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Hurricane Rita Makes Landfall on Gulf Coast

Aired September 24, 2005 - 03:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Our special coverage of Hurricane Rita continues right now, as the strong storm's outer wall is coming ashore.
From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Tony Harris.


I'm Catherine Callaway.

We will, as Aaron said, be with you live throughout the night, along with our colleagues in the field, especially Miles O'Brien and Anderson Cooper.

HARRIS: Hurricane Rita is crashing ashore. Its outer eye wall is making landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border. As the storm approached, at least three buildings caught fire in downtown Galveston. A few blocks away, a restaurant wall collapsed, scattering debris everywhere. About 90 percent of the residents have left town. Some oil refining towns, including Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, are expected to take a big hit. You're looking at a picture now from Beaumont, Texas, about 80 miles northeast of Houston, where the streets are just about deserted. And forecasters say tornadoes are possible in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

In Louisiana, one meteorologist says tornado warnings are popping up like firecrackers across the southern part of the state.

CALLAWAY: That's right. It is just after 3:00 a.m. on the East Coast, midnight out west. And the outer wall of that hurricane Rita is making landfall right now. And you're not going to believe the kind of punishment that our correspondent, Anderson Cooper, is taking right now.

HARRIS: And Miles O'Brien in Beaumont and Lumberton, Texas. That's where they both are, in the possible path of the storm.

Let's get started in Lumberton with Miles O'Brien -- and, Miles, we've been taking a look at your picture over the last couple of minutes and it looks like you're just taking a real pounding there.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, horizontal rain here, Tony.

It's -- ever since we got going here just about an hour or so ago, it has not stopped. It is steady. You know, we're about 40, 50 feet above sea level here. That's part of the reason why we're here, we wanted to be protected from the storm surge. But this rain is creating a serious flooding problem already. I can see this drainage ditch has been filling up very rapidly.

Look behind me, Old Glory there. Just in the last hour, the flag was reduced to tatters. We expect that flagpole might have a hard time.

My wind gauge is telling me pretty much sustained winds at my level at about 30 knots. That's in excess, well, getting close to 40 miles an hour, 35, 40 miles an hour.

Take a look at this sign here. We're at the Lumberton City Hall and Police Station. If you look up there, it says homecoming parade September 24, 9:00 a.m. No homecoming parade today, that's for sure, in Lumberton.

This is a town of about 8, 700 people. We're 15 miles north of Beaumont and they have been pretty pleased at the way people have evacuated. Ninety percent of this town is not here. They went and found some higher ground. Boy, we're really getting battered now. It's hard to even imagine (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

The leading edge of this, we are probably about 90 miles from the leading edge of that -- from that eye wall you've just been talking about. And here it is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I mean the power of this.

But the point I wanted to make is 90 percent of the people evacuated. The authorities were very pleased about that. They had a staged evacuation. But you have to remember, this is a county. These two counties here, Hart and Jefferson, of about 200,000 people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of these 20,000 people and their homes (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and when you get down toward Port Arthur, which is right at sea level, and you consider the prospect of that storm surge, well, as the police chief told me here, as they were leaving Port Arthur, they said if you're going to stay, put your license in your sock so we can identify your body.

I fear for those people tonight -- Tony.

HARRIS: Oh, Miles, I'll tell you what, we see -- this is an amazing shot here because what we see are the sustained winds and then we see those very powerful gusts.

M. O'BRIEN: Whoo, yes. Yes.

HARRIS: And the gusts look like they're about to knock you off your feet.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes, that's -- they're getting up there in the 40s now, 40 knots. So we're really getting it now. Yes, 36. These are -- it's kind of averaged out, 36, 40 knots. But that's just, you know, that's nothing compared to what lies ahead. We know we've got 120 miles an hour winds coming our way.

I've got to tell you, you know, with your -- until you've endured these kinds of winds, when you start thinking about 120, it's pretty hard to imagine.

HARRIS: Yes, it really is.

OK, Miles, thank you.

CALLAWAY: Anderson Cooper has got a little bit of a break from this, because it looks like, Anderson, you've moved now to...

HARRIS: He's taken some cover.

CALLAWAY: Yes. You've gotten a little bit of cover. The winds must have picked up the last few minutes.

HARRIS: Oh, my.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The winds have significantly picked up just in the last 10 minutes, even just while speaking -- listening to Miles talk.

We're underneath a building. We have these columns around us that we are sort of hiding behind, basically, when we're not broadcasting. Also, we have some vehicles which we have parked to block any debris that might be heading toward us.

What is so creepy right now is that is that the electricity has now gone out in Beaumont. For most of this evening we had street lights, if you can believe it. And the electricity went out probably about a half an hour ago and it has not come back on.

And you can see maybe with the lights that we have, you can see a distance of maybe 20 feet. But beyond that, it is just complete darkness all around. And every now and then there is a sound, it's a cliche to call it a freight train sound. At moments it does sound like that. It also sounds like a woman howling or a person howling. And hearing that out of the darkness you don't know what direction it's coming from, you don't know exactly what is causing it. It is sort of like just the wind whipping around. It's sort of these natural wind tunnels.

But it is, as bad as it is now, and it is certainly bad and this is, without a doubt, the worst we have seen from this location, in Beaumont, Texas, it is, according to Chad Myers, only going to get worse over the next hour, hour-and-a-half.

We here have not seen the worst of this storm. We're holding onto the idea that we have about an hour-and-a-half left to reach the worst part of it and then it will progressively get better. But as Chad has been reporting all night long, there are still going to be rains. This system is just going to stall over the State of Florida. So for the next four days or so, there is just going to be relentless rains of varying strengths.

We are very close to the Natchez River in Beaumont. We're probably about 200 or 300 yards from it. We were down by the river's edge earlier when we started broadcasting, probably about seven hours ago. And so we have not -- we can't even see the water anymore and we can't get down there because there's too much debris and there's too many trees that might be flying around. It's just not safe.

But we were curious to see how much of the water has actually come up over the banks and sort of flooded that park. We're not sure how much flooding there has been. Certainly in the streets here in Beaumont, there is a significant amount of water just in the gutters. Several, probably several inches, maybe even a foot in places here or there.

But it is really picking up. I mean minute by minute here, it is just getting worse and worse, as you can probably see, and it's sort of this swirl, depending on -- I mean the wind is coming from the north still, but it occasionally seems to be coming from the east when it hits the buildings from a certain way -- Catherine.

HARRIS: OK, Anderson, just, if you could, we'd like to keep your shot up and bring Chad Myers in -- and, Chad, help us understand, look, Beaumont is a few miles inland here. He is not exactly on the coast here. Explain to us what we're seeing behind Anderson here and the strong winds and...


HARRIS: Tell us about what we're seeing there.

MYERS: He is actually on the easy side of the storm, if you can believe that.

HARRIS: That's hard to believe. That really is hard to believe.

MYERS: A category three. There may be nothing easy about it.

CALLAWAY: He's laughing at this point, Chad, that you'd say the easy part of it.

MYERS: Well, yes. I realize that, but we've lost our shots from Lake Charles altogether because of the winds that are here and how they have moved onshore here. I'm going to zoom in a little bit for you so that as we take a look at where the heaviest winds are, we're talking about orange, talking about Port Arthur, right through Cameron, into Lake Charles, this very heavy band. This is the northernmost eye wall.

The Hurricane Center has not called yet landfall, because it has to be the center of the eye to come onshore. That's still a few miles offshore.

But here you go, Lake Charles, very heavy rain, very heavy winds with the storms. A lot of the wind coming in from the east now. Lake Charles gusting to almost 90 miles per hour. We just had a wind gust where Anderson is here, Beaumont, that is 77 miles per hour, about 55 miles per hour sustained. And he's not even to the closest approach to the eye wall yet. That's still going to be about 45 minutes to an hour for that eye wall to get as close as it's going to get to Beaumont.

Port Arthur, you have about 20 minutes and your weather is going to be as bad as it's going to be for the rest of the storm.

CALLAWAY: And where...

MYERS: So, if you're -- hopefully you're not in Port Arthur.


Can I ask Chad a question?

MYERS: Go right ahead, Anderson.

HARRIS: Go ahead.

COOPER: Hey, Chad, I'm sorry. I didn't realize my mike was still on.

You said right now we're looking -- we've seen some wind gusts, I think you said in the 70 mile an hour range, sustained winds in the 50s. Earlier, you had talked about the possibility of sustained winds 80 miles an hour, wind gusts here at 100.

Are you still -- do you think that is still the case here? I mean because if that is true, what we have seen is nothing compared to what we may see in the next hour or so.

MYERS: Well, that is absolutely true. The closer you get into this eye wall, which Port Arthur will get the eye wall. No question. So will Orange. So will Hackberry, areas like that, that are just off to the east into Calcasieu Parish, into Cameron Parish here in Louisiana.

You are on the north side. So we're subtracting the forward speed from the total wind, which is still 120. So, Anderson, my numbers still hold up. You're going to have sustained to 80 and you're going to have gusts to 100, no question about it.


That is amazing.

I honestly don't know if we will be able to stay on the air for that, because we're sort of clinging on at this point and -- to our location. And the fact that the lights have gone out adds this whole other layer, because the visibility is really cut down significantly. And I can only imagine what it is like for people who are in their homes right now without the electricity just listening to this storm out there.

I mean I am thankful that I'm able to hear what you're saying, because it sort of gives you something to hold onto. The notion of just -- there's such a lack of information and suddenly your world is boiled down to, you know, what you can only see and what you can feel around you...

MYERS: Right. COOPER: And it is an extraordinarily creepy sensation. And I keep thinking about the people in Galveston back in 1900, who were, you know, just out there, thought the day was going to be a regular day and then all of a sudden that storm of the century came, killing more than 8,000 people.

MYERS: Absolutely.


MYERS: And, you know, at least now we know the storms are coming.

Go ahead. I heard u. Go ahead, Catherine.

CALLAWAY: Yes, I just want to make sure we bring Miles in this, and he's in Lumberton.

If you show us what's going on there in Lumberton right now, a little north.

MYERS: That's up under the G right there, under peak gust. And the winds for Miles, actually, won't get to their worst, won't get to the peak for about another two hours.

Lumberton right, well, it was. Right there.

M. O'BRIEN: Chad...

MYERS: Right there.

M. O'BRIEN: Hey, Chad.

MYERS: Go ahead, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: What sort of wind are you getting right there for Lumberton right now? Because I'm trying to calibrate my wind gauge here.

What do you get?

MYERS: We had sustained winds to 56 for you and a wind gust to about 65 for you.


MYERS: This is the actual true viewer right here, picking up a wind speed, a total wind speed at 45 miles per hour.

M. O'BRIEN: So where I am down on the ground, of course, the wind, the anemometers are up high, right?

MYERS: A little bit higher.

M. O'BRIEN: So where I am, I'm getting...

MYERS: But not above 10 feet.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. I'm getting about like an average of about 37 knots here. So I guess that jibes pretty well with what you've got.

MYERS: Pretty close. Plus you'd have some friction. You're not in an open field. If you were near a lake or an open field, you wouldn't have the friction from the buildings or from the live truck or from the trees around you.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

All right, Chad, you've got to tell me how much rain this place has been getting. This has been a steady, steady sheet -- oh my goodness -- a steady sheet of rain here.


M. O'BRIEN: Really, did they anticipate this much rain?

MYERS: We absolutely did. Some areas, when this storm stops, this is going to be a 24-inch rainmaker, Miles, not so much for you. And as the storm moves up toward Nacogdoches, up toward Shreveport, areas there could pick up two solid feet of rain. And that all has to run off. And obviously some of it's going to come up and flood.

M. O'BRIEN: Twenty-four inches!


M. O'BRIEN: You know, we came here, Chad, because we're at about 40 or 50 feet of elevation, because we thought we'd avoid the flooding. But with 24 inches, no one's going to avoid flooding. That's a tremendous amount of rain.

By the way, we've got our first tree casualty here, just a little -- it looks like a little oak tree there. But that, I imagine there'll be localized flooding way inland, don't you think?

MYERS: Yes, absolutely. Especially when you get up into the areas along the Sabine River, which is this river that comes right through here. When you get all of that water trying to get into one place to get down into the Gulf of Mexico, all of the water that falls out of this storm all has to get back to the Gulf of Mexico. No water is going to go anywhere else except back into the Gulf.

So there are going to be rivers that turn into raging torrents here in the next 24 to 48 hours. And if you're near anywhere that's near a creek, stream or any kind of a dry arroyo, which is a wash, basically, in Texas, a dry wash, you just need to be up and out of that area, because you can see just some of the rainfall, some of the rainfall rates in that red right there. It has to be three to four inches per hour. And it's been raining for three hours.

HARRIS: And, Chad, if I could, and Miles, I want to go back to Anderson, if you can hear me, Anderson.


HARRIS: I saw you taking a look behind you. And we've been watching that picture behind you. We almost didn't want you to turn around and take a look at it, it is such a frightening picture behind you.

What exactly do you see back there?

COOPER: Yes, that is a good question. I'm just noticing for the first time in a while a few street lights very far in the distance. You probably can't even read them on the camera. And that's actually kind of comforting, because you get a sense at least, OK, the street is still there, the street is down that way.

And I'm watching very closely. Dave, I don't think you can actually show it. I don't know if it will show up. The street light, the lamppost is moving around pretty good and I'm kind of keeping an eye on that to see if that thing gets ripped off, because the lights themselves are certainly moving, but the entire lamppost is shifting pretty rapidly.

And, you know, it's sort of eerie just -- you can also see, just on the ground, there is littered, of course, just lots of tree branches, lots of leaves. And that is what we are continually kind of being hit by just out of the darkness, these little leaves coming off, these branches coming up. I'm just going to bend down and just grab one right here.

You know, things like this, they sort of come out of the darkness and, so, again, I said, you know, we parked -- there are some vehicles just in front of us which blocks anything that may be flying. But every now and then you see just a little piece of leaf coming by.

But I'm amazed that we're not seeing, you know, some of the glass breaking. There are some buildings here with some pretty significant windows, 30, 40 panes of glass. There's a library just across the street. We're near the civics center here in Beaumont, Texas.

But the sound, I don't think you can pick it up in the mike, but it is (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

HARRIS: We can hear it.

COOPER: ... because I don't wish anyone was here, but it's just that sound coming out of the darkness, it is a very scary sound, especially when you can't see what it is. It is something you sort of have to experience to really understand what it is like. But -- and it's made all the worse, of course, for people who are in their homes right now, only hearing it, not able to get any kind of visual reference points around them.

CALLAWAY: Well, Anderson, stay with us as long as you can. We're going to bring in Max Mayfield now with the National Hurricane Center.

I know he's going to want to talk with you and with Miles O'Brien.

Mr. Mayfield, what can you tell us? Any new information you have for us?

MAX MAYFIELD, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Well, Anderson is -- has got some more weather to come here. The northern eye wall, the innermost eye wall is still not quite there to Beaumont yet. Anderson is right here and you can see that red just about there. And we're still going to have that storm surge continuing to push in.

If the winds become more southerly on the east side of that eye, that's when that water is really going to push in, around the Cameron, Louisiana area up to Calcasieu Lake and on up into the Lake Charles area and then even over westward toward Sabine Lake.

CALLAWAY: We have Miles O'Brien, who's in Lumberton. He's a little bit away from what Anderson is getting now.

Gentlemen, do you have anything you want to ask Mr. Mayfield?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, Max, I'll tell you, I'm very curious what you are seeing right now or what you're able to project on storm surge. We were told by a lot of the authorities from Port Arthur that perhaps hundreds, maybe a thousand or so people were left in Port Arthur. And I just keep thinking about them as this storm barrels in.

Is the surge what was predicted there?

MAYFIELD: Well, we don't know yet. I haven't heard anything out of Port Arthur.

But what I can tell you, Miles, is that the storm surge is really going to bad near and to the east of the center. And it looks like the center may come onshore there, you know, very near the Texas- Louisiana border, in which case, you know, it would really be primarily to the east there. But it's awfully, awfully close. And what I think is going to happen here, I don't know if you can see this, but this is Sabine Lake. This is Calcasieu Lake. And all that land in between there is very, very low and it's almost like a marsh. And I think the water will likely overtop that. And that should push some of that water into Sabine Lake and into the Port Arthur area.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, that is very low land and it's marshy and it's populated by a lot of refineries. And like I've been saying, everybody was very pleased with the evacuation here, but this is not a storm that really anybody should be a part of.

So what you're telling me, Max, is essentially we're on, relatively speaking, the easier side of the eye, where I am in Lumberton?

MAYFIELD: And the strongest part is going to be, you know, near into the east. And that's really going to be very near the, you know, Sabine Pass area and eastward.

But you're certainly going to have, you know, even moving in there, that eye wall is going to spread and then over Beaumont and Lake Charles and everything in between.

MYERS: Max, this is Chad Myers up in the weather office.

Everyone that I talked to today cannot believe how wet this storm is, how much rain is coming down. I'm looking at behind me. Some of the numbers around Lake Charles, radar estimates of over eight inches.

What do you have about that?

MAYFIELD: Well, I've, you know, we've been saying 10 to 15 inches here and that's in the next day or so.


MAYFIELD: We're even more concerned here in the three to four day time period. If the steering currents collapse, as we're forecasting, then it could just sit there and we could have some rainfall amounts, up to 25 inches. And we need to remember that we always have loss of life, you know, well after the landfall, mostly from that inland freshwater flooding. So people need to be very mindful of that.

MYERS: Max, thank you very much for your work this week and all the way through this season. It's been a long one for you, I know.

MAYFIELD: Thank you very much.

MYERS: All right.

HARRIS: Chad, while we have you up, something that Max just mentioned, let me have you follow up on, the innermost portion of the eye wall is still to come ashore.

MYERS: That's correct. Here, here's the eye wall itself. We don't quite have landfall yet. The strongest winds are definitely onshore, especially over on the eastern side, around Cameron, around Calcasieu Pass. We had wind gusts over 120 miles per hour there.

Here are the strongest winds, here is the eye. As the center of the eye comes onshore, the Hurricane Center will call landfall. It just hasn't happened yet.

It just depends where you are, whether the winds are at their worst or not.

Back down here to Holly Beach, basically the storm is essentially over for you. You'll get a little bit more on the other side of the eye wall, but really not much at all compared to what on this side of the eye wall. But you can see how red this is compared to just a couple of light rain showers on the south side.

CALLAWAY: All right. Well, we're going to go now to Baytown, Texas.

Randi Kaye is going to join us now and give us the situation there -- Randi. RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi.

Good morning.

We are here in Baytown, which is about 45 miles or so east of -- actually, I'm sorry -- west of Beaumont. So we're actually on the weaker side of the storm. But given the rain that we're seeing here and the high winds that we've been experiencing here -- we've been out here since 11:00 p.m. last night and we've experienced some pretty good winds. And they're actually kicking up.

We talked to the city manager and he told us that they expect to see winds here about 85 miles an hour. We're not sure exactly what we're at right now, but again, they certainly are picking up and so has the rain.

I want to show you exactly what the wind has done here at our hotel. If you look up there behind me, those are the three flagpoles. And when we started out our evening here covering this story, there were three flags up there. There was the Comfort Inn flag on the pole to the left. That one blew off first. Then the American flag was on the middle pole. That blew off just a short time ago. And that's the State of Texas flag that is still hanging on, but barely.

And I just want to show you here that we're happy to say we had a very courageous and, I guess you could say, patriotic producer. Henry Schuster ran out in the distance and captured the American flag so it wasn't out there just blowing in the wind.

So we're happy to report that.

We are told that those flag poles are about 10 feet into the ground, so we're hoping that they don't actually come out of the ground. But we are a little concerned about them snapping.

What we've been seeing throughout the night here is just explosions, if you will, out in the sky. The transponders are blowing. Power is being lost here around Baytown. And now we're starting to hear, as the winds kick up, a lot of clanking around, which means there's probably some debris and some things that could be flying around here.

These palm trees have also taken a pretty good beating throughout the evening here with the storm. They were just planted back in January when this hotel opened. And the owner here is very concerned that they are going to go.

Back in the distance there, behind that is the pool, actually, for this hotel. And the pool furniture has been removed. But -- wow! There's some really good clanking around out here.

CALLAWAY: Yes, we can hear that, Randi.

KAYE: We're getting a little concerned that things might be flying around.

Can you hear that?

CALLAWAY: Yes, we can hear that.


KAYE: I mean it's not that...

CALLAWAY: I wanted to ask you about the area there and all the oil refineries that are in that area. A lot of concern. Is the wind your problem now? How much rain are you getting there?

KAYE: We're not getting -- I mean we are getting a fair amount of rain, but we're not seeing any flooding here, although where the refineries are, there's about 200 refineries and oil plants. In fact, the largest one in the United States is right here in Baytown, the Exxon Mobil plant. And Baytown sits right on the Houston ship channel and that's that 50 mile stretch of waterway between the Houston port and the Gulf of Mexico. And so ships come in and they bring the oil that way and then these plants would refine it and then send it back out through the pipelines.

And they shut those plants down. We visited one, Catherine, just yesterday, the Shell plant in Dear Park, a short ways from here. And they were shutting down. They were only leaving about 20 employees out of 1, 700 behind just to make sure in case of emergency or a possible leak from the storm or from the damage.

The high winds could cause it. There are also -- the Shell plant is only about a mile from the channel. So -- whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.



CALLAWAY: Well, as this hurricane whips around...


CALLAWAY: ... it's going to be coming your way very soon.

KAYE: Yes.

HARRIS: All right, young lady, be careful.

KAYE: There's definitely some debris that's loosening.

HARRIS: OK, Randi, be careful.

KAYE: Yes. We should probably move in a little bit closer, maybe, to our...

CALLAWAY: All right, we'll check back with you in just a little bit.

KAYE: ... just in case because...

HARRIS: OK, Randi, thank you.

We are also keeping a close eye on Lake Charles in Louisiana.

And CNN's Rick Sanchez is on the line with us right now -- and, Rick, as you know, the situation in Beaumont, Texas, where Anderson is, and in Lumberton, where Miles is, well, those two areas are deteriorating rather quickly from moment to moment.

What's the situation like where you are in Lake Charles?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing a lot more than debris, as has been described. What we're seeing here is a category one, a category two hurricane damage or at least the origins of it, because it's going to be getting a whole lot worse.

I'd be interested to hear from Chad what type of winds we're getting here now, because we're seeing some serious destruction being caused by the wind. In fact, we've witnessed it firsthand.

Matt Horne (ph), my producer, and I, moments ago, decided to take our hurricane one vehicle out just to try and survey the damage. And we saw a large, large tree fall in front of our car. Had we passed two seconds later, that vehicle or that tree, I'm sorry, would have fallen on top of the vehicle. And it was a big one, one of those big, large oak trees with, you know, the very thick roots that come up out of the ground, as well.

We drove a little further down. That was on Broad Street, by the way, for those of you listening who are familiar with this area here around Lake Charles. Then we went down to Lake Shore Drive, down by the southern part of the lake, where they're expecting that they might get some flooding, and we did see already a lot of flooding on some of the low lying areas over there. We had to turn the car around because we weren't able to continue because we were afraid to get, well, flooded out.

So then we took another side road and found another tree that had fallen, taken part of a house down, all the fences and most of the power wires, as well, with it. So we got out of there and now we're back in the downtown area. We decided to keep the car in one place and wait until daylight, because it's just, Tony, just too dangerous to be going out, out there.

CALLAWAY: Rick, stay with us.

HARRIS: Yes, that's true.

CALLAWAY: We're going to bring Chad up, if we can.

Chad, I know there were some tornado warnings out there.

What exactly is going on in Lake Charles right now?

MYERS: Well, there are tornado warnings for Lake Charles, not because there's a tornado, but because there is going to be tornado like damage with winds of 100 to 120 miles per hour. So you can see some of that damage behind you. A 120 mile per hour wind, whether it's sustained or in a tornado, is the same as an F0 or an F1 tornado.

So you are going to see tornadic like damage from just the sustained winds in the storm itself. Some amazing pictures here.

SANCHEZ: Chad, let me tell you what we're seeing. We're sitting downtown and we're looking at what appears to us to be the civics center here in St. Charles. And it's just coming apart. I'm not quite sure why they build buildings with glass panes, but they do. And this one has glass panes all around the front side of it. And we're watching as they literally are just being torn off and they're then bouncing in the wind, huge, large pieces of glass flying around.

The roof is now starting to get soaked and it's starting to give way. The building is literally just coming undone before our very eyes. And you can see the inside of the building. All of the stuff that they have inside the building is now just dancing around, including chandeliers and even palm trees that they had planted in there that are now coming apart, as well, or coming down, as well.

So it's interesting to see. My experience tells me this is category two damage now...


SANCHEZ: ... structural damage of a serious nature, not just, you know, small trees, small debris, shingles, but actual structural damage of serious and large buildings.

Chad, would you agree?

MYERS: I absolutely would. And I'm not sure you can see a television or not with CNN on it, but I want to show our viewers what's going on there in Lake Charles right now, because you are almost in the most dangerous part of the storm, not quite, but the winds now on the northern eye wall are now into Cameron Parish. Quickly will be up into Lake Charles. Winds at least in excess of 100 miles per hour when it comes to gusts.

In fact, we don't know what the winds are like, Rick, because the Weather Service office actually went down. The radar went down, either because of power or because of structural damage.

And back out toward Beaumont and Port Arthur now, those western eye wall winds are coming all the way into Port Arthur, into Orange and also back up to about Hackberry.

So very damaging winds where you are, for sure.

HARRIS: And, Chad...

SANCHEZ: You know, it's funny, when we watch them, the winds seem to be coming in one direction. But then suddenly they stop and they start to swirl. And I'm not sure if that's part of a shelter effect that you get when you're downtown and you're around some tall buildings. It seems like it almost stops and changes direction in mid-flight. And I'm not quite sure I understand the science of that, but it's not a consistent wind in one direction. It will be for a long period of time, but then it starts to swirl all of a sudden.

Is there any explanation for that, Chad?

MYERS: The explanation I could have for you is called mixing. As you start to get almost -- remember we call it downdraft type damage at airports? They always care about this wind shear. As storms around this eye begin to collapse, they can actually push air straight down, especially with as much rain as you're getting. That rain is pushing air straight down to the ground and when that air hits the ground, it can't go any farther, because the ground is in the way. And it almost explodes when it gets to the ground. And that's why that wind begins to tumble and those winds sometimes don't come from the same direction.


OK, Chad.

Rick, we appreciate it.


HARRIS: Let's give you a...

MYERS: Stay safe out there, Rick.

HARRIS: Yes, really. Stay safe out there, to all of our people. And let's give you a reset on where we are in this hour.

CALLAWAY: That's right.

As you know, we have several CNN correspondents on the ground with us throughout the night to give us a firsthand look exactly at what hurricane Rita is doing.

HARRIS: And right now let's bring in our Miles O'Brien and Anderson Cooper from Texas.

Miles joins us with the latest from Lumberton and Anderson is in Beaumont.

And let's start with you, Miles.

OK, how are you?

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

HARRIS: How is your crew holding up?

M. O'BRIEN: Significantly worsening conditions here, Tony. The wind, just in the past five minutes or so, really started to pick up. This driving rain is something I've -- I've covered a lot of hurricanes and usually the rain comes and it goes and there's little bands of rain and then it kind of dries out. This has been a steady, non-stop deluge here and I can just see the culvert behind me filling up as we speak. You can almost watch it rise, as the wind whips. That's the north, that's the south. That's Beaumont, about 15 miles away. That's where Anderson is.

CALLAWAY: Yes, let's bring...

M. O'BRIEN: That's the counter-clockwise swirl we talk about and these gusts now, I've been trying to get a gauge on them, you know, we're sustained in the 40 to 50 mile an hour range. But the gusts are getting up there.

I'm not quite sure where we are on that.

It's -- in the meantime, we're not seeing too much additional damage. We've lost a sign over there at the Dairy Queen. Some of that predictable stuff. A tree down there. And I'm just doing my best to make sure nothing comes and whacks me from that direction. I think we've got a pretty clean shot there, so I should be OK.

HARRIS: Well, you know, I was curious about that as we were listening to Rick Sanchez. He was talking about this idea of debris and glass blowing around. And I was wondering if you were starting to see some of that in the area where you are, Miles.

And we can bring Anderson in, as well.

And Chad is there.

And you can see there in the lower right of your screen.

And I'm wondering, Miles, first with you, are you starting to see any of the debris starting to blow around you?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, we're still in the tropical storm realm. And Chad will bear me out on this one.

MYERS: Yes, you're right.

M. O'BRIEN: Just some of the types of signs you would expect to blow off in a tropical storm, small trees like that. And I suspect -- Chad, how long will it be before we start feeling that -- really getting to hurricane force winds? Pretty soon?

MYERS: Yes, pretty soon, Miles, because now that you're on the north side of this, you're not going to get them as early as Anderson will, because you are a few miles north of him. But Anderson about to get them probably in the next 15 or 20 minutes. And you may be at least -- it may be even an hour before it actually picks up to 70 or 75.

CALLAWAY: Yes, I think Anderson might want to say he feels like the hurricane winds are already there.


MYERS: I can see him.

CALLAWAY: He's been taking quite a beating the last five minutes.

Can you even hear us, Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, I can hear you. And yes, I'm getting significantly worse (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is the worst we have seen. There's a lot of debris. You were talking about, there's a lot of stuff like this, old trees or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that are just whipping around, getting whipped around the trees. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don't know how much of this you can see. But the wind is just whipping it all around me. And it's actually sort of a solid wall of light here.

We've seen this before in hurricanes, just about every hurricane, at a certain point, at sort of the height of it, you can look out and you see -- you actually see it, like it's a solid mass. And it's getting to be that point here.

What we have done -- I would actually suggest, normally we would probably try to leave this area, but at this point we are going to stay here simply because it is too dangerous to try to drive to any other location.

This is our fallback position. We had sort of planned for this to be the last place we would fall back to when things got really bad. My cameraman, Dave, is actually hiding behind the back of a vehicle, an SUV. We have another one -- I'm just going to walk over here just to show you, we have another one here which is, we've opened up the trunk, which has supplies and stuff. And we're basically using these two vehicles to block any oncoming debris that is coming this way, because the wind is still sweeping up from the north and it is so windy that I can't even -- you cannot even stare into the wind to see what is coming.

So what these vehicles really do is block it and provide us with the kind of protection that we need. But it is, you know, it was depressing to hear Chad saying that the next 10 minutes, 15 minutes, we're going to see a significant up tick because it has already gotten much worse in the last five minutes.

I can only imagine what it is going to be now in these next couple of minutes.

Chad, what kind of winds do you think we're seeing now?

MYERS: That was a 77 mile per hour gust for you, Anderson. Sustained at 55. But we're only getting updates about every 10 minutes right now, and as this eye wall, as this outer eye wall for you, which just really came through most here of Cameron Parish, as it moves into you, as it moves into your neighborhood, those numbers are going to start to go up for you.

I suspect your sustained will go to 70 and your gusts will go to 90, literally, in the next 20 minutes.

COOPER: Well, we've actually taken down the satellite dish because some debris hit the satellite dish. It's in the satellite truck. So we're operating off a flyaway, which is a much smaller satellite dish. And that's anchored to a pretty secure location.

But it, you know, we talked to the chief of the -- the fire chief here, probably a couple of hours ago, and he had said that they had not been getting many 911 calls, that most of the 911 calls they had been getting were people reporting possible fires, transformers exploding and the like.

But it will be very interesting to see how long (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tomorrow morning.


COOPER: I wish we could drive around to kind of get a sense of exactly, you know, how the rest of the county is faring. But it's certainly impossible to drive around right now. And you really can't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the street lights, which were on, there are actually a few street lights on over there. But for the most part, the street lights (UNINTELLIGIBLE) black. And it is very difficult to see anything. It's very difficult to get any kind of sense of, you know, how the rest of Beaumont is doing.

There has not been the kind of flooding in this area that some had thought there would be. But we're probably a good 20 feet off the Natchez River, which is just to my right by about 300 yards or so.

So we're going to continue staying in this location and, you know, try to ride out the height of the storm and hope it doesn't last too much longer. But I think it's going to be, what, Chad, at least an hour?

MYERS: Probably an hour for you, yes. Maybe a little bit less now. I believe the eye is very, very close to making landfall. You can see the north side of the eye. You can't pick out the south side of the eye because it doesn't exist here. But I think we'll probably get landfall called by the Hurricane Center actually pretty soon. As this part of the eye, right there, as this moves to the north and makes its closest approach to Beaumont, it will go right over Bridge City, right over Port Arthur and then even up to Lumberton, where Miles is.

But you're still probably 45 minutes from that spot to the closest approach. But the eye itself still about two hours for it to go by you and up to the other side, where you really start to calm down.

COOPER: Hey, Chad, have you been getting any reports about storm surges, not necessarily in this area, because I know this wouldn't be the first, but elsewhere? Any sense of any places that have been seeing bad storm surge?

MYERS: Yes, no, not at all. The only reports of really any damage was actually out of Rick Sanchez, and that was out of Lake Charles. We assume that there is a storm surge issue here coming into Lake Charles, coming through, into Cameron Parish, eventually to Calcasieu Parish. There is the eye itself, the northern eye wall. All of this water being blown up into Cameron Parish, into Lake Charles, right through basically what is a bayou here. This entire area is very, very wet. That water getting pushed up into the rivers, into the streams, up into Lake Charles, up into Bridge City, up into Orange, up into West Orange and even possibly even up into Port Arthur.

But no levels so far coming up in Port Arthur that we know of, because the winds, in fact, are blowing offshore, blowing that wind and blowing that water away.

HARRIS: OK, guys, stand by, if you would, please.

We want to change the scene just a bit and take you to Galveston.

Standing by with us is Joel Eisenbaum of CNN affiliate KPRC.

And, Joel, give us a sense of the scene where you are.

JOEL EISENBAUM, KPRC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're on the Gulf side of the island and actually the wind is blowing outward toward the Gulf at this point. Keep in mind, this is a city, in fact, an entire island, at this point, that has absolutely no power. It went out about two hours ago. The only way you have electricity, if you are on Galveston, is you have a generator.

Amazingly, though, they've managed to maintain 911 service on Galveston and sporadically we've seen police cars against -- driving right up Seawall Boulevard. These are police and fire crews, in fact, that aren't necessarily from Galveston, but actually from Houston. They brought in extra trucks just to help out in case there are problems.

And there have been a few problems here this evening. In fact, there was a fire involving three structures, one of them an historic structure, I understand. It may have been a drowned power line that started this whole thing. One person, I hear, was seriously injured.

The mayor says at this point 90 percent of the citizens managed to clear off of the island.

With that being said, though, some of them did actually come back onto the island into the City of Galveston before the storm hit because they just couldn't get far enough up the mainland. So they did, in fact, let some people come back to their homes.

I'll send it back to you.

HARRIS: OK, Joel Eisenbaum with our CNN affiliate KPRC in Galveston.

Joel, thank you.

CALLAWAY: All right, we want to bring in now Miles O'Brien, who's in Lumberton, and find out what the situation is there.

We were told -- oh, and Anderson Cooper is hanging in there in Beaumont.

Miles, it looks like you're going to be getting what Anderson has been receiving the last few minutes.

Have things picked up where you are?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I'm about 15 miles to the north, Catherine, and I suspect Anderson will be my best forecaster of weather to come shortly, that's for sure, with all due respect to Chad. But I need to tell you quickly what's going on here.

The chief, Norman Reynolds, here in the Town of Lumberton is out now, believe it or not, in a cruiser with some of his officers. They are responding to a report of a tree down in a house, a family of five in that house. We have no reports of any injuries, but apparently they need some assistance.

As I said, you know, even though they were very pleased with this 90 percent evacuation, 10 percent is still -- there are a lot of people in homes here who are enduring what is just the beginning of the worst to come. I mean it's -- I think Aaron Brown a little while ago said it was kind of the end of the beginning. That's a good way of putting it.

This is the real heart of the matter now. And I don't know if Chad has a wind gauge. My wind gauge is already broken here. But I suspect we're getting into the 70 mile an hour range. We've got probably on the edge of hurricane force winds.

Anderson, 50 miles that a way.

How are things going there?

COOPER: It is definitely getting worse before it's going to get better. And, you know, Chad had talked about in possibly the next 10, 20 minutes, seeing a significant up tick. And without a doubt, minute by minute, it's getting worse here.

I wish I had some better news to report. But anyone who is here in Beaumont who is inside their house who is listening to this, can just tell you from the sound they know this thing is getting bad.

I don't have any wind equipment, so I can't tell you exactly what the wind is at. Miles had said that -- excuse me -- Chad had said that there were wind gusts in the, I think it was in the 70 range, sustained winds in the 50 range. That feels about right. And we're anticipating that even getting much worse.

But it is very difficult to get a sense of your surroundings. It's very difficult to see what is coming down the road. And I'm very curious to go over to the river's edge -- but we're simply not going to do that for another couple of hours -- just to see, you know, where things are at.

I'm sorry?

Tony, I think you were...

HARRIS: Yes...


HARRIS: If I feel like, if we could just open up the mike. I just want to jump in for just a second, Anderson, to send it back to Chad Myers, as we make this whole thing official at this very moment -- Chad.

MYERS: Yes. We just talked to the Hurricane Center and they did make it official. The eye has officially made landfall east of Sabine Pass and just to the west of Cameron in almost the Holly Beach area here, just as we expected. But literally they called it two minutes ago, so I wanted to let all the viewers know that the eye has at least made landfall now.

That's some good news. Half the storm is onshore, half the storm offshore. But the most dangerous part is actually onshore. The south half of the storm not nearly as big, not nearly as strong.

But, Anderson, you've got 45 more minutes, bud.

Hang in there.

COOPER: Now, what is the significance of the eye making landfall? I mean in terms of the speed of this? I mean it starts to weaken, really, as soon as it does makes landfall, correct?

MYERS: It does. Actually, when you start to cut off the source of the heat, the source of energy, which is the water, when you cut it off to more than half the storm, the storm begins to really spin down. Now, there's also another problem with spinning down. Sometimes spinning down with the friction of land can shrink the eye wall, at least briefly, before it completely collapses.

That shrinking is like an ice skater bringing her arms in and that ice skater will actually go faster and the storm can briefly go faster right at landfall, and then start to fall apart.

So that's the significance there, Anderson.

COOPER: And do you have any sense of what the wind speed was at the time it made landfall?

MYERS: I don't. All I know that the highest number that we had was from Calcasieu Pass, which is right about there, and that was 112 miles per hour.

COOPER: Wow! Well, it is -- it's certainly nowhere near that here, but, you know, if I didn't know better, if I hadn't done a couple of these and hadn't learned so much from you, Chad, I would say that it feels that strong here. But as you know, it always feels worse, I guess, than it really is.

MYERS: Yes, right. Yes, and right now your winds are still at about 77 miles per hour wind gusts, getting up to sustained about 62. So you're still inching your way up to your peak, your peak about 45 minutes from now.

CALLAWAY: Chad, we've seen when these storms it land and that eye hits land, there's almost a temporary respite from the storm if you happen to be in the location where that eye is passing over.

MYERS: Correct.

CALLAWAY: That's not going to happen for Anderson, is it?

MYERS: It is not. He will never be in the eye, and that's the point. We didn't really want our reporters and anchors in the eye. And so the eye itself right here. I have bad news for anybody who was trying to ride it out here in Holly Beach, there's not much left of that beach area at this point, with the storm surge coming onshore here, probably in the neighborhood of eight, possibly 14 feet, as the storm made its way on up toward Lake Charles, and still is making its way toward Lake Charles at this hour.

I'm going to flatten the map so maybe you can see it just a little bit better. And you can kind of get an idea of where that eye is, where Port Arthur is and where Beaumont is, the big red area that you see there. That is actually a tornado warning in effect. The Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service put their eyes together, put their heads together and say you know what? A hundred and twenty miles per hour is just as bad as any tornado so let's issue a tornado warning even though there's no real spin to any of the storms.

HARRIS: Hey, Chad?


HARRIS: If we could, in the back, let's put up all these -- oh, there they are, all the pictures are up. So you've got Anderson.


HARRIS: You've got Miles there. There you are. But what I want for you to explain to us, you said a moment ago that the strongest, most severe part of this storm is likely to pass very close to Lake Charles.

MYERS: Correct.

HARRIS: As you look at those pictures of Anderson being buffeted, of Miles being buffeted, how bad is it in Lake Charles?

MYERS: Well, we just talked to Rick Sanchez. Buildings are coming down. I mean literally buildings are falling apart in those winds, in those category two, possibly even to a category three wind speed, wind gusts up here in Lake Charles under the word light right there. This, right now, is a very dangerous part of the storm. That's moving into Orange, into Port Arthur itself. And as this storm pulls on up to the north, Anderson is going to be on the very western fringe of this thing, literally in 15 or 20 minutes.

So you want to see what it's like?


MYERS: We'll wait 20 minutes. We'll see what it's like in Anderson's location.

HARRIS: Well, I'm going to...

MYERS: It's definitely going to get worse.

HARRIS: And I can add this, as we go to Miles. I can add this. We are trying, trying to get crews established and get shots established out of Lake Charles.

MYERS: I know. Yes.

HARRIS: And we simply...


HARRIS: ... can't.

MYERS: No. You know what? The Weather Service is out of business. The power is out. Something got knocked down. The radar doesn't work anymore. So obviously there was significant structural damage in Lake Charles this evening and just literally 20, 30 minutes ago.

CALLAWAY: Let's get Miles back in here, who's in Lumberton.

MYERS: Yes, right about there.

CALLAWAY: Yes, north, just a little bit north of where Anderson -- Miles.

Roll up your windows already.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. I broke the wind gauge. That didn't take long. I guess you live and learn on those things. I should have gotten a little beefier one, I guess. I don't know if they make one that is going to sustain this kind of wind, I mean -- and, Chad, what's the wind reading here in Lumberton right now?

What are you seeing?

MYERS: Well, you know, there's not a Weather Service office there in Lumberton, but I think you're probably in the 52, maybe 53 range. Officially, if we take an average of Beaumont on up to another spot north of there, it's kind of interpolation. We're saying 47 for you, Miles. M. O'BRIEN: OK. But it's gusting pretty bad right there.

MYERS: Well, the gusts down in Beaumont were 77. So your gusts could easily be 67 to 70.

M. O'BRIEN: That gets close -- that's got to get, right there, that's got to be closer to the 70s, I think. But I've got to think about -- at least I hope we've been in touch with Rick Sanchez. Just the thought of that situation there in Lake Charles, it doesn't sound good.

CALLAWAY: I think we're losing Miles. He is starting to get what Anderson had. And that's Houston, a live shot from Houston there, also on the screen for you.


CALLAWAY: Anderson, can you still hear us?

And I want to ask you, you seem to always be in the worst end of these storms. I've been sitting on this anchor desk through half a dozen of these hurricanes in the middle of the night. You are always in the worst of it.

How would you compare what you're experiencing now to some of the other hurricanes that we've seen over the last year?

COOPER: Well, you know, it's hard to compare. Every one is different. You know, what's been interesting about this storm is that for so long in our field -- I've been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) out here, I don't know, seven or eight hours or so, for the first six or seven of those hours, I don't want to say it didn't feel so bad, because it was certainly, you know, high winds and terrible things can happen in high winds. But it felt sort of within the realm of experience.

What we are feeling now is something I don't know that I have experienced thus far. You know, I have probably been in storms that are stronger than this, but maybe it is a combination of the location that we're in, the fact that the electricity around here is completely gone and we are down to basically just one light.

It feels like, it just feels a little bit, it feels different and it feels a different level of intensity, probably more intense than other storms I've covered recently. I don't know, I'm probably not explaining myself very well, but there's something about being here in the darkness and not knowing what else is out there, it is very disconcerting, I must say.

CALLAWAY: Anderson, you always explain yourself well and I really don't think anyone can understand what it's like unless they're standing where you are right now.


Well... COOPER: Well, not many people are (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's pretty, you know, it's not a wise thing to be doing unless you're sort of prepared for it, unless you have a reason to be doing it.

HARRIS: Yes, that's for sure.

OK, thank you, Anderson.

And, boy, we'll come back to you in just a couple of moments.

But I want to bring in Rob Marciano.

And, Rob, I was half hoping that you were getting some rest. You've got a busy day ahead of you. But I guess it's hard to really get some rest up there in Beaumont, with the elements that are swirling around you right now.

Give us a sense of what the conditions are like. We can see -- my goodness, we can see Miles out in it. We can see Anderson out in it.

What is it like from your vantage point?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, I'm in the emergency -- what is the emergency control center, basically, of Beaumont, Texas, the Entergy building, which is the company that runs the power around here. It's a 12-story, very fortified building. It does have glass windows. But now the glass windows are being blown out on certain sides of the building and everybody that's been using this building as a shelter has been told to move to the stairwells and to the interior sections of this building.

There are paramedics, there are firefighters, there are electrical crews here and other emergency managers that are -- that have used this for their command center, including the mayor, because it's thought to be the strongest building in town.

But now as the eye wall comes through, yes, nobody is getting sleep. Everyone's been woken up if they have at all been able to sleep and told to move to the center part of the building.

So I'm looking down now...

HARRIS: Hey, Rob...

MARCIANO: ... from the fifth floor.

HARRIS: Rob, I have to ask you, you're in that -- you're in the shelter. You're being buffeted by these winds. I mean what is it like to be in a building? And are you sure -- I guess you're not, if the windows are being blown out -- whether or not this shelter that you're in will be able to withstand the even more intense winds that are coming?

MARCIANO: Well, you just have to trust engineering. I can tell you this, the crew and I were discussing whether or not the eye itself was going to come over the building. We were lying down near one of the support columns and the support column was creaking, you know, back and forth and back --


MARCIANO: You could feel the building swaying back and forth and back and forth. And the only reassurance we had is, of course, that the buildings are engineered to sway in the wind somewhat.

HARRIS: Right.

MARCIANO: And I said, Tony, I said, you know, once you hear that creaking stop, that means the windows have supported and maybe we'll be right in the eye and then, you know, it will be calm for a little bit.

But I don't think we're going to get a piece of that from what I've been -- from what I've been hearing. We're in the western eye wall and we are looking -- I am near a window and it does get buffeted. But we're looking downwind. So I'm hoping that that swirls this way and this window won't get blown out.

But the sea, I just can't imagine what Anderson is going through right now.

CALLAWAY: Yes, exactly, Rob.

It's amazing to think that he's actually standing in the middle of what you are seeing outside your window. Anderson is in Beaumont. And we had Miles, who is in Lumberton. And hopefully seeking some shelter, as the winds pick up there in Lumberton. And then below him on the screen you're looking at a live shot from a tower cam in Houston.

Anderson, let's ask you, do you have anything you want to ask Rob?

He's in a shelter that is getting smashed right now from this storm.

MARCIANO: Anderson, I'll tell you this...

COOPER: Yes, how do I get there?

MARCIANO: No, you don't want to start...

CALLAWAY: Rob, did you hear that?

MARCIANO: Yes, I did. Listen, we -- two members of the crew were nearly swept away trying to get our vehicles into the shelter. This was two, three hours ago, when the storm was much weaker.


MARCIANO: So I, you know, Anderson, I know where you are. Keep your back to that wall and just ride this baby out. That's the safer place than you trying to get to where we are, just going to and from any sort of -- and you just can't drive. There's -- so just stay where you are. Keep your back to that brick wall and ride it out there.

COOPER: Yes, I appreciate it. That is good advice. We had discussed the idea of taking on the roads, but frankly, you know, with all the debris out there, you don't want to get stuck on a road like that in one of these vehicles. It can flip very easily.

So we are, we're just going to stay here and ride it out right here on the air and if we get knocked off the air, we're just going to continue to stay in this location, because it is really not worth it, at this point, trying to go anywhere else.

That building that Rob is in, we scouted a little bit earlier today. It is a very well constructed building, as Rob said. All, basically a lot of paramedics and fire department people are there. It's a well supplied building. That is one place we would have tried to get to, but at this point, you know, we've lasted this long here. I think we're fine. We're going to be fine. And it's just a question of riding this out and waiting until the winds die down enough for us to get to a different building or to go back to where we're going to try to stay tonight.

CALLAWAY: All right, we also want to tell you we brought in a shot from Galveston now, right underneath Anderson. That's what it's looking like right now in Galveston, Texas.

HARRIS: And, Rob, are you still there?

MARCIANO: I'm right here, Tony.

HARRIS: OK. Just a couple of quick questions, and then we want to bring Miles in, as well.

I can barely see him up there in that shot.

But, Rob, how many people are in that shelter? And are we talking about individuals? Are we talking about families?

MARCIANO: Are there families here, as well? It's quite a mishmash of people. But most of them from the gear that surrounds the people that are lying, or have been lying on the floor, they're here for a reason. They're not on -- they're not here because they live down the street and they were seeking shelter.

HARRIS: Right.

MARCIANO: Most of those folks, Tony, had headed out of town. So everybody who is in this shelter is here for a reason. They're here because when the storm passes, they've got work to do. They hope to get some sleep tonight, but nobody's getting any at all.

HARRIS: Can you see a monitor? Can you see our air?


MARCIANO: No, I was able to -- we have some battery operated TVs. I was able to watch some of the local channels off of, you know, off some rabbit ears to see where the eye was coming onshore a couple of hours ago and it looked like we weren't going to get a break. It looked like we were going to be on the western end of it and it looked like Orange, Texas and Sulphur and Lake Charles, Louisiana were going to be in the eye.

HARRIS: Well, the reason I'm asking is because I wanted you to see Miles. I mean, Miles, where are you? What are you doing? Are you across the street or something?

M. O'BRIEN: I am, well, I'm just across a parking lot. I wanted to get out here to see how far the flooding is. I don't know if you can (AUDIO GAP).

But I tell you, I have never been in a hurricane that has had this much steady rain. It has been constant. And there is some significant flooding. This water has come up. It's actually going to go straight into the parking lot here.

You know, we came here, Tony, because we're about 40 or 50 feet above sea level. We felt it was safe from the storm surge perspective. But we're still going to get a lot of flooding here because of this tremendous rain. I think Chad said 24 inches. Imagine that, 24 inches just in the first dose, and then over the course of a few days as this storm apparently is going to stall out.

The flooding will extend far beyond the coast. This, of course, is a coastal storm surge.

In the meantime, the wind is really whipping up here. There's a structure over here. I can't get enough light on it for you. It's kind of a corrugate tin structure garage. It completely collapsed just a few moments ago.

The Dairy Queen across the way there, also hard for you to see, all the signage is out and the windows have blown out. I can see the (AUDIO GAP) are flying in the wind.

And I've got to tell you, I feel like I'm getting shot by a million B.B.s right now, as this sheet of rain comes at me completely horizontal. I can only imagine what it's like 15 miles south, where Rob and Anderson are.

I can, you know, that building where Rob is, that's a pretty stout building. And the -- we were told that the windows there were good to 150 miles an hour. But obviously that apparently isn't the case -- Tony.

HARRIS: You wouldn't dare turn into that wind right now, would you?

M. O'BRIEN: No, I'm really -- it is -- as I stand like this... HARRIS: Yes?

M. O'BRIEN: ... and kind of put my good side to it, I feel like I'm getting, you know, shot.

HARRIS: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: With a million, I'm getting a million hypodermics.

HARRIS: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: And, you know, to go into it would be unthinkable.

Now, right now it's kind of calm.


CALLAWAY: Miles, is there anywhere near you where you can seek shelter when this picks up?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, well, here's the thing. We can turn around the camera and show u. But it's kind of hard to -- in the darkness. We've got a shelter portico and a brick building right there. And Danny, our photographer, is there. He's under a portico.

See, when you're the photographer, you get to be under shelter.

CALLAWAY: Yes, but you can't see what's coming at you when you're the photographer.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, no. He's in pretty good -- I, you know, in the darkness here, it's tough. Now, I told you a little while ago, we haven't heard back, I've seen some cars coming back now. I don't know if that is the rescue mission.

There was a tree down on a house here, a family of five, and the chief, Norman Reynolds -- look at these cars coming.

Danny, can you get that?


M. O'BRIEN: ... wind. And it is something. I think they're coming back from their effort. Let's see if we can get them to talk to us.

CALLAWAY: Oh, they are.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm going to go over to them.

Let's see if they'll talk to us.

Is he coming over here? Come on over here.

If I can get one of them to come over, we're going to have to track them down, I'm afraid. They're on a mission, obviously. But they were -- they had a report of a tree down. I don't know if there were any injuries or not. But that's obviously the officers returning from that.

We'll try to get you some information on what happened on that.


M. O'BRIEN: They're just in a building very close to here -- Tony.


CALLAWAY: We're getting reports that there's about 55,000 people without power right now in Texas.

What are you seeing around you? Anderson has been talking about just how dark it is everywhere you look in Beaumont.

What are you seeing there in Lumberton?

M. O'BRIEN: There's not a light on in Beaumont, except those that are attached to our generator in our truck. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons we decided to stay here was the police had a generator. And they told us that they'd have power throughout. But the generator didn't work.

CALLAWAY: Well, Miles, we're going to interrupt, just quickly...

M. O'BRIEN: It ended up conking out.

CALLAWAY: We have got to tell everyone what they're looking at.

You're looking at a live shot from Houston now. We obviously have a fire burning.

And do we know where this is in Houston?

HARRIS: Southeast Houston, Catherine. Southeast Houston has got a problem.

CALLAWAY: This is the worst nightmare, when people are not able, firefighters are not able to fully fight anything like this. This is what we saw earlier in Galveston...

HARRIS: In Galveston.

CALLAWAY: ... and now we're seeing it in Houston.

HARRIS: And, Miles, where you are right now -- did we lose Miles?

Is he gone?

And Anderson?


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