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EARLY START

Deadly Hurricane Nears Florida Coast. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 7, 2016 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:30:32] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

We welcome all our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

The breaking news this hour, deadly category three Hurricane Matthew now lashing Florida's coastline. Hurricane Matthew may very soon slammed ashore somewhere along Florida's Atlantic Coast, or just as bad, it may skirt the coastline and instead scour along the coast, feeding off the ocean's energy before maybe making landfall to the north. Right now, at least 11 million people are under hurricane warning, more than 270,000 homes and businesses are without power.

The storm is blasting the coast with sustained winds up to 120 miles per hour, with a pounding surf, ten inches or more of rainfall and a storm surge up to 11 feet. There is potential for devastating flooding, billions of dollars in damage and, of course, loss of life.

MARQUEZ: Man, so much happening with this slow-moving storm. CNN reporters ready to bring you the latest conditions up and down the coast.

Let's start in Palm Bay, Florida, Michael Holmes is there now.

Michael, what are the conditions like there at the moment?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Worsening by the moment, I think it's fair to say, Miguel, as we expected. The worst is in the hours ahead. A couple of hours, three hours worse than it is now.

But I can tell you, it's been howling in here for the last -- we just had a massive wind gust. If you'd come to us we probably wouldn't have been able to do this shot. We sort of wedged ourselves in, as best we can out of the -- we had to move from our initial position. It has just gotten worse.

I'll get Jose to show you the level of rain reflected in that light. (VIDEO GAP)

ROMANS: He's going to come back. When they move the camera, he will come back.

MARQUEZ: The winds are just whooping.

ROMANS: We're trying to show you when you move the camera to the right, you can see just this lashing rain with a light backlight and it's just really remarkable. We should say -- there you go, Michael. Pick it up for us.

HOLMES: I was saying, you know, it's remarkable -- it's remarkable that, you know, you have people who still refuse to leave. There are people who refuse to leave mobile home parks, which, you know, when you have to look at this, I can't imagine what they're going through. There are people who still stayed out on the barrier islands, which, again, seems absolutely extraordinary given the storm surge that they would be up against.

So, you know, it's just going to take hours and hours for this to pass through and for people to be able to get out there and see the damage and who's been in trouble, because the emergency services said hours ago said, it's too dangerous for us, we're not going out on 911 calls. And so, you know, those people who had been calling in are being told, you're on your own. We'll get to you when we can.

But, you know, we're not going to have emergency services driving around in this. And you couldn't blame them for that either. You know, it's extraordinary over the last month, they had eight inches of rain in this area, which is six inches more than they normally have. So, when you add all this in, too, so can just imagine, this is a pretty saturated area and it's starting to get more so.

MARQUEZ: Yes, David Waters with the emergency management of Brevard County said they're now hearing from people on those barrier islands that did not evacuate.

Do you have a sense of how many people did evacuate and how many people still might be out there? You're talking people in trailer homes, they're not going to do well in 100 to 120 miles per hour winds.

HOLMES: You know, we were told that pretty much everybody had come off the barrier islands. As you said, now hearing that some stayed. I mean, I don't know what would be in your head to stay on barrier island, when you're talking about a potential 12-foot storm surge when you saw what happened in New Jersey with Hurricane Sandy, why you would stay there and think it would end well, I don't know.

Time will tell the damage that's been done out there, but one imagines it will be significant. And the National Weather Service having said that they expect potential catastrophic damage and said some areas might be uninhabitable for weeks and months, why somebody would stay on that little strip of barrier island when all this is coming in is beyond me. [06:35:05] And one just hopes they make it.

ROMANS: The risk of the structure being swept off the foundation is high. The risk of water coming up to the attic through the roof is very high, when you're talking about winds and storm surge.

MARQUEZ: There's no protection.

ROMANS: That's right.

All right. Michael, thank you so much for that. Stay safe.

You know, I should tell everybody, he's wedged in. They have a car, two cars and concrete wall. He's out there getting battered. But they are safe, I can tell you our guys are safe. Thanks so much.

On Florida's north central coast, the folks in Daytona Beach are bracing for this thing right now. That's where we have CNN's Sara Sidner.

Sara, you're about 64 miles away from where Michael is.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, and the winds are picking up again. These are the strongest winds we have seen all night. They are coming in very strong, whipping around.

We aren't seeing those bands of rain Michael has been dealing with yet. And as we have been talking about all morning, this storm is slow moving as it kind of comes up the coast. There are very few people here. We're in a hotel where we feel like we're the only guests, a few people in the hot but a few people coming in to try to make sure that the lights are on.

We know there are about 200,000 people that are without lights across the state of Florida, and Florida Power and Light want to make sure the areas probably the hardest hit, that they can get on the job as soon as the storm passes. But because this is a slow moving storm, we're talking about hours and hours and hours of this, as it comes through.

Most people heeded the warnings, they're not in the streets. They know there is a curfew in place. They are not there.

But there are few people, a business owner we talked to who said he was going to stay open during all of this. I'm not sure who's going to go by, but certainly that he just could not let himself leave his business he worked 25 years to build. He boarded up his business and boarded up his house. It wasn't bravado, simply that he just felt he could not leave his life's work and decided to stick it out inside of his business with a couple of co-workers who wanted to stay by his side as well.

So far, everyone should be all right. The wind isn't that terrible. But as the storm surge starts coming in, that's what everybody is worried about, potential for flooding. As you know, in these kinds of storms, it is flooding that usually is the very thing that is deadly, not the winds, not the debris but flooding. So, people have to be very careful not to go into water, that they don't know exactly how high it is if that flooding does occur -- guys.

ROMANS: All right. Sara, thanks for that. You see the flying debris in some pictures, thankful nobody in the streets but flying debris is also a real problem when you're in these winds right now.

MARQUEZ: Yes, it gets about 100 miles an hour and it will go right through glass. Crazy.

For the latest on Hurricane Matthew and its forecast and path, let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam in the CNN weather center.

Derek, where exactly is this thing headed and when is it expected to make landfall?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Miguel, the storm is currently about 50 miles to the east southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the eye wall where we find the strongest winds within Hurricane Matthew, about 30 miles just offshore, you can see the center of circulation really running parallel just scraping the Atlantic seaboard of the Florida peninsula.

What I want you to note is this forward progress of the storm, it's moving in a general northwesterly motion and that is really critical, because you can see the peninsula of Florida basically running in that direction. So, any change in movement of this is going to mean major drastic changes to the amount of potential devastation.

Let me point this out for you because this is a previous computer model. The darker red and white indicating category four or category three winds and the latest computer models shifting that ever so slowly or slightly to the east. Miles in kilometers really matter here.

But there is this thing called a wobble and we've been hitting on this over the past few hours, because we saw it actually occur when Hurricane Matthew crossed over Freeport in the Bahamas. So, we're going back in time now, about six hours.

I want to point this out because the potential of a wobble still exists if the eye wall was to wobble westward or eastward. Let me sow the trajectory as this was making its ways towards the Freeport region in the Bahamas, notice that northwesterly movement. At then at the very last frame, it moves westward with the center of the storm system about 20 miles to the west. That is a wobble and potential between a category one hurricane and category three or category four hurricane.

Let me explain a little further with this three-dimensional a map below me.

[04:40:01] And let's say we bring Matthew in by 30 miles westward. That would mean that the wobble takes place. And that means the strongest winds are actually brought in with it. But if that wobble makes its way eastward of the Atlantic seaboard, it's going to bring the bulk of the devastating winds along with it. So, Miguel, Christine, there's a couple of ways we can think about

this, and analogy for you, if I may. Let's call it a spinning top or a spinning quarter on a desk. If you rotate it, it's eventually going to slow down and wobble, as it does show. That same thing happens with strong category three and category four hurricanes as their intensity to move back and forth like this.

ROMANS: All right.

MARQUEZ: I take it the biggest concern here is where it's headed and whether or not that high tide and that storm surge are going to converge to create just pandemonium wherever that hits.

VAN DAM: That's it, Miguel, because, look, as the storm moves northward to the Florida and Georgia border, the strongest part of the storm will bring those winds in and it will coincide with high tide which is this morning or this afternoon rather that's going to be a problem because that will exacerbate the storm surge potential there.

ROMANS: We're right in the middle of this thing. Thank you so much for that, Derek.

MARQUEZ: The fury of hurricane Matthew in full effect. Right now, we're looking at the latest pictures as it bears down on Cape Canaveral, Florida. We will have more with our breaking news coverage, straight ahead.

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[04:45:41] MARQUEZ: Hurricane Matthew appears to have moved quickly towards the central Florida coast, just 5 miles, the eye wall of that hurricane off the Florida coast, a -- just terrible, terrible conditions now, extraordinarily dangerous conditions with winds up to 120 miles an hour that could bring rain up to 15 inches, a storm surge of 11 feet and devastating flooding.

The National Weather Service warning the deadly storm could make homes and buildings in central Florida, quote, "uninhabitable for weeks or months," a dire warning from the Weather Service. As Hurricane Matthew bears down on northeast Florida, parts of the state could be left uninhabitable and even a disaster response like never before could be needed.

Joining us via Skype this morning is Lieutenant General Russel Honore. He served as commander of the Joint Task Force that coordinated relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

Thank you very much for being here.

What are you watching, General, as you watch this unfold?

LT. GENERAL RUSSEL L. HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, I'm watching what's probably one of the most dangerous storms when you look at the injury estimates of it and meteorological estimates of it about to approach a very densely populated area on the coast. Those two don't mix, Miguel. I think from the indications and warning, there are a lot of people that did not evacuate (INAUDIBLE)

And the storm surge is going to flood the communities there and hope for the best and pray for the first responders and the people they left behind. But this is a dangerous situation we're in as potential for storm surge will isolate and cut the lights out and destroy buildings along the coast.

ROMANS: Yes, we just heard, General, that from Brevard County, emergency manager there personally fielding calls from people on the barrier islands who decided they want to stay in their homes and now they're afraid and the worst of that storm is not there yet. I mean, you've got five miles, the eye wall is 5 miles from the coast right now and looks like it could slam right into Cape Canaveral.

So, this is almost the peak of the storm. Then, after that, what are the next moves here? What are officials going to be looking for?

HONORE: They'll be looking for reports coming in on damage assessment and people seeking to get rescue. The first action will be actually by some of those people who stayed behind that have access to boats, they will start to self-rescue neighbors. That's what you will see unfold as winds calm down and people that still have phones that can report.

But the lights are going to be out, they're going to be -- hopefully, they will take the grid down, something I haven't seen done here, they left the grid up an awful long time that means a lot of transformers are blowing which will make recovery a lot harder. So, the longer you leave the lights on during a hurricane approaching, it's going to be harder to bring that grid back up because the transformers will pop.

But they're trying to take care of the people, understand that. This is going to be a dangerous situation to deal with because of, once the storm leaves, you still want to have surge coming in because it will not stop for hours. Rescuing people will be hard because this is a coastal community.

MARQUEZ: That's exactly right.

The flooding you talk about, you're talking a few feet above sea level most of Florida, you're talking about that storm surge and high tide at the same time. Is that the worst damage from one of these storms?

HONORE: No. The worst is they have planned communities in and around Jacksonville and points the south that have waterways, canals that were built that go straight from the subdivision straight to the ocean, that is the worst scenario. That water going into those subdivisions and potential floods.

[04:50:01] ROMANS: You have the bridges and canals and byways in Jacksonville are real, real concern.

General Russel Honore, thank you for your expertise this morning.

MARQUEZ: Thanks, General. ROMANS: And again, a look of work needs to be done here. We're just

nearing the mid-point here when you have the eye of this storm about 5 miles away from the coast. We're going to bring you the very latest next.

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[04:55:07] ROMANS: All right. A brand new update from the National Hurricane Center. here, the dangerous Hurricane Matthew moving parallel to and just offshore of the east coast of Florida, but the eastern eye wall with hurricane force winds is approaching Cape Canaveral.

So, this is really, really close here, folks, about 40 miles east- southeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the moment.

MARQUEZ: Forecasters predicting up to 15 inches of rain and storm surge as high as 11 feet. Nearly 26 million people live in areas under severe weather watches and warnings in this storm.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is warning residents a direct hit by Matthew could lead to massive destruction. We want to get right to meteorologist, Derek Van Dam. He's in the CNN weather center.

Derek, where exactly is this thing now? Do we think it will move closer to shore at this point?

VAN DAM: Well, Cape Canaveral is definitely in the sight of the eye wall of this hurricane, this powerful category three hurricane. You're looking at the latest radar. And I want to break this down for you because you can see the eye wall, which is about 5 miles offshore.

You know, Cape Canaveral and the Brevard County region really jets out from the Florida peninsula. That area is going to feel the western side of the eye wall, which, of course, is the weakest half of the eye wall. Remember, the strongest winds should be felt in the upper northern quadrant where we would typically see perhaps even category 3 hurricane winds for that particular region.

But getting into specifics, you can see how the trajectory of this storm, as it continues to move in a northwesterly direction just running parallel with the Florida coast really just scraping this region, and you can see the eye wall, these bands shaded in yellow and dark green, that will be the most intense part of the storm, as those rotate in and starting to push in considerable amount of storm surge, not to mention strong winds already have been hurricane force in many locations, including Cape Canaveral, conditions will deteriorate from here, moving northward from Daytona Beach to Jacksonville and Savannah through the course of the morning.

Let me tell you what we know right now, because the category is three 120 miles an hour winds, gusts around 150. But remember, the bulk of the strongest winds just offshore. It is moving basically at a snail's pace and really still about 90 miles south and east of Daytona. That is the latest information we have here.

The threat going forward, Christine and Miguel, will certainly be the storm surge and the heavy rainfall across the Carolinas.

ROMANS: And the concerns of the rescues later because we've been hearing from emergency managers that there are people who are still in those barrier islands who did not heed the evacuation warnings.

MARQUEZ: And now texting and calling emergency managers, trying to get off now. Derek Van Dam, thank you very much.

VAN DAM: You're welcome.

ROMANS: All right.

MARQUEZ: Hurricane Matthew roaring up Florida's coast. CNN's breaking news coverage continues with "NEW DAY" starting right now!

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. I'm Chris Cuomo in Jacksonville.

You have Alisyn Camerota in New York. This is your NEW DAY.

Hurricane Matthew is now a reality. It's just a few miles off the eastern coast off central Florida. That will be the western part of the eye. The heaviest winds are on the northern and central part of that eye, and then still have to deal with the calm and next phase of that hurricane.

Here's what we know. It is a category three. That means winds pack at 120 miles an hour, gusts much stronger than that.

They're already having gusts in central Florida over 75 miles an hour. So, you have your combination of wind, storm surge and then rain. Jacksonville, where we are, we came here to be relatively safe so that we could stay on air the entire time that Matthew comes. The advisory has been adjusted. They believe Jacksonville may be the most concentrated hit.

We're about 15 miles in from the shore behind us is the St. John River that feeds off of the intercoastal and the ocean.

The storm surge is expected to be anywhere from six to 12 feet. Right now, we're at dead low tide. There will be another four feet on top of that, that means that water, which is almost right up to the bank now, will be well into the flood area here. Plus, as much as a foot of rain and wind and why there could be so much disaster, so many here told to evacuated, upwards of 450,000 in the immediate danger zone.

However, what's going to happen in Jacksonville isn't going to happen for several hours to come. Right now, relatively light rain and some light gusting. But in Melbourne, in the central part of Florida, it's literally just miles away. This hurricane is moving at a quick enough pace where we're going to start feeling big effects very soon.

So, let's get to meteorologist, Jennifer Gray.

Jennifer, you are where in Palm Bay, where you're going to start feeling those first bigger effects. What's it like and take us through how it's going to change.