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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Tallahassee Issue Storm Surge Warning; 6.5 Million Without Power in FLA, Could Be Out For Weeks; Irma Leaves Path Of Destruction Through Marco Island; Record Storm Surge Flooding Jacksonville, Florida; Hurricane Irma Tears Roads, Homes Apart Across Florida; 10,000 May Need To Be Evacuated From Florida Keys; Desperate Search For Missing Family Members In Florida Keys; Americans Trapped On Caribbean Island As Food, Water Run Low
Aired September 11, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:05] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, the breaking news, record flooding more than 6 million without power at this hour. Irma now slamming into Georgia and the Carolinas.
Plus, they left their home in the Keys for safer ground and days later, no one has heard from this Florida couple. We're going to talk to the missing woman's desperate sister.
And a vacation to an island paradise turning into a nightmare. My guest describes his very narrow escape from death.
Let's go OutFront.
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news, Irma's deadly impact. Tonight, the effects of this historic hurricane are still being felt at this hour beyond Florida. These are live pictures out of South Carolina. Irma's powerful storm surge leaving roads across the state under several feet of water and in Florida tonight, historic flooding.
The storm surge in Jacksonville worse than anyone expected, in fact, shattering the previous flooding record which was set back in 1964. The wall of water inundating homes and businesses. Moments ago, Tallahassee issuing a storm surge warning as well.
And as we look at these pictures coming in from across the street, you can see the grim extent of Hurricane Irma. Thousands are homeless, waiting right now for the OK to try to go home to see what is left of home.
In the Florida Keys, waterfront homes were ripped apart by Irma's wind, about a 130 miles an hour there. Canals, littered with debris. At this hour in the Keys, a search is under way for those who didn't make it out.
And further north in Naples, entire neighborhoods are uninhabitable at this hour. Statewide, the numbers from officials are tough to grasp. As I said, more than are 6 million people without power right now. That means food, fuel, also water right now scarce as they desperately try to get the power on and stores reopened. The power though, we understand in parts of Florida could be out for weeks.
Also tonight, the situation growing more dire in Cuba. The sun is now setting. Well, look at those images there of people in the water.
Rescuers are desperately trying to locate the missing, some are crushed by buildings which have collapsed. We don't know a death toll right now. At least 10 at this hour as far as we know and that number could go up.
We have our team of reporters, of course, across Florida and the rest of the country in the hardest hit areas. We begin with Bill Weir who is OutFront in the Florida Keys. And Bill, really, this is going to be the heart of it all as they're even able to get into the deep areas of the Keys. What is the situation there?
BILL WEIR, HOST, THE WONDER LIST WITH BILL WEIR: Well, that's it, there's so much uncertainty, Erin, the search and rescue mission under way. People don't know if their loved once got swept away or just incommunicado because there there's no power south of (INAUDIBLE) 85 -- well, they have no power at all but no cell service out of 85. So 85 miles of dead zone and the Keys are closed.
I never thought I'd say that and I never thought you'd never think look how calm the Atlantic Ocean is today that it could do this kind of destruction. Spin around and see what happens to homes built without foundations.
And look at this, this just struck me as a couple symbols, eat, sleep, fish. That is the sort credo of the conchs who live in this part of the world. But now sadly, this is the new symbol, that's the search and rescue sign on 9/11, an infamous date at 208, they searched this home, found zero bodies inside.
Hopefully all of these people got out. You think they would given how tenuous these places are. Now, as I mentioned before, the search and rescue operation is the main thing. You can here the helicopter, there's one going over ahead now.
We just saw a caravan of first responders including an engine from the Los Angeles Fire Department. It is -- the Calvary is coming from all over including the U.S. Navy sending an aircraft carrier down the Key West with humanitarian aid.
They're trying to inspect the bridges on this 43-mile chain as fast as they can. About half of those were completed by 4:00 today. You can imagine that's a big job, trying to get the road open, trying to get the power back on, are all intense things.
But, you know, this storm will be measured in billions and billions of dollars, Erin. But there's so much that you can't measure. The lives scattered, the family photos, the children's books I've seen here. It is just staggering when you try to take in the scope. And we haven't even gotten south yet which we will do tomorrow morning, getting on a boat to go see the hardest hit areas. BURNETT: All right, Bill, thank you very much. I think you brought it home there and you see those x's on the doors. Of course the x is a good sign, that means no one was found inside. But to imagine to see those numbers, 9/11 on the doors, the day that we are starting to assess this damage being this day in American history.
I want to go to Ed Lavandera now. We go, of course, Ed from the Keys and Bill to you where Marco Island, where Hurricane Irma then made the next landfall. And what do you see there, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're on the eastern edge of Marco Island, this is Goodland, Florida. A spec of a fishing village if you look on the map, sits between the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico.
[19:05:07] And as you mentioned, Erin, Hurricane Irma made its second landfall here as a category 3 storm. A 130 miles per hour winds, gusts at times reaching up to 140. And officials tell us that some 40 people rode that storm out here in this town.
Gary Stringer (ph), lives in this red house you see here behind me, I talked to him a little while ago. He was in one of those front rooms as the worst in the eye of the storm was coming just sawing it's way through this community. He says the house was rattling, he could hear this crackling sound and when he looked out of his side door, he realized that it was this giant tree.
And because it was the north side of the storm, the wind was blowing east to west. Had it been the other direction, this entire tree would have landed on top of his home and Gary tells us that he probably wouldn't have been doing that interview with us if that had happened to him.
He said -- he actually joked around, Erin, it's kind of funny he said, this is a town called Goodland. It's at often time they joke that it's called Gonnaland. He said, I was gonna evacuate but I didn't get around to it. So he said he will never do this again. This category 3 storm was enough for him.
As we have driven around this community, several hundred people call this community a fishing village. Several hundred people call this area home. It's definitely one of the hardest hit areas that we've seen here in Southwest Florida.
Trees and power lines down everywhere. A number of homes destroyed. The scene actually, you know, rather catastrophic here in this small town. We've seen people throughout the day coming back to try to assess the damage, people who evacuated and now trying to get back in here tonight. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, Ed, thank you very much.
And, you know, as we said the storm is still continuing. And we've got these deadly storm surges in Jacksonville, historic flooding. Kaylee Hartung is there, and Kaylee, this really has people scrambling throughout the day. KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It did, Erin. It was one of the biggest surprises that Hurricane Irma brought to Florida when the waters of the St. Johns River started rolling up right here down into the streets of Downtown Jacksonville. Record levels were being broken at every point in the day.
At the water's peak today, at high tide around 2 o'clock, waters were 5 1/2 feet above what they typically are at that high time. I wouldn't have dared hours ago then standing where I am now. This is one of the many entry points where you can see the water of this river lapping up over the seawall here and heading into Downtown.
Now, since that high tide peaks, well, the waters have receded some but you can see the visual of the damage here. This floating dock that normally would be rising and falling with the height of the water. The water that storm surge came up so strong it broke those floating docks to the point where they are pushed up against that wall unable to bob with the water as you would expect it to.
Now, these waters as they said have begun to recede but speaking with the mayor just a short while ago he said, don't be fooled by that. You may see pockets where the streets will dry out but when you think about how far back this water was at one point, three blocks into downtown, three blocks that way and the other direction to me. You just don't know where this water can go and governor Rick Scott has said in the coming days the floodwaters from these storm surges in Northern Florida will be of the biggest concern, Erin. The folks in Jacksonville believe that.
BURNETT: And so they're not saying that it's safe and as the tide goes out now the storm is passed, that's the bottom line, right Kaylee?
HARTUNG: That is the bottom line. And you can see expectators all around. We've seen this all day even when the floodwaters were nearly up to my waist. But officials here saying go up not out, these floodwaters are still incredibly dangerous, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Kaylee, thank you very much from Jacksonville.
And OutFront now, Roman Gastesi, he is Monroe County administrator, that includes the Florida Keys. Now, Roman, you know, at the beginning of our program we were talking about the Florida Keys and obviously the bridges aren't all inspected, there's no power, there's no cell service.
We just don't know what happened there and we don't know whether the people that did choose to stay are OK. What are you hearing right now?
ROMAN GASTESI, MONROE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR (via telephone): Well, that is exactly right. And first of all, thank you for having me.
Well, you know, we're getting down to the Keys and we're having a recovery effort and the sheriff's folks are out, the various police departments are out. The streets are starting to get cleared, and we're starting our recovery process and that's where we're at.
We're also concerned about folks wanting to come down, luckily we have a way to control that. We have a control point up at the top of that northern part of the Florida Keys and we're controlling access. We only want essential folks to come down that can help us in the recovery. It's creating a lot of frustration because people want to get home and see their homes and see their boats and stuff.
[19:10:01] But, you know, I think some time tomorrow we'll probably let them in. We haven't established that yet but -- especially in the upper Keys, we'll probably do it by zones and let them in. In the upper Keys where things are little better off and then -- you know, in the next day or two we'll allow everybody to go in. The Florida Department of Transportation has looked at the bridges and they're looking pretty good.
BURNETT: And that's a good thing that the bridges are looking good. Obviously, some of the images we've seen at least to the northern part where things weren't hit as hard are pretty devastating. I mean, it's pretty overwhelming.
Are you -- is everyone accounted for in the southern parts of the Keys or you must still not know, there have to be a lot of questions, right?
GASTESI (via telephone): Yes, there still a lot of questions like you say. We're getting a lot of e-mails and a lot of facts and things, people saying that their loved ones haven't checked in.
And like you reported early on, most of the Keys are in the dark. I mean, it's just black, you know, so it's very frustrating. No internet service, no cell phone service. And the irony is that, the few people that have landline, the good old fashioned landline, those are the people that we're able to talk to.
BURNETT: Well, that says something right there. And now, you know, you're talking about controlling access, Roman, and obviously Highway 1 is really the only road, right, that runs in the mainland to Key West, is said to be under water in parts. And I know you're checking the bridges but, is the road going to be OK?
GASTESI (via telephone): It is, it is. It's not that bad of shape. There's a couple of spots that are pretty bad but the crews have already put some sand and things over it to kind of compacted it and made it passable, so that's the key.
So right now, I think we can report that it's passable. It's not perfect but it's passable and it's a 120 miles, you know, (INAUDIBLE) roads with connected by 43 bridges. So, it's a lot of work and I think we'll get there. There's no doubt that we will bounce back.
BURNETT: Well, that's a pretty incredible feat that that would be OK, and I know as we said half those bridges are checked. They're doing OK so far so that's miraculous as well.
I want to ask you, Roman though, our reporters in the Keys at various places are reporting obviously shortage of gas but also other supplies. Are you getting what you need? Right. If there are people in there who are trapped, are they going to be able to get -- are they getting food, water?
GASTESI (via telephone): Yes. Things are running low, there's no doubt about that but we have a couple C-130s coming in today down at Key West. They've been great, the military's been great. The state departments have been great. So we'll get the supplies needed down here, no doubt.
BURNETT: All right, well, Roman, I appreciate your time. Good luck tomorrow. I know it's going to be a crucial day and our thoughts are with those who are right now in the dark zone that we're going to hear from them and they're safe. Thanks.
GASTESI (via telephone): Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, this Florida couple was actually in the Keys when Irma hit. Now, you see them there but no one has heard from them. I'm going to speak with a relative who is desperately trying to find her sister and brother-in-law.
Plus, thousands of Americans are still trapped on devastated Caribbean Island. There's little food and water there. It can be very dangerous. I'm going to talk to one Boston man about how he finally made it out.
And the Florida Keys, that island chain, completely cut off by Irma. The Florida Senator Bill Nelson just back from a military flight over that area. This are the first images that are going to come in from that devastated southern part of the keys. He'll be OutFront.
[19:16:55] BURNETT: Tonight, fears growing over potential damage after Hurricane Irma battered Florida, roads, homes, torn apart. Officials just trying to get a sense here to grasp how widespread the destruction is. It is though very clear that it will take years to recover from Irma.
Miguel Marquez is OutFront in Punta Gorda, Florida, and Miguel, how are people there to coping. We're just trying to get the first sense of how awful this was.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were fairly lucky here because that storm is headed straight for Punta Gorda then it turned off to the right or off to the east and the brunt of it didn't get through here but still, look at this sort of damage. This tree, probably 100 years old or so, the house that is right next to it, amazingly enough it fell and basically only brushed the house.
But this town is cleaning up and trying to recover while Irma is still churning.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARQUEZ (voice-over): Hurricane Irma slamming Florida, heavy rain, strong winds and it is still on the move making it's way up the southeastern edge of the U.S. Now weakened to a tropical storm, the danger not yet over. Streets flooded from the Florida Keys to South Carolina.
Tonight, more than 6 1/2 million people are without power in Florida alone. Jacksonville hit with a record Irma generated surge, turning its streets into rivers. Storm surge warnings in effect for much of the Western Florida coast and the entire Georgia coast. Charleston now feeling Irma's wrath as waves crash on to its shores.
Ripping through the middle of Florida late Sunday, Irma battered the entire state with sustained winds and massive wind gusts. Rescue efforts continue for those who stayed to wait out the storm.
In Martin County, Florida's treasure coast, a marine unit dispatched after two people tried to ride out the storm on their sail boat. They survived.
And a scuba diver, his life dangling by a rope rescued near West Palm Beach. The storm delivering more than just destruction, Coral Springs emergency crews were called out to help deliver a baby in the height of the storm using their armored vehicle to navigate through strong winds and high water.
ASST. CHIEF JOHN WALEN, CORAL SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT: When we got there, she was pretty much all the way -- almost all the way out. The mother of the person in labor was actually pretty much delivering the baby, her own granddaughter in the bathroom on the floor.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Wow.
WALEN: And I've never met or seen a more calm scene in the chaos that was going on outside.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Miami streets flooded and left with huge sink holes leaving hazardous conditions as cars try to steer through the murky waters. The cost of the damages yet to be assessed. One estimate, it will top Hurricane Katrina even before it hit Florida.
MARQUEZ: Now, one of the biggest issues here in Punta Gorda and across the county of Charlotte is electricity like much of the state. About 40% of the people still don't have electricity but that's that (INAUDIBLE), 65% this morning didn't have electricity.
The problem is, trees like this came down everywhere. Wires, electrical lines came down in neighborhood after neighborhood so you go from one place to another and there's no neighborhood street to street.
[19:20:09] It's going to be a long time before they're fully recovered. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, Miguel, thank you.
And of course right now, when you talk about recovery, it is also about just finding people. With the power out, the cell phone service out, it is impossible in some cases. Tonight, one woman desperately trying to find her sister and brother-in-law.
Terry Shaw Perez and Carlos Perez were last heard from Saturday night. They were staying at a friend's house on Big Pine Key which was hit hard by the storm. And OutFront now is Terry Shaw Perez's sister Amy Fridley, and Amy, thank you.
Look, we know there's a lot of power issues and cell phone issues. I know you were in touch with your sister throughout the day on Saturday as the storm was coming. When was the last time you heard from her and what did she tell you at that time?
AMY FRIDLEY, SEARCHING FOR MISSING SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW (via telephone): The last time I spoke with her was shortly after 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. They were -- the last thing she said was they were getting ready to go into a small closet underneath the stairs.
BURNETT: And so they knew this was going to be scary. I know they had gone to a place higher elevation as much as one could say that in the Keys. Amy, look, I know so many people are without power and cell phone service in the Keys. No one has been able to get in there so hopefully they're fine and they're just not able to communicate with you but, this wait must be agonizing.
FRIDELY (via telephone): It's very stressful. I'm praying it's just a cell phone issue, you know. I need my sister and I just want some contact.
You know, we had a short video call on the 9th also and there was a moment where her and I just looked at each other, you know, and kind of stared at each other for a minute. You know, we have a really strong bond and we just stared at each other and kind of, you know -- we knew it was going to be bad but I just kept going back to that moment, you know.
BURNETT: And I know you're seeing her face, of course. Do you -- I know obviously she's -- wherever she is and we all are hoping of course that she is safe and it's just a cell phone issue, a power issue right now in terms of your communication. So, she's probably not seeing this, obviously, but if you could get a message to her right now, Amy, what would it be?
FRIDLEY (via telephone): I would tell her that, you know, I love you and don't stop. I'm going to find you and bring you home.
BURNETT: And Amy, I know you talked about how they had gone in that utility closet, they were doing everything they could to stay safe. And I know they didn't feel safe in their own home which I know was in Cudjoe Key. They have left there and they had tried to go to someone else's home. They obviously -- it sounds like really did try to evacuate. FRIDLEY (via telephone): Yes, we have -- I personally begged her, you know, just leave, just leave and it got so close and it became a gas issue. The house they went to in Big Pine Key was a little more sturdy, they felt, more secure.
She mentioned they had I guess metal shutters or, you know -- that's kind of what it boiled down to. They just felt they'd be more safe there.
BURNETT: And of course we heard all about those gas shortages. Well, Amy, look, I'm thinking of you in that moment when you looked in your sister's eyes right before and hopefully you will have a moment like that again in the next day or two when the cell service comes back. And hopefully you find her and we'll be thinking of you as you wait. Thank you.
FRIDLEY (via telephone): Thank you so much.
BURNET: And that is of course the human toll here as people are waiting and wondering and not knowing. People like Amy looking for her sister.
Thousands of Americans are also still stranded in the Caribbean and they are on islands with little food, little water, little power and in some cases lawlessness and violence. I'm going to talk to one man who did not think he would get out alive.
And across Florida, more than 6 million people without power tonight across the country right now as the storm moves into Georgia and the Carolinas. You're now looking at numbers closer to 9 million Americans. Could it really take weeks before that power comes back?
[19:28:41] BURNETT: Breaking news, the National Guard plane just arriving in San Juan with Americans evacuated from the islands of St. Martin. Nearly 5,000 Americans are trapped on that devastated island. Large swaths of that island were completely destroyed when Irma came through. And now you're dealing with a shortage of food and you're dealing with violence and lawlessness.
The storm leveled significant portions of many Caribbean islands. At least 36 people so far are known to have been killed. And so far, over 1,200 Americans have been evacuated from Puerto Rico.
Polo Sandoval is actually OutFront in San Juan. Some of those flights coming in from islands, I know one landing moments ago, Polo from St. Martin. What do we know about the Americans that are on this flight?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, we know that many of them are American students, some of them American tourists whose vacations turned into virtual nightmares when the storm ripped through St. Martin. All of them have been making this 45-minute flight here to San Juan, Puerto Rico thanks to the folks at the Puerto Rican National Guard. And making their way here too in unused check-in terminal at the airport that is now has a new life for serving as the first step in what still going to be a long journey home. Many of the people that I've had a chance to speak to the last -- in the last few hours, Erin are trying to make their way back to the actual mainland. But I tell you, when they arrive here there is a sense of relief and also they all appear obviously extremely exhausted.
Many of them have been hunkered down in St. Martin basically scrapping for food, anything that they can find. So as you can imagine, many of the people are overcome with this sense of relief the moment that they set foot on -- here in Puerto Rico.
The last thing I should mention, Erin, what we've also seen is this tremendous outpouring of support from the people on this island. I've seen people come in with supplies, food, water for these individuals that have had not had any of that for the last several days. The way one police officer put it to me, Erin, had it been there island that was devastated, they certainly would want the same support.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: You know, Polo, Irma devastated many islands, right? But St. Maarten among them, and I know you got a flight there. People are going to come off any moment. But, you know, there could be 5,000 more Americans, as our understanding, still trapped on that island.
There is food issue. There's a water issue. There's a power issue. There are reports of armed gangs and lawlessness.
I mean, how bad is the situation?
SANDOVAL: There was one gentleman who I spoke to, he's originally from Boston but he was vacationing there in St. Maarten. He was hunkered down in a hotel and at one point, there were these individuals that were going door to door breaking doors down, trying to get their hands on anything they can, particularly food. So, some of the hotel staff essentially recruiting, some of these abled body men to double as security to try to protect what little they have.
So, that I think gives you an idea of what is really happening about 45 minutes away from here but certainly something that the situation could get even worse by the day.
BURNETT: All right. Polo, thank you very much.
OUTFRONT now, one very lucky American who went to the storm on St. Maarten.
Brian Poe was celebrating his anniversary at a resort on the island and, of course, really destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
Brian, thank you for being with me tonight. You're here. You're safe and sound, as is your wife.
I mean, tell me what happened. BRIAN POE, RODE OUT HURRICANE IRMA IN ST. MAARTEN: That was -- that
was a wild little vacation. We were very lucky to be in the hands of some really good people as the storm came through.
I think the weirdest part for any was to look at it as we all do as New Englanders, we're strong, we can handle a snowstorm and you're like, ah, a hurricane, no big deal. And as it started to become real the first two days before, we started trying to book flights out, things like that and they were saying, we couldn't get you out. The airlines couldn't.
And then as it came closer to the storm, they called a meeting, Alex Canton (ph), who I speak often as a hero, the general manager pulled everybody in for a meeting in the room, the ballroom and said, listen, we're going to have a really bad storm tonight. This is a very serious storm. It's coming in as category 5. We need you all to listen, and go to your rooms, get pillows and blankets, we're going to come here and we're going to ride the storm out in the ballroom.
About 4:00, 4:30 in the morning, we hear glass shatter out side the area we were resting and security comes in and says everybody move, and as we moved away from there, we went into the center ballroom and the ceiling started to collapse there, and Alex said everybody get against the wall. The hotel staff and security and Alex pulled us down into a kitchen in the basement which I knew my way around the kitchen I thought, and we got down there and that started to flood and he said, here's what we're going to do. We're going to run through the eye of the storm but you have to go fast, you have to listen to me, you have to follow what I say. We'll get in the corridor of the hotels.
As we ran to the eye of the storm, as the kitchen started to flood there, we looked around it was the weirdest sort of calm with one wave splashing and all of a sudden, we got through it and it just all broke loose and -- it -- we got fourth floor, then we moved up because that started to flood. We got on to the fifth floor and it was shattering and flooding and waves and crashing and all sorts of insanity, insulation blowing everywhere.
We rode that out huddled as a group, kind of swaying with the wind most. And he kept running up and down the stairs checking on everyone in that corridor. And then as we got through that piece, it was the most amazing, unbelievable thing to see what was destroyed and what had happened there, but to look up and see my wife and know that we made it.
BURNETT: You must have been afraid, right, at that moment that you were not going to make it?
POE: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.
So -- but I think the bizarre part as we looked up and had that leadership in front of us and as it ended, there was a point somewhere where the winds started to die a little bit but we were still praying for the wind to stop, that we all started to look around and think that we might've made it and I think it became very -- was the aftermath. You can't even imagine -- I couldn't even imagine before or in the middle of it that what we would see next as far as the destruction and all the things that were destroyed and the resort itself being gone and the roof being taken off our room, and not knowing where any of our belongings were and people with children and there were -- the children were back home.
And there was a couple next to us from Michigan that had a 1-year-old, the fear in their eyes, the rationing of the food, the sharing, the lack of electricity and plumbing and things that were less savory, if you will, that came next.
[19:35:07] And then the fear of -- we never -- I never actually saw the looting, but the rumor that we had to get out of there to a shelter before that became a problem became a very real situation.
BURNETT: When you finally found you could get out and you were -- I mean, in whatever way to make your way to the airport and whatever that drive was like, what did you see?
POE: What happened was they had sent us once to the tarmac with the entire group in the hotel, saying that we would be able to get off because a plane's coming from Miami to Punta Cana on end with supplies. As we got to the airport, they found that they couldn't get the plane in because the whole -- there was nothing to see except for like a massive just -- there were cars moved out of parking lots.
There were boats -- I thought it was homes. And we looked closer, and it was just all boats piled up in a big pile from the storm. There all these homes without tops. There were people on the road. There was police and everything going and as we get -- as we get there to the first time, we got to go back to the shelter, but at least we have a shelter to go back too. And the shelter, the beds were like the lawn chairs that you would lay on the beach on.
And we had -- we head back, we still have each other, we're all together, and then we were -- word that came through that they would let 24 Americans on a military plane. So, we all ran quickly and lucked out and got on that bus and there was 24 of us. We did a count. We were only allowed one bag to carry. We had already given our stuff away the first time to the islanders because they had nothing left.
So, we didn't eat, we'll let these guys eat. They're going to be here. Let's get to the airport. And they got there and said, we're so terribly sorry, there's been a misunderstanding. So, they load us back up on the bus.
They drive three quarters of a mile, seems about that far down the road where all of a sudden someone in the back, there's a car chasing us and waving us down and they -- everybody was in tears and they had us turn back around and as fast as you could blink, they said hold your passport next to your face and we were walking on the back of a military airplane.
Next thing you know, we had some of the best airline service I ever had in my entire life, thanks to the military there. I believe it was the 106th Rescue that got us across safely. They had come down to help a young lady with diabetes, they realized there was more waiting and they were kind enough to let us on and go.
BURNETT: Wow. Brian, it is an incredible story and -- and as you say, what incredible people there were there who are not able to leave, who are helping you and saving you and I know you are so grateful to them and wow, thanks so much for telling us the whole thing and happy anniversary.
POE: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, millions without power and some of them might be without it for weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: They're worried about not having any power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, probably within two days, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And new video we are just getting. This is the first time that you're seeing all the way across the Florida Keys. What does it look like tonight?
[19:41:53] BURNETT: Breaking news: new satellite images of the Florida coastline before and after Hurricane Irma. These pictures are from the National Weather Service and they show the sediment that was stirred up by the storm in the shallow water, along the southern Florida coast. Meanwhile, across Florida, millions are in the dark without electricity, more than 6 million, about 6 1/2 million just in Florida alone don't have service. So, that's about 65 percent of the state.
By the way, when you add in Georgia and the Carolinas now, you're getting a couple million more that don't have power. In Florida, officials say could be weeks before electricity is restored. That's a terrifying thought when you think about it.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT in Sarasota.
And, Alex, look, this is where things go from being tough and difficult and a long road ahead to possibly chaotic and terrifying, right? Power is the crucial thing. What are you seeing in terms of progress there?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are making some steady progress but this is a monumental task.
And I just want to show what we've been seeing today. This is a crew from Florida's biggest power company, Florida Power and Light. We've seen crews like this all around the area today. That man up in the basket up there, he is repowering that line that
had been struck by tree limbs, and what means is that they will be reestablishing electricity to around 500 businesses and homes. The CEO says that his crews are working 24/7. He has called this the most widespread damage in the company's history.
They have so far restored electricity to a million customers but as we saw today, there's a lot more work to be done.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Steve and Laura Brady got back to their house today bracing for the worst.
LAURA BRADY (ph), RESIDENT: I was really worried that we were going to have the big pine up front there, you can see it, I was afraid it was going to go through the bedrooms.
MARQUARDT: We met them at a shelter on Sunday, as Hurricane Irma was bearing them, with their 10-year-old Payton and their dogs Stella and Monty.
STEVE BRADY, RESIDENT: We boarded up our home. It was a very long Friday, boarded up the whole house on Friday, and got here 7:30 yesterday morning.
MARQUARDT: They're now back, but like more than 6 1/2 million others in Florida without power.
(on camera): Are you hunting around for a generator or are you worried that's what it might come to?
S. BRADY: We have friends with generators right now. We're not really hunting around at the moment. But we just got back here, so a few days from now, it might be a different story.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Power's out for the whole street, including the home of Philip and Beverly Dennen (ph). Philip, a Korean war vet, needs electricity for his oxygen supply.
PHILIP DENNEN (ph), RESIDENT: I have enough bottled oxygen to last for several days and we have enough gasoline that I could get out of the car to run the generator for several days. But without power, we'd be in real trouble.
MARQUARDT: The state's biggest power company, Florida Power and Light, is frantically working on restoring service. For some, it will be hours, for others, weeks.
DAVID MCDERMITT, FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT: It could take weeks because not only do we have to repair parts of our system in some cases, we're going to have to do a complete rebuild.
MARQUARDT: The White House says it is mobilizing the largest ever number of power workers to help. TOM BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: We will have line restoration
workers from every company in this country from states all over the country, but also from Canada, coming to Florida to help restore the lines.
[19:45:09] MARQUARDT: In the wake of Irma, cities and towns today are getting back on their feet.
(on camera): These are what's known as the TFIT or Tactical First-In Teams, the first groups of authorities, the tip of the spear, if you will, out here on Sarasota's barrier islands, assessing the damage after the storm, and clearing these roads so that residents can get back as soon as possible.
(voice-over): Most like the Bradys are grateful they can even get home, even if it takes weeks to get back to normal, everyone knows this could have been far worse.
L. BRADY: We are so lucky compared to what just happened in Texas. It's a big deal. I mean, it is a big deal and it stressed me out pretty bad and but -- I can kind of breathe a sigh of relief tonight I think once I get to sit down.
MARQUARDT: Well, as you can hear, there are people who are still very understanding. The frustration has not yet set in. That could, of course, change very quickly. There's a big difference between days and weeks.
Erin, as you mentioned off the top, this problem is not just limited to Florida. As the storm has moved north so to have the power outages. And just to give you a quick few numbers, there's some 900,000 people in Georgia without power, 167,000 in South Carolina, some 13,000 in North Carolina, all with some difficult days ahead -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Alex. And, of course, as we say, power, power is what it all comes down to. That was the real miracle of what Houston did so amazingly, that power stayed on.
And next, new video just coming in on the Florida Keys. We told you, no one's able to get below Key Largo. Well, guess what? Someone did, took all this video and he's going to be my guest as this video comes in at this moment.
And America was attacked 16 years ago today, and tonight, we remember what happened and those who lost their lives. New York tonight lighting the sky to commemorate the loss of the Twin Towers.
[19:50:47] BURNETT: Breaking news: tonight, officials telling CNN they're preparing to evacuate up to 10,000 people from the Florida Keys. The devastation there stunning. This is new video that is just coming in at the Keys, the chain of islands that were most ravaged by Hurricane Irma's strike. Rescuers right now are unable to reach many parts of these islands because of the devastation.
OUTFRONT now, Kent Anderson. He is a filmmaker from Palm Beach. He just flew over Florida Keys from top to bottom, giving us these first images.
And, Ken, you know, we have been talking to people who are in parts of the Keys. Obviously, much of it without power or self service. They're not able to get to the bottom. They don't know whether people are OK, and missing or people have perished. What did you see?
KENT ANDERSON, JUST FLEW OVER THE FLORIDA KEYS & SAW THE DAMAGE FIRST HAND: Well, we saw -- we saw a lot. There was a lot of destruction throughout all the way from Miami down to Key West. The most -- most of the devastation was around Big Fine Key near Marathon.
And it was -- we saw a lot of boats that were sunken, we saw a lot of trailer homes were all piled up and some were blown into the nearby water. And it was really sad.
We didn't see many people out on the streets, so that was good. So, hopefully most of the people were evacuated or got out of the keys. From -- yes.
BURNETT: No, I was going to say, when you say Marathon where you saw it looked some of the worst. When you look at the map of the Keys, Marathon sort of right in the middle, right, between Key West end to one end and, of course, Miami on the other. What did it look like there that made that feel to you that was sort of the worst hit area?
ANDERSON: Well, you could -- you -- you could clearly see a lot of the roofs were blown off, houses missing shingles and that were all over the keys. Really, you could see the plywood underneath and just even -- some of that was even gone or removed on a lot of the houses. You could see lines where tornadoes had ripped through.
You could see the boats just blown completely up on land. Lake sale boats that were not trailered or anything or have no other reason to be up on land. They were lifted and carried up off the land. So, it was -- it was that area was definitely, you could tell that it was the most heavily impacted by the hurricane.
BURNETT: And, Kent, I know, you know, you said you didn't see a lot of people on the streets. You know, just a moment ago I don't know if you heard, but they said, you know, they think there's about 10,000 people who did try to ride out the storm in the Keys and now, they may want to evacuate them obviously right now.
You know, we were trying to reach someone in Marathon. There's no power. You know, you just not able to do it.
But did you see any evidence of 10,000 people or how many people did you see or?
ANDERSON: I didn't. What we saw was we saw -- we heard on the radio a search and rescue helicopters that were out there, we saw three or four. They seemed to be either Navy or Coast Guard. And our initial intention for going down there was to bring relief
supplies and we brought -- repacked our plane full of water and other supplies but we were not able to land down there. The runways were just not in the condition for us to be able to land. Hopefully, it'll be cleared tomorrow and we'll be able to go back down there.
But we saw just a few cars out on the road and they seemed to be mostly emergency operations.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much for coming on for telling us and hope you have better luck tomorrow. Thank you.
ANDERSON: Of course. Good night.
BURNETT: And tonight, it is September 11th. And we all remember, if you were old enough to remember anything on that day, you remember where we were. And tonight, the beams are lighting up over New York.
[19:58:51] BURNETT: On this day in 2001, America was attacked, and 2,977 people in New York City, in Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, were murdered. Today, we remember and we honor them.
In the annual tribute and light with those 88 searchlights are reaching skyward, near to the point, of course, where the World Trade Center's Twin Towers once stood. You can see it from at least 50 miles away. And today was President Trump's first 9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the families with us on this anniversary, we know that not a single day goes by when you don't think about the loved ones stolen from your life. Today, our entire nation grieves with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURENTT: And the poignant moment you see there, the American flag was on unfurled over the exact spot at the Pentagon where the jet struck 16 years ago today.
And in New York, the annual reading of the names of the incident who died in the attack. There's still such great pain and 16 years later, there are still unanswered questions about how the attack was orchestrated. We remember the victims and our hearts are with their families who deserve those answers tonight.
Thanks for joining us.