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Irma pounds Florida with violent winds, torrential rains. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired September 10, 2017 - 23:00   ET



BILL BARNETT, NAPLES MAYOR: Talked to and had communications with along the east coast, you know, along the coast would have been that storm surge because, as I say, that would have just done us away. I mean, really.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Mayor Bill Barnett of Naples. Thank you, sir. We appreciate you joining us here on CNN.

BARNETT: My pleasure. Take care. Bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

LEMON: It is breaking news at the top of the hour. Hurricane Irma tearing north through Florida, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. We've got our correspondents out reporting. Anderson is in Tampa, Ryan Young is in nearby Clearwater, Tom Sater in the CNN weather center.

We want to get right to Tom because, Tom, that new forecast comes out at the top of the hour. Do you have it? What is it saying?

TOM SATER, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we sure do, Don. In fact, the men and women of the National Hurricane Center, the best in the world, have really been actually in front of the schedule. And so we're grateful for are that. Here's what we know.

Still a category 2. Notice the brighter colors fanning out on both coasts. So you would expect some weakening. It has dropped 5 miles per hour now. It's down to 100-mile per hour sustained winds, still have gusts of 120, that's near the core, in the center.

But notice all the loss of color around the core. We're seeing the pressures rise, which is showing signs of weakening. However, don't let this fool you because we still have hurricane force winds extending out from the center a good 80 miles.

Now, earlier in Tampa we had a gust of about 78 miles per hour when Anderson was there, I know he's going to be with us now. Just had a gust of 60. But I think it's still approaching, obviously, Tampa area. And so therefore, we can expect some of those stronger gusts.

Sebring, you know, getting about 72. We do have a slight difference, as expected, in the shift to the east because we had a little wobble in the eye. Instead of it making its way directly over Tampa and Big Bend it's shifted just a little bit to the east.

However, it is going to get that northwesterly component in its movement back in the overnight period. On a broader scale, we'll watch it still staying to the south, west of Atlanta, moving north more toward Birmingham, toward Memphis.

But when it makes its way to the southern U.S., we should undergo some shear. Let's break this down a little closer for you because the track does mean everything.

Since we have a compact storm, still category 2, which by the way, if it just drops 5 miles per hour, it will be a category 1, but let's not, you know, we're splitting hairs at that point.

We're still going to have power outages with this, we're still going to have trees down, and so the roads and arteries are going to be blocked. And then we need to get those cleared first to get the power restored.

So as the system moves up, stronger winds in Lakeland, of course, towards Inverness. We're looking at this right over Chiefland. Gainesville will be, of course, on the edge of this cone of uncertainty.

But still that's in that front right quadrant, we're watching that, as it makes its way toward Lake City, Valdosta, we'll get in on it as well, again, toward Columbus, some of the stronger winds.

But by this period even though it can still down winds, Don, with, you know, gusts to over 50 miles per hour we're still looking at sustained winds that are going to keep this system together enough to be a real pain.

Rainfall amounts, too. So again, it's not over with when it gets in the areas of Georgia and Alabama. In fact, you know, Governor Nathan Deal declared state of emergency for 159 counties in Georgia. A couple of things we want to point out.

We're about 50 miles now to the southeast of Tampa with the eye. We have had heavy rainfall blanketing areas of Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater, back down into Bradenton, Anna Maria Island, down to Sarasota on the back end.

We are continuing, however, to still watch the southern flow keeping the water banged up against the coastline in the southwest. Interesting to note if you have not been with us all day, it did make landfall at a category 4 in the keys.

That was between Key West and Big Pine Key, category 4. That's the second category 4 landfall we've had this year. That has never happened in recorded history in the U.S. And it's not just that it was June and once in November.

Both Harvey and Irma within 16 days, we had a landfall category 4. Now that the system is making its way slowly north, we've been watching incredible banding of severe thunderstorms from the Orlando area back through Cape Canaveral and off the Coast.

This has already been providing a number of tornadoes. We've had water spouts make their way inland. We've even had one tornado warning that was moving at 74 miles per hour towards the northwest. But also heavy amounts of rainfall.

In Melbourne over 14 1/2 inches. Okeechobee we've had over 10 inches. And there's several of them that we can show you. But as we continue to see the movement to the north-northwest, our tornado watch box has, kind of, shrunk a little bit.

It's still, of course, encompassing the north and northeastern quadrant. When we get closer in, notice the red and the yellow. That is that front right quadrant from our center. So that's always been the case as the powerhouse area.

But again, keep in mind those winds extend out around 80 miles. So damage is still with us. Getting a nice little pocket of some dry air infiltrating the system.

(00:05:00) We would like to see that get all the way in around the core to, kind of, choke off this system, the dry air will bleed it. And along with those winds to the north, kind of, shred the system. So it's going to be a formidable storm.

It's still a category 2. Do not, you know, let your guard down, hunker down throughout the night until the system is north. Now, when it does move north of Tampa, that's when the winds come back into the bay. Right now, Don, the winds are out of the east to the west.

So it's shoving all that water out of the inlets, out of canals, and out of Tampa Bay, but it's going to come back. Not near as strong but still because that southern area, of course, around the eye will continue to shove that water back into the bay, but we're not looking at the intensity that we did earlier around Marco Island.

Twelve years ago, 2005 Wilma made landfall, the exact same location where, of course, Wilma did in Marco Island. Same latitude and longitude, both a category 3, this is a little ironic.

But again, we're watching the core moving northward, the bands of rain now moving toward Daytona. Some of the rainfall totals are quite heavy for a fast moving storm. There's a 14 1/2 in Melbourne. You got Miami-Dade over 13 1/3.

Fort Pierce that we have some pretty rough winds. In fact, the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant had 99-mile per hour wind gusts about two hours ago. So we're not out of this, Don, we'll continue to monitor it. The rainfall shaft will continue to make its way northward along with those still damaging sustained winds and even stronger gusts.

LEMON: Tom Sater with the new forecast for Irma. Thank you, Tom, we'll check back with you. We want to get to our guys who are out there in the elements.

Anderson Cooper is in Tampa, Ryan Young is in Clearwater. First, Ryan. Ryan, while this storm path is changing you're still feeling the brunt of it there in Clearwater.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we absolutely are. In fact, we moved the camera on the inside. My photographer, Larry, and my producer, Brad, are standing in some shelter right now.

As we're still here, I mean, as we were standing right here, we noticed some explosions over to the left. Might have been a transformer of some sort that gave a big spark and a loud sound right before this live shot.

So not sure what that is in the distance. But the wind just seems to be tunneling harder and harder. I mean, look at -- you can listen to it. I mean, that is the wind that we've been feeling over and over.

And look, we've talked to some people who came as far away as from Germany, they were here for their vacation, never expecting to face a storm, and then they were stuck to try to figure out what to do next and they went from hotel to hotel to figure out where to hunker down.

And imagine this is their first experience in America and to deal with a storm like this in a beautiful state, you can understand how scared some those people are. We've also talked to other people who decided to make the decision not to leave their home.

They wanted to stare the storm in the eye because they didn't want to leave their home with the good theory that if they left, that they would get trapped somewhere else.

And we even met people who came from as far away as Miami to avoid the storm but still found a way to get caught in its eye. (INAUDIBLE) extent in terms of the storm itself. But at this hour, Don, the conversation really is just the power of the wind as it keeps swirling around us.

We're just south of the airport. And just depending on where I stand, seeing how the wind is just crossing from left to right, but we're starting to think (INAUDIBLE) and that has been the consistency here.

We have seen some parts of roof tiles flying by us and we've seen some billboards at this point succumb to the wind. And as I lean forward, you can hear just how powerful the winds are. We've experienced at least 80-mile per hour of winds at some point.

And now we're getting to another strong gust. It seems like no matter what we do, it gets a little tougher. You got to spread your feet, though. It's all good. For the most part, though, we've been tremendously safe.

And most people have gotten off the roads. In fact, we haven't seen a car on the roadways for about an hour and a half now. So it seems like people realized the worst of the storm may be coming this direction at this point.

And they're heeding it by staying inside. The last few things I'll mention is people in this area were worried about flooding because it does flood even in the best of times when it's just a strong rainfall and that is something that people are concerned about in this late hours, the idea that there could be some serious ponding in the morning. Don?

LEMON: And that sound you heard, what is it? You said it was a boom, did it sound like a transformer blowing or what?

YOUNG: Yes. So from our position, I -- I'm just going to point this direction. Larry is actually on the inside of this carport that we're in, but down over here we saw some sort of explosion. We believe it was some transformers that were popping.

We didn't see any fire. It popped. We saw the flash of light and that was it. And the one thing that we've talked about consistently is the idea that the power has remained on.

But obviously in some places they're dealing with some transformer issues in terms of -- I heard Chris say earlier, the snap, crackle, pop, well, that's happening for real at this point.

LEMON: All right. Stand by, Ryan Young, in Clearwater. Let's get to Anderson now in Tampa. Anderson, (00:10:00) watching you earlier in the evening, well, first of all, I'm wondering what's going on there now.

But also you saw a flash in the sky which was quite possibly a transformer blowing as well.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we've seen at least five or six of them. In fact, I think I saw the same one that Ryan was referring to because Ryan's to the west of me.

From my vantage point it actually looks like two or three separate ones, kind of, clustered in a, in a -- an area not too far apart from each other. You don't actually hear anything. You just see this white-blue light.

It's very eerie. It's -- generally, the assumption is it's a transformer, that's tend to be what they look like in this hurricanes. You know, I think a couple of big headlines from the latest forecast that Tom Sater brought.

It's closer to being a cat 1 than it is to being a cat 3. To me, that's a headline. It's certainly better news for Tampa. It could have been worst news for Tampa, but it's better news for Tampa, better news for everybody.

You know, there's still going to be hurricane force winds about, you know, gusts about 100 miles an hour or so. That's nothing to scoff at. But it's not the 130 miles an hour winds. That what we feared here in Tampa yesterday.

You know, storm surge here in Tampa with estimated, yesterday, to be five to eight feet. That could have been really severe flooding in a lot of areas in low lying Tampa and the Bay area. We don't know what the storm surge estimates are right now. We didn't hear that from Tom. But we did hear that it's going to be lower than the previous estimates as the wind speed is less. You're going to get less storm surge. That's more good news from Tampa.

The key is, and I think, you know, Ryan said this, Tom Sater said this, is, you know, people have stayed inside this long. They need to just ride it out. There may be good news for Tampa. It could have been worse news, but it's better news.

I -- it -- I would -- certainly wouldn't say this thing is not over. The worst hours are yet to come, there's no doubt about it. It's going to be some miserable hours through the dawn. And we're not going to get a sense of the storm surge until, you know, early morning hours.

And to really get a sense of how many communities, how many areas around here are without power, how many areas are flooded, what the extent of the flooding is, and how long it's going to get to take the water.

It's going to be miserable hours ahead. But just stay inside. Continue to, you know, go to sleep if you can and just ride this out. If you, if you lasted this long inside, there's no reason to come out just because you think, oh, it's not as bad I -- as I previously thought it might be.

LEMON: Yes, and you're right. And since you said that, you saw some people earlier today out checking out Tampa Bay, I mean, just walking around, which is not a good idea especially at this point.

COOPER: Well, certainly not at this point. I mean, we've seen, you know, a handful of people walking around here tonight at, you know, even in this miserable -- in these miserable conditions. I think they were just, kind of, curious, but certainly out today.

You know, you're stuck inside, you're with your kids. You got animals, you need to go out and walk them. It's, you know, it's just boring especially if some power has gone out. So people did come to the Riverwalk.

They wanted to see this phenomenon of the water being sucked out and that's still happening. You know, as Tom was saying, waiting until that wind shifts direction hours from now and that water is pushed back in.

But again, it -- the headline from -- that I got from Tom on that storm surge is because the winds are going to be less than predicted previously, it's not going to be rushing in to the speed that it might have been. And that is certainly good news for this, for this area.

LEMON: Anderson, I want you to stand by and Ryan as well. And we'll check back in with both of you, Anderson in Tampa, Ryan in Clearwater.

I want to get to Stephanie Elam because Stephanie is in Tampa as well to see what's happening from her advantage point. You're moving around in Tampa. Where are you now and what's happening? STEPHANIE ELAM, CCN CORRESPONDENT: Don, I'm downtown and I've moved over here so you can get a better look at just how it looks. I think if you look down this street here, you can see that the lights, how they're blowing and how the rain is coming in in bands.

And sometimes it's so strong I can literally just lean into the wind and it holds me up. It's kind of a bizarre feeling here. But because you've got, sort of, this like pointy area of downtown here, you can feel the wind, kind of, swirl in a couple of ways through these tall buildings.

And so once you get to this other cross street here, you see more of that coming across. But it's definitely starting to pick up in intensity and in strength on this side from where I am in downtown, a bit on the other side from where Anderson is.

And as you can see there's one person out here who I just really don't understand why people would come out here. It's not pleasant at all out here. Everything about being out here, there's no staying dry. You are completely wet.

The wind can come up and throw you off your balance. You could fall. Something else could come and hit you. All of that is starting to happen out here. I mean, if -- you really don't understand how uncomfortable it is until you come and stand outside in a hurricane, right?


ELAM: So we're prepared for it. We came out here to do this. And we want people to know that (00:15:00) that's why we're doing it, so you don't have to do this. But if you look up the street we've been watching the bands come down this street here in downtown Tampa.

And between those office buildings sometime it becomes really fast and here's another one that's just about to come this way, too. But yes, it's starting to pick up here, Don. And maybe better than expected but it's still really serious.

LEMON: And I know you, Stephanie, and unless -- you would not be out in it unless you had to be and this is part of your job and that's why you're out.

So heed the warnings from all of our correspondents and main officers who have been saying stay off the streets, who say it's dangerous. Thank you, appreciate it.

When we come back, our breaking news, the center of hurricane Irma hitting southeast of Tampa right now as the storm cuts a destructive path through Florida. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Get you back live now. And there's Tampa, Florida, and you can see -- look at that streetlight. That's -- man, that's going to come down soon. And the worst of the winds haven't even hit Tampa yet. They're getting some bad winds but look at what's going on there.

Hurricane Irma absolutely slamming Florida as it moves north spreading destruction in its wake. I want to get back now to Ryan Young. Ryan is in Clearwater, which is really getting pounded tonight, not far from Tampa.

So listen, this storm path has changed but you're still feeling the brunt of it right there in Clearwater. And we've been watching you all evening.

YOUNG: Yes, absolutely. And in just the last five minutes or so, we actually saw our first emergency vehicle passed by us (00:20:00) with lights and sirens. Have no idea what call they're responding to.

But you think about a high profile vehicle like the ambulance that passed by us, with lights and sirens dealing with this wind, you have to get your -- take your hat off to the first responders that do this on a day-to-day basis but think about on a day like this, they're really putting their lives on the line to really help somebody out.

Now, we stepped out having my photographer, Larry, kind of, walk out to show you the difference here. We're, kind of, under this overhang to, kind of, give us some shelter, but as we walk back out in this direction, this is where the wind really changes and this is where it becomes pretty fierce, Don.

And it's just really a difference in terms of just where I was standing and now the difference in terms of what I've dealing with. Look, just in our last few days here I would've meet some people who really were trying to make sure that their neighbors were taken care of.

But we met this man yesterday named Allen Bridges. And what he was doing is he was actually giving away wood because so many people didn't have shelter. So he was giving away plywood, so people could board up their windows.

And we shot this video and we saw the desperation in people's faces as they tried to get some wood to board up their windows. That's what we've seen throughout the area in terms of people not having the proper devices and pieces of wood they need to board up windows.

Because you need to deal with the wind that we're dealing with right now. And as you can see, sometimes, you know, the gusts, they don't, they don't knock. They just, kind of, comes and punches you a little bit.

Again, we do have some, sort of, safety -- if it got too windy, to, kind of, sit right here and grab. And that way it, kind of, changes the conversation. Well, like I said before, if you block off the wind -- I'm going to have Larry step back just a little bit.

If you block off the wind, it changes the entire conversation. That's really the difference here. If you have something that's, kind of, blocking you, yes, you can have a conversation, yes, I can hear you. But when the gusts hit 80 miles per hour it changes the whole conversation in terms of just how powerful they are. We have seen some explosions in the distance. Not sure if those were transformers popping. That's what we believe they are.

The lights that we've looking at on rough all night, they've been hanging in there. We have seen signs blow down. But for the most part, even the billboard that we've been watching all night, the one that we've seen, kind of, give a little bit. The one up there, it stood the test of time. And --

LEMON: So far.

YOUNG: -- amazingly, somehow, the power's still on.

LEMON: Yes, so far for both of those. It stood the test of time so far, that billboard --

YOUNG: Absolutely.

LEMON: -- and the power's still on so far. Listen, I know it's the end of summer, it's Florida, but how cold is that rain?

YOUNG: You know what? The temperature dropped, so it definitely got cold. I would say it feels like, you know, I live in Chicago now. So this doesn't feel bad at all. I mean, honestly, it feels like a pool but it's not bad.

The temperature has dropped. It's really the wind that gets you as it hits you over and over. But this is nothing compared to the Windy City when it comes to the coldness factor especially for a Florida guy.

LEMON: I know. It was my home at one point, too. And that rain, that's like bathwater compared to Chicago. But listen, still very dangerous at this point, Ryan, stick around. I need to get to the police chief of Tampa tonight.

And his name is Brian Dugan and he join us via phone to get the latest information there. So listen, I want to bring you in and I want to talk about Ryan says that he's -- he saw his first emergency vehicle of the evening really. So, what's going on? Are you, are you answering calls?

BRIAN DUGAN, TAMPA CHIEF OF POLICE: Well, we are, we are not answering calls as of about 4:45 this afternoon when I was out on the street with the officers.

And based upon the information we had from the National Weather Service and what I was feeling out on the street, we pulled our officers off the street.

LEMON: You did.

DUGAN: Now, we have a contingency group in extreme emergencies that will respond. But no, we are not responding out on the street. LEMON: Yes. What are you concerned about right now, Chief?

DUGAN: You know, just, you know, what's going to still be standing, what's going to be flooded, the wind damage. You know, I was out about two hours ago assessing where we stood out in the city, going through downtown along our Bayshore area.

And it was holding up well. The biggest concern was there was no water in the bay, it was very shallow. And, you know, obviously when that water comes back in, it, you know, it's going to be hold on to your hats and see where everything's standing.

LEMON: Yes. And that's -- that is a concern for a lot of folks, the -- this -- the flooding and the storm surge. But as I'm talking to you right now, Chief Dugan, we're looking at this live picture and we're seeing these stoplights really blowing around and one of them really hanging by a thread.

And, you know, we're concerned about projectiles, I'm sure you are, too. You've told people to stay off the streets. But that's got to be a concern for you as well.

DUGAN: Yes, you know, you worry about, you know, people not being able to see, you know, what's on the streets and stuff, and that's why we're asking everybody to stay indoors.

(00:25:00) You know, I was out, you can see the different blue lights in the sky that, you know, appear to be a flash like maybe it's a transformer or something. I can tell you as of two hours ago I saw several areas that had, you know, power outages just driving around.

And it was interesting that there were some spots that had power and then, you know, a few blocks down the street they had none.

LEMON: Yes. Well -- and so you have some power. And when you have winds like this, you know, those overhead power lines, are you concerned about that?

DUGAN: Oh, yes, yes. That's definitely, you know, when the storm clears, that's going to be the first thing we look at, what's are -- what are live wires, what aren't, and things like that.

And, you know, when you get into the flooding, you got live power lines and, you know, this is Florida, you don't know what type of wildlife is going to be out there in the water also.

LEMON: And that is a very good point. Especially in Florida, you never know with that ecosystem down there. So listen, just, kind of, speaking of that, bit more about this storm surge that you're bracing for. Do you -- it's -- can you prepare for that?

DUGAN: Well, you know, we ask people to evacuate, and that's all we can do. You know, you can't, you can't stop water, you know, no matter how hard you try.

It's tough. And you, you know, and you certainly don't want to test Mother Nature. And, you know, we're just going to have to stand by and see where everything evens off.

LEMON: Mayor Brian Dugan of Tampa -- I'm sorry, excuse me, Police Chief Brian Dugan of Tampa. Thank you, Chief, I appreciate it.

DUGAN: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, hurricane Irma, such a monster storm, is spreading destruction from coast to coast as 3 million people are without power tonight.


DON LEMON, CNN ANHOR: Look at these live pictures. This is Tampa, Florida right now. And you could see, man, the wind is whipping there. The rain is coming down. We've been showing you these streetlights that are just dangling by a string there in Tampa, Florida.

Let's hope they don't come down. We just spoke to the police chief who said he's worried about storm surge, he's worried about projectiles, worried about if -- possible lines coming down, a whole host of things.

This is all, of course, from hurricane Irma spreading destruction from coast to coast in Florida, from Tampa east across the state to Orlando and Daytona Beach. Let's go to CNN's Brynn Gingras. Brynn is in Orlando.

And then we're going to Sara Sidner as well in in Daytona. But first, Brynn, I understand that you have some breaking information there in Orlando. What do you have for us?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, don. We're getting hit pretty hard with the storm, but this was a fraction of what we were seeing not too long ago. And at that time we saw a transformer blow. We saw a ton of emergency vehicles going that direction.

Well, we've learned that they were responding to a fatality. A car crashed, a single car crashed into something. And the person that was in that car when authorities arrived on scene was dead.

So they can't really say quite yet if it's 100 percent storm related because, of course, you know that involves an investigation. And with these conditions, no emergency officials or vehicles are out on the roads.

So they can't investigate that particular scene, but it does seem to be because of this storm people were driving. A curfew was in place at 7:00, so they were expecting everyone to be off the roads.

But Don, I can tell you even just within 15 minutes ago we saw a car driving around on these roads. Here, Don, we're expecting conditions to get worse within the next hour or so.

That's when we're supposed to be reaching the worst until early, early hours of this -- tomorrow morning. And right now, sure, it's not too bad. I'm not getting blown around too much but then wind gusts comes around and it really pushes me aside, Don.

LEMON: I got to ask you, I saw Stephanie out, Brynn, in Tampa and as she was talking someone was walking down the street. But again, there is a curfew. People are not supposed to be out. Are they, are they following that?

GINGRAS: Well, we -- for the most part people are following not actually coming out here, but driving is a different story. I'm so shocked when I see, actually, cars going through here.

Because, like I said, that car crash happened, and we also heard that an emergency vehicle hydroplaned and got stuck on the highway. So it's certainly not driving conditions or walking for that matter.

LEMON: All right, Brynn, thank you. Stay safe out there. Sara Sidner in Daytona Beach for us. Sara, you're on the east coast of Florida for us in Daytona. What are you dealing with right now?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're literally on A1A Beachfront Avenue made famous by a singer whose name I will not reveal. Just kidding. Vanilla Ice. It has calmed down a little bit but we're still doing this thing with the gust like everybody else.

And I wanted to give you an idea why they try to tell people to please stay inside. If you look, there's debris that's been coming down. There was some debris that came down from seven stories up from the hotel.

Something snapped off made of metal. And then what we're, what we're seeing here on A1A is we're seeing a lot of plastic, and I think that's from the tops of trashcans. And so if you look, those are strewn all over A1A right outside here, right outside here.

Right near the convention center, the Ocean Center as it's called here in Daytona Beach. But take a look behind me, because what you're seeing there, you can see the gusts. Look at that sign.

The Auditorium Boulevard sign, you see it swinging back and forth and swinging back and forth, that area is -- the beach is on the other side of this hotel. So where you're seeing that sign, about 200 yards to the left is Daytona Beach.

And so you're getting a heck of a lot of wind just coming off of the beach. You're seeing the palm trees now go absolutely nuts here near the convention center. Hard to see with the camera. I'm going to see if we can just quickly walk over to give you a look at that.

There's quite a few of them here. You can see the lights going there. But what is important about where we are is, this is one of the staging areas for the linemen and those who trim the trees so that people who are without power can have their power come back on.

(00:05:00) We've already seen some transformers blowing here. We've also seen the lights go off and on in the streets. But there are dozens of linemen here ready to go out as soon as the winds die down and start taking care of that power problem that is across Florida. Don?

LEMON: Sara, be safe, thank you very much. When we come back, Irma pounding Florida with violent winds and torrential rains as it moves north, shut downing power lines and leaving a trail of debris behind.


LEMON: We want to get you now live to Clearwater, Florida. And you can see the wind really whipping up there. That's where our Ryan Young has been stationed all evening. And he has been bringing us the coverage of the downpours and also the wind.

Power lines being taken down there leaving a trail, Irma, debris from coast to coast in Florida. But first, we need to get to CNN's Brian Todd. Brian joins us from West Palm Beach. And Brian, as I understand, you saw something that prompted a very dramatic rescue, right?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Don. In Palm Beach County, which, by the way, has been pounded with hurricane force winds for coming up on about 11 1/2 hours (00:10:00) which is just a sustained barrage here of wind and rain.

Palm Beach County not far from we are, we learned of a dramatic rescue, 50 plus people pulled from an apartment complex which is called the Stonybrook Complex in Riviera Beach, Florida.

The mayor of that town, Thomas Masters, told us that he had to go there with fire and rescue teams and police when the roofs got ripped off of two units in that apartment complex. They went door to door and made sure people got out.

But they pulled more than 50 people out. They got them to a shelter and higher ground and a safer area including several children. And he reported that none of them were injured, but this is, kind of, the product of what we've been going through here, again, for close to 12 hours here in Palm Beach County.

We're standing here over on this street, Flagler Drive along the Intracoastal Waterway. Debris has been flying for hours. We saw three transformers blow about a block away from us.

Just an intense, kind of, blue concussive blast going up in, up in the sky and shorting out these -- the power grid here. But, you know, again, that rescue, that was fortunate.

They're going to go and reassess that apartment complex in the morning to make sure that everyone got out of there safely. At this hour, Don, we believe they did, but they're going to have to reassess that when dawn hits.

LEMON: All right. Brian Todd, I want you to be safe out there. We'll get back to Brian Todd in West Palm Beach. I want to bring in Chief Mike Murphy of Marco Island Fire and Rescue. And he joins us by phone. Now, Chief, we appreciate you joining us. A lot to talk to you about. When we spoke to you on Friday night, you told me that you were bracing for a direct hit and you got it. Irma made landfall at Marco Island at 3:35 this morning. You were just out assessing the damage. What did you see?

MIKE MURPHY, MARCO ISLAND FIRE AND RESCUE CHIEF: It appears that we had a -- when the tidal surge came in, it was not as great as what's previously -- what was previously predicted. However, we do have a lot of areas that are flooded in the roadway areas.

We did have some areas that had water coming up into the garages of the homes. Two major factors happened during this storm, we lost all power to the entire island heading towards (INAUDIBLE) Island. And the second component was our water system went down during the storm.

We received a number of calls for assistance. We had one structure had a tree go through it with three people trapped and three other incidents (INAUDIBLE) we got out on the road, we assessed the damage.

A lot of people were having to stay in place. And so we can assess the situation in the morning. What we are seeing is areas of the island have major trees and obstructions to the roadways. And access around portions of the island have been diminished.

But we made some -- first teams out and we've opened up a lot of our major corridors so that we can get rescue assets onto the island.

LEMON: Hey, Chief, I just want to be clear. You said -- did you say you had a rescue -- you had to conduct a rescue?

MURPHY: We conducted a few rescues in reference to getting people that were inside houses, water coming into them and/or had medical issues.

Some -- well, a couple of people called in structural collapses with injuries. But it was not significant events as far as injuries or anything. And we did get those people out of those locations.

LEMON: What about power and your water system tonight, Chief?

MURPHY: We have no power, no water system. Do not anticipate power and a water system back on perhaps for a complete couple of days at the -- on the long side. There appears to be some infrastructure damage to our water system.

And as far as power, we have a number of power lines down, poles down, and that will be assessed in the morning. We do have the LTEC which is our supplier of power on -- coming on to the island.

Part of our problem occurred in that units from the outside resources could not get to us. We have a six-mile corridor between us and the major intersection. And that six-mile corridor was blocked by debris. And on one side of us on the south was under four feet of water all the way up to the bridge.

LEMON: And what kind of help do you need?

MURPHY: Tomorrow morning our major focus is going to be, once we can get some access onto the island, we are going to have to go -- we have over 700 condominiums of various 2 feet -- 2 stories to (00:15:00) 24 stories.

We need to make sure all the occupants that are in those facilities are safe, the ones (INAUDIBLE) we will do the damage assessment in the morning. We've requested some assets to do that from our county (INAUDIBLE) and we anticipate that they will be arriving.

And the second component is based upon what we signed, we may set up a temporary shelter on the island based up the electrical problems and the other problems we have with the water that people coming onto the island will not be able to sustain themselves.

And the people that are on the island will not be able to do that either. So we may have to set up a temporary shelter off island and get those individuals out at least for days.

LEMON: Mike Murphy, Marco Island Fire and Rescue Chief. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

MURPHY: Thank you very much.

LEMON: When we come back, hurricane Irma pounding Florida from coast to coast as residents are warned that life threatening storm surges could come next.


LEMON: In amidst all the misery from hurricane Irma, I want to tell you about one story with a very (00:20:00) happy ending. A baby girl born safe and healthy at home at the height of the storm. Look at that picture there.

So joining me now on the phone, three heroes or four heroes, by the way, who came to the rescue, Assistant Chief John Whalen from the Coral Springs Fire Department along with Driver Engineer Chris Hurst who also is with the fire department.

And Sergeant Scott Meyers from the police department, and Lou Falco, the dispatcher who took the call. All right. There are a lot of titles there but basically we can call you, guys, major delivery guys because you delivered -- helped to deliver a baby.

And so thank you all for joining us. I think you will take those -- that title. Lou, tell us what it was like when that call came in right in the middle of the hurricane.

LOU FALCO, CORAL SPRINGS DISPATCHER: You know, most people can't imagine the chaos that goes on in a 911 Dispatch Center during a crisis. And this being a major hurricane, dispatchers are here 24/7, 365.

So phones are ringing off the hook and I happened to be the lucky one who picked up the line. And basically, baby was coming when I picked up. I mean, you know, you heard mom in the background and basically my job was to make sure I got the right address from dad.

Just try to keep him focused, understand what was going on, and what was happening. And basically get the call in immediately and get it up to our police and the firemen, the paramedics, to make sure we got the help out there to bring baby into the world.

LEMON: Now, I know it's kind of chaotic out there. Just to make sure I have my story right. Scott, did you drive the rescue vehicle through the storm and was that --

SCOTT MYERS, CORAL SPRINGS SERGEANT: I had a team, I had a team of five people that are on motor vehicle. Detective Koenig was actually driving it. And we were responding to any priority calls in the city during the storm.

LEMON: How hard was it to reach the house?

MYERS: It was very hard. We had a lot of storm damage, trees down, power lines down. We had to take an alternate route to get to the house.

LEMON: OK. So then John Whalen and then -- and Chris Hurst, what were your -- how did, how did you guys play your part in this?

JOHN WHALEN, CORAL SPRINGS ASSISTANT CHIEF: We got a call from our Incident Command System in -- that's in central -- the central of the city and they said --

LEMON: And this is John speaking right now, right?

WHALEN: It was a videophone call. They said, "Would you like to deliver a baby?" And I, kind of, laughed. And they said, "We're not kidding." And I said, "Absolutely. Tell us where you need us." And they chose our vehicle because of the lower profile.

We're in a command vehicle, which is more like a four wheel drive truck. And the -- they said, "Your vehicle is a lower profile, it's got four wheel drive, and you're the only ones that can get there."

So I grabbed Chris as my driver for the, for the remainder of the storm and said, "We're going to deliver a baby." And he said, "OK." And the team here at the station that we're at started scrambling around and grabbing equipment for us off of the rescue trucks and fire engines here at the station.

They gave us an OB kit. They gave us oxygen. They gave us a -- some airway stuff in case we had any issues. And we jumped in the truck and we were actually very fortunate the incident commanders were correct that the engines and rescues would not have been able to get through what we had to go through to get to their home.

So Chris is an expert driver and he got us through there safely and quickly. And we pulled up. And we were not expecting what we saw. LEMON: And Chris -- I mean, that was John speaking. I just wanted to make sure. Now, Chris, your driving expertise or skills have never been more important.

CHRIS HURST, CORAL SPRINGS FIREMAN DRIVER: No. It was, it was pretty hairy getting through there. We had a four-wheel drive truck, we had to go over a bunch of curbs.

There's a bunch of trees down. Once we got in there and then we had to barricade in there really quick, which is the armored vehicle, which was, which was really cool. Got it -- we've never got a fire truck back in there.

LEMON: Yes. Who's -- so, who actually delivered the baby?

WHALEN: Chris and, Chris and myself. When we got there, she was pretty much all the way -- almost all the way out. And she was -- and her -- the patient's mother, the mother of the person in labor, was actually pretty much delivering the baby, her own granddaughter in the bathroom on the floor.


WHALEN: And I've never met or seen a more calmed scene in the chaos going on outside. We were, kind of, taken back by it, it looked like a labor, delivery room. And everybody was extremely calmed and everybody was smiling.

And every -- and we were -- and it was very calming to Chris and I to walk into that non-chaotic scene. And then started doing what we had to do and I'll let Chris talk about the things that we had to do.

But he was very instrumental in making sure that baby -- because he, kind of, took control of the, of the baby. And I started dealing with the mother and things we had to do with her.

LEMON: But you, guys, did come in there and help out? I mean, it wasn't just the mom.

WHALEN: Oh, yes.

LEMON: Yes, it was underway but you guys helped.

WHALEN: The cord, the cord was still there, so we had to cut the cord. And we plant the cord and cut the cord. And baby wasn't presenting really good at first. But then she pinked right up. You know, beautiful little baby.

LEMON: Yes. How was the mom and baby doing now?

WHALEN: Well, they're doing great. We checked, we checked on them. (00:25:00) She hugged us all before we left and we told her we had to go because we had another emergency we need to take care of.

And she didn't want us to leave and told us to please come back to the house and see the baby after all this. And we promised her we would. And we asked her if she would name the baby Irma and she said absolutely not.

And she -- and named the baby, April, which is a beautiful name. And, you know, again, I just want to reiterate, you know, how important the Bearcat crew was in all of this because this would not have turned out so well for anybody if they were not able to get back there and transport her to -- and the baby to the hospital in a timely manner. And without them, this would have turned out much differently.

LEMON: We see you guys in an armored vehicle. The mom is on the floor and then we see this bald guy with sunglasses on his head. Which one of you is that?

MYERS: That is Chris Hurst holding the baby.

LEMON: Holding the baby. Yes.

MYERS: That is -- that's Chris Hurst. And I got to tell you, I think that if I would have tried to take the baby from him, he would have probably knocked me to the ground. He wasn't letting go of that baby.

He started the job and he made sure he finished it to the, to the hospital. I don't think he wanted to give it up to the nurses at the hospital because the baby latched onto him and wouldn't let go of his hand.

And it was a -- we were trying to do everything professionally but I wanted to take pictures, so I, you know, share this moment because it's not very often that we get to experience something like this.

LEMON: Well, you --

MYERS: We wouldn't give up of that baby for nothing.

LEMON: You guys are awesome. Scott, Lou, John, and Chris, amazing. Nice job.

HURST: Thanks. I want to say thanks for including, you know, us and this was a great teamwork between the Coral Springs dispatch, police, and fire. Dispatchers are usually are included very often in this but, you know, it's a great feeling we had the team work.

And a lot of times when people call 911, it's not for something happy and today -- I always say 911 dispatchers save lives, well, today it was very pleasurable to help start a life. So today Coral Springs really did a great job today. I'm proud to be a part of it.

LEMON: Nice job, guys. Congratulations.

HURST: Thank you.

MYERS: Thank you.

WHALEN: Thank you.

LEMON: And when we come back, Irma pounding Florida with violent winds and torrential rains as it moves north. More than 3 million people across the state without power. Dangerous debris flying around in that darkness.