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Hurricane Irma Heads Toward Florida. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 9, 2017 - 22:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to the top of the hour 10:00 p.m. here in Fort Myers, Florida and a lot of anticipation for what is to come in the hours ahead. A steady rain, but a light rain here falling in Fort Myers. The storm is about 100 miles from Key West, anticipated to make landfall in the morning hours.

We're going to get more Tom Sater in just a moment. We have correspondents standing by all throughout the region, as they have been all day, and will be all throughout the night and tomorrow as well.

Let's quickly go, though, for an update on the storm from Tom Sater. Tom, I know an hour from now, at 11, you're likely to get a new update tracking the storm, but what do we know at this hour?

TOM SATER, METEOROLOGIST AND WEATHER ANCHOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Well, it's interesting to note, Anderson. The National Hurricane Center is now updating us every hour. Something unprecedented, I believe, happened today. We have to check on this. But we had Jose, Katia and Irma, typically the National Hurricane Center handles all of these advisories, but they're getting overloaded. So, NOAA Storm Prediction Center took over command for Katia and Jose, so the National Hurricane Center can solely focus on Irma. I believe, that's unprecedented.

So, they are updating us every hour now. Little fluctuation in the speed, down another five miles per hour. Even though, it went back up. That's not a big concern, because we've got plenty of time, unfortunately, that this thing will develop stronger. We know that's going to happen.

Only 100 miles now from Key West. So that's what we're going to talk about as we get in here, and there's a couple of factors and I'm going to break it down with a Google Earth for you as well. But first, everybody is wondering what happened? I mean, why did this make such a dramatic shift come this morning?

We knew that there were going to be shifts. Earlier in the week it was shifting East and then West a little bit. Again, the track which will come out at 11:00 p.m. may differ somewhat. But let's go back, because we had a massive area of high pressure over the Atlantic. It's called the Bermuda High.

And we thought for a while there that come today and tomorrow, what we thought we would see, this area of high pressure was either going to break down or slide Eastward. Because it's held its strength, the winds that circulate clockwise kept Irma on this westerly track to the South.

Another trough dropping in from the Northeastern U.S., we thought we would be able to pick this just enough sooner. But it's not as strong as we originally expected. So, it's not a big force northward just yet. We still have a West-northwesterly movement. So, that is a big concern right now. It's not going to slide in the Gulf. High pressure in Texas is going to halt its progress that way. At some point, it's got to go to the North.

Let me show you now, if we could break this down, what is a big concern. There have only been three Category 5s to ever make landfall in the United States. The last one was Andrew, 25 years ago. Camille in '69 and then in 1935, before they even named these hurricanes, it was the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 that actually cut right through the Keys and isolated Key West and the Keys from the rest of Florida.

As we get in closer here, there's a couple of things that could happen. We could have a landfall in this direction here. We could have a landfall over here in Key West. Now, that's critical to understand, because when we get in closer and you take a look - let's get into the Key West naval station. There is one road in and one out. This, again, could isolate the Keys in the days ahead.

In the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, unfortunately, there was a story of a packed train on a train track that did not know the storm was coming - many did not, and it unfortunately knocked the train off the tracks with several fatalities.

If we get in closer now, I want to go back and let's get into Marco Island, because look at the real estate, notice the inlets. When you get in the area of green, it's more wetlands, down towards the South and Southwest of Florida. That's fine. There's not many roads. In fact, Alligator Alley is one of the only ones.

If we get in even closer, you'll see just the magnitude of real estate and homes that will be inundated with over nine, 10 feet of water. If we continue now onward, we can move up toward Naples. Notice the inlets. When you have a storm surge of this magnitude, many do not understand that it's not just coming over the beaches and over the dunes. It can go in several miles.

Coming up in the next half-hour we're going to break down the storm surge inundation map for you, that's from the National Hurricane Center, and you'll notice how far in the water goes. So, we're talking 10, 12 miles. This is not something to take lightly.

Now the problem in Tampa. If the track makes its way, and right now we believe it will be somewhere out here toward Tampa. [22:05:00] But if it stays more in this westerly track, Anderson, and stays off the shore, that's probably the worst-case scenario for Tampa and St. Pete. Because this inundation of that surge will move up into these areas and it will be even greater than anyone expected. That's if it takes that track. I'm more concerned that after Irma moves North of Tampa, because then what we're going to find is, the winds coming around on the backside will come in from the West - Northwest. So, once you think that the storm has passed and everything is fine, you're going to get inundated again on the backside of the storm on the Southern end of that eye, there's a wide range of winds and that surge will continue for some time even if the storm is well North.

So, a lot of concerns in the hours and days ahead, again, as we continue to monitor this. We're still waiting on a northerly turn, because until that happens, there's not a whole lot that we can do as far as pinpointing a landfall.

Again, the National Hurricane Center, these are the best of the world. The men and women who work here are the best in the world. So, we will see what the models do. We will see if there's more of a shift westward.

There is no best-case scenario here, because even people in the Southeastern areas of Miami up toward Boca Raton, if you think that you're in the clear here, unfortunately our tornado watches will start increasing off toward areas of the North and Northeast and it will continue that way all the way on the Carolina coast, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Tom, I really appreciate that level of detail I've seen in the Florida Keys and also in Tampa really gives, I think, our viewers a sense of some of what to look for tomorrow. And some of the dangers, not just of the storm, but also of the aftermath. As you said, people think the worst is over and then depending on the winds, depending on where it's coming from, you know, more water could be coming in.

We'll continue to check in with you, Tom, and as we await an update on the track of the storm. John Berman, of course, is standing by still in Miami. He joins us now. John, we're seeing some light rain here. It has been quite windy, though, for you throughout the evening.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Look, every time I think there's going to be a break here and right now the rain has let up, we get one of these giant wind gusts that almost takes me off my feet. And it will get much worse as the hours continue, looking to be at its absolute worst here in Miami sometime after 6:00 a.m. 6 all the way until noon tomorrow, it's going to be very, very rough here.

Look, Tom Sater, you guys were talking about, you know, whether or not Miami is in the clear. You know, fact tonight is, clearly, we're not in the clear here in Miami. We've had these wind gusts over 40 miles an hour up to 50 in some cases - heavy, heavy rain. And here just like everywhere else, Anderson, there is concern about the storm surge.

There's this boat that's been behind me rocking all night long, and I don't think it's going to get any better for that boat as the hours continue, as the waters continue to push in. We're on one of those Intracoastal Waterways. Miami Beach, which is more lowline, is out past me that way. Then there is this Intracoastal Waterway and the water here will rise. If it goes up six feet, it would be above where I'm standing.

And some areas in Downtown Miami, not just Miami Beach, but Downtown Miami, would see some water, which would be a serious cause for concern. Which is why the authorities here are saying continued, please take this very seriously as the night goes on and don't think about coming home.

If you've evacuated, if you're in a shelter, if you're at a friend's house inland, stay there. Stay there until the authorities tell you it's safe to come back, because this will go on for some time. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. I know some people that have evacuated from Miami to end up in Tampa woke up today and thinking maybe I should head back to Miami. Again, one of those difficult decisions people have to make. We're going to take a short break. We're going to talk to the Mayor here in Fort Myers about what he is anticipating in the hours ahead. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of Hurricane Irma. We've had the benefit of talking to so many officials throughout the day and we continue with that. The Mayor of Fort Myers, very kindly agreed to come out again for us tonight. Randall Henderson, thanks so much for being with us and standing out in the rain with us.

First of all, you and I, before we went on air, were talking about a potential silver lining, as bad as this storm is going to be, and who knows what it's going to mean for Fort Myers, there may be a plus to some of it.

MAYOR RANDALL HENDERSON JR., FORT MYERS, FLORIDA: Well, I'm encouraged in this way, Anderson, in that - since it is coming further West, this is going to open up channels to the East to get provisions in to us post Irma, which is going to be essential for meeting the needs of our citizens. So, I'm encouraged about that.

COOPER: I mean, as a leader you're already looking beyond. You have to look days ahead.

HENDERSON: We are days ahead. We are staging. We have energy companies and petroleum companies and food and rations and all those things positioned and ready to deliver once we're able to do so.

COOPER: You were telling me also before in the commercial break, you ran into three of your neighbors today and convinced them to get out, and this was just late this afternoon.

HENDERSON: I took a short break to get my own affairs in order, to mobilize family members and in doing so I came across neighbors and then told them to evacuate, and explained why. And I'm happy to announce that they took it very serious and they're on their way to Gainesville, to Atlanta, to the East Coast to seek refuge.

COOPER: I feel like we were seeing that just a lot today. People again who woke up realizing it's a different storm now, thinking they could - you could ride it out. And then throughout the day started to think, you know, what, I'd better get out of here.

HENDERSON: I'm so proud of our citizens for taking this serious. Anderson, this is an epic situation on our hands. Never been known to us in American history, and they are taking it serious, [22:15:00] and we're working vigilantly to preserve life. We can - we can repair tangible things. We cannot repair life.

COOPER: And just, again, I mean, I've asked this question to lot of people. But I do think it's important for those who don't have access to vehicles, who may be less fortunate, even homeless who decide tomorrow, I think, I should try to get shelter. Maybe probably should have done it sooner, but is there any way for them to get to a shelter?

HENDERSON: It is not too late. Please dial 211. We'll get help to you. We can get transport. We can get you to a safe place.

COOPER: And bottom-line, for those people watching tonight in this area, what's your message?

HENDERSON: My message is be vigilant. If there was ever a time to be bold, now is the time to be bold. Be decisive. Take action.

COOPER: Mr. Mayor, I really appreciate year time. Thank you very much.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Good luck to you tomorrow.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

COOPER: ... everybody here and throughout Florida. Ed Lavandera is now back in Naples. He was - drove over to Marco Island. He is back in Naples. What's it like there now, because, obviously, that is a place that according to estimates could be expecting as much as 10 to 15 feet of storm surge depending on the exact track of this storm?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is good news emerging from Naples, is that the Mayor of the city told us this afternoon that - he believes that many - perhaps most of the people here in Naples evacuated in the days even before the track started moving West of this hurricane. So that is the good news.

If you look outside, as we drive around here the city, streets are empty and it has been like this throughout the day, Anderson. Many of those people, as the Mayor believes, had evacuated earlier in the week when it was clear that Hurricane Irma was going to make significant impact here in South Florida and many of those people started evacuating.

There are some 27 shelters that are open throughout this Collier County down here around Naples, and we're told that three of them still have availability. And obviously, it is still not too late to get to those locations.

But we also just ventured down to Marco Island, popular vacation spot. And island where there are some - more than 16,000 people that live there fulltime. We spoke with the Police Chief and I asked him if it's too late to evacuate? And this is what he had to say.


AL SCHETTINO, CHIEF OF POLICE, MARCO ISLAND, FLORIDA: It's too late. It's called - what we say is right now we're at shelter in place. What you would do - what we ask people to do if they're in a home is to vertical evacuation. That means if they have a second storey, they go to high above the waterline if they possibly can. If they're in a single-family home or a one-storey home, we ask that they get to a neighbor's house that has a second storey, where they can get high above the waterline.


LAVANDERA: And Anderson, as we drive along one of the main streets here in Naples tonight, you can see actually just that spot right there you saw on your right, one of the few places that is open. A sports bar that we were told is going to be open until about 2:00 o'clock this morning. But as we continue driving, you see a number of the businesses boarded up, and they have been like this, as I mentioned, Anderson, throughout the day. This town was described by the Mayor as simply a ghost town at this point. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Ed, be careful out there for you and your crew driving along those roads in Naples for us tonight. Randi Kaye is up in Tampa, which is about a two-hour drive in normal times, I believe, an hour and half to two hours from Fort Myers.

Randi, just - I talked to the Mayor of Tampa earlier today who said that up until today, you know, based on the track of this storm, which they had thought was going to be more of an Eastern storm, you know, Tampa was kind of looking at the resources that they could send to other places that needed help.

Today, with the storm moving further West, they realized now they are in the line, that they may be the ones in the days ahead needing folks from other communities to help them.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. In fact, Anderson, we talked to somebody from the Red Cross just a short time ago and they're first moving their resources here to Tampa, because they had moved them all to Miami. So, now that Tampa is back in the track they're trying to get situated here.

But, I've got to tell you, when we pulled into Tampa just earlier this evening, it was a ghost town.

There was no traffic as we made our way from you are in Fort Myers, up to here there was nobody on the streets. There was nobody on the highway on 75 North. It's really, really quiet here and the air is beautiful. We had a beautiful sunset. But everybody here knows the storm is certainly coming.

And as you know, they also know that in Fort Myers, as we made our way here, we passed this massive shelter, this Germain Arena, which is the hockey arena, just on the edge of Fort Myers there. We could see it from the highway and there were thousands of people lined up trying to get inside, trying to get away, trying to find safety from Hurricane Irma and that is mainly because they too saw that the track changed.

They were planning to ride it out at home, so they decided to try and get inside into the shelter. And they brought everything with them, [22:20:00] everything that they love, their families, their dogs, their cats. You name it. They had canned foods. They had bags. They had sleeping bags. Anything they could just to try and ride it out inside this shelter. And they waited for hours, some of them four, five, six hours.

Here is just a sampling of what some of them told us, Anderson.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We changed our itinerary every time we looked at the map.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we've been like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trying to figure out...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we go to Atlanta, then Kissimmee and then we'll stay at by my cousin's house, then we'll go another shelter. Should we stay in our house?

KAYE: Do you feel like you waited too long to decide?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, totally. I wanted to leave on Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like if it's the biggest hurricane ever, just leave and then you're not stuck. I guess, it was great on Monday.

KAYE: How long you've been waiting in line?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About four hours. It's been a long wait.

KAYE: Is this your only hope for shelter from Irma?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, yes. With animals, yes, it is, yes. Unfortunately, things are closing fast.

KAYE: You're at the end here. How do you feel about that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's all right. I came with my elderly neighbor, who is 87, and couldn't walk well, so he went to the front of the line and I hope to somehow find him in there.


KAYE: I've got to tell you, people had a really good attitude like that last woman, you saw there. She said that - you know what, she is a camper. She's camped her whole life. She's ready for this. She is ready to go inside.

We talked to, Lieutenant from the Florida Highway Patrol. He says that he was trying to make it as comfortable for everyone inside. It could hold 8,000. When we were there about a 1,000 people had already moved into the arena. He said that it would have air conditioning, clean water, food, snacks, whatever these folks needed.

But Anderson, I've got to tell you, as we walked through that line, which really wound through that entire parking lot, there was this look of desperation on so many of these people's faces. They didn't know if they could get inside. They didn't know that there was that much space at the time and they really didn't have anywhere else to go.

Many of them had waited too long or they just couldn't get out of town. And it was just - it was tough to see. But it sounds like a lot of them - perhaps most of them or maybe even all of them did get inside that shelter, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, that's good news. Randi, I want to go to Donie Lee. He is Chief of Police in Key West. Chief, thanks very much for joining us. What's your biggest concern tonight as you await this storm that's about a 100 miles from Key West?

DONIE LEE JR., CHIEF OF POLICE, KEY WEST, FLORIDA (via telephone): Well, Anderson, my biggest concern is what we're going to find tomorrow when the sun rises and we're able to start responding, hopefully, at some point to calls for service and going to assessing, you know, the damages and stuff here. There's still, you know, far too many people that remain on the island that we're concerned about for their welfare and their well-being. So, you know, we just don't know what to expect really.

COOPER: Do you have a sense of how many people have decided to ride out the storm? I mean, it's always a difficult thing to kind of estimate. It's not like people, kind of, register. Do you have any idea?

LEE (via telephone): We don't have exact numbers, but, you know, there's still thousands of people that remained here on the island. I mean, our population is 25,000. So, we know that there's still thousands of people who decided to stay. We did everything possible to urge and beg everyone to evacuate, and unfortunately, you know, not everyone made, you know, the best decision.

And those decisions today have, you know, life and death consequences. They're here at their own risk, because we're hunkered down the Police Department. We already have tropical storm force winds. We're not going to put our police officers and first responders at risk anymore. The hospitals are closed. They've been closed for two days. There's no ambulance, there is no fire. So, you know, people right now, they're out there on their own to fend for themselves right now, unfortunately.

COOPER: And Chief, during the worst of the storm, obviously, as you said, when you're hunkered down and not able to go out, if 911 calls are coming in, are those just kind of registered and kind of put in order of priority so that when you are able to go back out, you start to respond to those? Is that how that works?

LEE (via telephone): That's exactly right. You know, all the 911 calls are recorded and we're also logging them in by hand as well. And as you said, we're just going to have to prioritize them when we're able to respond and start addressing each one.

COOPER: Yes. You know, you've got to make sure the roads are clear before you can even respond in some areas. Chief, we'll let you go. I know you got a lot of work ahead of you. Thanks so much for talking to us and wish you the best for all of you and your officers and all first responders. Stay safe. We're going to take a short break. More ahead.


COOPER: Our coverage of Hurricane Irma continues. We were talking to John Berman and people in Miami earlier this evening about the concerns that authorities had in Miami that, since this storm, there's now been so much focus on the West Coast that people in Miami might not take that as seriously. That concern runs all along the Eastern Coast of Southern Florida.

Greg Oravec is the Mayor of Port St. Lucie, which is just North of West Palm Beach, Florida. If memory serves me correct. Mr. Mayor, first of all, did I get that location correct and also, is that a big concern for you tonight that people feel like, well, this isn't in the end - going to feel the full force of the storm?

[22:30:00] MAYOR GREG ORAVEC, PORT ST.LUCIE, FLORIDA: Yes and yes, Anderson so as you know, a big issue, a lot of times with storm preparation is will your citizenry take it seriously but because of what we saw happen in Houston and the greater state of Texas and then also with this historic hurricane forming so far East out of the Atlantic and becoming such a powerhouse, everyone has been ready.

And because of the track continuing to change and evolve overtime, we've been hunkered down now for several days and with that focus going to the West Coast, we do not want our population, our 185,000 citizens or anyone on the East Coast of Florida to poke their head out too soon.

Because as you know all too well, this is the time now where we're starting to have the tornado warnings and tornadoes in the area and weather is just really starting to get here. For us this will be a Sunday event so to all of our residents out there and everyone watching on the East Coast, please stay the course and stay safe.

COOPER: In terms of tomorrow, I mean, what kind of hours are you most concerned about? I mean, do you have a sense of what sort of the worst hours are going to be for Port St. Lucie. ORAVEC: Yes, Anderson and you know we go the with resources provided by CNN and your favorite meteorologist but you can't beat the national hurricane center and again, please, as you know, all too well, this is being updated on six-hour intervals, even more frequently now it's under radar lock.

But all of our residents and viewers should be locked into those resources that they trust so they can stay up-to-date. Right now we're counting on kind of a 7:00 a.m. type start that would really last the whole day where we're subject to tropical storm force winds and why that's so important to government officials like us is because our first responders can no longer respond to emergency calls once those winds reach that tropical storm force.

COOPER: Mr. Mayor, we're going to continue checking with you. We appreciate that and hope the folks in Port St. Lucie and all over the East are heeding that kind of warning not to take this lightly at all.

This is a deadly storm already; the death toll is still rising as we're finding out more about what's happened in the Caribbean. We'll continue to check in with you in the hours and days ahead. I want to go to Tom Sater, though, just for an update. Tom, I believe you have some new information about Key West and some of the force of the winds that have finally hit Key West.

TOM SATER, METEROLOGIST: Yes, Key West is now reporting, Anderson, our very first hurricane wind gusts at 74 miles per hour. Anything at 74 miles per hour or greater is hurricane strength so it's begun. I want to take a look at our track, which we will get a new one at the top of the hour but notice the cone of uncertainty, we continue to watch the storm move West - North Westerly.

So we're not getting that northerly component just yet but where it moves especially around Naples to Tampa is critical here and then turn off forward areas putting Atlanta in the worst position for the possible winds, it's that's that front right quadrant so we're going to continue to keep an eye on that.

Again, the eye is still off the coast, we're not looking at an eye wall per se around the center of the eye, but notice how we have the bright colors now, that is the eye wall replacement cycle. So once that band starts to tighten up, then we're going to have an increase in our speed.

Again, we don't have any tornado warnings right now, but I do want to go back to what we mentioned just moments ago when I took you through the Keys and then, of course, we went into Fort Myers. I want to back up just a little bit and show you parts of around where we were talking about Marco Island.

This is a storm surge inundation map that is issued by the National Hurricane Center and Anderson, this is almost a worst case scenario. It's the 90 percentile of our probabilities in our damage. Everything you see in blue is one to three feet, in yellow is three to six, in orange is six to nine and then in red is great than nine. Now, this is the everglades, this is fine, no one lives down here, but that is well inland. Let's go up to Naples a little bit, notice actually down in the Keys, you'll see this well, we've got some yellow in here, that's one to three but when you talk about Naples and again, on the coastline, significant inundation with the storm surge and it goes 10, 12 miles inland.

This is not to be taken lightly, even if it's one to three feet, 12 miles inland, that's going to do some major flooding. Alright to the north there's Bonita Springs, we're going to continue to go up, here is Marco Island.

Now I mentioned this earlier, we showed this map on Google earth and the thousands and thousands and thousands of homes. This gives you an idea now of - you're over 9, 10, 11 feet of water and it continues through all the inlets.

Now to the North as we continue our progress, we're going to take you up to, here we go, all right, here is Cape Coral, you can see Port Charlotte, notice the red inundation around all the islands and inlets, you get into Fort Myers, you're well into plus nine to ten feet, well inland about a mile, a couple of miles, in fact, in some cases all the way up to Olga.

[22:35:00] Now, again, we're going to continue to make our way northward, this is incredible amount of storm surge, notice this in Port Charlotte right now. They were hit hard by Punta Gorda, when Charlie came in and hit Punta Gorda, their winds only extended outward 25 miles per hour, this one extends 70, it's going to get to a hundred.

One more stop up to the North, we can take you up towards Tampa and this why they don't have the bright red and that mainly, Anderson, is because the path we were talking about is in this direction so they're going to be more with the northerly wind but if this system shifts off the coast, which we were talking about that area of red, 9, 10, 11, 12 feet will encompass all of this area of Tampa and St. Pete.

So it's critical. I know this track right now is a bad wind maker, but of course this could be just as worse with storm surge if we get a shift at the top of the hour, Anderson, we'll keep you updated.

COOPER: Yes, Tom, I appreciate that, Richard Rand is with the North Miami beach police department, he joins us now, thanks so much for being with us, Richard, just in terms of - I know there's a curfew, obviously there's been a lot of talk about storm surge, what are your concerns and what are you seeing in North Miami beach right now? Is there any problem with crime? What's on your radar right now?

RICHARD RAND, NORTH MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good evening, Anderson. How are you tonight?

COOPER: I'm good, I'm good, thanks so much for being with us.

RAND: Sure, first off, let me start out by saying that the city of North Miami Beach and our municipal partners are going above and beyond to keep the city of North Miami Beach safe for its residents so we can help them get back on track once we're past the storm.

But let me bring you up to speed with what's going on tonight we're experiencing periods of very heavy winds, we're experiencing periods of heavy rain, we have a lot of power lines down, some transformers have blown but we're holding it.

COOPER: So you've already seen some transformers down, do you have a sense of how many people may be without power at this point or has that actually occurred yet?

RAND: Yes, Anderson, the latest update that I have is there's approximately 100,000 people in Dade County without power and some were in the number of about 40 to 45,000 people in Broward County without power.

COOPER: And just in the hours ahead in terms of for your officers, are you able to continue to patrol in the hours ahead or I mean, at some point obviously in some locals there's going to be a concern about the winds and it's just not safe for officers to be out on the streets or anybody.

RAND: Right, so our policy is sustain 40 mile an hour winds, we don't allow our officers go out on the roads but we're the north end EOC and in between the squalls that we get, we're trying to send our officers out and keep them visible, to keep the element that we don't want in the city breaking into homes or businesses, trying to make sure that they know that we're out there protecting our residents.

COOPER: Yes, Officer Rand, I appreciate that, I'm glad you are and your officers and I wish you the best and stay safe. We're going to take a short break as we continue our coverage of Hurricane Irma and what lies ahead.


COOPER: We've seen a few people walk by around here by the river just tired, they said of being cooped up for hours, but they quickly head back inside as the rain continues to come down but again, it's pretty gentle compared to what it is going to be in the next 12, 24 hours.

John Berman is standing by in Miami with David Halstead who we have been hearing from and learning from a lot over the last several days. John, let's go to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, thanks so much, Anderson, you talked about the fact it's going to get much worse than it is right now and it will. The winds will be twice as strong, the rain falling much harder and we just checked with Florida Light and Power and already there are 150,000 people without power here in Miami-Dade county and North of here in Broward.

150,000 and it's still going to get much, much worse so let's talk about what we can expect, I'm joined by David Halstead, former director of the Florida department of emergency management and David, you know, again,150,000 people without power, expecting programs millions of people without power, how will that be handled? DAVID HALSTEAD, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Yes, 150,000 already in this storm, that's bad news, that means we're probably going to top into the millions by tomorrow morning and what that means is that hospitals will be on generators, those that are at home that perhaps have medical needs, such as need oxygen regeneration, that has to be run by electricity, that's going to be a problem.

We're going to see the traffic lights down, we're going to see gridlock and when people do try to come out and get into the area, which they hopefully won't, but we know there's going to be looky lose later tomorrow and so those are going to be the problems. The power going out means people in shelters for longer periods of time.

BERMAN: Again, it's really just beginning, all right, we're told at 6:00 a.m. is when is it will started to get really bad here in Miami and that will last for six hours or so, so it will be the six hours shifts throughout the state, talk to me about what happens behind the scenes in emergency management. During those six hours when things are really bad and what are you all doing?

HALSTEAD: What's going to happen at the state level is they're going to prepare to come into South Florida somehow, it may mean they have to wait till the second six hour shift goes by, we're not sure.

Depends how big the swath of the storm is across the state but we've got to get into the area as Administrator Fugate talked about and Governor Scott talked about, we don't wait to assess, certainly we will assess but we come in first, we look to you in the eye, Miami- Dade, we see how bad is bad, we determine that with you.

But we've got troops on the ground assisting with search and rescue, the national guard will be on the ground assisting with law enforcement, we're going to have health and human services folks here [22:45:00] helping with disaster medical assistance teams. All those things will be happening, but we've got to wait until the winds die down so the trucks can come in.

BERMAN: It's almost - you and I step out here, the winds start to blow really hard, look, a lot of people probably starting to think about going to bed here in Southern Florida. If you are going to sleep, you know, what should you do before you go to sleep? What should you be concerned about for this night?

HALSTEAD: Well, certainly you want to make sure that everything is locked up as tight as you can, if you've got any protection over the wind owes and doors, hopefully you've already got that in place, in some cases there's bracing for your garage doors, you can put that in place and make sure that's all locked up. Additionally, make sure that you've got plenty of water on hand.

Again, I understand you may have a bottled water but you can still fill other devices with water and make sure you've got enough in case we lose power throughout the night and in case as we talked about salt water intrusion on the wells and on the. What happens if that water becomes contaminated to a certain degree for a certain period of time, make sure you've got water on hand, make sure your house is battened down, make sure that you feel as safe as possible within that home that you've decided to stay in.

BERMAN: Fill that bathtub in water, that is great advice, thanks so much for being with us, appreciate it. Anderson.

COOPER: John, we've already had the first hurricane force wind gusts on the Florida Keys, hit the Florida Keys, that happened just a short time ago, this storm, though, is still 95 miles off the Keys and remember, it's moving about 7 to 8 or so miles per hour, still a long time to come before the Keys start to feel this storm in full force in the morning. Our coverage continues in just a minute.


COOPER: It continues to rain here in Fort Myers as we continue to cover Hurricane Irma. Kyung Lah is standing by as she has been all night long for us in Miami beach, I understand you have been getting information about some of the first responders who are still out there, particularly the fire department?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because, Anderson, the wind gusts, the hurricane force gusts have not hit here yet, the fire personnel have not left Miami beach, they're still responding to calls, and they are extraordinarily busy, they are responding to a number of different alarms.

A lot of fire alarms but the other thing that they are responding to, transformers being blown, they had to go into an apartment building and rescue somebody who was stuck in an elevator so they're continuing to respond, they're continuing to act but they are warning people that if you had not heeded the mandatory evacuation order here at Miami Beach, at some point when the brunt of the storm arrives tomorrow morning, they will not be able to make those runs that you are essentially on your own.

What we are seeing in place tonight, Anderson, is a curfew, police and fire say if you are on the streets here in Miami beach, you are at risk of being arrested, the reason why they have put this into place is they do not want anyone on the streets they're concerned still about flooding and the other thing, Anderson, is that they don't want people to get back into their cars if they are in Miami and come back to the beach that, they say is an extraordinarily bad idea even though it look like the storm is pushing to the West, do not come back here in your cars or get on the streets. Anderson?

COOPER: I mean the idea of being caught, stuck in an elevator with this storm barreling down - what a nightmare, I'm glad they were able to get that person out. Kyung, I appreciate all that you have done for us today and obviously will be doing in the days ahead. Let's check in with Miguel Marquez who is in Punta Gorda, Florida for us as well, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're just North of where you are and the rain is getting stronger, the wind is picking up, it's still not anywhere near what it is' going get to if you didn't know we were just about to get deluged with water and rain in the next 24 hours, you would think it was just a nice summer shower.

Punta Gorda is very sensitive to hurricanes, Charlie came through here 13 years ago and nearly leveled this town, the track that Irma is on is eerily similar to that, that Charlie was on 13 years ago so they're watching it closely right now, it takes it just to the West of Punta Gorda, which would make it - put it on the dirty side of the eye wall if it goes where it's currently on track to go.

The shelter situation here in the County, Charlotte county, is - they're closed, there's no more room at the shelters in the County, they only have three here, it is a fairly small county and much of it is in lowlands so there aren't when they expect a ten to 15 foot tidal surge, they don't have a lot of space basically to put shelters in so they borrowed space from the County North of here, Sarasota county, and they're telling people to go there if they need shelter.

There are still four of five of those shelters that are taking people in, if one runs out of gas, if one is elderly, if one is disabled and one cannot get to a shelter and you can only get to one here in Sarasota in Charlotte county, they will take you in but right now they're trying to get everybody, the bulk of people North to Sarasota county.

[22:55:00] The big concern here is that it's not only the wind and the wane but that storm surge, they believe 10 to 15 feet would go into the county and pull everything back out to sea in pretty quick order. Anderson?

COOPER: Miguel, be careful in the hours ahead, that's about it for our coverage tonight but CNN's coverage obviously continues on throughout the nighttime hours, there is so much to tell you about, we're following this minute by minute, we're expecting a new update on the track of the storm at the top of the hour at 11:00 p.m., we're going to take a short break. But CNN's coverage continues in a minute.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.