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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Hurricane Matthew Bearing Down on Florida. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 7, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
[11:00:09] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. The breaking news at this hour.
Jacksonville, brace yourselves. Georgia and South Carolina, listen very carefully. An update just in from the National Hurricane Center on where Hurricane Matthew is headed next and just how much damage it could bring.
This category 3 storm is still moving up the east coast of Florida. We have a first look now at some of the destruction from 120-mile-per- hour winds and drenching rain but the major concern right now, according to everyone straight up to the president of the United States, life-threatening storm surge. We are talking seven to 11 feet of water.
BOLDUAN: So it's the wind, it's the rain and it's the surge but it is also this with the storm. It's the time. It is moving for anyone in its path excruciatingly slowly along the coast, up and up the coastline.
What is concerning forecasters right now is that the storm could shift at a moment's notice west. A slight shift west means a whole lot more damage, a whole lot more people in the threat path.
We are standing by for an update from South Carolina's governor, Nikki Haley, to give us kind of the latest on how they're preparing for Matthew, what they're seeing right now, what she wants to see. She was very blunt with her messaging yesterday. We will bring you that as soon as she takes to the lectern right there.
We also have correspondents fanned out in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all along the hurricane's path.
BERMAN: First we're going to be joined by CNN meteorologist Chad Myers live in the extreme weather center.
Chad, a brand new update from the National Hurricane Center. What have you learned?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The hurricane center just keeps the eye offshore far enough to make it a non-catastrophic wind event. Now that's not taking out anything for surge yet or flooding, because there will be spots with over 10 inches of rain. But what we know at this hour is that the outer eye wall is hitting Daytona Beach. There's the eye. It doesn't really connect much here. Big squall area there. This is the eye and the eye is now hitting the beach. That's 100-mile-per-hour wind, that's 100-mile-per-hour hour gusts, in the Palm Coast, in the St. Augustine. Those winds are going to be between 80 and 90 miles per hour as long as this eye stays onshore or just offshore.
Here's the difference. Let me draw the coast. It's kind of hard to see. There's the coast of Florida. This is the track of the storm. Now if Florida would be like this, it'd be crossing the coast and right onshore. So Florida, the angle of Florida's coast is actually helping the amount of damage be slightly less as the coast moves away, the storm is trying to move away as well.
Here's the animation for you here. Now there is still going to be all of this water piling up in Jacksonville. This is what we are worried about. Also as the storm continues to try to turn on up toward Brunswick and Tybee Island, all of that water is going to get into that corner where the atmosphere here, where the whole coastline decides to turn just a little bit here.
Now let me take you to look at this on the floor. This is what we were concerned about yesterday. Would the storm take a left hand track or would it take a right hand track. The left-hand track would have put it 20 miles farther west and guys, that would have been $2 billion if not more worth of damage compared to if it was on the right side of the eye or the right side of the track, that cone that we talk about.
So far the hurricane center had it right down the middle. I don't think you could have made a better forecast keeping it slightly offshore for awhile. The eye wall slightly onshore but not the center of the eye which would have made the onshore flow so significantly different, so significantly more damaging with those onshore flows and those onshore winds that we have right now. So, so far so good. The forecast right on the money for the hurricane center.
BOLDUAN: Right on the money but one thing that we've heard from local officials, from you all the way up from President Obama at this point is the big threat is -- it is not the wind right now, as you've just noted.
MYERS: That's right.
BOLDUAN: It is the storm surge. Lay out why that is such a threat and where it's such a threat.
MYERS: Because as the water is pushed this way, and this way, and this way, it's like, and I used this analogy earlier, but I'll use it again because it works. If you're trying to cool off your cup of coffee and you blow on the top to cool it off, the water kind of piles up on the opposite side of where you are. So the waves kind of push it to the other side of the coffee cup. Well, think about a 100-mile-per-hour breath blowing on a coffee cup.
It just blows all the water on land. Now if there isn't land there, there wouldn't be a surge. The water would just go around and around and around but because the land is going to get in the way and the low population areas, the low country of Georgia and South Carolina ramp up so slowly that water can get into those marshes and eventually out up into the creeks and streams that feed those marshes and into the communities that lie on those creeks and streams themselves.
[11:05:03] Like Shem Creek, of if you are up in Tybee, all those little creeks that are just to the west of Tybee, all that will be flooded with 9 to 11 feet of storm surge this afternoon.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And nine feet is the first floor of any building.
MYERS: You bet.
BOLDUAN: So that's why that's so significant. Chad, thanks so much. Chad, keeping an eye on the track, on where the storm is right now. We'll get back to Chad.
BERMAN: All right. One of the places that's really been getting hammered over the last several hours, Daytona Beach, Florida. Our Boris Sanchez there. It's been an adventure for you, Boris, all morning long.
BERMAN: Tell us what you're seeing, what the conditions are right now.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. We had quite a close call this morning. First I want to paint a picture of where we are right now. We are adjacent to our hotel. And there is all kinds of debris on the street. You can see the roof of that building had started to come off and some of the roofing is blocking the intersection right now.
We've also seen large metal sheets that have been riding down the street for several blocks. There's also palm trees. If you can see them in the distance over there that are totally bent over. This is starting to be the eye wall of the storm, as you heard Chad mentioned. Earlier today we were standing at the lobby of the hotel. I'm watching debris flow to the street. At one point as we were standing out there we heard a large crash in the awning above us. And as we started to move out of the way, a huge chunk of metal crashed to the ground.
It had to be -- weigh at least several hundred pounds. And we were immediately startled and moved inside. Shortly after that, where we were standing, a piece of wood went right through the awning and landed literally just footsteps away from where we were. You're actually seeing some video of the damage here in Daytona from where I'm right now.
The situation here is extremely, extremely dangerous on the street. I have seen several people walking through this earlier today. There was one guy that was driving around like a maniac this morning. Fortunately he's been arrested. For the most part it appears the people have heeded the warnings and have stayed inside their homes.
Another note, as far as power goes, we know that about almost five million people have been affected in terms of their electricity in their homes at this point. Our lights have been flickering on and off all day. The street signs right behind me are off right now. They were on just a moment ago. So I'm not sure if the lights went out on our block or just on this stretch of street.
I did see earlier today, a power pole that was showing sparks. It was flickering. We've seen some power surges throughout the day.
SANCHEZ: The situation here quickly changing drastically. John?
BERMAN: Boris, we're going to jump in right now. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is briefing on her state preparations. Let's listen.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Who I will now refer to him as rock star John.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Governor. Well, as of 11:00 this morning there's now a hurricane warning in effect for the entire coast of South Carolina. In addition to a storm surge warning in effect for the entire coast of South Carolina.
Matthew is still a category 3 hurricane with winds of 120 miles per hour and it's currently brushing the east coast of Florida. The latest track from the National Hurricane Center has shifted a little bit closer to the South Carolina coast and a little bit farther north closer to the Myrtle Beach area as well. So that's some cause for concern.
The storm will start working up toward the South Carolina coast tonight. It's expected to move just along -- potentially making landfall somewhere along the South Carolina coast sometime during the day tomorrow and then start moving away later tomorrow night.
So given this track, we have significant concerns in terms of impacts to the state. I think one of the greatest impacts would be the threat for storm surge. Right now we are looking at the potential for disastrous and life-threatening storm surge inundation along the coast. It's especially true for the central and southern part of the coast, down, you know, across Charleston, down near Beaufort.
In a worst-case scenario, if this storm makes landfall, storm surge inundation, so that's how high the water will get above normally dry ground, could be over eight feet. That is a lot of water. The storm surge is not going to just be at the coast. The storm surge can extend miles inland so it doesn't matter that you don't have a beachfront home. You could be impacted by the storm surge well inland. You need to be aware of that. In addition we expect significant damage to coastal structures due to
the combination of very high inundation battering waves and high tides. Some of the more vulnerable areas, we have Daufuskie Island, Hilton Head Island, Hunting Island, Volley Beach, Wild Dunes, Edistow Beach. Even places like Daniel Island could all be impacted by the storm surge.
Roads in and out of barrier islands will become impassable due to the surge. If you don't evacuate now, you will likely become stranded.
In addition to the surge threat, heavy rainfall is going to be an issue. For coastal are as much as eight to 14 inches of rainfall is expected and even as you head in toward the midlands we still could see three to six inches of rain. Because of that, a flash flood watch is in effect pretty much from Rock Hill now and through Aiken and all points east of there.
[11:10:03] So heavy rainfall is another concern for us. That can result in flash flooding. You take a place like downtown Charleston, where you have not only the storm surge coming in, and now you have the heavy rainfall and we're looking at the potential for deadly flooding on the Charleston peninsula.
We also want to mention the threat of winds now with this closer track, we could see sustained hurricane force winds along the coast. That's going to bring extensive damage to trees. We will see some structural damage to homes.
In addition, even if you live inland, the stronger winds will pose issues to trees but also to people living in mobile homes so please be aware of that. And given those strong winds and the likely damage that's to occur, we should expect widespread and potentially long- lasting power outages.
So, again, we just urge you, if you're in an evacuation zone, and have not evacuated now is time to do so. We please urge you to move inland if you can. Thank you.
HALEY: So you've now heard what we discussed this morning which is the storm, you know, as we hoped it would relieve a little bit of the situation. I think we are seeing that it is getting worse, and so we are looking at major storm surges, we're looking at major winds, we are looking at wet grounds which could be flood-like, like what we saw last year, and you know when you have that, you have a lot of falling trees. So there is nothing safe about what's getting ready to happen.
This is the last time you will hear my voice when I am asking you to evacuate. We need everybody to consider evacuating and really take this very seriously.
Want to tell you some updates on what we've got going on as of 9:20. Director Smith and his team closed access to the reverted roads and so you'll start to see the lanes of I-26 return to normal around midday. They are still going to be manning the traffic points until it gets dangerous and then at some point, we're going to have to get all of our first responders and crews off the roads so that they can seek shelter as well.
We have 712 troopers on the road, 2700 DOT maintenance crew members that are ready to go, thousands of guardsmen that are on the ground but also getting ready to be deployed during the search and rescue situation.
The number who have evacuated as of this morning are now at 310,000 which is up from 280,000 in my report yesterday afternoon.
What we want to remind people is local bus operations are still moving to shelters, so if you are not going to evacuate upstate, at least go to a shelter. At least go to those areas where we know that we can have a safe, comfortable place for you to have food and water and that we can make sure that we've got generators and something where you will feel informed and know what's going on.
Many shelters have plenty of room so that's what we want to see, is people at least taking time to go to a shelter if they don't evacuate. The Charleston Harbor will be closed at 10:00 a.m. National Guard, yes, 2,000 on duty, 3,000 on standby. We are receiving, you know, like I said, multiple resources from other states who have offered help but also FEMA is really stepping up and making sure that we have the pre-storm supplies that we need going forward to man the shelters and do all the things that we need to do, and then they will stay through the post-storm to make sure that that goes on as well.
Our barrier islands, it's the biggest concern we have right now, is the fact that we need people to move. Daniel Island, they are not moving. We need you to consider coming up north. This is the time where you can evacuate. We need you to do this. The water that's going to come in is going to be dangerous. Daufuskie Island, we have 100 people on Daufuskie and the last ferry left out at 6:00 yesterday. And there were still 100 people there.
We did another ferry at 10:30 this morning. We do have National Guardsmen there and DNR there with boats and helicopters to lift people out. If you know of anybody on Daufuskie that is staying, it is going to be under water. So we have to get these people out. And it's very important that we spread that message.
We are now in -- bless you. In all of the areas where we are seeing -- could be possible really dangerous areas, we are either doing the reverse 911 calls or we're going door-to-door to try and ask people to get out. This is what our law enforcement and county officials are doing as we speak to try and get everybody to understand the seriousness of what is going on. We have --
BOLDUAN: We are listening right now to Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina giving an update. And she honestly could not be more blunt and more clear. She said this is going to be the last time you're going to hear my voice. I'm asking you to evacuate, evacuate and move inland.
From the last forecast they had, the last update that they had, she said the situation is looking worse than they had hoped it would turn for the better, looking worse. Major storm surge, major winds coming straight for South Carolina.
[11:15:06] BERMAN: She said we need you to move. She wants people in her state to listen to her. They are expecting a storm surge of eight feet or more. And they are very nervous about the low country, very nervous about Charleston, all the way up now to Myrtle Beach, which is a little bit further north than they have been looking before.
BOLDUAN: Exactly. And she's even calling out some of the barrier islands where she said people are not moving. Daniel Island, she says the water you're going to be looking at is very dangers, you need to move now.
Let's go to South Carolina. Brian Todd is in Charleston. He's been there looking at the preparations. This was not an uplifting briefing. They are very serious about what's going to happen overnight and into tomorrow, Brian. What are you -- what are you seeing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate and John, it was not an uplifting briefing and just before that briefing, I talked to state officials and emergency management division official. They are even more dire, saying the people in the low-lying areas which is quite a bit of this area, have to get out now. And even though Governor Haley said that 310,000 people have evacuated as of this morning, she's saying that's still not enough. I mean, the numbers of evacuees have gone up but it's not enough because they are expecting at least eight feet of storm surge.
This is one of the low-lying areas, this is the Ashley River, just off the harbor. And we are right at the tip of the peninsula here at Battery Park. This is an area where every local official, every local resident tells us this area is going to get flooded over here, no doubt about it, when the storm surge is at its peak, they are expecting at least eight inches of rain in this area, possibly up to 12. And again, the surge is going to come over, you know, this walkway and this embankment here very, very likely in the coming hours.
Another thing that you got to think about here in South Carolina, that's the James Island connector over there, that bridge. They are going to start to close down bridges that are above 65 feet above the water at about -- when the winds hit 40 miles an hour and above. So that's not going to take much when this storm is at its peak. It's going to go way above that at its peak, and so when these bridges close down you are really out of luck if you try to get out at that point.
Guys, you know, they are just saying -- one official told me earlier that the storm surge more than the wind is really what they are worried about here because there is so much low country here. The town of Beaufort, South Carolina, is below sea level so think about that. If you are in those areas, you heard the governor talk about Daniel Island. We were on Folly Island yesterday. These are low- lying areas right on the water. They will get flooded.
They also talked about going door-to-door and warning people. We were on Folly Island, one of the barrier islands, yesterday. The police chief said this morning they are going door to door to give people final warnings. That's all they can do. If you don't get out, you are kind of on your own. First responders are not going to be able to get to you at the height of this storm, guys.
BERMAN: Yes. Brian Todd, the clear message from the governor, listen very carefully, get out if you're in one of the low-lying area. As you can tell, she does not feel that enough people have moved out of those vulnerable areas right now.
And the president of the United States, it's not every day the president of the United States goes on TV to say, I'm very concerned about the storm surge as well.
BOLDUAN: He's talking specifically about storm surge. Right.
BERMAN: And he's talking specifically about South Carolina.
All right, that's one area of concern right now. Another major area of concern is Jacksonville, Florida. This is really very close now to where this storm is hitting.
Want to get to CNN's Victor Blackwell there.
Victor, storm surge in Jacksonville also a major concern.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. That is the major concern here, especially where we are right at the St. John's River. You see it over my shoulder here. But I got to tell you, just a few moments ago we felt the first taste of what the people here are going to see over the next several hours, that first back slap from a stronger band bringing more intense wind, stronger rain. Of course, we know that's coming.
We saw an uptick in the number of power outages across Jacksonville according to JEA, the power company here. That now up to 9,000 just a small percentage of what we're seeing across the state. But you're right, the storm surge here, a bigger concern than the wind because even on an average afternoon when those thunderstorms come through Florida as they do in the summer, the community is here near the river downtown flood on those days.
San Marco, where we are right across the river in the community of Riverside, that floods on an average day a nor'easter, tropical storm, but with this much water, officials here are hoping that people got out of the way.
I lived here for several years and I know that it takes just a couple of minutes, 10, 20 minutes of moderate rain to flood some of those communities. With the rain we felt and what we are going to see, that's a major concern.
Now there is still some time for people to get out. And we're told by the mayor's office about 450,000 people heeded the evacuation calls and got farther west into Lake City, about an hour away into communities farther deeper into Florida, but there is some time to get out. But just a few hours away now, Jacksonville is in the bull's eye. Governor Rick Scott saying this is his largest concern across the state after seeing what happened up and down the coast -- John, Kate.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right, Victor.
The latest update from the National Hurricane Center is that the storm is -- the eye wall is 95 miles southeast of Jacksonville, heading that direction. That's an area of particular concern.
[11:20:08] We're going to take a break. Our continuing breaking news coverage of Hurricane Matthew will continue.
As John mentioned earlier, President Obama speaking out just a short time ago, giving an update from federal emergency officials. The warning that President Obama had for the roughly 26 million people under watch and warning from Hurricane Matthew. That's coming up.
BOLDUAN: We're continuing to track the unfolding and dangerous situation as Hurricane Matthew scrapes its way up the southeast coast. President Obama just wrapped up a meeting with federal emergency management team, watching Hurricane Matthew move dangerously and slowly by Florida, heading to Georgia, heading to South Carolina. One of the biggest concerns right now really from top down is the threat of the storm surge and what it will do to communities in its path.
Here's the president from the White House a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The potential for storm surge flooding, loss of life and severe property damage continues to exist and people continue to need to follow the instructions of their local officials over the course of the next 24, 48, 72 hours.
[11:25:12] Those of you who live in Georgia I think should be paying attention because there's been a lot of emphasis on Florida but this thing is going to keep on moving north through Florida into South Carolina. There are large population centers there that could be vulnerable so pay attention to what your local officials are telling you. If they tell you to evacuate, you need to get out of there and move to higher ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: President Obama issuing the warning, calling for the people in northern Florida as well as Georgia and South Carolina, very concerned about storm surge as Hurricane Matthew moves up the east coast.
On the phone with us right now is Don Walker of Brevard County, Florida, Emergency Management official.
Mr. Walker, thanks so much for being with us right now. Brevard, for people who don't know, is where Melbourne, Florida, is, Cape Canaveral is. The storm, the worst of it has largely passed you by this point. Tell me what you have seen outside.
DON WALKER, BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Well, first, I will tell you what I hear. Outside even though you are saying the storm has passed us, which is pretty much as we expect it to be out of the area by this afternoon, but the wind is still howling outside even though we are not really getting the hurricane force winds we anticipated. They are more tropical storm force.
BOLDUAN: So you're hearing the winds. Tropical storm force winds are still a great danger. And that's why it's important that you get the message out because a lot of folks, this has been a slow-moving storm, a lot of folks, you know, maybe wanting to head back outside of the -- the worst of it has passed. What's your message to folks right now?
WALKER: Well, really, you know, for our residents, I mean, we are in the process right now of getting our crews out to assess damages, but I can tell you this is pretty much a wind and rain event and I don't think we're going to have a whole lot of flooding out of it in areas. I think it's just going to be a lot of tree and structural damage like to, you know, mobile homes and manufactured homes. And it's probably going to just, you know, a little low level -- low-lying area flooding, flood-prone area flooding. But I don't think -- it did not become the major event that we were prepared for.
BERMAN: Well, you were prepared for it. That in and of itself is a good thing. And a lot of people did leave the coast which is also a good thing. Tell me about the calls that have been coming in and were coming in overnight and this morning, particularly as this storm was bearing down and the worst of it was or still is over you.
WALKER: Well, one of the anomalies we have here is we do have the barrier islands so, you know, everyone, we issued a mandatory evacuation on Wednesday effective at 3:00 for everyone living on the barrier island, and unfortunately, we got some hurricane complacency that's involved but for those who do leave the barrier island, they want to know, A, if I live -- if I work on the mainland and I have to evacuate will I be able to get over the causeway to my home and then others who live on the barrier island want to know well, when will you close the causeway.
Well, we don't close the causeways until after a storm just to assess whether there's been any damage to the causeways and it would be unsafe for people to return home. So just inundated for the -- probably the last 72 hours with questions on social media from people, when did the causeways close. We just -- you know, we can't repeat it enough because each person that gets on a social media site, it's an individual thing. They don't look at what other people have asked about or anything.
Just want to know what can you tell me about my situation. So I have answered a lot of questions in the last two or three days about the closing of the causeways. But as soon as this storm passed through Brevard County this morning, I started getting questions when can we go back across the causeway. So, you know, so it starts over again just on a different concept.
BERMAN: Hold your horses, people.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Exactly right. Are first responders --
BOLDUAN: Are emergency crews back out -- are emergency crews headed out now? One of our reporters on the ground there said she did hear sirens that she thought were in the distance. Are they out assessing the situation now?
WALKER: Yes. As soon as -- we have a long county, 72 miles long, so we have broken it up in quadrants. You know, the south part of the country, central part and northern part, because this storm moved through at 13 miles an hour. And when you got a 72-mile long county, you know it's going to be a long, drawn-out ordeal. But as soon as that storm system moved into the central part of the county this morning we started sending out crews to assess the damages. And so, you know, and then at probably another 30 minutes we're going to start sending crews out into the central area and then this afternoon, probably around 2:00 we'll crews out in the northern part of the area.
But again, I think most of those damages we are going to see which I can see right now in the parking lot are tree limbs and, you know, maybe shingles and things like that.
BERMAN: Quickly, and we're going to let you go because we need to let you get back to work right now, but any reports of injuries of any kind in your county?
WALKER: No reports of injuries. We got about 160,000 people, though, in the county right now that are without power. So Florida Power and Light is working diligently to restore that power. Even in the heat of the storm they were still out --