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Hurricane Irma Pummels Florida; Hurricane Irma hits Naples. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 10, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The pictures are enough. The pictures tell the story as the wind continues to go up from here another 20-miles-per-hour. I'm suspecting that we don't get any visibility whatsoever and that we will not even be able to see that building across the industry. There you go. And what I have seen before behind you was a crane. I will be interested to see what that crane looks like when it finally stops.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes. Well, you know, she is OK, Chad. And we are lucky that this crane isn't as high elevation as the ones that you have down in Miami. And basically she is working as like a huge weather vane. We can't see her right now. But she is just pointing in the wind direction.
And the one reason that, you know, there is a benefit for us to be here, is that when this is done, as you know, we are going to go out with search and rescue and we are going to volunteer our time when we are not working.
There are those gusts you are talking about. And it's going to be good to know where the worst of it seems to be going because that's where we are going to need to go and check and see who was there and see who made it through and how everything is in those areas. So there is a benefit to that.
But I have to tell you, if this is going to be hours long, there's going to be a heck of a lot of work to do here because, as Chad was saying, this is a real beating. When you look at it -- the branches are starting to come off this tree next to us. It was only a matter of time. She is starting to let go, fellows, that big tree around the corner. That's going to be a problem here in terms of road clearing. This is one of the main thorough-fares. They are going to have to get that out of the way in order to do any kind of search and rescue.
The producers are working here on trying to clear the drains, because it's literally filling up with water. It's in no way. It's a serious situation. But we are just trying to help the hotel out and keep the debris away from the drains so some of this water can see through because as the expression goes, water always wins. It's always going to find a way where it wants to go. You know, it's a problem with something inconsequential like this. And it's really meaningful when it comes to the storm surge.
The storm surge is going to come up. It's going to come up these streets. It is going to go into these homes. It is going to flood them. It is going to own them and it's going to stay there. And it's going to take time because it's so hard for it to reabsorb. And that's one of the big problems and you put all these different components together and then you mix them with the most dangerous component, which is time and that's what Chad's been telling us about as a function of the size of this storm.
The length of this storm, the miles with which you will have these bands of energy with this storm, that's time, that's duration on top of it, the speed of it, luckily it's sped up a little bit. It's moving through these areas more quickly, that's good because the longer it stays, the more of a price you're going to pay.
Ed Lavandera, you are down on street level. Are you seeing these trees break up the way we are right here? How is it by you?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are surrounded by trees and obviously this outdoor concert venue with a white plastic tarp that keeping a close eye on. I have been in storms before where I have seen roof tops and building structure like this just kind of raise up into the wind and shred into pieces. And once it gets into the air like that that becomes, you know, a dangerous deadly projectile. So, you know, our heads are on swivels as we look around and keep tabs on everything.
The problem here now we are kind of underneath the shelter because the wind is just too dangerous and it's really the lack of visibility. We can barely see 100 yards in either direction. And obviously with the winds blowing at this speed if there is debris flying through the air I don't want to be out in the middle of that and get caught upside the head by some flying branch or anything like that --
CUOMO: Hold on one second, Ed. Yes, stay where you are. Stay where you are right now because some of these big trees are surrounding this hotel. I don't know if they are going to make it. They are starting to creep out. That's why I just grab the producer and put it back inside. Because look, the palm tree is an extraordinary piece of vegetation. There's no question about it. They are built to bend. But there are a lot of trees here that aren't that and they are starting to split and they are starting to fail under the strain on them. And we have been watching it. And the concern is that these trees are going to go into the structures across. And while they may not look physically impressive to you, we are talking about thousands and thousands of pounds and even more of that force if they do fall into those buildings. Some of them have storm shutters, some of them do not. The wind is picked up by a significant, significant factor here from what it was just a little while ago. So we have been watching this to make sure that the way those go is going to make a big difference.
We are safe where we are here in terms of what might come on us. It may not look that way, but it is otherwise I wouldn't be here. But these gusts, this is intense what is coming down these corridors right now. And you can see it behind me.
And Chad was right, the pictures tell the story. But where this wind goes and where it takes all this debris, those are the areas that are going to need the most help. And so it's important to site it as its happening. And we have seen this before in hurricanes where, you know, you are going to follow your debris field and it's going to take you to the trouble, Chad. And now as we are watching these trees break up, you know, if the trees go, other things are going to go. And it is remarkable more things have not.
I guess the hope right now, Chad, if you can speak to this is that this is going to last a long time but hopefully not with this intensity but what can you tell us?
[16:006:10] MYERS: This intensity will last for another 20 minutes. And this is it. This is the middle of the northern part of the eye wall. This is as bad as it gets. I mean, there may be enough five miles an hour in here somewhere. But one shingle just came off. And then one minute later, two more came off and another minute, three more come off. And then by the time you are in this for 15 minutes the entire eastern side of your home doesn't have a roof left and that's it.
And then you have talked about the duration. It's not just one little gust from an EF-2 tornado that comes and goes and you go pick everything up. This is the long-term event that is the northern eye wall. And if we can just come back to the map for a minute. I know how serious it is here in your eye -- your northern eye wall.
But Chris, in the middle of Marco Island, right here it is not raining. The signature that you see there are birds trapped inside the eye. It happens all the time when the eye in the storm finally stops, the birds land and they are fine. So you ask, where do the birds go in a hurricane? They go in the eye because they know better. Chris, 20 more minutes just like this.
CUOMO: Well, Chad as you might imagine, Ed and I can't get in the eye, brother.
MYERS: No, not yet.
CUOMO: So we are just trying to stay out of the way. We are trying to stay out of the way of these gusts while doing the best that we can to just keep an eye on the situation, so that, you know, once it passes, we know where to go. I mean, I don't have to tell you, you have been doing the job as such a high level for as such a long time. But you know, you serve different functions. One is to be the eyes and ears for the audience on the ground in a situation like this again to arrest the sense of curiosity. But also, once the first responders have to kick in and do their job, very often we are telling them where things happened from our own observations. And this is certainly going to size up to one of those situations, because they can't get out right now. They have had to hunker down.
Ed Lavandera is down below me. We are a team on this. He has been watching equal intensity from a different perspective down on the ground. And Ed, let me know when you can come back to me in terms of what you are seeing with the flooding and whether it's making an appreciable difference to these surrounding buildings by us. This is somewhat of a commercial area where we are now. There are
residences as you get into the four, five, six blocks away where we are, as you get closer into the water. There are residences along the water. We don't give a damn about property in a situation like this. We are about protecting life and that's what all the precautions were about.
But you have got mega, mega mansions town there. The governor has one. We are talking $10, $15 million homes and they were built really close to the water and as beautiful as that is, it's equally as dangerous. Now there are huge gusts coming down here right now. Remarkable that this tree is standing. And I'm watching it split in real-time but it's getting there.
Ed, what are you seeing down where you are? Let me step out of this.
LAVANDERA: Chris, I'm going to take a quick little step out -- oh, man. A quick little step out so you can get a sense of just how quickly the water is moving through here on the street. This is the -- the most severe gusts it's pushing through. You can see the water. We can't even see 50 yards any more to our right. The amount of water that's being pushed along the street and filling up here. And we understand one of the higher areas here in downtown Naples.
The water in other parts of the neighborhoods that we were able to survey this morning and throughout the day yesterday have to be an incredibly dangerous situation. The good news as we reported over the last days that many of the people here in Naples evacuated this area. We didn't see but a handful of people out and about throughout the day yesterday. So that is a good sign because what is left behind as you mentioned, it's just property. And the intensity of it and the flooding in this situation -- remember, this part of Naples is surrounded by water on all sides. So it's not just the gulf waters that are going to be of concern, it's going to be the river to the side to the eastside of town here as well as the canals and the homes through there, all of that water getting pushed up.
This is just one little spot as you look down here on the street in downtown Naples, just how quickly the water can pull up in various areas so you can imagine in some of the lower lying areas just how horrible the flooding situation is going to be.
We continue to look here off to our -- our east to make sure we're well protected here. Everything structurally from what I can tell seeps to be holding on. I have never experienced the intensity of this kind of hurricane with the winds cutting down visibility the way it has which makes the situation even that much more disconcerting. But it is incredibly intense here as we approach and get close to the eye of this storm, making and passing over Naples here. But it is quickly going to turn from a wind and structural story to this flooding story. Here comes another gust. Whoa. Can you see this, Dave?
[16:11:53] CUOMO: All right. So now we're getting it in full effect up here, Ed. It's not -- it's not slowing down any more. So this has to be what Chad was talking about where it's just -- it just keeps coming. Just keep coming. It just looks like -- it looks like some type of sideways cyclone that's coming down here with these gusts.
And I will tell you, Ed Lavandera, me, we are not going to move that easily in a storm. We are both bigger guys. And this could easily knock you off your feet. But I will tell you what, it's such an easier task to be here than so many of the people who are with this storm, with this family, with young kids and they are inside and they have to be praying to god that this just leaves them untouched and they get past and that's the biggest concern.
You know, for us right now we are fine, you know. This is very dramatic picture as Chad said it and it is accurate picture, it's true. But your heart has to go out to the families. You are watching this coverage, if you're not in Florida, if you are in Florida, God bless you and we hope that everybody is OK, and you are safe and you have the supplies you need. This will pass. It's going to take longer than usual but it will pass.
But if you're watching this from somewhere else, just imagine. Put yourself in the place of these families that are down here and we will see what their needs are afterwards. But this -- this is something that they are going to remember for a really long time. And hopefully there is a measure I hope of gross inaccuracy of the net effect of this storm will be. I hope that it is more drama than it is impact and that the places that have been touched from the Caribbean now up into Florida and what happens in states north, west and a little bit east of here winds up being less than we expect.
But for now that big -- that big part has passed. There's bane a little bit of an alleviation. It's gusting that way now but it's not as sustained as it was. There was about five minutes there where it just wasn't letting up. And the good news is, this one big patch of trees that I have been watching here that I was really worried about going into the apartment building across, it hasn't happened. I know Chad Myers is about to jump in my ear and say don't count your chickens. I understand, but you take good results where you find them in a situation like this. And so far the integrity of these big trees, these 200 foot trees, Chad, so far I have been seeing some separation in them, not the palms. You know what I'm talking about. These other old growth trees. They have been splitting, but they haven't failed yet. They haven't collapsed yet. And if they can make it through this phase, maybe we will get lucky here.
But I have to tell you, Ed Lavandera, is a pro as you know and he has been in a lot of these. I have been in many but less than he to be sure and you to be sure, but there is something unique about what we are getting hit with right now. Maybe you can put some words and some science to it for us.
[16:15:32] MYERS: Well, the only word I have, Chris, is eye wall. You are in the northern eye wall. You are going to within the next ten, 15 minutes be inside the eye. You may be able to look up and see the sky with not a cloud in it and then be waiting for another hour or hour and 20 minutes and get the wind from the other direction and that's many times where a lot of the damage comes from because the trees have already bent one way and then all of a sudden they have to bend the other way as well as well. This is as bad as this storm has been, truly, in America. This is
what the people of Sugarland, this is what the people of cud-Joe key, this is what the people of (INAUDIBLE), big pine this morning. This is what they felt, as this storm went straight over the lower keys. It stays off-shore. It gained a little strength but not much and then it made landfall at Marco Island about 30 minutes ago. The eye wall doing 130 miles per hour when it hit Marco. And I bet you just had 130. Nothing to boast about but that storm is still very strong. Not losing any intensity, really, whatsoever.
CUOMO: So then it just comes down to duration. Now, tell me this, when does the storm surge component kick in and what do we look for there?
MYERS: The storm surge comes in after the center of the eye moves by. And the bubble of water moves under the eye itself and pushes on to land. Now this is opposite of what we expect when an eye makes landfall on an east coast. This is a west coast. So the west coast now has the no water on the north and the water slam storm surge on the south side of the eye. Water has been pulled out of Tampa bay, pulled out of Port Charlotte. And all the luck up to the north and in 20 minutes when the eye goes by you, the eye wall, you are going to get eye and then you are going to get the other side that Marco Island is already getting.
Marco getting the storm surge flooding and we are seeing that flash flood emergency for Marco Island proper. Ten to 15 foot surge on top of places that were completely dry. Honestly, the ocean bottom was exposed four feet or so, the ocean bottom was exposed. You could see the sand, you could see the fish, you could see the coral, you could see the sponge and now all of a sudden that's going to be covered with ten to 15 feet of water.
Chris, I am seeing you, can you hear me and can you go?
CUOMO: Oh, no, I have you. I was just testing out these hurricane specs that you told me not to waste the money on. You were right.
So Chad, what do we do when that storm surge comes in? What's the best way to help -- what is going to be the list of immediate needs for the people there? And, you know, God willing, they can hear us. We're running on battery power here. The hotel's out. All the lights are out in the surrounding area. In fact, I don't see anything lit up. They had kept the lights on here. I don't see them anymore. For people who are there and hopefully hunkered down -- go ahead.
CUOMO: What happens here on Marco and likely other islands, really, city islands that are on up the coast like Punta Gorda, that would have an awful lot of homes on canals and many of those homes are less than three to five feet above the canal on a regular day, now all of a sudden there will be five or ten feet of water on top of their grass and so therefore in their home. And the surge with the push of the water, push of the wind, think of this water moving at 60 or 70 miles per hour being pushed along by winds that are 120 miles per hour, that water will knock things down a lot quicker than the wind will knock things down. Water has so much more force. Now, to answer your first question, what do you do? You get Eddie
Lavandera and that crew off the street because that's where the water is going to go. You likely will be fine, second, third floor, but get everybody off the street.
Chris, go ahead if you can hear me.
[16:20:04] CUOMO: Chad, can you still hear me?
MYERS: Yes, I can. I can see your pictures very well, Chris. So can -- just start talking.
CUOMO: I can't hear any more.
MYERS: All right.
CUOMO: Let me go to Ed and figure out what is going on.
Ed, if you can hear me, pick up the coverage for me and let me know what you are seeing. We just had a huge gust here and it blew out my eye off here. I don't hear anything. So go ahead and pick it up if you can.
LAVANDERA: No problem, Chris. We are down on the street here in downtown Naples. And to give you the continued sense of as this -- the eye of this hurricane gets closer and closer here to Naples, I have kind of tucked in behind a wall here to protect us from the worst of the wind. It's just too much. There's no visibility. If we can get to look down here on the street, the number of palm trees that are just blowing down the street and that's obviously a major concern for us because with such little visibility, you can't stand out here in this, there's no reason to and be able to see that flying at you. That can cause serious pain and damage.
So, as we stand here a little bit more than an hour, we have endured these kinds of wind, this kind of rain, but we are still not quite at the -- at the eye of the storm here which we anticipate will be coming much, much closer and we will continue to monitor that. So it is a situation that is clearly deteriorating. And after more than an hour of enduring this you really start to have to ask yourself, you know, we are in downtown Naples. And the situation here in the buildings and the structures that were surrounded by are strong. And from anything that I can tell from our vantage point, of course, in these times of situations, you know, we will be honest with everybody, it's limited. We do not have the ability right now to venture out into the city by any means and get a sense of how the rest of the structures are withstanding the storm.
We can tell you what we see here around us. There is outdoor concert venue here and it has a soft tarp over it. I have been watching that for the last 30, 45 minutes. I'm actually amazed that that has not come peeling apart here with these winds that we have seen. I thought for sure that that would start unbuckling as it is tied down here.
But what is just simply stunning is how little visibility. We are down to maybe 100 yards of visibility here which makes this even more treacherous and as we have approached this and endured this for more than the last hour, really makes you wonder in the rest of the area homes that are not as structurally sound as the areas in the buildings that you see here around me, really makes you wonder, can the homes, can the other buildings around this part of Naples and southwest Florida, can it continue to withstand this kind of intensity for as long as it has and there's still more to come. There's no question and a concern that we have here.
CUOMO: All right, Ed. I'll take it from you right now. I was -- I was a little overly optimistic in terms of the worst being through. I was hoping that's what that was before but she's back. And it is a big blow that's coming through here. And again as you were seeing down there at ground level -- Chad, this is the real deal coming through here.
But so far this tree line is holding and it is so important for these surrounding structures, Chad, in terms of what they can do to things as you know. We know what happens when these big branches blow off with this kind of energy behind them. We have been seeing it about this way now for about what, 35 minutes or so. And everywhere around us, it's the same. It's actually looks actually worse in areas that are a little bit west of us here. The trees that were there that I was using as markers before are gone.
So Chad, what are you seeing on the radar in terms of where we are from that most severe band that went over the island not too long ago?
MYERS: You are about four miles from where there is no more rainfall. So therefore the inner part of the eye wall, four miles away. Now if we do the math at 12 miles per hour, you're still in this or maybe something slightly less than this for another 20 minutes. So it's that duration thing you talked about, how long are people going to be in this when they are in their homes in the dark?
This is a completely different animal in the day light. When you are in your home and you hear things go bumping and you have no idea, because it's dark and you have no power, and you don't have air- conditioning and you don't have any communication with any of the outside world because the cell towers already gone down, that's when it truly is going to be a very difficult night for the people from Sarasota, into Tampa because they are going to live with this as will with. Maybe less, maybe 115 because, Chris, I think you just had 130.
[16:25:10] CUOMO: All right. Whatever it is, it is.
But here's what I can tell you, Chad. As you know we're all pros. We are in the cover of a hotel. The crew is good. Photojournalist is good. I'm good. Ed and I are built for this. It's not easy but I'll tell you what, it's a hell of a lot easier for us than it is for people that Chad was just talking about. God forbid you're with your family and having to live through something like this.
Our hearts, our thoughts are with those people. It's a big reason why we do this coverage. We will be here just as we saw with Harvey. There is going to be need and we know that this community will come together. We saw it before the storm. It sounds trite but it's true. The worst of mother nature brings out the best in human nature and that's going to be need here in Florida in big, big portions and living through this part of it makes those of us who God willing won't be adversely effected by it feel interconnected to those who are going to be effected by it.
Because, Ed, from where you are down there right now, this is going to be something where everybody's going to have to count their blessings after this one goes through. Where is it where you are right now? How is it down there?
LAVANDERA: Hey, Chris, seconds after I tossed back to you just moments ago, heard a large crash about 15 yards off to my side, part of the rooftop, these are the Spanish tiles of the rooftop that were on just came crashing down about three stories off the ground, crashed down on the ground around us. This is exactly what landed on the ground around us. As I was mentioning and while we were talking and the fortification and the structural soundness of the buildings that we're in that we felt really good about, not to say it won't endure any kind of damage. But if these shingles and these tiles are coming off the roof, here on these really strong buildings, you can imagine what it must be like in the neighborhoods and the areas surrounding closest to where we are and closest to the wall of the eye of this hurricane. So highly dangerous situation as some of these tiles just flying off the roof, crashing down here on the ground next to us.
And as we mentioned, you know, we are protected. We tucked away underneath an area here and that's why you see on camera that we are not getting blown around as much. We are simply not going to stand out there any longer as the wall in the eye of this hurricane approaches closer to where we are, but this is it. Just landing on the ground and you can imagine all the other kind of debris that is flying around out there as this storm makes it way toward us, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So we got to make it through this phase and then we have to deal with what Chad was explaining earlier as the redistribution of the energy. When the wind comes around the other direction and brings that storm surge, then you get another phase of this. And you also get a different dynamic just in terms of the mechanics of what it does to the surrounding structures and foliage.
Chad, weigh in on this if I get it wrong, but I remember it from you, which is everything's that's been fighting to stay up in one way is now going to get hit at its weakest angle the other way when the energy redistributes and the wind starts coming from another way, accurate or no?
MYERS: Absolutely accurate. And I think the other thing to talk about is how powerful water is. And if you get a surge of ten to 15 feet in that area, homes will be lost. The building itself will be lost whereas a wind event, you can hide from it, you lose shingles, you may lose a sheet of plywood from your roof, but you won't lose your home.
If you get hit by this storm surge that's still to come, that's when you lose things. Officially, I said 1:30, national weather service out of Naples airport just had 1:31, 18 minutes ago. You were in it, 1:31. I hope that's as bad as it gets. You are now beginning to get to a slightly inner core of the storm itself and now slightly less in wind and in 20 minutes it may very well be calm.
CUOMO: From your lips to God ears, when you take a look at the map, where are we in terms of that? Is that what you're showing everybody right now?
MYERS: Yes, Naples manner which is about four miles south of you is already in the eye. So they are in good shape. Golden gate, you are getting hit, honestly. This is one of the neighborhoods that's really getting slammed to your west, probably still 131 for them.
[04:30:06] But Naples down to 115 and 110. And it is going down from here as we get you closer and closer to the eye now less than probably 15 minutes before you will see that all the palm fronds just fall down to the ground or just kind of limp down to the side of the tree because the wind will go to near zero.
CUOMO: All right. So that's what we have coming our way. And that's good to know from those who are monitoring it. We know we have a lot of people in Florida who are watching this. We're thinking about you. We hope that you took the right precautions. We hope that you're still able to follow the coverage.
If you see us able to be doing what we're doing, hopefully, the structure that you're in is going to be just fine. And what we've been watching around us as dramatic as it is, hopefully it is not as dangerous as it is dramatic. So far this tree line is holding here and these buildings are still protected that are around us, less so on the other side.
And you see things blowing around in the air here, a little bit of Wizard of Oz-style, but they're fairly small projectiles at this point, not the kinds of things that I've seen do damage in the past. That's a good sign as well. But again, there is no cause for false optimism. We'll have to see what happens on the backside of this storm and with the storm surge as Chad has been coaching us all along.
The wind is dramatic. There's no question about that. There's a danger component to it, but it is water that kills. It's drowning that takes peoples' lives in hurricanes and storm surge is not just powerful, but it's lasting. So, we're going to have to see that.
Again, I keep going back to timing, Chad, because especially when you're in it, that's just your natural reaction to it from an endurance standpoint, is how much longer, how much longer and the scary part is, at least from the perspective on the ground, it's how much longer there is.
I mean, watching John (ph) and those correspondents, you know -- it's a long time and things just only have so much tolerance, whether it's a structure or a vehicle or even an infrastructure system of your roadways and your sewage. I don't mean that just from some planning perspective, I'm saying backup of sewage, homes not being able to have livable conditions, you know, what they call habitability. I mean, that's what all this is about. It's about what all of this does to their lifestyle. Chad, it is your perspective, your take on it so far that you're getting why the governor was so conscientious about saying we're talking about weeks here, we're talking about commitment from the federal government for weeks and months and in the billions in terms of what they estimated going into this. Do you think they're going to wind up being justified in what they thought going into it?
MYERS (via telephone): Oh, without a doubt. Without a doubt. This storm had the punch when it was over Cuba at 160 miles per hour. And to the people of northern Cuba, we are internally grateful, what happened to your country is a shame. It was the damage that created the storm to go from 160 to 130.
It was a true remarkable reduction in power that our country didn't have to take. And as it is now moving over Key Largo and into the keys and into Collier County, all of a sudden we had a survivable storm, where 160 to 165 in some places with wind speeds there would not have been survivable.
So, you are now getting into a much better place here, Chris, you're going to get into the winds dropping off rapidly to may be 35 or 45 miles per hour and that's the good news, but the rest of the story is that we're going from here to Pelican Bay to Naples Park to Bonita Springs heading up the coast with the same event that you just had there.
I have a question for you, if you can hear me, I know the winds going down a little bit. I don't know if you had a chance to do any ground truth, but the road that we see below you, how many feet is that above sea level?
CUOMO: All right. Chad, water is coming up the street here. I don't know if you can see it. Dave (ph), show it to him. This just like is coming out of nowhere. All of a sudden this street is flooded. Do you see it?
MYERS (via telephone): Yes, absolutely.
CUOMO: You think this is just flooding and the sewer system letting go?
MYERS (via telephone): No, I believe that this is the bubble of water that you're about to see as the storm surge makes it's way into Marco Island and Naples, Golden Gate, Pelican Bay. This is the real deal. This is the water --
[04:35:00] CUOMO: This out of nowhere, Chad.
MYERS (via telephone): Yes, it is. Yes, it did.
CUOMO: I mean, literally we have a foot and a half standing water here in literally no time flat. My producer just told me to turn around. I just turned around. I saw the crane. I was going to say good news, we see the crane again. And I turned back round and literally we're surrounded by water here and I don't mean that -- it's not dangerous, but it's a lot of water really fast and what does this mean -- obviously it's deeper as you get closer, right?
MYERS (via telephone): Sure. It will be deeper as you get closer to the Gulf of Mexico. There's a little barrier there from the Gulf of Mexico spilling over to Naples into Marco Island, but that barrier is going to be easily breached and the water will be right there in the downtown Naples.
I was just curious as to how many feet up sea level that road was. I'm not able to do that right now standing here at the weather board, but I'm thinking not 10 feet above sea level, not more than that.
CUOMO: All right. Give me a little sense of timing again, Chad. I apologize, but again I just feel like so much of it is about duration and tolerance. What are we looking at? So now as this eye goes by, give me my next time component, so that the people who are in parts north get, you know, a sense of proportion in terms of, you know, what kinds of waves they can look for.
MYERS (via telephone): Well, take a look at the palm trees and the palm fronds barely now moving, slowing down. And in the eye itself, the skies will begin to lighten and brighten and then all of a sudden the bubble of water that has been following along with this storm all the way through the Caribbean.
We saw pictures that if you didn't they are amazing in the Bahamas where the water was gone from the islands, and people were saying, I've never seen this before, how did this ever happen, where did the water go? The water went with the hurricane. It did have that bubble of water, the surge water that's going to come in now.
And if you think a fresh water flood is bad, a saltwater flood is even worse for homes and businesses and the people that have to clean up after that saltwater flood and that's what's on its way. The surge flood, a flash flood emergency is still in effect for Collier County.
That means flash flooding is going to occur or is occurring and it will be life-threatening. That's where we are now. I don't know because the slow speed of the storm, only 12 miles per hour, how quickly that water will be five or 10 or 15 feet high, but it will be less than a half hour, Chris, I think.
CUOMO: All right. That's good to hear because I'm just trying to weigh different factors. The main considerations, the windows that we're looking at is when can the first responders get out? They're going to need winds that die down and not just during the eye, right, because they're all sophisticated enough to know what you're telling us right now.
It just makes me wonder if we're seeing this here, what is the situation for the people if they're still in homes as we get down there towards where that surge is much closer to that 10 to 15 feet that you were talking about. Control room, do we have Ed Lavandera? Is he down here? I wonder what the water is looking like for him on the ground? Do we have him? Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'm here, Chris, can you hear me? We're adjusting the camera here a second. The winds have settled down a little bit, so that gives us a little bit of opportunity to adjust and give a little bit better perspective. That was an unreal hour and a half, I suspect, of intensity that we've seen here down the streets of downtown Naples. Now, the winds have died down enough.
We can kind of show you a little bit of what we experienced here. Look at all the -- that's to be expected, those tree limbs there. This is part of the -- this is part of the tile that came flying off the roof of the building that we're in there and now we've gotten a little bit better view and you can really start to see a little bit of, you know, the tree damage is to be expected. As soon as all of this passes through and now it's starting to kick up again.
We had a break there to give you a little better perspective. But that's what we're facing there. Obviously the tree damage is going to be unbelievably extensive through Naples. That's to be expected. The damage to the rest of the infrastructure, we're not in a position to really gauge here at this point. We're just in the process of trying to just withstand and endure what this hurricane is bringing here to southwest Florida.
But now the visibility is back which is stunning because now we can see several more hundred yards through the trees here that we've been providing you the live picture from and you can see the flood -- the flood waters and the amount of water that is collected and pocketed up in various parts of the street.
[04:40:00] That is going to be even worse on the backside of this storm as the storm surge starts coming in from the gulf side and what you've seen there, along that main street that you're on is extensive as well and that's going to be even worse in some of the more lower lying areas.
The area we're in, we picked up, it was set up a little bit higher here in the city, but in those parts where it's much more lower lying, as soon as we can get to those hours in the hours ahead, we'll be able to report a little bit more extensively and give people a better picture of what has occurred here, but the intensity of that is just unreal and it is just unbelievable to describe what we have endured here for nearly two hours. Chris?
CUOMO: All right. Ed, they're telling us that this is -- the eye is passing over. It doesn't feel like it, Chad. I thought the eye was supposed to be like this piece of calm where you look up and you see the sky or whatever it is. We're still getting hit here. In fact, I want Dave (ph) to sneak out if he can now that it's not as nasty.
I want to show them the storm surge and, Ed, just get in my ear real quick and tell me, how far is the hotel from the marina again? I forget from when I was walking down there this morning, was it like eight blocks? Just to give a sense of proportion how much water we had here -- LAVANDERA (voice-over): There's two different bodies -- yes, I can hear you, Chris. There's two different bodies of water that we have to keep tabs on. On the west side of us, we have the Gulf of Mexico. We're probably about a good eight blocks from that -- that direction.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): If you look back over here toward the east about a mile or so is where that marina is and where the river that comes in on the east side of Naples and that is going to be the area of real concern because that storm surge gets pushed back in there and that starts kind of fanning its way out through the neighborhoods and so that marina is about a mile away.
CUOMO: All right, Ed. I got you. Let me get Dave (ph) out here, the PJ, our photojournalist, part of the team here, just to try and get you down the street. Big man, let's come over this way and show them down the street. Because if we're eight blocks away, you go past me, Dave (ph) and show -- yes, get down that -- get down that street.
So, we're eight blocks away. So, Chad, just to give you some perspective on this, all right? Here's eight blocks away and this is about -- you look at the yellow curb here at Fifth Avenue south and Park Street and you're at about eight inches to 10 inches of water, OK, right here and as you can see, the buildings are fine. That part of the integrity is all right.
You know, you got your typical debris here from that gusting. When you look down the street, you see that there's been breech there, at least on one side of the street. The water has gotten into the buildings and it's got to be well over a foot or so deep and that's still six and a half, seven blocks from the marina. So, how does that fill in the blanks for you?
MYERS (via telephone): What that is, is fresh water flooding. That is the rain that came down and went into the lowest part of that city and that is all fresh water. That has no salinity content in it whatsoever because the water that is from the salinity, from the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, has not truly arrived yet.
We have been watching quick rise from the tidal gauges in Naples, a brand-new flash flood emergency for Naples just issued about five minutes ago. And so the water is still at the mean sea level right now, but it is quickly rising and it will rise 10 to 15 feet.
I mean, this is almost waiting for a tsunami, although it won't be a tidal wave, it'll be a surge where one wave that comes up that street, if you're at the right level, I don't know what your elevation is there, but if you were at any elevation that's five feet above sea level, you will see five feet or 10 feet on top of that.
The one wave will come in, it will be kind of a wash, like a wave without a crest or a curl and then that will stay. And then the next wave will come in and the first one won't go away like it usually does at the sea shore. The next wave is going to come in and it won't go away. And then a next wave is going to come in and it won't go away. And this is not what you want to do.
MYERS (via telephone): You do not want to be out with your dog when the water's coming up.
CUOMO: Yes, I know. Chad. he's got his three-legged dog, he says he's lucky. Hold on. Hey! Hey, pal! He's walking his dog. We saw him last night. I see you're out with the dog again. You got to get back inside, pal. We got the backside of the storm still to come.
The surge isn't here yet. Please get back in. I'll come find you after. Now most of the people here, Chad, there's a lot of media. The good news is, again, they believe that most of who needed to evacuate did.
[04:45:00] We saw that local last night. Nice guy. Three-legged dog. He's one of these salty-types. He's been here for a long time. He says he knows storms. He knows what to worry about or not not. But, you know, he's probably thinking what I was, Chad, which is all right, so here's that surge they were telling us about. It wasn't as bad. You're saying we haven't even seen it yet.
That this is just like a little bit -- this is just a little bit of an advantage. This is just a little bit of a runway for this surge. Like it can just follow this water. Isn't that going to make it easier for the surge to penetrate if there's already -- you know, if it's already liquid all the way up the road?
MYERS (via telephone): Yes, absolutely, no question. This now ground is already saturated, not that it was going to soak in at all any way, but the surge coming in -- we'll see this rain that is now going to mix with the saltwater just continue to make the flooding worse.
CUOMO: Can I interrupt you for one second?
MYERS (via telephone): Go ahead.
MYERS (via telephone): Go.
CUOMO: Do me a favor. Keep talking people through about what's going to happen next. I'm going to go down to the street level so we can figure out, you know, what this means and I can get a better set of eyes for you on the road. So Dave (ph) is going to keep giving you the shot. I'll be out of it for a second. So just keep talking. Don't worry. I'll be right back in a minute, OK?
MYERS (via telephone): Fair enough, sir. OK. So, here's what I would like to show you, for any one who's still in Naples. Let's come back to the weather wall here on camera one. All of a sudden the spike from the Naples tidal gauge is here, the spike that we anticipated for the entire day has now arrived. It's because the eye wall itself has gone by. All of the forces of the wind that pushing the water out, all those forces are now gone. And so therefore, the eye itself will begin to bring the water back up and when you get on the backside of the eye, that's when the water is going to spike.
I guess we cannot get this shot right now, but I will get it to you. I promise because it's an impressive spike in the tidal gauge right here at Naples. We will get to this right after this break.
[04:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: All right. We've come down now in the street in Naples. We just had a hell of a time with Hurricane Irma. She came through, we're getting some numbers. Control room, let me know if I got them right. I think the highest gusting wind was about 140 miles an hour that came through here, 141, which is maxed out at 141 which is some kind of record for an Atlantic hurricane, but, you know, we'll leave all the statistical information for later.
Unfortunately, this is like halftime. Some people are out here, there's a lot of anxiousness to check on their homes, a lot of people have taken refugee in the local hotels, they want to get back and see. My man, Chuck (ph) here, who I have seen walking around last night has got his three-legged dog, Marly (ph). Every hurricane story needs a three-legged dog.
They're out here to look around at it. And Chuck (ph) and I were talking that this is just, you know, we're under the eye right now. We know that we have the whole backside to go. Chuck was saying this isn't storm surge, this is the flooding. And you know what? That's a little intimidating. Chad, you were right. This was a flash flood.
This is fresh water. This is rain water. And it did come here to a low point which is kind of where we are. You can see it with the sweep of the land, the water has followed that, which means we don't know what is to come yet, but we do know that this is a path of advantage. So, the good news is it looks OK where we are right now.
We don't know how it is in parts closer to the gulf or the river that borders this part of Naples proper. Come on by, you want to come through, they're going to come through. Again, people are trying to ferry around as soon as they can. Now, I know, Chad, we're supposed to be telling them not do it. Now, you tell me why, what is coming yet here that they have to worry about?
MYERS (via telephone): Well, Chris, I mean, honestly, the backside is coming. We know it is. And if you venture out for 15 feet to let your dog do some duty, that's OK, but I don't want you walking down to the ocean for sure and seeing what's going on there because that's where the water's coming from. And as the backside of the eye comes in, the wind shift direction, and the reason why you never saw water in your harbor today is because of the wind direction.
And when the wind changes direction, all of that water in the harbor is going to come back and it's going to come back with a surge of 10 to 15 feet higher than you've ever seen above sea level before. So this is a big surge for many people that have never ever experienced this type of thing. Other than Bay St. Louis-Waveland, (INAUDIBLE), which had a 24 foot, 26 foot storm surge, very rarely any place else in America has ever seen 10 to 15 feet.
CUOMO: So, from about eight blocks from the gulf contact here with Naples, what do you think the chances that they get water coming this way? Because this would be the main artery, this is a road that goes right down to the water's edge. This is where the marina is, am I right about that, Chuck (ph)?
Chuck (ph), this road, if we follow it all the way down, how close to the marina to the water do you get? From here to the water is about a mile, and this would be a straight conduit all the way to it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
CUOMO: How many feet above sea level do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About five feet right here.
CUOMO: You think you're about five feet above sea level right here? Chad, do you hear me?
MYERS (via telephone): Yes, the water's coming. The water isn't coming like a tsunami.
CUOMO: So you think the water is going to come to where we are?
MYERS (via telephone): I do. I do, especially when the wind blows it that way as well. You go to think about this. Not only is there a swell under the storm itself, but there's going to be wind to project it,
[04:55:00] to move it your way, and it will propel all the way up that street if that is a straight shot to the ocean because that's the direction the wind is going to be coming from.
CUOMO: So, Chuck (ph), Chad says if we're about five feet that that storm surge that sucked the water out of the bay down there, that it's going to be coming at least this far -- where's your house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I live in Houston. I just endured from Hurricane Harvey. I just came from Houston.
CUOMO: All right. So you're here hanging out and you got a big knife on your hip. So the water's going to come this far at least and that's something to remember. And, no, we will not venture down there and you do see people coming out. There's curiosity, obviously. You have a lot of locals here and store owners who we were talking to before the storm.
They were worried, Chad. You know, people worry about their businesses. They worry about their livelihood. And there is a temptation to want to get out as soon as possible. There's also a ton of media and what you always hope in this situation. The people you see out early are just media. But you do feel that it can come to where we are, huh?
MYERS (via telephone): Oh, no question about it. Let's just project this a little bit forward to others in the path. What we showed on television just 30 minutes ago is already and still happening north of you, so I know it looks like oh, it's over, well, yes, it's over where you are --
CUOMO: No, no, no.
MYERS (via telephone): But it is not over for Bonita Springs. You are in it right now. Naples Park which is about 10 miles north of you, in it right now, in the northern eye wall and that eye wall again will continue all the way to Sarasota, all the way to Anna Maria until it finally either dies out because of contact with dry land or it goes back out into the ocean and kind of stays with us all the way to Tampa and Hillsborough. What is that car doing?
CUOMO: Right. But it's about -- it's also -- it's about -- it's about what you're choosing from, Chad, on that menu of suck that Hurricane Irma is bringing our way.
I mean, you have those winds and all that drama, but then you have that storm surge, which is of acute concern to all of these different pockets of communities on the west coast because that's what can create not just a second phase because it gets you with that surprise effect, but that is what create the real property damage and the real threats to locking people in place, right?
MYERS (via telephone): Absolutely, it's the water that will kill you. We call it a storm surge. What it is is a flash flood and it's a 15- foot flash flood that comes from the ocean. And clearly these people didn't know about it or don't know about it. Chris, I have a question for you. You have a cell phone on you, right? Your phone is working?
CUOMO: Yes, you know, my whole pocket is filled with water. But, yes, Chad, yes, I do.
MYERS (via telephone): OK. Did you ever --
CUOMO: What do you want to know?
MYERS (via telephone): Did you ever today get an alert on your phone that said flash flood emergency in your area?
CUOMO: No. My phone -- my phone is not -- not 100 percent, Chad, and not surprising because I got it in my pocket during a hurricane.
MYERS (via telephone): I get it.
CUOMO: We didn't get any alerts. The people around us didn't get any flash flood alert. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have known what that was. To me, I would've thought it was the storm surge because that water came out of nowhere, but then you told me it was flash flood. And I don't want to have death by escalate here. MYERS (via telephone): Yes, I see.
CUOMO: That was that standing water. Now it's gone almost as fast as it came. Now, my question to you is, how about the storm surge, will that go as quickly as it comes? What are the factors that go into that?
MYERS (via telephone): The surge will last as long as the water pushes it on land and certainly that surge will be where you are, I believe. If you're only five feet above sea level, then you will be standing in water up to your waist if not more, and I know you'll get out of there before that, but I would say that's going to last at least three to four hours.
Now, we think about -- look how calm the water is other than the Cadillac just driving through it, that water that comes in is not going to be calm because it's going to be pushed by a gust of 110 miles per hour, so there will be waves on top of that 10-foot surge as soon as it gets into that downtown. I don't have any contact with Marco Island right now.
I have tried. I have looked. I haven't seen because they would've already been seeing this surge. It would be there. It will be. It is there right now. I just don't know how bad it is. The same surge that we saw with Katrina, even though Katrina was only a cat three, cat four almost at landfall, because it was a cat five for so long in its life, it built this surge.
It built this bubble. This storm built a bubble and now it is unleashing it. And, you know -- Chris, I want you closer to a stairwell than that because this can come very, very fast.
[05:00:00] CUOMO: You've never seen somebody my size move as quickly as I will, if there is any wind that starts coming in any dramatic fashion.
MYERS (via telephone): All right.
CUOMO: Couple things.