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THE SITUATION ROOM
Hurricane Irma Aftermath; Florida Cities Just Starting to Assess the Hurricane Damage; U.N. Security Council Approves New North Korea Sanctions; America Remembers 9/11. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 11, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And uncertainty. Irma's fury leaving millions without electricity, and many may be powerless for weeks. The governor warning evacuees that returning to their homes now could put their lives at risk.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, millions more Americans are now under assault by Irma, as the dangerous storm that hammered much of Florida plows north.
Charleston, South Carolina, is in the midst of a life-threatening flash flood emergency. Cities as far inland as far as Atlanta at risk from this menacing tropical storm. Irma's final target in Florida, Jacksonville, now swamped by floodwaters rising to record high levels.
The storm surge warning in effect this hour. The flooding danger intensifying in a city that didn't expect to suffer so badly from Irma's rampage.
On the other end of the state, officials are now warning about a potential humanitarian crisis in the Florida Keys. A large section of the island chain has no power, not water, no cell service. The U.S. military says 10,000 people who refused to leave the Keys before the storm may need to be evacuated. The Keys battered by the full force of Irma when it made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday.
The electricity is out across much of Florida tonight. More than six million people, about two-thirds of the customers, they are in the dark after Irma zigzagged between the state's east and west coasts. The storm unleashing winds well over 100 miles an hour and impacting major cities from Miami to Tampa to Jacksonville.
Officials warn some places won't have power for weeks.
We're covering the breaking story with our correspondents and guests. They're standing by in the areas hardest hit by Irma.
First, let's go to Marco Island, where Irma made its second landfall in Florida.
CNN's Brian Todd is on the scene for us.
Brian, you have been covering this storm through the worst of it. What are the conditions like where you are right now?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Irma hit this spot like a buzz saw. As you look around here, you can see the effect it had.
Roofs like this one, partial roofs, entire roofs, ripped off homes. You have got debris all over the place. Wires down, hazardous material all over the streets. Now, this is in the southwestern corner of Florida. The damage lasts from this tip of Florida all the way to the northeastern part of Florida, Jacksonville, the largest city geographically in Florida, the largest city geographically in the United States.
So you have got cities from here up to there just now starting to get their arms about what happened here.
TODD (voice-over): Florida now fighting to recover after getting pounded for hours by winds sometimes over 100 miles an hour. Every major city in Florida impacted by Irma's wrath and over six million customers left without power, two-thirds of the state.
The Florida Keys, hit first in the U.S. with Category 4 winds, now with serious flooding and building damage, cut off from power and the mainland. The southwest coast of Florida hit with winds of 120 miles an hour, scoured into the night with driving rain and whipping winds with the skies lit by the occasional transformer explosion.
Naples, among the hardest hit, now flooded one block after another and buildings flattened or damaged by the wind. This is nearby Marco Island before and after, and in Bonita Springs, neighborhoods inundated with waters.
DOREEN RAGLE, HURRICANE VICTIM: There's mobiles turned over. There's mobiles upside down and there's a lot of water.
TODD: While the storm tracked up the west side of Florida, the east coast was still hit by flooding and high winds. Miami had heavy flooding on the downtown waterfront, construction cranes knocked over and roofs ripped off by the whipping winds.
One sailboat ended up on a football field. There were even scattered reports of looting. Up the east coast, coastal flooding from Broward County up beyond Daytona, leaving neighborhoods and businesses underwater and houses with their rooftops torn off.
As far north as Jacksonville, record storm surges causing flooding on the Saint Johns River and at least one home sliding into the ocean. Even inland areas like Orlando were not spared, with downed trees, downed power lines and flooding. OTTO DROZD III, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE RESCUE: We have had over 200
rescues of people that we brought out. And in some places, when you go back there, the water was chest-deep.
TODD: Rescues from flooded neighborhoods continued throughout the night with a total of 6.5 million people in Florida told to evacuate. The question now, when can they return home?
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: You check with local officials before returning home to make sure can you safely do so.
TODD: Cleanup crews now working on downed trees and branches and clearing sand off roadways. But authorities say parts of Florida could be without power for weeks, while spots as far north as Charleston, South Carolina, are still experiencing flooding from the storm.
TODD: By the time Irma finished with this place, Marco Island, she left at least 15 homes that had their roofs either ripped off or had other severe damage. That's according to the fire department.
But people here, Wolf, tonight are counting themselves as fortunate because hundreds of people live in this area of Marco Island year- round. Only about 40 of them decided to stay. And there are no serious injuries reported. This is the spot where Irma made its second landfall. Wolf, they're counting themselves as fortunate here tonight.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, Brian,some live pictures of trucks going in to restore power in these areas. Brian Todd on the scene for us, thanks very, very much.
Now to the flooding emergency in Jacksonville, Florida, that's unfolding right now. Irma hitting the city very, very hard in the past few hours.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is on the scene for us.
Kaylee, floodwaters, they are rising to historic levels there, right?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf. The waters of the Saint Johns River continue to roll through downtown Jacksonville.
We're about a block from the banks of the river there. You can see the waves crashing against the seawall. At the river's height today, levels were five-and-a-half feet above what you would normally see here at high tide.
But at that high tide at 2:00, we first began to see these waters recede. If my cameraman, Dave Resk (ph), can swing over to my left here, this street has dried out. Water earlier today about two blocks up that street, but if we rotate to the other side of the street, floodwaters continue.
Talking to the mayor earlier, he said don't be fooled when you see pockets like that dry out. This water is not going anywhere any time soon. And the challenge a lot of people in downtown Jacksonville are facing now, Wolf, they came here for shelter. They came here to be safe from these waters and the effects of the storm because their homes were in places they thought were in more danger, but now these floodwaters in Jacksonville a serious concern for so many here as this situation continues to evolve.
BLITZER: Yes. We will stay in close touch with you, Kaylee. Thank you very much.
We're getting new video of damage in Miami right now, where construction cranes were whipped by the hurricane's winds.
CNN's John Berman is in Miami for us.
John, we spoke about the danger to all of these cranes on Friday before Irma hit. And now we know, what, at least two in Miami and one in Fort Lauderdale were, in fact, whipped and damaged.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, three cranes down in Southeast Florida, Wolf, exactly what some people had feared, really showing the damage done to this part of the state was twofold.
Number one, the storm surge, you can see the effects right around me right now, the boats pushed up onshore in this marina in Coconut Grove. A five-foot surge in downtown Miami. You can see the impact here. And then the winds. The winds were 100 miles an hour on the tops of the sky rises in the city, Wolf.
We have been told these cranes -- and there are more than 20 of them in downtown Miami -- we were told these cranes could withstand gusts of 145 miles an hour. Now, clearly, we don't believe the wind reached that level, yet the cranes, at least two of them, did not stand.
At least one appeared to have some kind of issue with a crack in the pulley with the counterbalance and that might have caused it to partially collapse or crack, depending on who you ask. They don't want to use the term collapse because they didn't fall completely off the building.
Officials here made clear no one was hurt from these cranes. There was not much other damage to the surrounding buildings. Nevertheless, you can see the clear concern with having these types of cranes in an atmosphere like this. There just wasn't enough time, Wolf, to take them down. It takes six weeks -- six days to two weeks to move one of these cranes start to finish. And they didn't get that kind of warning -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very dangerous situation. It could have been a whole, whole lot worse. All right, John Berman, thank you.
Tonight, officials are also warning that new evacuations may be needed in the Florida Keys, one of the hardest-hit areas in the state, if not the hardest.
CNN's Bill Weir is joining us right now from Key Largo.
Bill, a large section of the Keys right now has no power, no running water, not much of anything.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not much of anything, Wolf.
We're about 60 miles north of where the eye wall came ashore. But it all depends on the structure of your home in terms of what is left of your life. We're in this trailer park here about mile marker 85 or so.
And it is one heartbreak after another. A child's picture book on the ground. The markings of the search-and-rescue teams who put the date and the time they searched that home. Fortunately, zero bodies found inside, also zero people found alive.
But most of these folks we hope would evacuate living in structures like this. And good thing. You can see Irma's storm surge, what it does to a mobile home. This was someone's living room. And, of course, this is stuff that can be replaced. They will measure this storm in billions of dollars in terms of the total cost.
But some things you cannot put a price on. The memories of the picture box we found before. And right now there's so much concern about those people who are completely out of touch. There are Facebook missing persons lists out there. People have been pinging me all day on Instagram and Twitter, asking if we could go check on their parents. I wish I could.
I wish I could get further down this road, but it's impassable in many places. The Florida Department of Transportation has apparently by about 4:00 today inspected 22 of the 43 bridges that connect this necklace of islands going all the way down to Key West. A couple of them are problem areas as well.
But the main problem is the cell phones we're so accustomed to, the towers, there's no power for them the further south you get. So we have to use a satellite phone even up here close to Key Largo, where the best cell service still remains. People don't know if their loved ones are just incommunicado or in more dire circumstances.
Even if they are alive, as you can see at my sweaty bum here, we have no air conditioning. There's medications to worry about, those sorts of things. I just saw a convoy of about 15 big tractor-trailers, hopefully full of supplies, steaming south down toward Key West.
In addition to that, the Navy is chipping in an entire aircraft carrier. It's all hands on deck to try to get in there and really assess the human toll of Irma -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, the USS Lincoln on the way.
All right, Bill Weir, thanks so much.
Let's talk more about this devastation in the Florida Keys. And it is enormous.
We're joined on the phone by Monroe County Commissioner David Rice.
Commissioner, thanks for joining us.
Based on what you have seen and heard, what's what's the level of devastation in your county?
DAVID RICE, MONROE COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Well, Wolf, one of the great problems that we have, as you just heard, is communication.
So, while I'm 100 miles from Key West in a 120-mile-long county, the most extreme portion of the county, including Marathon and Key West, we have extremely limited ability to communicate.
Certainly, we have taken a major hit. We have extensive property damage. We do not have statistics at the moment on any injuries, loss of life. We will be finding those things out later.
BLITZER: How many people are without power in your county?
RICE: At the moment, I would be hard-pressed to say because I don't believe anybody could really say how many are here at the moment. Many people left. Others did not.
But if you're here, you're probably without power, unless you have a generator or you're extremely fortunate.
BLITZER: Those who stayed behind in the Keys, are they still in shelters?
RICE: Some are in shelters. Others are not.
The Keys have no shelters that are approved. The last moment is a refuge of last resort at some Category 5-constructed schools. And I understand many people rode the storm out at that point. But as I say, we have very little firsthand information at this time.
BLITZER: If people who have houses there who live are up north, for example, northern part of Florida riding out this storm or they live in other parts of the country, what's your best guess right now? How long before those folks can return to their homes in the Keys?
RICE: Wolf, I would rather not make a guess, because that's an open issue. I think within the next day or two, we hope to be able to have safe transit down the Keys.
DOT has inspected most if not all the bridges at this point. The power companies are securing any live lines. The hospitals are not yet reopened. We hope that they will be and expect they will be, at least two out of the three, perhaps tomorrow morning.
At that point, it's certainly more safe for people to come back into the Keys, but we really have no water to speak of. Electricity is very sporadic to nonexistent. It's not a place someone wants to be right at this moment.
BLITZER: Give us some perspective. How much damage has been caused to your county, Monroe County, in the Keys right now? Have you ever seen anything like this before?
RICE: Well, yes, I have seen Hurricane Audrey in Louisiana as a child.
I have seen Hurricane Camille that cleared out miles of homes and businesses. We do not appear to be that impacted that the time.
BLITZER: Is your county getting the state and federal help it needs?
RICE: They are absolutely -- our partners with both the state and federal government have been in communication with us.
I believe we will see the first C-130 of supplies in within the next couple of hours at the Naval air station in Key West. The state and federal government are really stepping up to the plate.
Now, it is complicated by the fact that many of the rescue efforts and supply efforts will be by air. And up until almost this very time, they would have to fly through a hurricane to get here, because the hurricane moved on up the state.
So, yes, we're very happy with the response. The Navy, as you heard, is sending a carrier that has tremendous capability. It will probably be standing off Key West.
BLITZER: David Rice is the mayor of Monroe County, the commissioner, I should say.
Commissioner, thanks so much for joining us.
RICE: Thank you. And thanks for your help.
BLITZER: We appreciate everything you're doing. Good luck to all the folks there. I know this is a crisis that has unfolded.
Just ahead: the newest forecast for Irma as it endangers cities in the south.
Also tonight, another hurricane that's threatening the U.S. in the days ahead. We will talk to a National Guardsman who has been involved in urgent rescues on an island in crisis after being hammered by Irma.
BLITZER: We're back with our breaking news coverage of the hurricane disaster in Florida, where officials and residents are just beginning to get a handle on all the destruction.
We have also just received some high-resolution satellite images of the damage Hurricane Irma caused as it slammed into the islands of the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm. Some of these areas remain very difficult for rescue crews to get into.
The pictures you're about to see have been provided to us by DigitalGlobe. Look at this. This is a road, town on the island of Tortola before the storm -- look at this -- and after. Wow.
Up next, on the Turks and Caicos islands, this is before Irma. This is after. Another picture shows Philipsburg on the Dutch side of St. Martin Island before the hurricane and after. And, finally, on St. Martin Island, this is before the storm and after.
We're joined now by a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard who was involved in rescue operations on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Martin. Chief Master Sergeant Aaron May is joining us.
Chief May, thanks very much for joining us.
What are the conditions like on the ground, first of all, in St. Martin?
CHIEF MASTER SGT. AARON MAY, KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD: Well, Wolf, first of all, it's my teams, my special tactics teams that are down there right now. I'm back here in Louisville, Kentucky, helping coordinate the efforts that are going on down there.
From the reports I received from my team, they went directly into the airport Sunday, and it was basically American citizens dispersed throughout the airport and surrounding areas throughout the island. Our job was to go down there as a special tactics team and start coordinating relief efforts to get those people out of St. Martin and back to Puerto Rico.
BLITZER: What's the status of the search-and-rescue operations?
MAY: As far as the search-and-rescue operations, our personnel were mainly on the airfield coordinating the relief efforts to get the personnel, roughly 1,000 American citizens that were stranded on the island after the actual hurricane passed through.
So our personnel went there, established the airport and worked with the Dutch military and started bringing in airlift to get personnel out of there. And like I said, they evacuated roughly 1,000 people out of that airport into Puerto Rico.
BLITZER: Any Americans still left, as far as you know?
MAY: As far as I know, Wolf, I do not believe. There may be a few still behind, but as far as our efforts, it was 1,000 people they were able to get from St. Martin into Puerto Rico utilizing airlift from our unit here at Louisville, Kentucky, and also Puerto Rico and New York Air National Guard units.
BLITZER: Do the people who are still there have enough food and supplies?
MAY: Wolf, I don't have a solid answer on that.
But I do believe they have the situation, from what I understand, under control. But, again, I don't have the exact answer for that question.
BLITZER: Because we are told that on St. Martin, food is in very, very short supply right now. We have also heard reports of looting that has been going on. I assume you have heard of those reports as well.
MAY: Wolf, I can't -- I would be speculating if I was actually to answer that question.
All I know is from what we were going down there to do is to evacuate the American citizens that were there. From what I understand, the Dutch military, they have things under control from their perspective.
BLITZER: Let's hope they do.
Chief Master Sergeant Aaron May, thanks to all you are doing. The men and women who are involved in this operation, they are saving lives. Appreciate it very, very much.
Let's go to one of the hardest-hit areas in Florida right now.
CNN's Ed Lavandera: is on Marco Island, where Irma made a second landfall.
Ed, you have been on the move. What kind of damage are you seeing?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Well, here in Goodland, Florida, there are about 40 people who rode out the storm here, amazingly enough. And it's a community that sits on the edge of the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico. This is a community that took a direct impact from this storm.
Many people would probably suggest no one should have been here. Behind me is a home where Gary Stringer (ph) waited out the storm by himself. He thought this was all going to come crashing down on him. He described how the roof was crackling, the tree next to him was rumbling and then all of a sudden he heard the crack and this is what happened, Wolf. This tree collapsed, thankfully not toward him where he was.
But unfortunately for this family, the tree came crashing down on their house. And the stories of survival here are just absolutely stunning as the people kind of -- the handful of people we have talked to describe what it was like to wait out the storm here in Goodland, Florida.
This is a small fishing village. A couple hundred residents call this home. This is by far the area where we have seen the most intense damage. This is an area where essentially the second landfall of Hurricane Irma was in here along Marco Island.
We're on the eastern edge of Marco Island. The winds were 130 miles an hour. At some point, the gusts even reached up to 140 miles an hour. Residents described the storm surge taking over most of this town, seven feet of water in some places. Most of the people that we have talked to that were in their homes really thought at some point their houses were going to start splintering apart in those winds -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a sat story, indeed.
All right, Ed Lavandera on the scene for us, thank you.
Also tonight, Irma is creating new danger and damage as it moves north into Georgia, the Carolinas and beyond, this as another hurricane actually looms potentially, potentially threatening the United States.
Let's check in with our meteorologist, Tom Sater.
Tom, what's the status of Irma right now?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Irma's tropical storm. The center is 150 miles south of Atlanta, moving north-northwest at a good clip at 17 miles per hour.
And maximum winds, 50 miles per hour, by tomorrow morning, 40. However, it's already responsible for at least two fatalities in Georgia, one in an Atlanta suburb with a fallen tree. It's nice to see the dryer air move in, but we have had historic flooding in Jacksonville, as I mentioned a couple days ago, in the Saint Johns River.
We're going to have to watch that. More on this in a moment. But it's been shattering records, Wolf. Let's begin from the very beginning. We watched this as a typical wave coming off the coast of Africa. But in early infancy, we noticed rapid strength, rapid development.
In a 24-hour period, it went from a tropical storm, jumped over Category 1 status and went to Category 2, 3, 4, 5, into the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles as a Category 5, the strongest in history to affect this area, decimating Barbuda, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Martin.
Dutch and French authorities are there providing aid, also evacuations. A number of citizens from the Dutch are heading back to the Netherlands. The United Kingdom has another naval vessel on its way to the British Virgin Islands. The U.S. has been there.
They're taking residents from St. Martin over to San Juan. As it continued, the biggest sigh of relief most likely was in Puerto Rico and San Juan. The eye staying off the land, lashing the island with heavy rain and wind, but no direct hit.
But then it made its way to the Turks and Caicos, Cockburn Harbor getting hit hard, a number of the islands at a Category 5, the strongest in history to ever affect the Turks and Caicos on its way to Cuba. For 37 hours, sustaining winds at 185 miles per hour. There has never been a cyclone in the world, a typhoon in the world or any other hurricane that has sustained that kind of strength for that long a period of time.
Making its way to northern coast of Cuba as a Category 5, making landfall, the strongest since 1924. Lashing with heavy rains on its western flank the city streets of Havana. Most likely, the interaction kept us in the U.S. from getting a Category 5 landfall,but we had our Category 4.
In the Keys, just 16 days after Harvey made landfall in Rockport, Texas, for the first time in history, the U.S. has two Category 4 landfalls in the same year.
After the Keys, landfall, Marco Island, at the exact same latitude and longitude as Wilma, also a Category 3, ironic.
[18:30:13] But then the winds, the surge, the winds coming in off the coast. That's where Jacksonville was hit very early on and had to sustain that for some time.
We know the damage, the record storm surge, the 6.5 million without power. As we continue northward, more records with the flooding. As you get to the north, we're watching now Jacksonville today hitting 5 1/2 feet in St. Johns River. That smashes the record last year with Matthew by a half a foot.
You get up towards Savannah and the Savannah River. They reached over 12 feet, just missing the all-time record by just 0.2 of a foot. But then it was into Charleston, and again, in the harbor, water over the Battery; 9.92 feet, coming in just third place between -- behind Hugo and Matthew.
But then the warnings started to come out. Not just the flash flood warnings but the tornado warnings. We had 69 tornado warnings in a 24-hour period, Wolf. The record was 47. And for the first time in history, a tropical storm warning for North Georgia, including the Atlanta area.
Enough -- enough is enough. We're putting it in the record books. We'll never have another Harvey or Irma. The last time we had back- to-back retirement names was Rita and Stan 12 years ago.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Tom, what about Jose?
SATER: Jose came very close to the northern islands. In fact, after they were hit the first time, 24 hours later they had another hurricane watch. Missing the islands direct hit, sliding into the northern Atlantic. Great question, Wolf. Do not worry at all about Jose. It will go in the books, too, of being quickly behind this one but no threat to the U.S. mainland. BLITZER: All right. Good news on Jose. All right. Thanks very
much, Tom Sater. We'll get back to you.
Just ahead, new information on the destruction in Florida that's still unfolding right now. Our correspondents are all across the areas that took a real beating from Irma. We'll get a live update right after a quick break.
[18:36:43] BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, the disaster spawned by Hurricane Irma still unfolding as the storm moves north, with potentially deadly winds and flooding. And tonight, the full scope of the damage in Florida is being revealed.
CNN's Brian Todd is in the hard-hit state. He's in the southwest coast. Brian, you've seen some extreme damage.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We certainly have, Wolf. Just a short time ago we came out of a badly flooded neighborhood not far from here in Bonita Springs, Florida. We went there just to survey the damage, but we ended up getting involved in the search for an elderly couple stranded in their home.
TODD (voice-over): Much of Bonita Springs, Florida, is under water. This small, stoic community, sandwiched between Ft. Myers and Naples, was slammed with Irma's highest winds and unrelenting rain. When the Imperial River flooded, so did this mobile home neighborhood, the Imperial Bonita Estates.
When we come upon Doreen Ragle, caretaker of the mobile homes, she's visibly worried about an elderly couple who decided to stay in their home.
Through water that sometimes comes up to our waists, water contaminated with oil, chemicals and garbage, we trudge about a mile into the neighborhood. Homes are inundated, badly damaged. Some are completely overturned.
(on camera): Are you Doreen's husband?
(voice-over): We meet Doreen Ragle's husband, Roger, also a caretaker of the mobile homes, who couldn't get to that couple. He's shaken by the condition of his neighborhood.
ROGER RAGLE, CARETAKER, BONITA SPRINGS MOBILE HOME PARK: There's a lot of damage. A lot of damage
TODD: We finally make it to the home of Edith and Ed Nalepa. She's 88. He's 93 and has Parkinson's and diabetes. The water is lapping the front door of their trailer. The alarm of their flooded car is buzzing.
(on camera): Do you want us to call the fire department or the police department?
EDITH NALEPA, FLOODED RESIDENT: No, no, no, no. We're fine. We're doing good.
TODD (voice-over): Edith says they knew they'd probably have flooding. We asked why they didn't leave when most of their neighbors did.
NALEPA: Difficulty taking care of my husband. We have every -- you know, he does good here at home. He has all of his medications and everything. Just easier.
TODD: And a question we often ask of disaster victims like Edith and Ed: do they want to continue to live in a place so devastated?
NALEPA: We love it here. We've been here 27 years. This is home.
TODD: Now, we repeatedly offered Ed and Edith Nalepa food and water. We offered to call the fire and police departments for them. We offered to carry them out of that neighborhood. They repeatedly said, no, they're fine. They have enough supplies for days.
Edith told us they also have flood insurance, so she's very optimistic about how this is going to turn out. The mayor of Bonita Springs told us they are still trying to get to neighborhoods like the Nalepas with fire and rescue crews just to see who needs help and who might be injured tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, what a story that is. Brian Todd on the scene for us. Brian, good work. Thank you so much.
Let's get an update on the conditions just a bit north in Naples, which was thrashed by Hurricane Irma. We're joined by the city manager, Bill Moss.
Bill, thanks so much for joining us. As you know, Naples is facing right now enormous clean-up. Most of the city is still without power. What are your most urgent needs?
BILL MOSS, CITY MANAGER, NAPLES, FLORIDA (via phone): Well, Wolf, we had all of our employees stationed here in the city all day yesterday and throughout the storm so that we were able to mobilize quickly at daybreak this morning.
[18:40:11] And our priority was to clear streets of -- of downed trees and tree limbs so that we could provide police and fire rescue and medical services to our community and, more importantly, so that we could allow our residents to return to the city as close as possible.
So today we made great progress. We did have tidal surge, but it did not approach the levels that were predicted. This storm was somewhat unusual. We were right at the eye wall. We experienced the eye of the hurricane. Back on the backside, the winds dropped down dramatically, and that spared us the worst of the -- of the storm surge.
So, we had a surge of about three feet, but it did not cause any flooding of structures that we've been able to determine so far. Some apartment buildings lost their roofs, and we've had to relocate people to -- to other city facilities, our community center.
But generally speaking, there is not a lot of structural damage, although the landscape damage is just very, very significant.
BLITZER: How many people are without power?
MOSS: Well, in our city of 20,000, almost all of them -- all of them are without power. Many are without water, because when the trees get uprooted, they also break the water mains. So we're in the process of repairing those and getting water restored to everybody.
With about four million people without power in Florida, we have no expectation that power will resume any time soon. So we're telling our citizens that those that are here and those that evacuated and are returning, that they may be enjoying 90-degree temperatures without air conditioning for days, or even weeks.
BLITZER: Weeks, is that what they're saying before you get power, before you get clean water?
MOSS: Well, that's -- and that's been our experience. Now Florida Power and Light serves this area, and they do have crews out. But there's just so much work to do and so many power lines down. So between our community and places throughout Florida, it's just going to be a major effort.
BLITZER: So what should people be doing who have homes there in Naples?
MOSS: Well, is -- we're urging people to stay where they are if they did evacuate. But if they come back, they're just going to have to be used to some fairly -- fairly tough conditions. That seems to be the only option for now.
BLITZER: Good luck to all the people in Naples. Bill Moss, you're the city manager; thanks so much for joining us.
MOSS: My pleasure. Thank you.
BLITZER: Our breaking news coverage continues. Next we're going to have much more on the threat Irma is posing as the storm moves north.
Plus, we're getting some new details of its devastating impact in Florida.
[18:47:26] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're back with our breaking news coverage of the hurricane disaster in Florida, where officials and residents are just beginning to get a handle on all the destruction. One early estimate puts the damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Harvey
in the range of $150 billion to $200 billion, roughly the cost of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.
We've also received some high-resolution satellite image of the damage Hurricane Irma caused as it slammed into the islands of the Caribbean as a category five storm. Some of these areas remain very difficult for rescue crews to get into right now. These pictures, by the way, have been provided to us by digital globe.
Look at this. This is road town on the island of Tortola before the storm and after.
Next, on the Turks and Caicos Islands, this is before Irma, this is after.
Another picture shows Philipsburg on the Dutch portion of St. Maarten Island before the hurricane and after.
Finally, on St. Maarten island, this is before the storm and after. Pretty devastating.
Let's go back to Florida right now. CNN's Diane Gallagher surveying damage for us on Anna Maria Island near Tampa right.
Dianne, what are you seeing there?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we just got onto Anna Maria Island. This is -- they've been waiting, not allowing people on here. Residents achieving access just before we did.
I want you to see some of these trees that have come down. Overall, the damage not as substantial as you would think on a barrier island, but take a look at how large some of these trees that actually came down were -- massive roots, huge, old trees, blocking several of the roads here.
We want you to see some drone footage of the island. Again, this is a barrier island over Tampa. You have you no idea, Wolf, just how much we have been seeing here.
There's water, there's a little bit of stuff, but overall, I spoke to some homeowners and they said they were expecting once they were allowed back on the island, not to even have a home. They thought everything was going to be gone.
They figured that this was going to be, as it is called, a barrier for the Tampa Area. When they got back, they wouldn't have homes. For the most part, they say that they've -- a little bit of shingles maybe, some roof is gone. We're basically just seeing trees, like this one.
And while it is impressive and large, again, the people who live here, while they still do not have power and are not sure when they're going to get it, thought they would return home to far worse than they did.
[18:50:09] BLITZER: All right. Dianne, thank you. Dianne Gallagher on the road for us -- appreciate it.
Much more on the breaking news coverage right after this.
BLITZER: Our breaking news coverage of Irma continues in just a moment.
[18:55:01] But there's also breaking news on North Korea we're following right now. The United Nations Security Council has just unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea in response to its increasingly aggressive nuclear weapons program.
CNN's Will Ripley is in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang right now, his 15th trip to that city. He's the only Western journalist there.
So, Will, how is North Korea going to respond to this late-breaking development?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the question we don't know the answer to right now, Wolf, because for several days now, South Korean intelligence has indicated that North Korea is ready at any moment to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile, some thought it would happen over the weekend when they marked a major holiday. Their foundation day, it didn't happen. Some thought it may happen today in the aftermath of that United Nations vote, the toughest round of sanctions ever imposed against North Korea just approved unanimously including, yes, votes from Russia and China.
But so far, North Korea hasn't launched anything. But we know that it's coming, Wolf, based on previous experience with North Korea. It's not a matter of if, but when.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, trying to show the world that he will not back down from his nuclear program. In fact, he gave his nuclear scientists and other contributors to the hydrogen bomb test a hero's welcome here in the North Korea capital over the weekend. He threw them a glitzy gala. He wined and dined them. They visited amusement parks, water parks, museums.
They were able to enjoy the few luxuries offered to the privileged North Korean citizens here in the capital, even as most say that nearly everyone else in the country is living a very different -- much lower living standard at the expense perhaps of North Korea continuing to invest so heavily in the nuclear program that resulted that has led to these sanctions, Wolf.
BLITZER: How does this visit, this current visit compare to some of the earlier ones, Will?
RIPLEY: Well, these sanctions are not what the United States wanted. They're certainly a watered down version. But they do cut yet another form of the regime's ability to earn income by cutting textile exports. Now, they can't sell their textiles. They also can't sell coal, oil, lead or seafood, and they continue to have very limited access to international financial institutions.
But North Korea has proven time and time again, Wolf, they can get around sanctions and they're economies still manage to grow by almost 4 percent last year even though they were the most heavily sanctioned country on earth.
BLITZER: Will Ripley reporting for us from Pyongyang. Will is the only Western journalist reporting live from North Korea right now.
Will, will stay in very close touch with you. Thanks for that report.
Finally, tonight, the United States and the world are remembering the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. Almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington, Shanksville, Pennsylvania were killed. Ceremonies were held in all three locations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scott Water Cahill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thomas Joseph Cahill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George C. Cain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salvatore B. Calabro.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joseph M. Calandrillo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Philip V. Calcagno.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To 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, we mourn them, we honor them and we pledge to never, ever forget them.
BLITZER: And 16 years later, we will certainly never forget that day.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Our coverage continues with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT".