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Hurricane Irma on Path to Devastate Florida; Housing Voting Today on Harvey Relief Bill; Mexico Quake Leaves at Least 5 Dead. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 04:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: New projections showing Hurricane Irma on a path that could devastate Florida.

[04:00:03] Meteorologists say Miami is now in the worst possible position.

Overnight, new hurricane warnings for coastal areas. We'll have the latest on Irma's track. Also the latest on that 8.1 magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday, September 8th. It is 4:00 a.m. exactly in the East.

Let's begin with the National Hurricane Center issuing a hurricane warning for southern Florida. This extends from Jupiter inlet on Florida's east coast southward around the peninsula to Bonita Beach and including Florida Keys and Florida Bay.

BRIGGS: Storm surge warnings also being issued in coastal communities. Those surges could reach 10 feet. Mandatory evacuation orders now in place for parts of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, low-lying parts of Brevard county, and Monroe County, as well.

ROMANS: It is not just Florida bracing for Irma. Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal ordering a mandatory evacuation for anyone east of I-95 in the state. That includes the city of Savannah, it includes Chatham County and other low-lying areas. And in South Carolina, a mandatory evacuation order, mandatory evacuation order takes effect Saturday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time in the coastal counties including Charleston.

BRIGGS: Irma holding strong at category five, slamming Turks and Caicos overnight and now approaching the Bahamas.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis tracking the monster storm from the weather center.

Good morning to you.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: How long is the window for people to get out of Florida now?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is closing so fast. I'm not even sure that if I were living in south Florida, I'm not sure that I would get in the car and try to make a run for it, just because all the services that would be available to you are so limited now. You can't even really buy an airline ticket. Delta and American are saying that by tomorrow afternoon, they're not going to have flights in and out of those international airports. Those are the big airports.

The window is closing for sure. I would say that if you report out by now, this is going to be really tricky.

All right. So, the northern coast of Cuba, here are the Bahamas. It looks like the southern edge is going to be riding right along that northern coast of Cuba, and then by Saturday morning, we're looking at a category-four hurricane before making its way into south Florida. I'll explain more about that in a minute.

Is it -- is it near Miami? Is it on the Everglades side? Where is it going to go? When's it going to make landfall?

It goes up the spine of Florida as a category three. So, it's interaction with lands is going -- so its interaction with land is going to weaken it a little bit. But we're still looking at a major hurricane, a category three. Even into Georgia, tropical storm strength as we go into the beginning of the workweek.

Here we are at Friday. This has been a category-five hurricane since early morning Tuesday, and it's Friday. This is a frightening storm.

And as the mayor of Miami said a day or so ago, this is a nuclear hurricane. It is so broad and so -- you know, just concise, a clearly defined eye has given little up. Even as it has interacted with some of these islands, Bahamas will be the next, and if you on are the upper right quadrant of the hurricane, that's where we look for tornadic activity.

It could happen anywhere, but that's really kind of the core. This is very important. We were looking for this -- this European model, we were looking to see what would happen.

Let's break down Florida, split it in half, see where the European model goes. It goes up towards the Florida Keys and more so into southwestern Florida, to the west of center. The European model looks like it makes landfall around Miami-Dade County, 2.5 million people, Brevard County, about 2 million people, throughout the state of Florida, over 20 million people.

No one will go unscathed from this. Maybe you remember Andrew, maybe you remember Wilma. But a hurricane like this -- we haven't seen anything like this. But now as it marches toward west/northwest quickly, supporting winds 160 with gusts to 200.

This is already a deadly hurricane. We'll have another report at the bottom of the hour. Back to you guys. ROMANS: All right. Karen, thank you so much. Sobering, sobering

pictures. Sobering information. Millions of people in Florida are in Irma's path. That number is higher today than it has ever been.

Last year, the three-county area that stretches from Miami to Palm Beach topped six million people in population for the first time.

[04:05:00] We've got time-lapse video of the region, you know, showing rapid growth since 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit the area.

The state's governor, Rick Scott, warning people to get out fast.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: We cannot save you when the storm hits. We cannot -- just remember this -- once there's an evacuation order, get out. We can't take care of you in the middle of a storm.


BRIGGS: The administrator for Monroe County that includes the Florida Keys making it clear all hospitals will be closed. Ambulances will be gone by this morning. He also warned if you dial 911, no one will be there to answer.

CNN's Isa Soares live for us in Miami with the very latest.

Good morning to you, Isa.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Dave.

The message from officials very, very clear in the last few days. If you're going to stay here, you -- recommending that people go to shelters, seek shelters more inland, from 13 or so shelters have been added, in addition another eight being set up. For those of you who don't want to stay that you're prepared -- want to hunker down, they're recommending that they go really outside as far north as they can go.

And that's exactly what people are doing. They're heeding that advice, hence why so much of Miami Beach is very much a ghost town, not just at this time of the morning but also for very much throughout the day. So, what I've been seeing throughout the day is long cues, long lines, long lines not just for people buying food, food is flying off the shelves, may I add, but also long lines for people getting petrol. That has been a huge concern in Miami, people trying to head north, packing their bags, and going north. But as they try to leave, really they're faced with long lines.

What authorities here have done is really brought in police, coming in with fuel tankers to try to mitigate and really facilitate the flow of fuel to keep that going so that people can get out sooner rather than later. Of course, those people who were staying here, they have been -- many have been hunkering down by themselves. We've seen them boarding windows, boarding doors. And there are, of course, others who are going -- who are seeking

shelter. Some 650,000 people have been moved or ready and told to seek shelter. Also worth pointing out that despite the fact that so many people are leaving, Dave and Christine, I did speak to a couple of people in the last few hours who basically said, look, I've gone through Andrew, I know what it's like. I'm going to ride this out. I'm going to help those who can't get out by providing food, water, whatever that may be.

But the majority really taking notice, heeding advice, and leaving. Of course, we're not just talking about what may happen the next 48 hours, but, of course, what may happen in the next two weeks if not longer. While people may have food, water, and electricity now, that might not be the case as some are suggesting in several weeks' time if the storm, the hurricane, is as ferocious as it's shown up to be.

BRIGGS: The only good news about this as opposed to Harvey is it's moving fast. It won't sit there and park over Miami.

But to your point, there are people staying that want to help others. Are there people telling you that they're staying because they don't think they can get gas, they don't think they can get out?

SOARES: No. Those I've been speaking to are telling me really why they're staying, they're staying because they believe they want to help. That is more -- the sense I got from them.

One gentleman says he has a restaurant here in Miami Beach. He basically says, look, I've gone through last hurricane, I know what it's like, but either I'm -- I had a full restaurant, he said, tonight, and I am helping those who perhaps don't want to leave. This is my city. I want to stay here. I don't want to leave.

Having said that, Dave, he did say has the hurricane moves closer, he will be looking closely to see whether he should stay put or whether to seek some more shelter more inland, Dave.

ROMANS: All right. Everybody who's staying, please be careful. Please lay in supplies. And don't leave at the last minute.

I mean, when we've seen terrible storms, people who leave at the last minute, they end up really in fetal positions.

BRIGGS: Heartbreaking stories over the years.

ROMANS: All right. Isa, thank you so much for that.

All right. Ahead, Irma starting to move over the Bahamas at this hour. Parts of some of the islands in the Atlantic already left in ruins by Irma. And hurricane Jose has yet to move in. It's right behind this one.

We're live in the Bahamas, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:13:44] ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Irma. This is a category five storm, churning across the southeastern corner of the Bahamas overnight. A hurricane warning now in effect as Irma takes dead aim at central Bahamas today and continues tracking toward Florida.

Journalist Stefano Pozzebon joining us via Skype right now. He is in the Bahamas.

Tell us what you're seeing.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: What we're seeing is that the sea is -- the sea level is rising, and the winds are coming in and starting to pick up. And the wind in particular, Christine, is the main source of concern here in the Bahamas. We're talking about wind gusts of 175 miles per hour. These are winds that can blow away any sort of building that can move into the island where you don't have buildings -- buildings are hard concrete as you may have in the inland of the United States.

So, the people of the Bahamas are telling us that the main source of concern are the wind gusts. And they're taking particular precautions against it. We see most of the windows in Nassau have been boarded with metal boards or wooden boards. Some trees have been chopped down.

[04:15:01] But as much as they can be used by tropical storms and (INAUDIBLE) coming in, these people are worried, because this is something they've never experienced before, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, this is big, powerful. Those winds are devastating, no question.

Stefano Pozzebon, thank you so much for that from the Bahamas this morning.

BRIGGS: Four people have died in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of hurricane Irma. That brings the number of storm-related deaths to ten. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for parts of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and sadly Haiti, which has already, as you know, been devastated. Some say they are not prepared for this or its aftermath. Just part of the devastation, this bridge connecting to the Dominican Republic to Haiti washed away by the category-five storm.

ROMANS: A hurricane warning also issued in Turks and Caicos where conditions rapidly deteriorated overnight.

Governor John Freeman warning everyone on the islands not to test Mother Nature.


GOVERNOR JOHN FREEMAN, TURKS AND CAICOS (via telephone): Hunker down. Stay where you are because you can't go out because the winds are far, far too strong. Nobody can get to you either. So, you know, people are on their own.


ROMANS: The governor tells CNN 15 roofs have come off and there is damage to part of the roof of the hospital there.

BRIGGS: All right. To politics side of this, a senior Republican aide tells CNN the House will vote this afternoon on a $15.2 billion Hurricane Harvey relief passage. That's before they get to what this storm will cause. That's in the Senate on Thursday. The measure increases the debt ceiling and funds the government for the next three months.

ROMANS: Meantime, all five living presidents -- former presidents are joining forces to help Hurricane Harvey victims.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Hurricane Harvey brought terrible destruction, but it also brought out the best in humanity.

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

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: Our friends in Texas, including Presidents Bush 41 and 43 are doing just that.

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



ROMANS: President Trump not included in the public service announcements, but he tweeted his support for the initiative, saying he's proud to stand with presidents for one America appeal.

BRIGGS: All right. Breaking news now: at least five people died in a powerful 8.1 magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico, just off the border near Guatemala. Power outages reported in Mexico City 600 miles away. The quake triggering a tsunami, but the threat appears minimal.

At this hour, Guatemala has activated security protocols. Police are report something damage along their border with Mexico. We'll follow all the developments here throughout the morning and bring you the latest as we get it.

ROMANS: All right. And then this -- outrage, frankly. Personal information of half of the people in this country compromised after a data breach at one of the nation's biggest credit bureaus. How to know if you're at risk, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:22:26] ROMANS: All right. One of the biggest security breaches ever, and there's a good chance your personal information is part of it. You may never have heard of the company that was hacked, but they have your information.

Credit reporting company Equifax says personal information of 143 million of you has been compromised. That's more than half of the entire adult population in the U.S. Another 209,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen. Hackers exposed personal identifying information of an additional 182,000 people who were involved in credit disputes.

Equifax is one of three companies that track and rate the financial history of U.S. consumers. If you have a loan or any credit card, you could be affected.

Now, Equifax is only affecting those whose credit card numbers or dispute records were accessed. You have to enroll for its free credit monitoring before they will tell if you the hackers took your info.

Here's how,, click on the check potential impact tab, you have to submit your last name, and your last six digits of your Social Security number there. After that, we're told you will receive a message indicating whether you have been affected. Experts say, though, consider putting a freeze on your credit, especially if you don't anticipate opening any new cards of taking out new loans. So, contact these credit agencies, put a freeze on your credit and just lock it down like that.

BRIGGS: Credit freeze, done.

ROMANS: Got it.

BRIGGS: At 6:02 this morning.

All right. Obama-era guidance on college sexual assault is undergoing a review. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the policy unfairly denies due process rights to accused individuals. She did not elaborate on how the Education Department might amend the guidance. The Obama administration rolled out the guidelines in 2011 over concerns schools were not taking the issue of rape on campus seriously enough. Critics say the policy is unfair to the accused since it lowers the standard for proving allegations.

The Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, plan to back a bill protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation, Dreamers. Representatives of the brothers tell "The Daily Beast" they are going to press Congress for a legislative fix to the Obama-era program known as DACA. The president announced earlier this week he will phase the program out over the next six months, putting the onus on lawmakers to come up with a new plan.

And how many of you were shocked to wake up to this -- the Kansas City Chiefs just running wild over the New England Patriots, knocking off the Super Bowl champs 42-27 in Foxborough, mind you. [04:25:10] Chiefs' rookie running back Kareem Hunt, unbelievable on

this one, fumbled on his first career carry, then went nuts scoring three touchdowns, rushing for 239 yards in his debut. Kansas City's 42 points, the most scored against the Pats since Bill Belichick took over as coach 17 years ago. A stunner.

Commissioner Roger Goodell booed loudly by Patriots' fans as expected when he stepped on the field an hour before kickoff.

OK. Dire warnings have been coming for days. But now, people really hitting the road, trying to get out of Florida's coastal areas. Hurricane Irma is only a day away. We're live in Miami and have an updated look at the storm's track, next on EARLY START.



GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: This storm has the potential to catastrophically devastate our state. And you have to take this seriously.


ROMANS: Get out while you can. That's the message from Florida officials. Get out while you can.