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Irma Slams Florida With Heavy Rain And Winds; North Miami Beach Officers Rescue 4-Month Old Baby; American Red Cross: 127,000 In Shelters In Florida. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But in the dark, with all that debris and all the power lines that are down, you know, you just can't do it -- it's unsafe. Even still, we haven't had, you know, the clearing crews go out yet. The storm's still ongoing.

So what was it like for your team to have to get out in the storm yesterday to get to that mom? How did you find out and how did that go -- that rescue?

MAJOR RICHARD RAND, HURRICANE INCIDENT COMMANDER, NORTH MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT (via Skype): Well, first of all, I have to say a big thank you to our first responders. Our North Miami Beach Police Department really, really, really stepped up.

Our policy is that at 40 mile an hour sustained winds we pull all emergency vehicles off of the road because it's just simply not safe for our first responders. God forbid one of them gets in an accident. Now we have two emergencies on hand.

So, the story came out yesterday. We got a phone call from a neighbor -- for a 911 call -- frantic, telling the police -- saying that his neighbor is a single mother and has a 4-month-old child in the house. The streets are flooded, two to three feet of water, and it's rising very quickly and that he's concerned that the mother's trapped inside the house with a 4-month-old.

We immediately deployed our emergency response team and our MRAP, which is a unique vehicle that we purchased years ago from the military for occasions just like this.

The vehicle was sent out into the neighborhood, was able to make its way to the home, pulled up, the operators jumped out of the truck with a medic. They breached the front door, took the baby out of the mother's arms, and took the mother and the baby and put them in the MRAP and took them to a shelter. Incredible work.

CUOMO: And done under the worst of conditions. Obviously, the storm still very much in effect there.

You know, luckily for you, the preparation and having the right tools. That was part of the story heading into the storm is that, you know, you guys are so uniquely equipped and prepared and motivated when it comes to disasters. And that piece of equipment, you know -- those MRAPs for people at

home, I think you were seeing video of them -- they have a specially designed hull that was originally designed to distribute force during a blast if they went over something. But their hull works very well in water situations like yesterday, as well, don't they, Major?

RAND: Yes, they do. As a matter of fact, I had my crews out there all night.

We had a double stabbing in the middle of the worst part of the storm. I sent the same emergency response team.

We located two victims that were stabbed and because we couldn't get rescue out there we actually transported the two victims to the trauma center, went back, located the subject who committed the stabbing, took him into custody and transported him, as well.

I mean, this vehicle saved lives last night -- incredible -- and it's out there today pulling large trees off the roadways.

CUOMO: The vehicle is only as good as the man or woman behind the wheel and this is going to be a story of unbelievable effort by good people, the best among us, to help the rest of us.

So, Major, thank you very much for taking the time. Let us know how we can help, what information needs to get out there. Consider us a resource and please stay safe. Still plenty of things that can go wrong in this storm.

RAND: Yes, and thank you, and we'll keep our prayers out there.

CUOMO: All right.

Alisyn, it's needed. You know, people always think it's a throwaway line but when you have no power, when people can't get out there to help you, very often all you have is who's around you and if you're lucky, the hope that something greater will sustain you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, Chris, what a story. I mean, and thank God that those neighbors called the police about that 4-month- old baby and thank God the police were able to get there.

So, Chris, obviously we'll check back with you.

Meanwhile, we want to say that Daytona Beach is being hit really hard and CNN's Sara Sidner is in the thick of it. Sara hanging on while being pelted by rain and hurricane force winds. We go to her for a report, next.


[05:37:20] CUOMO: Hurricane Irma still very much in full effect, a category one hurricane pounding the northern parts of Florida after making her way through the entire state. Here's what we know right now. You're going to be seeing live pictures of what this storm is doing to communities still. We are in the dark here in Naples because there is no power. Some of

the four million Floridians without power are here. Six million were evacuated.

There are over 150,000 in shelters still as the sun comes up this morning at some point. We're all waiting for it because we need it not just to see, but to shed light on the situations that you're going to see all over this state. Six million had to get out, 150,000 are in shelters, four million have no power.

Now, the worst numbers to talk about will be those who didn't make through the storm and, frankly, those stories are out there but they are too early to confirm and too early to discuss. We have to know everything before we start talking about that because we don't want to give any false hope.

Now, let's deal with this current situation.

We want to get right now to Steve Garten. He is the Flagler County emergency manager. He's up there in Palm Coast.

And Steve, what you've seen -- we all knew it was going to be bad but you're dealing with even more -- with more than what's expected.

STEVE GARTEN, PUBLIC SAFETY EMERGENCY MANAGER, FLAGLER COUNTY, FLORIDA (via Skype): We did. I mean, this wind field is actually rapidly expanding as the storm came north and we already have approximately 90 percent of our citizens in Flagler County out of power.

CUOMO: And as the governor was saying to try to prepare people -- and, you know, that's why the evacuation calls were so constant -- it's not just about being out of power, it's about how long, right? What are you thinking in terms of what the variables are for dealing with that?

GARTEN: We're anticipating wind -- again, current winds sustained about 40 miles an hour with gusts up to 60 and that's -- you know, that's a strong tropical storm force winds and we're probably going to see that go all the way into about noon if not later, today. So we still have a lot of hours to go to ride this storm out.

CUOMO: Now, ordinarily, you don't want to get out there as first responders in those kinds of conditions. Is that still the thinking now or are you going to adjust the plan based on what the storm is doing?

GARTEN: We're going to adjust the plan. But, I mean, just like you said before, we're waiting for daylight to get out to survey the amount of damage. Ultimately, we have a curfew in effect until noon and we're going to make sure that the roads and every -- and the bridges we have are safe well before we let the public out on the roadway.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, you know, we're watching it here. It's pitch black except for a couple of radio antennae and we're seeing headlights every once in a while. And too often, we're hearing a crunch and then you see those lights

stop. You don't see what's in front of you. Even the headlights can betray you in these types of situations.

[05:40:12] What is your message to the people in Flagler County? Desperation sets in very quickly when you have no power.

GARTEN: And I understand that. And this goes out to the whole state of Florida -- my heart goes out to you. Please be patient.

I know everybody wants to get out, look around and do things. This is the most dangerous time for storms. A lot of times people get hurt or even, you know, killed after the storm.

Please stay where you can where it's safe, wait until after the storm, and wait until all your communities, especially for us at EOC here in Flagler County, notifies the people that it's safe to go outside and safe to travel.

CUOMO: All right. Steve, listen, I hope that this storm gets passed you sooner rather than later. It is amazing the duration of the impact that we're dealing with, with this hurricane. Let us know how we can help and be safe.

GARTEN: Thank you so much, Chris. We really appreciate it here in Flagler.

CUOMO: You know, Alisyn, it's one of the basic tensions that happens in a situation like this.

People who are out of their homes want to get home. People who are stuck in their homes get desperate to get out of their homes, you know, to deal with the water -- to get into it -- to see what's going on. And all of those feelings are normal and they all create major problems.

CAMEROTA: Right. We just can't emphasize it enough that people need to stay put. The time will come to be able to go home and see what the aftermath looks like but, right now, it is just not safe enough.

Chris will be back with you momentarily because what will we see when the sun rises this morning? How will these communities deal with the damage?

By the way, this is live. These are -- this is live video we're looking at right now. This is Sumter County, Florida. I mean, you can see just so many places in Florida still in the thick of it.

So we're going to speak to the general who commanded the military relief response to Hurricane Katrina. What's he seeing down there this morning? That's next.


[05:45:00] CUOMO: Daytona Beach a major tourist destination but you don't want to be there right now. Hurricane Irma still very much in full effect, a category one hurricane.

Look at what she's doing to Daytona Beach. Salt spray flying off. Surf conditions are obviously out of the question.

But storm surge very much a big part of this story -- a big part of the damage that you'll start seeing when the light of day starts to shine here in Florida because we need the sun. There are four million without power.

Here where we are in Naples, nothing is lit up unless you've got car headlights or your own battery power. The place is completely in the dark, so it's still ongoing.

Let's get in there with Martin Savidge. He's on Mexico Beach. That's in the Florida Panhandle, very far up north, and that is still the present and future story of this hurricane's impact. Marty, how is it?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Chris, we've only just started getting the rain and only some of the wind. It was about an hour and a half ago. But otherwise here, it's been a very tranquil night so, you're right, we're the future, or we will be with Irma arriving here.

It's expected to be its worst around 11:00 a.m. Whether it will still be a hurricane or whether it's tropical storm force winds is yet to be told.

This community here is one of the small, quiet ones along the Gulf Coast. They like it that way. They are looking at this with a bit of skepticism. They don't think it's going to be that bad.

Thankfully here, they're ready to respond down south if folks are needing that help down there. But right now, they're buttoned up, they're doing everything they should do. The lights are still on but this storm has barely begun -- Chris.

CAMEROTA: I'll take it, Martin. Thank you very much. We'll check back with you throughout as it gets worse there.

So, we're waiting for first light to see the extent of the damage throughout Florida.

Let's bring in CNN contributor, retired Lt. General Russel Honore. He, of course, commanded the military relief response to Katrina in 2005.

General, thanks so much for being with us. You're in Orlando. What are the conditions there?


But I just want to tell you and share with the American people this morning the United States military is on the way, unlike a more organic response we had in Hurricane Harvey. What a difference a hurricane makes.

The chairman and the Joint Chiefs have emptied the barn, you might say. There's an equivalence of an air care group with ships on the way following this storm, being led by Abe Lincoln, that I'm told will be the air boss as far as controlling the air assets coming in for search and rescue.

The Army has committed already 17,000 troops and National Guard active duty and reserve, as well as 90 aircraft and some 900 trucks and 90 IBBs. Now, you might wonder what an IBB is. It is an itty bitty boat. The Army has got a bunch of those that we use for assault landings and they're on the way.

And 140 aircraft on call, and 3,000 trucks on call.

So there's a lot of help on the way to deal with this -- the enormity of this task and the success of it will be based on how well we can execute the search and rescue plan working with local and state officials and get it integrated.

But the Department of Defense is coming in with the right kit, with the right command and control structure. Now we've got to execute. As this weather dies down they'll be starting from the south and coming north.

A lot of good information there, including the technical term IBB, itty bitty boat.

But you and I were together just two weeks ago in Houston in the aftermath of Harvey and I know that you felt that the locals there were not calling in the Calvary fast enough, meaning the Feds, to come in and help. And so, now, you're already seeing a difference, it sounds like you're saying, in Irma.

So what are your biggest concerns at this hour this morning?

HONORE: Safety, people staying in place because all the people we could communicate perfectly with now -- there's three million people without power. There's three million people that don't have the quality of information they had yesterday. So those that do with their weather radios and with their iPhones and all those devices, they can stay connected.

But unless we can continue to communicate with folks people are going to get nervous and they're going to start looking for signs to get on the road. It is imperative that they keep the roads clear because all those troops I'm telling you about, they've got to get in.

Saturday morning I left Shreveport, Louisiana and power trucks were on the way here. They've got to get in. The roads have to remain clear, otherwise the team -- the support that's needed that's got to come from the north and places like Daytona will not get in.

Everybody needs to freeze in place. They need to have an absolutely shutdown of the interstates, other than first responders, as well as major state highways. People need to stay in place, otherwise the help won't get in here.

[05:50:09] CAMEROTA: So meaning, if people are in shelters right now -- even if they're uncomfortable and God knows they are. I mean, we know that this situation can be overcrowded and really hard to get any peace and quiet -- or if they're at home and their house is even soggy, you're saying everybody just stay put for the foreseeable future.

HONORE: Unless it's a life or death situation you need to stay in place so we can get the help in. Otherwise, the roads are going to become congested.

We won't -- we need to get fuel in here to refuel all the gas stations from here to Jacksonville, otherwise people won't get in. So we need a day, maybe a day and a half.

So local officials will tell people in local shelters, but if you're going to get on state highways or interstates, you need to keep them off until the help can get in here so everybody can be brought up to the same level.

CAMEROTA: OK. General Honore, it is --

HONORE: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: -- always great to have your expertise with us in walking us through all of this. Thank you very much.

So Chris, you heard there, the General. I mean, he says what everybody is saying, that now is no time to try change everything. Everybody needs to remain sheltering in place at the moment.

CUOMO: Easy to say, tough to do when the power goes out. The desperation sets in so quickly and not just because of the fear of crime but what Honore was talking about, the need for information. I want to know about my home, how bad is it, are we going to be OK, is the water coming?

You know, all of those things are very real, especially in the moment, and the moment isn't ending here with Hurricane Irma. Even here in Naples, the storm in the main part may be gone but they're still getting wind and they still don't know what happened in their homes. That's the reality for far too many.

The Red Cross is going to be a big part of this story. They were here in the preparations for it. We see them at every disaster.

We have Jim Guidone with us, a national spokesperson for the Red Cross.

We've heard numbers about how many people are in shelters, upward of about 150,000. What can you tell us about the situation and how it will sustain today, tomorrow, into next week?

JIM GUIDONE, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, you know, this started off with safe evacuation shelters working with the county to house all those people pre-landfall. They remain there currently and now we're going to begin to move from the evacuation phase to a longer-term recovery phase.

We have vehicles -- thousands -- hundreds of thousands of cots (ph) actually positioned in the center of the state and we'll begin to move those to these shelters so people can begin a longer-term recovery once they determine the situation at their home.

CUOMO: What are you seeing in terms of need, Jim? You know, we were just making the point about people needing information.

So we do, kind of, because you know, unless you're everywhere -- and CNN is like an army of ants, you know. We have so many people in different areas that are impacted by the storm, but there's still a lot of need we haven't heard about.

You have a great network of eyes and ears within your volunteer core and your own internal communication system. What are you hearing about what Irma has done so far and what the concerns are going forward?

GUIDONE: Well, yes, this has just been an incredibly massive storm and I think the needs are going to be, first of all, long-term. The Red Cross has been here for about a week. We have 1,500 people on the ground, another 500 on their way here.

The needs are going to be sheltering, food, first aid. And perhaps as importantly, emotional counseling, and the Red Cross has a number of emotional counselors -- professional counselors here to help these people get through the first few days, first few weeks.

CUOMO: And in terms of the ability to meet the need, are you guys stretched at all in terms of resources, given what's still going on with Harvey? We know that you're still very much in full effect there.

GUIDONE: You know, a disaster like Harvey and Irma are so large, so massive, I really don't think there's one organization that singularly can handle all the needs, which is why we partner early on with county, state, and local officials to make sure that there's a synergy so that the whole is bigger than sum of the parts.

And to that end, I think we've done a pretty good job of working very closely with the government here, locally. So while we are stretched -- while everybody's stretched, we are meeting the needs.

CUOMO: You know, down here you look for the red coats. Either they're CNN and part of our team or they're you guys on the ground trying to what you can to keep people safe and comfort them after the storm has passed. And for too many, we're still waiting for that moment of this storm to get out of here.

Jim, let us know what we can do to help in your efforts. Let us know what the needs are.

All right, we are in continuing coverage of Hurricane Irma, now a category one storm still battering the state of Florida. Here's the latest.


[05:54:20] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CUOMO: I'm Chris Cuomo here in Naples, Florida and Hurricane Irma is still very much in full effect, a category one hurricane, 75 mile an hour sustained winds, gusts far above that, battering the northern parts of Florida.

We have a picture coming in now from Daytona Beach where you're just seeing the drama of the wind and the storm surge affecting the shoreline there.

Four million people without power. We're told six million were forced to evacuate. Over 150,000 remain in shelters.

And with the light of day because, again, four million people out of power -- we're among them here in Naples -- we'll start to see the devastation. But, this is not about the past, it's about the present.

Let's get to Sara Sidner in Daytona Beach where those storm winds and storm surge are hitting right now -- Sara.