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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Hurricane Jeanne Roars Ashore in Florida

Aired September 25, 2004 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Torrential rain, relentless wind, Hurricane Jeanne will have its way with central Florida. And this is only the beginning.
From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Carol Lin. And I'm going to be with you just about all night long, as Hurricane Jeanne roars ashore in Florida.

Tonight, Jeanne has arrived. Anderson Cooper joins me now from Florida -- Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Carol, the winds picking up here with every minute that passes. As darkness has fallen here, it is getting very uncomfortable, very difficult. And we're going to take a weather reading in just about a minute, just come back to us very soon, Carol.

LIN: Thanks, Anderson.

Also in position tonight up and down the Florida shore, our intrepid reporters to tell Jeanne's story from the inside. John Zarrella in West Palm Beach, meteorologist Chad Myers in Melbourne, Gary Tuchman in Fort Pierce. We're going to hear from all of them in just a moment.

But first, back to Melbourne right in the path of the storm. And that's where Anderson Cooper and his crew are braced for Jeanne's crash into Florida.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Carol, winds have picked up significantly, even in the last five minutes here. I want to bring in Chad, our meteorologist. Chad Myers, what kind of wind readings are you getting?

CHAD MYERS, METEOROLOGIST: That was now 62 pretty much sustained. So now we're almost up to a hurricane, because we have to be 73, 74 to be a hurricane. So we're almost there now.

COOPER: And before we -- I mean, half an hour ago, we were getting wind gusts...

MYERS: Correct.

COOPER: ...63. But sustained about 50. So the winds are picking up very quick. MYERS: We really are. The sustained winds are picking up and the gusts are picking up as well. And that's how we know we're actually getting closer to the eye obviously.

When your winds start to fall off, especially if you're on the back side of the storm, then you know you're getting away from the storm. But nobody yet is getting away from it. Everybody's getting closer.

COOPER: Somehow I've wound up in the stupid position of blocking you from the wind. You're supposed to block me. I'm not sure how this has happened.

MYERS: Sorry.

COOPER: Yes. With Rob Marciano, I was able to shove him in front of the winds.

MYERS: Good tonight.

COOPER: We're also seeing the rain really picking up.

MYERS: Yes, finally now, we're getting close to the eye wall. And you can see the eye wall on the radar. It's where the colors are. Where there aren't colors, there's obviously -- there's still wind, but you just don't have the rain coming down because the radar on the Doppler radar can see wind, but the regular radar only sees the drops of rain in the air. And so now we're getting into those drops of air going sideways.

COOPER: It's interesting. Just because in the last couple minutes, I was watching, there's a group of people who are staying in that house over there.

MYERS: Right.

COOPER: And they were kind of coming out, because I think they were kind of bored, and just kind of wanted to see what the conditions were like. You know, I think people have been sort of anticipating, but I think really in the last five minutes, you really get a sense that there was a big storm coming.

MYERS: Anderson, there are still people on the road. 10 minute ago, there's a lady walking her dog on the street.

COOPER: No, you do not see a lady walking her dog.

MYERS: I did. I'm looking out at her, and about an hour and a half ago, we had a lady stop by. She didn't have any shoes on. She said my car is stalled. Do have jumper cables. And I said, well where were you going, we didn't have any to give her. She said well I was just driving home. I was driving out -- kind of driving to see what it was like. I go, "Get home." So I gave her a ride home.

COOPER: Wise idea in a storm go out without shoes. It's a good smart idea there. MYERS: Yes, You know, and we're still seeing cars on the bridge, the big bridge. But I'm pretty sure now they're all official vehicles. They all look like big town cars, or you know, the Mercury Marquis of a police car.

COOPER: Yes. Not a good -- Carol, these are not conditions to walk your dog in. Make a mental note just in the future.

MYERS: I don't think the dog likes it either.

COOPER: I hope it was a big dog at least. My God, it was one of those little dogs, they'd be out of here.

So what time are you expecting to see the worst conditions where we are right here?

MYERS: You know, probably between -- it may be very hard to say what the worst conditions are, because there will be a period where you can't tell the difference between 105 and 115 or 115 and 120. So as you get closer to that time, I'd say midnight to 1:30, we're going to have an hour and a half of devastating winds.

COOPER: Wow, all right. Chad, we'll join you back here. Carol, back to you. Check in. The winds really -- you know, it's interesting. Even as Chad was talking, I mean these winds now are picking up. And you can really get a lot more rain.

LIN: Yes.

COOPER: And it's just coming horizontal right across, Carol.

LIN: Yes, Anderson, it sounds like you're losing your voice?

COOPER: Maybe not. Maybe I'm just yelling. I'll lower my voice next time.

LIN: No, I just want to make sure you're going to make it through the night through our special coverage.

COOPER: It's all right.

LIN: Thanks much.

All right, let's find out where the hurricane is right now. For that, we're going to go to meteorologist Jacqui Jeras -- Jacqui?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Carol, the eye wall is now making landfall at this time over Florida's Treasure Coast. There you can see it. That inner wall is moving right across, Dual's Point, extending down towards West Palm Beach. This is the worst of the storm now for you making landfall at this time. Expect winds 90, maybe 100 miles per hour, as this pushes on in.

You can see how huge this eye is, about 35 miles across. And it's kind of eroding a little bit there on the east side. And so, it might be wising out just a little bit. Those winds are going to be very strong, extending up towards Fort Pierce, also up towards Vero Beach. And then, they're going to be moving in up where Chad and Anderson are. And they're probably about an hour and a half from now.

But there you can see official eye wall making landfall. The actual center of the eye is about 35 miles east-southeast of Fort Pierce. That one just brought in by the National Hurricane Center at the top of the hour. There you can see those coordinates.

It is moving west-northwest at 13 miles per hour. And it is moving in towards Dual Point. If that sounds familiar to you, that is where Francis made landfall. Very ironic. This is moving in just about the same area. However, it probably won't be moving quite right in by Stuart, as the last storm did, because it is moving slightly up to the north and to the west as well.

So we're going to be watching this kind of scraping the coast we think here for a couple of hours. And that's really bad news. We don't want it scraping the coast.

But the bright note is is that Francis just sat there forever. This go around, this is a much faster moving storm, again at 13 miles per hour.

Those winds are picking up significantly. These are reported wind gusts now at the top of the hour. West Palm Beach, 61 miles per hour. Fort Pierce at 53. 54 mile per hour wind gusts at Melbourne. And even Orlando getting in on the action here. 41 miles per hour.

Overnight tonight, Orlando will be seeing the hurricane force winds moving in.

Forecast track has been continuing to track up to the west- northwest. And then it's going to start to turn back up to the north and to the east, almost making its way back over open water into the Gulf of Mexico, and then tracking across Georgia, then into the Carolinas of course only as the tropical depression at this time, but still bringing in some decent amounts of rain. There may be three to six inches in this area as it does so.

One other note. This is a Category 3 storm. Makes it a major hurricane with 115 miles per hour winds. These are the locations of all of the major U.S. landfall hurricanes between 1899 and 1996. The farthest north on the east coast of Florida was Palm Beach in 1949. Looks like it's moving in north of that there. So it's going to be the farthest north on the east coast of Florida for a major hurricane -- Carol?

LIN: Jacqui, Hurricane Jeanne breaking a lot of records here. All right, thanks very much.

All right, officially, in case you missed it, the eye wall, the outer eye wall of Hurricane Jeanne has officially made landfall. You are looking at live pictures -- well, they were live pictures. But actually, we want to show you some pictures out of Stuart, which is right where Hurricane Jeanne's outer eye wall is just beginning to make landfall there. But we're showing -- this is the area that we're talking about. Stuart, Florida.

And look at that, look at that. Look at what the wind's doing with the rain. That gives you -- that -- there is no better visual than to tell you or show you that the shifting patterns of wind in this hurricane, wind gusts of around 50 miles an hour right now, as the eye wall, the outer eye wall, beginning to make landfall. Look at that.

It looks like a blizzard. It doesn't even look like rain right now. It's hard to believe that reporters are actually -- can actually find a safe place to report from.

All right, some of the worst winds that we're seeing are in West Palm Beach, just south of Fort Pierce, just south of where that picture is being taken. That's where we find CNN's John Zarrella.

John, how are the conditions there?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there again, even worse now than they were a half an hour ago. Consistently blowing now I'm sure very close to, you know, the 70 mile an hour range and gusting perhaps higher than that. Just absolutely -- now a little bit of a let up in the rain, but the wind is just awful here right now. And you can -- it's just screaming down this street here between the two buildings that we are at. And of course, you can see up there into the -- of course with the eye wall, you can see now just torrential, torrential rain and wind gusts. We are, of course, on the southern side of the eye wall. And that's very close to us, where the eye wall is.

Now the power continues to flicker on and off here. We had a power hit about 10:00. The power went out. It came back on again, went off again. But it's back on one more time. But we continue to see those blue green flashes everywhere in the sky, Carol, as more and more of the power goes out here in Palm Beach County.

We had talked to emergency officials an hour or so ago. And they said that the power was out in most of the county.

Now you can really see what we are experiencing here now. And again, on that south side of the eye wall. And this is significantly worse than what we experienced here three weeks ago during Hurricane Francis, when it came ashore. And the wind continues to blow from the west to the east, that counterclockwise rotation of the storm. So again, a good indication for everyone that we remain on the south side of the eye wall.

Later, in the evening, in the overnight hours, we expect that -- the wind direction will shift on us in another direction, perhaps out of the south, as it begins to go by us.

But again, this is about as bad as -- about as bad, Carol, as it has been all night tonight -- Carol?

LIN: All right, thanks, John. Hang in there.

We're going to go north of you to our Gary Tuchman, who is in Fort Pierce right now, hunkered down without power. Hurricane Jeanne making landfall close to his location -- Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, these may be the worst conditions I've seen during any of these four hurricanes over the last six weeks in Florida. We're in downtown Fort Pierce right now about a mile away from the beach near the intercoastal waterway. And for the last hour, we got consistent hurricane force winds with gusts of about 95 miles per hour.

The area where we're standing right now is completely flooded. Up to -- above our ankles, below our shins right here. But this is, believe it or not, a relatively safe area. That's why we chose it. We have the barrier, but this cement building next to us. And cement buildings have done very well during these four hurricanes.

An estimated 200,100 people are in shelters here in St. Lucy County, Florida. That compares to 5,000 people during Hurricane Francis three weeks ago.

Authorities say they're not overly concerned though because they think people a lot of cases traveled far away. In either case, they don't see many people on the streets at all.

Emergency operations officials say the streets have been completely empty. There is a curfew in effect. It is illegal from the outside. And so far, people are listening to those orders.

Behind this chain link fence, that we're keeping an eye on, that was straight when the night started. Now it's leaning back. But very treacherous conditions here. What emergency officials hope, you know, when the eye comes through here, midnight, 1:00 a.m. whatever, they can get some emergency vehicles on the streets for anyone who might need help. But right now, they cannot go out. It's definitely too dangerous.

Carol, back to you.

LIN: All right, thanks, Gary. You, too, also hang in there. I know it's a tough situation out there. And you can see from Gary's position, the eye wall of Hurricane Jeanne just beginning to make landfall at this very moment.

We are going to go live to Stuart, Florida. And that is where a lot of the action is taking place, the main action is taking place right now. So stay with us as we continue our storm coverage.

And also later, we're going to go live to Haiti, where peacekeepers are needed to restore order after Hurricane Jeanne.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LIN: All right, a live picture out of Florida, as Hurricane Jeanne officially just beginning to make landfall. The outer edge of the eye wall, where the heaviest wind activity is taking place.

We've seen the shot up and down the Atlantic coast. And in Port St. Lucy, a family is waiting it out inside their house, right now, after refusing to evacuate. They've been there before. They don't want to do it again.

You're looking at a picture of the Vallejos family, who has lost power, but is on the telephone with me right now.

Ann, is that you?

ANN VALLEJOS, RESIDENT: Yes, I'm here.

LIN: How are you doing?

VALLEJOS: OK, Carol. How are you? I need to clear something up. We were not forced to evacuate. My parents live on the barrier island. They have mandatory evacuations. We do not in here.

LIN: But you have evacuated in the past?

VALLEJOS: I did last time, yes, only because last time Hurricane Francis was starting as a Category 4. This hurricane wasn't supposed to be so strong. So that's why we decided to stay.

LIN: Right, we're checking in with you every hour to see how things are going. In the last hour, you told us that you lost power. Since then, and you might not have seen our coverage, obviously because you don't have power right now.

VALLEJOS: No.

LIN: But the outer wall of Hurricane Jeanne has -- is just starting to make landfall at Stuart, Florida. We've seen some dramatic pictures of the rain, you know, swirling around in circles, of palm trees bending horizontally to the ground. What's it like in your location?

VALLEJOS: Well, I -- from bits of lightning flashes that are going by, I can see out of my doors from my bedroom, the -- it's, you know, very, very windy. The palm trees are really bending. I wouldn't say to the ground, but they're swaying maybe about a third of the way down. And it's -- the rain is kind of going sideways.

LIN: What does it sound like?

VALLEJOS: Right now, it's -- it kind of -- well you know there's rain beating against the window, but it's more like gusts of wind, like where it all kind of blow. And then it'll stop and blow again.

So it's just -- you know, I mean, it's getting pretty strong. And my husband told me that, you know, this is just the beginning. This is probably just like 50 miles an hour. LIN: Yes, you're going to have about eight hours of this, Ann.

VALLEJOS: No.

LIN: That's what I'm hearing. What are the kids doing?

VALLEJOS: They're asleep.

LIN: They're asleep? How'd you get them to sleep in all this?

VALLEJOS: Well, yes, I mean my girlfriend stayed last time and she said her son, who's my son's age, seven, slept through the whole thing.

LIN: Well, that's going to be a blessing. What are you going to do tonight?

VALLEJOS: Well, I'm trying to get some sleep now, assuming that the winds are going to wake us up later and we'll go into my -- I have a walk in closet. We have a mattress in there. So we'll all pile in there.

LIN: Yes. And you have enough, what, water and food...

VALLEJOS: Oh, yes.

LIN: ...last you for how long?

VALLEJOS: Oh, I got a lot of water. See, even though we lose power, I don't have a well. So we did have water last time. So hopefully, we'll still have water, but I have, oh my gosh, I would say probably 20 gallons of water.

LIN: All right, well hang in there, Ann. Thanks for talking with us.

VALLEJOS: Oh, my pleasure.

LIN: And sharing your experience.

VALLEJOS: My pleasure.

LIN: All right. In about an hour from now, before the full might of Category 3 hurricane presses down on Florida's Atlantic coast, the town of Stuart in Martin County lies directly in the storm's projected path. Jawan Strader is there. And he reported this just a short time ago. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAWAN STRADER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are. They're making it (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because they've never seen anything like this before.

Take a look out of there. You can see -- Kurt (ph), I don't know if you can turn over. These guys out here, they should not be out here right now. We've been trying to tell them, but to them, this is a big joke because they've never experienced anything like this.

But if you notice, they're out there for a second, but they keep on running back inside because the winds are picking up. They're getting stronger and stronger. We're dealing with some very strong wind gusts.

Last time I talked to Bryan (ph), the winds were about at 60, 70 miles per hour. But these winds, Bryan, have to be close to -- more like 100 miles per hour. I'll tell you, I can't stand up right now. And you take a look behind me, you'll see the damage that's already been done. You'll see this roof that was already damaged by Hurricane Francis, continues to be twisted and torn apart as Hurricane Jeanne continues to twist its medal, as if it was a can opener.

And you can see there's like an ice chest or something it looks like that in the back there. It looks like an eye chest. This area almost white out conditions.

You cannot even see barely across the street. That's how bad it is right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: All right, well from Fort Stuart -- or from Stuart, Florida, we go now a bit north to Fort Pierce. And we just saw and heard Gary Tuchman there being totally battered by the storm, as this eye wall came ashore.

Well, I've got the mayor on the telephone right now. His name is Bob Benton, Fort Pierce's mayor.

Mr. Mayor, how are you doing?

BOB BENTON, MAYOR, FORT PIERCE: Well, we're doing pretty good. You know, we can hear -- we were outside a little while ago. And it's too bad to be outside now, though.

LIN: Yes. Are you hearing anything from Emergency Management or any of your fire or police?

BENTON: Well they're all -- once the wind gets to about 50 miles an hour, they stay home. You know, if they calls, they wait until after the storm. And they'll be out dealing with those as soon as things slow down a little bit.

But right now, we're in the peak of it. And I'd say the winds outside are gusting probably close to 100 miles an hour, unlike on the barrier island.

LIN: Right.

Mr. Mayor, because I was going to ask you, what is that sound behind you? It sounds -- it almost sounds metallic?

BENTON: Yes, that's the wind and the rain, you know, against the windows. I'm about three feet from the window in my bedroom. And it is coming down.

LIN: Do you feel safe?

BENTON: Yes. We've built to the new, you know, hurricane standards since Hurricane Andrew. And we fared very well in the last storm a couple weeks -- three weeks ago.

So we decided to, you know, stay home and see how we weather the storm here. So far, so good.

LIN: How do you think Fort Pierce is going to weather this storm?

BENTON: Well, you know, I'm going to bear judgment until tomorrow, but I know it -- I think it's a little bit worse than Francis was. And -- but it's moving quicker. So that is -- that's better there anyway.

LIN: So given that you've had Francis, now you have Hurricane Jeanne. I mean, what sort of damage were you looking at in the aftermath of Francis? And what do you think you're going to walk out to at the break of dawn tomorrow?

BENTON: Well, I think all those homes that had half a roof on probably won't have any roof on. And I think, you know, a lot of the structures that had damage, this will probably just, you know, I'm afraid to say...

LIN: Yes.

BENTON: ...I'll wait until the light of day tomorrow and...

LIN: Yes.

BENTON: ...we'll be touring the whole city first thing in the morning. And looking at how extensive the damage is. I'm sure it's going to be bad.

LIN: It's going to be heartbreaking for people because after Hurricane Andrew, a lot of the insurance rules changed. And I understand that some people will have to actually pay two deductibles because it was two separate hurricanes.

BENTON: That's what I've been told. And in fact, when Ivan was coming, the word on the street was no call until afterward, or there would be two deductibles. And in my case, it's a $5,000 deductible.

LIN: Each time?

BENTON: Well, luckily, the first time, we didn't have that much damage. It was under the $5,000. So and I'm hoping that'll be the case here, but I can't say that for my neighbors and a lot of my friends.

LIN: Well, you know what? Your neighbors and friends, if they get out alive, there's a lot to be thankful for. BENTON: That's right.

LIN: Mayor Benton, thank you very much, Bob Benton.

BENTON: Thank you.

LIN: Fort Pierce's mayor.

We've got much more in our special hurricane coverage. So please, stay right there. It's all happening right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a gust of 37 now. We've got sustained winds now of about 28 miles an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long are you going to stay out here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to hang around until about 40, 45. Then I'm going to go hide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: Everybody is an expert when it comes to a hurricane.

All right, there are people who actually chase hurricanes for a living. They do it to contribute to science and frankly, some people do it for the thrill.

Mark Sudduth is in Vero Beach right now. He's a hurricane chaser. Mark, can you hear me?

MARK SUDDUTH, HURRICANE CHASER: Yes, I can.

LIN: All right, you're about I'm guestimating a little less than 100 miles north of where the outer wall of Hurricane Jeanne is just beginning to make landfall near Stuart. Are you chasing this hurricane? Or is this hurricane chasing you right now?

SUDDUTH: Well, we're pretty smart about what we do. And we have parked ourselves at the Indian River Memorial Hospital parking lot. And we're in a nice wide open area. We have our weather instruments going like right now. It's 36 miles per hour, 42. You know, so we have all these instruments going. The pressure is falling. It's 984 millibars.

The power has gone out here. We saw these tremendous -- oh wow, there's a monster -- can you hear -- oh my goodness. See if you can hear this.

LIN: What just happened?

SUDDUTH: Just a monster gust of 74 miles per hour. Oh, right there. But we're now in the open in a very protected area with nothing that's going to hit us. So we're not out here trying to do anything crazy or be a stunt man. We're trying to gather data. I've sent a couple of e-mails to the National Hurricane Center.

You know, we don't condone people doing this, but they certainly appreciate the data.

LIN: Right.

SUDDUTH: And for those of us who can do it smartly, we can hopefully learn something and pass it on to others.

LIN: Right. We actually got some of your pictures that you took or some images that you took in Fort Pierce earlier today.

SUDDUTH: Yes.

LIN: Off your Web site. Look at that, we're -- I think that -- it looks like a -- I mean they looked like fireworks. What is that?

SUDDUTH: Yes, that's exactly what it looked like. The transformers and the power linens were shorting out and exploding with the force of the wind. They touch each other. And it's just an incredible sound of electricity. You can hear it, even from far away. I'm not going to try to reproduce the sound myself.

LIN: Yes, sure.

SUDDUTH: But it is just incredible. And it's real bright. And it's kind of a greenish blue color. And oh man, there was another monster gust right there. We are right in the eye wall of this thing. And it's coming in by the way.

LIN: Where are you standing?

SUDDUTH: I didn't hear you. I'm sorry?

LIN: Where are you standing? Are you inside or outside?

SUDDUTH: I'm actually inside of our Chevy Tahoe, our command vehicle. But again, you can -- and we're faced into the winds. You can drive a Chevy Tahoe 100 miles per hour and nothing will happen to it if you're a professional driver.

LIN: I imagine that you as a hurricane chaser, you're probably like a firefighter in a firestorm in that you understand that every fire or in this case, every hurricane has its owns personality.

SUDDUTH: Right.

LIN: What can you tell me about Jeanne?

SUDDUTH: Well, Jeanne, gosh, there's been so many this year. This area was hit by Francis. I was down here for that. I was actually working with former CNN correspondent Jeff Flock to do a documentary. There just went another power flash. Oh, my goodness, I wish you could see this. It's just like -- I put on the left side that it's a lot like seeing the CNN footage from Baghdad. You don't see the tracer bullets, thank goodness.

But we were down here for Francis. And we put our experimental vehicle out on Hutchinson Island. It's a sort of a disposable vehicle. And we tested it there. And then we put it on gulf shores for Hurricane Ivan. And Ivan destroyed that vehicle. And that's going to be the subject of a documentary that your former Jeff Flock is working on.

LIN: Yes.

SUDDUTH: And but your question -- in answer to your question, this is a very wet hurricane. Some of the other ones have had dry slots. This one is really raining hard. It's coming in fast, which is good for me. I like that. Francis was probably slower than everybody in Florida could ever want.

LIN: Yes.

SUDDUTH: But Carol, each one of them is different. That's why we do this. If you're seeing one hurricane, you have not seen them all.

LIN: You bet.

SUDDUTH: There's much to learn. And that's why we're here.

LIN: All right, Mark Sudduth, you stay safe out there. Thank you very much for sharing that video and the moment...

SUDDUTH: Thank you.

LIN: ...that you're experiencing right now.

Well, let's find out where the hurricane is. Back right now for that, we go to CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras, we've talked to people at Fort Stuart -- I mean at Stuart, Fort Pierce, but obviously these bands are expanding as Jeanne starts to move onshore?

JERAS: Well, they're getting closer in, right, Carol. This is the eye wall now. The worst part of this storm, the eye wall. Not the eye. The center circulation still probably about 30 miles offshore, but we're not as concerned about that part, as we are this part that's coming onshore right now.

We also have a big convective burst you can see just to the north and to the west of Sewell's Point. We're going to zoom in a little bit closer for you on that one. There you can see some of the wind reports are on here as well. Just the sound of Port St. Luce and the eye wall extends a little farther down to the north of West Palm Beach.

And there you can see, this is an outer band as it heads toward Vero Beach. So you really haven't quite gotten that back side of that eye wall pushing on through yet. So the center of the storm should be making landfall, we think, around the midnight hour. So we still have another couple of hours to go. And then keep in mind on the back side of this storm, we're going to get the one-two punch. You're going to get the back side of the storm moving on in and the back side of the eye wall. And so, those winds are going to pick up again. And we want to remind people that even though you're going to have a calm period here, it will be intensifying once again. So we're getting through the worst part of the storm, right along Florida's treasure coast at this time. Hurricane force winds are onshore right now. And we can expect to see them around 100 plus miles per hour at this time -- Carol.

LIN: And then quickly, Jacqui, the back side of the storm, when is that expected to hit?

JERAS: That's probably more like 3:00 in the morning, Carol. That's going to be in the overnight hours tonight and the early morning on -- near Sunday.

LIN: All right, thanks very much, Jacqui.

Well, our rolling coverage of Hurricane Jeanne rolls on. So stay right there. We're going to go back live to Melbourne, Florida, where Anderson Cooper and Chad Myers are braving the gusty winds and heavy rain. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And this is the scene live in Melbourne, Florida. Winds very close to hurricane strength, whipping off the Indian River, that intercoastal waterway.

It is an unbelievable scene. The winds carrying rain. Rain just ripping across horizontally, moving fast, doing like imprints on your face if you look into it. I'm Anderson Cooper live in Melbourne, Florida, where every -- with every passing day, we are getting bigger and bigger wind gusts. We're just in the midst of one right now. These gusts coming faster and faster with less of a downtime in between.

The wind and the rain has really picked up here. Rain wasn't so much a factor, even half an hour ago. But as this storm has made landfall south of here, the wind and the rain here have really picked up significantly.

Chad Myers, CNN meteorologist here with me. What kind of speeds are we seeing?

MYERS: Just add 72 up there on the second story. We talked about this a lot. The higher you go, the more the wind speed is, because there's less friction on the surface. Kind of like sandpaper down here. And it slows down the wind. You know, the higher you get, there's no sandpaper. There's nothing slowing you down.

And so, the winds are actually higher on the second floor of this hotel, as we're seeing down here. Our highest gusts down here was about 66 the last half hour.

COOPER: And...

MYERS: And it's definitely going up literally every minute.

COOPER: And when does it get the worst? I mean, when -- can you tell it at this point when the -- the storm has made landfall?

MYERS: We will actually be able to add in the forward speed of the storm, which is still about 14 miles per hour, to the winds on the northern eye wall.

Now I know the western eye wall is already touching part of Florida down there, south of us. But as the northern eye wall makes its way onshore, you get to add in the wind speed of 115 or more plus the forward speed. And there will be sustained winds on the northern side of this eye wall at about 129 miles a hour or more with gusts. And that'll probably be in an hour and half or two.

COOPER: So 129 miles an hour, but that is very close -- are you all right?

MYERS: Yes.

COOPER: You literally got hit by something. What...

MYERS (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COOPER: Sorry, what was it?

MYERS: Sorry, it was just a leaf out of the palm tree. We're actually in a really safe place.

COOPER: A big wind leaf just stabbed him in the face.

MYERS: We do need to get away from these palm trees, because for a most of the day, we've been using these palm trees as kind of a windbreak, but now we need to get away from the trees and away from anything that might be blowing off those trees.

COOPER: Right.

MYERS: And that's what you want to do. That's why we are where we are, because we have a mile of water between us and the barrier island. And there's nothing over there to hit us. It's not going to pick up any water. And...

Do you taste the salt now.

COOPER: Yes.

MYERS: You can taste the salt from the water.

COOPER: At what point does the wind become too strong to actually stand up? I mean, what winds can you not stand up in?

MYERS: Probably about 100, we'll have to go inside.

COOPER: And what 100 miles an hour -- you don't think you can physically sand it.

LIN: Well, you can sand up, but the problem is the gusts. You have to get the -- prepare yourself like this down to -- and then when the gust comes, you go back, and then you go forward. And you really lose your balance at a gust of 110, 115.

COOPER: All right, John Zarrella, who has been in West Palm Beach all night long has been very -- the brunt of this storm for longer than we have. It's moving up toward us right now.

John, How is it in West Palm right now?

ZARRELLA: It's at least as bad as it was earlier. For a minute there, we've -- we had a little bit of a break in the wind and the rain, but it -- just like in your case up there, Anderson, we're not really experiencing any of those long breaks in the rain or the wind.

Here, again, another one of these really intense gusts of wind blowing across us here. And now the wind has shifted directions here. I know that Chad was asking earlier about the wind direction. And you can see, you know, up in the trees, that the wind is now coming more from the southwest. It was coming due west earlier, but within the last 30 minutes or so, the wind direction has shifted on us.

You know, a good indication that the storm has, of course, gotten a lot closer to land or making landfall there. But we've been getting just intense rain and wind. And I know three weeks ago, when we were here, we did not get anywhere near the same level of wind and rain that we are getting tonight here -- Anderson?

COOPER: John, at what point -- I mean, where are you in West Palm? And what are seeing around you? I can't see the shot. What part of West Palm are you in? Are...

ZARRELLA: We're -- Anderson, we're right down on the Intercoastal waterway. If you could look across the intercoastal, west of Palm Beach, you would see the Breakers Hotel over there, but you can't see anything. It's absolutely pitch black on the island across.

We're right on Flagler Drive, literally. And the power went out there, way -- whoa, several hours ago on Palm Beach. But somewhat miraculously where we are, the power's quicker. And it's going out a couple of times. But here, right where we are, although most of Palm Beach County is reported out of Power, we still have it. It's on and off a couple of times. Transformers continue exploding in the distance. But Anderson, again, we still have a little bit of power here -- Anderson?

COOPER: All right, John, thanks very much. We're getting a really big gust of wind right now. It's actually whipping off the water. It really feels like needles. It's -- you sort of want to put your hand up to try to block some of the water from hitting your face.

Let's talk to Gary Tuchman, who is in Fort Veros, who has seen some very bad conditions in the last hour. Gary, how is it right now? TUCHMAN: Anderson, this is the equivalent of meteorological hell. Stand out here you're in a safer area than we were a short time ago. We moved three times now to try to know how to establish our limits of where we can stand.

We started the day near the Marina in Fort Pierce, Florida, where there was so much (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Hurricane Francis (UNINTELLIGIBLE) will be again.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) from the beach, now even farther away from the beach at this time.

Because of these winds, we've discussed it now. According to officials here, up to 100 miles per hour. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a whistling (UNINTELLIGIBLE) through the air. It sounds like a 747 consistently flying above you, a jet sound.

We also hear, when we were near the Marina, just whistling when the winds go through the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) intense whistling. And then the sounds of explosions that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) transformers.

It not only makes loud noises, but light up the sky in an eerie blue. And we've commented on for each and every one of these hurricanes over the last six weeks that have struck it, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) frightening this must be for children in their homes right now, trying to go to sleep with their parents comforting them.

But it's so absolutely eerie when you have these winds, and know what's happened during these hurricanes that hadn't happened in the middle of the night, like this is happening here.

We can tell you that here in St. Luce County, they are expecting the eye to come across. We felt that in Gulf Shores, Alabama last week during Hurricane Ivan. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an utter calm for an hour and 20 minutes then picked up again. We're expecting it to happen again. And emergency officials hope to use that time to go out and deal with any other emergencies that might have happened.

Right now, we're in a relatively safe area of a balcony of a hotel, which is offering us a bit of respite for these intense hurricane force winds.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Yes, Gary, you're talking about people in their homes. And it's so scary, for people who are in their homes right now without power, whether they're here in Melbourne or down in Ft Pierce, but in this darkness when you don't have electricity, and it's kind of spooky, you don't really a sense of what is happening outside. Hopefully people have transistor radios. Most of the people here at Duke, because they have been through this before with Hurricane Francis back on September 5, but it is -- as the night gets later and later and the dark goes deeper and deeper, and the winds increase, you start to hear things ripping. You start to hear medal crunching. And you don't know where it is. You don't know what it is. And you don' know if it's going to be hurtling through the air and hitting you. It is a very scary time indeed. And it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

We're going to take a short break. And we'll be back with more live coverage on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JERAS: We're waiting for the 11:00 advisory in, but a preliminary statement showing that the knots are -- the wind speeds at about 100 knots. And last advisory was at 90. So we might watch for these wind speeds to picking up a little bit. So it's some indications that we might have a little bit of strengthening here on the latest with Hurricane Jeanne.

There you can see that eye wall has made landfall now. And it's been battering the -- Florida's Treasure Coast for the last hour to an hour and a half now. And the center is probably about 25, 30 miles away from making its way across the land. And it is pushing toward Sewell's Point, which is where Francis actually made landfall.

Ironically, and meteorologist (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have been working on a comparison of those two storms. We're going to bring you -- be bringing that to you a little bit later.

The wind gusts are very calm -- now between 50 and 60 miles per hour. We're getting some gusts well beyond that at this time as well. There you can see the Melbourne station reporting winds, maximum sustained winds at 45 miles per hour. Here's the box showing you that those gusts are moving up to 60 miles per hour.

West Palm Beach has also been in the thick of it. We're going to zoom a little bit farther down towards West Palm Beach. And you can see you're getting into some of these outer bands as well, with some very heavy rain coming down.

The rain's been coming down, by the way, about an inch an hour. So flooding is becoming a very big concern at this time. There you can see the winds gusting at 69 miles per hour at this hour in West Palm Beach -- Carol?

LIN: All right, things picking up. Thanks, Jacqui.

Well, electric companies fear the powerful hurricane could actually leave millions more Floridians in the dark. We're already seeing people lose power up and down the Atlantic coast.

So what is the situation right now? On the phone, Tim Pagel, a spokesperson for Florida Power and Light.

Tim, we were watching transformers blow live on our air. How many people have lost power so far?

TIM PAGEL, FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT: Carol, we've got about 271,000 roughly customers who have been affected by this storm. Of course, it's still very early. We've been able to restore some of those earlier today. We've got about 185,000 out of power at this time.

LIN: All right. And now is not the time to have a truck -- a repair truck -- out on the road, right?

PAGEL: No, anything above 35 miles per house, we want to keep our crews safe and out of harm's way just as we would expect our customers would be in a safe place and out of harm's way as well.

LIN: Now I heard that this time around, people who lost power before, maybe got it back within days, maybe without power for weeks. How is that?

PAGEL: Well, this is a very strong storm. We have very heavy winds. We've got a path similar to Francis, of course. We're going to have a lot of flooding. There's a big problem with debris already out there on the roads. We expect that because of the saturated ground, many more trees will fall. And even many of the -- as you kind of point out, many of the new poles and wires that we've installed could be down because of the wind.

This is going to be tough storm. And we're expecting and asking our customers to be prepared for extended power outages of possibly up to three weeks.

LIN: Up to three weeks. What are people supposed to do in the meantime?

PAGEL: Well, we're asking for patience, number one. I know it's difficult. We -- you know, we understand the hardships of hurricanes in our communities. And we're going to ramp up and do the very best we can. We're going to do a thorough assessment just as soon as we can. Get out there after the winds subside. And then we'll begin to, you know, our well tested restoration process. And we'll get, you know, the power plants and the transmission lines up. We're going to get essential community functions, such as police, fire, hospitals, transportation and so on.

And then, we go to a system where we get the greatest number of customers up in the least amount of time, and so on, until everybody is up. And we're going to work as hard as we can.

LIN: Yes, I heard it's pretty typical, Tim, but in a situation like this, contractors out to make money line up on the highways leading to Florida, waiting for the storm to pass. Is that helpful to you in cases like this?

PAGEL: You're talking about -- what types of contractors?

LIN: I think all kinds of contractors.

PAGEL: Well...

LIN: But certainly, you know, private home contractors.

PAGEL: Right, right.

LIN: And also people who deal in what you do, power and light.

PAGEL: Right. Well, we have a number of contractors and utilities that we work with throughout the southeast U.S. And in fact, that's one of the challenges here that we have many of those utilities are holding crews because we don't know the exact half of this storm.

Yet through other parts of the southeast. And you combine that with the fact that some of the crews that we've had helping us are still working on -- in the panhandle of Florida and neighboring states, helping the victims of Ivan.

We've got a lot of things that are converging here to make this situation extremely difficult and challenging for us.

LIN: Yes. And understatement indeed. Thank you very much. Tim Pagel, Florida Power and Light.

PAGEL: You're very welcome.

LIN: 271,000 people right now without power.

We've got much more ahead. So please, stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: Well, Hurricane Jeanne makes landfall, starting to make landfall right now. You can see the devastation and the destruction and the despair all around the Caribbean, particularly in Haiti, which it now has triggered a humanitarian crisis.

We're going to go to CNN's Karl Penhaul, who has the latest on the desperate efforts there to help the island nation in dire need.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A lethal tide of mud and floods has receded. But in its wake, there's a sea of begging hands and hungry mouths.

The Haitian government this weekend sent a few trucks of aid to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) an apparent response to criticism from some United Nations officials that it wasn't taking charge after the disaster.

(on camera): People lining up here for food rations see supplies are beginning to run now. tempers are beginning to get frayed.

(voice-over): Haitian police are struggling to keep order. For now, Santa Santille (ph) doesn't have to battle for emergency handouts. She managed to get some aid earlier in the week. She says she has enough wheat, oil, and dried fish to last a few more days.

None of her friends or relatives died in the storm, but a week after Jeanne struck, the one room house where she lives with a husband and six children is still thick with mud. "The day of the storm it began raining and water began coming into the house. It kept raining day and night and the whole neighborhood was under water," she says.

A few blocks away, single mothers, Unique Constant is camping out on the neighbor's rooftop. Her own home was destroyed.

Emergency crew distribution has been chaotic this week. And she says she isn't strong enough to fight for a place in line. She and baby Luverni have survived the last week on a bag of corn she salvaged from a pool of water. Little Luverni is now six.

"It's not good. He's got diarrhea because there's no clean water," she tells me.

The Haitian government's effort at handing out food aide Saturday collapsed into chaos. Police tossed the aid out of trucks. Uncontrolled mobs of hungry people surged forward.

This old lady hangs on grimly to a bag of food rations as a much stronger man tries to snatch it away.

These men grab rocks and knives in a fight (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

"If the prime minister wants to do something to help the people of Guyanib, then that's not the way to do it," this man says. "These storm survivors have gone hungry for the last week. Now they're getting angry with big government.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PENHAUL: Just a few moments ago, Carol, I was chatting informally with a representative in the world's health organization he owns on (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He was -- almost in tears because of the chaos we're seeing here in the relief effort.

He was telling me that he believed now the survivors of this storm are being stripped of all their dignity because of the failure of all the relief organizations trust the Haitian government their inability to coordinate this release effort in an effective manner -- Carol?

LIN: Karl, who would think to just throw food off a truck to starving people? Where's the security? Where's the organization? I mean, either by the U.N. or by the Haitian government?

PENHAUL: The Haitian government seems to have been responding today to criticism by certain U.N. officials that they weren't taking responsibility. So they horribly it's being put in AIDS convoy together.

There was some brief security. Initially, there were a number of lines set up. And people were queuing up before taking their aide. But then the whole thing broke down before it rained again. And if people saw those supplies there dwindling, then they'd just became very desperate. And that's why this chaos broke out. Nobody, not the Haitian police nor U.N. security forces can seem to control the situation -- Carol.

LIN: Got you. All right, thank you very much, Karl Penhaul, reporting by videophone.

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