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Hurricane Ian, A Powerful Category 4 Storm Has Made Landfall In Southwest Florida; Police: One Person Shot Dead At Arkansas Hospital, One In Custody. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 28, 2022 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The worst storm in 100 years. Hurricane Ian prompting fear across the south and Cape Coral, Florida. Emergency services have been suspended. In Sarasota, the mayor announcing a short while ago they are pulling back emergency responders that it is no longer safe for them to be outside operating. Let's get straight to Punta Gorda with a storm is on a direct path. CNN's Randi Kaye is live for us, ready. What are you seeing?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we're seeing definitely heavier rains coming through here and some pretty big gusts of winds. In fact, I just checked with our weather team. And it was about 67 miles per hour last hour at the Punta Gorda airport, which isn't too far from here. We are in downtown Punta Gorda.

We're up in a parking garage just for our own safety. And so we can continue to tell you what's happening here.

But we are expecting according to our weather folks, the worst of it, believe it or not, this is not the worst of it. We're expecting the worst of it to come through certainly starting by 2:00 p.m. here, and then we'll be in the thick of it in Punta Gorda till about 6:00 p.m. or so that's upwards of 100 mile an hour winds so we're going to see what it brings.

But for now, we know that the evacuations that did take place. Officials here are saying no more. Stay home, hunker down, find an interior room that's according to the Emergency Operations Center I spoke to do not get on the road. Do not try and evacuate now it is too late.

If you just take a look around here, if you can. Just pan around. This is the area of downtown Punta Gorda, and in the distance there would be Charlotte Harbor, that is where the storm surge of 12 to 18 feet very likely will be coming from that is where Hurricane Charley raced across that harbor back in 2004. Very fast moving storm, a much smaller storm than hurricane Ian. So this is going to be a very different story that was a lot of wind. This will have wind, but there will be a lot more of a storm surge and a lot more rain being dumped on this area. John. KING: And so Randi, help our viewers understand the context of that. Charley came through you mentioned it was six or seven feet was the surge, then they're talking 12 to possibly as high as 18 feet now. Just as you look around with your own eyes, describe the difference that could be in terms of a surge that high given all the low lying property you're seeing right around you.

KAYE: Yes, well, Charley was a Cat 4, and that was in 2004. And it did come through very fast as I said, the storm surge actually in some of the areas was even as low as three or four feet. So if we're talking 12 to 18, just imagine how much more that is.

And if you look out just even in the distance, you can see how flat it is. That's actually our hotel in the distance there if you can see that building. We moved our cars because that is at sea level. Our cars were there expecting we're told about nine feet of water in that parking lot, possibly at our hotel in the distance. So we moved up here to much higher ground because our cars would be floating away.

So that should give you an idea but if you look at, you know, even just some of the street signs, the light poles. You can see just how high maybe 9, 10, 12, 15 feet, maybe even 18 feet of storm surge what's going to happen to this community.


With Hurricane Charley, it was flattened to because of the wind. But like I said, it was a wind event. They didn't have the rain and the storm surge coming into town here. So there's a lot of people who were sandbagging and boarding up their businesses here in downtown. But I just don't know, John, if that's going to be enough.

KING: Just don't know. That's the uncertainty that hangs over everyone. Randi Kaye, deep experience of this, but please, please be extra careful as this unfolds in the hours ahead to you and your crew. We'll check in with Randy as we can.

Let's bring in let's go to the south. Now, Randi in Punta Gorda, we're going to move down to the south and this tells you everything you need to know about the breadth, the depth, the wideness of this storm the Lee County Sheriff Carmine Martino is with us. Lee County also in the direct path.

Mr. Sheriff, grateful for your time on a day I know you are busy. What are you being told about the worst case scenario as we wait for the eyewall? As is sure but we wait for the storm to make landfall in the next hour to 90 minutes or so?

CARMINE MARCENO, LEE COUNTY SHERIFF: Well, I'll tell you I'm at the command post communicate with my executive staff at every level, every step of the way. And I'm anxious, you know, we don't know exactly what's going on outside until we're outside evaluating, and going through that process. So, we don't know exactly what we're faced with. We just want this storm to go by and again, the safety and security of the great residents is number one. KING: Yes. You live in a remarkable county in the sense that you have Fort Myers so a larger community, Cape Coral, a smaller city, but you also have some quite fragile areas of Bonita Springs Sanibel that are more exposed right out there. Even more exposed. I guess the best way to put it.

I want to ask in the context, we have an earth cam shot from Naples to your south again, we just had Randi Kaye in Punta Gorda. We're talking to you in Lee County. This is an earth cam shot we can show from the Naples area where you see the violence of this storm started pick up and tells you the scope and the strength of this storm.

When you talk about those coastal areas, Bonita Springs, Sanibel, number one, did you get everybody out? And number two, what are you expecting?

MARCENO: I'll tell you this, I mean, my sheriff's office family members, we were out in full force to the last possible second to ensure the safety of these great residents. Lee County's a huge, huge County, now 1,260 square miles of land and sea and those barrier islands, all those front waterways, obviously very, very critical. And we were very strong with our message, which was to please listen, listen to law enforcement, listen to the officials. And don't say we wanted to -- we want people to evacuate and literally just be safe number one. And you know, you can enforce, enforce, enforce but some people just don't want to leave.

KING: You talk about the size and the scope and the diversity of the terrain, if you will, in your county when you have you're in the command center. Now when you have the experts telling you, you know, maybe 12 feet, maybe even 15 feet, maybe 18 feet of a storm surge, knowing your community like you do. Where are you most worried about and what is that going to look like?

MARCENO: I'll tell you, you talk about an 18 foot storm surge. I mean, that is -- that's life changing. And I'm worried about everybody in my county. Those coastlines, those lowland coastlines. Cape Coral is a huge city over 200,000 residents, all the barrier islands. You worry about everything as Sheriff again being responsible for everyone's safety and security.

I'll tell you, our great Governor Ron DeSantis has been in continuous contact with me offering any and all resources which is conference and as well as all my Florida Sheriffs, you know, the 67 constitutionals in Florida. And I've been continuously communicating. They are -- they got teams ready to deploy as we speak. So we are in full force and we're going to ensure the safety of our residents. It's just a -- it's the waiting game and you want to get out there as soon as possible.

KING: We're just talking a bit earlier to the fire chief in Fort Myers, he said Ian is not cooperating meaning things are changing and shifting as the hours unfold. As you sit there in the command center, what is different this hour than if we were having this conversation say early this morning for better and or for worse?

MARCENO: Well, I'll tell you this. What changed for me the storm isn't cooperating, it changes by the second the direction the projected travel. You know, I've spoke to my brother of Florida Sheriff, Hillsboro Sheriff Chad Chronister and I said, Hey, listen, this storm is projected to come your way I want you to know I'm here for you, brother, whatever you need. We're going to deploy resources as well. I got the call from him saying and guess what? We've changed and Sheriff, we got resources coming your way.

So, all of us come together but it's ever changing by the second, by the minute an hour or so. Sometimes that, of course, you have to adjust and we're ready for everything that comes our way. We always go worst case scenario and we move forward.

KING: Sheriff Carmine Marceno in Lee County, Florida Sheriff, grateful for your time and then said to your colleagues up and down the coast. If there's anything we can do to help get the word out. You need to get a warning to anybody need to rattle anybody in the days ahead, please pick up the phone. We'll try to help.

MARCENO: Appreciate you. Thank you, sir.

KING: Thank you, sir. Best of luck to you. We'll show you the pictures right there again, Ian, the eye wall has made landfall.


The storm itself will make landfall this afternoon. We'll continue our coverage in just a moment


KING: Back to the breaking news now as you see right there watching the path of the storm, Florida bracing for a big hit. Hurricane Ian's eyewall now menacing over southwest Florida already. Some areas quickly disappearing underwater. Storm surge is the giant concern across the state of Florida this hour. Officials predicting water levels as high, get this, as high as 18 feet in some places.

This time of high tension is also a time of high emotion. Listen here, an official in Manatee County Florida hoping, hoping every resident got out of the storm's path in time.



SCOTT HOPES, MANATEE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR: Hopefully you evacuated to a friend's house or another safe location in Florida or in Manatee County, because we are about to feel the brunt of the near category five hurricane in our area.


KING: We're live in St. Petersburg now. CNN's Brian Todd is on the ground for us there. Brian, what do you see?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we're getting another burst of real energy from the storm here in St. Petersburg by the bay front here. Check it out. Our photojournalist Mike Lovell is going to show you the energy of the waves. This storm surge is getting more intense. And it's only going to get worse than that in the next few hours as we get to the real, you know, when the eyewall hits and then moves up toward this area. The storm surge here could get to be four to seven feet.

We're going to talk to a gentleman here who decided not to evacuate. Chris Hurd has been in the St. Petersburg area for five years now. He's lived in this general vicinity for seven years. He's from Vermont originally. First tell us, Chris, why you decided not to evacuate when they've had the mandatory orders to evacuate.

CHRIS HURD, ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA RESIDENT: OK, so I was here five years ago with Hurricane Irma. And so I, you know, understood the metrics that happened here during that Category 3 storm, and with everything that was being reported by news and by the weather, I looked at all the different metrics relative to storm surge, wind, and rainfall, and determined that my location in St. Pete was going to be safe enough for me to stay here. My location at street level is 50 feet above -- elevation above sea level, and then I'm up on the second floor. So add another 10, 12 feet on that.

TODD: You're still really worried about rainfall you told me. You're not used to this kind of rain?

HURD: Yes. So the main issue here, I think, for us at this location is the intense amount of rainfall. I mean, we're expecting potentially 10 to 15 inches of rain today, one day.

TODD: Right.

HURD: And so with that in mind, streets, streets here in St. Pete will pond and will show signs of flooding when there's, you know, a one or two inch storm during the summer.

TODD: Right.

HURD: And so when you shave that much rain coming into the system, the question is, where does that rain go? And so when you've got this much stuff blowing in, and stuff trying to get out as we get deeper into the storm, that's a big question I don't have an answer to. So flooding could be an issue anywhere, but in terms of just location. That's why I stayed.

TODD: All right. Chris, good luck riding it out. We appreciate you talking to us.

HURD: Thank you very much.

TODD: All right, John, I'm going to show you one other added danger here that a lot of people don't necessarily think of when they're starting to weather a storm like this. You've got this high rise building behind me that's under construction. You can see the crane on top of that building. I've covered a lot of these storms. What city officials will tell you is that these construction crews often leave tools, two by fours slabs, other things on the site when they leave, a lot of that stuff could fly off that building. That's one of the dangers people here are facing.

They're telling people, you know, don't come out in this stuff. Starting now because first responders starting right about now are going to be pulled off the streets. We've been following a couple of first responders, fire trucks in this city as they track down power lines and other things. They're starting to pull these people off the streets as well. So they're not going to be able to get to people, John, who are stranded or are otherwise under a lot of stress in the coming hours.

KING: Brian Todd for us live on the ground in St. Petersburg. I hope your guest is right Brian about his safety. Obviously watch this play out the hours ahead. And again, just understand Brian Todd, thank you, Brian in St. Petersburg. Sanibel Island pictures on your right. That's more than 100 miles south of where Brian is well over 100 miles south of where Brian is. Brian will stay in touch. Thank you so much.

Some other important scary news we want to bring you right now just out of Arkansas. Law enforcement officials there saying, you see the pictures of the crime scene here, an active shooting situation unfolding at a hospital just north of the capital of Little Rock. Information right now is quite scarce. But Sherwood Police telling people to avoid that area. CNN will update you soon as we learn more information. Again just north of Little Rock. We'll be right back.



KING: Category 4 storm and 48 hours of hell. Thousands of people in peril now as we speak from Hurricane Ian. The storm surge already rising past record levels in some communities in Florida. In Pinellas County that's near Tampa, the sheriff there saying earlier on CNN, he fears thousands stayed and ignored evacuation orders and will now the sheriff believes suffer potentially life or death consequences.

Let's move south of there and bring in Chief Jason Fair he's in Port Charlotte, Florida. He's the Public Safety Director The chief of Charlotte County Fire and EMS. Chief, grateful for your time. When I came up and sat on the set to begin the program, your community was on the direct path. What are you seeing? What is the very latest right now?

JASON FAIR, PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR AND CHIEF OF CHARLOTTE COUNTY FIRE AND EMS: Very late right now as we are starting to feel the brunt of the highest winds that we've had so far. So we are basically in lockdown at this point and waiting for the storm to pass so that we can be and again those responses again. But at this point, yes we are feeling the peak impact so far.

KING: Every community along the coast is a little different. You have the Charlotte Harbor then you have the Peace River that runs up through the community. In terms of storm surge, what are they telling you if, in terms of how high it might be and what's your greatest worry?


FAIR: So the last numbers we got had the potential of being up around 16 feet was the last update we got. We have a National Weather Service briefing coming on at 1:00 and we'll get some updates at that point. So of course, good majority of the population in Charlotte County is in sort of that, that Category A and Category B flood zone, and in being right there on the harbor and the way that that storm is pushing it up into the harbor, of course, that is the potential storm surge and both those flood impacts too.

Once you add that to the amount of rainfall that we've had over the last several days and weeks, we do have a major concern in that area with those impacts, which is why we elevated to that orange level as far as our evacuation goes.

KING: Well, chief, I'm grateful for your time right now as this begins to come ashore and in the days ahead, please raise your hand reach out if there's anything we can do to get the word out in your community as well. Appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

Thank you for your time today on Inside Politics tracking this breaking news. Ana Cabrera and John Berman will pick up our coverage. Hurricane Ian closing in on landfall after a quick break.