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Ida Makes Landfall In Louisiana As Cat 4 Hurricane With 150 MPH Winds; Biden Attends Dignified Transfer For Service Members Killed In Kabul; Actor Ed Asner Passes Away At Age 91. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 29, 2021 - 14:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer and this is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. We're following breaking news. Hurricane Ida now wreaking havoc in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi after making landfall just a little over an hour or so ago. Conditions are rapidly deteriorating as this extremely dangerous storm moves inland.

Ida is packing a heavy punch with sustained winds right now of 150 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center is warning of catastrophic storm surge. The levees protecting much of Louisiana are holding at least for now. But power outages are starting to become a huge -- a huge major problem.

CNN has a team of reporters on the ground in Louisiana covering this incredibly dangerous storm. Let's begin with our meteorologist Derek Van Dam, he's on the ground in Houma, Louisiana, not far from Port Fourchon where Ida made landfall a little while ago.

Derek, we've seen conditions there deteriorating pretty rapidly. What are you experiencing?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Wolf, this is the stuff of nightmares as we eye down a monster hurricane that is only 30 miles away from the location where I'm located right now. It is literally unfolding before our eyes. Conditions deteriorating as you just mentioned. An extreme wind warning continues to pop up on our screen. My team, our phones continue to blare, because that is held specially for these moments.

The National Weather Service reserves it for critical life-threatening winds in excess of 110 miles per hour. That is approaching because we understand that the eye of major Hurricane Ida is moving toward this direction.

Now the concerns here is that the storm has made landfall. There are people within the path of the eye. Just like Houma, Louisiana, where I'm located now. What you're going to see, so you understand what you're going to encounter within the next 15 to 20 minutes depending on where you're located, is clearing skies. You will likely see sunshine, you will likely get a break in the weather. Birds may fly around. And then, just then, you will have to be aware that the conditions

will change rapidly on the backside of the eye. Any of the debris that you see flying behind me, the damage that has been caused by the initial surge of the eye will move from an opposite direction as the backside of the storm starts to wrap in and unleash its torrent of wind and rain on that very location. We anticipate that here within the next hour. We are hoping we continue to be able to broadcast through this experience. We have just lost power at the hotel where we are staying.

And Wolf, you'll be happy to know that my team and I have a safe backup plan, reinforced windows in a concrete building that we can escape to in a matter of moments.

BLITZER: I can't tell you how many people e-mail me or text me or tweet, you know, please, make sure that Derek Van Dam and his team of photojournalists are safe. Why are you making them stand outside like that? And you're doing an excellent explanation in explaining. And I know, Derek, you're a meteorologist. If it got really bad, you guys would be hunkered inside and you would be safe. Just reassure our viewers.

VAN DAM: Yes. Absolutely. We get that question time and time again. Why do you stand outside in the middle of a hurricane? There is a reason for this. It is because it is our job to tell the stories why you evacuated from your home, in Terrebonne Parish, where I'm located. 100,000 people call this location home. There are numerous parishes across southeast Louisiana that have had mandatory evacuations.

Most people left. We saw the backlog on Interstate 90, Highway 10, as people heeded the warnings from officials. But now it's my job as a meteorologist and as a reporter to tell you why you left your home and what you can expect when you return home safely after the storm has passed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Do you get the sense that most of the folks where you are did evacuate? Or are they hunkered down, staying put?

VAN DAM: We don't have any official numbers of evacuated people. However, the sense that we got yesterday when we saw the stream of cars leaving this region was that most people heeded the warning. I'm going to have to keep looking over my shoulder here because as we enter this outer -- there's two eye walls. Two outer bands associated with the eye wall. And as it approaches this particular area, winds can get very dicey very quickly.

But to go back to your question, Wolf, I would say that the majority of the people did leave. The traffic yesterday was a sign of that. But if you are watching now and you think this is a good time to leave, you think it's gotten too dangerous for you to stay at home, well, let me reassure you, this is not the time to get on the roads.


This is the time to shelter in place. This is the time to look on your neighbors, to help a friend if you have that opportunity because conditions will only get worse. We think landfall has occurred, which it has, but that doesn't mean the storm is over. The worst is still yet to come.

BLITZER: All right, Derek, be careful over there. I'm going to let you go for now. It looks like it's getting a little worse over there. But we will stay in very close touch. Thank you very much. You guys are doing excellent, excellent reporting for us.

The mayor of New Orleans is urging residents right now, stay indoors from this point forward. Way, way too dangerous to try to evacuate and get out as Ida hits the state. The center of the hurricane will make its closest pass to New Orleans later this evening. It's about to get a whole lot worse over there.

CNN's Nadia Romero is along river front in New Orleans for us right now.

So, Nadia, tell our viewers what you're experiencing and I want you to be careful as well.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're being as careful as we can. We actually had to put on some more protective gear between now and the last time we talked. The last time we spoke, Wolf, I mistakenly called the hurricane Irma. Now Iram was a bad storm, but this is Ida, and it was almost as if she heard me and said, OK, Nadia, I'm going to make sure you know my name and you remember it.

And she has -- is bringing that fury right now. Wind speeds have to be picking up compared to last time we spoke, Wolf. It is pushing us all this way. You know, we even joke that we all put on a few extra COVID pounds but it's still pushing us all around during this storm.

We talked about the storm surge. Right? That being one of the issues from having a hurricane of this magnitude. If you look over my shoulder, this is the Mississippi. It's almost as if someone has a big spoon and it's scooping up the water and shoveling it toward the city of New Orleans. So the city, French Quarter, is right this way. So you've got the Mississippi River, the river banks.

You got the railroad tracks and then right there is Jackson Square. Not far from here, Cafe Du Monde and all of those iconic places that people come to from all over the world just to experience this city.

Now, this storm has rapidly intensified. Right? We've been talking a lot about that, Wolf. And you can feel the difference. Yesterday morning about 80 miles per hour. Today those wind speeds up to 145, 150 miles per hour. That happened in just a short amount of time. And a lot of people here thought that they would have time to evacuate. They thought that they would be able to somehow get out of town before Ida showed up.

And that did not happen. So if anyone is on the roads right now, they're trying to find a plan B or C because of how quickly Ida is showing up and showing us her fury -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Nadia, be careful over there in New Orleans. We'll get back to you as well.

I want to check in with CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray right now.

Jennifer, 150-mile-per-hour winds. Nearly a category 5 strength. Atlanta is a category 4 almost a category 5. Is the storm showing any signs at least right now of slowing down? What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No signs of weakening whatsoever, Wolf. This storm is going to maintain category 4 strength for quite some time. This is a powerful storm. We're seeing winds of 115, 130, 140. And so if you are near the center of this storm, it is going to be like a slow-moving tornado. Imagine an EF-2 tornado, EF-3 tornado that is just slow-moving inland. So you need to prepare like you would a tornado. Prepare for flying objects. Prepare for broken windows. Get into a safe place. Now is not the time to try to get a closer look at this storm.

The 2:00 advisory has just come out, Wolf. We are still maintaining 150-mile-per-hour winds. The storm has come on shore. It has made landfall. But that doesn't mean anything when you're talking about the storm weakening. You can see the center of the storm, lightning strikes associated with that. Basically two different -- not eyes but two different eye walls right here, and that's what we're going to see, the 150-mile-per-hour winds right around that center one, right here that eye wall.

And then you can see the ring around it. That's where we're going to see around 100, 110-mile-per-hour winds. So really a wide area. You can see Cocodrie getting those winds, Grand Isle, for sure, and we are getting closer to Houma where Derek was. Now we're going to see a push of water as well. And I'm worried about it, especially the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain as the water pushes inland.

We're also talking about the Mississippi River. Water so powerful that it was actually flowing upstream. Some of the gauges were reporting that. So this extreme wind warning that Derek was mentioning, still in effect for the next 20 minutes or so. We'll see if that's extended.


Rapid onset of destructive winds, sustained winds of 115 or higher. That's equivalent to, say, an EF-2 tornado would be a comparison to 115-mile-per-hour winds. So shelter in place where you are. Get to that safe place.

Grand Isle had winds reported of 136 miles per hour. That was until the anemometer broke. And so (INAUDIBLE). We've had winds reported anywhere from 100 to 130 miles per hour. And still a long way to go. We're going to see 100, 110-mile-per-hour max winds. Could be felt as far north as Baton Rouge. So we're talking about a huge area. New Orleans as well. We're going to see a lot of downed trees. So be careful if you live in an area with a lot of trees around you.

Those trees could come down. Power outages for sure. And we're still seeing the water rise. We have already had reports of more than five feet of storm surge in Grand Isle. Port Fourchon right where the storm pushed on shore. More than four feet of storm surge and that water is continuing to build up. So I do believe the levees, of course, that are protecting the parishes in southeast Louisiana will definitely be able to handle a surge like that.

However, the surge is expected to go up possibly to 12 feet or more. And so we definitely could see some flooding, some overtopping if we get that storm surge that (INAUDIBLE) felt as far east as the Florida Panhandle. (INAUDIBLE) and wide, Wolf. We're also going to be looking at tornado warnings. The possibility of tornadoes definitely there. We had one warning. It's expired now. But more will definitely pop up.

So just be careful. I worry about south Louisiana, the people there. This is not a storm you want to mess with. This is a very, very dangerous situation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you make a very important point. It's not just Louisiana. It's Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, parts of the panhandle. This is having a huge impact along that entire Gulf Coast.

We're going to get back to you, Jennifer. Thank you very, very much, Jennifer Gray, our meteorologist.

I want to bring in Josh Welch on the phone right now. He's riding out the storm on a boat in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Josh, tell us what you're experiencing right now.

JOSH WELCH, ON A BOAT IN GRAND ISLE, LOUISIANA: A lot of wind and rain right now. I mean, you can't even see the dock or nothing. I mean, there used to be a dock over, I guess, but it ain't no more. We've been without a boat right now. We -- once the door got open and busted a window, we got that taped up. But you can't see nothing in Grand Isle at the dock right now. There is nothing. Like, you can't literally see anything.

BLITZER: What made you decide, Josh, to try to ride this out aboard a boat?

WELCH: Well, we got more or less trapped in, actually. Before we realized that we was trapped, and then we pretty much rode it out then.

BLITZER: So who is with you?

WELCH: We got four guys on the boat. We got like -- there's four other boats over here, too. We got jack up boats, we got another utility boat over there. And we got another boat. We got like four boats in here altogether.

BLITZER: How much worse do you expect things to get?

WELCH: Right now? It's pretty bad right now. I guess the eye is getting close to us. I don't know. It feels really bad. We got the hull -- the Bob set, and (INAUDIBLE). But that's all the boats we got in here right now. And the -- (CROSSTALK)

WELCH: Yes, it's pretty bad right now. I mean, I don't know how much badder it's going to be. I haven't looked at my -- my cell phone is in and out of service. So the tower is still up. So I'm south of that but we're -- I'm seeing like a power line earlier today before it started. It was like sparked. And then the power is all out over here. I can't even see the buildings (INAUDIBLE) right now.

BLITZER: Have you ever experienced anything like this before, Josh?

WELCH: Yes. I live more or less around Alita Bend. That's where I live. We get some -- we get them there, but this is the first time I've actually been in one.

BLITZER: Well, it looks pretty awful. So just be careful. And good luck. Thanks so much for sharing the video. Thanks so much for joining us.

WELCH: Oh, yes. Ain't no problem.

BLITZER: Thank you. Good luck.

All right. We're continuing to follow the breaking news. Hurricane Ida, once again, making landfall in Louisiana as a category 4 storm. Winds are up to 150 miles per hour. Only moments ago, we learned that New Orleans, that EMS in New Orleans has been suspended due to dangerous winds.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM."



BLITZER: We're back with our breaking news. Hurricane Ida has now made landfall in Louisiana as a category 4 storm. Right now the Gulf Coast is getting punished with sustained 150-mile-per-hour winds and very heavy rain. Conditions are worsening as this extremely dangerous storm pushes inland. Catastrophic storm surge, by the way, is moving on shore. Tens of thousands are already without power. Many, many more will be losing power very soon. Officials are warning people to stay indoors amid the very intense threat of this storm.

Joining us now is Dr. Catherine O'Neal, an infectious disease expert. She's also the chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Dr. O'Neal, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for all your important work. This catastrophic hurricane just made landfall. What are the conditions like on the ground first of all where you are?

DR. CATHERINE O'NEAL, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: Here in Baton Rouge, we started to see some power outages over the last hour. [14:20:02]

One of our nursing homes just lost power but does have generator power. So starting to hear those reports of what we anticipate will continue to increase overnight and most importantly, what we anticipate will get people to go outside. And that's our biggest worry is we really need to keep people safe over the next 24 hours until we can assess storm damage. And when you start to see power outages already, we know that people are turning on generators. They're going outside to check on things. And that's not the situation that we want people to be in.

BLITZER: That's good advice. Your governor, John Bel Edwards, has said that Ida is presenting some very big challenges for hospitals throughout the state which already are overwhelmed with COVID patients, the Delta variant being so, so transmissible. There was no excess capacity, we're told, in the state to evacuate patients.

How is COVID impacting what's going on right now with this hurricane?

O'NEAL: I just left a planning meeting, Wolf. So usually as we're going through this today, we welcomed our team members in. We welcomed our day shift and our night shift in this morning. Handed out 600 mattresses and put our night shift to sleep. We're in this for the long run, but usually when we're in this for the long run, our team members are more refreshed. This has been a really hard summer and a really hard, frankly, 1.5 years, right? So they're tired.

The other thing is they all just left their families and they left their families to evacuate. They left their families to not know what their houses are going to be like or be able to communicate. So as we sat in our planning meeting, what we are planning for today is taking more patients, even though we are at capacity. How many stretchers do we have, how much hallway space do we have because we will need to take those patients into our halls.

And then different from any storm, how do we take those health care workers with them? Because we will need them to help take care of these patients. We don't have enough here to stretch beyond the patients that we have in-house. That's a different scenario but one we're planning for. How do we sleep new health care workers coming in on ambulances and helicopters, and how do we offer them a home when we know that their homes are under great stress right now.

BLITZER: Yes. I mean, it's really -- as I keep pointing out, Katrina exactly 16 years ago was horrible. More than 1800 people were killed as a result of Katrina. But there was no COVID at the time. Now you've got an even more intense hurricane. That was a category 3. This is a category 4, almost a category 5. And it's going to cause enormous problems, but you're already loaded up in your hospitals because of COVID. Right?

O'NEAL: We are. So we have a lot of lessons from Katrina we've advanced greatly. We have a lot more generator power. This hospital is ready to sustain quite a bit of damage, ready to sustain quite a bit of power outages. We are talking about rationing supplies, getting ready for days of having our team here. But we have the ability to do that. What we don't have is space and what we don't have are health care workers because of COVID. So we have 619 people in-house today. We have 157 COVID patients, which is just unbelievable and still higher than we've ever seen in this pandemic before.

So how do you handle that much ICU care knowing that you're going to take in more? And what we'll really need to do is take in health care workers from the southeast part of the state with those patients which we're prepared to do.

BLITZER: Well, good luck. Dr. O'Neal, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for all the critically important life-saving work you and your teams are doing. We're grateful.

O'NEAL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news on Hurricane Ida making landfall in Louisiana as a category 4 storm. Winds are up to 150 miles per hour.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Conditions are expected to deteriorate later this afternoon in New Orleans as Hurricane Ida barrels through the state. Peak winds in the city could reach 85 miles per hour. The New Orleans Emergency Management Services says it has unfortunately had to suspend all operations as Ida approaches.

CNN's Nadia Romero is along the river front in New Orleans for us right now.

Nadia, what are you experiencing?

ROMERO: Well, it's the wind gusts, the wind speeds are the reason why EMS has to stop. They had these guidelines in a lot of coastal cities where if it gets too windy or if it's too rainy, there's always a measure for when they have to stop their emergency operations because they're putting themselves at risk. We've reached that point here in the city of New Orleans.

Now the wind definitely picking up. And it almost feels like the wind is all around you. You can feel it almost hugging you in a way that makes you just want to get away from the storm, to get as far away from Ida as you can.

Now we often interview people after hurricanes and ask them what did it sound like, how did you feel, and when they tell you it sounds like a freight train, I agree. It sounds just like a freight train. It comes barreling through from every direction. You can hear the howling of the winds. And it really starts to make you uneasily because you're thinking overall your life choices at this moment and wondering how you will stand up against Hurricane Ida. Now, Ida making her way through the Gulf Coast. We know that there's

help on the other side of this storm. National Guard, FEMA, all the above are on standby to help you. But we are in the middle of the storm doing the best that we can. We saw the building behind me. I'm going to turn you around here. That's the Mississippi River you saw behind me. We've got some train tracks and then you have this building that's right next to Jackson Square.

Some of the windows have been burst out. They're completely open now with debris going in and out of this building right here. So that just talks to and speaks to the fury of Hurricane Ida right now.

What we're concerned about in New Orleans specifically is flooding. Now, you remember that from Hurricane Katrina, largely, from the levees breaking. But this city sits in a bowl. It's below sea level. It's low-lying.

And so, when water gets inside the city, it is very, very, very hard for it to get out. It tends to just sit there for a little while. That is part of the concern here. Flooding, and that's why so many people know that that's what's to come.

Now, we had 80,000 people all throughout this area that lost their power. That's something that will happen as well, this city has been around a lot longer than these power lines. And so the power lines tend to go with a storm this strong, Wolf, a lot of different factors to think about. The cleanup efforts will continue for quite some time after this storm is gone -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I just hope the people in New Orleans and elsewhere are okay. I'm worried about them.

Nadia, stay safe over there. We'll get back to you. Nadia Romero reporting.

Joining us to discuss what's going on is Melvin Rodrigue. He's the president of Galatoire's, a historic restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He's been in business for more than a century.

Melvin, thank you for joining us. I know you decided to stay in the French quarter. First of all, what are you experiencing Melvin right now.

MELVIN RODRIGUE, PRESIDENT OF GALATOIRE'S RESTAURANT: So my last time outside was just probably a couple hours ago, Wolf. Some definitely some wind blown rain, but not too bad at that point. I'm now in my home at the French Quarter, just a couple blocks from Galatoire's. And I'm hearing some wind through the windows, but all in all, fairly uneventful thus far. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

BLITZER: Melvin, tell us why you decided to stay. The recommendations from the mayor and others yesterday, and I heard her say it, get out if you can. Tell us why you decided to stay.

RODRIGUE: Well, fairly large investment in the French Quarter. The French Quarter has historically been very safe, but you know, it makes a difference to be able to go and check on your business and make sure that it's locked down. One last double check, and then come back to the house, but above that, certainly we watched it until the last minute.

Seeing that it was going west of us, we obviously have a lot of -- big rain events. A lot of wind, but our friends down in Grand Island and Port Fourchon, we're worried about them. But seems to be fairly safe at this point right here in the French Quarter.

BLITZER: We certainly hope so. We hope the rebuilt levees in the New Orleans area after Katrina 16 years ago are going to work and be safe.

New Orleans, though, as you know, and I don't have to tell you, Melvin, is going to get hit even worse with extremely damaging winds. A lot of heavy rain. And there's even the possibility there's a threat of tornadoes for an extended period of time. The eye of the storm is going to make its closest pass to New Orleans we're told later this evening. A few hours from now.

So how do you prepare for this? You've lived through these experiences before.

RODRIGUE: Sure. You know, obviously all the basics, getting the fundamentals that you need. Boarding up windows on the exterior, making sure all movable objects are in a secure place, and then from there you just wait it out.

BLITZER: Melvin Rodrigue, good luck to you. Good luck to all your team over there. Galatoire's is a great historic restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans. We appreciate you joining us very much. Please stay safe.

RODRIGUE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The city of Houma, Louisiana could see as much as 20 inches of rain.

Jason Carroll is on the scene for us there.

Jason, what are conditions like where you are?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's not just about the rain. It's also the wind that we've been experiencing out here as well. Houma is under an extreme wind warning. Some of the trees, the tops have been shirred off as we've been standing out here.

We've had an opportunity to give a quick sort of tour of the immediate area. And just in the few short hours as the conditions have deteriorated, we've seen debris in the roadways and already seen power lines starting to arc. We've lost power at the location where we are at this moment. The eye wall of the storm, we are in the direct path of the eye wall. Still two hours away.


So, Houma is going to be in the thick of it for the next several hours. The worst of it still several hours away. As we're standing out here, though, giving you the updates, I do want to point out we are standing in an area, if you turn around right here, this is the area where we're going to be in-between doing these hits.

We do have a safe location where we will be bringing you updates. I think it's important as we continue with our coverage and you see reporters who are standing out here, bringing you the reports, you know, some of our viewers are sitting at home thinking we want the information, but the reporters are nuts.

I do want you to know we have an area just off camera where we can go where it's a safer location.

But again, here in Houma, they are going to be in the thick of it. Still several hours away from that.

In the meantime, I spoke to one emergency official on the phone. He says his immediate concern is for those folks who decided to shelter in place and not evacuate -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I agree. I'm concerned about them as well. What are you sensing over there? I know you don't have numbers but do you get the sense most people in the area around Houma did evacuate, or did they decide to stay put?

CARROLL: Well, here's what we know. From yesterday in speaking to the sheriff, he estimated, really more of a guesstimate, that anywhere between 60 percent and 80 percent of the people in the surrounding area including Houma had, indeed, evacuated. He said it's hard to convince some of the old-timer who is have been through a number of hurricanes and severe storms to get up and get out.

Those are some of the hardest people to convince according to the sheriff. And some of those people have decided to stay. So, again, his guesstimate, Wolf, in this area, anywhere between 60 and 80 percent of the people have evacuated.

BLITZER: Yeah, well, I'm glad they did. All right, just be careful over there, Jason. We'll stay in close touch. Jason Carroll on the scene for us in Louisiana.

We're continuing to follow the breaking news here in the situation room. Hurricane Ida punishing Louisiana as a category 4 storm. Stay with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: President Biden earlier today over at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware attending the dignified transfer of the 13 U.S. service members killed in Thursday's terrorist attack in Afghanistan.

Our senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt has been covering the story for us. Alex, we watched it. We had live coverage. It was such a powerful and emotional event. ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: A moment

there, Wolf, especially for the commander in chief. This is, as you can imagine, the worst thing a president can imagine, when he or she is in office, having to see service members die and, of course, speaking with their families in the wake of what will surely be the most devastating moment in their lives.

The president flying to Dover Air Force Base today on Air Force 1, along with Dr. Jill Biden, the first lady, as you can see and some of his other top national security officials including the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, Secretary of State Tony Blinken welcoming those 13 service members who lost their lives in that suicide bombing Thursday at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

This is, we should note, not a ceremony. This is what the military refers to as a solemn movement. You can see there one of the 13 service members coming off the plane in a flag draped transfer case.

And, Wolf, we now have all the names of all 13 of these service members. Most of them were marines. 11 were. One was a navy sailor. One was an Army Special Forces soldier.

I want to highlight a couple of them. The thing I am struck by is how young they were. The first name that we got was that of Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum. He was just 20 years old. He was a baby when 9/11 happened.

He is now -- was expecting a baby of his own in just a few weeks. His sister said that he was a son, a brother, a husband, and a father with a baby due in just three weeks. Rylee wanted to be a marine his whole life. As a toddler he carried around a rifle in his kinder in cowboy boots.

We saw a touching photo at the time of Sergeant Nicole Gee, she was holding up a baby, taking care of the baby at the airport. She Instagramed that photo. And then she wrote a post saying, "I love my job." She also lost her life in that bombing on Thursday.

And then finally, one more person I want to mention is Hospitalman Maxton Soviak, he was the lone navy sailor who was killed. He was, as you can see there, 22 years old and a medic, who is in charge of, you know, obviously, tending to the medical needs of those marines he was assigned to. He, too, lost his life in that bombing on Thursday.


I could go on. So many devastating stories, and, again, the president was up there in Dover to preside over the dignified transfer today and is now back in Washington, D.C., Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, so sad. So moving. Our hearts go out to the families. Our deepest condolences to them.

Alex, I know you agree when I say may all these wonderful, wonderful 13 service members, may they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

We'll have more news right after this.



BLITZER: Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is urging people to be alert as the hurricane approaches landfall over there, warning that his state could get hit with hurricane force winds and significant flash flooding as Ida approaches.

Joining us now, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

Mayor Lumumba, thank you so much for joining us.

I know your town, Jackson, is a great city and is in the path of the storm. You've declared a state of emergency. When do you expect it to hit?

MAYOR CHOKWE ANTAR LUMUMBA, JACKSON, MS: Well, Wolf, thank you for taking the opportunity to speak with me and I'd like to extend my prayers to all individuals who are in the path of this storm.

From the most recent information we received, it's anticipated that it will landfall -- it will enter Jackson around 2:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. That's the most recent information that I have received.

BLITZER: What's the greatest risk to life that you guys potentially are facing? And tell our viewers what you're advising your residents.

LUMUMBA: Well, we're advising our residents not to walk, to dismount or ride through standing water. We're advising them to store up perishable items as we don't know the impact of our infrastructure, whether it will have some impact to our power lines. Whether there will be interruption in the water distribution system we've experienced in recent years.

We're afraid of the -- or concerned about the high winds. We're concerned about the flooding that could potentially take place. We're advising individuals who live in flood prone areas to seek higher ground. We have opened up shelters to accommodate the needs of our residents.

BLITZER: I know Jackson, your city, has had problems with its water supply, with infrastructure, from past storms, past floods.

How vulnerable is Jackson, Mississippi, when it comes to flooding and storm surges, Mayor?

LUMUMBA: Well, there has been a lot of discussion in the recent last year concerning our water distribution, and that remains an issue. It will continue to be a challenge that we face until we're able to replace that infrastructure. As it pertains to our -- the flow of water within our drains, we're

concerned about that, too. We recently experienced a 30-year flood in the city, and so we're concerned about the river levels. We're concerned about flash flooding that impacts communities across our city.

So we have our public works crews on site. We have our fire and police departments also on stand by.

BLITZER: Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Jackson, Mississippi. Good luck to everyone affected by the hurricane. Thanks so much for joining us.

LUMUMBA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Before we go, we have sad news to report on a TV icon. The actor Ed Asner best known for his role as Lou Grant of the Mary Tyler Moore Show has died. He was 91 years old.

Stephanie Elam looks back at his award-winning career.


ED ASNER AS LOU GRANT: You know what? You've got spunk.


ASNER: I hate spunk.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was the tough but lovable boss, Lou Grant, in '70s sitcom, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", one of the most acclaimed TV series in American history.

ASNER: Lou Grant gave me my center.

Would you think I was violating your civil rights if I asked if you were married?

MOORE: Presbyterian.

ASNER: He's a simple soul, a more honest soul. Far less devious than I am.


ELAM: The role of the sexist boss turned women's champion garnered Asner two Golden Globes and three Emmys.

ASNER: People love mean, crabby people who show their soft side. I guess I'm -- I created a career and I'm developing that aspect.

ELAM: Another ground breaking show followed in 1977. The mini series "Roots", one of the most television events of all-time.

ASNER: Can you capture or buy 170 healthy blacks and deliver them to the hold of the Lord Ligonier?

ELAM: Asner's portrayal of a slave ship captain won him an Emmy.

That same year, he reprised the beloved Lou Grant in a TV drama of the same name.

ASNER: It's a hell of a story.

ELAM: His performance as a newspaper editor in the post-Watergate era earned Asner two Golden Globes and two Emmys for best actor.

Later in his career, Asner played Santa in the Christmas favorite, "Elf".

ASNER: It's time to start preparations for next Christmas.

ELAM: And starred as the voice of Carl Fredricksen in the award winning animated film "Up".

CARL FREDRICKSEN, UP: I'll send you a postcard from paradise falls.


ASNER: Off screen, the Kansas City native campaigned for the Equal Rights Amendment and served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild. In 2002, the guild honored Asner with a lifetime achievement award.

ASNER: I'm so glad I won the American Lifetime Achievement Award which to me means living with purpose and passion.

ELAM: Ed Asner, an authority figure in front of and behind the camera who acted from the heart and led with his conscience.


BLITZER: Thank you, Stephanie.

I loved Ed Asner. And as we say, may he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll be back tomorrow, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

Jim Acosta picks up our coverage right after this quick break.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: We're live in the "CNN NEWRSOOM". I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

We're following breaking news on a storm of historic proportions. Just a short time ago, Hurricane Ida made land fall in Louisiana at near category 5 strength.