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Hurricane Arthur Charges Ashore; Disturbing Details in Hot Car Hearing

Aired July 4, 2014 - 06:00   ET

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


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to a special edition Hurricane Arthur of NEW DAY. It's Friday. It is July 4th, everyone. Happy 4th of July. Unfortunately, it is a wet one for many of you. It's 6:00 in the east. Chris is off today. We'll begin with that breaking news, Hurricane Arthur making landfall overnight packing dangerous 100-mile-an-hour winds in some places.

Let's take a look at where Arthur is right now. That's where it is. The eye is approaching Virginia, the Virginia coast at least and the powerful Category 2 storm will continue to make its way up the coast today, hopefully quickly and move in.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Arthur announces his arrival with torrential rain that really came down in thick sheets. Wind that whipped trees in all sorts of directions. The big danger here is obviously large damaging waves, powerful winds and, of course, those dangerous rip currents.

We're on the ground right in the path of the storm. We've got you covered on every angle and we'll begin with meteorologist, Indra Petersons who is in Kill Devil Hills, and we know the big concern is rip currents.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, definitely rip currents, but as we mentioned before I think last time you saw me the winds were definitely calmer and I talked about the big switch in the wind direction that was expected to happen. That's exactly what we're seeing right now. Arthur, the first category 2 or stronger hurricane. One of the gusts coming right now to make landfall. The first category two stronger or stronger hurricane to make landfall since 2008. Made landfall again.

Look the at east side. First the easterly winds and now we've shift that had direction coming out of north and switching into the west. Can you see that the actual eye of the system is making its way offshore, but as it does so you get on the back side of the system where real some of the stronger winds come in. No, not right next to the eye, not talking about 100-mile-per-hour wind.

We're still talking very strong winds. Somewhere could be anywhere from 40 to 50-mile-per-hour, but the gusts, can you see knocked me over, can be as strong as 80 miles per hour. What you have to consider is you have the storm itself. That has those winds whipping around about 100 miles per hour, but you have the motion of the storm that's real picked up now about 20 miles per hour to the northeast.

You have to add those two together to really get the combination of some of these winds. Can you actually see some of these really strong gusts. Trying to keep my hat on, almost knocking me over. Not sure how much you can see behind me but there's a huge drop-off at the ocean. That's one of the concerns as well is all of this beach erosion that occurred interest this system that made its way in.

Only a good 10 or 20 feet here before you get to the actual hotel. You can see the damage the storm has down. Down to the south, we keep talking about the sound. The switch in the wind direction is key because that water is shallow. Once you see the westerly winds coming in it makes that storm surge very high and very quick and that's the concern. Highway 12 reporting flooding all across that highway again.

PEREIRA: Indra, it's amazing to see --

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS (voice-over): At least 20 counties here now in a state of emergency. Hurricane Arthur making landfall at 11:15 Thursday night. CNN's Rene Marsh camped out at Atlantic Beach when it hit.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Winds are extremely strong and if you take a look at the skies you can see them lighting up. That's not lightning. Those are transformers blowing out meaning people are without power at this point.

PETERSONS: Despite the darkness along the outer banks, North Carolina's governor told the thousands without power to stay inside. Wait for this storm to leave for a long period of time before you venture to the outside.

GOVERNOR PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Wait for this storm to leave for a long period of time before you venture to the outside.

PETERSONS: The now Category 2 hurricane living up to emergency manager fears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tree broken and crashed into this house here.

PETERSONS: Sustained winds of at least 100 miles per hour. Storm surges and dangerous rip currents are warding off 4th of July beach- goers.

MCCRORY: We want to warn our sustenance up the coast and our thousands of tourists who may be dealing with this for the first time that this is a serious storm.

PETERSONS: This is a photo from inside the eye of the storm, of the inner eye wall, now shrinking in size. The danger, the smaller the eye gets the stronger the winds become.

MCCRORY: So we're most concerned now about flooding inland and also storm surges in our sounds and in our rivers further inland.

PETERSONS: Governor Pat McCrory says rescue and emergency crews are at the ready to assess damage and begin the clean-up effort.

(END VIDEOTAPES)

PETERSONS: So where we are in Kill Devil Hills, what we'll be dealing with are the strong winds coming in from the westerly direction. The biggest threat right now is the storm surge. Remember the sound is off of the west. All that water got pushed away on the front side of the system. Now that you're on the back side of the system all that water is going to come rushing right back with all the westerly winds.

So that storm surge coming up over Highway 12 causing a lot of problems there, and one of the big concerns fresh in everyone's minds is we know it's the holiday. Everyone will be trying to celebrate as the system makes its way offshore. The rip currents, that's a huge factor. They will still be here.

All the water that made its way in, it wants to find its way out. That's the risk. Do not want to be in the water today. I really hope everyone listens. Huge danger out in the water once the system kicks out of here.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Indra is on the ground getting whipped around and getting a face full of sand at the same time. A mean surf.

Let's go over to our affiliate WRAL out of Raleigh, North Carolina. They are tracking Arthur as coastal parts of the state continue to get pounded. They have reporters on the ground on the coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fast moving part of this storm is the big story. Back to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, Colin, thank you very much for that live report. Let's now turn our attention to Atlantic beach.

BOLDUAN: All right, we are going to go back to them once they go back to -- that's what happens as we're dipping into live coverage.

Right now 17,000 power customers are in the dark in counties along the coast. All of Ocracoke Island is actually without electricity at the moment. Let's move down the North Carolina coast to Wrightsville Beach from where Alina Machado is. It looks like things have started to get a little bit better where you are.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, things are definitely looking a lot better here. Just when you compare from a few hours ago, Hurricane Arthur brought a lot of rain and wind to this area. The surf though, still pretty rough, but that's nothing compared to what we saw here at the height of the storm.

We are now starting to see some of the effects of Hurricane Arthur and what it did here. You can see apparently some beach erosion here, but it's relatively minor compared to what could have happened in this area. Now, in terms of widespread power outages or flooding or anything like that in this area, we have not seen that even though we got slammed here.

For much of yesterday we saw period of very heavy rain and wind and then at about 7:00 or 8:00 last night eastern time for a period of about two hours there were very strong wind gusts and very heavy downpours, and the good news though is that for the most part people stayed home.

People didn't come out at the peak of the storm, which was a big concern here officials were having. A lot of tourists and people out trying to enjoy a beach vacation, and obviously Hurricane Arthur has affected some of those plans -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: I'm joined now on the phone by Bobby Ulton. He is the county manager and attorney for Dare County, which is part of the outer banks area right here. He is joining us from the county's emergency management center in Manteo, North Carolina. Tell me, we've got our reporters on the ground kind of seeing what the outer banks are looking like. What's it like? What have you been seeing and hearing from all your points of contact?

BOBBY OUTTEN, COUNTY MANAGER, DARE COUNTY (via telephone): Well, we're just getting out. Every night it was fairly quieter than expected. Didn't get very many calls. Not much going on. People stayed indoors and that was a good thing. Reports we're getting so far we're having some flooding down on Highway 12 in the Rodanthe area, but the northern areas fared very well in the areas where we normally have problems on the ocean front.

We haven't had any reported problems, kitty hawk looking good, sporadic power outages, trees down and that, but all in all everything so far is looking good, and we're just now getting our teams out to start really checking things out here at first light.

BOLDUAN: So the teams will start be heading out. I believe that there were -- curfews were in kind of different areas throughout the outer banks and those curfews are just starting to lift.

OUTTEN: That's correct. There were curfews in Kill Devil Hills and national head and right now we're getting our teams out.

BOLDUAN: So far so good and that's good news. What's it like, are they reporting back damage and the status of the road? What's today going to be like for you guys as everyone is trying to clean up from a sloppy mess?

OUTTEN: First thing we'll do is check the roads for the safety. Right now you can get into the county so you can make sure it is safe to drive in. That will happen relatively quickly. If everything is clear we'll help people back through the county. Hatteras Island will remain closed until the bridge is down until we can assess highway 12. That may take a while because we've got to let the water recede and check the status of the pavement. Those are our priorities going forward this morning and then we'll start recovery effort where we need to depending on what we find.

BOLDUAN: That's an important point, the fact that folks might be waking up and seeing that maybe the winds are a little less. It doesn't look like they have as much rain as they need to be dealing with right now as first light comes up. Access to some of the outer most points are still restricted. When do you think that folks will be able to get back in, because as you well know and I know you've been hearing it for days, folks want to get back to their vacation if at all possible?

OUTTEN: Yes, we understand that, but safety is the most important thing and until we can get our teams out and make sure everything is safe it's really hard to give an estimate. We hope that it's sooner rather than later and we're doing everything we can do to make sure everything is as safe as quickly as we can.

BOLDUAN: How long have you lived in Dare County, Bobby.

OUTTEN: Thirty two years.

BOLDUAN: And you probably have weathered many of these storms and you know folks out there, many of them say, they can handle these storms and would much rather stay at home than leave and have to come back. Do you think most folks did that?

OUTTEN: I think when it's time to evacuate, it's time to evacuate. The risks are much greater than the reward of staying and people should heed those warnings.

BOLDUAN: Do you think people heeded the warnings this time? I know it was kind of a mixed bag of mandatory evacuations and voluntary evacuations.

OUTTEN: Well, we don't do voluntary evacuations in Dare County. All the visitors heed the warnings and hope our residents do as well.

BOLDUAN: What's the important message for everybody this morning, lights coming up and curfews expiring? What do you want to make sure people need to know?

OUTTEN: Stay inside and allow the damage teams to get out. We want to be sure there's not power lines down or not any danger to them yet. They need to wait a little while and let the storm get out of here before they get up and around to check out their areas and make sure that there's enough life they can see and make sure they do things safely.

BOLDUAN: When the light comes up and the main part of the storm is passed doesn't mean that the danger has because you need to get your crews out to assess what you need to. Bobby, thank you so much. Good luck.

OUTTEN: Thanks for having me.

PEREIRA: As folks wake up this morning and start to try to figure out what the plan is for the day. You obviously want to know what the weather is like. Got a team of meteorologists, Karen Maginnis, with us today. Karen, how is it looking and when are we going to see the progress being made in terms of the way this -- this storm moves northeast?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is going to be fascinating to watch. Now, Arthur slammed onshore Cape Lookout, north California. That was about 8 hours ago, 11:15 Eastern Time. It's just off the past, just drop Pamlico Sound and Albemarle Sound. I have to tell you, this is a national sea shore and it's very environmentally fragile.

When these hurricanes come there's only a sliver of land and that water, all of it, rushing onshore and it's making for an extremely dangerous conditions there. We heard about the rip current yesterday, so what can we expect over the next few hours?

Well, as this pulls away from the coast, still some of the outer bands are pummeling portions of Norfolk, Virginia, and will accelerate towards the northeast. That's the whole hurricane is going to move off towards the northeast over the next 12 to 24 hours. We can see by about midday or 2:00 it is going to be off the coast of -- New York City, Washington, D.C.

You'll pick up some heavy rain bands and so will Atlantic City, and so will Providence, Rhode Island, Boston, a little different story. Depending on how close this comes to shore, and can you see there's a lot of wiggle room here, just 10 or 15 miles to the east or to the west it's going to make a huge difference, but you can better believe you'll expect between 1 and 4 inches of rainfall so there's going to be localized flooding.

There could be some erosion issues and there will be some inland flooding, too. This storm system is going to race towards the Eastern Canadian Maritimes. As it does, it's going to weaken and become tropical storm strength, so tropical storm watches as well as warnings are issued all the way up into the eastern Canadian mayor types.

You'll expect a pretty heavy surf here as well. But because our hurricane still is category 2 hurricane, still supporting winds of 100 miles an hour, it's still going to impact the mid-Atlantic over the next 6 to 12 hours and into this afternoon into New England. Back to you. Kate, Michaela.

BOLDUAN: Important to know. Indra was even pointing out that it is holding on to its momentum. It's moving on and will pick up speed quickly, which is a good thing to get it out of its way, holding on to the momentum with the strong winds to this point.

PEREIRA: And that flooding and the concern about the flooding and erosion, potentially lasting effects that we'll see through the weekend and through the next week.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. Coming up next on NEW DAY, we'll continue this breaking news coverage of Hurricane Arthur. Everything you need to know and what it looked like overnight while were you sleeping and what it will look like at light comes up.

PEREIRA: Gripping new details emerging about the father whose son, little boy, toddler, died in a hot car. We'll let you hear the startling testimony. You certainly do not want to miss what happened in court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to a special hurricane edition of nude day. We're going to have much more of our special coverage on hurricane Arthur coming up in just a moment.

But we also want to take you to another big story this morning. Shocking new details revealed at a court hearing in Georgia. Prosecutors laying out the beginnings of their case against Justin Ross Harris. He is the father accused of murder after leaving his toddler son in a hot car for some seven hours.

As CNN's Victor Blackwell explains, the evidence was powerful and the story it tells, disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What was Justin Ross Harris allegedly doing while his 22-month-old son, Cooper, suffered in the back of his scorching SUV?

DETECTIVE PHIL STODDARD, COBB COUNTY POLICE DEPT.: He was having up to six conversations with different women. The most common term would be sexting.

BLACKWELL: Stunning claims of raunchy text messages, suspicious Internet searches and a plan to kill his son.

STODDARD: Evidence has shown us right now that he's got this whole second life that he's living with alternate personalities and alternate personas.

BLACKWELL: Harris shackled and sullen, as detective Phil Stoddard with the Cobb County Police Department detailed X-rated messages allegedly exchanged the day Cooper died, including with a then 16- year-old girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were photos being sent back and forth between these women and the defendant during this day while the child was out in the car?

STODDARD: Yes, there were photos of his exposed penis, erect penis, being sent. There were also photos of women's breasts being sent back to him.

BLACKWELL: No visible reaction from the 33-year-old's wife Leanna Harris, who sat with her family and supporters in the packed courtroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a loving father. He loved his son very much. We went on family vacations together. He was a good dad.

BLACKWELL: But just five days before Cooper's death, Internet searches revealed that Harris watched videos online about the dangers of being trapped in a hot car and that Harris visited a web forum devoted to the child-free lifestyle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, there's no -- you don't have any evidence that he actually typed in a Google search or Reddit search or anything for child free?

STODDARD: True.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are getting so far afield from the events of June 18th. This has got nothing to do with those events whatsoever. The status of his marriage and his fantasy life has got nothing to do with the events of June 18th. We're just getting so far afield, Judge. This isn't relevant to anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge, this goes to the state of mind to the two weeks leading up to the death of this child.

JUDGE: So, this occurred within two weeks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Your Honor.

JUDGE: Overruled the objection.

BLACKWELL: The detective also testified the couple had financial problems and took out life insurance policies on Cooper.

STODDARD: They had two policies on Cooper. The first policy is a $2,000 policy, through the Home Depot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The second one, was this something that they got back in 2013?

STODDARD: Yes. Well, yes, November 2012 is when he signed up for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And was this something that he still had at the time of the child's death?

STODDARD: That is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how much was the policy?

STODDARD: It's $25,000 policy.

BLACKWELL: Stoddard laid out the strange way he saw Harris reacting the day Cooper died.

STODDARD: He started off trying to work himself up. And we're watching him on the cameras he's doing this. And he's walking around, and he's rubbing his eyes, and he's -- you know, trying to -- look like he's trying to hyperventilate himself. No tears, no real emotion coming out except for -- you know, the huffing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And through the time you are talking with him about his son and his son's death, did you ever see any tears coming from him?

STODDARD: No. BLACKWELL: Even more bizarre, how witnesses say Leanna Harris reacted

at the day care when she was told that Cooper was never dropped off.

STODDARD: And in front of several witnesses, all of a sudden, she states, Ross must have left him in the car. And, they are like, what? There's no other reason. Ross must have -- no other explanation, excuse me, Ross must have left him in the car.

And they tried to console her. They're like, no, there are 1,000 reasons. You know, he could have taken him to lunch or something. We don't know yet. And she's like, no.

BLACKWELL: Then, another shocker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there any injuries to the child's face?

STODDARD: There were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what were those?

STODDARD: The way it's explained, there were several marks on the child's face that would have come from the child or a scratch being made while the child was alive and then not healing, not scabbing over or anything like that just soon after he passed away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there any injuries to the child back of the child's head?

STODDARD: Yes, there were abrasions to the back of the child's head.

BLACKWELL: After three hours of stunning testimony, Judge Frank Cox denied Harris bond. The defense maintaining.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not criminal negligence. It's a horrible tragedy and accident.

BLACKWELL: Victor Blackwell, CNN, Marietta, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: That is a horrible story and difficult to listen to.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And again, that's the probable cause hearings, supposed to be short, fairly quick and it lasted three hours. It felt like we were in the case, in the trial already and we weren't.

BOLDUAN: And they were just -- just in the beginnings of this.

PEREIRA: I know. It's going to be very, very difficult to watch at times.

BOLDUAN: Sure.

PEREIRA: All right. We have a lot of other stories making headlines. Let's get to Christine Romans. It's another day of all girls today.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is and a lot of news, ladies, a lot of news on this holiday.

Let's get straight to it. Iraq's Kurdish leader calling for independence as large parts of the country continue to fall to ISIS militants. But U.S. officials are objecting to the calls, saying the only solution to conflict is for the country to stay united. This as U.S. military officials say the door is still open to step up American forces in Iraq if ISIS militants pose a threat to the U.S.

Mississippi's Republican primary results now being challenged. Tea Party-backed State Senator Chris McDaniel fighting those result, serving papers to Senator Thad Cochran's sons Thursday. Campaign staffers and volunteers say they have combed through voting records in 51 counties. They claim to have found nearly 5,000 irregularities. We'll talk with McDaniel later in the program.

Another Supreme Court decision this week slamming Obamacare over its requirement for birth control coverage. The high court ruled that Wheaton College, a Christian school, doesn't have to abide by the contraception mandate because of a religious objection to providing birth control to employees and students. Earlier this week, the justices said closely held companies like Hobby Lobby would be exempted if their owners objected on religious grounds.

A newly released 911 call reveals a mother and son's terror as their car is swallowed up by a sinkhole. Fifteen-year-old Benjamin Hernandez was delivering newspapers when his mother when the road gave out from under them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PINEDA: My son, he's having problems breathing.

REPORTER: A frantic call for help after a mother and son plummet no a giant sinkhole while driving down a dark road in rural Illinois. Her son badly injured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Thankfully, he had so many injuries, thankfully, you guys, he should be OK. I mean, he broke one arm. He had a fractured spine.

BOLDUAN: Unbelievable.

ROMANS: Broke some ribs.

You know, they drove into the sinkhole unbeknownst to them and suddenly another car drove on top of them. They had to be -- they had to rip the roof off the car to get both of them out so we wish them well.

PEREIRA: The chances of even driving no a sinkhole or having a sinkhole happen under your vehicle is so rare. But then to have another vehicle --

ROMANS: It was darkness, pitch black, just driving along and not even knowing the sinkhole was there, driving into it, and the next car drove right on top of them so really, just an amazing, amazing story.

PEREIRA: Thanks. Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, the latest track of Hurricane Arthur, the East Coast bracing for a rough holiday. Look at that wind. We're going to tell you where that storm is headed next and what you should do to prepare.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY.

We are tracking breaking news. Hurricane Arthur barreling up the East Coast, making its way now towards Virginia.