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FEMA estimate 90% of Florida Keys Homes Destroyed or Damaged; Water, Power, Food, Scarce on Caribbean Islands after Irma. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired September 12, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:04] BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I don't know about 90 percent of what we see. It's so interesting because the structures that are along the Atlantic Ocean which took the brunt of the force are those on the inside that took the dirty edge, are fortified. Some of the steepest damage is inside these keys where the houses aren't as structurally strong.

I'll show you some video, I think we have it here of -- this is Marathon Key. And we went on shore, I saw this building that had -- looked like laundry hanging from the railing and thought, boy, there's a sign of life and limb there. And it is so stunning to see what the waves, with all of the sand. Now some keys don't have beaches, but in this one did, and it blew the sand up into the lobby of this condo, condominium, into through parking garage into the -- up against the door where the sand was at least three feet high. And it was so surreal, which then lowered the ceilings. And we had to bend down to get around and it was half way up the elevator. And I found one guy there who was the lone holdover, the caretaker of this condominium complex, a guy named William Dub Richardson. And I said why didn't you leave? He said, well, I'm the caretaker, this is my job. And he hung out there and rode it out. And he thought that this really fortified structure would come down at a couple times, but it didn't, and he survived. He says everyone that around him that he know has stayed had survived. And first thing he did afterwards was hung this tattered American flag from those railings as a symbol that they made it through and they would rebuild, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes, it's just amazing. Bill Weir, appreciate that. I want to go now to Brian Todd in Islamorada. Brian, what have you been seeing today?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is part of Islamorada the southern part of it. You can see the devastation behind me. This is the Sandy Cove condominium complex here. Look at what happened to this.

We have our -- lot of journalist (INAUDIBLE) kinds of go in on some of this. This, what you're looking at here is the third floor of this condominium complex. The first two floors including the garage were completely buried. This is the third floor. This is a 12-unit condominium complex that was completely crushed and the rest of it just that taken it down -- taken down in the storm surge. Not sure exactly how this happened, but we're on the southern tip of Islamorada here. And we talk to one of the owners of one of these units, his name is Tom Ross (ph) 73 years old, he's had this place for 18 years. And his unit is that third, is the middle right there, and again, on the third floor. And he said he believes everybody got out of here and evacuated, and it's a good thing because if they haven't --they wouldn't survive this.

You know, he was talking earlier today. He was -- he had (INAUDIBLE) on his face that so many people have that we come across these keys here. First of all just looked kind of shell shocked, he was standing there looking at this. He walked around to the back and we talked to him back there. And he, you know, he was rational, he was fine, but I asked him, I said do you have any desire to come back here, oh, yes, we're going to rebuild this place. I said, are you kidding? I mean, look at this. He said, look, this place was built in the 70s. And he says he knows it wasn't built to code back then. But after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, he believes that when they rebuild this they're going to build it to code. It's going to be much stronger. Yes, but still, Tom, I mean, you know, this is susceptible to hurricanes on both sides because the Atlantic Coast is right here on front us. And the bay is right -- basically at his back door, and he said that's the reason I want to come back here. He said where else can you look out your front door and you can see the Atlantic Ocean and then you got your boat (INAUDIBLE) to the back there in the bay? Nowhere else. I got to comeback here. But his wife Susan he says cannot bear to look at this place. She has not bee able to come back and take a look at this place.

So, that is the status from here. All the steady stream of cars and people trying to get into the southern most part of the keys south of here, a lot of frustration among people trying to get in there, Anderson, but they've got to make sure that the 42 bridges in the keys are secure and not all of them seem to be checked up on yet, inspected yet to secure those bridges.

COOPER: It's incredible, that's the third floor. It looks like obviously the first floor. Brian Todd, appreciate that.

Apologize for the signal. We're using a satellite trucks. Our image is pretty (INAUDIBLE). Where Brian it's much more mobile unit that he has. It's so much more smaller unit and obviously it can break up very easily.

Now to Sugarloaf Key, that's where John Berman is tonight. John, what's the situation there?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANHCOR: Yes, I'm at mile 20 in the keys. So I'm even further south than Brian Todd is. The eye of Irma passed over here. We actually flew in by helicopter, Anderson. So we got a chance to look at the structures.

[21:05:05] Most structures we saw were still standing. Nearly all, though, damaged. We were able to land our helicopter not far from here. We walked down to this house. This house clearly destroyed. The man who actually lives here, Armando, told us he was riding out the storm inside, it was all going OK until this tree, you can see right here, fell on the house. He then hid as best he could and waited until the eye was passing over his house, got in his truck, and then drove to a safer location where he rode out the rest of the storm.

Now we had a chance to drive around just before dark to get a little bit of a lay of the land. I will tell you right here on highway 1, which is about 200 yards that way. I was a line of utility trucks, 20 utility trucks, all lined up just waiting to get to work. I saw some National Guard forces here. They were here to serve as police, frankly, law enforcement to make sure that everyone is safe and secure. I talked to the local sheriff. He said that the first contact either from the military or the federal government came here on Monday the day after the storm. That was when officials went door to door to see, frankly, if there were any victims, to find people who needed rescuing. After that they moved on. Aid, per se, that be food or water has not arrived here yet, however, just a few islands up from here in Summerlin, which is only a 10 miles ride, there are stores that are opening up during the day, a hardware store, Publix is selling water so people have been able to get there to re-supply. And those who chose to rode out the storm now are just waiting to hear from the federal officials to arrive to get them back on their feet, Anderson.

COOPER: Just amazing all the -- I'm glad we have some reporters all throughout the keys, just trying to give us much of the sense in the different locations. John Berman I appreciate that. It's not just the keys, obviously, where the damage food, gas shortages, lack of power, Caribbean islands were hit very, very hard. People who survived are describing really some nightmare scenarios. CNN's Clarissa Ward has more on that.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Island of St. Martin. Last week, one of the jewels of the Caribbean now a paradise lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Not a day went by, she says, without us thinking that we were very lucky to live on this ideal island. Today it is just complete chaos.

WARD (voice-over): Six days after Irma pummeled St. Martin, officials say more than 90 percent of the buildings on the island are damaged or destroyed. Food and water are still scarce, power remains out for most. Thousands of tourists were stranded for days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. Never been that scared in my life.

WARD (voice-over): The desperation has let led to looting and violence with reports not yet confirmed by CNN of armed men roaming the streets. Doctor Lachlan and Kayan Macleay (ph) were vacationing at this resort on St. Martin when Irma struck. Macleay spent several days caring for the injured, but also found himself forced to stand guard against a lotters, sharing this text with a colleague back home. "Military is trying to control chaos but nothing is safe after dark, lots of a lotting. I was on patrol last night with machete until the sun came up." And the story is much the same all across the hard-hit Caribbean. On the British Virgin Island one resident told CNN that the situation is only getting worse.

KENNEDY BANDA, HOME DESTYROYED BY HURRICAN IRMA (via telephone): The supermarkets here doubled the prices. The gas stations doubled the prices. So we run out of cash. It's just scary. I'm not (INAUDIBLE) gas station (INAUDIBLE) gun.

WARD (voice-over): Help has been slow to arrive to many of the islands where people are struggling to get by day-to-day and long term, officials say full recovery may be years away.


COOPER: Clarissa Ward joins us now from Guadeloupe, the island of Guadeloupe. So the French President Emmanuel Macron actually visited St. Martin today. There's a French side of the island. There's a Dutch side of the island. What did he have to say about rebuilding?

WARD: Well, Anderson, he made a lot of promises today. He said that they are going to complete rebuild St. Martin, that they're going to completely rebuild St. Barts as well as which is also a French territory. He says they're going to get the power back shortly. They're going to get water back shortly. He talked about reopening schools as soon as next week, but a lot of people here, and I should explain, sorry, we're at a sort of processing center here for thousands of evacuees who have left the island of St. Martin say that they're not exactly reassured by hearing President Macron's promises because they're very concerned that he's not going to be able to deliver on them, and frankly, Anderson, a lot of them telling me that they're a little bit angry too. They say, hold on a second, we saw Hurricane Irma coming for days. We knew how big the storm was. How is it that it took so long to get aid into the hardest hit areas? How is it, Anderson, they say, that thousands of people are still waiting to being evacuated?

[21:10:20] COOPER: Yes, a lot of frustration and understandable. Claire, I'm glad you're there.

Up next, I'm going to speak to a resident from Cudjoe Key who rode out the storm near Fort Lauderdale. He's getting messages from back home. Doesn't exactly know what the condition of his house is. We'll talk to him coming up.

Also we have more in my interviewer with country music superstar Kenny Chesney, how he is helping Irma victims on St. John, an island that he has spent many years on and beyond. We'll be right back.


COOPER: A lot of people obviously have evacuated from the keys. I want you to meet Andrew Mobley, he's from Cudjoe Key that rode out the storm, where, near Fort Lauderdale?

ANDREW MOBLEY, CUDJOE KEY, FL RESIDENT: Yes, outside the Stewart. COOPER: So, what made you decide you weren't going to stay in the keys for days?

MOBLEY: Just the size of the storm. I mean, kind of saw it coming. Had no idea that it was going to impact my area when I left. But -- just knew it was going to impact a lot area and didn't want to see it.

COOPER: Do you know how your house is?

MOBLEY: I've seen pictures of my neighborhood. I've seen pictures of friends' houses and where they used to be, a lot of destruction. I got to hold out hope because I haven't seen anything of mine yet, but I really don't know.

COOPER: What have you been told about the possibility of getting back there?

[21:15:02] MOBLEY: I've been told that the roads have been closed because of all the damage too, I mean, all the structural questions and checks. We've talked about going back by boat, all the debris in the water. I've been told that as the roads open up, we'll have more. But without signal, without water and power, it's really tough to know what you're going back to. I don't want to be stuck down there with no fuel, no way of powering a generator.

COOPER: It's got to be such just awful feeling to not -- just to no know it.

MOBLEY: You know, I know that a lot of my friends are safe. I've heard a lot about a lot of them, satellite phones, luckily. So we haven't gotten a lot of pictures, but we've gotten a lot of good word and good news and --

COOPER: And we're looking at some of your pictures. Some of the pictures, I guess. You've seen some news reports. That's your house there?

MOBLEY: No. This is supposed to be a house on Cudjoe Key. I saw that on Facebook. Someone said that was actually just down the block from my house. So I'm expecting that there was anywhere from five to 15 feet of storm surge. I really, again, don't know. I haven't gotten anything exact from people in my neighborhood. That's sea center, boats up on Big Pine Key.

COOPER: So those boats are just lifted up and just --

MOBLEY: Yes, those guys have those all stacked in a line on a Tuesday when I was driving out of town I saw those boats already organized. I mean, the boat ramp was slammed full this year than many season.

COOPER: Have you lived in Cudjoe Key for a while?

MOBLEY: I've been down there eight years now.

COOPER: So had you evacuated before for storms? MOBLEY: I have not needed -- no, I haven't. No, not in the last eight years. We had Sandy that came a little close. I went to somewhere a little safer than my house.

COOPER: Right.

MOBLEY: But I didn't live the island.


MOBLEY: Just the size and magnitude to this kind -- was intimidating from the beginning.

COOPER: And if you go back and it's damaged, you'll rebuild.

MOBLEY: Oh, yes. I got to do my best. That's my home, so absolutely. I look forward to it. I mean, if I've got to rebuild it, I'm happy to do it.

COOPER: Yes, such a unique part of America.

MOBLEY: It's beautiful, closure to Cuba than Walmart. I'll take it.

COOPER: Andrew, thank you very much.

MOBLEY: Appreciate it.

COOPER: Joining me now on the phone is the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kenneth Mapp. Governor Mapp, appreciate you being with us. If you could just, first of all, tell us what is the security situation right now on St. Thomas? I know one in St. Thomas told "The New York Times" that is -- well, he described it as survival mode. I'm wondering what you make of that. Is that an accurate assessment of what's happening?

GOV. KENNETH MAPP, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: Anderson, I would say that the security mode is in good order. We had some concerns on the eastern end of the island of St. John. We deployed more police officers and National Guard troops. We had our territorial police chief over there and relieve the officers that were there working pretty much for four straight days. We couldn't get on the island practically in the early days following the cat five storm. We had vessels sunk in the harbor and boats. But we got military air lift over and got troops in order. We didn't have -- you know, I read that article that was sent to me and I would say portions of the article is accurate and then there are portions that are not.

COOPER: Just in terms of the relief efforts, how are you for supplies? How is the island of St. John, the island of St. Thomas -- I mean, where are you in this relief effort?

MAPP: Yes, the supplies and the support from our federal partners have been awesome. I've been on St. John three times. I was there again today meeting some media folks from the mainland there. Our FEMA partners have been air lifting a lot of water, food. We've done (INAUDIBLE) we've done medical evacuations from the hospitals that were -- was severely damages. We provided hemodialysis services for that segment of the community. We have the Mapp teams up and boats St. John help facility and outside the Schneider hospital.

So I would say it's going very, very well. The marines landed today. They are going to be targeting debris removal on both of the islands. We've begun the reconstruction of the electrical distribution system. A good call with governor for New York who pledge an additional 100 state troopers and National Guard, MP's from his unit to help beef up security to the power, folks can, you know, --

COOPER: Do you know when they will be arriving?

MAPP: No. We're setting that up with FEMA and they're putting that together to let us know. We've had -- you know, and the good thing is that about 70 percent, 80 percent of the officers in St. Thomas, St. John, lost their homes as well. And we had a turnout of 85 percent of the officers on duty. So, we were happy with that.


MAPP: They've been working around the clock.

COOPER: Yes, Governor Mapp, I appreciate talking to you. Thank you very much. We're going to continuing the story in the U.S. Virgin Islands and all throughout the Caribbean.

Cyril Vanier is on St. Martin. He joins us now. Cyril, I know you just got on the ground of St. Martin a few hours ago. We've been just hearing some really tragic reports about the damage. What have you seen?

[21:20:04] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes, Anderson, first of all, allow me to break one of the first rules of journalism, you know. When you're journalist you are told don't put yourself in the story. When you're covering a story like this, it's impossible because when the infrastructure is down, everybody -- it's a level playing field. Everybody struggles, we do, the people do. So I'm just going to tell you what I saw.

We just landed about three hours ago at St. Martin airport on the Dutch side. And, honestly, to me the scenes were reminiscence of the Haiti earthquake years ago. I know that speaks to you. I know you were there. So you know the scene. And I think a lot of our viewers who are watching CNN know the scene -- may remember the scene too, which is a number of the building just down. And, you know, the only thing that's clear is the Tarmac. So you have military planes that are operating, you have Dutch marines there, you have the French military as well. They're going in and out. And that's the air bridge that is so key to this island.

Now, an hour later, the sunset and all of a sudden I was speaking to Erin Burnett on the phone a couple hours ago. I couldn't see a meter or two in front of me because there was no light. We were in total, total, total darkness that is because there's no power as is to be expected in a situation like this one. And now, fortunately we managed to get there. And, Anderson, I wanted to just show you around. I know this shot is choppy. I know the shot looks rough, but just bear with us. That thing right there is what concerns me right now, it's what concerns most people, the red Jerry can, you see it there. It's sitting on top of a generator. That's ours. People who are more fortunate here have their own generator that is powering their homes, powering everything they need to do. But that runs on gas, and the gas right now is rationed. The gas is only being allowed -- they're only providing gas for emergency services. So if you're a regular citizen, unless you can pull strings, you're not getting gas.

So we've been told by the people who are sheltering us here, power may go down anytime now. In fact, that's why we didn't come to you earlier, Anderson, because power did go down. We lost our connection, couldn't speak to you.

We are actually right now live from the Daily Herald which is one of the biggest newspapers, one of the two or three newspapers on the Dutch side of St. Martin. They're sheltering us. Right behind us is the printing press. They can't print anything but they are putting information up on their website. Anybody who wants to get the information, they are also doing their best. They're journalists.

You know, as I said, level playing field, their journalists are running out of gas in the middle of assignments, can't do anything more. So let me just go down to list. Right now you can't get gasoline. Most houses do not have power. Some of them still do when those cables run underground but that appears to be a minority from what I can judge driving into the island. So no power. Water is a key one here. Water is being given out by the Dutch marines and what I've been told by the population is, they are thirsty, OK. They don't have as much water as they would like to drink. And food, obviously, which is the other key one, for the moment -- for the moment we're doing OK on that in the sense that people or still eating what they stocked up on before the hurricane.

Now, and there's an important message. If anybody is watching us from St. Martin or has family who can relate our message to them here on St. Martin on the Dutch side, there's been a 24-hour curfew, a24-hour curfew. Meaning you can't go anywhere day or night. That is being partially lifted tomorrow. I was just speaking to representatives of the government. Let me think, get the time right, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., people can go out tomorrow. A couple of supermarkets I have just been told still have some food.

So hopefully, you know, fingers crossed here, people might be able to start getting some food tomorrow. And, Anderson, what surprises me most is that everything I have described sounds to me from having covered previous natural disasters like day two, day three after the disaster, but we are day six. They were hit on Wednesday. Today is Tuesday night. We are a week in. They have the help, the services, and the finances of some top tier companies. The Netherlands for the Dutch side and France for the French side, and yet, this is where we find ourselves a week in. I'll say one last thing, Anderson. We understood why that was. Why are we at the stage a weekend just by flying in, because this is an island. I know I'm saying something obvious, but that means that everything that they need to rebuild and they need a lot, has to be flown in or brought in by boat, and that makes things a lot slower, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Well, Cyril, I'm glad you found a place being sheltered tonight. We wish you the best. We'll obviously check in with you tomorrow. There's a lot more to focus on. We've been, you know, trying to get as much word out about what is happening in the Caribbean because that seems to be kind of an escalating story -- an escalating reality, frankly. It's not a story, it's life-and-death for people.

Cyril talks about Haiti, he was talking about the extent of damage of structures, obviously, not in death toll. Haiti, the death toll was extraordinary high as many as 200,000 people or more from that earthquake.

[21:24:55] Up next, nearly 5 million customers in Florida and throughout the southeast are without power tonight, a problem that gets worse as it gets hotter this week. It's going to be very hot tomorrow. We'll get the latest forecast.


COOPER: Rebuilding after Irma it's going to be hard enough, but right now one of the biggest issues is the lack of power. Nearly 5 million people are without power across the south, mostly in Florida, and that's while temperatures are expected to soar this week. Most of the states is going to see daytime highs into the 90s. No air- conditioning for millions of people, not to mention all the food that's rotting and lacks of communication. Our meteorologist, Tom Sater, joins us now from weather center, plus Ryan Young is in Tampa. To, so many people obviously still without power. Can you explain for us where most of this is happening?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And it's interesting, Anderson, because the number is constantly change every hour. Before Irma made landfall, Florida Power & Light put out an estimate that maybe 3.4 million customers would loss power. FEMA went as far to say 5 million. Even a 3.4, the greatest loss of power for any severe weather event that the U.S. has ever seen and the greatest restoration challenge we would ever have to undergo.

But here are the numbers and they are changing, in fact, these are from an hour ago, 4.7 million in Florida, 0.5 million in Georgia, 37,000 in North Carolina, South Carolina, 87,000, and Alabama 7100, but my producer was just telling me the numbers, they have restored 400,000 in the last three hours. In Miami-Dade County they were able to restore 30,000 in just the last hour. But again, here's what we're looking at. As far as the power outrages, now there are other provides besides Florida Power & Light, there's Duke Energy, there's Gulf Power, there's Tampa Electric. But this is the largest provider. And you can understand where they are because of our landfall to the south, an extent of power outrages here. But up the east coast because it was such a broad hurricane, tropical storm force winds slamming into the coast with those feeder bands as the system moved northward. Interesting to note, though, the chief of communications for Florida Power & Light put out a statement today saying that they believe that the eastern half of Florida should have their power restored by the end of this weekend. And then for the west and the southeast, it'll be about 10 days, September 22nd. That's a bold statement thinking we were going to go weeks and weeks, but Collier County, 84 percent still without power, Broward and Miami-Dade, still 50 percent. Ten days is a long time with the temperatures rising, Anderson.

[21:30:15] COOPER: Yes, some of the people on this block were telling me that they got that day of September 22nd as well. As you say, temperate are rising. No air-condition. It's pretty miserable. Gas supply, Ryan, gas supply obviously is an issue in Florida as well.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. People have been talking about that consistently. In fact, when a gas station opens up and it has gas, people run for it. In fact, we were with the coast guard today as they opened the shipping channels back up because so many people were wondering when that would resume in terms of bringing gas back into the port. So many people rely on the ports here. In fact, if you look behind me, you can see one of the tankers that came in today. Three tankers came in, several more are coming. The port supplies so much of the gas for central Florida and also the airports here in the area. But something to remember and we were talking to some folks from the port. They believe they never got to a critically low level, and that tankers have been going in and out of here. But you have to have electricity supply over these gas stations. And hen when have an unprecedented run on gas stations more people are trying to fill up, it created a combination that has left a lot of people looking for gas.

I can tell you today, as we were driving down the street if a gas station opened up, you would see a line, and people were willing to wait, especially as they try to gas up their generators or their cars when people are using those to kind of power their cell phones, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Ryan. Appreciate it, Ryan Young and Tom Sater as well.

Joining me now, expert on all things, hurricane recovery, Retired Lieutenant Generally Russel Honore, who led the military respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

General Honore, you know, I want to talk about what's going on some of these islands in the Caribbean. As you see it, I mean, obviously getting supplies, you know, if an airport is down as it has been on some of these islands, then, A, the airport is got to be brought back up online before you can fly stuff in, unless you bring in by helicopter, ship is the other way. Talk to me about what you see on the response to some of these islands like St. Martin particularly on the Dutch side, St. Thomas from the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John what seems to be really badly damaged.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, CNN CONTRIBUTO: Yes. The situation now is, Anderson, we've got good coverage in the Virgin Islands as you heard earlier. In St. Martin and in the British, we have an agreement through the state department to help them in times of hurricane.

Our principle responsibility is to help save life and evacuations. Right now, off of Virgin Island you've got three war ships there led by (INAUDIBLE) that is able to provide some of the service. You got a prime power unit, I mean, from a co-engineers who are the 750KW, big facility generator as long that's not the hospital. And you have one on St. Thomas.

The challenge, again, is the weather. There's more supplies that could have been there had we -- this storm hadn't lingered out and closed the entire east coast port system. The stuff they need to go from -- out of the shelters into temporary homes and to put tarps on, is tied up in barges that's been tied up at dock because they can't get out there, Anderson. As far as the Dutch and French portions, I think they will see a difference more in life saving more food and water distribution, but that will become the responsibility of those host nations. We have an agreement. They have to save lives there, Anderson.

COOPER: And general, just in terms of, you know, that September 22nd date for Light & Power saying they may be able to restore power to, you know, folks in this area, does that sound ambitious you to or is that doable, what do you think?

HONORE: I tell you what, there's nobody working harder than these linemen. You know, they're working 16 hours a day. Is what made -- doing, which means to the part of recovery that I think a lot of politicians need to look at that. When you restrict the number of hours a day by putting these heavy curfews on, people need to work. You can't recover a city from dusk to dawn. That won't work. You got to have trucks moving. You got to have people working. And you got to get stores restock. And gas stations got to stay open so they can take fuel in middle of the night. Curfews can really hurt the recovery operation. The other thing you're going to have more, Anderson, you'll see a different in the keys is (INAUDIBLE) has finally made it through the winds and then all the rough seas out there, and that battle group will arrive in the keys and start providing some of the needed medical support and helicopter support --


HONORE: -- to reinforce that string of islands in the keys and (INAUDIBLE) that happening the more, Anderson, as well as being able to get the phone cell services up.

[21:35:04] COOPER: Yes, that's critical. General Honore, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Coming up, more on my interview with country superstar Kenny Chesney, a friend of his also who rode out the storm in his house along with the 16 other of Kenny's friends on the island of St. John. He's now trying to help, do all he can to help Virgin Islands. And the Virgin Islands rebuild and recover. We'll talk to Kenny ahead.


COOPER: I want to bring you more on my interview with Kenny Chesney. I talked to him right before we went on air. Kenny got a big heart. I've known him for about 10 years or so. He's got a home on St. John on the U.S. Virgin Islands, a home where he had 17 of his friends riding out the storm. They all survived. Kenny wasn't on the island but he's determined to try to help people get out and get people supplies and help the island rebuild in the future. I spoke to Kenny and his friend Kate Hanna about rebuilding and the about the resiliency of the island.


KENNY CHESNEY, SINGER: You know, Anderson, the rebuilding is not going to be measured within a few days or a few weeks or a few months. It's going to be measured in years, sadly enough. And -- but I think, like I said, the heart and the spirit of that island is very resilient. And if I know my friends like, you know, Kate knows also, it's going to happen sooner than we think.

[21:40:02] COOPER: Yes, I think it was like 10 years ago I was doing profile of you for 60 minutes the first time I met you and it was actually down on St. John. You showed me around the island and I saw a little bit about that. We hung out in your favorite bar. And it is, I mean, it's a completely unique place in the United States. And even in the Virgin Islands, it's a really unique spirit and the folks there are really unlike anywhere else. Kate, are you ultimately -- you want to go back that's your home, you want to rebuild?

KATE HANNA, SURVIVED HURRICANE IRMA ON ST. JOHN: You know, I want to help in any way I can. One reason I came up here is, you know, I didn't know Kenny gave me the option to bring my dog and so, -- also just to get people off the island right now because of lack of resources and stuff like that. I felt like, you know, that's why some people should get off. I would like to go back. I mean, it's my home. I have 11 years worth of stuff there, you know. My brother's there. He actually just got back with a couple other guys that grew up down there. They got a boat to St. Croix and they brought some supplies and they're ready to rebuild stuff. I came back because I felt like I could maybe do a little bit more up here to help than being down there. But, yes, I'd like to go back. You know, I don't know if I would go back for good just -- because what I do right now working on boats is kind of out of the picture for a little bit.

So I'll probably be focus -- you know, go back down and see what I can do down there and help out, but I think I'll try to help as much as I can up here right now. And just get the word out --

COOPER: And we've been hearing --

HANNAH: -- those guys are down -- I mean, everyone doing everything they can do right now.

CHESNEY: Yes, Anderson, I'd like to say that there's a group of people at my house right now that have done so much for the island. My boat captain, Ben Bourassa (ph), Marty Brugler, Seth Bender, so many people, Justin, Connor, Tyson, there's a lot of guys, Josh. There's a lot of guys up there at the house that literally went to an area called Bordeaux Mountain yesterday or two days ago and with chain saws and crow bars and everything cut through homes and saved 20 people's lives that nobody would have ever found.

HANNA: Antonio too.

CHESNEY: Antonio. That is a lot of people -- that goes to the heart and the spirit of that island and the people on it that have always helped everybody. And the nickname of that island is called love city. And that's part of the heart of that title and the nickname for island is those guys up there that have done such great work. And I'm so proud of them, I'm so proud of everybody on the island that's coming together to try to make it a great place again. And I just wanted to mention those guys because they've inspired me so much. It's a really rough place to go. When I say rough, I mean in terrain. Bordeaux Mountain, you got to hike up to it and they went in and save 20 people couple of days ago. I'm so proud of them. And I just wanted to mention them to say thanks.

COOPER: Yes, well, Kenny, I know you're going to be doing as much as you can in the days and months ahead. We certainly want to help out in any way we can. Appreciate talking you to tonight and Kate Hanna as well. Thank you so much. I'm glad you and your friends are here and that you were able to get out with Kenny's help. And I hope the island comes back and comes back quick. Kenny, thanks.

HANNA: Thank you.

CHESNEY: Thanks, Anderson. I love you, buddy.


COOPER: Well, to help in Kenny Chesney's relief effort you go to -- from the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, go to When we come back, more from Florida, a look at the flooding in and around the Jacksonville area where we're told the danger is not yet over. Details on that ahead.


[21:46:07] COOPER: Welcome back. You know, one of the things that Tom Sater told us today that Irma hit Florida is that the storm is sneaky. He called it out because as it moved up the coast, as you know which odd to get (INAUDIBLE) in places on the east coast places like Orlando, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville were hit much harder than a lot of people expected. (INAUDIBLE) already dodged rest.

So, a lot of the media focus was on the west and there has not been a lot of coverage to those places in the east, but it is bad over there. CNN's Kaylee Hartung is just south in Jacksonville and Vilano Beach Florida with the latest on that.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One year ago, Joseph Solcz and his wife Nora moved to Florida from South Carolina. They'd found their dream home, ocean front property in Vilano beach.

J. SOLCZ: My wife and I are just going to enjoy ourselves because we worked so hard to buy this place. She had all the ideas, and I'm the contractor. So it was going to be special.

HARTUNG (voice-over): That dream has been more like a nightmare. Two weeks after closing, Hurricane Matthew hit knocking out the seawall and flooding the place. It took 11 months to get plans drawn up by engineers to rebuild. Then Irma.

N. SOLCZ: When we heard it was coming, we just thought, oh, no, please not again.

HARTUNG (on camera): You two have had just of couple hours to process what you've seen here. What's that been like?

J. SOLCZ: It's been tough, because we didn't know what we were walking into.

N. SOLCZ: I got angry and he got upset.

J. SOLCZ: And this used to be our kitchen. You can see the tide's kind of high now and it's washing up underneath our kitchen.

HARTUNG (on camera): How far did this extend?

J. SOLCZ: About 25 feet, because there was a kitchen and then we had a big dining room as well out there. When we bought this, this was considered a bedroom as well, so this was a bedroom. And then right there where you're looking with the camera we had a bathroom and then another what was going to be our new master bedroom looking out over our backyard into the ocean.

Surge just does it. And the high tide, it really -- the water just takes out everything. You can't beat it.

HARTUNG (on camera): How do you describe the emotions you feel?

J. SOLCZ: It's terrible because I was just so gung ho about moving in here before Matthew came. And now it's not reality. Sorry.

HARTUNG (on camera): Have you two discussed a new dream?

J. SOLCZ: Not yet. But I'm told it's not going to be here unfortunately.


COOPER: What just -- so awful for that family. Do officials know what they want to do to try to so secure the shoreline for future storms? HARTUNG: Anderson, I spoke with local, state, and federal officials today. There's widespread agreement that something needs to be done, but that consensus has not yet been reached. Shortly before Irma hit here, those discussions has been ongoing, and there was a beach re- nourishment project that have been authorized but it hadn't yet funded. If this storm and the erosion they continue to see can't convince them to get that done, I don't know what will. I spoke with a homeowner about half a mile down. He said in the last two years he's lost 172 feet of the beach between his home and the ocean.

COOPER: Wow. Kaylee, appreciate you being there. Kaylee Hartung thanks very much.

Up next, two Americans who were vacationing on Tortola on the British Virgin Islands, their struggle to get off the island, not just to make it through the storm, that was one thing, but then to get off the island, hiking for 11 to 12 miles to try to find some way off island. We'll talk to them about what they saw on that journey and the place and people left behind. We'll be right back.


[21:54:07] COOPER: Well, two guys from Atlantic expected a romantic vacation on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and they got more than they bargained for. Kerman Haynes and Andrew Burress said they were stranded on Tortola for five days after the category five storm struck, heavily damaging the hotel they were in. And then have to hike for about 11 to 12 miles to get to the capitol and finally were able to get a helicopter out to Puerto Rico. I spoke to them earlier.


COOPER: Kerman what was it like when Irma hit Tortola?

KERMA HAYNES, EVACUATED FROM TORTOLA: You know, when it first started, it kind of -- just started to build sort of a crescendo. And it was, you know, something that wasn't a lot going on at first and we were watching, we were taping, we're taking pictures, posting on Facebook. And then, you know, hours went by and it started to get, you know, more serious as every hour passed up until, you know, the eye wall came in. And at that point things just -- things became very serious at that point.

[21:55:16] COOPER: Andrew, I heard you say that the hurricane it was more like kind of a 33-hour tornado, in what way?

ANDREW BURRESS, EVACUATED FROM TORTOLA: Yes, so I never really experienced a hurricane before. I wasn't really sure what to expect. But it lasted quite a long time. The storm itself was pretty massive, 500 miles wide 15 miles per hour. So 33 hours of pure wind and rain and debris and things flying around, so it was pretty crazy and lasted quite a long time.

COOPER: And Kerma I know when it was over you needed to try to figure out how to get out and you hiked for like 11 miles or 12 miles to get the to the capitol. On the way there how bad was the damage you saw?

HAYNES: You know, it was catastrophic, I mean, all of the roads were completely just obliterated whether the waves came in and just washed them completely out. There were those debris, the power lines down, there were telephone poles over the road. There were huge, I mean just massive boulders that had slid down from the mountains into the road. It was just a nail-biter the entire time. I have to say, though, the people there -- you could not have seen a more grateful group of people just to have survived the storm. I mean, Andrew and I made comments to each other several times, you know, can you believe the resilience of these people down here who just have lost everything but yet they still seem to have a great attitude right after the storm. And, you know, that started changing as they weren't getting aid and they weren't getting help.

COOPER: What was it finally like when you finally got to the capitol? I know the airport was closed down. I assume ultimately flights started to come in life relief flights or at least aid or the military. But just in terms of getting out, how tough was it to get out. So I know you posted on Facebook basically asking anybody for help. I mean, you said I'm reaching out for a final plea before something terrible happens. How were you able to finally get out?

HAYNES: I mean I have to give all the credit to just a massive group of people, friends and family. You know, I'd be remiss in not mentioning, you know, Kristine (ph) is very -- really just buckled down, was making bunk (ph) holes along with Shannon Williams and (ph) and Karen (ph), my sister, and Joe Reddick (ph) who is a life ling friend and, of course, Courtney (ph) to Ritz-Carlton because they ultimately were the ones that found the helicopter zoned by the Ritz- Carton. They found an ex-military chopper pilot who, you know, came in and what looked like to me something from a movie, military maneuver. He kind of flew past and then to see if we were there and acted like he was going to the same direction and then turned around and made a be line right before us and came right in and he was on the ground, we were in the helicopter within 15, 20 seconds and we were out there.

COOPER: I know there are other people, visitors there who are getting out on boats. People just trying to get out however they could who are visiting. Obviously, for those who are living there, you know, what do you want people to know about the conditions for people who weren't able to leave Tortola? Because I know a lot of people -- I've talked to a number of people whether it's in the British Virgin Islands, the U.S Virgin Islands who feel like they have been forgotten. What do you want the rest of the world to know about all those people who are still there?

HAYNES: You know, Anderson I think what most people don't understand is that the amount of the devastation, there's not a single house that wasn't untouched. Most of them lost windows, a majority lost their roofs. They had no clothes. They had no water. Their fresh-water system comes from desalinization plants. They have no power. You know, there's no infrastructure, and they can't get in to go to work to perform some of these just basic civil services that are run by the government. They need crew ships down there bringing in relief and aide workers. And these people need a place to live. They need generators, they need power, they need fresh-water, they need food just so they can perform the basic services to start getting this island back up and running.