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Hurricane Irma Slams Florida With Heavy Rain And Winds; Irma Turns Downtown Miami Streets Into Rivers. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 06:30   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hurricane Irma still pounding the state of Florida. A Category 1 hurricane, sustained winds at 75 miles per hour, gusts much higher. This is Daytona Beach we want to show you right now. Storm surge. Wind. That is the effect that this storm has brought all up and down this state.

At latest count, 5.7 million Floridians, no power. How long will they not have power? That is a big question mark in this state right now. Jacksonville, the northern part of the state, getting hammered.

The midst of the storm right now by no means over already setting a record for storm surge breaking a record set in 1964 with Hurricane Dora. This is not the kind of history you ever want to make.

We just had the city manager from Naples here. They don't want to be known as a city that endured a 140-mile-an-hour gust from Hurricane Irma. But that is the reality, people are getting pounded.

Sara Sidner in Daytona Beach right now. Storm wasn't even supposed to come there in any serious form and yet, look at what's going on around you.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Irma has been one tricky storm for a lot of folks because even the emergency responders are watching it as we are. All the meteorologists who are watching it too thinking that it was going up the west coast.

And yes, we would get some of the bands that we were getting some of bands. It was very, very light. Not worth really mentioning it with that light and then suddenly everything changed.

As we got later and later into the night and the morning hours, things got outrageous where these winds were whipping up and as it turned out, the eye was starting to come right across Daytona Beach.

Now, we are definitely in the last two hours we have definitely noticed a very different scenario compared to earlier. Earlier, it was sustained winds. My face was literally kind of pushed back from the wind. It was like standing in a wind tunnel.

It was so strong and now you can comfortable stand except for every now and then there's a gust. So, things have changed here in Daytona Beach. I want to mention a couple of different things.

One is that during this event in the county next to us, Brevard County, that has the NASA and Cape Canaveral, they said that two tornados touched down. They are concerned about whether or not there is damage, but they do know that no one has been injured due to those tornados.

There were 40 tornado warnings. So, as they are getting these winds they weren't expecting, suddenly within that wind there were cells that had tornados in there. So, very, very terrifying for anyone watching this come through there area, neighborhood.

But lastly, we understand that here, even with these winds, first responders did go out to make rescues, 20 to 25 people we understand because they were getting flooded. The most dangerous thing in these storms, the thing that kills more than anything else is floodwaters and (inaudible) these dangerous winds to try and save them -- Chris.

CUOMO: Sara, thank you for the reporting. Stay safe. Important perspective there. The winds get the headlines, the miles per hour. It's the water that kills. That's the number one cause of death. You heard Sara report that. It's true.

[06:35:02] That's what kills the most in hurricanes, water. So, storm surge is a very big deal. It is part of this story -- this is a bad luck story. This storm was bigger than it was supposed to be. It went places that it wasn't supposed to.

But there is also good luck. We're not reporting on people losing their lives yet. Those accounts are coming in, they're being checked. When you see what this storm has been doing, the fact that there wasn't massive losses of life here in Florida, we know dozens died through the Caribbean and as the storm moved through, there's been tremendous tragedy.

But the fact that it wasn't worst, amazing. Now Sara was talking about the rescue that we saw there. We have the Dru Driscoll, the fire chief from Daytona Beach. Dru Driscoll, can you hear me?

DRU DRISCOLL, DAYTONA BEACH FIRE CHIEF: Chris, I can. Good morning from the world's most famous beach.

CUOMO: Chief, I can hear you. If you can hear me, tell us about the rescues that were necessary. We know that the first responders don't want to go out once the winds get much above 40, but sometimes this is why you are the best of us. You will save us even in the worst of conditions.

DRISCOLL: Yes. Unfortunately, the winds exceed our threshold where we had to stop operations. Once life came in jeopardy we had to take calculated risks to rescue members of our community. Several of these included people caught in floodwaters. We have had a couple structure fires. Hopefully the winds die down shortly and the daylight breaks so we can begin to assess the damage throughout the city.

CUOMO: We know that's going to be a really important part of this event. You will get the light of day because obviously, there are certain power concerns. You can't know as much as you would ordinarily. What are you worried that you are going to find?

DRISCOLL: Fortunately for us, as we continue begin to do our preliminary assessment of damage, we find that several of the major thoroughfares are wide open for first responders to travel. Unfortunately, our core historic district has suffered severe flooding.

So, accessing those people, we're utilizing high water apparatus so we could safely rescue those people and get them to high ground. Right now, we are asking everyone to stay indoors -- sorry, Chris. Go ahead.

CUOMO: Go ahead. No, chief, what you have to say matters more. Please finish your point.

DRISCOLL: Right now we're asking that all the residents remain indoors and allow first responders to access everywhere we need to go. We understand your call is important to us. We have several support agencies assisting us with the rescue. Should you need anything, 911 is available and the hospitals are ready to accept you.

CUOMO: All right. Chief, as you get information, it's important for people to know consider us a resource. Please stay safe out there today.

DRISCOLL: Absolutely. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: And you remember Chief Driscoll and many of the men and women will go out for everybody else, they have their own families, loved ones that either they haven't been with through this storm or they will need to leave behind in their own hour of need to go and help everyone else. Remarkable. Where are we headed next, Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Such a good reminder. Thank you for that. Irma's fury is being felt up and down and across Florida. Up next, we'll speak to a Florida lawmaker to get an update on the devastation in his district.



CAMEROTA: Monroe County, Florida, which includes the Florida Keys, remains closed indefinitely. Joining us now on the phone is Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo from Florida. Curbelo's district includes the Florida Keys and part of Miami-Dade County.

Congressman, thank you for joining us. What are you hearing from first responders and your constituents in that area?

REPRESENTATIVE CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA (via telephone): Alyson, good morning from Miami where most people are breathing a sigh of relief as the sun prepares to rise here. We have many trees uprooted, many still without power, but we know this could have been far worst considering the forecast was showing a direct hit to the Miami metro area a few days ago.

Our true concern is for constituents in the Florida Keys. They took a direct hit. Only after the sunrises today will we know exactly what the extent of the damage is. There are a lot of rumors circulating as to what may have happened in the Florida Keys.

But authorities just don't know. I'm hoping to get an airlift to the Florida Keys later today to get on the ground and help that community, those communities because really every island is a community in and of itself, to help them start rebuilding and recovering.

We know that FEMA is already attempting to move into the area. The U.S. Coast Guard is attempting to return to the Florida Keys since they completely evacuated. We're just anxious to get down to many of the local heroes who remain there, first responders who voluntarily decided to stay.

And of course, emergency managers and some residents who decided to stay. But this was a historic storm for that area and we are anxious to get down there and see exactly what happened and how we can begin to help.

CAMEROTA: Well, Congressman, we talked to one of those folks, one of the experts who stayed behind so he could get information out to the state. He's a NOAA meteorologist. He hunkered down in the NOAA bunker there. He gave us information that does sound dire.

He said people in the Keys right now are without electricity. They are without water. They are without cell service or internet, and the bridges connecting them to the mainland and to civilization and the roadways have been blocked or partially washed away.

[06:45:09] I mean, it just sounds like they are truly marooned. So, what will you do to get them back on the grid?

CURBELO: Well, the first thing we have to do is coordinate logistics. Obviously, a lot of relief materials are going to arrive by air as soon as we can ensure that the airports there are safe for aircraft to land.

Also, Secretary Mattis before the storm hit pledged to have the Department of Defense support these efforts. We may see a lot of on supplies arriving by naval vessel or by sea. The Coast Guard can also be helpful in that regard.

And that is the challenge, Alisyn. It is tough to service the Florida Keys under normal circumstances. It is because it's a long island chain. There's only one road in and one road out. Imagine now after the path of a historic storm of this nature.

And Alisyn, another thing I'll say about the Keys, a lot of people (inaudible) in the Keys and the context of tourism -- boating and the people who live there part of the year and live up north during the summer.

But the Florida Keys, they are some very close-knit communities there. everyone knows each other on these small islands and I have no doubt that they will recover quickly with the help of the federal government, the state's government and obviously so many local governments from all over the country starting here in Miami-Dade and as far as Texas and California, who have pledged to help this area.

This is one of the signature parts of our country. A lot of people from all over the world travel to the United States to visit the Florida Keys and we will help them recover and the Florida Keys will recover.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, people have so much affection for that area because they vacation there and Jimmy Buffet, et cetera, et cetera. Congressman, thank you very much for taking time to update us.

CURBELO: Thank you, Alisyn. Have a good day.

CAMEROTA: You too. So, Chris, I mean, you hear they are waiting for the Coast Guard and Navy vessels. As we heard General Honore say, they are on their way to get there for all sorts of needed supplies.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, at least five major vessels will be coming this way. Look, another indication this storm is not over. I'll tell you right now you talk about tender mercies and small blessings, this is something that every Floridian wants to see as the haze burns off and the sun starts to rise this morning, a clear sky.

Everybody has been looking at this wall of white and waves of rain. It's still going on elsewhere. Here in Maples, one of the fastest gusts ever recorded here. This is our reality. Look at Daytona Beach. That is the reality right now. Hurricane Irma still pouring down, Category 1, 75-mile-per-hour winds battering parts of this state that were not ready for it. We have the latest next.



CUOMO: The sun is coming up here in Naples, Florida on the west coast, very hard hit by Hurricane Irma. The sky is clear. That's good. What the sun is going to reveal is not and this situation is far from over.

This storm still a Category 1. Still battering parts of Northern Florida right now. So many not out of danger, 5.7 million, maybe even more now without power who knows for how long.

Now one of the stories of what's been going on is about the first responders. We kept telling you, listen, once the storm gets above 40 miles per hour sustained winds, they can't get out. That is the truth. It's too dangerous for them.

But you know what, they were doing it anyway. Proving once again why they are the best of us to go out and save the rest of us. Ignatius Carroll is with the Miami Fire Department. They had to get into it early and often yesterday. Can you hear me now, sir?

IGNATIUS CARROLL, MIAMI FIRE DEPARTMENT (via telephone): Yes, I can. Good morning.

CUOMO: It is amazing to think we believe that the storm was going to spare us in Miami, it would just be a glancing blow. What a soaking and the wind and the cranes, what did you deal with yesterday?

CARROLL: Like you said, storms can be unpredictable. Not being able to respond to the rescue calls. You can imagine how challenging it was to us, but having to give them instructions on what to do until we were capable of responding. Once the winds died down a little bit allowing us to respond, that's what we did.

CUOMO: Well, it's one thing to talk somebody through what to do about storm surge and how to stay safe. It's another thing to talk someone through a pregnancy, but that's what you had to do yesterday. Tell me that story.

CARROLL: Well, one of the calls from our 911 dispatcher was assisting a young lady who was pregnant. She called earlier. We were unable to get to her. They told her what she needed to do.

She called in and assisted with the delivery, got in contact with an ob/gyne doctor to provide additional assistance as well as a pediatric doctor to tell the mother and family members what they needed to do when the baby was already delivered until first responders could get to her.

CUOMO: How is the baby? How is the mom?

CARROLL: We understand right now they are doing great. We definitely have to do a follow-up here at the office. We're curious to know what did they name the baby.

CUOMO: Absolutely, right? Was it a little boy or girl, do we know?

CARROLL: That, I don't know.

CUOMO: All right. If it's a boy, it's tough to get stuck with the name Irma. We know the Johnny Cash song, boy named Sue. Didn't work out well for him. hopefully, this little baby is healthy. You made it happened by talking her through. Talk about a moment of need.

Thank you so much for all that you have done and all we know you're going to get out there and do today. Please use us as a resource. Let us know what information has to get out and we'll do our best to help.

CARROLL: We appreciate everything you guys are doing as well. Thank you for keeping us all informed as well.

CUOMO: All right. So, Alisyn, here in Naples, you know, they were worried. The governor has a home here. That wasn't fueling his concern. It was the vulnerability because it's just not far above sea level. It's spongy. So, it can't take much water.

[06:55:04] And then yesterday, they wind up getting hit with these winds and I know that you have some of the footage of it, but I'll tell you nobody saw it coming. Even people who have stood in plenty of storms like me and Ed Lavandera, we never expected anything like that. It was like a fire hose of air and wind. Look at what we lived through yesterday literally for hours.


CUOMO: And still we are waiting on storm surge. These gusts are the real deal. There is a benefit for us to be here. When this is done, as you know, we're going to go out with search and rescue and we are going to volunteer our time. There are the gusts you were talking about. It's going to be good to know where the worst is going. These branches are coming off. It was only a matter of time.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is really the like of visibility. We could barely see 100 yards in either direction. Obviously with the winds blowing at this speed, if there is debris flying through the air, I don't want to be out in the middle of that and get caught upside the head by a flying branch or anything.

CUOMO: Some of these big trees surrounding this hotel, I don't know if that you are going to make it. That's why I grabbed the producer and put him back inside.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You likely will be fine second and third floor, but get everybody off the street.

CUOMO: All right. Hey, Chad, water is coming up the street here. This is coming out of nowhere. All of a sudden it is flooded. Do you see it?

MYERS: Absolutely.

CUOMO: This is something that he will remember for a really long time.


CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, it was remarkable to watch your reporting yesterday. I couldn't turn away. I watched you for hours. It was a little misleading, Chris. You have such good balance and ballast.

If you weren't being knocked off your feet by the wind I would have been blown into a tree had I been standing on that balcony. But you just stood there. We can see how intense the wind was, but you weren't being batted around by it as much as so many other people.

CUOMO: First, let's unpack what you just said. One, it's preposterous to imagine you in a situation like that because you're too valuable. We would never put you in a situation like that. I don't want you to talk to anybody in a situation like that, let alone be in one. You matter too much to us.

Ballast is a nice way of calling me fat, Alyson. You called me ballast. I'm 220 pounds. Ed Lavandera and I were built to stand still in a storm. Those winds were real deal. Thank God everything that needed to survive did. But we'll bring you more coverage of what happened here in Naples and what's still going on all over the state of Florida when Alyson and I return right after this.


CUOMO: All right. Hurricane Irma still battering the state of Florida, a Category 1 hurricane, 75-mile-per-hour sustained winds. Gusts much higher. Storm surge affecting the entire state. At latest count, 5.7 million people are without power.

As the storm moves north, the numbers only grow. We know that 6 million people had to be evacuated, over 150,000 are still in shelters and with good reason.