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Major Destruction in Caribbean from Irma; Magnitude 8.1 Earthquakes Shakes Mexico; 5 Former Presidents Team Up to Help Hurricane Victims; International Charity Shelterbox Helping Displaced Families; Miami Zoo Will Not Evacuate Animals Ahead of Hurricane. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 02:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay live in Los Angeles where it has just turned 11 o'clock on the West Coast.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares live in Miami where it is now 2 o'clock in the morning. Thank you very much for joining us.

SESAY: We'll be back with Isa in just a moment for all the latest on Hurricane Irma. But, first, we have some more breaking news out of Mexico.

A magnitude 8 earthquake, which I should tell you is just coming to us with some more information that USGS has just upgraded it from magnitude 8. Those words just out of my mouth. It is now 8.1 according to the USGS. That has been recorded off the southern coast near the Guatemalan border.

The tremor was felt as far away as Mexico City, some 600 miles or 1,000 kilometers to the northwest. The threat of a tsunami is being evacuated as I bring you these details, but the US Geological Survey said it has the potential of causing a tsunami.

Let's get some perspective on how this played out, what people experienced. Let's bring in producer Paulina Gomez-Wulschner. She joins me now from Mexico City.

Paulina, thank you for being with us. I understand you were actually driving when this quake hit. Tell us about what you experienced.

PAULINA GOMEZ-WULSCHNER, CNN PRODUCER: Well, it was very scary (INAUDIBLE). I was driving, coming home, and I was listening to the radio. So, I started hearing the alarm. It sounds over (INAUDIBLE) speakers.

So, I knew it was coming because, yesterday, we had a false alarm also. Everybody evacuated yesterday, but nothing happened, but I knew it was it. So, I just parked my car and stand in the middle of the street with a bunch of people. They were very scary. Everybody was very scared.

Actually, I just went out (INAUDIBLE) and neighbors did not want to go back into their homes because they are afraid of (INAUDIBLE) replicas (ph) are already happening in the Chiapas state, which is close to the Guatemalan border. And authorities expect to have replicas here in Mexico City.

So, they are recommending to stay in safe places. And if you're going to go back to your home, make sure you don't have any current with gas and your house is in a good condition because replicas are going to happen.

It was a very, very strong earthquake, one of the strongest I felt. And let me tell you I was here in 1985 when that earthquake collapsed Mexico City.

So, we're looking out for each other, all the neighbors, like what shall we do, where shall we stand because also let me tell you that I live in an area in Mexico City that is considered one of the most dangerous ones. Also with downtown Mexico City. And I am next to the Angel of Independence for those who have been here. We're all in extreme alert.

SESAY: So, Paulina, let me just be clear. When it struck, you were driving and then you pulled over and stood out in the street. Where are you now? Have you been back to your apartment, which I understand is in a very old building? Have you been back to get a sense of whether there is any damage?

GOMEZ-WULSCHNER: Yes. Of course, I already checked the building and checked my apartment and everything is fine here. I live in an old building. It's like 45 years old.

But I know that security protocols were implemented by authorities already, so you can hear the helicopters and the ambulances and the police cars driving around this area. And I've been monitoring authorities when they say that there are no damages.

Actually, the subway and the Mexico City Airport are operating as normal, so there are no big damages here in Mexico City.

[02:05:12] Some of my neighbors have smashed windows, for instance, but no injured people, no big damages.



SESAY: OK. We continue to wait for all the details of the damage assessment throughout the country in those areas that felt these tremors.

But we are so grateful to you, Paulina Gomez-Wulschner, for joining us on the phone and sharing what you experienced. Thank you.

Let's go to meteorologist Karen Maginnis now. She is tracking reports out of Mexico. Karen, what's the latest you're hearing? What do we know?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEROLOGIST: Yes. And as was just reported, 8.1 magnitude. Now, just that point one makes a big difference.

This is still considered a great earthquake because it just doesn't happen that often. I want to show you where the region is. This was the primary earthquake, the 8.1 magnitude.

And what you're seeing, these red dots, those are the aftershocks and they've been fairly quick. Sometimes, you wait a little bit of time, but these are clustered fairly close together.

And take a look at this. They are closer to the coast than the actual, the primary earthquake. And this is the shake map. This tells us who felt it the most. There you can definitely see, right along the coast, that's where the greatest shaking occurred. This is called the Middle America Trench. It is a subduction zone, meaning one plate is trying to dig under the other.

This is a prime location for earthquake activity; and indeed, that's what we're seeing now. There have been five aftershocks, four of those were five-point-plus magnitude in intensity. So, very unnerving to feel something like that.

The depth of this, 35 kilometers or just about 21, 22 miles deep. Wouldn't say it's shallow. Wouldn't say it's deep. I would say it's something in between.

Globally, how many 8.0 magnitude earthquakes do we typically see in a year? One. And this one occurred about 150 kilometers off the coast, just to the west of the Chiapas state.

All right. Let's move on. We've got another big story. Hurricane Irma has now plowed through the Turks and Caicos, continues so and in the region where you would expect some of the heaviest winds, the potential for tornadoes and very heavy downpours, but this is a very concentric hurricane system.

As it moves towards west-northwest, plowing its way across the Caribbean, moving closer towards the Bahamas for Cat Island, Crooked Island, Great Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, those particular islands of the Bahamas will be greatly impacted by storm surge, by flooding, by winds, just like we saw at Barbuda, where they are saying about 95 percent of the infrastructure there was impacted.

Right now, winds associated with this at 260 kilometers per hour and hurricane warnings out from the Turks and Caicos to the Bahamas to South Florida are coming up just a little bit later. We'll tell you more specifically what the computer models are suggesting what happened. Back to you.

SESAY: Karen Maginnis, we appreciate the update. Thank you so much. Let's get more now on Hurricane Irma. My colleague Isa Soares is standing by for us in Miami. Isa?

SOARES: Thanks very much, Isha. Well, it seems like people here have been heeding those warnings that we were hearing there. As you can see behind me, it's very quiet. We are in Miami Beach.

And this is what normally is the party atmosphere, party area. As you see, it's pretty quiet at the moment, quite obsolete in many ways.

Well, Michael Beltran is the owner of the Ariete Restaurant in Miami. He's staying open, though, despite the evacuation warnings. He joins me now on the phone.

Michael, explain to us why you are staying put when everyone else pretty much is leaving.

MICHAEL BELTRAN, OWNER, ARIETE RESTAURANT: Well, we made a decision with everyone's safety on our minds to stay open as long we could to provide a service.

Four people just had meal. To provide a hot meal and give them some kind of feeling of a normal atmosphere, something that right now you're not getting a lot of in South Florida.

SOARES: Are you still having customers? I was under the impression that the majority of people had left. We heard around the area - around this area, 650,000 people have been evacuated. So, how busy have you been? How busy is your restaurant?

[02:10:05] BELTRAN: Well, tonight, we had to turn people away because we were running out of food. Tonight, we definitely saw a great amount of people that wanted to have a good time and just (INAUDIBLE) fir an hour, half an hour, forget about this catastrophic hurricane that we have coming our way.

We're trying to stay open tomorrow as long as we can. Right now, it's open until 8 or 9 o'clock at night. Right now, we just want to provide a service. We'd want to serve people food. We want to give them (INAUDIBLE) kind of a normal life right now when things like running out of water, running out of gas, people have to evacuate. We want to give them a little bit of at-home feeling that they're missing right now.

SESAY: Michael, what you're doing is unbelievably gracious. But at any point, are you going to consider leaving, closing up shop and getting out?

BELTRAN: Yes. Like I said earlier, we're going to make a call tomorrow at 7:30, 8 o'clock at night. We're definitely not going to be open on Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow, we plan to stay open as long as winds don't pass a certain degree.

I am not going to leave Miami. I know a good amount of people that did and it's totally understandable. For a lot of those guys that are born and raised in Miami, it would be very difficult for us to leave. We want to be here for whatever happens during and whatever happens afterwards.

SOARES: Yes. And I'm sure people in Miami are extremely grateful for the service that you are providing and the attention you're giving. Michael Beltran there. Thank you very much, Michael. All the very best.

BELTRAN: Thank you. SESAY: Now, Daisy Schmeltz (ph) works at a resort in the Turks and Caicos. She is riding out the storm there and she joins us now by phone. And, Daisy, tell us what you're seeing, what you're hearing, where you are?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're in Seven Stars Resort here in Grace Bay on Providenciales. It seems to be one of the safest places to be on the island at the moment.

But at the moment, we're waiting it out. There is strong winds, lot of whistling going on. But, again, like I say, we feel very safe where we are.

Where I am at the moment, our bosses have allowed us all to stay and staff allowed accommodation and for all the staff here in the hotel. So, at the moment, I'm here with my colleagues.

A lot of us are actually sleeping at the moment. That's how comfortable we feel. And, yes, it's extremely safe for the guests at the moment.

SESAY: It's wonderful to hear, Daisy, that your colleagues are able to sleep. That's a very positive sign. I know you eventually - for our viewers, so they get a sense, you are one of the workers, a hotel worker - a hotel employee there. How have the preparations been in the last few days?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been incredible. They have been absolutely fantastic here. They have done lots of preparation. Just taking down any possible threat, anything that kind of fly.

All the bosses, managers, et cetera, have stayed on the resort to be able to accommodate any guests that we have here. Most guests were recommended to evacuate. And anybody who felt they wanted to or needed to was able to too.

But to be quite honest, I felt very safe when we were given the opportunity to come here. And I felt extremely safe.

And so far, it's been a very amazing experience, be able to kind of be in this massive chaos and disaster and again feel this safety.

My heart does go out to everybody on the island who doesn't have that same sort of protection and accommodation. And we're just waiting out the storm and the hurricane to see what sort of comes next and stuff. But we've been provided with food, water. All the guests have been provided with food, water.

[02:15:03] There's been emergency plans in case of a water surge, et cetera. So, we have been extremely well prepared here by, again, the Seven Stars Resorts team and management.

SOARES: Daisy, we appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Please stay safe. Stay strong. And you keep in touch with us as the storm - as this really horrendous hurricane pounds its way across all these islands, including Turks and Caicos. Now, you have been watching CNN NEWSROOM. As Irma draws near, Florida has a warning for price gougers. The ridiculous price some stores reportedly charged for water. You just wouldn't believe. That's ahead.

And we will have much more, of course, in our breaking news out of Mexico. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake has been recorded off the southern coast near Guatemala and it was felt all the way in Mexico City.



[02:20:04] SOARES: All of south Florida is now under a hurricane warning as Irma draws closer to US mainland.

The latest projections put Miami in the bullseye. Irma is already one of the biggest and scariest Atlantic storms ever seen. No hurricane has ever sustained Category 5 strength for such a prolonged amount of time.

Well, Michael Joseph is the president of Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross. He got a look at the damage in Barbuda on Thursday. And he joins me now on the phone right now from St. John's in the US Virgin Islands. Michael, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us here on NEWSROOM.


SESAY: We are going to take things over here in Los Angeles because we had a technical problem with Isa there. We lost our connection as she was speaking to Michael Joseph from the Barbuda Red Cross. We're going to work to re-establish contact.

But till then, let's move on and continue our coverage of Irma. Florida residents are just facing a killer storm. Thousands of them have called a special hotline to report price gouging.

They say they are being overcharged for basic necessities like food, water and baby supplies. Some people complained that one company was charging more than $30 for a case of water. Florida's attorney general isn't happy about it. She has this message for retailers taking advantage of the storm.


PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Shame on you, if you are trying to gouge someone with water, with food, baby supplies, things like that, hotels, the airlines.


SESAY: Well, for more on this, I am joined by Global Business Executive Ryan Patel. Ryan, thank you for joining us.

I wanted to be absolutely clear. In a state of emergency, are all price increases of goods and services considered price gouging?

RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE AND CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, specifically on commodities. And the language is really kind of broad after that. And that's what you were seeing the AG from Florida make it a little more clear for everybody to saying its not just on food, it's on all essential, even to generators. They were talking about generators today, how that's a necessity as well.

SESAY: Because I have seen, according to some reporting, that even home help in terms of elderly people that need additional assistance that the prices for that have gone up, which is why how broad it is in terms of the category.

PATEL: I know we're going to talk about - I mean, the airlines. They are talking about the pets being included free. So, maybe even one more step further to saying, we are not going to charge you for that. They are expanding the language to say to include everybody that's in there to evacuate because, again, in this instance, you are talking about evacuation and not so much just staying as well.

SESAY: OK. I want to read part of an article written by Adam Millsap. He is the assistant director at the Center for the Study of Economic Prosperity and Individual Opportunity at Florida State University.

And he has a different take on price gouging. He says this. Let's put it up on screen. "High prices incentivize consumers to purchase only what they need to satisfy their highest valued wants and leave the rest for others." Meanwhile, "high prices incentivize producers to increase supply. People who want to help shouldn't be demonized for raising prices to recoup their higher cost."

Is he right, Ryan?

PATEL: Well, to a certain point. I agree with what he said from a business perspective, but what he is missing in this argument is what is actually the cost. It doesn't cost $100 to sell a whole bottle case of water, right? And the supply is being limited because people are using it.

And on top of that, it's also up to the consumers not to buy more of what they don't need and the panic is really being drawn because - part of it is because the prices are going up.

So, I think, in theory, he's right on a sense of, yes, the prices - supply and demand economics. But in this case, the price gouging is going three, four times above what he is talking about, if that makes sense.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely. The airlines - I know Delta came in for some criticism because a young lady called Lee Dou (ph) took a screen grab of a price hike she was faced with. Let's put that up on the screen quickly.

And this is what she discovered. She was trying to get a flight out and she saw the price jacked up from $547 to $3,200. I want to be clear that a Delta spokesman said actually that that fare was actually posted by Expedia and that when Lee Dou reached out to them, they were able to remedy the situation.

Again, you mention the question of good old fashion economics. Listen to what Seth Kaplan from Airline Weekly had to say.


SETH KAPLAN, MANAGING PARTNER, AIRLINE WEEKLY: Again, it is a tough question, Brianna, when you're talking about airlines. Where is that line between supply and demand economics, which is what they say, and gouging.

[02:25:03] With a gas station, everybody knows, if all of a sudden, they are charging $8 for gas, that's what's called gouging. But airlines always price airline tickets differently depending on your demand and, obviously, in this situation there's a whole of it.


SESAY: What's your take?

PATEL: Well, first off, Delta wasn't the only one who was increasing the prices, right? American did as well prior to that. And at the end of the day, the airlines are actually not held by state law by Florida, right? They're - by FAA and the Department of Transportation.

And on top of that, the problem what I have now that you saw them come out and cap the prices was now there's only limited fares.

So, JetBlue did come out real quickly and said here's our $99 one way to get out, but there's only so many limited fares that are left. And for them to say, yes, for a little while, let's say, this is a $3,000 flight, there's only one seat left, but what are you going to charge when they're actually rescinding a few more planes.


PATEL: And they weren't charging that. You know why? Because the consumers weren't going to pay for it. They're getting ousted by. And that's what you saw American Airlines -

SESAY: So, that's why they did it.

PATEL: Listen, the AG - the attorney general came out from Florida calling everybody out. And then all of a sudden, they came out and said they're all partners together. That tells you something the airlines listen and they had to change.

SESAY: Listen, here's the thing. In a crisis like this, in a time with social media being what it is, you want to do no harm as a company because whatever you do, it's going to get put on Twitter and on the platform.

PATEL: And more importantly, look at what Home Depot did. Home Depot actually froze their prices in a state of emergency. Who's doing that, right? And I think they gave over 300,000 of plywood in one day.


PATEL: So, I think to your point, more companies are doing good. That has to be recognized. And those who are not have to get informed.

SESAY: Ryan Patel, appreciate it. We , must go back to Miami and rejoin our Isa Soares. She is standing by. We have reestablished connection. Isa.

SOARES: Thanks very much, Isha. Yes, I was the introducing you to Michael Joseph, who is the president of Antigua & Barbuda Red Cross. He got a look at the damage in Barbuda on Thursday. And he joins me on the phone now from St. Johns in the US Virgin Islands.

Michael, thank you very much once again for taking the time to speak to us. Before we talk about what you've seen in St. Johns, give us your prospective of the situation in Barbuda because I remember quite vividly seeing those aerial pictures and hearing the prime minister talk of the destruction on the grounds.

JOSEPH: To be honest with you, I think everybody had the same feeling once the prime minister broke news of what he saw.

I think what I wasn't prepared for was the images that were coming out of Barbuda isn't anything in comparison to the real-life feeling and the real-life images that you get to see for yourself once you get into Barbuda.

I'm talking about just - I actually would have said that 100 percent of Barbuda's infrastructure was completely devastated. We're talking about houses, concrete structures that were literally pulled apart by Hurricane Irma.

And the devastation, it's none that I've ever seen before, none that I've ever experienced. I can't fathom how such a storm, a Category 5 hurricane could have done things like this.

And I had the opportunity to speak with a lot of the residents who would have went through it and the stories that they're telling are quite horrifying.

As a matter of fact, many of them are saying that that - that what they experienced, they're not - that wasn't just a hurricane. That was a hurricane with tornadoes in it. And this is where the devastation really came from their experience and their explanation.

SOARES: Michael, you are, in many ways, our eyes and ears on the ground. Tell us those stories of people you have been speaking to. You were saying that almost 100 percent level of destruction there. What stories are you hearing from the people on the grounds?

JOSEPH: So, some of the stories, people speaking about one part of the roof got torn off and then they had to go into the cupboards with their family, with their kids and they had to put blankets and pillows against them, just so that they wouldn't move and water was coming in.

And as soon as the eye started to pass, they ran out into the open. And it just seemed like at that point everybody decided to run out of their building.

And from one of the stories, they jumped into the back of a pickup truck and decided to drive to the shelter. And as they were driving, this is when the back end of the eye came and there were 40-foot containers that were just being thrown across the road.

Huge trees that are hundreds of years old were just being ripped and snapped in the middle. And houses being lifted up and thrown into the sea. I mean, these aren't stories you expect to hear that people experiencing. These are things you see only in the movies.

SOARES: Yes. Utterly harrowing.

Michael Joseph joining us on the phone. He's the president of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross.

Michael, appreciate you taking the time. I wish everyone -- I hope everyone is well, and a strong recovery for those in both St. Johns but also in Antigua and Barbuda. We'll continue to monitor the situation on the ground.

We are following breaking news out of Mexico. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake rocks the southern coast that's near Guatemala, but felt all the way in Mexico City. We'll have that story for you next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SESAY: Hello, everyone. You are watching CNN's breaking news coverage of Hurricane Irma. I'm Isha Sesay, live in Los Angeles.

[02:35:01] SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares, live for you in Miami. We'll bring you the updates in a moment.

We're tracking a breaking story, news out of Mexico. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake hit off the southern coast near the Guatemalan border. Tremors were felt as far away as Mexico City, some 600 or so miles, or 1,000 kilometers, to the northwest where people rushed into the streets in Mexico City. Part of the city are now, we're being told, without power. And video from Mexico City shows emergency workers conducting a rescue of what looks like to be, as you can see there, a collapsed building. The governor of Chiapas State says some homes there have collapsed. Hospitals are without power. An official from the U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake could cause a tsunami.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is tracking reports from Mexico City.

Karen, what are you hearing? What do we know? MAGINNIS: It's interesting when you receive those first reports. Typically, it's like we haven't seen any damage, that sort of thing. Then because this occurs at nighttime, you don't see the damage. You may see power outages and that kind of thing. But we know we have felt it all the way to Mexico City. There have been about six aftershocks, substantial aftershocks, after this 8.1-magnitude earthquake that was about 115 kilometers offshore. But the aftershocks are closer to the coast. That's one thing to consider. At 8.1-magnitude, considered a great earthquake. There's usually one around the globe one time a year. That lets you know how rare it is.

Hurricane Irma is moving through the Turks and Caicos. And it looks like it's going to weave its way and a path of destruction for the Bahamas and the north shore of Cuba, on its way toward south Florida. And that means Miami, and in Dade County and Broward County, we have four or five million people. They are saying that the gas availability is very limited. And a lot of things are going to be limited. They have encouraged evacuations and mandatory evacuations.

Want to let you know, here's the European model. This is one we watch closely. This one is different now, because it has shifted further to the west through the Everglades. But don't focus in on where we think the landfall is going to be. This is a broad hurricane. This is the American model. It brings it in at Miami. The American model, we look at them both, perhaps more revered or more looked at is the European model. But you have to remember this is still a category 5 hurricane that is going to impact all of the Florida peninsula with power outages, flooding, wind damage. There will be a multitude of things that will occur in line of this hurricane. And we'll continue to keep you updated. At the top of the hour another update.

Back to you.

SOARES: Thanks, Karen.

Next on NEWSROOM L.A., it's not every day you get Democrats and Republicans to agree on anything. Five former U.S. presidents team up to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We'll bring you that story after a short break.


[01:42:43] SESAY: Hello, everyone. As Hurricane Irma makes its way closer to the U.S., many victims of Hurricane Harvey still need support. Five former U.S. presidents are teaming up to try to encourage you to help.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hurricane Harvey brought terrible destruction. But it also brought out the best in humanity.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As former presidents, we want to help our fellow Americans to begin to recover.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our friends in Texas, including President Bush, 41 and 43, are doing just that.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are hurting down here. But as one Texan put it, we've got more love in Texas than water.


ANNOUNCER: Donate to We are all in this together.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Thank you.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Thank you.

CARTER: Thank you.

CLINTON: Thank you.

OBAMA: Thank you.


SESAY: A lot of people are doing what they can to help.

Another group already doing its part for the victims of both storms is Shelterbox, an international disaster charity that provides temporary shelter and critical supplies to displaced families.

Joining me now is the president of this organization, Kerri Murray.

Kerri, we've had you many times before. We had you on for Harvey a couple days ago. Let talk about Irma barreling through the Caribbean on the way to the United States. So many places impacted, about to be impacted. Where are you sending your people?

KERRI MURRAY, SHELTERBOX USA: Shelterbox is working across the affected areas. We prepositioned aid. We are sandwiched in strategic location, from Panama, where we have thousands of shelter kits. Prepositioned to Florida where we have an office. Prepositioned aid already there. And additional aid on the way from Texas from a Harvey response to Florida to help with Irma. Shelterbox, this is what we do. And as the world has seen, disasters don't take a day off. Neither does Shelterbox. We are working across these affected areas. We've responded to hurricanes, earthquakes in the Caribbean before. We've responded in the U.S., obviously, most recently as Harvey. We stand ready to go in and preposition and bring in the aid that's most needed.

SESAY: To that point about what is most needed, it will be difference between the Caribbean and the United States?

MURRAY: Yes. So with Harvey, I was working with the largest evacuation center that surged to 10,000 people. We were bringing what's called a shelter within a shelter to provide privacy in a congregated setting. To meet urgent help needs, clinic stations, lactation stations to mothers, to really bringing privacy back to people who are elderly families, that are in some of these centers.

What you see in the Caribbean, you are seeing photos of roofs torn off homes. We have a shelter kit that temporarily repairs, puts a roof back on a home. We're going to look across the affected areas to see what aid is most appropriate. We have shelter kits ready, shelter in shelters, humanitarian relief shelters that can be used in outdoor settings. We have solar lights, blankets, children's school kits. We will really look and deploy to these areas what is most needed. We have a deployment team already on the ground in these areas. And, really, they're going to go in, conduct assessments. A lot of the airports are closed. If we need to move things in from Panama by a boat to the Caribbean, we'll do that. In Florida, we have things in central Florida ready to preposition and some of those shelters popping up in Miami-Dade.

[02:46:09] SESAY: Kerri, we thank you for coming in to share your preparations and all the work you are doing. The affected areas need you right now and all you are doing. So thank you.

MURRAY: Thank you.

SESAY: Good luck.

MURRAY: Thank you.

SESAY: If you want to help Hurricane Irma and Harvey victims, log on to our Web site, and donate to one of the charities we have vetted for you.

Next on CNN NEWSROOM, this was in Miami during Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago. After the break, how the zoo is preparing with a much bigger hurricane headed towards them in Miami. Stay with us for the details.




[02:50:37] SESAY: When Hurricane Andrew barreled through Florida in 1992 Miami looked like something like this. Storks weathered the hurricane near the toilets. Trailers ended up next to rhinos. These jaw-dropping images show how wild the zoo became after that category 5 storm.

With Irma far stronger than Andrew, moving directly towards Miami, what is the zoo doing this time around?

The man to answer that question joins me now. Ron Magill is the communications director at Zoo Miami.

Ron, thank you so much for being with us.

So we just put up on your screen those incredible images that the zoom brought to us back in 1992. And now Irma is on the way, and I understand you will not be evacuating the animals. Help us understand why.

RON MAGILL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, ZOO MIAMI: The main reason for evacuation of the animals is for flooding. Flooding is not going to be an issue. Wind is going to be a big threat. We have already proven through storms like Andrew, and Wilma, Katrina, even though I understand Irma is considerably stronger and bigger, the enclosures that the animals are being maintained in are strong enough. They are built to maintain the strength of something like a lion or a tiger or a guerilla. Fortunately, they also are strong enough to withstand, generally speaking, most hurricanes. Now I understand this might not be most hurricanes, but here's the real issue, many times these hurricanes can change direction at the last minute. If you have to evacuate, you may be evacuating it right into the path of the storm, unless it changes directions. And more importantly, people need it understand, these are not dogs or cats you can move around easily. These are wild animals. Moving them from one location to another, especially off the ground, that stress alone could be enough to kill them. Generally speaking, moving an animal that way, that type of move is actually more dangerous than having the animal try to weather the storm.

Again, this is a flooding issue, and if animals are going to be drowning with no escape, that's different. But here we have the opportunity to protect them from the wind. We're doing our best to do that. We've relocated some of the animals in the zoo into some of the big structures in the buildings. Miami-Dade code now is the greatest building code in the country because of hurricane. These building are strong. If any building can withstand a hurricane, it's our buildings. We're hoping we're doing the best. We're doing everything we can. But we know our animals. And again, it's easier, say, to move a dog, a cat, even a horse, but wild animals are different.

SESAY: Sure. That being said, walk us through your preparedness plan. You talked about having fortified buildings. Give us some more insight into the preparations.

MAGILL: Sure. General speaking, for the zoo itself, all the standard stuff that people are doing, make sure the generator is working, fuel is topped off, extra food for the animals has been ordered and stored. We have to take every possible projectile and pack them away and store it. Make sure all those so-called weapons are eliminated. Then we don't move animals until the last minute. We'll start moving some animals tomorrow and then on Saturday morning. Again, even though we're moving them within the zoo, they're being moved to an unfamiliar location. And animals we're moving are smaller animal and birds, that really would not do well in the storm. Even if they have closures protecting them, if the wind can go through the enclosure, even though the enclosure might protect them from projectiles, they could be blowing around, they can be injured. So those small animals are being put into smaller enclosures within these fortified buildings in the zoo.

SESAY: Absolutely. It sounds like preparations are in place. Knowing what we do about Irma at this stage, what, if any, concerns do you still have if Irma continues on this path. MAGILL: I'll tell you, all those images you showed, I took them. I

thought that was a storm of a lifetime. When I'm looking at the size of this storm, the winds of this storm, I can't even begin to tell you how anxious, how worried, how incredibly profound this is. When this storm hit on Sunday, our lives will change forever. Folks, as someone who has been through Andrew and Wilma and Katrina, this storm will be life changing and it could be life ending if people do not take it as seriously as what the professionals are telling us. As someone who has been in this kind of destruction, please understand, our lives are about to change.

[02:55:00] SESAY: Hearing you say it, someone who's experienced Andrew and experienced many of these disasters, it is very sobering.

Ron Magill, you, your staff, all the animals, and everyone there in Florida will be in our thoughts and prayers. Please be safe. And we wish you the very best for the days ahead.

Well, you've been watching CNN's breaking news coverage of Hurricane Irma and the powerful 8.1-magnitude earthquake in Mexico.

I'm Isha Sesay, live in Los Angeles.

SOARES: I'm Isa Soares, live for you in Miami.

The news continues right here on CNN. We are, of course, the world's news leader.