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Category 1 Hurricane Hits Florida Overnight Bringing Storm Surge, Flooding Rains; Charging Issues Force Global Recall Of Popular Phone Model; SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Test. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 2, 2016 - 05:30   ET


[05:31:40] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN HOST: Breaking overnight, Hermine touches down, smashes into Florida, downgraded to a tropical storm but still packing power. It is cutting off power to tens of thousands of residents who are also taking 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 right now. Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Miguel Marquez.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Nice to see you this morning. A big morning for news. I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-two minutes past the hour. The top story, the big story, the breaking news this morning Hermine, now a tropical storm.

Winds of 70 miles an hour when it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle earlier this morning. Hermine was a category one hurricane about four hours ago, slamming into the coast, packing sustained winds of 80 miles per hour and bringing heavy rain, a high storm surge, and extensive flooding along Florida's Gulf Coast.

Now, tropical storm Hermine powering across Georgia where the governor has declared a state of emergency. Millions of residents along the storms' path, all the way up to New Jersey, are under watches and warnings. They are all preparing for water, for power outages, 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 are blessed. We have the best emergency management teams in the country, in the state, and at the local level. We have a great National Guard, but you have got to take this seriously.


ROMANS: How huge is Hermine? This NASA image shows Hermine obscuring almost all of Florida. Derek Van Dam told us 1,100 miles from top to bottom. We're covering the storm the way only CNN can. We'll begin with Polo Sandoval live in St. Marks, Florida. Polo, what have you been seeing there?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We saw things change significantly very quickly, Christine. Those howling winds now replaced with the sound of some tree frogs and this occasional drizzle. And most importantly, this is what we're looking at now. We're able to get up this close now after sheriff's deputies said that any lines that would be tangled in this large tree are actually not live right now.

What's important to point out here, Christine, is that this tree is blocking the main way into St. Marks, Florida, which is only about a mile and one-half down that way. Yes, it's keeping us here but, most importantly, it's also keeping authorities from getting in there to actually assess the situation.

There was a gentleman who actually drove up a few moments ago on that side, could not make his way north, but I did manage to actually speak to him and he did say that there is at least four to five feet of water in the city -- in the city itself.

So that's one of the reasons why priority number one is to begin clearing those power lines in this part of Florida but also to begin clearing the roadways, particularly some of those roadways that lead into the low-lying coastal regions like St. Marks, which is the city -- one of the cities that's closest to where this storm made landfall only a few hours ago.

What's important to show you here, Christine, is just how much damage this storm left behind. We do understand that there are not reports of injuries, that's some good news. However, we do expect the flood damage to be quite significant when we actually make our way closer to the coast.

[05:35:00] And, most importantly, just getting around is going to be very difficult because there are hundreds of trees, according to authorities, that are blocking roadways and that's one of the reasons why schools are closed today in the region. Offices -- also some of the government offices, as well, those are closed.

We heard a few moments ago from the sheriff here -- the local sheriff -- recommending people simply stay home and not necessarily be out and about because the clean-up process is going to take a very long time, especially when we get the clean-up crews and some of these electrical companies in to start the clean-up process.

ROMANS: And Polo, such a good point that it can be so dangerous. It can look like a few inches of water and still have all kind of dangers lurking below -- washed out culverts. And you were pointing our earlier that you can hear a sort of cracking in the trees. You can hear the frogs. You can hear the cracking in the trees because there has been wind damage there.

SANDOVAL: Very significant wind damage. And what's important is that, yes, some of those heavy winds have already moved on but the ground is still extremely saturated so the concern here is that it wouldn't take much for some of these trees to actually topple over.

But what we're seeing right now, as I step out of the way here, are some of the folks that are making their way north that are essentially stranded. They can only walk around this region here. So what I'm told by the local sheriff is what they're going to be doing here in a few moments is actually trying to just remove this large tree, either by actually cutting it down with a chainsaw or possibly even bringing in a tractor or two to actually remove it.

Because, again, what's really important here is that this is the main way in and the main way out of that St. Marks community which is home to several hundred people, some of which decided to simply stay in and ride out the storm. They were here 11 years ago. They weren't about to leave their homes for Hermine, either.

ROMANS: All right, we're now started to see some of that activity begin the clean-up begins. The power crews trying to move those trees. Cue the chainsaws. Thank you so much for that, Polo Sandoval.

MARQUEZ: I was just going to say the chainsaw brigade is there. A few minutes ago we spoke with Trey Morrison. He's in the sheriff's office of Wakulla County. That is south of Tallahassee in the Florida Panhandle. We asked him about the heavy damage and how heavy the damage his county has sustained.


TREY MORRISON, WAKULLA COUNTY, FLORIDA SHERIFF'S OFFICE (via telephone): It's going to be a big day of recovery for us. We literally have hundreds of trees down. Dozens more than we've been able to even keep up with of lines that are down. Probably a good 50 to 60 percent of the county is probably going to be without power for next day or so.

Winds last night got so bad that the power companies, fire-rescue -- they probably all pulled out. Public works all pulled out about between 10:00 and 11:00 and by midnight we had to start pulling our deputies out for their safety.

So as we've gotten -- we're now getting back into the neighborhoods trying to assess and figure out how we're going to safely do this, the biggest part is going to be -- the biggest work, to be honest, is going to be up to the power company --


MORRISION: -- because as these things are -- these lines are down throughout neighborhoods they can't just turn the power on because they've got your home hooked up. They've got to get that whole -- that whole area back up and safe before they can turn that time on. So it's going to be a -- it's going to be a day or two of intense work for the power companies and public works.

We're still, right now -- like I said, we've got a lot -- a lot of power out so the businesses are not going to be up and running. And we're asking the public to please, if you can, stay home. If it's not an emergency this is not a time to be out sightseeing to see what the damage did. I know people are interested in that stuff but it really hampers us and it's an unsafe environment right now.

ROMANS: I think that's a really good warning for people because there might be folks who want to get out there and see if there's any damage to their neighborhood or to their town, and you're saying just sit tight. You need a day or two of work to get this, as you say, safely done. There's a lot of work the power crews have to do, and public works, so the bottom line here is stay home, folks.

MORRISON: Yes, ma'am. We need -- we need at least a good day before people want to get out and travel. I would say that after this first 24 hours after the storm most roadways will be up and safe. Now, we've got a few hours here of high tide where there's around 3:40 here for us and with the tidal surge I think we were --

But thank goodness we didn't get what we thought we were going to get, which was nine foot or greater. I think we got more closer to five or six foot. So in the next few hours, hopefully, water will start -- as high tide gets out of here and the storm surge starts getting out here, some of these areas -- St. Marks, Panacea, Mashes Sands -- hopefully the road -- the water that's on the roadways will clear out and we can check these places and make sure that they're safe.

[05:40:00] And then, as the powers lines get pulled off the road -- we've got a lot of roads that are impassable right now with trees and powerlines down, so much so that we don't have enough deputies to put out at these. We've got a lot of them with barricades.

Another thing I would ask. If somebody does have to travel -- if it's necessary and they come upon those barricades, please don't try to go around them. They're there for a reason. We're trying to protect you. There's something bad there that we're trying to say not to go around, not to get involved with.

So it's going to be pretty stressful to continue on. I know it's been stressful for everybody as the storm came on shore, and such. We've been here through it. But for us it continues on for the next day or so.

MARQUEZ: I find it hard to believe that it's been so long since Florida was directly hit by a hurricane. Were you guys ready? Are you short of anything?

MORRISON: Yes, looking back I'm sure I could find something to complain about. But, to be honest, this is -- we started gearing up a few days before this. We started getting our plan together. Public works started getting their plan together -- fire-rescue. Because we have, over the years, gone through these storms and this -- and hey, we live on the coast. We know it's going to come eventually.

We've got some good plans in place. It takes a little bit of the thinking out of it for us and makes it a little more -- we see what resources we've got and we plug them in. It has definitely been a team effort between everybody from the power company, fire-rescue, public works, our self, the sheriff's office, state agencies, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Wildlife Commission. Without all these bodies -- all these people coming together -- this would not have gone as good as it's gone.

I'm sure when we look back at this at the end of this and we do a self-assessment with all these people that were involved we are going to find things that we could've done better. So far, to our knowledge, we haven't had any injuries.


MORRISON: And to be quite honest, that's probably the biggest thing to us, that nobody got hurt.


ROMANS: All right, that's our top story this morning, Hermine. Let's take a quick check of your money this morning. The biggest jobs report of the year set to be released at 8:30 Eastern Time.

According to a "CNN MONEY" survey of economists, we're expecting 175,000 net new jobs. That would be down a little bit from a very strong July of 255,000. The jobless rate forecast, 4.8 percent. That would be an improvement. And wage growth expected to slow slightly to a 2.5 percent annual rate. You want to see a better wage growth than that.

This report carries much more weight than you typical month. That's why I'm calling it the biggest jobs report of the year. The Federal Reserve will be watching these numbers. Strong jobs gains could raise the chances of an interest rate hike. So that comes at 8:30 Eastern Time this morning.

The other big story, Samsung. Its new Galaxy 7 -- fires while they're charging. They're recalling all of these things.

MARQUEZ: And while we all deal with iPhones here, Samsung has the majority of the market.

ROMANS: That's right.


ROMANS: So I'll have more on that later.

MARQUEZ: Now, we'll be monitoring Hermine all morning. Where the storm is headed and who could get hit over the holiday weekend. That, coming up next.

ROMANS: And a programming note. Monday, we'll have special reports on both presidential nominees with personal stories from those who know them best. Join us for "UNFINISHED BUSINESS: THE ESSENTIAL HILLARY CLINTON" Monday night at 8:00 followed by "ALL BUSINESS: THE ESSENTIAL DONALD TRUMP" at 10:00.


[05:47:50] MARQUEZ: Our breaking news this morning, Hermine. It smashed into the Florida Panhandle as a category one hurricane. Since then it has weakened just a bit to a tropical storm now, so where is it headed and what more damage could it do? Meteorologist Derek Van Dam live for us in the CNN weather center. Derek, where is this thing going.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Miguel. Well, people along the east coast need to pay very close attention to this forecast. What a night it's been in Florida and what a morning it will continue to be from southern Georgia through the Carolinas.

I want to show you some of the rainfall totals. Impressive, impressive amounts coming out the Pinellas County region in and around Tampa Bay. Over 22 inches of rain since this tropical storm started. It was a disturbance at one point in stage and over the past three days it has produced a significant amount of precipitation.

Look at the extent of this storm. We're talking over 1,100 miles from the outer feeder bands in the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the northern Carolina region, and that is some serious stretch. The bulk of this storm now has moved onshore. The center of circulation has lost its moisture source, which was the Gulf of Mexico, so we should expect this storm to continue to weaken as it goes forward over the next 12 to 24 hours.

But that doesn't diminish the threats going forward. We still have flash flood warnings and watches in effect from Florida right through Georgia. Look at this feeder band coming through the Tampa Bay region right now. This area will easily pick up another three to five inches by the time it's all said and done.

That's not our only threat. Tornadoes, heavy rain, lightning all along the East Coast, at least from Savannah northward into Norfolk. Here's a look at tides at the moment. We are still, in Cedar Key, at 7.5 feet above the astronomical normal low tide values, so this water is slow to recede.

The big question is where is it headed now? We've got, of course, the big holiday weekend taking place. Miguel, Christine, not a great time to soak up the last bits of sunshine --


VAN DAM: -- along the New England coast. Look at that.

MARQUEZ: How dare you? Derek Van Dam, thank you very much. We'll keep a --

VAN DAM: I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

MARQUEZ: -- close watch. Thank you. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Alisyn Camerota joins us live.

ROMANS: Hey, Alisyn. [05:50:00] MARQUEZ: Good morning, happy Friday.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hey, guys, you, too. So we're battening down the hatches and getting ready for Hermine. Thank you, Christine, for loaning me this foul weather gear because it does seem as though I'm going to need it, starting on "NEW DAY" pretty much because we're going to be having so much coverage of the hurricane and where it's going, where it's been, the destruction.

We're going to be interviewing the mayor of Tallahassee this morning so we'll bring you all of the latest that you need to know, particularly if you're up and down the East Coast.

And then, of course, we'll also tell you what Donald Trump is planning this Saturday with his big speech in Detroit. We got -- "The New York Times" got his questions released to them, as well as his scripted answers, so we will read you those in advance of his speech when we see you at the top of the hour.


ROMANS: Wear that jacket well. In the right pocket is a wind speed detector, in the left pocket is power bar, so enjoy.

CAMEROTA: You know what else you have in here that I think is going to come in handy? (Holding up a hat)

ROMANS: Oh my gosh, yes.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome -- OK.

MARQUEZ: Yes, yes, you ought to wear that now.

ROMANS: Wear it well. Thank you, talk to you soon. Ten minutes until the top of the hour. An explosion on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. What happened and why Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg is so upset about it. We'll get an early start on your money. That, and the latest on Hermine, now a tropical storm heading for Georgia where there is a state of emergency in Georgia right now. Details ahead.


[05:55:25] MARQUEZ: This morning's breaking news, Hermine now downgraded to a tropical storm with sustained winds of 70 miles an hour. But the winds were 80 when Hermine made landfall on the Florida Panhandle near the town of St. Marks around 1:30 a.m.

On top of the high winds, Hermine brought heavy rain, a big storm surge, and extensive flooding. Tens of thousands of people still without power on the Gulf Coast. Now, the governor of Georgia issuing a state of emergency there. We will have much more on this storm in just a few minutes. ROMANS: Now, an early start on your money this Friday. Breaking news this morning. One of the most popular smartphones in the world is being recalled. Samsung is halting sales of its new Galaxy Note 7, issuing a global recall of all of the Note 7's it has sold so far.

Here's the problem. This phone can catch fire while charging. Thirty-five incidents reported, so far, of fires while charging this phone, really, just a month ago. It is an embarrassing setback for the world's biggest-selling smartphone maker. Watch this space.

Futures up just slightly hours ahead of the Labor Department's release of the August employment report. That comes at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. No one will be watching it closer than Miguel Marquez and the Federal Reserve chief, Janet Yellen.

The Fed is considering a rate hike at its meeting in a couple of weeks. If the Fed waits there will be two more meetings before the end of the year. A very strong job reports could help make the case that a rate hike is needed soon. The last rate hike was December 2015. The target rate is just near one-half percent so very, very low interest rates.

(Video playing) A fiery explosion at Cape Canaveral. Check out the video. You see the SpaceX rocket on the launch pad. It burst into flames and explodes. SpaceX is run by Tesla founder Elon Musk. He says the blast happened while the rocket was being fueled. The cause is still unknown.

The good news, no one was hurt here. The bad news, the rocket was carrying a satellite that Facebook was planning to use to bring Internet access to Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in Africa at the moment.

This is what he says. "I'm deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX's launch failure destroyed our satellite. We will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided."

That Samsung story, I think, is probably the top business story this morning until 8:30, when --

MARQUEZ: That is strange. How they can make --

ROMANS: -- you look at that jobs report.

MARQUEZ: How that can happen --

ROMANS: I know.

MARQUEZ: -- is unbelievable.

ROMANS: And then the jobs -- and the jobs report, I think, is going to be very political, as well.

MARQUEZ: I'm excited for it.

ROMANS: I think that's going to be political ammunition. MARQUEZ: I am going to -- I got the beer and the popcorn ready.

Hurricane Hermine touching down in Florida, now downgraded to a tropical storm but still packing a punch. Flooding and power problems for tens of thousands. Millions in the storm's path for the holiday weekend. "NEW DAY" picks up coverage right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to your new day. It is Friday, September 2nd, 6:00 in the East. Chris is off this morning and John Berman joins me. Great to have you here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: We begin with breaking news for you because hurricane Hermine makes landfall this morning south of Tallahassee. Believe it or not, this is the first hurricane to hit Florida in more than a decade.

BERMAN: And the storm has weakened in the last hour to a tropical storm but it is still a serious threat to a huge swath of the East Coast. Twenty-three million, right now, are under watches and warnings in nine states. Tens of thousands of residents are without power already and, really, this thing is just getting started.

We have the storm covered from every angle this morning. We want to begin with Polo Sandoval in St. Marks, Florida where the storm made landfall a few hours ago. Polo, what are you seeing?

SANDOVAL: John, it's important to point out what people can expect after this storm sweeps through. And it's amazing how we witnessed just a few moments ago -- there was a large tree that was blocking this roadway. We saw a small army of workers from the nearby city of Tallahassee actually clear it out in only a matter of minutes.

That's important, as these are some of the first vehicles that are now making their way out of the city of St. Marks. That is the region that was perhaps hit the hardest here. In fact, it was closest to where the eye of the storm made landfall only a few hours ago. So what's important to see here are people actually making their way out of the region, what is a relatively small city of only a few hundred.

Several people decided to simply hunker down while the storm swept through, and now that the main roadway in and out of the region is clear we are seeing people finally leave the area. And, most importantly, this is going to allow resources -- first responders -- to make their way into the region to actually get a better picture of just how widespread and how significant the damage is.

I've spoken to some of these folks who are some of the first to actually leave the area. They tell me that there are some pockets there in that small city that could be under about three to four feet of water. Since this is now clear, we are prepared to actually get a closer look ourselves, but it's important to point that authorities are still --