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Irma Slamming South Florida with Cat Three Force; Irma Slamming Southwest Florida after Lashing Keys; Irma Bears Down on Naples, Marco Island with Cat Three Winds; Hurricane Force Winds Whipping Miami; Miami Mayor: 75 percent of Miami-Dade County has Lost Power; Storm Surge from Irma Floods Downtown Miami; Miami-Dade Police No Longer Responding to Service Calls; Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 10, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is one of the main reasons that a lot of the families come here. We have just met the Brady family, Steve and Laure with their daughter, Peyton. Their pups Stella and Monty. Right?
STEVE BRADY, EVACUEE: You got it.
MARQUARDT: How are you guys doing?
STEVE BRADY: We're doing well. We're doing well right now.
MARQUARDT: You live not too far away and you're not in an evacuation area, but you still decided to come to the shelter?
STEVE BRADY: Honestly, we got here at 7:30 this morning -- I mean, yesterday morning. We haven't really heard of Sarasota as a full evacuation area in Sarasota or not. But we got here, because we just wanted to make sure we were going to be as safe as possible.
MARQUARDT: The evacuation area in Sarasota right now is just along the water. You live inland. So, did you board up your home? How did you prepare to leave?
STEVE BRADY: Yes, we did. We boarded up our home. It was a very long Friday, boarded up the whole house on Friday and got here 7:30 yesterday morning. We're here pretty early, compared -- making sure we got our spot.
MARQUARDT: Laura, the fact that this shelter takes pet, that was a real concern to you guys?
LAURA BRADY, EVACUEE: Very much so. They're a part of our family, so.
MARQUARDT: And you actually had to leave some pets behind, no?
LAURA BRADY: I did. We left our bearded dragon and hamster but tried to secure them as best we could.
MARQUARDT: Because the shelter only takes dogs and cats.
LAURA BRADY: Correct.
MARQUARDT: How long do you expect to stay here? When are you hoping to be able to get to your home?
LAURA BRADY: Hopefully tomorrow afternoon. We hope to go check out what -- if it's OK and if everything is good and then we just have to survive the, I guess, the power outage that we're going to expecting here, too, so.
MARQUARDT: Have you been getting everything that you need in terms of shelter, and food, and a place to sleep and comfort?
LAURA BRADY: Yes. We've been taken care of very well. They're very informative, like you know what's going on and all the people working here and people have been asking them question, they're very, very helpful and find out answers for you if they don't know themselves. But they've been great.
MARQUARDT: You're not originally from Florida. So, have you -- have guys been through anything like this before?
STEVE BRADY: Not anything like what we're expecting here. So we're from Maryland, and this is our first official hurricane in Florida.
MARQUARDT: Peyton, how are you feeling? Are you scared at all?
PEYTON BRADY, EVACUEE: A little bit nervous, but not too much. I'm just kind of wondering what's going to happen to the pets at home or what's going to happen to the house if windows bust in. I'm just worried about that mostly.
MARQUARDT: All right. We're wishing you all the best. People here will be riding out this storm over the course of the night. As you heard, many trying to get home in the next few days. A lot of uncertainty in the days ahead but officials, again, are staying, as the storm approaches, you must shelter in place. Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Alex, just very briefly, have you seen people -- are people continuing to arrive at that shelter?
MARQUARDT: It's a slow trickle. The vast majority have already arrived. There are 1,100 people at this shelter who are registered. They are still accepting people. The authorities don't want anyone in the streets. They're saying wherever you intend to ride out the storm, you should be there right now. But of course if anyone shows up right now, they will be taking them in.
COOPER: All right. Alex, be careful. Continue checking with you.
I want to go to Chad Myers.
Chad, I understand the storm which made landfall in the Keys as a cat four. I understand now a cat three?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is now down to a cat three, because the interaction with Cuba. In fact, it never truly came back from the interaction with Cuba, and that's the great news.
I don't think we even got any category four gusts with this storm, although the hurricane hunters now have gone home. Praise to them for what they did for this storm. They haven't really found a category four gust for some time and now they are on their way home because the storm has made landfall in the Keys, they no longer chase the storm.
Here, right there, that is Marco Island. That right there, that is Naples, Florida, and this is the eyewall heading to you. Marco, I give you 30 minutes. You're going to be in it, maybe less.
Naples, probably an hour or less. This is -- every time you get closer to the eye, that's when your winds are picking up, and they've been picking up now for a couple of hours, and really, I mean, our Chris Cuomo is going to be right downtown for that event and that's going to be in less than an hour for sure.
Tampa is still blowing offshore, that means that your water is going away in Tampa Bay. Don't be confused because the water will come rushing back as soon as the eyewall goes by.
There's the eyewall right there headed almost to about Punta Gorda. That's Port Charlotte. This now is 5:00 p.m. tonight. So three hours from now.
Move you ahead three more hours. Tampa, you're right in the middle of the outer eyewall. Not yet to the 120, 115 mile-per-hour gusts that you're going to get.
But 11:00 tonight things will go bump in your town as you get the eyewall to the north. Winds will blow from the east to the west. Then by 2:00, the winds stop. And they turn around and they blow the wrong way. Because you're on the other side the eye. You will literally be in the eye. You can look up and see the stars, or to the moon, but please, don't.
Don't go outside, because soon as the wind picks up from the other direction, everything that was loosened by the 115 will get blown around by the back side which will be 100 miles per hour at least and that's when the surge comes in tonight for you. Anderson?
COOPER: Wow. So, Chad, just for people here in Tampa were listening. You're talking, really, 11:00 p.m. Until -- I mean, dawn?
MYERS: Absolutely. This will be, for some people, it'll be six hours of hell.
COOPER: We're going to take -- I want to bring back in Chris Cuomo, who just got the news from Chad that in about an hour, Chris, you are very much going to be in it. John Berman also now in Miami and I want to go to John, because he has been in it on the east coast of Florida, since this morning.
John, let's go to you. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I keep waiting for this to let up, Anderson. And it's just not happening. This storm, the winds here seem to be getting even stronger. Even as the storm has moved west, and begins to move up the west coast of Florida.
The tide behind me has begun to recede at least a little bit. It stopped rising here, even as storm -- very much the story in downtown Miami with some of the streets covered.
Also here in Miami, we have seen that crane collapse. A crane collapsed in a building under construction after there were reports of wind gusts of 100 miles an hour up high.
I can tell you, I believe that. Where I'm standing right now, because I think we've had wind gusts here upwards of 90 miles an hour over the last few hours and, Chad Myers told me, about short time ago, we can expect another few hours of this before it begins to die down and becomes much more a story on the west coast where Chris and Anderson are right now.
Let's talk more about the storm surge in seas. So many people now posting photos of Downtown Miami where the streets looking like streams. Our Rosa Flores is there to give us a sense of what things look like. Rosa?
BERMAN: Is Rosa there? All right. So we don't have Rosa there. I think we've lost Rosa's audio.
To be honest, I don't hear much of anything. All right. I'm told we're going back to Rosa, who is on the streets, which are flooding. All right. Now I'm hearing, let's go out to Miami Beach.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, John.
BERMAN: I'm in Miami right now where you can see the winds are blowing pretty fiercely. It's even worse out there on Miami Beach. Worse than this, if you can believe it. Let's go to Kyung Lah there. Kyung?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. What we're seeing now is probably the heaviest rain that we've seen throughout the day.
We've had strong, strong winds, but now we're just getting hammered by the rain. You can see that -- we saw it, very, very strong winds. That's what's been concerning for the city of Miami Beach.
We spoke with the mayor in just a short time ago and the mayor did tell us that the city pumps are working, that they haven't had many -- haven't had any incidents of major flooding here unlike what they're seeing in Miami.
But what's happening -- what's happening here is just the, the pounding, unforgiving rain. And this is part of what's happening in a hurricane. So this is what's heading further west. It's going to be even worse, though. You can barely see.
Earlier this morning, even as we were getting some of this strong wind, you could still see those palm trees. But now, you can no longer see what's happening to us. You could tell that we've got a little water on our lens. Our camera can no longer zoom anymore. Everything soaks in. Not just through our gear but throughout the city.
So what the Miami Beach fire and police are saying is, do not come outside. They are no longer responding to calls. They have not been able to do so throughout the day because of these dangerous conditions. They've also cut off all traffic. Anyone who's trying to get in and between Miami Beach and Miami, that is just not happening. Those bridges and streets are closed, because of all the hazards here, John.
BERMAN: All right. Kyung Lah out in Miami Beach, which is over there.
Kyung, I can observe with the second source, this is the heaviest rain we've seen, raining really hard here right now.
Let's go back to Chad Myers in the weather center. Chad, this has been going on just for hours and hours and hours here in Miami.
MYERS: It has. And more hours to come, because there's --
MYERS: -- one big heavy band just to your south that's going to rotate up to you. But just to the north of there, a little more imminent up here, Fort Lauderdale, there is a tornado on the ground at Fort Lauderdale airport that came off the ocean as a water spout but onshore as a tornado.
If you're just to the north and northwest of that airport, I need you to take cover. More than you're taking cover now. Stay away from windows, because that could certainly tear some things up.
We saw some video earlier near Palm Bay where a tornado touched down and it was quite a bit of damage there, at least an EF1 tornado there. This is going to be possible all night long in this entire box right there, John.
BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers in the weather center. Thanks so much for that.
Let's try one more time to go to Rosa Flores. Because I want people to see what has happened on the streets of Downtown Miami, and what was the mandatory evacuation zone, and now Rosa, I think we get a sense of just why officials wanted people out of those areas.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. All you have to do is look around me, and you can see why. We're seeing a lot of ponding here in this part of the financial district. Now, here's what's happening. Our meteorologists have been talking about this since the get-go. There is storm surge. I'm about three to four blocks from the ocean. What happens with storm surge is the Ocean comes on to land, and we've been seeing that happening. We were a few blocks closer earlier today and we saw a lower level of one of the big apartment buildings take in water.
Now, as we moved closer and closer -- excuse me. Farther and farther away from the ocean, then you can also see not only the surge but the ponding. A huge issue here in Miami.
Now, there is a system of canals, 2,100 miles of canals, and 2,000 miles of berms and levees that keep the lower 16 counties of Florida dry. It drains all into the ocean. It's not draining right now.
All you have to do is take a look around me to realize that. Here's what happened. So on top of the ocean coming on to land, on top of the surge there is a lot of debris because of the high winds that we've been experiencing.
You can't see it now but earlier, we could see leaves on a lot of these drains. Tree branches. All sorts of debris. It blocks the drains and it doesn't allow the system of canals to work. That's why we're seeing a lot more of this ponding, John.
And then you take a look right now and we are getting very heavy rain. So not only are we seeing the surge, but the ponding, because the drains are clogged. On top of that, we're getting a lot of rain as we see the real force of Irma over Miami. John?
BERMAN: All right, Rosa Flores, thanks so much. Getting a sense of the storm surge there. I'm in the middle of the wind and just a pounding rain over where I am at this point.
Just to give you a sense of how giant this storm is, this is happening to us over in Miami. Over in Fort Myers, all the way over on the west coast. Drew Griffin is in a shelter that just lost power.
Drew, give us a sense what you're seeing? What's going on?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You've hit the nail on the head. You've just got this incredible storm on this side of the coast. You're on the east side of the coast. And Wilma -- excuse me. Wilma? Irma is still back behind me. This is an incredibly wide swath of area that is just getting blown apart right now.
If you would look at a map on Florida, you could realize just how wide this is happening. We did just lose power here in Fort Myers. The wind is really picking up now. We're picking up more and more car alarms blowing.
And the phenomenon we have is the opposite of what you have in terms of the water, John. The water is not being pushed in. The water here in the canals and in the bays is being pushed out to sea. It will come back around as Irma goes up the coast and then pushes that water back in. But right now, you know your typical hurricane. We're getting pelted with ever-increasing winds and rain as Irma slowly makes her way up the coast. The west coast of Florida, John. The west coast. Back to you.
BERMAN: Unbelievable. Unbelievable, Drew, you are on the west coast. Part of Florida where this storm has not even delivered its greatest wrath yet. We're getting it here in Miami. Up the coast from where I am is West Palm Beach that is where Brian Todd is hanging on. Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are hanging on, John.
TODD: And we're getting it just a about as severely as you are. This is the most intense wind and rain that we have seen all day.
Look at these palm trees and these trees over here, swaying pretty strongly in the wind. We are just a few feet away from the intercoastal waterway.
The mayor told me a short time ago, she's very concerned about these streets that are right next to the waterway getting flooded. That could happen really at any moment because the storm surge is intensifying.
I heard Chad talking about a tornado at the airport south of here at Fort Lauderdale. We are in the middle of possible tornadic activity all day long. That's going to be a threat. We were told by our weather team, pop-up tornadoes are going to be hitting or could threaten us for most of the day today.
Look at just how intense this wind is. Look at the stanchion over there, that Flagler Street stanchion holding the traffic light, that is swaying. These regular traffic signs are swaying pretty violently.
So all of this stuff, these are all potential projectiles. The palm trees over here have been really swaying almost violently, and in some cases almost snapping. And they've got coconuts there dropping off palm fronts that weigh about 10 to 20 pounds that are flying around like they're cardboard.
Even in these conditions, John, what we can tell you is that not everybody here is cooperating with the orders to stay off the streets. We were just told by Palm Beach County officials they've arrested 43 people for curfew violations. If you can believe that in these conditions. We saw actually a couple of cars driving by here not long ago. Not smart. Not smart. Because not only are you risking driving through storm surge and getting hit with a projectile, like a branch or a coconut, but you're risking arrest.
Another factor here that we got to talk to you about. These cranes behind me. These large construction cranes. I know we've been talking about that all day. You've been reporting in Miami about the crane that cracked. That's a danger here. We were just assured by a local fire chief that these cranes, they believe, are secure, but they are watching them closely. The fire chief said these cranes, the top of them, those top booms that you see up there, he said they're "pulling with the wind." The he said, that's a good thing. That means that they're just going to point wherever the wind goes.
And if they have to whip around on their turrets, that's OK, that means they're not providing too much resistance, that means they could stay in place.
But there are several apartment buildings that are right next to these cranes and not everybody has evacuated from those apartment buildings, John. And they're telling us -- we've talked to several residents of these apartments. They are concerned about these cranes toppling over. They saw what happened in Miami.
Look at this over here. Really intense bursts. I mean, we are in the window now of hurricane force winds hitting us here in West Palm Beach. The storm surge could hit really at any moment. Look at that scene right there. John, back to you.
BERMAN: Yes. An intense storm, Brian. A huge storm. This is -- pounding you up in West Palm Beach, getting me here in Miami. Of course, the worst yet to come on the west coast.
Back to the weather center now, Chad Myers. You know, chad, I just can't get over the duration here and the size of the storm we're dealing with.
MYERS: Hey, John, you're halfway done. How about that? That is scary, and that's why people need to pay attention to hurricane forecasts.
I know how wet you are inside and out, whether you wear a waterproof jacket or not. This is blowing into Miami right now, into Kendall, all the way down to Homestead, and blowing onshore and there's our Brian Todd in the West Palm.
Another batch of cells here, but the hurricane center just put out a warning, and they said, if you are Marco, Naples, Everglades City, anywhere in this zone, you're about to get inundated with 10 to 15 foot of storm surge whether your water has been going out or not, get away from the water. Get inside and above 15 feet above sea level, because the water is coming in. And it's coming in fast. John?
BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers for us right now. Listen to that warning. If you are in the zones that Chad was just talking about on the west. A 10 to 15-foot storm surge expected, and soon over there, and there's nothing you can do once it comes. So, please, listen to the authorities there.
Joining me now is Major Richard Rand with the North Miami Beach police department, I believe. Did I get that right? Is it North Miami Beach, sir?
RICHARD RAND, MAJOR, NORTH MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes. North Miami Beach Police Department.
BERMAN: All right. Give me a sense of what you're seeing, where you are right now, major.
RAND: So let me tell you what's going on in North Miami Beach.
RAND: We have gusts of winds of up to 60 to 70 miles an hour. We have several homes that have been damaged as a result of the winds. We have power lines down. We had severe flooding going on in some of our neighborhoods.
The intercoastal and our waterways are basically at the tops of the rim. More rain is really going to hurt us, because it's just going to overflow into the communities. We do have multiple power lines down, like I said. We have transformers that have exploded overnight and into the morning.
We've lost power here at the police department. Our EOC is currently operating on generator power. Our air-conditioning and our police department has gone down. We have some slight damage to our police department. We're barely holding it together, but I can tell you that North Miami Beach is prepared to serve our residents and make sure that they can come home to a safe environment.
BERMAN: We know you are holding it together, sir. We appreciate the work you're doing. We know you can't get out right now. The first responders can't get out, because the winds are just blowing too strong right now.
How many calls have you been receiving? How are people faring out there on Miami Beach?
RAND: People are faring well. I actually believe that people listened to the evacuation orders. The North Miami police Department and Miami-Dade County did an excellent job notifying the residents of this storm.
Even though we're not getting hit with a direct category three or four, it sure feels like it out there. We have a military vehicle, an MRAP, that we're sending out every couple hours to assess the damage.
So our patrol units and emergency vehicles are currently off the road right now because it's just too dangerous for us to go out there.
BERMAN: One of the biggest concerns in Miami Beach and North Miami Beach was storm surge. They have been predicting five to 10 feet. They downscaled that to four to six feet, which is still an awful lot for where you are right now.
We are seeing storm surge here in Miami proper. Is that something that has affected you yet?
RAND: It's affected us in certain areas of our city. I can tell you there is some pretty major flooding east of Biscayne Boulevard U.S.-1 from 163rd Street. I have one of our all-terrain vehicles out there now doing a survey to see what kind of damage we're having with the intercoastal waterways.
I can tell you that they're filled to the brim. They are at the top. If the rain continues for the next six to eight hours, we're going to have some pretty serious problems.
So it's so important that people stay inside their homes. I don't know if you saw it behind me, but my emergency vehicle was just returning. It's important that people stay inside their homes. Stay away from windows. We're getting gusts of 70 miles an hour, and we have damage to some of our police cars that are sitting in the parking lot. We also have flooding. It's pretty bad down here.
BERMAN: And finally, major, last question to you. When this is finally over, in the next six hours or so here in the Miami, Miami Beach area right now, what do you want your people to know?
RAND: I can tell you this, that I have a crew standing by of about 40 officers. We have a couple of military vehicles, the MRAP, we're going to be able to get out into these neighborhoods. Once it's safe, I'm going to be sending out a whole crew of people as well as public works.
We're going to work very efficiently to get our roads cleared, to get Florida power and light here to get these power lines out of the roadway. We're going to be very efficient. We have a very good plan in place and we're prepared.
BERMAN: All right. Major Russell Rand, thank you so much for your work. The North Miami Police Department. Your work really just the beginning. You say you're barely hanging on by a thread. I know you mean you're in there and you're just waiting to get out and help the people who will need it when the storm dies down and when it is safe enough for you to do so. Thank you so much, sir.
Joining us now is retired Major General Russel Honore. Of course, General Honore ran the recovery effort and response after Hurricane Katrina.
You know, general, thank you so much for being with us. I've heard you talk about the fact that in a storm like this, Mother Nature wins the first quarter.
It feels like we're in the first quarter right now. Maybe not even halfway through it, sir.
RUSSEL HONORE, RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL: Absolutely. And it's going off for some hours to come and after the eye passes, we're still going to be dealing with the surge.
But there's an activity that we just witnessed the major talking about and that's transformers breaking.
As the storm moves up and gets hurricane-force winds inside of counties and cities. (0:25:00.2)
HONORE: They need to consider taking the grid down. If you don't take the grid down, all the transformers are going to blow. So you're dealing with tomorrow with having to put the wires back and having to find transformers to replace.
So we continue to learn how we respond to these storms and then the next challenge is, will the distribution lines go down? And will the surge water, how high it's going to get in Tampa and West Palm Beach? Those are big issues that could leave those two communities totally flooded because they have access canals and with the surge coming in, that water could come and stay. Have a grid down as well as flooding. John.
BERMAN: Yes, general. The big concern now, Chad Myers just said, there's a warning that's gone out to some cities on the west coast including Naples of a 10 to 15 foot storm surge coming and coming soon.
In some ways, there's not much you can do to prepare for that except get the people out beforehand.
What can they expect to see? And then once those waters do recede, what will the response be?
HONORE: Absolutely. Number one, they need to take their grid down. If you're going to have surge waters like that. Otherwise, you're going to have a sandy affair going with houses about to start catching fire.
So it's imperative that to take those grids down preventing further damage to the transformers.
The next thing, they will not see any search and recovery until the winds go below 30 miles an hour and then we have a search and rescue plan starting that will come up from Key West and the navy and the coast guard will start to come in behind the storm.
But people will be on their own for about 12 to 14 hours, until that -- the winds die down. Then we've got to deal with the water that could be associated with power lines on it.
So it's imperative, again, we learn from Sandy, we learn from Harvey, take that grid down when you get the hurricane winds. Otherwise you will have fires.
BERMAN: Yes. And then you will power out for some time. Russel Honore, General Honore, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate your insight here as we continue to work through what you call a first quarter of a disaster like this. The quarter that Mother Nature usually wins. We come in in the second, third and fourth quarter to try to recover from a storm like this.
Miami, still getting pounded by the winds and the rain. The storm starting to move up the west coast right now. A threat of severe storm surge all along the west coast of Florida, including Naples. CNN special live coverage of Hurricane Irma continues right after a quick break.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. John Berman here back in Miami right now. Again, we continue to be in the relentless winds of Hurricane Irma. Gusts over 80 miles an hour, approaching 90 miles an hour.
The downtown area, high rises reporting wind gusts of 100 miles an hour, which is easy to believe. Very easy to believe given what we're in right now and where we're standing. A crane did lapse in the high winds.
There is some storm surge on the streets right now with some of the major boulevards covered with water. Here where we are, seems the waters are receding a little bit. We're keeping a very close eye on that.
Again, Miami not even going to get the worst of it. The eye moving ever closer to the west coast of Florida. Ever closer to population centers like Naples, then Fort Myers, then Tampa.
Let's go to Anderson Cooper who is in Tampa. Anderson, I got to say, if you're getting worse than this, you have a heck of a night in store for you.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I think a lot of people in Tampa and Naples are watching images out of Miami with a lot of concern knowing what is heading here, is going to be exponentially worse.
I'm joined right now by Senator Bill Nelson from the state of Florida. When you see the pictures out of Miami and we're looking at some right now, it's a warning to people here about what to expect in the coming hours.
SENATOR BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Anderson, people are scared, but people are really helping other people, but Miami is getting those outer rain bands. The real strength of this storm is going to be as it comes up the west coast here. And this river that is now down, because it's draining out, the wind is coming from east to west. That's going to reverse.
COOPER: The Hillsboro river goes to Hillsboro Bay and Tampa Bay.
NELSON: When the eye of the storm comes up off the coast and that counterclockwise wind is going to bring that water up Tampa Bay, and up here it doesn't have anywhere to go. You're going to get some flooding here.
COOPER: Storm surge expected between five feet to eight feet. With the hurricane force winds, there will be waves on top of that water.
NELSON: Especially if it's at high tide then we have all the more water.
COOPER: Yes. You know, nobody who has lived in Tampa or nobody alive in Tampa, has ever seen a storm like this hit Tampa and 1921 was the last time.
NELSON: It's never been the big one that would bring the water up here. Now, the only consolation is that it's not going to be a Cat 5, 155 miles an hour plus. But it is going to be significant wind that is going to drive that water up here.
COOPER: I was reading stuff the mayor had said, I believe it was last year, warning about a Cat 3 storm, about the flooding that would take place, even, you know in heavy rain. Not a torrential, not a hurricane. Tampa areas in St. Petersburg have problems with flooding.
NELSON: That's an example, by the way. They're all prepared. They've done a lot of work. Mayor Buckhorne, the Hillsboro County, they're working seamlessly with the federal government, the state government and local government.
It is working all over the state. I've been all over the state, and this is the best prepared I've seen. Now, FEMA is stretched, because they're in Texas. They held back people from going to Texas so they could bring them into Florida, but FEMA is really going to have to do extra work after the storm.
COOPER: Given the size of the storm, that's been one of the problems for FEMA. They like to pre-position supplies and resources, but where do you reposition when the storm is affecting the entire state? You don't exactly know where it's going.
NELSON: It has. It's covered up the entire state.
COOPER: The other thing I heard Administrator Brock Long of FEMA saying to Rene Marsh yesterday out of Washington is that there could be millions of people without power possibly for weeks. There's a big elderly population obviously in the state of Florida. How concerned are you?
NELSON: Well, I'm very concerned. Already in South Florida we have about three quarters of a million people without power.
COOPER: Three quarters of a million?
NELSON: That's just in South Florida because of all those rain bands and wind bands that have come in from the Atlantic. As you move that state through the entire peninsula, you're going to have a lot of downed trees on the power line.
They're going to a lot of people, and that's when neighbors helping neighbors is really going to count. Go check on your neighbor. Make sure that they're doing OK.
COOPER: You know, when the electricity goes out, things can change quickly for a lot of people. I mean, there are people who need access to medication, access to dialysis. We saw that in Harvey even just kind of the mundane day to day things that people need for their health when there is no electricity. Those are things that have to be taken care of.
NELSON: I've never seen people as prepared in Florida as I have here. They've got -- most people are packing up ice. Putting it in coolers to try to get as far as they can without power. But as you say, Anderson, if it's weeks without power, it will be a real strain.
COOPER: What are you hearing from the Keys?
NELSON: Well, I talked to the mayor of Key West. The hurricane was going to the right of him. Somewhere between there and marathon. Marathon is probably getting the worst of the wind, but -- they are -- they're -- you know, they're accustomed to hurricanes.
By the way, a tremendous evacuation. They only had about 10,000 people left in the whole county. They moved most of their emergency operations up to the northern-most key, Key Largo. So there as prepared as they can be.
COOPER: Senator Nelson, I really appreciate your time. Thank you. Good luck to you.
COOPER: Yes. Senator Nelson, traveling around. In Orlando earlier, went to the EOC trying to check on as many locations as he can.
Again, we have reporters, we're looking at John Berman in Miami, just getting really hammered there in Miami and also Chris Cuomo starting to expect some turn, some bad, really bad weather according to Chad Myers in the next hour or so.
Our coverage is going to continue obviously from here and all points across Southern Florida and beyond. We'll be right back.
BERMAN: All right. This is CNN special coverage of Hurricane Irma. John Berman here in Miami. We're on hour 17 or so of just relentless winds and this is the fiercest they've been here by far. I'm in Miami.
Out there, past the white fog and rain, is Miami Beach, which I think is getting it even worse than where I am. Kyung Lah is there. Kyung, what are you seeing, what are you feeling?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, I can't -- it's just getting worse and worse. We're getting much more rain now, John. You can see there's water in our lens. We've lost the ability to zoom and my cameraman has lost his ability to use the view finder.
Just like water is getting into our camera, water is pounding these houses all across Miami Beach, as the hotel we were staying, they've had to jam towels underneath all the windows and doors because they're having some leakage and that's just one small spot.
You can see what the street looks like. It is completely covered in blinding rain and, again, to put this all into perspective, this is not as bad as what going to be happening on the west.
We're here trying to warn people what they will see on the west side of the state. We did speak with the mayor of Miami Beach. He says the response in his city, he's very pleased with it.
He says the pumps are working. They've been able to control any reports of flooding, that they haven't seen any overwhelming flooding here like they have seen in Miami. He says that the response by first responders that has completely had to end.
That happened this morning because of the torrential rain and the wind from the hurricane. There is another curfew that's being put into place. It is going to start at 8:00 this evening into 7:00 a.m. this morning and just one little thing -- John.
We're about a block and a half away from the beach, and the wind is pushing so hard. We're actually getting sand in our teeth. So, an incredible amount of wind speed. Debris is a huge concern. So far here in Miami beach, no reports of death or injury --John.
BERMAN: That is good news. Kyung Lah out in Miami beach. Kyung, please, stay safe. You've been out there all day long and it just gets worse. This wind just gets worse.
And now there is a new concern for the eastern part of Florida, and, again, it's going to be worse on the west coast, but six tornadoes have touched down in Eastern Florida. Chad Myers in the weather center do give an update on that -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, just about 30 minutes ago, we even reported here that there was a tornado on the ground at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Now, there are no planes and it wasn't an area there where people were using for shelter.
But still, we've had storms that had rotated water spouts on the ground and making landfall as tornadoes. The weather service just put out that Broward County is now likely to see more enhanced tornadic activity as these cells that are down here, part of the next band, rotate into Broward right there into Fort Lauderdale proper.
[14:45:13] Something else I want to talk about is what's going on in Marco Island. It is now really getting into the northern eyewall. This will have areas of winds of 125 miles per hour, then it will get calm. Then the wind will come from the other direction.
This is really the most important area of danger right now and then Naples. You'll get that in about 30 minutes. Eventually Fort Myers, you're an hour and a half away from the northern eyewall.
If you think what you have now is bad, it's going to triple. It's going to triple from what you're seeing now. The wind speeds will go all the way to 120 in Fort Myers. The force of that wind, with the water involved, it's like being in a car wash with a pressure washer that's not only the wind but the water has mass, too.
That's blowing up against your home. If you are in this track, as we go like this, I want you to pay attention to the wind and you're hunkering down. I want you to pay attention to the wind. The wind there be from this direction. You need to be on the north side of your home, or northwest side of your home.
As the storm goes by, the wind will come in from the east and then maybe even from the north. So that's the whole story. I want you to kind of keep yourself mobile in your home, if you don't have your windows boarded up.
Because windows will be breaking as shingles fly off your neighbors' homes, and you may need to get into a place that's more secure than where you were 30 minutes ago. Clearly, if you have a closet, or if you have a laundry room that does not have any windows, that's the place to be now. Marco, Naples, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, it's you next. Get ready -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers for us. Thanks so much. Specific forecasts for specific areas. So many areas in the state of Florida right now at risk and already so many at greater risk over the coming hours.
On the phone with me I believe is Josh Levy, the mayor of Hollywood, Florida. Mr. Mayor -- talk to me about how things are where you are?
MAYOR JOSH LEVY, HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA (via telephone): Well, yesterday at 7:00 p.m., strongly beginning at 9:00 a.m. this morning, we're seeing very persistent winds here. 50, 50 miles an hour. Sustained gusts up to hurricane force.
(Inaudible) a lot of trees down. We've had structural fires in the city that have been pretty extensive. Tidal flooding on the eastern (inaudible) -- we're getting slammed right now.
BERMAN: Storm surge is a concern throughout Miami. We've seen some of the streets here flooded and water in a lot of the streets. Is that a problem in Hollywood, sir?
LEVY: We do have a low-lying -- barrier island (inaudible) -- have been run over by the ocean. Across the inter-coastal and barrier island we have a low-lying residential neighborhood called the Lakes Neighborhood.
I just talked to a resident there that said he is seeing the roadway (inaudible) perhaps increase in water and going into garages of some homes. Local media reporting they are seeing water on Hollywood Boulevard already washing into homes (inaudible).
BERMAN: Sorry to hear that, sir. Mayor, as you know, it could go on for some time. You said you've been talking to residents there. I can't imagine your first responders are out right now given the force of this wind and the rain. Have you been receiving a lot of calls asking for help? LEVY: I think everyone knows that there has been a curfew and everyone was made aware once the wind hit 45 miles an hour sustained, first responders would not be able to be dispatched to any calls. So, police and fire are on standby.
Of course, they're receiving calls, but at the same time, everyone knows that you can't get service right now. Power out all over the place. There's definitely (inaudible) first responders. So, the whole region is deserted right now.
BERMAN: All right. Mayor Josh Levy of Hollywood, Florida, in many ways your work is just going to begin, because once this storm ends, the recovery begins, and people will come out of their houses and they'll have a whole lot of work to do. So, stay strong, Mayor. Thanks so much for being with us.
[14:50:04] All right. We're here in Miami, obviously, as you can see, still ferocious winds in Miami. That's the way it's been on the east coast of Florida for several hours now. Hurricane Irma has made the turn. It is moving up the west coast. Serious concern of storm surge, 10 to 15 feet in Naples. CNN special live coverage of Hurricane Irma continues after a quick break.
BERMAN: John Berman back in Miami. Chad Myers says we're past the half-way point here in Miami but only just. Hurricane Irma has not passed the half way point. It's moving up the west coast. Naples, Fort Myers and Tampa in its path. So much more damage and concern is still to come. Anderson Cooper is in Tampa right now -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. The story on the west coast really is just beginning to get written. We are going to see an awful lot of increase in the bands of the storm as this storm begins to make landfall here on the west coast in points south.
Tampa probably, according to Chad Myers, won't be seeing the worst of it until 11:00 p.m. tonight, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00 a.m., with some of that storm surge coming in and coming in very fast.
South of me in Punta Gorda, Miguel Marquez is standing by. Miguel, obviously you'll experiencing, the people in Punta Gorda will be experiencing the hurricane sooner than the people in Tampa. How are things there now?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me put it to you this way. I am standing on the bottom of the marina. Not on a dock. Not on a boat. Literally on the muddy bottom of the marina here. You can mussels all the way down to the bottom. I shouldn't be able to do this.
About 30 or 40 feet of the water has gone out of the bay. Sitting not in water but in mud. That water keeps getting forced out. One could completely nerd out on mother nature here it is just, the wind is blowing so hard towards the west, blowing all the water out of the river. Check this out. This is, these are the pilings for the old bridge, Highway 41 here, that people here haven't seen for years, decades, maybe. That was destroyed. You can now see the pilings here along that bridge.
There's the new bridge there. They haven't shut the new bridge to traffic yet. Wind speeds at about 40, 45 miles an hour. Gusting up much higher here. It is going guess worse, though. They're expecting category 3-ish winds here, up to 110 miles an hour sustained gusts up to 135, for Charlotte County, now, it is shelter in place. Do not try to get to a shelter.
[14:55:01] All of that water we see going out will eventually come back in. They're expecting a five to eight-foot storm surge here, about three feet on -- three feet on the ground here, about up to there. You do not want to be in that when that storm comes back around and pushes that water on to land -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Miguel, authorities say when that water comes back in, it can come back in fast. In a matter of minutes, a wall of water, and anybody who is out there looking around to see that phenomenon, the water having gone out it can be too late.
And that's why you see in many cases people drowning in hurricanes. They just don't expect that wall of water to come with the waves on top of the storm surge, because of the high winds.
We're still seeing, to Miguel's point seeing the water moving out and into Tampa Bay. Just as Senator Bill Nelson said a short time ago, all of that water will flood back up here. We'll take a short break. We have extensive coverage continuing all throughout the day and throughout the night. We'll be right back.