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Vice President Speaks at United Flight 93 Crash Site; Hurricane Irma Blamed for 10 Deaths in Cuba; Irma Batters Florida, Weakens to Tropical Storm; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We'll bring you the vice president in just a moment.


HARLOW: Vice President Mike Pence speaking in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One day that became a field of honor forever. President Trump asked me to be here to pay a debt of honor to the 40 heroes of Flight 93, to all the fallen and their families, and to the generation of heroes they inspired.

[10:35:03] And to tell you that his heart is here in Pennsylvania, especially with all of you who lost loved ones 16 years ago.

Our president observed this day of remembrance at the Pentagon Memorial where moments ago he paid tribute to the 184 men and women who lost their lives there.

All of our hears, as well, are with the families of 2,753 men and women, their families who lost their lives at the World Trade Center in New York City.

As the president said just moments ago, we -- we grieve with every family of the innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists that day. And we will never forget what happened on September 11th, 2001.

Today we pause as a nation not so much to remember tragedy as to celebrate heroism. And patriotism. But permit me to say that on this day, as Gordy was said before, our hearts and our prayers are also with our fellow Americans in Florida and throughout the region who have suffered loss in the winds and waters of Hurricane Irma, at this very hour first responders and new citizen heroes are being forged among the people of Florida, and as the president has said, I say again, to those affected by Hurricane Irma, we are with you.

We will stay with you and we will be with you every day after this tempest passes to restore, recover and rebuild.


Everyone remembers where they were on this day 16 years ago. A mom rousing her children to get ready for school, a farmer wrapping up the morning chores, a coal miner finishing the third shift and heading home.

As a new member of Congress I was going through my normal workday routine at the United States Capitol when I learned of the attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon. I will always remember the scenes of that day, watching the Capitol complex being evacuated. It was as though the building were literally hemorrhaging with people running in every direction.

I found myself just across the street from the U.S. Capitol eventually on the top floor of the headquarters of the Capitol police chief. I was there with leaders of the House and Senate. Shortly after I arrived the chief of police set the phone back down and informed the leaders gathered there that there was a plane inbound to the Capitol and he said it was 12 minutes out.

In that moment the room became silent and as people began to make plans, I found myself looking out the window where just across the street was the Capitol dome with that majestic statue of freedom standing atop it, the dome that's a symbol of the ideals of this nation, of freedom and democracy for all the world.

So we waited. It was the longest 12 minutes of my life. But it turned to 13 minutes then 14 and then we were informed that the plane had gone down in a field in Pennsylvania.

In the days ahead like every American we would learn the story of the 40 heroes of Flight 93, men and women who looked evil squarely in the eye and without regard to their personal safety they rushed forward to save lives. They were mothers and fathers, your brothers and sisters. Sons and daughters from every walk of life from every background.

[10:40:02] Mark Bingham was on his way to be an usher in his college friend's wedding. CeeCee Lyles was living a childhood dream to be a flight attendant, in the wake of a career in law enforcement. Lauren Grandcolas carried the spark of life within her, an unborn child three months along. And Bill Cashman himself a former Army paratrooper with the 101th Airborne had actually helped to build the World Trade Center with his own two hands.

And there were so many others whose names we just heard echo into the wind this morning. They were ordinary people but on that day they became extraordinary.

We all know the story, Flight 93 took off at 8:42 departing Newark to San Francisco. 46 minutes later terrorists seized control. At 9:35 the plane diverted toward Washington, D.C. The passengers called their loved ones only to find out what was happening across the country. They learned what the rest of America knew, the World Trade Center had been struck. The Pentagon had been hit, only a few moments after they were hijacked.

They figured out that the terrorists intended to use their plane for the same purpose. But as Tom Burnett told his wife on the phone, we're going to do something. And they did. The men and women of Flight 93 began to join together. They devised a plan in those short moments. They knew their objective. They not only planned but history records that they prayed together

with Lisa Jefferson, a phone operator on the ground below. We were told they prayed the Lord's Prayer. And recited those ancient words, "Though I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou are with me."

At 9:57 only after 27 minutes Todd Beamer spoke those words that America and the world will never forget. "Let's roll." They charged the cockpit. They took hold of their fate and six minutes later at 10:03, Flight 93 plummeted here to the earth. Brave men and women aboard. Sacrificed their lives for the country we call home.

We gather here today because the men and women of Flight 93 are heroes.

HARLOW: You're looking at the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where 40 heroes saved countless lives. Vice President Mike Pence recalling all of those on board United Flight 93 who took down their own plane that was believed to be heading potentially for the U.S. Capitol. He remembered those like a pregnant mother, the phone calls to their loved ones and what they decided to do together, men and women, he said, who looked evil squarely in the eye.

We remember all of them today as we do every year on 9/11.

Let's go back to John. He's in Florida covering the latest on Irma -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Poppy, thanks so much.

Look, Hurricane Irma not just a Florida event and really not just an American event. Not even close. It did so much damage in the Caribbean and only now are we getting a sense of the scope of damage in Cuba.

We heard earlier this morning at least 10 people had died there and our Patrick Oppmann who, you know, was in the midst of the storm for so many hours,

Patrick, you are now just surveying the damage. What are you seeing?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And 10 does make it one of the highest death tolls for any other storm so far and it's very unusual for Cuba to have so many dead because they do organize very well for storms here but obviously when it made impact here as a category 5 it was just overwhelming for the people who experienced it and overwhelming for the government.

We are in the center of Havana right now. You can still see these huge waves, the aftermath of Irma two days now after the storm came through here. There are still larger than unusual waves battering the shore. There was flooding over the weekend. The floodwaters have receded.

All of us these people are putting their belongings out because this area just yesterday was underwater and they're putting their belongings out to dry.

[10:45:05] There are huge pieces of concrete in the road. There are trees down everywhere. A lot of Havana still without electricity but that is slowly being restored, John.

So it is the pickup process, I expect the death toll to perhaps go higher as government authorities go door to door checking on people. You know, this storm had such an impact. Not just here in Havana where it wasn't even felt at its stronger but further down the island where we were when the storm came in. It was just so powerful, houses were flooded and blown over, and they're only beginning now to really take a full accounting of the destruction that Irma wrecked on Cuba.

BERMAN: Patrick Oppmann, that is so fascinating.

Again, Irma hit Cuba two days ago and it's taken two days to be able to get out to see all the damage that was done.

Patrick, our thanks to you and for your coverage of what is going on down there.

Here in the United States, still getting a sense of how much Irma did. Where the area of need is and where Irma is heading next. CNN about to hear from Brock Long, the director of FEMA.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


[10:50:19] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much. We're here talking to people, they're starting to come back in Naples, Florida. This is the best scenario of a bad situation.

Just think about it, not even 24 hours ago, not even close, they had something that looked like a fire hose coming down this street of wind and water, 140-mile-an-hour hurricane gusts. It set a record. Right here is where we were monitoring it.

But forget about that day. It doesn't matter anymore. They're all moving forward here. They're opening up the stores. They're getting back to life without power.

Big qualification. Storm surge here was not what it was expected to be but it was enough, flooded lots of homes, the significant damage. We're going to be learning more and more. This is a day of discovery.

Drew Griffin had his own journey up there outside Ft. Myers. People in a shelter not getting information, worried, frustrated. That's part of the reality heading into today, too. True.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, 6,147 people, the final count inside this arena, the arena that had roof -- held people fine. Everybody was safe. This morning, when they woke up, another headache as they all tried to evacuate. The road out of here is flooded. Many cars stalled. And that has created even more misery.

I want to bring in Maria.

Maria, you've been out here for how long now?

MARIA: Not too long. It was OK to leave, we left.

GRIFFIN: And your husband left?

MARIA: My husband left.

GRIFFIN: And he got his car?

MARIA: He got his car with no problem. Last night we were able to -- he was able to go home and he has said that everything was OK where we were at. Then the situation changed.

GRIFFIN: What happened?

MARIA: Water came and started coming in.

GRIFFIN: And the car got flooded?

MARIA: When he was over here on this street, the water got flooded. This was not flooded.


MARIA: Now the water started to shift location.

GRIFFIN: She's been out here several hours just waiting for her son, right, to pick him up?

MARIA: Yes. No, I was waiting for him now.

GRIFFIN: Now waiting for the son. So it's just lots of people, hundreds of people are still here. They won't let us inside, Chris, but I did go inside. There is water on the floor, but everybody is singing the praises of the Florida National Guard who ran this shelter.

I want to just share with you one picture that I think encapsulates what happened here. This was misery and these National Guardsmen and these policemen stepped up, did the job, kept everybody calm, kept everybody safe through a very, very rough night. And, you know, although everybody is complaining there are no complaints about the people that ran the shelter here. 6,147 under one roof here just outside of Ft. Myers -- Chris.

CUOMO: And the best news every single one of them made it through and are free to complain. You know, that is -- that is a beautiful outcome for those first responders because they got everybody through this disaster.

And you know, we call them angels on earth because more often than not that's what they are. They are the best of us who are here to help the rest of us. And now that's part of this day of discovery as well. Those first responders couldn't get out except in some isolated emergency situations last night, so they are out there getting waves of information.

That's why we're going slow about who was hurt, did people not make it through? What is the level of damage? A lot of this is just unknown here in Florida proper, let alone, John, in the Keys.

There are still a big and scary question mark hanging over that chain of islands because they are not fundamentally dissimilar, geographically, topographically from Cuba, from Puerto Rico, and we saw what happened there.

BERMAN: You know, our Bill Weir is in Key Largo and can't move right now because he doesn't have fuel to get out of his location and so many people who wants to chose to stay are in the same situation. It's a good sign, we see people out here walking, but the recovery just beginning.

You know, and Poppy, you had that discussion with Christine Romans. There's no sense yet of just how much this will cost because they haven't even seen all the damage that has been done yet.

HARLOW: Let's just remember that all of those first responders, all of those aide workers, John and Chris, as you know, the Red Cross dealing not only with the devastation of Irma and the havoc it is still wreaking as it moves north, but also the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

This is the time when Americans come together. As we heard the president say this morning, beautifully remembering 9/11, 16 years ago, this is when Americans come together and I think the two of you are certainly seeing it down there in Florida -- John.

BERMAN: Yes. Look, you know, I'm loathed to talk about the advances of social media and how it changes everything, but this to me felt like one of the first social media hurricanes.

[10:55:06] The entire country watching what was going on in Florida and the Caribbean first and then everyone in Florida experiencing it with each other as it was happening.

And Chris, you know, even while we were losing power, even while our equipment was all on the fritz, even while everything was getting really tough here in Miami, all the cell phones were working and people were seeing right here who were walking by who still lost their power said they were able to follow what was happening and keep track of their own safety on their phones.

CUOMO: Which is you know what, a good luxury to have, almost a necessity in situations like that because look at the alternative, the story we keep hearing about people who didn't know, the anxiety to this moment, the fear of the unknown, the anticipation is often the worst part of a situation like this, assuming you make it through.

So this is going to be a big day of discovery, John. We hope that the information is not too bad.

BERMAN: That's right. All right. Chris Cuomo, thanks so much in Naples.

Poppy Harlow in New York, we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

CNN's special live coverage of the aftermath in these places, but still the ongoing destruction of Tropical Storm Irma continues right after this.