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Irma Batters Florida; Recovery in Florida after Storm; Storm Changed Paths over Florida. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 11, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:38] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Our courage of -- our coverage of Hurricane Irma continues. We have Anderson Cooper in Tampa. We have John Berman in Miami. And we are here in Naples, Florida.

They saw some of the strongest gusts of winds in this city. And they did not expect them. And it was not the kind of history they wanted to make.

Flood surge was the major concern. We still haven't been able to get out there and see this morning. People are just starting to move around on the streets. They're starting to clean up. First responders are just getting out there now to survey the damage and they're going to find things that nobody is going to want to see.

So in terms of what this storm is doing right now, still category one storm. Seven -- not true. Tropical storm now is what it is. But that's 70 mile an hour sustained winds. Only five mile an hour difference from a category one hurricane. The gusts are much higher. It's dumping water in places that didn't expect it. It's going to stress a lot of resources as a result.

We know now that over 5.8 million people are without power. And they could last days or weeks. Six million were evacuated. Over 150,000 are in shelters.

A place like Jacksonville, that thought it was going to escape the worst of this storm, has had historic storm surge. We had someone on from the National Weather Service. They told us they haven't seen water like they have in the river there right now since the 1800s.

Now, John, you're in another place, Miami, where it was not supposed to be the worst and yet the duration and the intensity caught everybody by surprise, including your legs.

[08:35:12] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I appreciate that, Chris. And your hair held up well in the storm out in Naples, as well.

Look, this went on for such a long time here in Miami as the wind bent around the peninsula here. And it did push the water into the streets where I'm standing. There was four feet of water yesterday where I am right now. This is Brickle Lab (ph), but yesterday it really turned into the Brickle river with water gushing down the street into the first floors here some of some of these buildings. And this is the financial district. I mean this is the Tomi (ph) area right now in Miami now covered with mud.

And we do have people out now on the streets walking around, I think checking out perhaps their businesses, their homes, just seeing what happened even as the cleanup crews are out trying to assess how much work they have to do.

But it's just astounding to me that I'm here in Miami, you're in Naples, Anderson, you're up in Tampa. It is practically -- it is every major city and population area in Florida that has been affected by this storm, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it's absolutely true. And I think we're still trying to figure out exactly the extent of it. And law enforcement and fire departments are still trying to figure out the extent of it.

We just saw a fire vehicle moving across the bridge behind us. We've seen police cruisers going around on the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge.

Law enforcement is out in force just to basically try to assess the level of damage, the level of flooding. You know, how many people are without power. Some 650,000 in the Tampa Bay area. But still a lot to learn.

And thankfully, you know, people haven't poured out here. It's still pretty miserable out. A light rain. Some winds. But, you know, obviously, it could have been a lot worse and I think, you know, everybody here has got to be thankful that this was not a direct hit from cat three storm, which is what it was feared, John.

BERMAN: And, look, people are driving around with looks of relief on their face today here, no question about that, Anderson.

Joining me now to figure out what happens next and how the response will go is David Halstead, former director of emergency management here in the state of Florida.

And, David, what we didn't necessarily see but we knew was happening was an enormous movement of resource before the storm. And there's going to be more even starting right now.

DAVID HALSTEAD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. It's really in two phases. One is life-saving, moving resources down to help the locals do what they can. The other is life-sustaining. One of the big secrets here in Florida is a state logistic warehouse in Orlando. Three hundred truckloads of water. That's about close to 2 million gallons of water. And about 1.5 million meals, shelf-stable meals, are there in Orlando. And more than likely they've already been moved out to the locals. And then back behind that, coming out of Maxwell Air Force Base, the food and water that FEMA has, they'll re-supply the warehouse and move those out where necessary.

So you've already moved that much today. You're liable to move just about as much again. BERMAN: What concerns me about this storm, though, we're talking about moving it out, it's got to move out everywhere because it's down in the Florida Keys, which we haven't heard much from right now, we're still trying to get a sense of the damage there, all the way up to Jacksonville, which is seeing historic storm surge this morning.

HALSTEAD: Yes, this is unbelievable. And that's why Orlando is central in prestaging those resources are essential so they can move out south, north, east or west. That is the central location that we'll supply from.

As far as life-saving, those resources are coming down the interstate right now. They're being moved into the area. The National Guard will be on the move. And, certainly, all will those search and rescue teams that we have pre-staged be ready to help.

But we need to hear something from The Keys. We still don't really know to the extent what is necessary to help them.

BERMAN: How do you get there? How do you find out? How do you help The Keys?

HALSTEAD: Right now it's going to be either you drive there. But more than likely you want to get an aircraft down there, helicopter and/or boat or ship to get into the area to see how bad that is.

BERMAN: All right. And we're dealing with five million people without power in the state of Florida right now. That is going to wear on people's patience. How does it affect the recovery effort?

HALSTEAD: It slows it down because, first of all, as we're seen here today, a lot of people riding around the area. Some are just looking. Some are looking into their business to see how they fared, which is certainly legitimate. But without power, you're not going to get the business back up and running, which isn't going to get the family out of the house into that business. Definitely you're not going to have any of your daycare. Your schools can't open because you're still using them as shelters. So power, getting electricity back up and running is the key. But we may be weeks away in some area from that happening.

BERMAN: Is there anything unique about recovering from a storm surge. I'm struck by the fact that yesterday the water would have been up higher than our waist if we were standing here.


BERMAN: Now it's gone, accept for the mud and debris. Is it just a matter of cleaning the streets or will there be longer lasting implications here?

HALSTEAD: It depends on the infrastructure. What's been damaged? What's below this? Are the road surfaces, have they been uplifted or damaged because of the water and the swells? Where are the electrical grids? How high up off the ground are they? Were they affected? Telecommunications. And, of course, today, our satellite communications, all of that is -- you know, runs -- a lot of that runs underground to be able to get to above ground.

[08:40:19] BERMAN: I've got to say, power went out, water went out. You know, everything about (ph) my body went out yesterday.


BERMAN: But my cell phone was still working throughout the day, remarkably.

The head of Florida Light and Power says this will be the biggest recovery effort this state has ever seen.


BERMAN: The most complicated, maybe longest lasting. Why? They saw this storm coming. Were they not ready the way they should be or was it just so big, so many places effected that it will take a long time?

HALSTEAD: It's so big, so many places. You've said it exactly correctly. I mean we are looking at the entire state of Florida. We have 20 million people that live in the state of Florida.


HALSTEAD: You know, five million customers without power. Probably going to be larger numbers as we head north. They only have so many crews. They're calling in crews, trust me, from all over the United States.


HALSTEAD: I remember in the '04 season, we had crews here from Canada looking at it going, you know, here I am to help Florida.

BERMAN: Yes. Look, I remember after Super Storm Sandy up in New York, we had crews from Alabama driving through my town.


BERMAN: And we used to cheer them every time they went past.


BERMAN: David Halstead, great to have you here. The recovery effort has begun already in this state.

HALSTEAD: It has begun.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, we're obviously not just covering this morning the aftermath of Irma, but also today marks the 16th anniversary of 9/11. So about four minutes from now the country will observe a moment of silence and we will take you to Washington and the Pentagon from that when we come right back.


[08:45:36] CAMEROTA: Today is the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and we are about 20 seconds away from a moment of silence. You can see the president and the first lady coming out to mark this moment. There are already crowds gathered in Washington outside of the White House, outside of the Pentagon, where another plane struck. And we will watch, we will listen to this moment of silence right now.


CAMEROTA: You can see bagpipes and the flag being carried through the streets near Ground Zero.

The first plane struck the first tower at 8:46. And that's why we, as a country, pause at that moment of that moment of silence there. Houses of worship were asked to toll their bells at that same time, as you can hear. And then the names of the victims are read aloud every year since then.

We should mention that this is, of course, President Trump's first 9/11 anniversary since becoming president. But he's a native New Yorker. And he was in Manhattan on that terrible day when the plane struck the Twin Towers. He was -- watched it from his apartment. And the black smoke he could see, even at midtown at Trump Tower, and he then watched the aftermath from his office windows, he said.

And, in fact, on that day 16 years ago many local TV stations interviewed Donald Trump and they said that he was a real voice of calm and reason. And he had a very measured, sober tone. What he said on that day was, the big thing you will have to do is never forget.

And so today we remember all those killed on 9/11 and the terrible, terrible day in our country's history.

More coverage for us of Tropical Storm Irma in just a minute.


[08:52:51] COOPER: And our coverage of Hurricane Irma continues now.

I want to talk to Senator Bill Nelson from the state of Florida.

Senator Nelson, you and I were here in Tampa yesterday talking about the concerns of what Tampa might be facing. Obviously, they dodged a big bullet on this one. They were very, very lucky, as were many places as that storm tracked a little further east. It could have been a lot worse. I'm wondering what your thoughts are this morning as we're trying to assess the damages in The Keys, Marco Island and elsewhere?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA (via telephone): Anderson, when I left yesterday and went back to my home in Orlando, I thought I was getting out of the path of the storm. And low and behold it came between Tampa and Orlando. We got, at 1:30 in the morning, 100 miles per hour winds, I thought the windows were going to break. And, yet, what happened to me has happened virtually to the entire state of Florida. Even Pensacola, on the far west of panhandle of Florida, is getting some of those rain bands. So this is a massive storm like Florida has never seen.

COOPER: And, you know, millions of people are without power, 650,000 homes and businesses just in the Tampa Bay area without power. What is this state going to need in the days and weeks and months ahead?

NELSON: It's going to need a lot. It's going to need a lot more than the 15 billion that we appropriated last week for Texas and Florida. That's just the down payment. In October, we're going to have to come back and do more appropriations. And then after that, we're going to have to do more.

It's going to be a massive clean-up effort both in Texas and Florida. And I suspect up in Georgia and even further north from there.

Anderson, I just wanted to -- since we just came through the commemoration of 9/11 -- I want to say that I was on the west front of the United States Capitol building on that fateful day watching the TV of the Twin Towers and someone bursts in the room and said the Pentagon's been hit. We left to the window looking over The Mall in the direction and saw the black smoke rising from the Pentagon. And the next thing we heard in the U.S. Capitol was, get out, get out, run, run, get out of the building. They had the report of that fourth airplane headed towards Washington.

[08:55:41] What a day it was. But what a day that Americans showed the strength of this country, just like Floridians have shown the strength of this state through the last 24 hours.

COOPER: Yes, I don't think any of us will ever forget, nor should ever forget that horrible day on 9/11. And a lot of residents in Florida, obviously, are never going to forget what happened here and what happened to their families over the last 24 hours.

Governor Nelson, appreciate talking to you, as always.

I want to bring back in Alisyn Camerota, John Berman, Chris Cuomo.

Chris, there's going to be a lot of assessments, a lot of needs in the hours and the days ahead and all throughout today I think we're going to be hearing a lot more about -- through -- you know, what we clearly want to know is, particularly on The Keys, what the situation there is, on Marcos Island and some of these outer lying areas that we haven't gotten the reports in from yet.

CUOMO: Yes, and the Cuban government is reporting to sources here that they lost 10 lives in this storm. So we saw what it did there. We saw that it was similar to The Keys. So, we're going to have to check. We're going to take off right after John's show and get to Marcos Island and see what happened there. So we'll all be in the field today and we'll report back.


BERMAN: Yes, Chris, I mean I think assessing is the key word. Anderson just used it right now. So many people driving by here right now with cameras out the windows trying to get a sense of what the damage was, when they'll be able to come back. You know, Miami, not hit by the eye wall, but still hit by Hurricane Irma. You know, such a relentless storm.


CAMEROTA: Well, you're all doing a wonderful job, is all I can say, covering it for all of us who are on terra firma. Thank you so much for all the information and for being there in the eye of the storm literally for us.

CNN's coverage of Tropical Storm Irma will continue after this very quick break with CNN "NEWSROOM."

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