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Charleston Mayor on Hurricane Florence Threat; Florence Could Be Most Expensive Storm Ever; Veteran Anchor on Hurricane Florence; Hughley on Trump's Puerto Rico Comments. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Concerns?

MAYOR JOHN TECKLENBURG, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: Our flooding concern, mostly with this storm, is from rain, copious rain, an inundation of rain that may occur when this -- when Florence, if it were to take a left turn and come down the coast of South Carolina or even inland into South Carolina, we're going to see an incredible amount of rain. And as you mentioned, we are the low country. We earned that name because we're so close to sea level. And the landscape here is very flat. And so many times if you get a lot of water, it's got no place to go. And so that's our main concern at this point.

BERMAN: And, of course, then some of that flooding, some of that rain, could go even further inland and you could be facing this issue -- it's not just a Friday/Saturday issue for you in Charleston, is it?

TECKLENBURG: Well, yes, river levels will rise and, you know, a couple of years ago storms, copious rain affected dams inland, around Columbia, other parts of the state. So this could really be a rain tragedy for the city of South Carolina according to this latest track.

BERMAN: So what resources do you have available now? How are you accommodating those people who hopefully are following your warnings and getting to safer ground over the next several hours?

TECKLENBURG: Well, our fire, our police personnel, our -- we're at full op-con one, full resources. But we requested help from the state and federal resources already, including high water vehicles and more, boat rescue teams if need be. And it's looking like we need those resources in place. We've -- we made those requests.

BERMAN: All right, Mayor John Tecklenburg.

TECKLENBURG: In addition --

BERMAN: Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off.


BERMAN: Yes, Mayor John Tecklenburg of Charleston, South Carolina. One of the most beautiful cities in the country. We wish you the best. We hope people are listening to you and heeding your warnings this morning. Talk to you soon.

TECKLENBURG: Well, thank you very much. And this, too, shall pass. We are a strong and resilient people and city, and we're going to continue to be a beautiful place. We've just got to get past this little bump in the road.

Thank you very much.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, mayor.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's a good attitude --

BERMAN: It is.

CAMEROTA: And a wonderful message for a lot of things.

BERMAN: Get over the wet bump in the road.

CAMEROTA: For sure.

Meanwhile, there are millions of people who are on high alert this hour. So will residents of the Carolina coastline begin heeding the warnings and evacuating? We have much more storm coverage for you, next.


[08:37:16] BERMAN: Time for "CNN Money Now." As Hurricane Florence heads toward the East Coast, it could become the most expensive storm ever to hit the U.S.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now with that cheery news.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is assuming, John, that Florence remains a category four storm at landfall, and it's looking that way. Nearly 759,000 homes in the Carolinas and Virginia are in the dangerous path of this storm. That's early chorologic (ph) analysis. Worst case scenario, more than $170 billion to rebuild. Worst case. That's 62 billion more than Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The National Hurricane Center says that storm cost at least $108 billion in property damage and it is the costliest hurricane ever to strike the U.S.

Now, there are the obvious risks to loss of life and property and the hit to tourism and a potential disaster for business and the environment. The region is home to poultry farms, hog production, the hog waste lagoons that go with them, as well as super fund (ph) clean- up sites, nine of them. The EPA is warning of contamination concerns there and looking into it.

Local officials are preparing for up to two weeks of power outages. Already there are scattered reports of gas shortages amid the evacuation and wireless providers, guys, are rushing to prepare for the crushing demand post storm.

Now, a word on these early cost estimates. A lot can change on path and intensity. It always does. So these numbers will change. But already Florence looks like she will make history, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Wow, that is remarkable.

Christine, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: So North Carolina's governor not mincing words with this mandatory evacuation order for coastal areas ahead of Hurricane Florence.


GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: We're telling the people of North Carolina, do not try to ride out a monster. You put your own lives at risk and you put the lives at risk of first responders who may have to try and rescue you.


CAMEROTA: OK, among those not evacuating is veteran news anchor Jon Evans, who has covered hurricanes for nearly 30 years at CNN affiliate WECT in Wilmington.

Jon, great to see you.

Listen, I mean, this is one of the job -- parts of our job description. This is an occupational hazard. You know, as everybody else is evacuating, we go into the storm to provide storm coverage for everyone.

So how are you feeling as Florence approaches?

JON EVANS, NEW ANCHOR, WECT WILMINGTON: Well, Alisyn, the big thing for me was when my wife, Sheila, left on Monday night and made it to our daughter's house in Pennsylvania with her family up there. Once she left and she was safe, the house, I can take care of and worry about later. That's the big thing for me. Once Sheila was at a safe place, then I could just concentrate on trying to help this community prepare, weather this storm and then try to put this community back together afterwards.

[08:40:07] CAMEROTA: But I must say that watching your wife drive away I would imagine does put it in perspective for you, that you are staying behind and obviously this is risky. I mean we've heard it from all of the experts. But, again, this is what we're tasked with. I mean I've covered several. And you, in your career, I understand, have covered Bertha, Fran, Hurricane Floyd, I remember that one, Hurricane Matthew.


CAMEROTA: So how do you think Florence is going to be different from all that?

EVANS: You know, I got an e-mail this morning that had a warning from the National Weather Service that said potentially life threatening -- or life threatening flooding is likely. Hurricane force winds are likely. Potentially life threatening storm surge is likely. Those are three for three in things you don't want.

This storm has more power, more potential storm surge than any storm that really has come our way in the past couple of decades. And that's what the local leaders here are trying to get to the people and tell them in Carolina Beach, in Kiri (ph) Beach, in Riceville (ph) Beach and in Pender County, in Brunswick County beaches, that if you don't have a safe place to stay, you really shouldn't be here. Go to a shelter. Find a safe place to stay. And that's what we've been trying to get apart to people -- or get across to people is, you need a safe place to stay during this storm. Don't worry about your house. You can replace that. You and your family are priority one.

CAMEROTA: Right. I mean, and that's our role, right? We serve as the town crier being in the storm to show people how horrible it is and why you can't stay behind and how deadly is it. But, you know, I'm sure you get these questions all the time as, do I, as does John, my co-anchor here, which is, how are you going to stay safe? What -- just -- help people understand the fact that you're staying behind, what the precautions are that you're taking as a journalist so that they don't have to worry about you.

EVANS: Well, I mean, our folks at our building in Wilmington have done everything to prepare. It's a good, sturdy, safe building. We feel safe there. Our crews that are going to be out in Brunswick County and here in New Hanover and up in Pender (ph), we've had safety briefings. We will have safety briefings with them and tell them, look, no life is worth a news story. You need to be safe. If you think that it's not safe, then do not go out in these conditions.

We can tell the story by putting the camera out the window of the hotel room here and showing people what it's like. We're not going to put our crew in any kind of harm's way. We just want to tell the story and let people know, a, to prepare and get to a safe place before the storm hits. And once the storm hits, I know -- I've listened to your coverage this morning is that, you know, first responders aren't going to be able to come out here to the beach once the storm hits. You dial 911, they're not going to be able to respond. And so we take precautions to make sure our crews are safe where we are, and we sure hope the people living in southeastern North Carolina and now northeastern South Carolina do the same kind of thing.

CAMEROTA: Well, Jon Evans, we know how many people rely on your information and you being there for them. So, be careful. Take care. And, obviously, we will continue to watch what happens to the Carolinas with Florence. Thanks so much for being with us.

EVANS: OK, Alisyn, have a good day.

CAMEROTA: You too.

So, John, you are heading into the storm, as we have just talked about there with Jon Evans. You will be live tomorrow in North Carolina.

BERMAN: At least so far we think North Carolina. If this storm continues to drift south, who knows where we go. That's the nature of this kind of coverage. Yes, we're going down after the show. We have a great team. We will stay safe, but it is important, as you say, to be the town crier here and big -- bring people the story and show people what's going on.

So, as this hurricane closes in, the president stokes fresh outrage over Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico. Why? And why is it helpful?


[08:48:18] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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: So that's President Trump talking about Hurricane Florence as it heads towards the Carolinas. However, the president is also stoking new outrage over the administration response to Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico last year.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


BERMAN: An incredible, unsung success, the president says, despite the nearly 3,000 Americans that we know died as a result of this storm. An incredible, unsung success.

So this the how comedian and political commentator D.L. Hughley responded on Twitter. If Trump considers Puerto Rico an incredible, unsung success and 3,000 people died, the Carolinas better brace themselves. Be careful out there.

We happen to have the man behind that tweet. D.L. Hughley joins us now. Author of "How Not To Get Shot and Other Advice from White People." His new Netflix special, "D.L. Hughley Contrarian" premiers on Netflix September 18th.

Great to have you here with us.

D.L. HUGHLEY, AUTHOR, "HOW NOT TO GET SHOT": Thank you, man. Good to be here, too.

BERMAN: So, listen, we saw what you said on Twitter about how the president's been talking about Puerto Rico.

HUGHLEY: Right. Right. Right.

BERMAN: He's at it again this morning calling the Puerto Rico response an unappreciated success story.

HUGHLEY: I can't wait for the new book to be called -- on Trump to be called "Delusional," like, because if 3,000 people -- and not even just the 3,000 people that died that obviously was unreported, the power grid, the indifference. When you throw paper towels at people drowning, that tells you that there is some -- that your meter is off a bit.

[08:50:08] But if 3,000 people dying in Puerto Rico a success, what's 2,400 people dying in Afghanistan, was that successful too? They -- so I think he has -- he speaks in those hyperbolic terms, this is the best ever, it's the fastest ever, it's the -- but I think that anybody -- there's a reason Puerto Ricans don't have a very high opinion of him, because I don't think that they think the response of FEMA was -- he diverted money from FEMA to ICE. So it's -- I think he's delusional.

CAMEROTA: I mean what you keep hearing the administration say is that it was Puerto Rico. They had an infrastructure problem.

HUGHLEY: Of course.

CAMEROTA: We can only do so much. By the way, they're an island.

HUGHLEY: Right. Right.

CAMEROTA: I don't know if you knew that, as the administration says, so it's very hard to get stuff to an island. These are the kinds of narratives that we've heard about as though all of that excuses it.

HUGHLEY: But I -- and, to me, it's less about him and more about the people who enable him. You expect this from a game show host. But the people who have been long term bureaucrats and politicians, they understand better. They know what happened. It's a shame that whoever he likes gets -- it's no different than the Banana Republic, whoever he likes, he does stuff for. Whoever he doesn't, he's indifferent to.

BERMAN: What do you think drives it? Because we were talking about this earlier. Is it just that he refuses to admit weakness or failure even if it's governmental? Or Jeffrey Toobin was suggesting that because this is Puerto Rico and they're Latino.

HUGHLEY: Of course that's why. He -- of course. Almost -- you would have never seen a response like this in Texas. You wouldn't see it -- you didn't see it in Florida. You don't see it now. I think that he is indifferent toward people of color. That's obvious. And I think that -- that that's fine if you are biased or racist or whatever you are and you're not -- and you're living your life and it doesn't affect people, but his clearly does. And you see it over and over again with his policies. You see it with the things that he says and does. So it -- to pretend like we don't understand where he -- his mindset is kind of disingenuous.

CAMEROTA: OK, so you're -- the name of your book is "How Not To Get Shot."

HUGHLEY: Right. Right.

CAMEROTA: And we have this, look, horrible story from Dallas --


CAMEROTA: Of this white police officer. She's a woman. She goes into the wrong apartment.


CAMEROTA: She thinks it's her own apartment. But she makes a fatal mistake, goes into an apartment where an innocent black man is sitting and she shoots him dead.

Now, what she's now saying is that she didn't know -- that he was just in silhouette. She didn't calculate what color --

HUGHLEY: She -- well, the story has changed a bunch of times. But I'll say this, there's certain requirements for her being an officer, a police officer. One basic requirement, that you know where you live. If you don't know where you live, how you know how fast I was going. If you don't know what your apartment look like, how can you identify the suspect?

And let me tell you something. The fact -- when -- and just -- if you open the door and a dude answers the door in a ski mask, he may be a burglar. If he open the door in his drawers, he's home.

CAMEROTA: Oh, gosh.

HUGHLEY: If a black dude opened the -- it's just -- it's not even what she has done, but what about, I'm sorry. What about, this was a tragic mistake instead of, well, he didn't comply. Well, if you are not acting in an official capacity, you're just going home, and he wasn't under suspicious or you weren't there in an official capacity, how did it get -- how -- why is he supposed to follow your command? And this is --

BERMAN: He was in his apartment.

HUGHLEY: He's in -- look, black people can't barbecue. We can't swim. And now we can't be in an apartment. And I think -- what's -- you know, and one of the things I talk about in the book is really just kind of indifference. There's never been, in my estimation, a black person killed where the country was so outraged that they were -- they were driven to action. A man should not be dead in his home. That's irrefutable. And now we're going to get to this thing. And when they kill you, when you're an innocent black man who's killed, they don't just kill you, they have to kill your character. You get killed twice. So now they have to find all these pictures and find out what he was and you find out he was a good person or a bad person. Ultimately, I don't know what her motivation was, but I know that her

bias led her to believe that that man was danger for some reason. And I think, and I've said this before, the most dangerous place for black people to live is in white people's imaginations.

BERMAN: I want to get your talk on yet another controversy, and this has to do with Serena Williams.


BERMAN: Alisyn Camerota saw it first-hand when she was at the U.S. Open and she was docked a game for her behavior on the court.


BERMAN: That's one thing.


BERMAN: That's one thing.


BERMAN: Now there's this cartoon --


BERMAN: In an Australian newspaper, "The Herald Sun," which you look at --


BERMAN: And you see this depiction --


BERMAN: Which certainly feels reminiscent to anyone who looks at it of the way that black people have been depicted since slavery and before.

HUGHLEY: But he says -- I guess the cartoonist said it wasn't racist. White dudes don't get to decide what racism is. That would be like the pope getting to decide what pedophilia is. You don't get to do that. You have blown it time and time again where you can't recognize it and it clearly is racist and it's a game you don't get to play. It's the one -- when we're talking about racism, it's the one game white folk got to sit out, because you've been -- it's -- how don't you know that's racist?

[08:55:02] CAMEROTA: Because, I mean, he says that it's just this grotesque cartoonist satire. You have to go overboard for satire.

HUGHLEY: Sure. Sure.

CAMEROTA: In imagery.

HUGHLEY: I'm a satirist, so I understand what he's talking about. But to pretend like he doesn't know what kind of image that evokes is -- like --

BERMAN: The statement from :The Harold Sun," the editorial in the paper, is to argue that the Williams drawing is racist is an attempt to defeat cartooning and satire --


BERMAN: With a politically correct barrage.

HUGHLEY: They can --

BERMAN: Is this just political correctness.

HUGHLEY: Listen, you can be a racist, you just can't be a coward. You can -- you can -- you can feel however the way you want to feel. Clearly that evokes a kind of imagine, and I think that that was what he was going for.

Now, I can't speak for him, or I don't know, but I can tell you this, that is when white guys tell you, they don't get to define what racism is. They don't get to say, this is racism, because they've been so horribly inept at deciding what it was over the centuries.

CAMEROTA: D.L. Hughley. The book again is "How Not To Get Shot and Other Advice From White People." You are hilarious --

HUGHLEY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And provocative and always a great guest.

HUGHLEY: Thank you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.

HUGHLEY: Appreciate it.

BERMAN: Come back soon.

All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after this quick break.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

We do begin with major breaking news this morning. Hurricane Florence is now plotting a new catastrophic path, now targeting South Carolina and now parts of Georgia. Officials are talking about this storm and dubbing it the storm of a lifetime.

[09:00:09] Millions of Americans under warnings and watches right now as the entire Carolina coast braces for a potential