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Hurricane Fiona Devastates Puerto Rico; CNN Hero: Larry Abrams. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 04:00   ET


COY WIRE, CNN 10 ANCHOR: What`s up, everyone. Thank you for making us part of your day. I`m Coy Wire. This is CNN 10 and we have an awesome show for


But we do have to start with the latest news out of Puerto Rico, where a catastrophic hurricane devastated the island. Hurricane Fiona caused

terrible rains, floods, mudslides and blackouts after it hit the region on Monday. The National Guard and emergency responders have rescued over 1,000

people, but certain parts of Puerto Rico are difficult for crews to get to.

When we recorded our show Tuesday, two people had died. The storm also hit the Dominican Republican where a million people are without running water.

As of Tuesday, Fiona has strengthened into a category 3 hurricane as it near Turks and Caicos Islands, where residents were bracing for potentially

life-threatening flash flooding.

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico nearly five years to the day after the area was devastated by Hurricane Maria. That storm caused thousands of

deaths, left billions of dollars in damage and some residents are still trying to rebuild. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States and are

entitled to the same federal assistance as every state. President Biden promised immediate federal aid and assistance toward the relief effort and

his administration is likely to offer long-term support as the area rebuilds now from both storms.

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June until November. And so far this year, it`s been relatively mild. Fiona is considered the first major

hurricane of the season.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost the entire island of Puerto Rico remains in the dark after Hurricane Fiona slam into the

southwestern coast of the island Sunday afternoon, pounding rainfall causing catastrophic mudslides and flooding. The storm coming just as parts

of the island were finally recovering from Hurricane Maria`s destruction five years ago.

JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ, RESIDENT AND BUSINESS OWNER: It`s been rough. We`ve been struggling to get this neighborhood back from Maria. Everything was

destroyed, restaurants, houses, everything was destroyed. And we just -- we just -- not all the way back, but we just halfway back. A lot of people

more than Maria lost their houses now. Lost everything on their houses because the flooding.

SANTIAGO: This is the barrio, the neighborhood where the National Guard had to come and rescue people. Still a lot of flooding. I can hear

generators powering the home. And it is still pouring down with rain. Neighbors looking out, wondering exactly what will come next, as hurricane

Fiona, the remnants of it, continue to demolish this area.

The family rescued overnight now safely in a shelter.

She says this was worse than Maria.

She`s pointing out that they`ve already been under water for 24 hours and the rain is still coming down, so, she`s concerned about the 2,500 families

that she says are impacted by this here.

About 1,000 people rescued from flood waters. Hundreds more rescue efforts still under way, as emergency responders try to navigate through difficult

to reach areas. In Utuado, the interior part of the island, 25-year-old Jomar Rodriquez (ph) watched this bridge come apart in just minutes and

wash down the river.

On the west side of the island, rainfall swelling a river, the Guanajibo River in Hormigueros, surpassing its previous record high at 28.59 feet,

set during Hurricane Maria, now gauging to over 29 feet, the National Weather Service said. While a few hospitals have regained power, emergency

workers are racing to get electricity back to the island.

THOMAS VAN ESSEN, FORMER FEMA COORDINATOR FOR PUERTO RICO: It takes so long to get things back up because so many of the systems are connected,

and some of the main lines go through the hills there, and if those main lines get damaged, they don`t have the ability to get the other sections up

and running.

SANTIAGO: Sunday morning, President Biden approving an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico that authorizes all emergency measures needed,

including FEMA.

ANNE BINK, FEMA ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR RESPONSE AND RECOVERY: There`s 300 responders on the ground for FEMA, working hand and glove with the

commonwealth and their emergency management structure.



WIRE (voice-over): Ten-second trivia:

Where can you find the original copy of the U.S. Constitution?

The National Archives, Fort Knox, The Library of Congress, or The Smithsonian Institution?

The answer is the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C.


WIRE: Next up today, students are back in school. A New Jersey teacher Larry Abrams is on a mission, to transform the lives of students across the

state with his organization BookSmiles. The self-proclaimed bookworm believes that every student should have access to the transformative power

of books regardless of their school`s resources. The organization harvest, collects, sorts and hands out hundreds of thousands of gently used

children`s books in areas that Abrams calls book deserts. Let`s hear more about the nearly 1 million books this organization has distributed.


LARRY ABRAMS, NEW JERSEY TEACHER: In a great forest, a little elephant is born. His name was Babar.

I`ve always been a bookworm. My favorite, "Mike Mulligan and His" Steam Shovel". I was a library kid. Books were my friends.

Now, this is my all-time favorite, he used his imagination to create anything he wanted. I certainly like the transformative experience of

reading of going into other worlds, experiencing other cultures.

I am a high school English teacher. Where I currently teach, it`s an incredible district with really, really talented kids, but it`s a scrappy

working class town. There is poverty. We have a high ESL population.

So many of the kids are on. Their reading skills aren`t where they should be, by and large. In my ninth grade class, it`s very typical to have kids

reading at a fifth grade reading level, and if you`re struggling with reading, you`re going to be struggling with writing.

I`d heard of food deserts but I`d never heard of book deserts, and it occurred to me that I teach in a book desert. I decided to put out a call

to all of my friends: hey, I`m collecting baby board books. A thousand books avalanched into my lap. I had more books than I knew what to do with

and I gave books away and I just saw the joy in these children`s faces.

And then I got obsessed. And I then filled my classroom with books. And then my garage was filled with books. But then it got to the point where it

simply wasn`t sustainable and that`s when we got a nice donation to be able to move into the book bank.

One teacher donated and we`re going to pass it along to other teachers who need it.

We`ve outgrown our space and we are now in the process of moving into 4,300 square feet in a nearby town.

The name of my organization is BookSmiles. BookSmiles harvests, collects, sorts and distributes hundreds of thousands of gently used children`s

books. What we do is irrigate book deserts.

Very good stuff. This was a great hall.

We worked to level that playing field. Why shouldn`t every child have plenty of books in their home?

We get donations from kind-hearted people, book people, people who believe every child should have a library of their own.

I came up with the idea to paint trash cans to make them weather resistant and that`s the lure, that`s the bait for people to come with their book

donations and drop them in.

I am proud to say that we have distributed nearly one million books. Books spread light. They spread joy and that`s why it`s important for me to keep

this thing going because one light will light another light, and hopefully, other people in America will start seeing that this is not rocket science,

folks. This is just reclaiming used books and thinking of an efficient way to get them into the hands of children in need.

We are just hitting the tip of this iceberg. There is so much work to do.


WIRE: For today`s "10 out of 10", we`re talking some bling-bling .Scientists discovered a mysterious diamond that came from outer space. The

stone called lonsdaleite came here on a meteorite. It`s harder and stronger than a regular diamond in the natural process through which scientists

believe it was formed could inspire a way to manufacture super durable materials. Now the question remains whether they can replicate the diamond

here on earth.

One thing that can`t be replicated -- you. Did you know that today is World Gratitude Day and we are so grateful to all of you for sharing part of your

day with us?

We`re going to do a special shout-out now to Wahpeton High School in Wahpeton, North Dakota. We hope you and everyone watching around the world

shine bright like a space diamond today.

I`m Coy Wire. Thanks for watching CNN 10.