Return to Transcripts main page


Irma Slamming South Florida With Category 3 Force; Naples, Marco Island Warned: "Move Away From The Water"; Irma's Eyewall Reaches Marco Island, Approaching Naples; Hurricane Force Winds Whipping Miami; Second Crane Destroyed As Irma Lashes Miami. Aired 3- 4p ET

Aired September 10, 2017 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:38] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. I'm John Berman in Miami where hurricane Irma has just been pounding us for hours and hours and hours.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. I'm Chris Cuomo in Naples. We have been waiting to see what Irma would do to the West Coast. There are vulnerable areas here and we're starting to see it right now.

There are reported gusts of -- in excess of 80 miles an hour. The situation has changed here. There's now a significant debris field, and it has been hours of punishing rain. We have seen this phenomenon with hurricane Irma where the energy is given and the energy is taken away.

The water that should be here on the gulf side of Naples is gone, and we're waiting for it to come back in the form of storm surge and people here are very worried of what that will mean.

The good news is, most of this place, according to the city manager, of about 19,000 normal residents, have evacuated. They believe two- thirds have done so. Now, the question is, what will the rest of the people encounter?

For that, let's get to Chad Myers. Chad, what is your timing and what should we expect here and along the West Coast and parts north?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Marco Island getting it right now. The northern eyewall, Chris, you are less than 20 minutes from there as the eyewall moves north at 12 miles per hour.

The white area is still the area that's going to pick 100 mile-per- hour winds over 10-second periods. It's a gusts, 100 mile-per-hour gusts, right over Fort Myers, right over Sarasota, Anna Maria Island, right thought Pinellas, and all the way through Hillsborough County, going to get bump in the night kind of wind.

Things are going to be flying around because it's going to be dark. You're going to hear it, but you won't know what it hit. You won't know if it hit your window or not. Stay on the side of your home that's not facing the wind, especially if you don't have storm shutters up, because that's going to be the safest side.

Shingles are going to fly off roofs today and they're going to break windows. You don't want to be anywhere near that flying glass. There will be some flooding, but that's not truly the issue. The issue today is wind on the west side and the flooding on the southwest side.

There is the eyewall making landfall again. They landfall in Cudjoe Key in the South Keys, lower Keys, earlier today, about 9:00 in the morning, now it's making landfall again as a 120 mile-per-hour storm.

This is the latest radar. Marco Island right there, Naples here. I'll zoom in here to give you a better shot of what's going on. This right here is the eyewall itself, kind of hard to see because Marco Island, the word, got in the way. But Naples, you're next, Fort Myers after that, Port Charlotte and all the like.

This is the area that's going to see the eyewall move to the north. And still for John Berman, one cell after another pounding the East Coast from Miami to Lauderdale to West Palm still significant damage going to happen here, more flooding going to happen here, a widespread storm.

Chris, we talked about this. There's going to be a hurricane from one side of Florida to the other, and there is.

CUOMO: All right. Chad, let me ask you something. You say in about an hour. What about duration? One of the concerns for people here is how much can they take? As you know, very low-lying area here this entire city. They've been taking rain for a long time, so there's a lot of pooling of water on the streets already and that storm surge has not come into effect and they're worried about how many of the structures, how they're fey over time. What are they looking at in terms of a window?

MYERS: You know, I just tweeted out a man who is on Marco Island and he's been showing his video just minute after minute, waiting for it to stop, and it's not stopping. The wind has been over 100 at least, gusts over 100 for 20 minutes.

Then I guess we're going to see the eyewall in those shots. You can go on to my Twitter feed and find the link. But then the wind will comes in from the other direction, so this will be hours of damaging, punishing winds.

At least an hour in the northern and the southern eyewall, because all of the cities, all the way up the West Coast will get eyewall. They'll get northern eyewall. Then you'll get calm. And then you'll get southern eyewall. And the wind will come from the opposite direction at the same speed just about that the northern eyewall did.

Wind coming from both directions, hard to stay out of there. Hunker down. Get in your home, inside of a place where there are no window if you. If you don't have that place, then knock on your neighbor's door and find one, because this is real. [15:05:06] This isn't something you want to sit out in a parked R.V. and hope for the best. We can't hope for the best here. You have to take precautions and make the right choices.

CUOMO: And this is why they were asking the government officials for people to evacuate.


CUOMO: Certainly, that was the case here and they do believe they got most of the people out. I can't even keep a hat on my head anymore, Chad. I'm trying to do it, not because it keeps you dry, but just -- it does help buffers a little of those twigs that bang you in the head when you're in this snap, crackle and pop phase of the first wave of the bad stuff with hurricane Irma.

Let's get to Drew Griffin. Drew is a little bit farther norths from us. He's been checking out the situation in shelters. We lost our power here. We understand that you lost power in one of the shelters that you were monitoring up there. Drew, what's the latest?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The latest is we're starting to feel those really, really strong winds that Chad was talking about. We've had a couple of experiences where we've seen some gutters blowing around. You can see the trees, I think, Chris. It is really become a violent wind situation, which is dangerous to be out.

We have barricaded ourselves against -- believe it or not, I'm buffered against the side of a wall and it's still blowing pretty strong. The power did go out. It went out about an hour ago. That was to be expected.

There are not many hotels in the area with generators. The shelter, they're just hunkering down. They're going to have to be there through another miserable night, but hopefully a safe night as Irma continues to make her way out and we continue to watch the wind situation. And then as you have been reporting, Chris, when that water comes back in and any potential surge we're going to have down here in the Fort Myers area. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Drew, we'll keep checking in with you. And please, give me a heads up if there are things that people need to know and I'll come right to you.

Now, my partner here in Naples is Ed Lavandera, one of senior correspondent. He's been surveilling the area. And then once it started to deteriorate, we both had to fall back to the hotel. We're waiting for Ed to get a shot up. Ed, are ready to go? Can you tell us what's going on from the ground level?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Chris. As you know, we've been talking throughout the morning. We had a chance to venture out and kind of at least survey a little bit of the initial bands of the storm, as it was approaching here in the Naples area, and -- within minutes of the worst bands starting to hit, just a couple hours ago, we'd already started seeing trees falling down, and that is only going to continue to get worse.

Also, an area of concern is about 20 miles south of us is Marco Island, a popular tourist destination, full of high-rise condos and that sort of thing. I've been speaking with the police chief down there on Marco Island. He messages me and says that they've lost power, but they are on backup radios there.

There are about 80 first responders hunkering down there on the island, bracing for the worst of the storm. The police chief says that they're on the edge of the eyewall there. The worst of the storm that they've seen so far and they are without power and on backup radios, but they're still holding on as best they can.

They say they won't be able to go out and survey any damage until the worst of this storm clearly has passed by. But obviously, the path of that storm now, Chris, will come up from Marco Island here towards Naples where we are this afternoon.

And as you can see here, this will only continue to intensify by far the worst and strongest gusts, and we've seen here throughout the day and for the next several hours, it will continue to be like this.

We also noticed that water along some of the gulf shore drive, along the western edge of the city. This is an area that is under a mandatory evacuation. It has been a deserted ghost town for some days now. We saw the water quickly rising out there on some of those streets and a lot of those areas where those -- where that -- those trees were falling down as well.

So we are here between the gulf side, which is here about a half mile to my left. There's also a river that cuts through town. And one of the things that officials here are also taking a close look and are very concerned about is high tide, expected later on this afternoon.

That high tide in combination with this storm pushing the water up that could possibly cause serious concern for this storm surge here in this area that's expected to reach 10 feet to 15 feet, and that could be catastrophic for many neighborhoods here in the Naples area. Chris?

CUOMO: Yes. Hey, Ed, hold on one second. Dave, do me a favor. Open up and sneak out with the camera a little bit. We want to be careful with our camera because once they get wet, they're done. But we're going to have to venture out from that protected area a little bit just so they see what I'm doing.

Why am I looking around? As I said earlier, this is what we call the snap, crackle and pop phase and that's not to trivialize it. You start to hear these sounds. It's actually almost eerie. And you start looking around to assess, which trees are these?

[15:10:02] Which structures are they? Where is this bang coming from? Where is that transformer? So you know what to shelter yourself from. So just you know, you get that's why I'm looking around.

The task for Ed and for me is to assess what the duration of this storm is going to mean. These trees have been getting battered. We've been seeing these storm shelters start to flail, start to move more and more. So it's not just about the intensity, but it's about the duration.

You know, how long can these trees sustain and when they don't, and they break, that failure leads to a projectile. It goes through windows. It goes through cars. God forbid, there are any people around. We have not seen that to be the case. But you know what would happen if you get hit by anything like that. So that's why it is on ground level.

I'm up here for us to assess what is happening here, because this has been hours of this. And if we can bring Chad back -- Ed, sneak inside for a second. Get yourself out of this.

Chad, duration and the idea that some of this has been kind of tenderizing to the Naples City area, that while it's been waiting for hours for Irma to come in earnest, it's been getting hit with wave after wave and wind.

As I've watched John and all the correspondents down in the Miami area, it hasn't looked that much worse than what they've had here for about five hours, that tenderizing effect. What can you tell us about that?

MYERS: Right, very typical of a hurricane when we talk about a Category 3, 4 or 5. The 3, 4 or 5 only happens in a band about 10 miles wide, right along the eyewall. The rest of the hurricane is a hurricane and you get 75 to maybe to 100. Well, that's what we've had all day, is that 75 to 100, Chris, right, where you're standing right there.

But now Marco Island, which is honestly 10 miles to 15 miles to your south, just had a wind gust to 130 in the northern eyewall. There's the eyewall there, Marco Island right underneath it, get my finger out of the way so you can see the orange right through here. That's the northern eyewall.

There isn't truly a southern eyewall and that's because it hit Cuba. The storm never truly regained strength, and that is fantastic news, even though the model said it would, it didn't. You know, like I said earlier and yesterday, Irma doesn't know if there's an American model or a European model. It doesn't care. It's going to do what it wants to do.

So now it has a northern eyewall, no southern eyewall, but that will get to you. And your pictures, if you can stay on the air, will be dramatically different in 15 minutes than they are right now. Your winds will honestly go up by 40 percent. I don't want to say double, but close. The power of the wind will double.

So all of those trees, all of those palm trees that have been sitting there getting wet feet are all of a sudden not going to have a lot of traction for those roots, and they will begin to fall over. I'm not saying the ones behind you. I don't know how protected that area is, it seems so, but in downtown Miami, with the wind gusting to 94, there is a wind tunnel effect going on there right now. And the pictures coming out of downtown Miami, especially near Brickell, where it looks like you're in a car wash. It looks like someone is just spraying you with a pressure washer.


MYERS: Chris?

CUOMO: Yes. Those are good descriptive phrases. And, you know, I have to figure out what that sound is. I don't know if you hear it. But there is a big piece of metal that has something rubbing against it or that is shifting around and we've been hearing it increasingly. And that's one of the reasons we're looking around.

It's certainly not in our proximity. I've been doing this long enough. I have no interest in being a statistic. But, we're trying to figure what it is just so we can assess the risk. And, Chad, you know, guys like me and you, I was built to withstand in a storm. I do not get shifted by wind very easily, but I have to tell you, this tunnel effect is manifesting itself a little differently here.

If Ed Lavandera's shot is still up. Ed, let me know if you can hear me because, you know, you, too, you got a solid base on you. And this little bit taller buildings here, they funnel the wind down into this area, Chad.

Ed, if you can hear me let me know, because I've been watching on either side of where we're stationed. The wind comes through, and it's like turbo charged through these avenues and that's where the trees are really been getting plucked off like twigs. And I think that's part of dealing with the topography, you know, that this building.

Now this gust as it comes through now, it's magnified by this channel as it's coming down and we can see the trees here just not faring as well. The building is not faring as well and we'll see what it does over time.

Chad, let me give you a little chance here. Dave? All right, so this is an avenue. This is Fifth Street, right, and this is Park Street here, Fifth Avenue South, Park Street. As this wind comes down, we've been watching.

[15:15:05] This tree is a shocker. They're very wisely, cabled it. Cabled it, literally means what it sounds like. There are pieces of wire inside that tree holding it together, you know, as a reinforcement to its integrity.

And what a difference it's made. I can't believe it's made it, because right down the street, Dave, if you can take a cheat. Look down the sidewalk, a tree of equal size didn't make it. And now we're getting more of this effect of it coming strong now. I don't know if Chad can give us a reading of what kind of gusts we're getting, but let me tell you, I've been in enough of these. Ed, if you're back with me now, this is real deal wind that we're feeling now. What are you getting down where you are, Pal? Can you hear me?

LAVANDERA: Hey, Chris, I can hear you. We're here in -- essentially downtown Naples about a half mile away from the Gulf Coast. And then if you look back in this way, this is looking back towards into town. We're watching this (INAUDIBLE) with the white tarp and that rooftop there has been buckling up and down rather severely here for the last couple of minutes. So we'll continue to monitor things like that.

The wind is just ferociously blowing from the east to the west back towards the gulf, and that's clearly an indication. You know, we are on the north side of this storm as this thing swirls around us, and the eye continues to creep closer to us. After the eyewall gets here, the winds are going to shift. It's going to be from the west to the east.

I was out on the beach just a little while ago monitoring the situation there. It was amazing. The surf had been pushed back by these winds a good 100 yards from where we saw it yesterday. Essentially all of that moisture getting pushed back out into the gulf waters. And as we stand out here, obviously keeping close tabs on what's coming from our eastern side over here, Chris.

You know, the danger is that things are flying around so quickly that these large palm tree branches that we have seen flying off trees relentlessly throughout the day continue to do so. You can see them all over here littered on the ground and then can you see water pooling up here on the ground.

This is a minor little pool of water, but these gives you a good indication of what's happening more severely and more seriously in other parts of the neighborhood where all of that -- this is the (INAUDIBLE) all those water getting pushed up, and the real concern is back over here to our east. It is the river that comes pushing in from south to north on the edge of Naples, Florida where we are, and it is that water and into that marina.

The water with these winds are going to get pushed up from the north and that's what's going to cause that storm surge in a lot of parts here of the Naples area and in Fort Myers, all the way up into Tampa as well. So that is the concern here throughout the day. And obviously, these winds are going to be a major concern as well.

Structurally, everything seems to be holding rather well from what we've been able to tell. These things like this, as I mentioned here, off the top, Chris, this tarp on top of this, the, this -- what I believe is a recreation center, I have to double check that, but that -- you can see that kind of buckling back and forth, probably designed to do that to a certain extent. But as we get closer to the wall of this eye of this hurricane, it is structures like that that it could ripping apart here as these winds become the most fierce. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Eddie, do me a favor. Let's pace ourselves, get back inside. Keep yourself and the photographer safe a little bit. We'll start checking in with some other areas.

But before we do, Chad, if you're still hearing us, Chad Myers, what can you give us as a reading in terms of the gusting? Look, we're all worried about the water. The storm surge is going to be the tale of the tape here. That's what kills us in hurricanes. You tell us all the time. Lethality is from drowning. The wind just gets the headlines. But just to measure where we are in terms of, you know, the part of the process, what are we getting right now that Ed and I are feeling?

MYERS: I think what you have was just clocked at 81 miles per hour. And the yellow on the map here, I know you can't see it, Chris, but there's a yellow area on the map. That area just went over Marco Island right there with 130 mile-per-hour gusts.

So the winds are going to get 50 miles worse per hour, miles per hour, than what you just saw as this eyewall gets to you. And if you're on the south side of Naples, you're already feeling it. If you're on the north side of Naples, you aren't in the eyewall yet.

And, Chris, you're not seeing it yet. You're not -- you're going to be -- honestly in five minutes, the pictures coming from your camera, if we can keep you on the air are going to be amazing. But I want you and the photographer and the producer to please stay safe because this is about to get real.

CUOMO: Well, OK, absolutely. You know, we do the job on a regular basis, so it's not the first time and that's important, because often when it is the first time you're a little overly ambitious.

[15:20:09] But you're making me feel my age, Chad, because what I'm getting hit with right now feels a lot more than 80. Maybe it is just because, again, of the dynamic of the building.

So let's check in on another area here because, again, as Chad's been educating us throughout this hurricane coverage, these areas that we're going to start going to, now we're going to, now we're going to go to Punta Gorda. They are especially vulnerable to the components of a storm like this, this kind of breadth, this kind of duration of impact for these areas that can't take much, they're particularly vulnerable.

So, Miguel Marquez, Punta Gorda, what are you dealing with there now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're dealing with what Chad has been talking about a lot today and about how the storm. You really get a respect for the power of Mother Nature with this storm.

I'm standing on the marina, on the muddy bottom of the marina here. You can see the mussels all the way down to the bottom. This wouldn't be possible, except that the water's being pushed all the way out of the bay here out to sea as this storm is coming around from the top of us pushing everything out. When that eyewall passes and it changes direction, everything that must go out must come back in. So they're expecting a 5-foot to 8-foot storm surge in this area. They're talking about 3 feet of standing water, 3 feet of water on land with a 5-foot to 8-foot storm surge, basically a giant wave that would sweep in here, very low-lying areas. Look at this down this. This dock should normally be floating here, but that boat, it's sitting in mud. All the boats in here are pretty much sitting in mud. They would not be able to get out.

The weather -- we're a little protected by this jetty here, but the weather here has definitely taken a turn. We're probably at 50 miles sustained winds and probably gusting up to close to 60. It's going to get worse, though. This is about half way. They're expecting Category 3-ish winds in this area, 110 sustained gusts up to 135.

I'm going show you this. That debris you see out there in the bay, that's the old bridge. They knocked it down years ago. People in this area haven't seen that in years and years and years. They have two new bridges across 41. It's likely that emergency services in this area have stopped now because winds are up over 40 miles per hour sustained.

And authorities are saying at this point, shelter in place. Don't try to get anywhere else. Stay where you are. But that storm surge -- the wind is coming and that's going to do damage, but that storm surge is what they're really worried about. 60 percent of Charlotte County is in evacuation zones susceptible to flooding. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Miguel, please, keep me honest on what's going on with you. Let me know -- we'll be come back to you when the situation changes.

We're just dealing with one little piece of hurricane hypocrisy there. I was trying to shoo somebody back inside. They poked out to see, because we're starting to get more violent gusts. And we get the inconsistency of the message, you know, that saying, "Hey, don't come out here, it's dangerous." And they see us out here.

But, again, we are here impart to satisfy that kind of curiosity, to inform of what the situation is on the ground, to let people know and first responders know what's going on with the situations in their area. But you don't want to be out here if you don't have to be.

Let's get to Ed Lavandera. I understand you found a way, Ed, to show people what's going on without exposing yourself to too much of it because this is definitely picked up. So what do you have, my friend?

LAVANDERA: Well, look, so people understand what we're doing. We are inside, kind of tucked away underneath a building that is protected on three sides, so it shields, especially our photographer from the worst of these winds and we're able to kind of jump in and out of the scene here as safely as we can. So that's kind of the way we operate so that people understand if they do have that, that curiosity. But we are watching the winds as (INAUDIBLE).

The camera angle that you're looking at from where our viewpoint here is looking towards the south, towards the eye of hurricane Irma, and that is crossing the Marco Island area which is about 20 miles south of where we are.

And you can see the intensity of the winds here. By far the strongest we have experience all day and anticipating this will only continue to worsen here over the next couple of hours. And that wind you see pushing from the left side of your screen --


CUOMO: All right, we lost Ed's shot. We'll make sure that he's OK. Oh, he's back now. Keep going, Ed, if you can.

LAVANDERA: I'm back. Chris, we're still here. As I was -- sure, sure. As I was saying, the winds you're seeing are moving from the east to the west across your screen there.

[15:25:05] We are on what appears to be, and this might have changed here in the last couple of minutes, Chad Myers can clarify a little better, but it sounds --

CUOMO: I lost IFB. All right. All right, so -- all right, so Ed lost communications. Not unusual in this kind of situation, especially when it starts to pick up. We'll get him back.

What we're dealing with here, though, in Naples, is exactly what they were worried about. This sustained battering of wind and rain. And then there's another huge component, which is going to be the storm surge.

I don't know if you could hear Ed Lavandera and Chad Myers earlier talking to us about it, but they were saying that where the water should be, it's now gone. That's part of the energy exchange system of this hurricane, this counterclockwise force. It dumps it on one side. It pulls it out of the other.

Chad Myers, if I can bring you in here, we haven't had that water come back yet. At least not in the main, and what it does, it's going to be bringing friends in the form of a surge. That's what we're worried about. How will this combine with that flow of water? What will the net effect of that be on this population?

MYERS: Well, just issued was a flash flood emergency. Now, that is above flash flood warning. That is because the water will come crashing back onshore and is about to do so here at Marco.

If you are, let's say, here, your winds are now beginning to push this direction and this entire area from Everglades City all the way back down into Everglades flooding, flash flooding, 10 feet to 15 feet.

If you're still here in Naples, the wind blowing offshore and not bringing your water in yet. But Marco, the eye just went by you. And as soon as that eye gets to the other side, all of a sudden the winds are going to shifts and the winds are going to move that water back in.

So from where we are now, Chris, in your harbor, somewhere 4 feet below where we should be, we are going to push all of this water back in and possibly be 15 feet above where we should be. It's the bubble of water that happens below a hurricane, because the air's being sucked in. It's a low pressure. There is a bubble of water and yet there is also the forward motion. Well, now, the forward motion of that bubble has stopped. It has stopped, because land is now in the way.

For a while, Key West was in the way and so is Cudjoe Key, but those were just islands and the water just ripped right on by. The water kept going, and now it's smashing onshore from Marco back over to Everglades City and eventually to Naples.

Now, if we can get Chris' shot back, I can see Chris now, the wind is still picking up for you. You have at least another 30 miles per hour to go, Chris. So all we're trying to do with your shot is stay on the air because we want you to be safe, but we also want the people just north of you to know what they have in store because it's coming.

CUOMO: That is definitely the point, and I appreciate the concern. And my P.J. is a good man. But, Dave, I need you to pop off the sticks for a second. Come up here just so we can give them a sense, because you're right.

If you are in Naples or in parts north, you have to understand, here's what's coming your way, because cities are similarly constructed. Pan to your right, Dave. All right. This is where it's happening. These trees, these structures here have been taking it for hours and we are seeing them start to give way. There were more of them, not so long ago, and a lot of them as you can see, they're going to be particularly vulnerable. And the concern is, where do they go?

When these trees start to come with these gusts that are increasing, where do they go? What windows do they hit? Which structure do they hit? What does it do to power? What if they rip off with them from under the ground? And then, what does the soaking storm surge do to those situations?

All right, get back inside, Dave. What happens -- help Dave get inside. What happens once these trees have ripped up? Are you good? Are you good? Once these trees have ripped up with they're root system, a lot of the power here that is underground and the water rushes in to it, that's when you get a power outage. Now, we're nearing about 2 million customers here without power. Now it's flooded and that goes from hours or days to weeks for recovery.

Now, I believe Ed Lavandera is back up. Ed, if that's true, pipe up and let me know what you're seeing from where you are.

LAVANDERA: Yes, I'm here. All right, I think we got cut off a little bit last time, but we're fixed up. Our microphone situation here is a little better, but as you were saying, Chris, earlier, the winds you're seeing on the north side of the storm pushing from the east towards the west and that is what you're seeing right now.

[15:30:03] And as the eyewall of this storm gets closer, the winds will only intensify them. If the eye does comes right over where we are, we'll obviously have that lull here in the system for some time. But that does not mean by any means that the threat is over. Then the winds shift. We'll be on the back side of the storm. The winds will come from the west to the east and that is the concern of the storm surge.

Officials here have been saying over the last couple of days that storm surge could reach anywhere 10 feet to 15 feet. We've already seen waters several blocks away from where we are starting to rise in some residential neighborhoods. The question is where exactly is all that water's going to go and how high will it go?

But once the storm passes through and it is the gulf waters that are starting to get pushed in here inland, that will be a major concern and something will have to continue to monitor. Everyone here that I've spoken with in Naples over the last 24 hours measures hurricane by what happen here in 2005, hurricane Wilma.

Talking to the mayor yesterday, he said -- I asked him if that's a fair comparison, if that really any way to kind of prepare for this, he acknowledged. Look, that's the only parameter we have at this point, hurricane Wilma, and that was incredibly strong storm here in this part of Southwest, Florida. But whether or not it will be any true indication of what this storm and hurricane is bringing remains to be seen. But that's their measuring stick at this point.

I have a feeling that hurricane Irma is going to be a completely separate measuring stick for this community as they see what kind of damage the storm surge here that brings to this community. You can see and feel the intensity of these winds.

Of course, we've pan back over here to the left. You look back over here at this one particular structure. All of the structures around this that I see continue to hold up rather well. It's this tarp on top of this rec-center area over here that is still of major -- whoa, major concern.

You know, when you're looking into the rain, it's very disconcerting. You don't know -- I'm going to step out here a little bit. I'm going to leave up that shot so I can speak a little bit more clearly, but it is that tarp there as it buckles up and down and wondering how much longer it is going to last and whether or not it's just going to rip apart from that structure and just get shredded here in those winds.

So we'll continue to monitor that, Chris, as these winds and the eye of hurricane Irma gets much closer here to Naples, Florida, in southwest, in the southwest corner of the state.

CUOMO: Well, this is what they were worried about, is that a place like Naples, that's already very tight to sea level, was going to get hit and hit for a long time by hurricane Irma and unfortunately, that's what seems to be happening.

Dave, if you can pan over to the left. This is the direction that Ed is. You can see the water coming in sheets, sideways. You know, obviously the wind is going away that the trees are going. But there are sheets of water going that way, and each one is like another punch. You know, another tenderizing blow, and this is a fight of many different rounds, and they've been taking it for round after round here.

And, remember, what the knockout is, from Chad Myers' perspective, is this storm surge. And we still haven't seen it yet, but there is flooding around. Ed Lavandera, do you think that that's just ground water and rain that you're seeing there, Ed, or do you think it some kind of sign of water coming from the gulf side?

LAVANDERA: No. I don't think water's coming from the gulf side yet. I think a lot of this is rain water that is pooling up on some of lower lying areas of the streets. Obviously, that was based on what we saw this morning.

You know, the last time we were able to venture out into some of the neighborhoods was about two to three hours ago and then it just became too treacherous and dangerous for us to get out there so we had to pull back.

But I think for now what we've seen is rain water pooling up in various locations, but that just adds to the problems, because the storm surge will come in over the top of that. And we haven't been able to make it over to the river side here of Naples where there is an extensive marina system.

A lot of people who live on the canals and have their boats there, it is that river that the storm surge will push up through and then push into the more inland areas of Naples, creating that storm surge and that flooding there. So that's of concern.

But once the eye passes through, that's the point where we start worrying about the gulf water surge coming in to the area. That will be fascinating to see just how much this city can withstand that surge coming in from the Gulf of Mexico. And we'll see what condition those streets are.

Everyone that was on the western edge of Collier County and in Naples was told to evacuate. By far, everything that I've seen -- I haven't seen, but maybe a handful of people on these western, the western edge of this city over the last 24 hours.

[15:35:02] So -- and according to various officials that we've spoken to, they feel like the vast majority of people evacuated those homes, either went to shelters here in Naples or started taking off in left town several days ago to get away from this storm. So that is the good news.

It sounds like human life in the path of this storm for the most part has evacuated. Of course, that is not to say that everyone evacuated. First responders know that there's always going to be a segment of the population stubborn to leave and willing to ride it out in these conditions, so they're prepared for that.

And in speaking with the police chief on Marco Island, which is about 20 miles south of where we are, that is a barrier island with about 16,000 people call that fulltime as their home. The police chief told me last night as the storm was starting to approach, that he believed that most of the people had evacuated the area.

But they are on the island, 80 first responders, police and firefighters on the island, dispatched in various locations, high- level locations around the island to prepare for this. Those people are in the middle of this storm, perhaps even in the eye of the storm as we speak, probably trying to gauge the situation.

But they had deployed boats, watercraft, into various areas prepared to launch any kind of high-water rescues if need be or anybody was trapped and wanted to escape after that. But they're obviously waiting for the worst of the storm to go by. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Ed, you dip inside. Get everything together. Let me know when to come back to you. But, Dave, I want to go -- and I want to go back to Miami and check in with John Berman.

But before we do, let's do -- give you an opportunity to just get what it is here right now. You're not going to hear from me. It doesn't mean anything's happening, but just trying and catch some of this sound and the sights of what is going on in Naples, Florida, right now. Dave is going to give you the full pan of the situation and just take it in for what it is.

This is what Naples has been dealing with for about an hour or so and we have hours and hours to go. This is it. This is Mother Nature at her worst. We're going to hope that we respond with human nature at its best.

To John Berman down in Miami, we know you've been seeing it like this. We're getting some unique aspects here, John, because of this corridor effect we're getting where we are in Naples. How is it where you are?

BERMAN: I keep listening to your coverage, Chris. And as it gets worse there, I keep thinking it will get better here, but it's just hasn't happened. Not yet. In fact, Miami continues to get hammered by powerful winds, gusts as strong as we've seen them.

The rain maybe left off for a second here, which is nice, and we did just learned that a second crane has collapsed now in downtown Miami at (INAUDIBLE) if you're familiar with the geography here. So that's two cranes, one collapsed (INAUDIBLE). There are a possibly failure in the crane. The bottom line is this crane is now hanging, part of it is hanging down.

These cranes, more than 20 of them in downtown Miami, a sign of the progress and the economic sort of boom times that Miami is experiencing but they couldn't get them down in time. It takes six days to a week to get a crane down and it didn't have that much lead time so they had to leave them up. They secured them. We were told they were built to withstand 145 mile-an-hour winds.

Now, I don't know whether we got that here. You know down on the ground, 80 miles, 90 miles an hour. We were told up in the skyscrapers there were gusts of 100 miles an hour, but it's clear at least two of those cranes have failed. Authorities are telling people not to go anywhere near the areas of those two cranes. And, of course, it's not just the cranes that are a problem, also the storm surge, very much what we anticipate to see on the West Coast of Florida, a very real problem at this moment in Miami. The streets that people know so well (INAUDIBLE) covered in water and it's very hard to move around these areas, and know they're exact areas that Miami officials ordered mandatory evacuations for.

They wanted people out, because they were scared of just this thing. We were told of 4 feet to 6 feet worth of storm surge here. Chad Myers at last check said 5.5 feet. And 5.5 feet was enough to get over some of the storm walls and flood the streets where we are right now.

When we've been out here (INAUDIBLE) straight days nearly, the water came up. The water came up and you can see the cement right here. It came up about a foot from the top. It has begun to recede, because the tide is going out. So our immediate situation right around here appears to be better.

[15:40:02] The boats in this marina have taken a beating. It's behind the camera. You can't see it, but there was one of the larger boats at one point was tied down by eight ropes. There was only one rope holding it on at a center point, people rushing out and trying to secure it. I think maybe they did.

We have seen parts of docks float off into the water here. And then another sensation that we saw for much of the morning was bursts of green light out there from Miami Beach. That is where Miami Beach is and those bursts of green light were transformers glowing. And that, of course, meant that Miami Beach was going to be without power. They could be without power for some time. A lot of Miami-Dade has lost power as well.

Again, just the beginning for what will happen in Florida as this storm has made the turn and heads right towards where Chris Cuomo is, in Naples. And, Chris, I've been listening to you. You know, hang in there. If it's anything like it's been in Miami, it's going to be a problem for many, many hours.

CUOMO: Yes. And, I mean, that, you know, the duration is going to be a big part of this story. I'm going to stand out of the shot right now just so that Dave can give you our -- Dave, our photojournalist, can give you the full effect of what we're getting hit with now because it's certainly intensified.

And the acute concern here on the West Coast is just the inability to absorb that much because these cities and areas are so low-lying. And the extra component here, as Chad Myers has been explaining, will be storm surge. That hasn't even come into effect yet. Nothing here has been affected by what could be an additional 10 feet of water that could come in. It could come up many blocks.

It could affect power. It could affect a lot of different things, and for a long time. And that's why evacuating was such a key concern. And it's important to note that they got lucky here. And I know that this looks like nothing close to luck, I understood. But everything is relative in a hurricane. And the people here decided to evacuate days in advance.

This is a little bit of a snowbird city. Snowbirds, you know, the people come down during the winter. So this is the off-season so there aren't as many people here, but of the 19,000 or so that the city manager said they are worried about. He believes as many as two- thirds according to the mayor may have left in advance. So that's really important.

Here's somebody coming down the road right now. It's not something you see too much, but I think they're one of us. I think those folks were media going down the road. You've seen almost nobody. That's a very good sign. You have not seen people out. You haven't seen awkward spectating or anything like that. We've been told that the police are keeping people away from the waterfronts. That's really a key.

Chad Myers tells a really harrowing tale of what happened in Lake Okeechobee some years ago where the water was gone. People went running out there just out of fascination and collecting fish and stuff like that that were exposed, and then the water came back, and it was a lethal, a deadly event, and God forbid, we don't want to see anything like that. And I know that they're trying to keep people away from the water's edge because there's no question.

You see in the pictures on the internet, it's really freaky to see where the ocean was, where a bay was, where a bio (ph) was, all of a sudden could be taken. But in conditions like this, you just can't have it John. I mean, disgusting.

Maybe it's a little different because we're a little elevated here. I'm probably -- I don't know, 25 feet or so off the ground? So maybe I'm just feeling it as more intense, but it is just twisting trees like twigs.

Chad Myers, I'm never the one to question your calculation, that's for sure, but I have to tell you, it's hitting us pretty hard and it's making a difference. It's taking trees down with pretty -- pretty much ease right now. I'm watching trees and parts of trees flying through the air. It's picking up, my friend, what can you tell us?

MYERS: It is going to continue to pick up. And I know that doesn't sound reasonable, and you can ask John how long he's been standing in that brutal weather out there. Just -- I feel for you, John. You have a little while to go.

I mean, honestly it was an hour ago I said you're half time, now you're in third quarter, but you're not fourth quarter. And for you, Chris Cuomo, you are now in the lightest part of the eyewall, the lightest part of the eyewall.

You went through a small little outer eye here and that's now moved to the north. Our Chris Cuomo, right there downtown Naples, but the major part of the eyewall here, you can see the difference in colors in the red, that is about to move over you. I would say that's three minutes away and that is what's going to be hitting you as soon as we toss back to you essentially. There's the eyewall. What I have noticed for everyone in Tampa is that the storm has slightly turned right.

[15:45:06] I don't know if it's a wobble or a trend came out of the Keys and now slightly turned to the right. If that continues, Tampa, you're going to be in much better shape tonight, because the storm of the -- the eye of the storm will be right over land for a longer time.

The original forecast was forth (ph) to come something like this and stay half on land, half off land, and that would continue to be a strong storm all the way to Tampa. If we continue to see this, then we won't see a stronger storm in Tampa tonight at about 8:00 or 9:00 tonight.

But there is the eye of the storm right now Chris Cuomo heading to you. I can see damage already on some of your picture there's. Trees are going to be down. It's going to get worse. I would say you're going to add at least another 30 miles per hour on to what you just saw when you get that part of the eyewall right there and that's five minutes away. Chris?

CUOMO: And then we have to deal with the residual storm surge and see what that does. You know, we spoke to someone on Marco Island. You're saying that the storm went over there as a Category 3. Wayne (ph), please checks in with us.

Wayne is a 61-year-old man, decided to stay in his condo. He said about a dozen people, maybe a little less, decided to stay along with him and in their own units. Please check in and let us know that you're OK, because a lot of the people decided to stay behind wound up being our eyes and ears as the first responders will be when they get back out but they're not there yet. So just let us know you're OK.

So, John, they're telling me that they're going to put up on the screen a radar comparison of where we are right now. I don't think either of us have returns. So maybe in the control room, you can kind of talk us through. What are you seeing in terms of similarities between Miami and Naples right now? Well, they're both being hit very hard --


BERMAN: Well, I can tell you, Chris, you know, I think people --

CUOMO: -- which I think we could have figured out. Go ahead.

BERMAN: Yes. Chris, exactly, exactly. Thank you control room for telling us the results being hit hard by the hurricane right now, but that is actually, I think, an exceptional image, because if you look at the map of Florida, where Chris is, it's in Naples, right, it's all the way on the West Coast. I'm in Miami. That's on the East Coast. We have all of Florida in between us, and we are both getting hammered right now by hurricane Irma.

And Miami has been hit since last night. We round here last night beginning to feel the impact of these winds. So it's been nearly 24 hours of consistent winds. Chad Myers promises me we're in the fourth quarter of this game. If it goes into overtime, I'm not talking to Chad anymore ever again. Chris, you have a lot more ahead of you.

But, again, you know, Chad is the meteorologist here. It feels to me like the size of this storm is highly unusual and the fact that it's delivering the force on both sides of the state is something we haven't seen before. It is a contributing factor, frankly, to what you're about to see there with the storm surge as well, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So, John, let's try and bring in somebody else on this West Coast here and get a different sense of perspective of a place that's just starting to get into this. So you've got John Berman in Miami and all of our correspondents there obviously from downtown Miami over on to the East Coast.

They've been dealing with this in excess of 12 hours, now, really if you think about it. And that is, again, as John was just telling you, testament to the size, the breadth of hurricane Irma, not just strong, but very long. So that the range of hurricane force winds goes about 75 miles outside the eye, tropical force winds about 100 miles, 125 miles outside the eyes of the range is enormous, and that's why Miami and Naples are getting battered equally.

What about who comes next? Drew Griffin is just a little ways up north from us here on this West Coast. You've been dealing with the shelter system. This is that heavier band that Chad was telling us about. I mean, definitely is picking up. It is a wall of water coming sideways. It is like standing in a car wash. And I know that because I've actually done that before, Drew. So what is it like where you are right now? We lost power here. Is your shelter back up and running? Did they get power up?

GRIFFIN: The power is not up. We're still out and we're still getting those heavy, heavy bands which are just going to increase, like the event for Berman, like the event for you and we're getting it up here. And if you look -- if you're in a dry place and look at the map of Florida and see where all of us are, just the incredible strength of this storm and the breadth of this storm is wild.

We're blocked by a large hotel. So we're in the block zone, but these trees are just on the other side. And you can see the trees, the street signs, and by the way, pan over you'll see this tall light posts. Those are light posts where they've dropped the lights all the way down to the ground here in Florida, to protect them from the wind, but that light is just wobbling now in the wind. I'm sure it can take that kind of wind.

[15:50:03] It's design to, but it gives you a sense of the strength of the wind that is coming through here. I know it's bad there. I know it's bad in Miami. It is also bad here and its bad I think remarkably, Chris, all at the same time, Irma is just churning through all of Southeast and Southwest Florida as it makes its way now up towards Tampa. Chris?

CUOMO: All right. Drew, I'm going to stick with you for a second. But, we just got word that the President, I believe control room, correct me if I'm getting it wrong. My IFB isn't perfect. What I'm hearing isn't perfect, that President Trump has been talking about the storm. That media is coming in. When we get it, we will bring it to you. Obviously he is monitoring the bad situation.

But as you can see, this is just turned into a maelstrom here in Naples. I mean, this water is coming down sideways. The wind gusts have gotten really intense here, Drew, and it's not just the intensity, its the duration, like it doesn't end.

As Chad was telling John Berman, hopefully they're in the fourth quarter, but these quarters are hours long and it's got to be raising the level of anxiety of the people up in that shelter. What are you seeing in terms of how they're coming together and how they're processing what's about to come their way?

GRIFFIN: Well, everybody is trying to stick together, trying to share food. We've seen a lot of people here. They're all in the same boat, right? Nothing brings people together like terrible tragedy, so they're all trying to work with each other.

We are currently at a hotel which is just filled with evacuees and the power is out, has been out. People are congregating in the lobby. Power of their cell phones are starting to run dry on some of these folks. So they're losing all their communication.

And what you see a lot more of is the social interaction where people are trying to share news with each other, "Hey, did you listen to a radio? Did you hear anything? Did you get a call out? What did they say?"

So you're in that phase, when people are really -- they're starting to realize they are going to survive this storm together and alone until it's over with. It's basically with hunker down philosophy, right, but it's still this incredible wind. Not many people venturing out, that is for sure.

CUOMO: That's for damn sure, Drew. People would have to be really just off it to want to go outside right now. Honestly, I don't know how they physically could do it even if they wanted to for some nuts reason.

Here where we're standing right now on this balcony, it's like a little micro-analogy of what this entire area is going to deal with. We're flooding on our balcony right now just because of debris. You don't have to show to them, Dave, but just little twigs and stuff that are coming down from the tree are blocking the drains so the water fills up so quickly.

Imagine that magnified exponentially for the sewer system here, which already is a very low water table, right? I mean, it's very shallow because the water tables are very high, so it floods very easily. Just this rain alone would have completely overwhelmed it and still we're waiting on the storm surge and these gusts are the real deal.

Ed Lavenderra is at ground level, we're up about 25 feet. And, Ed, I got to tell you, it is like a sand blasting to the face. What is it like down where you are? And really, it's not about the levity, it's about the concern for the longevity? How long can Naples take this kind of pounding and then when that storm surge in, comes in, then what? What are you seeing?

LAVANDERA: Chris, this is unbelievable. If we can make our way this way across the shot here to give you a look -- oh, man. The visibility is completely cut off. That building structure that we're just -- we're able to show you here a little while ago, is no more than a hundred yards away from us and I can barely see it any more.

The water's pulling up here on the street. The visit -- the lack of visibility there has just disappeared on us here in the last few minutes is absolutely stunning. The fact that we can't even see a build anything more, that was just -- no more than 100 yards away from us now is just been really stunning. Obviously, now come -- now lightening up a smith.

Jerry (ph), I don't know if I can get you to come back around this way. This is a Cambier Park, which is the area just back to where we are. I'm going to get out of the way here. Chris, if you can still hear me, I needed to jump out of that.


CUOMO: I hear you, Ed. Keep going.

LAVANDERA: But looking back toward that building, you can see that's -- it's basically an outdoor concert venue with that soft tarp on it and that is a Cambier Park here in downtown Naples and that roof, that structure there continues to hold.

[15:55:04] I thought for sure that that tarp would come flying off and ripping to shreds here as these winds have intensified and now you can kind of see that structure again a little bit. But as we were starting to talk, I couldn't even see it. Just absolutely stunning the amount of rain and the way it was whipping through here.

And then if you look down here on the ground, you can see just how much the water is starting to pool up on the ground, definitely, you know, covering my feet here. That's that storm surge concern.

We feel like we're in a really good spot as far as storm surge and the water rising in the area. We're halfway between the gulf side and the river that cuts along the eastern side of town, but it is that storm surge that's going to continue to push its way north and cause a lot of flooding about 10-foot to 15-foot storm surge that was expected in this. But it is the back half of that storm as it brings the water in from the gulf side and pushes it back here toward the east that is going to be of major concern.

But you can just see how little visibility we have here at this point and the dramatic nature here as the eye of this storm, hurricane Irma, which just made landfall in Marco Island is about 20 miles south of where we are in the eye of that storm coming directly to where we are right now. And it is that closer -- that edge being close to the eye of that storm which brings you the most intense part of these hurricanes and that's what we are approaching here right now, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Ed. Back up to where we are. There's no question. It's going to be a little bit more intense because of the elevation, but this is it now. I mean, these are hurricane force winds. There's no question about it. This just came over -- we know that the hurricane made landfall not far south from here, not long ago.

Chad Myers said that we were going to get an intensification and he was exactly right. I mean, we're seeing it now. The visibility is almost gone. I don't even know what I'm hearing right now, but we're having some kind of weird sound come from around the corner, but not unusual. Things start to break free and you start to hear the wind flying through pieces of metal and stuff.

But the visibility has been cut down to maybe 200 feet maybe and these gusts have to be well in excess of general hurricane force gusts. You're seeing the structures. They're not going to be able to take it. You can just see these trees are starting to split. And you're seeing that over time this is going to create problems that they're going to have to deal with for a long time here. I mean just look at this. This is water that's coming sideways here.

Chad Myers, I know you're listening along with me. On the balcony where we're standing as, again, as like a little like microcosm of what we're dealing with here, the -- just the little leaves and stuff from the flooding, from the rain, from the air, from the wind, has clogged up so it's flooding the whole balcony and that's what's happening to the roads. That's what's happening to the sewer system. And when that storm surge comes on top of it, what can they expect here in Naples, especially if they have hours of this to go?

MYERS: They truly do have hours to go and you have not seen the worst yet. I know that might be impossible to believe, but the real part of the eyewall that's going to go over Naples that has already affected Marco Island with a wind of 130 miles per hour is still coming.

What you've received there is about 105 to 110 gusting back and forth, but you still have another possible 20 miles per hour added to that event and you can see it. It appears to me like what -- all of the rain pellets or the rain drops are just broken up into spray. It's no longer a rain event. It is a misting, blowing event.

So what Chris is going to go through and if you are stuck it out the in Naples, this is what they already received in Marco Island. Marco, you're in the middle of the eye. Your wind is zero and the winds about to come from the other direction at the same speed that you already saw.

So Chris, I'm so glad you kept the pictures up, but I'm also concerned about the security of our forces out there. Please make sure everybody's away. I don't need you standing out there in the rain. I don't need you being hit by a palm tree or frond or whatever, because it's happened to me before as Anderson and I stood at Indialantic beach and just got pelted with things.

[16:00:06] The pictures are enough. The pictures tell the story.