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Hurricane Nate Threatens Gulf Coast; Investigation Continues into Possible Motive of Las Vegas Shooter; Man Who Suffered Spinal Cord Injury Start Foundation to Raise Money for Those with Similar Injuries. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 7, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:27] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks so much for being with me this Saturday.

We're following breaking news this hour on hurricane Nate, which is likely to be a category two storm when it makes landfall in just a few hours. Outer rain bans now reaching southeast Louisiana, 4.5 million from Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida line are under hurricane warning. Residents are bracing for heavy winds, torrential rains and in some area storm surges of up to 11 feet. Nearly 30 million people are bracing for the storm which is packing 90 miles per hour winds. We've got reporters on the ground in all areas facing a major threat along the Gulf Coast. First let's go to CNN's Tom Sater in the weather center. Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Fredricka, the system right now is about 195 miles south of Biloxi. But I want to point out that it's moving so fast at 25 miles per hour, if you do the math, that's pretty much a landfall around 10:00 p.m. this evening if it continues at this speed.

Because it's moving so fast, these systems do not like to rapidly intensify. It's almost like they want to move slower and soak up the warm water. However, at 90 miles per hour sustained winds, it only needs to get up to 96 to be a category two, that most likely without a doubt I think is going to happen.

The rain bands now are showing up on radar. In fact it won't be long before they'll be moving into the metro area of New Orleans already in the parishes of southeast Louisiana, a little bit already moving in now to Baton Rouge.

But the warnings that are in effect are interesting. If you notice in red the hurricane warnings, but then up to tropical storm warnings well into Alabama. We've got into Georgia now some tropical storm watches because the system, because it moving quickly, you've got to take in consideration the sustained speeds, couple that with its forward movement, we're going to have some power outages. But again the big concern is really the going to be first and foremost the core that we do have. In fact when it gets closer we're going to maybe see if there's going to be an eye. You can't see it on satellite but it is on radar.

As the system progresses anyone who lives along this track and a little bit to the east really I think should start meandering outside and looking at is there anything that could be blown away, because of the speed of this and the wind still holding together we could have some significant power outages not to mention some flight delays and maybe even a few cancelations.

Concern here, however, is with southeast Louisiana for the parishes here, and then eastward looking at a significant storm surge threat. Anything over six feet is going to do some problems and cause some damage. But we're looking at the potential seven, even to 11. It does extend into the panhandle of Florida somewhat and two to four feet, so sure, some beach flooding, some beach erosion.

Because it is moving quickly, Fredricka, the rain totals will be a little bit on the lighter side. However, still flash flooding is going to occur when you have nearly six inches in Mobile, about four in Biloxi, Pensacola about four and a half, and then even extending northward you're seeing three and a half possible from Montgomery up toward Birmingham.

With that and the winds together there will be downed trees. There is no doubt about it. There will be some power outages. Most of the winds are kind of focusing really to the east of the system. On the western edge of this core we're not seeing significant winds. So even though New Orleans should have gusts, maybe 40, 45 miles per hours, they're going to be stronger to the east of that center as well. So therefore the possibility of power outages extend to the north but also extend to the east. And with that, Fredricka, comes the threat of possible isolated tornados. So we're going to have our hands full a little bit later on, but it's moving quickly.

WHITFIELD: All right, Tom Sater, thank you.

So Louisiana is currently under a state of emergency and mandatory evacuations are underway outside of New Orleans, and that's where we find CNN's Kaylee Hartung. So Kaylee, what's happening?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I'm just outside of New Orleans about 15 miles east, inside the area protected by the storm defense system that they built up with floodgates just like this when they're about 200 of them in the area, floodgates and bounds that needed to be closed to protect the city of New Orleans from any flooding. It's the areas on the other side of these floodgates that are in those mandatory evacuation zones for Orleans Parish. That's Venetian Isles which is literally on the other side of this gate as well as Lake Catherine and also Irish Bayou.

Traveling through those areas today, I can tell you people are heeding the warnings to evacuate, everyone saying that these gates were going to be closed by noon, so noon was the time people needed to be making their way out. And now the governor and the mayor of New Orleans are both saying they want people in position by 3:00 p.m. to shelter in place as this storm is so quickly moving this way. [14:05:08] A curfew in effect tonight at 7:00 p.m. citywide in New Orleans, but of course the concerns for the state of Louisiana much bigger than just the city of New Orleans and Orleans Parish. Seventeen parishes included in that pre-disaster emergency declaration that President Trump signed off on.

Of course any time there is the chance of flooding in the New Orleans area, it's quick to make headlines, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said people really need to keep in mind this could be a wind event. He's encouraging folks to tie down anything that could become a projectile as these high speed winds pick up. And Fred, we're really starting to feel the first effects of what could be bad weather in this area. Rain should be here soon and heavy gusts of wind, 50 miles an hour we could see before the sun even goes down.

WHITFIELD: OK, Kylee Hartung, thank you so much.

Now to Mississippi. We've just received these pictures from people there filling sand bags amid the new hurricane Nate warnings that it is getting stronger as it approaches. I want to bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam who is in Biloxi. So Derek, the mayor there is especially worried about the storm surge and urging people to evacuate. It is getting late in the afternoon now. There is some time to leave, but how urgently are people being asked to go?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Fredricka, that window of time to leave is narrowly closing. And people should be concerned because the official track of the National Hurricane Center brings the eye directly over, or just to our east here in Biloxi.

We heard a haunting sound just literally 60 seconds ago. Biloxi, where I'm situated now on the beach just sounding their emergency sirens, doing a quick check on line to see what they're for. They're meant to warn people to seek shelter now.

And if you look at the radar, the first bands are literally 15 miles offshore. So we expect any moment now to start getting battered by strong tropical storm force winds, and also some of the heavier rain that will move in associated with hurricane Nate.

Right behind me, this is highway 90, kind of a symbolic highway because it was completely flooded, completely inundated by the bench mark hurricane that everybody compares to Katrina back in the 2005. You remember Camille back in 1969 as well. This area so susceptible to storm surge and flooding. Here's why.

Let me show you the Gulf of Mexico, which is getting more and more ominous as the moments go by. You can see the cloud cover and the rain that's off in the distance. But the shallow nature to the Gulf of Mexico is it is what makes this area so susceptible to any kind of storm surge, because the water builds up so quickly and literally gets pushed ashore right over the highways here and across some the properties that are adjacent to the water.

People really have chosen not to build on the water here for just that reason. They know what Katrina did, they know what Camille did, and they've learned lessons. But that doesn't mean that everyone's safe if they're living in Biloxi. If you have the opportunity to get out, I recommend it because this storm has strengthened and will continue to do so before making landfall tonight around midnight. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Derek Van Dam, thank you so much.

So as the Gulf braces for hurricane Nate, Puerto Rico struggles in the aftermath of hurricane Maria. More than 7,400 people are still living in shelters. Electricity has been restored to less than 12 percent of the people on the island. But more than half, 56 percent have had their water and sewer services restored, 66 hospitals are now up and running, 25 of them have electricity through the power grid as opposed to a generator.

Straight ahead in the CNN Newsroom, a stockpile of weapons, but still no motive. Police try to piece together what led the Las Vegas gunman to carry out this massacre, and if he might have had plans for something else.


[10:12:46] WHITFIELD: In just about an hour from now Vice President Mike Pence is expected to alive in Las Vegas. He'll be delivering remarks at a unity prayer walk for victims and their loved ones. Meanwhile we're learning new details about the investigation. We're learning it was an alarm from a room down the hall from the shooter that brought a security guard up to the 32nd floor. Police say they don't what plans the gunman might have had for several pounds of explosives and ammunition found in his car. And investigators are also saying the shooter brought his guns and ammunition up to the room over the course of several days.

I want to bring in CNN's Scott McLean who is following the investigation from Vegas. So Scott, are police saying anything more about the possibility of the gunman may have had some sort of help?

SCOTT MCLEAN: Well, Fredricka, they say it's hard to imagine him not having any help. What they are confident of is the fact there was no one in the room with Stephen Paddock at the time of the shooting or before the shooting.

What they cannot yet say for sure, though, is whether or not he had any help or at the very least whether there's someone out there who had advance knowledge of this attack that was coming. They say they have combed through, quote, "voluminous amounts" of video from inside and outside the Mandalay Bay hotel. And so far they can't find anything on that video or any person on that video that matches the description or actions of someone who might be an accomplice, though they say that they will leave no stone unturned. Listen.


UNDERSHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: We're combing over this man's entire life from birth to death to try to find out. It's hard to believe that one individual planned this attack and executed it without anybody else knowing anything about it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLEAN: And we also know investigators continue to question Stephen Paddock's the former girlfriend Marilou Danley, she was in the Philippines at the time of the attack. She's back in the United States now being questioned. We are told she is being cooperative, though her lawyer made quite clear that she will not be making a public statement to the media any time soon.

And one other thing to mention, Fredricka, and that's just that we know that Vice President Mike Pence, he will be in Las Vegas early this afternoon to speak at the unity prayer walk early this afternoon, of course, as follows the president's visit here on Wednesday to visit some of those victims.

[14:15:10] And at latest count we know there were 88 victims still recovering in hospitals, 37 of them still in critical condition.

And then, Scott, you're in front of Mandalay Bay. What kind of activity is happening there? Have they opened it? Is there still investigation type of activity around it?

MCLEAN: So I actually went inside the building. It's connected to another hotel called the Four Seasons. And we were able to go in with no problem. Drive straight up to the door, go inside. There was no metal detectors. There was nothing to put a bag through, though I didn't have a bag, to be honest.

But the hotels, we're being told, and casinos are putting in more un- uniformed security, or plain clothes security. And so that may have been true. But we were able to get up to the room quite easily and get actually a similar vantage point so one that the shooter may have had just from a couple floors higher and a couple floors over.

I also spoke to a security expert a couple days ago, Fredricka, who said he cannot think of anything that this hotel could have done to possibly prevent it. He says, look, if you leave your "do not disturb" sign on the door, it's not uncommon. If it you bring in a lot of baggage, people move and sometimes they stay in hotels in between. That's really not uncommon. So he can't, at least, figure out anything that Mandalay Bay could have done to prevent this. But as to your question, things seem to be relatively normal here in Las Vegas, at least in this part. Certainly a big change from what we saw earlier in the week when you couldn't get anywhere close to that hotel.

WHITFIELD: All right, Scott McLean in Las Vegas, thank you so much.

So in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, there has been no shortage of high profile people calling for more gun control. One of them is retired NAFTA astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She survived a mass shooting in 2011 after being shot in the head during an event in Arizona. Mark Kelly had this to say to our Ana Cabrera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK KELLY, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUTS: If we had an airplane that crashed that kills hundreds of Americans, the next day we would talk about aviation safety. If we had a nuclear power plant accident where people died, we could talk about nuclear safety. So why is it with this issue that they always say now is not the time?


WHITFIELD: Be sure to check out Ana's full interview with Mark Kelly in the next hour.

Still ahead this hour, in the crosshairs, hurricane Nate gets closer to the U.S. gulf coast and is expected to be a category two storm when it makes landfall. Another update, next.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. We're continuing to follow breaking news on hurricane Nate. Outer rain bands are now reaching southeast Louisiana. Nearly 30 million people are in the storm's path and 4.5 million are under a hurricane warning. The storm would be the third hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in just six weeks. CNN meteorologist Tom Sater is tracking the storm for us, Tom.

SATER: Fredricka, this is the ninth consecutive named storm to make it to hurricane strength. That is just amazing. Ninth in a row, that hasn't happened since 1893. But really back then they didn't even have satellites. So you can really say in modern history this is it. Amazing.

What we're watching is no defined eye. That doesn't mean it isn't developing. You can see the bright colors of purple here, so there is a core to this. And hurricane aircraft have been in this, hurricane hunters, and they have found that, yes, there is a little bit of an eye on radar, but again, it takes a while to show up on the satellite imagery.

But don't let that fool you. We're only a few miles per hour, in fact six away from category two status. It's about 190 mile the out of Biloxi. So it's got the time to develop to category two. There's no doubt about that. The banding of rain already now moving, I mentioned this 30 minutes ago, moving in toward New Orleans. And even though I think of the threat from the strongest winds is going to be east of New Orleans, I mean, we're going to have some damage on the coast. There's no doubt about it, especially with a surge up to near 10, 11 feet.

But here's the issue with New Orleans. Most of the winds are going to be coming in from the north as the system circulates counterclockwise. So the northern areas of New Orleans, when you have that northern wind in Lake Pontchartrain, even that with a three to six-foot surge, there's going to be problems.

Now, it's not a Katrina type storm, but of course with that we have the levees that failed there. But that could be an issue. So that's going to be an area to watch. It's very possible, I think we could have even landfall around Plaquemines Parish, but it looks like it's kind of trending to the east. But that area, that core of winds is going to be a problem. We're going to probably see a tornado watch posted in the next few hours when it gets close to land. We saw that with Irma of course, quite a few of them.

Then, as that surge creates an issue with the coast, it will be the winds, not just on the coast, but farther inland. When Irma made landfall, we have almost 8 million lose power? A million and a half were in Georgia because of the party pines, a number of trees. Oaks fell too. So again, power outages are going to be a possibility even up in the Atlanta area where a tropical storm watch is in effect.

Here's the track. And it picks up in speed. The problem with the slow moving storms obviously like Harvey, they drop a tremendous amount of rain. But fast moving storms such as Nate can cause problems, too. You take the core of the winds right now almost probably around 96 miles per hour, category two, and you couple that with the forward momentum. So, the winds and wind gusts are going to be a problem. Anyone who lives along this track in just to the east of the center I think really as mentioned earlier should get outside and start surveying their property to see what could blow away or cause some problems. But again, by tomorrow I think at this time, this is going to be north of Birmingham. It is a fast moving storm. But we've got problems, of course, that unfortunately are going to unfold for us in the hours ahead.

WHITFIELD: Right. Quite the clip. All right, thank you so much Tom Sater, appreciate it. And we'll have the latest developments of hurricane Nate at the top of the hour.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Thanks for being with me today. "Vital Signs" is next. But first, here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with this week's "Turning Point."


[14:25:07] TRAVIS ROY: Many of my earliest memories are of playing hockey. I had some big goals from an early age. When I first got a scholarship to Boston University, they were the power house of the country in the mid-90s. The first game was the best day of my life. By the time it was over, it turned into the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a BU player down in the corner. It's Travis Roy.

ROY: My body, it wasn't responding. I exploded my fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae. The recovery was tedious and slow. I just had a little bit of my right bicep. Figured I've got to move on and establish this new life and new identity.

I graduated in 2000. I was on that rehab floor and see other families going through this, it turned out I had great insurance, but there are families that didn't have any of that. So that was when I thought, well, maybe we can raise some money and help cover some of the expenses for spinal cord injury survivors. We started the Travis Roy Foundation.

There's times in our lives when we choose our challenges and there's other times when the challenges simply choose us. And it's what we do in the face of those challenges that really defines who we are.