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Hurricane Irma on Path to Devastate Florida; Mexico Quake Leaves at Least 5 Dead; Chiefs Stun Patriots in Season Opener 42-27. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:01] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. EARLY START continues with the latest projections on Irma and the two hurricanes right behind her.


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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Projections show Hurricane Irma on a path that could devastate Florida. Overnight, new hurricane warnings for coastal areas. Now, two other hurricanes in the Atlantic are gaining strength. A brand-new update from the National Hurricane Center is just moments away.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Friday, September 8th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We'll also update you on a massive 8.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Mexico near Guatemala.

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

ROMANS: 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. That's the Keys.

BRIGGS: And it's not just Florida bracing for Irma. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal ordering a mandatory evacuation for everyone east of I-95 in the state, and that includes the city of Savannah, along with Chatham County and other low-lying areas. In South Carolina, a mandatory evacuation order takes effect Saturday morning at 10:00 Eastern, and coastal counties including Charleston. ROMANS: All right. So, we have a brand new read from the National

Hurricane Center on how strong Irma is. Just moments ago, the hurricane downgrading it to a very powerful category 4. By no means, though, does this signal the storm is weak. It slammed Turks and Caicos overnight. It's now hitting the Bahamas.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is tracking the monster storm from the CNN Weather Center.

And, again, that 5:00 update, that update we've been watching for all night showing 155 mile-per-hour sustained winds. Still a very deadly storm.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is still considered a major hurricane, category 3 and above. This stayed at category 5 for the better part of three days. You could expect that we would see some variation in its intensity, pressure, maybe the movement. And indeed, we have because it has interacted with the various land masses.

But still, just staggering in its appearance as we look at it on the enhanced satellite imagery, 155 miles per hour winds. With it, gusts up to 190 as it barrels across the southern edges of the Bahamas.

Now, we've been looking at the European models. We've been looking at the North American model. I want to show you those, because they both have updated. They both are giving us different pieces of information.

Let's just draw a line through the center of Florida and see what happens with the European model. Goes in right around the Florida Keys, toward the Everglades and just to the western edge of the center of Florida. So, it tweaks toward the left as opposed to the American model, which brings it in towards Miami. Dade County, 2.5 million people there. We go further up the coast, 2 million people. And then up toward Palm County, Palm Beach County.

So, this brings it in just to the east of the center of the Florida peninsula. So, who has to worry about it? Everybody from coast to coast, from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, because 75 miles from the center we're looking at the category 4 hurricane-intense winds.

So, we bring it in, when, maybe late Saturday, maybe into the early morning hours of Sunday as a category 4. And then nowhere that you travel across the Florida peninsula will you escape this major hurricane. And the window, we've asked repeatedly -- I've been asked repeatedly, is it too late to leave?

It's not too late if you aren't worried about gas or food or the winds or flying projectiles. If you're in a high-rise where the wind is going to be considerably stronger, 20 to 30 percent depending on how high up you go, and then towards the north for Georgia, the impact here.

But already, in South Carolina, my beloved South Carolina, the impacts are possible here, as well, in Charleston, in Savannah, towards Jacksonville, into Georgia, Columbus, all the way up toward Atlanta as a tropical storm.

And then we have to talk about Katia and Jose that are both strengthening.

ROMANS: That's right.

MAGINNIS: And we've got these three systems to talk about. Back to you, guys.

ROMANS: You know, folks, if are you in the Florida Keys and you call -- decide to stay and you call 911, no one will answer the phone. So, keep that in mind when you are trying to heed the evacuation warnings.

BRIGGS: And ambulances are gone.

ROMANS: All right. Karen Maginnis, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Karen, thanks.


BRIGGS: Millions of people in Florida, in Irma's path. That number higher than it has ever been. Last year the three-county area that stretches from Miami to Palm Beach topped six million people for the first time. We have time-lapse video of the region showing rapid grow since 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit the area.

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


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


ROMANS: All state offices and schools are closed through Monday at least.

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

We know hotels have told customers to leave, to evacuate, and not taking any reservations until at least the beginning of next week, Isa.


You know, authorities have been saying just evacuate your home, leave your home because your homes can be rebuilt. Your lives cannot.

And the majority of people seem to have been taking that advice, heeding that advice and actually leaving. Though some of those have been leaving Miami altogether. We have seen long lines of people getting out of Miami -- lots of traffic, but also people trying to get out before they leave with their trunk full food, of course, that they may need and food that may not be perishable. But also gas, they've been wanting gas.

So, we've seen long lines of people trying to get out of Miami but also long lines of people waiting for gas. And in order to facilitate that, Christine and Dave, what authorities have been doing, they've been bringing in police with -- with these petrol tanks really that have been following the tanks and taking them to the key areas so that the flow of petrol can move much, much quicker.

And that's what they want that to happen now. They've seen the lines in the last several days and they want people to get out as soon as they can, hence why police are facilitating with that. But also, petrol stations, police telling workers there leave will remain in place, do seek shelter or you go elsewhere.

So, people going north, away from the eye of the storm, as it prepares to come to Miami in the next 36 to 48 hours, and there are those, of course, who are seeking shelter, an important point to out that more than 650,000 people have gone to the shelters. More than 13 additional shelters have put in place here in Miami to help those as they face this horrific and phenomenal storm -- Christine, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Isa Soares, reporting live for us in Miami, stay safe.

Before the storm reaches, the last chance for it to slow down is Cuba. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for parts of the island nation where Irma will move along the northern coast.

CNN correspondent Patrick Oppmann live in Cuba where winds are just picking up.

Good morning to you. What are you seeing there?


We're starting to feel the first effects of this very powerful storm that is arriving on the eastern end of the island. Cuban officials are telling people here this powerful storm will have an impact on the entire island. So, in coastal areas like the one we're in, there have been evacuations carried out, tourists have been taken to other parts of the island or encouraged to cut their vacations short. Cubans have been taken to shelters.

Some which were built during the Cuban missile crisis, anywhere where they can get away from the possible storm surge and wind. The train service has been cut off. The storm is expected to rake the northern coast of where we are before continuing on to Florida. And even if Cuba avoids a direct hit, the storm is expected to have a devastating impact here -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Patrick, thanks so much.

All right. Ahead, despite evacuation orders, storm chasers are heading to Florida hoping to capture Irma in real-time. We'll speak with one of them, next on EARLY START.


[05:13:49] ROMANS: All right. Just moments ago, Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a category-4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. This is still considered a major hurricane. This is not a significant weakening.

One person who is not evacuating is storm chaser James Reynolds. He joins us by telephone from Miami right now.

So, 155 mile-per-hour sustained winds, a major category 4. Still the largest we've seen likely to make landfall in Florida in years, in decades really. What drives you to stay there when everyone else is being told, James, to get out?

JAMES REYNOLDS, STORM CHASER (via telephone): Good morning. It's good to be with you.

Well, my primary aim is to document in as much as possible the entirety of the storm. While most people will be leaving, you know, I intend to stay here and document the lead up to the storm. And unfortunately what is looking to be a very unpleasant aftermath. I feel it's important to cover this as best I can and get the images out as quickly as possible as the situation unfolds.

[05:15:02] BRIGGS: How do you document one of the most dangerous storms we've ever seen on record, according to the measurements and keep yourself safe at the same time?

REYNOLDS: Well, a huge amount of planning has gone into this. For the last three or four days, I've been pouring over maps, looking at potential places that are too unsafe to ride out the hurricane. You know, the storm surge threat, the extreme wind threat. There's a lot of dangers out there and I've been occupying a lot of time figuring out what areas will be safe enough to ride out the storm and scoping out buildings and safe places to keep OK as the storm hits.

ROMANS: So, we're talking about a category-4 hurricane when it makes landfall at this point, is what it looks like. You know, I rode out a tropical storm with some firefighters in a sheltered area in Louisiana a few years ago.

I'm telling you tropical storm-force winds can still kill you, things flying through the air. How in the world will you find a safe place if you've got 100 mile-per-hour-plus winds?

REYNOLDS: Well, I'll be making sure I'm enclosed by plenty of concrete. I will not anticipate moving around the streets or anything like that in the storm. It's far too dangerous. As you said, even a category 1 winds are extremely dangerous to move around in. We're talking about a 4 here.

The worst of the storm hitting, I'll be in survival mode and making sure I'm safe and surrounded by as much as concrete as possible.

BRIGGS: James, you've documented natural disasters all around the world. What to you stands out about this from where you see it? REYNOLDS: Well, this is such a vulnerable part of the world. You

know, Florida, huge population growth, so many people living on the coast. It's flat, it's low lying. So, you've got the storm surge that -- very large area that's going to be impacted by extremely damaging winds.

It's just a very, very unfortunate coming together of all the factors. You know, the disaster managers have been waiting for this for years, and it's about to unfold which is extremely unfortunate.

ROMANS: James, let me ask you something. You know, one of the -- I guess one of the perils of doing the work you do and in many cases, the work we do when standing out in a hurricane is that the public thinks it's safe or OK for them to ride it out. We think we're documenting, you know, the news, taking pictures for posterity. Sometimes that encourages people to think they can ride it out, too.

What is your message to people who think they want to be an amateur photographer and stay home and do this?

REYNOLDS: Yes, it's extremely dangerous. I'll going to say it as it is. It's a very, very hazardous environment as a storm like this is hitting your area. There are small things you might not anticipate as being dangerous. Windows blowing in, trying to open the door even in the middle of the storm can be an extremely difficult and very dangerous thing.

You know, it's the little things that people might not think is obvious but can cause big problems.


REYNOLDS: And it goes without saying, if you get hurt, no one is going to come and help you, you're by yourself.

ROMANS: You could be killed by a shingle that trial in off of a roof. That's the bottom line. A shingle could kill you.

BRIGGS: Folks, James does this for a living. This does not mean you should try to do what he's doing.

James Reynolds, we appreciate it. We look forward to the video in the days ahead.

ROMANS: On the other side.

BRIGGS: All right. Some breaking news now. Five people dead when a powerful 8.1-magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico off the coast near the border with Guatemala, the strongest quake in Mexico in a century according to President Enrique Pena Nieto. A hotel reportedly collapse, power outages reported 600 miles away in Mexico City, the quake triggering a tsunami.

But the threat appears minimal at this hour. Guatemala activated security protocols, police reporting some damage along their border with Mexico. ROMANS: All right. Breaking news, one of the biggest security

breaches in history. There's a good chance your personal information is part of it, and you may never have heard of the company that was hacked but it has your information, most likely.

Credit reporting company Equifax says personal information of 143 million of you has been compromised. That's more than half of the adult population in the U.S.; 209,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen. Hackers exposed personal identifying information of another 182,000 people who are 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, if you have even one credit card, you could be affected. Equifax is only contacting those whose credit card numbers or dispute records were accessed. You have to enroll in free credit monitoring before the company will tell you if hackers took your info.

Go to, click on the check potential impact tab. You have to submit your last name and the six digits of your Social Security number. After that, you can receive a message indicating whether you're been affected. But experts say putting a freeze on your credit, especially if you don't think you're going to be opening new credit cards or taking out new loans.

BRIGGS: Look, I think a credit freeze, that's something I'm learning about now, sounds like sound advice.

ROMANS: I get so frustrated. Your information is in so many places that you have no control over. And, clearly, the company is using your information and selling your information have no control of it either.

BRIGGS: And you have to reach out to them according to your reporting.

OK. The Patriots won't go undefeated after all, far from it. The Pats already brought down to earth after unfurling another Super Bowl banner.

Andy Scholes has more on this NFL shocker next in the "Bleacher Report."


[05:25:22] BRIGGS: Well, with Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, college football teams across the state canceling games.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.


You know, this weekend's always one of the biggest weekends for football. The NFL getting started, and it's week two for most college football teams. The NFL making the decision earlier this week to move the Dolphins/Bucs game to November.

Many colleges meanwhile flat out canceling their games. Florida not going to play Northern Colorado tomorrow. The Gators' athletic director saying in a statement: It's become obvious that playing a football game is not the right thing to do. The focus of our state and region needs to be on evacuations and relief efforts. Twenty- first ranked South Florida's game with UConn also canceled. Same goes for Florida State and Louisiana/Monroe.

All right. The NFL season kicking off last night. New England, Roger Goodell on hand in Foxboro, and fans greeting him with plenty of boos and shirts and towels that had a red clown nose on them.

Now, things started great for the Patriots. They dropped the Super Bowl 51 banner. Took the quick 7-0 lead.

But the night would not go as planned. After fumbling his first carry, Chiefs' rookie running back Kareem Hunt went on to have the most yards ever for a player in their debut. He ended up with 246 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs stunned the Patriots 42-27.

All right. We knew it would be an all-American final on the women's side at the U.S. Open. Now it's set. Sloane Stephens betting Venus Williams in three sets to advance to her first ever final. She had been injured most of the year and was ranked 957th in the world just last month.

Stephens in the midst of a great run. She's going to face Madison Keys who also will be playing in her first-ever grand slam final. So, guys, for the first time since 1998, we'll have a women's American champion not named Williams.

BRIGGS: It's been a terrific turn of events. That Patriots shocker, still can't get over it.

SCHOLES: I can't either, guys.

BRIGGS: Can't believe it. Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Hurricane Irma downgraded but still deadly. People hitting the road, trying to get out of Florida's coastal areas. We'll go live to Miami with an updated look at the storm's track and strength.