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Hurricane Florence Track Shifts as It Barrels Towards Carolinas; CNN Polls: Trump Should Be Impeached, Removed from Office. Aired 6-6:29a ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is historic. This storm is big, and it's vicious.

[05:59:42] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be storm that creates and causes massive damage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do not want to be here when this storm approaches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be prepared, and we're going to recover no matter how bad this is.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a despicable act of neglect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was not a single request the president did not grant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did face a crisis, and he failed miserably.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's September 12, 6 a.m. here in New York, and we have breaking news: a major shift in the forecast for Hurricane Florence that could affect tens of millions of people.

It is now a Category 4 storm with 130 mile-per-hour winds, and it seems, I should say, to have shifted south significantly, putting South Carolina in much greater danger.

At this hour, hurricane warnings are up for parts of the North and South Carolina coastlines. The new guidance is that Florence could stall off the Carolina coast for up to 36 hours before making landfall. This has huge and potentially devastating implications. It could mean

even bigger storm surge in some places, catastrophic flooding with possible rainfall totals as high as three feet.

I want to show you what the storm looks like from space this morning. You could almost feel the power as it churns there. Forecasters for the National Weather Service in Wilmington are warning this will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So people who live in that region are rushing to get out. There are mandatory evacuations in effect for millions of people.

In South Carolina, officials turned this major highway into a one-way road, as you can see. Gas, of course, is in very short supply. Some stations have completely run out of fuel.

So we have reporters all over the region to bring you the latest, but let's begin with CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. He has all the changes in the hurricane's path, and timing. Where is it going now, Chad?


Major changes overnight. The models hinted at those changes yesterday, but now the Hurricane Center says, yes, they're all doing it. And here's how we have to change the path.

So here it is. It's 130 miles per hour. It could get stronger today. It's not forecast to be a Category 5 storm. It's forecast to be 145- mile-per-hour storm. That's 156 to get Category 5.

The first 48 hours don't change at all. This is exactly the track we had yesterday. Very close to Wilmington, Cape Lookout, all the way up, maybe all the way to Cape Fear.

But now this is what has changed. The models say, hey, after 48 hours, there's no wind at all. There's nothing to push this around. The models are now drifting it to the left and along the coast of the Carolinas.

Look to see where our cone is. Our cone here on the south side is offshore. That could possibly happen as well. That would be great. But somewhere it's going to turn left again, whether that's Georgia, Florida or South Carolina. So that's what has changed in the overnight hours.

More people are involved in this now, especially even Myrtle Beach, because the storm was not forecast to turn to the left toward you. Hurricane warnings are still posted in the same places. That will likely change at the 11 a.m. advisory.

There's still going to be a lot of rain, up to 20 inches. That has not changed, just spread out, just a little bit different. There's still going to be storm surge, significant surge from all the way from Bloomington to Morehead City. Could be 13 feet of water over the island, over that barrier island. So if you're standing there, you're not going to be standing there for long.

Now, here are -- here's what happens to the models. I'm going step by step. This is the European model. There's the center of the storm. It takes it, just as we expected, right toward Wilmington. But watch what happens right there. It says, "Oh, I'm going to stall for a minute, and then I'm going to turn left." And there is the circle, way down here. This is offshore Charleston. And then it makes some kind of landfall in Savannah. Now, this is not a forecast. This is a model of what could happen.

Here's the American model. Getting to Wilmington, stopping, turning left and going for Charleston. This did not happen yesterday. It hinted at this yesterday, but this was not the forecast yesterday. And now the Hurricane Center says, "Yes, all the models are saying it. We have to go with it." I think the 11 a.m. update will be key with this. But the 5 p.m. changes are very significant for millions of more people than yesterday have to worry about this storm, all the way down to Charleston.

BERMAN: So Chad, what are the implications if this storm rakes the coast, as it looks like it does in some of the models you're showing us, if it's on the coasts for tens, if not 100 miles as it moves south? And what are the implications for a storm surge with the storm stalling like that?

MYERS: Yes. The surge is going to be key from Wilmington, north towards as it makes its approach there, and I could easily see, because this storm is so potent now and has been for a long time. There could be 20-foot surge in some of these canals and rivers that go up to Pamlico Sound.

Now, as you look at that, though, this is going to turn to the left, and then now where Myrtle was in the clear, that surge may run down the coast and surge Myrtle, and surge Murrells Inlet, and surge Charleston and maybe even all the way down to Savannah, and that was certainly not in the plan yesterday. So that's how it changes.

And also, if this thing does sit over the Outer Banks or even, like, the barrier island, and it sits there for four or five hours basically drifting by you, you're going to get five hours of 110-mile or 120- mile-per-hour wind. That's going to tear up a lot of stuff.

CAMEROTA: That sounds unpleasant. So fascinating, Chad, to watch the models, how it makes that sharp left. It's just, you know, at the moment it's all academic, and it's interesting to watch, but it's about to get deadly serious.

[06:05:10] Thank you very much, Chad. We'll check back, obviously, throughout the program.

So more than a million people are now under mandatory evacuation orders in the Carolinas and Virginia. Officials are not mincing words about this threat. But despite the orders to evacuate coastal areas, some people are tempting fate and staying behind.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung is live in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. We always see, Kaylee, people rolling the dice. What do you see today?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, life-threatening storm surge could still topple the 12-foot sand berms behind me. There could be hurricane-force winds severely damaging the Wilmington area and life-threatening catastrophic flooding for millions throughout this state and beyond. Those threats still remain very true, despite these changes and projections that we're hearing about this morning.

And so the clock is ticking on an 8 p.m. mandatory evacuation deadline here in Carolina Beach and for the barrier islands across North Carolina. The mayor here telling me he believes in this community of 6,300 people, he believes about 50 percent of folks have already gotten out of town. He thinks 40, maybe even 100 people, though, will try to ride out this storm.

He says that anybody who's waiting until that 8 p.m. deadline tonight, though, waiting until the last minute, he says you risk getting stuck on this island. That's because at 8 p.m., not only does a 24-hour curfew go into effect here, but the bridge, the one entry and exit point from this island will be closed when the winds here reach 45 miles an hour sustained.

I should say, all that being said, shelters have started opening in this area. And the one couple I spoke to who's staying here, John and Alisyn, they say that they are taking every precaution you should, but they're still willing to take that risk, despite these warnings.

BERMAN: Well, staying is not taking any precaution is the problem there. Kaylee Hartung for us. We appreciate you being there. Thanks very much.

This southward shift of Hurricane Florence puts Myrtle Beach squarely in the path of this storm. Myrtle Beach, of course, has an older, aging population. Will they be OK? What will happen there?

Our Nick Valencia live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this morning. Nick, what are you seeing?


According to the latest forecast, this storm, this massive hurricane may have an even bigger impact to the South Carolina coast than initially expected. I spoke to the mayor earlier, and she tells me that the hospitals are now being evacuated. The nursing homes along the coastline, as well, are being evacuated to get the elderly out of the way of this massive storm and into safer ground.

She tells me first responders will likely be going door to door, in some cases, throughout these neighborhoods to make sure that people have already evacuated and left.

And in other cases, for those who are deciding to take the risk and take the chances of sticking this out, making sure that they have what they need to ride this storm out.

The mayor is stressing to get out now, because emergency facilities, medical facilities will not be available if you do decide to ride this out and get injured. I mentioned that forecast is changing. A lot of nervous people here this morning in Myrtle Beach -- John, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, thanks so much, Nick.

Joining us now is Carolina Beach town manager Michael Cramer.

Mr. Cramer, thanks so much for taking time to talk to us. What's your biggest concern at this hour?

MICHAEL CRAMER, TOWN MANAGER, CAROLINA BEACH: Really, for us it's the storm surge. We truly expect to see 20, possibly 30 inches of rain and 20 to 30 feet of storm surge, just depending on the track of the storm. That in itself creates an awful lot of flooding problems for us.

CAMEROTA: So just to be clear, you're expecting 20- to 30-foot waves for a storm surge coming in?

CRAMER: No, that would be storm surge. Here in Carolina Beach, we not only have the wave action from the ocean, we also have a sound, and that sound will back up and hold and have high storm surge from that section of the island.

CAMEROTA: OK, understood. So you're under a mandatory evacuation. Is it your impression that everyone has gotten out?

CRAMER: No -- excuse me. No, everyone hasn't gotten out as of yet. Our 8 p.m. curfew and evacuation order still has a little bit of time left on it. I'm sort of expecting that, like the mayor, we'll have about 100 people that think that they're able to ride out the storm. That will end up being an extreme challenge to us, trying to make sure that we keep them in their place, on their property and secure.

CAMEROTA: So what do you want to tell those hundred people? The hundred people that you anticipate that's going to -- that are going to stay behind that think that they're up to this challenge, what do you want to say to them this morning?

[06:10:00] CRAMER: You know, I've talked to several people who have said that they were going to stay, and each one of them I encouraged to go to another safe location just because it is Mother Nature. We can plan for it all day long, we can have all the preparatory drills that we have, but we don't know, really, what's going to happen, and that fear of not knowing should be stronger than your -- your worth of your private property. And we're just hoping that people heed that advice and take shelter in a higher location.

And are emergency personnel going to be able to deal if -- if those hundred or so people or whoever stays behind get in trouble? Will your emergency personnel be able to help them?

CRAMER: That's the thing. We won't go and send out emergency personnel after a certain point. Once the wind speeds get above 50 miles an hour, many of our emergency personnel vehicles are high-top vehicles. They have potential for rollover. We have high water here. Once that threshold is met, I won't send people out to risk their lives for people who didn't heed the warnings.

CAMEROTA: OK. That is really valuable for people to know, because 50 miles per hour comes early.

CRAMER: Yes, it does.

CAMEROTA: I mean, this is 130-mile-per-hour storm, right? So 50 miles per hour is a low threshold, and so people need to understand that, at 50 miles per hour, they're not going to get help.

CRAMER: That's correct, and they'll be there, basically, all alone until that threshold is met again, and we have winds under that speed.

CAMEROTA: All right, we appreciate you issuing that warning this morning. Obviously, we wish you the best of luck, and we will be checking back with you. Michael Cramer, thank you very much.

CRAMER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. So coming up on NEW DAY, we will speak with the Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, and later in the show, the director of the National Hurricane Center, Ken Graham. What are they saying this morning? What do they think about this monster storm?

BERMAN: And we should note, I'm headed there. I'm headed there after the show today, heading down to Wilmington, North Carolina. For now, unless this storm shifts even further to the south, we may have to readjust how we cover this going forward.

In the meantime, President Trump says this administration is ready for Hurricane Florence, as ready as anybody has ever been. Of course, in the same breath, he said Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success. Nearly 3,000 people died there. Can the country handle that much more success? That's ahead.


[06:16:27] BERMAN: Hurricane Florence is headed toward the East Coast. The breaking news is the storm has shifted south, which we'll be talking about all morning. President Trump says the U.S. is ready.


TRUMP: The safety of American people is my absolute highest priority. We are sparing no expense, we are totally prepared, we're ready. We're as ready as anybody has ever been.


BERMAN: I want to bring in CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillips; CNN political analyst David Gregory; and CNN senior political analyst John Avlon.

There is a big "but" and caveat we're going to get to in a minute, but before we get to the "but" part of this, David Gregory, I want to start with what the president has done for this storm already. He's canceled a couple political rallies. We saw him in the White House yesterday, paying attention to the storm, focused on the storm, sending out tweets about this storm, maybe later than some of his advisers would like, people like Maggie Haberman reporting. But he is focused on the storm. That is what you want from a president heading into a moment like this.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's no question, because the government working in concert with news media, both local and national, is probably the most important deterrent, so you really can let people know, hit them over the head with what's coming, the need for preparations and to really outline how things could be even worse than what you're seeing in your forecast with regard to storm surge. This is the kind of preparation that even some viewers say, wow, this is too much and maybe it doesn't live up to what the storm actually is.

But being that aware on the front end is what prevents what we saw in places like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or with Maria in Puerto Rico, where you're simply caught blindsided by what the power of the storm is.

So there's no question. This is kind of by the playbook how you want to position yourself as any government official.

CAMEROTA: So Abby, listen, we've been wondering what they learned from the -- what was considered, at least in Puerto Rico, an abject failure, OK, of Maria. So they felt that the federal government was not in place, was not prepared, did not help them quickly enough, did not provide all the medication, and food, and electricity and all the things that they needed that allowed 3,000 people to die there.

So what was learned? Here is what President Trump said -- well, I guess it was his takeaway from the response to Maria. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did, working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think, was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success.


CAMEROTA: Do we know why he has such a different impression than the people in Puerto Rico?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn. I think this is going to be a question of how much did the government learn, the administrative apparatus around the president learn from the situation in Maria? And that's separate from what the president learned, because it seems apparent that President Trump has not accepted that what happened with Maria was unacceptable, that -- that there were some errors made.

Around the time of Maria, we -- you know, I was writing about how people were trying to get President Trump's attention. He was at his golf course in Bedminster at the time. And there was no evidence that he had been briefed early on about that storm.

I think things are clearly going differently this time around. He's getting early briefings. He's -- his advisers are trying to get him engaged on this pretty early.

And I think that the emergency management apparatus in the government is working as hard as they can. But the situation is totally different now. We're dealing with states that have pretty robust infrastructures that have pretty good communication between the federal government and between the states, and I think that is going to go a long way here.

[06:20:15] But President Trump clearly -- he's looking at this in a silo. I think from his perspective, he thinks that at the end of the day what he did was fine. But I think a lot of people looking at this situation disagree, and you can see the disagreement in the fact that things are happening a little differently this time around. They're a little bit more ahead of the ball this time around, because they don't -- they want to avoid a bad situation like what happened last year.

BERMAN: A lot of people who disagree happen to live in Puerto Rico --


BERMAN: -- where the death toll, we understand, is now some 3,000 people from that storm. And you've done so many interviews where you pressed people on this. It wasn't an unsung success. That statement has nothing to do with reality, because it's not true. It has everything to do with politics and a message that President Trump wants to send about himself.

And I think we learn a lot about his thinking in the book "Fear" by Bob Woodward, where he talks about his response to Charlottesville, where the president says, "I'm never going to admit ever being wrong or weakness. You never make those concessions. You never apologize. I didn't do anything wrong in the first place, why look weak?" He's talking about Charlottesville there, but he might as well be talking about Puerto Rico.

AVLON: That's exactly right. This is the "never complain, never explain" school of leadership, but the disconnect here is stark and shouldn't just be glossed over.

The only thing unsung about Puerto Rico was the death toll, which was estimated at 64. That was the government estimate for months and months, even when we -- our reporting showed it was higher. It is now almost 3,000. This isn't a matter of feeling and perception. This is corpses and reality.

And for him to be able to say with a straight face that it's a tremendous unsung success is an insult to those families, to those dead, and that disastrous response, which is really one of the scandals of our times. The Carolinas will be a much different response situation, because it's on the continental United States. These are states that really do have experience with hurricanes, as Puerto Rico. But that statement isn't just a denial of reality; it's an insult to the island of Puerto Rico and the families.

PHILLIP: The other thing here is there is a real empathy gap that President Trump has demonstrated time and time again at moments like this, that he had an opportunity to -- to express sympathy and concern about the loss of life, whether he feels responsible for it or not. He repeatedly refuses to do that.

And in these moments, it's not just about the logistics of what the government is doing. It's also about the president's role as -- as the sort of comforter of the nation, as the person who brings people together, as a person who -- who is sort of the head of the federal family here saying, "We're here for you."

And President Trump is trying to do that, but it is difficult. It is obviously very difficult. And when things go poorly, he's unable to do it. And I think that is what the lesson of this Maria situation really is for this White House. It is a pattern, and it's not just something that is a one-off situation.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean --

GREGORY: It's clearly just to assert something to be the opposite of what reality is and do so shamelessly. That is what the president has done here, and he does it in other circumstances.

John says he doesn't want to look weak, he doesn't like to be criticized, and so he'll just assert the opposite of something that's true.

The president made it clear in the aftermath of Maria that he thought that Puerto Rico itself was a financial disaster. The head of FEMA told you yesterday, Alisyn, that you had an infrastructure problem, which was part of the problem.

But as a report in the aftermath of FEMA came out in December said, FEMA lacked awareness, based on preparation for other storms at the same time and infrastructure breakdowns on the island and a lack of a disaster plan, all of which is about the coordination with the federal government. It's about state resources.

But again, as Abby says, this is not a president who wants to know about those distinctions.


GREGORY: You don't want to challenge him, because that insecurity as a leader and as a person will rear its head.

CAMEROTA: I'm so glad you brought that up, David, because yesterday it was hard with Brock Long, when we interviewed him, not to hear some victim blaming. Right? So he was saying, "Well, some of this is on Puerto Rico. You know, you have to be able to help yourself."

But in a national crisis, in a national emergency, we actually rely on our federal government to help us. That's one of their sort of mission statements when we can't help ourselves. And knowing that there were infrastructure problems, which everyone did, getting in place sooner.

So you're so right to point that out, and we hear that again echoed in President Trump's sentiments.

BERMAN: Want to do some poll numbers quickly?

CAMEROTA: Let's do it.

BERMAN: A little rapid-fire.

CAMEROTA: They're out there, fresh off the --

BERMAN: Lightning round. This is from the new CNN poll. And this morning, just released a few minutes ago, we have Americans' impression of the Russia investigation of Robert Mueller.

I think one of the more interesting things is that voters' impressions of Robert Mueller have improved over time. It was 41 percent in June, 47 percent in August. Fifty percent now approve of the job that Robert Mueller is doing.

[05:25:10] CAMEROTA: OK, but then there's how President Trump is handling the Russia probe, and that is down four points from last month; and only 30 percent of Americans approve of the job that President Trump is doing in terms of handling his job.

AVLON: So look, I think what's significant about these piping hot fresh poll numbers is that the whole point of the Trump team's legal press strategy has been to influence the court of opinion, to run down Mueller for months and to, presumably, have Trump benefit from that. It does not seem to have worked.

Impressions of Robert Mueller have improved over that period of time on his handling of the Russian probe. So that, to me, is the strongest thing. The stated strategy of the Trump team in playing the public? Not working.

BERMAN: And there's this number on impeachment. In our poll, we asked, "Should President Trump be impeached and removed from office?" I might suggest you should separate those questions, because those are different things. But in response to that question, 47 percent said yes; 48 percent said no. Forty-seven percent is a lot of people --


BERMAN: -- who'd like to see Donald Trump impeached. David Gregory, all the polls over the last week and a half show the same thing on just about every question: a shift away from the president, a shift in some cases, towards Democrats. Quinnipiac has a new generic ballot test, has a 14 percent spread between Democrats and Republicans.

The polling -- this week -- it could change -- but the polling this week is all very, very poor for the president.

GREGORY: Yes, and again, I think people reject the chaos that swirls around the president with the president at the center kind of directing that, and they don't like the president taking down people around him, institutions around him, law enforcement institutions, even where there may be problems.

So much of this will be about what is actually found in a final report, what other charges might be brought.

But do pay attention to that impeachment number, because you know who's paying attention? The Democratic leadership. If Democrats do win the House, and they're in a position to proceed. You know, anywhere north of 50 percent probably gives them enough backbone to say, "Yes, this could be dangerous politically, but we have a real mandate to try."

CAMEROTA: All right. David, Abby, John, thank you very much.

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