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More Than 2.6 Million People Remain Without Power In Florida; Water Rescues Happening Across Florida As People Trapped In Homes. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 29, 2022 - 12:30   ET



CHRISTOPHER CONSTANCE, CHARLOTTE COUNTY COMMISSIONER: We don't know. I evacuated Tuesday night at about 10:30. And the roads were fairly empty. I didn't have hard, a hard time getting to the east coast. So I'm hoping that either one of two things folks heeded the warnings early and evacuated and the roads were pretty clear, or they sheltered in place. And hopefully we're in some stronger structures. But I just don't think anybody predicted the pounding that we got.

And I think, you know, as I was watching the radar, it looked as though the storm sort of turned and pivoted. And that's why it stayed over us for so long as because it turned on Englewood and Punta Gorda and Charlotte County. So the surge pounded south of us and we got all the wind field damage on top of us.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You mentioned you thank the President, you thank the governor for keeping eyes on this and trying to lean forward into what different communities need. And it will be different from county to county, obviously, and sometimes within counties those needs will be different. In your conversations with the folks at the emergency control center back home, what do they need the most right now?

CONSTANCE: Well, we've got, you know, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping out with a lot of the water plant issues. We have reservists coming in. So we really appreciate the governor working to get those army reservists to help out. But I think again, thinking back to what's going to happen post Charlie, we had distribution points where they were giving away water and ready to eat meals, MREs, you know, and just, there's -- we're just going to have to start to organize locations, I believe one of the areas is going to be up at the mall.

But we will get that information out to our local folks, as rapidly as we can. We're trying to get communication towers backup. We're trying to get ability for folks to, you know, without power, that's really the issue. Communication is very, very difficult. We've had, there was a need for a generator at Englewood water. So I mean, we are fulfilling those requests locally.

But, you know, obviously reaching out to the Florida Department of Emergency Management, they'll have a list of things that that we need locally and within the state. And so all of these things are very, very important but, you know, I appreciate everybody's focus on us. My concern is a week or two from now you won't be focused and we're still going to be in a world of hurt.

KING: Charlotte County Commissioner Chris Constance, if we get to that point a week or two from now, and you think you're not getting some attention again, reach out to us and we will stay in touch with you as it goes forward. And please, sir, if you get any more information, and you say there are six confirmed casualties. So that's new information to us. If you have any more information, we'd appreciate your reaching out and we will stay in touch sir. Thank you so much.

CONSTANCE: John, one other thing before the break. I didn't know -- I do know, Bert Botha (ph) this be a physician in the hospital. And that's one of the other things is that we've lost that facility, which is almost half of healthcare for Charlotte County. So we're working diligently to try to stand up the other hospital and do more. So we may need medical resources. And I think that, you know, we're going to work through the governor's office to get that, so thank you.


KING: Mr. Constance, thank you. And again, we will stay in touch and as you're noting, Mr. Constance is from Charlotte County in western Florida. You saw pictures of Jacksonville Beach at one point there in northeastern Florida. That's the scope of the storm we're dealing with right now to that point about what resources are necessary. The President United States right now is that the FEMA headquarters here in Washington, D.C. being briefed on what he can do, what the federal government can do to help the state of Florida and the communities in that big state. The President will speak shortly, we'll be right back.


KING: This is front page in Naples, Florida this morning, southwest Florida slammed, 170 miles to the north, Tampa Bay Times, historic fury. In between Naples and Tampa is Lee County, Florida. The county hardest hit by Ian as it made landfall. The Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno joins us now on the phone. Sir, grateful for your time on this incredibly busy and sad day. Your county was the hardest hit, what do you know this hour about the number of fatalities and the number of folks in your community still unaccounted for?

SHERIFF CARMINE MARCENO, LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, I'll tell you, we were incredibly hard hit. It came in as a strong cat four just a couple miles an hour under a cat five. Today was the first day we were able to get back out and assess and begin that process. I just literally got out of a helicopter where I was able to take a complete tour of the entire county.

And I there's really no words that I can say to tell you what I seen, the Fort Myers Beach area, buildings, major, major homes and buildings completely washed away with vehicles in the water, vehicles in the bay. Boats are upside down. We don't have a definitive number. All I can do is tell you that every hand is on deck. And we're responding to every different location for people that were in need.

KING: With the power out and with the water everywhere, do you have a good sense of or you just using eyes on the ground as far as you get to these communities where people may be trapped in their homes, where the people may not be able to reach out because they don't have the ability?

MARCENO: So I thank God, you know this morning, Governor Ron DeSantis did a great job communicating as you always does and getting us the resources that we need immediately on the federal side, local, and state side, my fellow brothers in the Sheriffs Association is sending teams. We got people on the, on the ground with the U.S. Coast Guard that are now utilizing boats. They are walking -- they're making contact with all the people that dialed 911 before we pulled off that roadway.


We pulled off the roadway at 45 miles an hour until it's safe again to go back out and deploy. We had a couple 1,000 calls that were holding, and we are addressing each and every one of them immediately the second we were able to.

KING: Sheriff Carmine Marceno in Lee County, Florida. Sheriff we'll keep in touch. And again, as I said yesterday, if anything we can do please raise your hand, let us know if we need to get the word out somewhere.

MARCENO: Thank you, sir.

KING: Thank you, sir.

Any minute now we'll hear from the present United States, you see right there, that's the FEMA headquarters here in Washington, D.C. He has received a briefing on Hurricane Ian. He will speak about the federal response momentarily more live coverage after a quick break.



KING: About 22 hours now since Ian and made landfall on Florida's western coast. Our John Berman standing by right near where the storm hit North Port about 85 miles south of Tampa. John, what are you seeing?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, what's interesting about North Port where I am, John, is I'm about 10 or 11 miles inland and you can see the results of the freshwater flooding here on the streets. It's just inundated, you know, in both directions at this point at this intersection where I am with all these cars trying to get through. This is from the rain, in the Myakka River, which flows into Charlotte Harbor here. We're about like I said, 10 miles from Port Charlotte. And it's just a mess.

And it's a real problem. All kinds of cars have been trying to get through. You can see the results here. If we push it over here, you can see where the car is, didn't make it. I mean, there are car is just stuck in the water, right here. And you get a sense of just how bad it is, John. And you know, they got 20 inches of rain or so in these parts. And so that water just sat on the ground here. And then it swelled up the Myakka River, and it's just flowing through.

And these people are trying to get places. You know, it's dangerous. It's so dangerous to try do this but these people need to get home. We spoke to a woman who lives in an apartment development right next to here, and she's stuck. And she can't get out of her parking lot to get to help. And she has a hole in her roof now, where the rain came pouring in all through the night.

It gives you a sense of sort of the three threats from this storm. Yes, there was a storm surge. And now you've been talking to people in some of those hard hit communities, the wind, but also this freshwater flooding now well, inland, well inland. And we haven't seen any rescue teams here yet, or official crews. Now I know they'll get here. And this may not be the area of greatest need.

I got to move up here, my boots only goes so high. And there's awake now as some of these cars trying to pull through. But if you don't go through quickly, you get that water in your engine, you get stuck. This is not what you're supposed to do. This is why officials say stay at home, don't go out and try to dry because you could end up in the middle of a road that is turned in, turned into a river like this, John.

KING: It's just remarkable to see it. And you're right, that's not what you're supposed to do. John Berman on the scene for us in North Port. And again, every time you see one of these small glimpses, you're talking about thousands, then millions, and this will be billions when they count up what Ian has done to the state of Florida.


To that end, any moment now we will hear from the President United States President Biden getting a briefing on the storm of FEMA Headquarters. He will speak in just a few moments stay with us.


KING: More now in Ian's devastation in Florida. We just showed you John Berman, in North Point, 90 miles to the south is Naples, and that's where CNN's Brian Todd is now live. Brian, tell us what you're seeing.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right John, we just arrived in Naples, not easy to get into this town because of road closures and other obstacles. But this is Seagate Drive, one of the harder hit streets in the town of Naples. Check this out over here. We just talked to the owners of this house, they've got to basically haul everything out that's got upholstery or anything made of cloth or something softer because it's basically ruined, we'll take you through the property.

They said we can kind of show you what they've been going through. They've been hauling stuff out of their house here. The owner said the water was at least three to four feet high for most of the storms. So that and she said it was over here up to the, you know, up to the taillight of that car throughout the house. That's about how high it was. And then she said it was all the way across the street. Now, if you come over here with me, I can show you one thing that, you know kind of tells you the strength and the ferocity of the storm. I'll walk over here and show you this boat. This thing, they have no idea who's boat it is, they say it's not theirs. It came from somewhere. They have no idea where it came from. And so this is the kind of thing that people are dealing with. You've got to deal with objects like this, and trying to find the owners. You've got to clean out your house. And people are just now kind of assessing this stuff, John, a very devastated town here.

KING: Every time you see it, the power, the destructive power of water. Brian Todd, live for us in the ground in Naples. Brian, thank you so much. We want to bring you some other important news happening today here in Washington, Ginni Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is meeting with the January 6th Committee. CNN's Sara Murray joins us now with the latest on that. Sara?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is part of a voluntary interview. She is here in person. Our team caught up with her when she was on her way in to sit with the Committee this morning. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You speak with your husband and your beliefs that the election being stolen?

GINNI THOMAS, CLARENCE THOMAS'S WIFE: Thank you for your question. I look forward to answering that to members.



MURRAY: She was all smiles on our way in but very tight lipped about what she may be discussing with the Committee. An attorney for her has said, she wanted to clear her name. You know, we know that members want to talk to her about text messages she exchanged with Mark Meadows, the former White House Chief of Staff about efforts to overturn the election. We've also heard from members who say they want to hear about text exchange with John Eastman. So we expect that is what she's being asked about behind closed doors. That interview still going on, John.

KING: Important work for the January 6th Committee. Sara Murray appreciate the update on that.

Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. Ana Cabrera and John Berman pick up our important coverage now Tropical Storm Ian and it's devastation across the state of Florida, after a quick break.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, folks, I'm here at FEMA headquarters. ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera. I want to take you straight to FEMA headquarters. President Biden just got a briefing there on Hurricane Ian. Let's listen to the President.

BIDEN: -- Army Corps of Engineers, Lieutenant General Spellmon, and the FEMA Administrator, who's become the MVP here these days, I spend a lot of time in this room, Criswell of FEMA and the entire workforce, and many other federal agencies that are working together here.

You know, they're always going to be above and beyond. They're running toward danger and to save lives. Most people want to run away from it. These guys run toward it. And it really matters. And it really matters. And they're helping survivors that are really in desperate need.

And, you know, that's what we're doing as we focus on delivering help to the people who are directly impacted by Hurricane Ian.

I'm going to use this. It made landfall yesterday and it is still, still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history.


The numbers of still -- are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.