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Report: Florida Governor Says Biggest Threat Is River Flooding in The North; Six Million Plus Without Power Across Florida; First Look at Florida Keys Hit Hardest by Irma. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR, FLORIDA: Because of downed power lines and debris and impassable roads. This morning I had the opportunity to travel with the coast guard and Admiral Schultz has surveyed damage throughout the west coast of Florida and the Keys. I want to thank the coast guard for this opportunity. Here's what we saw. We saw the remnants of the storm surge along the west coast and we didn't see -- I didn't see the damage I thought I would see. We clearly saw homes that were messed up. We clearly saw roofs that were off.

We clearly saw boats out of place and things like that, but we didn't see more damage and they're still on the roads and on the west coast and this is confirmed to the mayors I've spoken to today, it's not as bad as we thought the storm surge would do. When you get to the Keys, we were able to fly into Key West which was as of just a few hours before we landed had significant water still on it, but they worked to clear that. We went over all of that area. We saw a lot of boats washed ashore and we saw any, basically, any trailer park there overturned and I don't think I saw one trailer park and almost everything wasn't overturned and we saw lots of flood damage and from talking to the officials in the Keys, the water is not working, the sewer is not working and no electricity.

So, it is very tough. The national guard and this is, I think, General Michael Calhoun, they've already gone all of the way down to the Keys and all of the bridges are passable. The roads are passable. However, there is clearly bridge damage. There's clearly road damage, but you can get down there and traffic -- there's not a lot of traffic which is good. It's moving. My heart goes out to the people in the Keys. There's devastation. It's and I just hope everybody survived. It's horrible what we saw. Especially for the Keys, it's going to be a long road. There's a lot of damage. I know everybody wants to get back to normal.

I know everyone wants to get started, but again, you've got to be patient and you have to get the first responders in the Keys and we have to get the water again and the sewers going again and it will take a lot of time. I can tell you everybody at the local level, at the state level and the federal level, everybody is working hard. Our brave members of local, state and federal law enforcement, the national guard, military members have been working around the clock to save people's lives. We've got rescue teams with all sorts of equipment trying to make sure we don't lose anybody. If anybody is in harm's way you can call your local law enforcement and call the state emergency hot line which is 800-342-3775 and someone will show up.

We're working with FEMA. I can tell you that the White House has been outstanding. I've talked to President Trump three times yesterday. I talked to administrator Brock Long with FEMA. I talked to him multiple times yesterday. I have talked to so many cabinet members. I talked to Vice President Pence yesterday, the White House and everyone at the federal level is showing up and my belief is they're going to show up and they'll do everything they can. We've got -- and I'll talk a little bit about the missions, and the resources they're providing. The -- D.O.T. is working hard to clear the roads and inspect the bridges all across the state. D.O.T. needs to inspect bridges before the people go back to the barrier islands and things like that. It was a top priority after Matthew.

If you don't need to be on the roads, don't get out. Again, there are power lines and all sorts of things like that that we're working on. Let me just go on down. I've never needed to do this before. The U.S. Navy -- the Navy and Coast Guard will be providing resources, the USS Iwo Jimaand USS New York and the carrier Abraham Lincoln to provide search and rescue and other things.

[15:35:00] Power outages, we have 65 percent of the state without power. It's going to take us a long time to get power back. I've been talking to the utilities and I've having daily calls with the utilities to get power back on.

They'll do everything they can. I've been talking to nursing homes all morning. I've been talking to assisted living and everybody needs their power back on. I can tell you that they're bringing in 23,000 members. This is just what the utilities are doing and not including the support of the military.

Fuel. We're doing everything we can to get fuel back in the state. We had fuel shortages last week and we had outages and we had a lot of shortages. The two big parts are Tampa and Port Everglades. Both of them have fuel in their tanks that they had to have in their tanks during the hurricane. We are getting that out through our carriers and we're giving them law enforcement escorts. We are doing the same with the utilities to get the trucks out as much as possible. We are getting those down here as much as possible.

I can just tell you that everybody will work hard. We have to keep everybody safe. We've got to get our hospitals back open. We have to get our fuel back here and we have to get our roads open and we have to get everybody their electricity back and I can't tell you everyone that's not working and my experience is everyone is working their tail off and everyone will have to be patient because it will take a lot of work to get this done. This is not an insignificant storm. This impacted our -- and what's different here is it impacted the state. You can preposition assets on one half of the state and this one you couldn't because it was coming all of the way down the state so it is a lot of work.

So, I want to thank everybody starting with the president. I want to thank everybody at the federal government and I want to thank everybody at the local government and state government. They have busted their rear keeping us all safe and it's my distinct opportunity to introduce someone I've enjoyed traveling with today and I know that with his leadership the coast guard will be an unbelievable partner in this, Admiral Schultz.

ADMIRAL SCHULTZ, U.S. COAST GUARD: Thank you, governor. Good afternoon, as Elaine Duke said this morning the Department of Homeland Security has been preparing for Irma to arrive first in the Caribbean and here in Florida for the good part of more than a week. The coast guard has been reconstituting forces today.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We'll pull away. You were listening to rick Scott of Florida running through his takeaways from taking a tour both over Florida and then the Keys. A couple of the headlines and I'll bring in Lieutenant General Russel Honore. The river is flooding and just because you think you're in the clear will rivers will continue to rise and the storm surge in parts of Florida up to eight feet and especially in the Keys, and that was reiterated by Tom Bossert in the White House briefing prior to this. He was saying a lot of water and a lot of boats washed ashore. Trailer parks overflowed and the word he used was the devastating from the governor of Florida. General Honore is with me and he led the hurricane response after Katrina. You were taking copious notes as you were listening to the governor there, what of all of his points and observations made the biggest impression on you?

RUSSEL HONORE, RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL, U.S. ARMY: Well, the details, Brooke, that it took to pull that picture together and for them to start setting a priority of work. That is very important. The number one right now is to save lives, of course, and he reiterated there, but then to start waiting and this is where the state and the federal government will get the real test because there will be places and populations that will not be able to remain in their current location beyond a couple of days.

BALDWIN: How do you mean?

HONORE: Locations where you have a large number of elderly people that require extensive care that have been dislocated to shelters and those shelters may not have power right now. I would suspect there would be a relocation starting with some of the people in the Keys, particularly those that were elderly and sick that did not displace before to air and medevac them out. The second phase of the search and rescue after the assessment is done would be to take a look at the selective evacuation that needs to take place. You can't maintain that large number of people with bottles of water and with a few generators.

You can bring some of the infrastructure up in the Keys like a hospital. You can take prime power and you can take some BMGs and the big facility generators, and bring those systems back on line.

[15:40:00] But I think in the next 12 to 24 hours we may start seeing some selective evacuation out of the areas that you can sustain large populations in, but it's going to take them at least the rest of the day to assess where those are, Brooke. BALDWIN: So that's the Keys. Again, going back to what the White

House's point was, they said the federal focus both on the Keys and also Jacksonville which is where you see a lot of the flooding and what do you do if you're in the rest of Florida. To me, general, the huge story is if there are 6 million without power, 75 percent or so of just the city of Miami out of power, how do you advise people.

HONORE: Again, that is the time to start looking at the most vulnerable population. Those people that health will start to deteriorate because the power isn't to them or those that are in their homes that were able to survive the first 24 to 36 hours and the stay- home kit will start to expire. We told people have three to five days' supply of food. In the next 24 hours that will start to deteriorate and when people need food and water and they'll need to set up distribution points.

We have an enormous task right now to open those distribution points so people can get food and water in the communities they're in. The other one, Brooke, will be to command the highways and I thought we'll have much more stringent control of the interstate, but it looked like the state is going with a control by the cities as indication, the city of Miami is telling citizens not to come until tomorrow because we've got to get the troops deployed. We've got to the get the troops deployed and we've got to get the fuel deployed and those power companies in position.

From what I'm seeing here now is everything is headed in the right direction, but I hope that they start to plan and their assessments include what vulnerable population needs to be evacuated because you can't keep people surrounded by water beyond 24 to 36 hours, because you deplete the amount of food and water you have available there, particularly with that large grid is down.

BALDWIN: General Honore, I don't know how much of the video that you're seeing of these pictures over the FloridaKeys. The governor said and he took the aerial tour and we can trust him and he was the eyewitness in saying he didn't see the damage he thought he would see which is a good thing, but he did also point out as we're looking at now just all of the roofs gone, you know, boats toppled, cars turned over. I mean this was a powerful storm.

HONORE: Absolutely. And that brings us to the problem, if the estimate I saw at one time is that 5,000 people in the Keys. How do you sustain them there with the infrastructure that's broke and many of the housing is destroyed? That will be problematic and they'll have to selectively, I think, evacuate some of those people to other states until they can get the infrastructure up and get that place where it can operate safely and get the grid up, get the sewer system running and get the power plant back online that produced the water. So, I think those decisions will be coming and if my projections are right and my estimate is right within the next 12 to 24 hours we'll start seeing some selected evacuation out of Florida because there's no other safe place in Florida to maintain those size populations.

BALDWIN: General Honore, thank you as always for your time and your wisdom. You talked so much about the Keys. We have Bill Weir standing by in the Keys and my colleague John Berman is in Miami. John, over to you. I take that back. We'll go to break. We'll be right back.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-HOST: All right. John Berman in Miami. I'm in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami near Monty's, a well-known bar and marina here. You can just see what Hurricane Irma has done all around me and pushed all of these boats on to shore, destroying so many of them. The governor of Florida, Rick Scott just briefed the press and he's been all over Florida today. He took a tour up the coast, up the west coast in a helicopter and said it wasn't as bad as he feared, but when it comes to the FloridaKeys, he says he saw devastation. Our Bill Weir rode out the storm in Key Largo. He's been filing amazing reports from there for days. We want to the check in with Bill in Key Largo -- Bill.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're running on fumes. There's no gas here. The roads are cut off because they have to inspect the bridges an Instagram angel heard my call for help, her name is Shirley and she said hey, my friend Katherine's dad has gas in his shed. That's the shed over there, after climbing the roof, those angels bought us a few more hours of live shots because these days our car is our home and our office, but you get a sense of just one of the homes here and this scene is repeated in an apocalyptic streetscape here in a neighborhood, called winking, blinking and nod. This is around mile marker 97. That's how they gauge distance in this part of the Keys here and just about every home we've seen sustained some damage.

The mobile homes, obviously, more than others and the post-Andrew heavy stone construction seemed to have survived pretty unscathed, at least down here, but we're dying to get down south to the lower Keys, but the Florida Department of Transportation has to inspect all of the bridges before they're going to open up U.S. 1 and since there are 43 islands, you can imagine what a huge job that is and the people are hoping to get back to the Keys, you may have to wait a while.

[15:50:00] So, John, you can see here, some of the boat damage and just about all of the vessels here on the Atlantic side were heaved up by that storm surge as Irma came ashore. About at Cudjoe Key, what is that, Tiffany? What mile marker is Cudjoe? 26. We're at 97. So, 60-plus miles from here, so we'll do our best to bring you as many stories as we can while we look for a boat or a plane or any sort of transportation that can get us further down to the lower Keys because we hear about people in shelters. We hear about folks in Key West who are really anxious to checkup on. But until I send it back to you.

BERMAN: Unbelievable. Bill Weir in Key Largo getting fuel from a good Samaritan's shed who notice Bill was there via Instagram, so he could file some more reports from Key Largo. So, people could see what is going on down there so we can have the focus on the aid we need down there. Out thanks to Bill Weir for really inspiring reporting from Key Largo, and we appreciate that. Let's go up the coast to Bradenton where Diane Gallagher has been surveying some of the damage that has been done there. Diane, what are you seeing there? DIANE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. We don't

have the same situation of Bill has down there in Key West, but people here don't have power, a lot of them do not have water and as you can see we also have alleys full of aluminum. This is siding from people's homes in Bradenton and this is ripped off by the winds of Irma. This is right on the bay. I want to give you a live look from the CNN drone where we are located. You see bay there, and this neighborhood back here seemed to catch the brunt of the winds from Irma.

Nobody was here, and this is why it is so important to heed the evacuation orders, because the sheriff's office came by on Friday, I am told by the neighbors, with a bull horn saying you have to get out, this is dangerous. And this is when they thought that it would be an incredibly Category 3 direct hit to this area, and obviously, that is not what happened, but you can see that it is good news that people did not stay here, because look at this.

This sun porch here is crushed in and we have glass and the door is open, but there is no room. The furniture is still there, and the angels in the window are still here, but I have been seeing the people coming in and they have no idea with the carports just ripped to shreds and people are finding the sides of the homes and the roofs in the yards two to three streets over. One woman who came to check on her father-in-law's homes over here and she asked if we could use the drone to see the rooftop of the home up here because she didn't know how bad it was. While many are feeling lucky that the forecast did not come true in that a category three or higher slammed into the area, but if this is your home or your father or mother's home, because this is a are retirement community of 55 and older, you have a lot of work to do coming forward and the good news again, nobody was actually here when the storm hit.

BERMAN: That is the good news, Dianne Gallagher for us in Bradenton, and we are hearing that from the people who go through the storms and the message to the rest of America, imagine that if this were your home and if this happened to you, and the rest of Americans do have empathy for just that. All right. We will take a quick break, but lest you think that Irma is done as a storm, it is pounding two of the most beautiful cities in this country, Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: In my time remaining, let's get a check on where tropical storm Irma is and let's go to Tom Saterin the CNN weather center, and tom, all of the focus is on Florida, but as I am seeing the storm over into the deep south and the Carolinas and Tennessee and Alabama.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Brooke, it continues to break records, and it is just really something, all the way up into the Carolinas and North Georgia and records are falling. Nice to see the dry air to infiltrate the system and nice to have sunshine for the cleanup efforts, but of course, the rescuers continuing with the aid that needs to get out. As we are taking a look of this, there is a little bit of the wind coming in of course from the west coast, and we have not and will not see what is expected as far as some of the great damage of the surge after the storm made its way more inland and that is good news.

But even a couple of days ago we were talking about how this is 500 miles from Naples that we were going to be talk about Jacksonville, and Jacksonville, because early on with the storm being so broad, we were seeing this wind flow coming in to northern Florida, and they saw it first when the system was still well off shore off of the coast of south Florida, so we know what happened with Matthew a year ago, but now we are seeing the records broken and the surge is going to continue through the Carolina coast.

First watches and warnings and notice up here in the Jacksonville area, we are seeing the records that surpassed not only Matthew last year with the water shoved up into the St. John's rivers and Dora in the '60s.

[16:00:00] But since records stated in 1846. The Savanah River missing the record from Matthew by just 0.02 of an inch, but in the Charlotte area, we are seeing the records well over the battery and well into the downtown area. Again, 9.92 feet which is a half foot above the all-time record, and watches for rainfall across parts of Georgia. Now, when you look at the rainfall, it is interesting to note that for first time in history, we have a tropical storm warning for Atlanta and most of Georgia as it is continuing the make its way there, and we are getting the power outages across the state of Georgia and Alabama and South Carolina.

And most of the tornadoes, Brooke, continue to be with the flow on shore, and this is a big concern from the southern parts of Georgia up to Charleston and beyond. So, again, the records will continue to fall unfortunately.