as the slow-moving storm starts up the East Coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really worried about the coastal erosion and potential flooding.

JOHN TECKLENBURG (D), MAYOR, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: Please get boarded up and hunkered down. We want Charleston to look like a ghost town.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY, CNN's special live coverage of Hurricane Dorian.

I'm John Berman in Daytona Beach this morning. Alisyn Camerota.