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Hurricane Hermine Makes Landfall; Trumps Threads Needle Again On Immigration; Clinton Raises $143M in August; Kaepernick Continues National Anthem Protest. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 2, 2016 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:11] MIGUEL MARGUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight: Hurricane Hermine barrels into Florida. Residents taking shelter from the damaging storm. It's already causing flooding and power problems in the panhandle.

The storm set to make its way up the East Coast. Millions of people in Hermine's path.

CNN's team coverage of the storm begins right now.

Good morning. I'm Miguel Marquez. It is EARLY START.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Nice to see you this Friday morning.

MARQUEZ: I know.

ROMANS: A big news morning, folks. A lot of trouble in Florida right now.

I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, September 2nd, 4:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin with that breaking news this morning. Hurricane Hermine making landfall, smashing into the Florida panhandle as a category one, packing sustained winds of 80 miles an hour, bringing heavy rain, high storm surge, extensive flooding right now along Florida's Gulf Coast.

Now, this is the first hurricane to hit the state since 2005. Wilma, I think. Millions of residents all along the storm's path are under watches and warnings. They are preparing for the worst.

Earlier, Florida Governor Rick Scott making clear Hermine is dangerous.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: It's life threatening. We're going to see big storm surge. We're going to see a lot of rain. We're going to see flooding. We're going to see downed power lines. We're going to see -- there's going to be a lot of risk if we don't do our job. Everybody needs to be prepared.

We have the best emergency management teams in the country at the state and at a local level. But you have got to take this seriously.


ROMANS: So, how big is this thing? Hermine? This NASA image shows that it's obscuring almost all of Florida.

We are covering the storm the way only CNN can, beginning with Polo Sandoval. He's on the phone for us from Florida.

Polo, you were unable to reach your live shot destination because of flood and downed trees. We want you to be very careful there, of course. Tell us what you're seeing.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): That's right, Christine. That's an important here. We have worked for about four hours now to make what is usually about only 25-minute drive from Tallahassee down to St. Marks, which is very close to where the eye of the storm actually made landfall a couple of hours ago.

As you mentioned there, it's not flood waters, but downed trees and power lines. It is preventing us and others from making our way down there. When we were in the town yesterday, the majority of the population, which is not very large, perhaps 200 to 300 have made their way out of the town already in the mandatory evacuation.

There are few individuals, one of which we spoke to decided to hunker down, decided to stay on the second floor of their home. That is why we are trying to make our way back there to check with the individuals who decided to stay behind and refused to leave their homes. At this point, we have seen just a couple of first responders on the streets. We have not heard of reports about any unnecessary rescues. At least not yet.

I should mention, it is still dark obviously. It is still early. So, it's going to be a matter of time before we get to see the first responders make their way on the road and the clean-up crews make their way on the roads to clear out the debris. It's not just keeping us from making that location close to some of the flooded areas, but some of the emergency responders.

Guys, back to you.

ROMANS: We know that Rick Scott, the governor, is saying this is a life-threatening storm. You have seen downed power lines, downed trees. We also know that it was high tide in some of these communities right where the storm hit when the eye of the storm coming through there. That means there's a big flooding issue here that will be the next phase of this, right?

SANDOVAL: Absolutely. That is one of the main concerns. We are told that high tide was expected about this time. So, that is one of the reasons why we had to turn back after our third attempt to make it into St. Marks. The water was already making it past our vehicle. So, that's one of the reasons why we had to turn around.

Again, we have seen one person try to brave it. The main recommendation for authorities, which is really what we're following is simply not trying to risk it and stay at a safe distance. There is a bit of good news here so far. Winds have subsided. Wind speeds have subsided for now. That doesn't necessarily mean this area is out of the woods, not just because of the future potential for high winds, but also, as mentioned, Christine, that high tide.

ROMANS: All right. Polo, a lot of hurdles here. Please be careful when you make the attempt again. We'll talk to you very, very soon. Thanks, Polo Sandoval.

MARQUEZ: The storm is far from over. Where exactly is Hermine now? Where is it headed? And what more damage could it do?

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is live for us in the weather center.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Take a look at this. This is from the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Hermine made landfall at 1:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, just east of St. Marks where we had the phone call a moment ago.

[04:05:03] It was a minimum hurricane category one equivalent. The pressure at 982 millibars. This is important because it actually lowered the pressure which is a sign it strengthened right before landfall right along the Big Bend of Florida.

What is interesting to note and I am happy the storm has now made landfall, because that means effectively, we have cut off its moisture source. Meaning, this storm does not have the possibility to strengthen any further. We should see a weakening trend. You can see the center of circulation to the north and east of Tallahassee.

I want to highlight a few separate things. We've got ongoing flash flood watches across Florida and Georgia and South Carolina. Near Tallahassee, where Florida State University is located, we have a flash flood warning ongoing as we speak.

Here's the latest from the National Hurricane Center. We've actually dropped the winds from 80 miles per hour, roughly about 30 minutes ago down to 75 miles per hour. This storm is starting to move in a northeasterly direction picking up speed.

These are the latest winds from the region. I want to take note that Tallahassee doesn't have a wind reading. It would be my guess that the meter was knocked over.

Here's the storm system as it heads up the East Coast. Where is it headed? Well, remember, we've got our massive holiday weekend taking place right as we speak. People trying to take advantage of the last bits of sunshine and summer.

Well, this is not the weekend to do it. We have tropical storm warnings along the East Coast. That is going to be a concern from the Carolinas right through the Delmarva Peninsula. Miguel and Christine, back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Derek. And that's why this can be such a slow motion disaster. Storms like this can be a disaster because of the churning surf and people who may not taking it as seriously as they should.

MARQUEZ: On a terrible weekend.

ROMANS: On a terrible weekend for this, with millions of people off work and trying to enjoy will not be sunshine in many places, and then, right now people try to drive through water they shouldn't. So, everyone just hunker down and be careful.

Derek, thank you so much for that.

Florida Governor Rick Scott putting dozens of counties under a state of emergency ahead of Hermin's arrival.

Joining us now is the emergency management coordinator for the Gulf County, Florida, Ben Guthrie. He is live on the phone for us.

Thank you for joining us.

We heard from your governor that this is a life threatening storm and the first to make landfall since 2005. What have you been doing in preparation and do you think that people are ready for this?

BEN GUTHRIE, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR (via telephone): I think people have gotten ready for it. It is something that we learned to live with over the years. It's not a matter of if, but when they happen.

As far as preparations go, we try to get sand bags out and make them available to our residents. We issued a voluntary evacuation of our coastline and provided shelter for people to go to.

MARQUEZ: Mr. Guthrie, what sort of damage reports are you getting and what sort of needs are being met by the people who are affected by the storm?

GUTHRIE: Most of our damage is going to be shoreline. We actually were very fortunate the storm veered slightly to the east and we were spared the brunt of it. We were hit by the side of the storms from the tropical-storm force winds.


GUTHRIE: Go ahead.

ROMANS: I was going to say, have you had to do any water rescues? Have your folks been out there? What have you seen? Terms of people being about?

GUTHRIE: For the most part, our people have stayed in. That's something else we encourage, not get out into it. MARQUEZ: How many people have come seeking shelter at county


GUTHRIE: We only had about four. We are a small rural county in North Florida.

ROMANS: All right.

MARQUEZ: Sounds like you missed the brunt of it.

ROMANS: Yes, that's fantastic.

GUTHRIE: We did. We were very fortunate.

ROMANS: So, at this point, what are you telling next? I mean, what we often see in storms like this, Mr. Guthrie, the storm passes and people have a false sense of security. You have downed power lines, you have rising water. You have debris that can be dangerous.

I mean, what are you telling people for the moments after the storm?

GUTHRIE: We are encouraging people to stay out of the water to avoid rip currents. Also not to cross running water if it is running across the roads. Stay out of that. You never know when a culvert may be washed out. It is better just to stay in until emergency services crews get out tomorrow and make sure that everything is clear and ready.

MARQUEZ: Are you hearing from your neighbors, counties or cities and are you sending resources there?

[04:10:02] GUTHRIE: We have not been requested as of yet. But we do stand available to help those who may need it.

ROMANS: All right. Ben Guthrie, Gulf County, Florida, emergency management coordinator -- thank you so much.

MARQUEZ: Up all night, thank you very much.

ROMANS: Up all night with a lot of work to do, I'm sure. Very good advice of staying out of what looks like a little bit of water. You never know if a culvert is washed out, or what could be underneath the surface. So, be careful out there.

MARQUEZ: Hurricane Hermine is not only trouble for Florida residents, three mosquitoes testing positive for the Zika virus. It's the first finding of the Zika carrying mosquitoes in the continental U.S. The samples testing positive were from Miami Beach, previously identified as an area of local transmission. The mayor of Miami Beach say efforts are under way to curb mosquitoes.

ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour. We will continue to monitor Hurricane Hermine all morning, 25 million people on the path of this storm.

Also ahead, Donald Trump trying to play his audience from fiery to calm and back in a matter of hours. An update on the Trump campaign, next.


[04:15:09] MARQUEZ: New changes this morning at the top of the Trump campaign. Just two weeks after Trump reshuffled his team for the second time, he is now adding a deputy campaign manager for the home stretch to November. David Bossie comes to the Trump campaign from the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, where he is president.

Trump describing Bossie to "The Washington Post" as an old friend and, quote, "solid, smart and knows how to win."

Meantime, on the campaign trail on Thursday, Trump showing two sides of his political personality -- subdued and respectful at one and the next, fired up the base.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has the latest from Ohio.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miguel and Christine.

For Donald Trump, it is a tale of which Donald Trump will you actually see. On Wednesday, you saw one version of Donald Trump, diplomatic and understated. During his visit to Mexico, a few hours later in Arizona, the fiery rhetoric, he was on point.

It happened again in Ohio on Thursday. In Cincinnati, to the American Legion, lower key Donald Trump. Coming to Wilmington, Ohio, just a few hours later, real Trump country, deep red Trump country, the rhetoric was back.

It's balancing act that you're seeing from Trump. Trump making clear during that hard-line speech in Arizona, that when it comes to immigration, he is not backing off most of his points. But in a radio interview afterwards, he had some different thoughts. Take a listen.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Oh, there's softening. Look, we do it in a very humane way and we're going to see with the people that are in the country. Obviously, I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out, I want to get the drug dealers out. We have a lot of people in the country that you can't have and those people we'll get and then we're going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized. I think you're going to see there's really quite a bit of softening.

MATTINGLY: Now, guys, I don't know a lot of people, Republican operatives, Democrats, Clinton supporters who saw that speech in Arizona and thought softening is the first word to come to mind. But it really underscores what Donald Trump is trying to do and kind of the dangers that he has as he attempts to navigate this thicket here in places like Ohio. Obviously, here in Wilmington, the supporters were very excited about that speech, those I spoke to. But in the suburbs, the places like Columbus, like Cincinnati, there

are real Republicans who are very wary of the candidacy that Donald Trump has had up to this point, of the rhetoric that he has used repeatedly. Those are the people Trump is trying to soften his image for. Still, you've got to keep the supporters, especially those here at home as well.

Guys, back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much for that, Phil.

To campaign money now. Hillary Clinton just finished the biggest fund raising month of the election season. Clinton pulled in $143 million in August. That's according to her campaign.

She started September with $68 million in the bank. Her joint fund raising committee as $84 million in cash. That committee is called the Hillary Victory Fund. It's an account that allows the Democratic ticket to raise money for the Clinton campaign, the Democratic national convention and Democratic state parties all at the same time. These agreements allow Clinton's donors to give hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And Clinton has been busy courting wealthy donors. She attended 37 events in August. Her most lucrative stops were a three-day tour in California where she brought in $19 million, then top that by raising $21 million with a three-day run through the Hamptons in New York.

Who knew there was money in the Hamptons? I have not idea.

MARQUEZ: Who knew? There's a lot of money. They are smelling possibilities down ticket, aren't they?


MARQUEZ: All eyes on Colin Kaepernick. The quarterback's final preseason game, did he repeat his national anthem protest? We will have that and the latest on Hurricane Hermine, next.


[04:23:17] MARQUEZ: We are keeping a sharp eye on this morning's breaking news. Hurricane Hermine making landfall on the Florida panhandle, east of the town of St. Marks, hitting the Gulf Coast at 1:30 a.m., with sustained winds of around 80 miles an hour. Now, down to about 75 miles an hour, making it still a category one hurricane.

On top of those high winds, Hermine brings heavy rain, a big storm surge and extensive flooding, tens of thousands of people without power in the Gulf Coast. Florida's governor declared a state of emergency and warns the storm is life-threatening. Much more on this in just a few minutes.

ROMANS: All right. To San Francisco now to where quarterback Colin Kaepernick last night, lots of folks waiting to see if he would sit during the national anthem before the final preseason game in San Diego.

As you can plainly see and hear, Kaepernick did not stand. It happened to be military night.

After the game, Kaepernick says he believes his message is taken out of context. He plans to donate his first $1 million in salary this year to groups helping advance equal opportunity. We will have more on this story in our "Bleacher Report" next hour.

MARQUEZ: It is get out of jail day for Brock Turner. The former Stanford University swimmer set to be released after serving three months of the six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The lenient system sparked national outrage and prompted a campaign to recall California Judge Aaron Persky who handed down the sentence. Police in San Jose are expecting protests outside the county jail where Turner is being held.

[04:25:04] ROMANS: All right. Hurricane Hermine making landfall overnight in Florida. This storm is bringing flooding. It is bringing damage to the panhandle and it will move up the East Coast. The state of emergency in dozens of Florida counties, we're going to have the latest live from the gulf and what this means further up the coast for the weekend, next.


ROMANS: Breaking overnight: Hurricane Hermine touching down in Florida. The power is out for tens of thousands as residents take shelter. Officials warning of big damage, flooding already being reported in the panhandle. Millions could be affected by the storm as it heads up the coast for the holiday weekend. CNN has full coverage of the storm.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez. It is 29 minutes past the hour. Happy Friday to you.

Breaking news this morning: Hurricane Hermine making landfall, smashing into the Florida panhandle as a category one, packing sustained winds of 75 to 80 miles, bringing heavy rain, a high storm surge and extensive flooding along Florida's Gulf Coast.