Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Irma On Path To Devastate Florida; House Voting Today On Harvey Relief Bill; Mexico Quake Leaves At Least Five Dead; Tensions Rising On Korean Peninsula. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:55] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Get out while you can. That's the message from Florida officials and the governor.

New data just coming in from the National Hurricane Center on Irma and two different hurricanes gaining strength, one in the Gulf, the other in the Atlantic.

We're live in Miami.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And, I'm Christine Romans.

Let's begin with the National Hurricane Center issuing a hurricane warning for Southern Florida. Irma, now a category four -- a powerful category four storm.

Make no mistake, this is a deadly system. Officials say it is packing life-threatening winds and storm surge.

Now, the warning extends from Jupiter Inlet on Florida's east coast, southward around the peninsula to Bonita Beach, and including the 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 governor Nathan Deal ordering a mandatory evacuation for anyone east of I-95 in Georgia. That includes the city of Savannah, along with Chatham County and other low-lying areas.

And in South Carolina, a mandatory evacuation order takes effect Saturday morning at 10:00 Eastern in coastal communities -- coastal counties, including Charleston.

BRIGGS: There is the track. Irma slammed Turks and Caicos overnight.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis tracking this monster storm from the CNN Center. She tells us when and where Florida might expect her. Good morning, Karen.


And yes, we think landfall within the next 36 to 48 hours, maybe late in the day on Saturday or possibly into Sunday morning. The latest from the National Hurricane Center, category four -- a strong category four.

We were looking at 185 mile an hour winds. We saw it go down to 160, and now 155 with gusts up to 190, moving to the west-northwest at just about 16 miles an hour. So it's really moving. Just a really big hurricane.

And now, it is affecting the southern Bahamas, Crooked Island being one of them.

This is going to move in a fashion pretty much like this -- not a straight line. Typically, we see these little fluctuations and especially if it's trying to reorganize. That eye-recycling period that takes places. We will see some fluctuation with the eye and what it looks like also as it interacts with land.

But this isn't the only system that we have to talk about. We've got several other ones that are also out across the Gulf of Mexico and another one right on the heels of Irma, although it looks life for Jose we're looking at it taking a track that is further towards the north.

So, Irma has churned up some cooler water perhaps, but there is still this track that is not exactly in line with Irma. But nonetheless, it is now a category three hurricane.

Let's go back and tell you a little bit more as to what's happening in regards to Irma. There are hurricane warnings out for those southern counties of Florida.

But two different computer models, the ones that we rely on the most -- this is the European one -- and kind of a difference, and I'll tell you what that difference is.

Let's go right to the spine of Florida and see what the European model does. It moves across the Florida Keys, through the Everglades, and just to the west of the center of the spine of Florida.

Whereas, the North American model perhaps less refined -- doesn't have as much data that goes into it, but still a reliable model that we look at. It affects Florida, and for the Miami-Dade County area, 2.5 million people.

[05:35:05] There are mandatory evacuations and if you have mandatory evacuations and something happens, you're not really going to get the help that you may need unless you're OK doing without electricity, or there's wind damage to your home or wherever you think is secure.

It looks like that time period from late Saturday into early-morning Sunday still at a category four hurricane. Lots to keep you updated on.

ROMANS: A major, dangerous storm.

All right, Karen, thank you so much.

BRIGGS: Get out. Thank you, Karen.

ROMANS: You know, millions of people in Florida are in Irma's path and that number is even higher today than it's 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 some time-lapse satellite imagery for you of the region. It shows rapid growth since 1992. That's when Hurricane Andrew hit the area.

BRIGGS: 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. If you -- once there are evacuation orders, get out. We can't take care of you in the middle of a storm.


BRIGGS: All state offices and schools also now closed through at least Monday.

CNN's Isa Soares live in Miami with the latest. Good morning to you.

Three hundred high-rises there in Miami --


BRIGGS: -- making it the third-tallest skyline. You said that's what struck you in looking at Miami and how dangerous does it make that city?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so. Good morning to you, Dave. Good morning to you, Christine.

You know, arriving in Miami, seeing those high-rises as you were driving in, it's just peppered with new buildings. And fabulous architecture, too, but it does beg into question whether they can sustain this ferocious wind of this hurricane which is, of course, quite a powerhouse as Karen Maginnis was outlining there for us.

One of the hotels we were speaking to earlier basically said they're not taking any more reservations. They're just closing up shop, pretty much. They are hunkering down. They are putting water all over the main windows and doors and plastics all over the tables and chairs, taking this very seriously, as are the majority of people here, I must say.

They are heeding those warnings because officials have been saying look, we can rebuild your homes. We may not be able to rebuild you lives. So people have been listening to that advice and they have been packing up the trunks of their cars with food that is going very fast, may I add, in these supermarkets. Water and perishable goods -- the only things -- perishables -- the only things that you can buy at the moment -- and they are heading north.

But as they head north not only are they facing huge lines of traffic -- the huge lines of traffic to get petrol -- to get gas. And that is a huge problem and that is why the police has been brought in to patrol these huge gas tanks to try and facilitate and mitigate this problem so it can get people heading out -- heading north much quicker, away from the eye of the storm.

Christine and Dave, back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Isa. Thank you so much for that for us in Miami. We'll check in. Stay safe.

Thirty-six hours until landfill, we're expecting, before the storm reaches Florida.

The last chance for to slow down is Cuba. Hurricane warnings remains in effect for parts of the island nation. Irma is expected to move along the northern coast in just a short time.

We have our correspondent Patrick Oppmann there. He is live in Cuba with more.

When I look at the trajectory here, I see a very dangerous storm that will rake the eastern part of this island nation for many hours.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's going to come across the eastern part, then the northern coast where we are, and then finally peeling off and heading up north to Florida.

And the Cuban government, this morning, put out a warning telling basically every person on this island to expect to be affected in some way or another. It's just such a big, powerful storm and there's really nowhere to run.

So what is happening here -- coastal areas like this one, where I am, they are being told that international visitors, tourists need to leave the area. Cubans here are being encouraged to evacuate, sometimes being taken to shelters from the Cold War, even up to caves up in the mountains. Hundreds of thousands of people right now being moved all over this island to try and keep them safe. The railway system has been closed down, schools on about half the island have been shut down we expect for the next several days.

So the Cuban government has a lot of experience with hurricanes but they've never faced a hurricane quite like this one, even if it just has a glancing blow along this northern coast it could lead to devastating impacts for Cuba.

ROMANS: Absolutely. All right. We know that you'll be following it for us many hours and days ahead.

[05:40:03] Patrick Oppmann in Cuba, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right, Irma moving over the Bahamas at this hour. Part of other islands in the Atlantic already left in ruins as Hurricanes Jose and Katia also gaining strength. We're live in the Bahamas, next.


ROMANS: All right. Four people have died in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Irma. That brings the number of storm- related deaths now to 10.

Hurricane warnings remain in effect for parts of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

This is just part of the devastation. A bridge connecting the Dominican Republic to Haiti washed away by a category five -- the category five storm.

[05:45:06] BRIGGS: That's certainly the last thing Haiti needs.

A hurricane warning also issued at Turks and Caicos where conditions rapidly deteriorated overnight. Governor John Freeman warning everyone on the islands not to test Mother Nature.


JOHN FREEMAN, GOVERNOR, TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS (via telephone): Hunker down, stay where you are because you can't get out because the winds are just far, far too strong. Nobody can get to you, either. So, you know, people ought are to a large extent, for a little while, on their own.


BRIGGS: The governor tells CNN 15 roofs have come off and there's damage to part of the roof of the hospital as well.

And some news this morning on two other hurricanes as well. The National Hurricane Center says Hurricanes Jose and Katia, one in the Atlantic and one in the Gulf, getting stronger.

Irma, meantime, downgraded to a category four storm churning across the southeastern corner of the Bahamas overnight. A hurricane warning now in effect as Irma takes aim at the central Bahamas today.

Journalist Stefano Pozzebon joining us now on the phone from the Bahamas. Good morning to you.

What are the conditions like there and what are people doing that need to evacuate?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST (via telephone): Yes, good morning.

We are on the phone. The wind is definitely coming (audio gap) -- are getting worse by the hour compared to the early hours of today. We can understand that -- we can definitely feel that Irma is arriving.

People here have been evacuated from the southernmost Archipelago of the Bahamas and they take shelter in the island where we are at the moment, the island of Nassau in the northernmost part of the Archipelago where the capital lays. And here, we expect to be a little bit more protected from the brunt of Hurricane Irma.

But we've got most of the people are taking shelter, trying to stay safe. And now, the conditions are really, really getting worse, David.

BRIGGS: All right. Stefano Pozzebon on the phone with us from Nassau in the Bahamas. Stay safe.

ROMANS: Yes, be careful out there.

Some major concerns for the energy industry in Florida, ahead of Hurricane Irma. Two nuclear reactors are shutting down this weekend.

Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, it's located just south of Miami in Homestead. The St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant is about 150 miles up the coast on a barrier island in Jensen Beach. Both are right in the predicted path of this storm.

Florida Power and Light says the sites are among the strongest in the U.S. They are designed to withstand heavy wind and storm surge.

Turkey Point's nuclear reactors survived a direct hit from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and suffered $90 million in damage at that time.

You know, a number of gas stations are also shutting down because they've run out of fuel. At least 42 percent of gas stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region are without fuel according to GasBuddy. Panic buying is causing long lines throughout South Florida.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott trying to ease these gas shortages by directing State Police to escort fuel delivery trucks. He's also urging gas stations to stay open as long as possible before the storm hits.

All right, to politics.

A senior Republican aide tells CNN the House will vote this afternoon on a $15.2 billion Hurricane Harvey relief package passed by the Senate on Thursday. It increases the debt ceiling and funds the government for the next three months.

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


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

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

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

GEORGE W. BUSH (R), 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.



BRIGGS: President Trump not included in the public service announcement, just these former presidents. But he did tweet his support for the initiative, saying he's "proud to stand with presidents for One America Appeal."

Some breaking news.

There's five people dead in a powerful 8.1 magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico just off the coast near the border with Guatemala. It's the strongest quake recorded in Mexico in a century, according to the president there, Enrique Pena Nieto.

A hotel as reportedly collapsed, power outages now being reported 600 miles away in Mexico City where people were running into the streets barefoot in their pajamas.

Forecasters continue to warn about the possibility of hazardous tsunamis off the coast of Mexico with waves over 10 feet possible near the epicenter.

Guatemala has activated security protocols. Police reporting some damage along their border with Mexico. More than 60 aftershocks in this monster quake, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. One of the largest hacks ever -- 143 million of you -- 143 million of you could be affected. We'll tell you how to know if you're one.


[05:54:09] BRIGGS: As if Hurricanes Katia, Irma, Jose weren't enough, and an earthquake in Mexico, tensions also rising on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea expects the North to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile sometime Saturday to mark the 69th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

CNN's Will Ripley in Pyongyang. He's the only Western journalist reporting from North Korea.

Will, you have been there more than a dozen times. Does it feel like another launch is imminent?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's so interesting, Dave, because we landed just a couple of hours ago and as we were driving through the city there really is kind of a celebratory feel here. People are still buzzing from North Korea's sixth and largest-ever nuclear test this past weekend.

And so you saw people out preparing for this big national holiday, that North Korean foundation day, tomorrow. They were putting a fresh coat of paint on some of the public spaces. They were rehearsing their dance moves for what we expect could be a very large celebration in Kim Il-sung Square or in other areas around the city.

[05:55:12] But if you speak with officials here and if you look at the statements that have come out of North Korea over the past couple of days, they're issuing some very stark warnings to the United States, to Japan, to South Korea that if these countries pushed forward, as they say they're going to do, with this yet another round of sanctions to punish North Korea for this nuclear test, they are threatening, in their words, really unimaginable consequences.

And so it would not be surprising if after North Korea demonstrated that they have the capability to, you know, create a very large nuclear explosion -- they say it was a hydrogen bomb -- if they then try to demonstrate that they can launch a missile -- an intercontinental ballistic missile perhaps or a submarine-launched ballistic missile that could carry this kind of warhead to a target like the mainland U.S.

So, you know, we do expect a launch will happen tomorrow. We don't know for sure but we do know that North Korea is intent on demonstrating to the United States and the world that they have these weapons of mass destruction, that they continue to get more advanced.

And they say if the world continues with the same strategy of trying to impose sanctions and put pressure on this country, that their response will be only to develop these faster. And they warn of a situation that could escalate very quickly and become very dangerous.

So, if they launch a missile tomorrow, where will it go? Will it fly over Japan again? Will they aim it toward the U.S. territory of Guam?

Those are all questions we don't have the answer to but that's why we're on the ground here, to monitor every development as it happens, Dave. BRIGGS: All right. And yesterday, President Trump was asked about shifting to a containment strategy of a nuclear-armed North Korea. He said would not negotiate on that with the media.

Will Ripley, live there in Pyongyang. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Now, a CNN exclusive on the Russia investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team approaching the White House to interview staff members who were onboard Air Force One when the initial misleading statement was written about Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting a Russian lawyer.

Mueller wants to know how the statement was crafted, who was involved. Those questions could go to the issue of intent during an ongoing obstruction investigation.

BRIGGS: On Thursday, Donald Trump, Jr. told Senate Judiciary staffers he did not recall the details of White House involvement in the public response to his 2016 meeting.

Many of you woke up -- woke up shocked to this, the NFL season opener. The Kansas City Chiefs ran wild over the New England Patriots, knocking off the Super Bowl champs 42-27 in Foxborough.

Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first carry, then went nuts. Three touchdowns, 239 rush yards in his pro debut. That's a record for a rookie.

Forty-two points, the most scored against the Pats since Bill Belichick took over as coach 17 years ago. Stunning in Foxborough.

This was not surprising. Commissioner Roger Goodell booed loudly by Patriots fans when he stepped onto the field an hour before kickoff. Goodell clown shirts seen there in the background, Christine.

ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this Friday morning.

U.S. stock futures pointing lower. Investors have got a lot to process right now.

A weakening dollar, the threat of North Korea, hurricanes, and mixed signals from the European Central Bank. All of that factoring into global stock markets right now.

Shares in Europe lower, Asian stock markets closed mixed.

Shares of Equifax tanking 13 percent in premarket trading. That comes after the company disclosed a huge data breach that could affect 143 million of you.

Another 209,000 people -- your credit card numbers were stolen. Another 182,000 of you -- if you were involved in credit disputes, guess what? That data was also compromised.

The stock had been a strong performer this year, up 20 percent. The company will not be contacting you. Instead, you have to sign up

for its free credit monitoring to find out if your info was among that that was stolen.

Really, a big data breach there. I say credit freeze.

BRIGGS: A credit freeze, yes.

ROMANS: Call the credit agencies and put a freeze on our account.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" starts right now with Chris Cuomo reporting live from Florida. We'll see you next week.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to you in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY.

It's Friday, September eighth, 6:00 here in Miami.

We are following breaking news, of course, and all eyes are on Hurricane Irma. She is coming right to where we are at this hour. The storm is scarring everyplace she touches in the Caribbean, so far. Cuba is next in that path.

We will show you the predictions. We have the best proof of what she's done so far.

Chad Myers is going to show you the moment -- the track that we know right now. And I'm being qualified about it because the closer the storm gets the less hope there is for a shift, but there's still variables. We'll take you through them.

Right now, Florida is under a hurricane warning. It's looking like a category four. That's 155 mile an hour sustained winds. Gusts can go higher.