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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Hurricane Frances: Red Cross States 200K People in Shelters
Aired September 5, 2004 - 01:57 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are just hearing from the American Red Cross as many as 200,000 people, they believe now, are in some 407 shelters.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Amazing.
GRIFFIN: That's an incredible number of people who have sought shelter in shelters. Usually people go to other people's homes or maybe hotels, but it just tells you how big the evacuation was.
CALLAWAY: And just last night, there were some 63,000, so we can see how many people have decided that they needed to take shelter.
Well, when we last saw Anderson Cooper and Chad Myers, they were in the middle of weather class 101.
GRIFFIN: There they are.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's exactly where you finished.
CALLAWAY: Very good. You stayed all the way through the break like that, Chad?
COOPER: Exactly, the wind was blowing him, but he stayed like that.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The wind was blowing me around a little bit, but it was OK.
CALLAWAY: You know, we have been asking you a lot of weather questions, but tell us, for those people who are just tuning in, what is the situation there where you are? Have you see the winds kick-up?
COOPER: Yes, you know it's funny, I actually, right as we were going to the break, I said oh, it seems to be dying down a little bit; then during the break, it looks like we're getting just another gust here.
So, the winds here are really just maintaining very strong. And it's going to really be that way for several hours now.
MYERS: The wind went down a little bit because the rain stopped. When the rain is going to kick back up again, we're going to get one of those what we call cells, one of those little convective little bursts. And as that burst comes through, the winds will pick back up again, as well. I mean we're still at 65, 70 miles per hour, but when it's raining and when the convective burst comes through, we're 100 solid gusts, 100 miles-an-hour, easy.
COOPER: And it's fascinating. We're still seeing a few transformers explode every now and then, the sky lighting up, that sort of unearthly, bluish-green light.
But it amazes me still that anyone has electricity left, given this storm.
MYERS: Well, now we know there are a lot of power lines down because typically that will happen when power lines short out or get off the transformers somehow, and there is going to be a lot of power lines down in the morning.
And if there is still some power in the system, people need to be very, very careful. That means some of those downed lines may still be hot.
CALLAWAY: Chad, we are now looking at the Doppler radar of Frances, and I have to say, the back wall of the eye of this hurricane looks terrifying. I know the eye has now hit land, but this back wall is going to bring some serious damage to that state.
MYERS: Yes, the good news is, at least right now, it's still out to sea. But as it rotates through, it's going to be about 20 miles south of us or so when that -- I'm sure what you're looking at would be the oranges and reds, if there are there. And they are going to actually rotate around right into this same area, about 20 miles south of where we are.
And absolutely, that will be the most dangerous part of the storm as it rotates onshore.
CALLAWAY: And there has to be some fear that some people, should they be in the center of this, where the winds, as we saw in the Bahamas, drop down to some 10 miles per hour, people may come out thinking that the storm has passed.
MYERS: Well, we hope not. I mean it's what? It's 2:00 in the morning. We hope that just that lull will at least get them some sleep because I know a lot of folks here with this wind banging on the roof and all of this stuff flying in the air, nobody is sleeping in Melbourne right now.
COOPER: Also, the residents here had been really well prepared for this, they'd been warned in advance, and most people here know about the eye, know that -- you know, it's going to get calmer for a little while. Of course, in this area, Melbourne, it's not going to get calmer, we're not going to get the eye at all. These winds are just going to keep on going, keep on going, really throughout tom -- I mean, how late tomorrow, do you think?
MYERS: I hope the whole thing starts to slow down by about 7:00 in the morning. And I mean slow down to 65 miles-an-hour, maybe a gust to 70, because this is now -- this long-term 80 mile-an-hour, 90 mile- an-hour wind, really takes it toll on everything -- shingles, cars, trees. If the tree cracks and then the wind stops, OK, you come by tomorrow and cut the limb off, but then if the wind keep blowing, well the tree keeps cracking, cracking, cracking and then all of a sudden you've got debris flying around. You know?
COOPER: It's also amazing, I mean, where we are right now -- you know, it seems very peaceful, because we're in a very protected area. You know, you step out 10 feet, and the wind just -- it'll just knock you down, especially with this roofing material just flying through the air.
MYERS: And we were out there earlier, if you're just joining us, we were out there in that stuff and it was fun for a while, then it got serious, and then it got dangerous. And we said, "We're done." And we tried to move a couple different place, but this overhang, it's like an aluminum siding-looking overhang stuff, that keeps peeling off of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here and it just -- they become missiles when they get in the air.
COOPER: They're pretty sharp on the sides.
GRIFFIN: And Gary Tuchman to join our conversation, he's in Fort Pierce. Is that right, Gary? And bring us up to date on the conditions there. We'll all listen in.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right Drew and Chad and Anderson, we're driving through Fort Pierce right now. We were just forced to leave the location where we've been since this morning, at the Fort Pierce City Marina, because about 20 of the 90 yachts had started crashing into the dock. There's a huge sail on one of the yachts that is now intertwined with the bar and restaurant that we've been standing next to for most of the morning. And for hours and hours the boat just bobbed up and down, for the last two hours they started crashing into the water. We're afraid the dock might collapse into the Intercostal Waterway. So we took that as a cue that it was time to get out of there.
I will tell you that here, at Fort Pierce, in the northern of St. Lucie County (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we still have the eye wall here, there's no eye. The winds are still about 90 miles-per-hour, sustained. There is extensive damage. I don't -- I haven't seen -- I can't tell you that I -- that the damage is catastrophic yet, because it's too dark. But, I've never seen more extensive damage. We're driving, every single business on US-1 has damage, has a sign down, has a roof that's partially gone, a K-Mart has flooded. We just passed -- I've never seen this before, a railroad crossing, the gates have actually collapsed and are lying in the middle of US-1. These are the kind of things we're seeing. This is at night that we're able to spot so much. I can't even imagine what it will look like after the sun goes up. But there is very extensive damage, which of course, leads us to the single most important concern we have -- how are the people? We don't know, because people who own the homes are stuck in the homes, there's nothing they can do. There are no police on the street, no fire, no one is going out, it's considered too dangerous, people had plenty of time to get into shelters. The shelters are relatively full, but not completely full.
They've gotten calls, the emergency officials for people who want to get out of their homes now, but it's too late. There's still hours left of this, we believe. And it's really quite scary for a lot of people because there is not one shred of light, all the electricity for all the miles we've driven, is off. The only lights we see are the headlights on our car.
GRIFFIN: And Gary, we are watching the Doppler radar, you are just as you described, on edge of the eye wall. And I am not sure if you are going to get a break or not. This eye seems to be collapsing just a wee bit where you are. You may just stay with the brunt of this storm.
TUCHMAN: The only change I've noticed, Drew, in the past hour is, it's not raining quite has hard. The wind is -- this reminds me, at Universal Studios in Florida, not far from where we are, they have the Twister ride. You go in and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) blow around and things (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's after the movie "Twister," and it's like a three minute ride -- you know show at Universal Studios, but you leave, you know it wasn't real. This is what it's like, it's like the Twister ride that never ends.
CALLAWAY: Where are you now, Gary? You said that you had to leave the area where the boats were.
TUCHMAN: We're taking the drive to the motel that we're staying at on the other side of Fort Pierce. We're on US-1, which is the major thoroughfare that runs about a mile-and-a-half to two miles away from the beach, here in Fort Pierce.
I don't know if you can hear in the background, but there are just signs rolling around in the streets right now. The signs rolling around like tumbleweeds roll around in the desert.
CALLAWAY: What you saw before you left, did it look like any of the yachts there, would survive this storm?
TUCHMAN: You're going to have to ask that question again, it's hard to hear what you just said.
CALLAWAY: Did it look like any of the yachts, that you saw there, the boats that you saw there, as well, did it appear that any of them would be able to survive this relentless storm?
TUCHMAN: Well, I'll tell you, that a bunch -- some of them are protected a little more to the west side where the waters were a little more calm in the Intercoastal. But the yachts that we saw on the more eastern side of the Intercoastal, probably 10 to 15 of them are bouncing up and down and then rubbing up against the dock, their sails intertwined with this restaurant that I told you about. I think they'll survive, I think they're going to be heavily damaged, but I think the bigger concern right now for society, as a whole, is that this could collapse because these yachts are so heavy. The more they -- and the wind's really blowing as we're driving. We'll stop the car for a little while, while we continue talking to you. We're afraid that it could degrade the dock so much that the dock could possibly collapse, and this is a -- this is not just a wooden dock, this is a -- a place where thousands of tourists go and certainly on this Labor Day weekend it would have been jam-packed with tourists walking up and down, just stopping at the restaurants and going to the stores and going on their yachts. So, we don't know what the integrity of that dock is, right now. So, that's the bigger concern, I think, overall.
GRIFFIN: And Gary, this damage and this danger of the dock came just at high tide came in your area, so you had the high tide, you had the possibly the storm surge from that eye wall and that like it's all adding up to a very terrible situation, there, in Fort Pierce.
Again, that's Gary Tuchman describing some wide, widespread damage that he is seeing. And Gary, of course, a veteran of many, many hurricanes, so he knows what he's taking about.
CALLAWAY: He does and we know Gary will stay safe, but we still worry about him.
Ed Lavandera joining us now, where flooding is a very big concern at one of the most popular areas, tourist areas there, Lake Okeechobee in Florida. What's the situation where you are, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have definitely seen here over the course of the last hour, the strongest winds and the heaviest rainfall that we have seen. Of course, the concern -- we're about 30 to 40 miles inland, away from where Gary Tuchman is, as little bit southeast -- southwest of where he is and we're on the northern edge of Lake Okeechobee, and of course, officials around here, very concerned about what will likely be heavy flooded -- heavily flooded areas along the banks of Lake Okeechobee, not just here in the north edge, but on the southern edge, as well, where there are many people who have set up home, as well.
The county we're in is county of about 40,000 people and we understand that most of these people, emergency officials believe, that most of the people evacuated, but there are still a good number of people who decided to kind of bunker down in several small hotels that are around the area, which is around where we're at, right now.
Just over my shoulder in the darkness, is one of the -- the levy that takes you -- if you go over the levy there, right into Lake Okeechobee. It's surrounded by little canal ways throughout the area and that's what they're concerned about. There are a lot of trailer home parks that are -- that are set up along -- along these different waterways and they're concerned that that will be the flooding -- the flooded situation. They're expecting about a six-foot surge off of this lake, which will cause several -- several problems.
And right before it became dark, this evening, we had been driving around and we'd already stared seeing heavy debris along the road ways. We haven't seen many downed power lines. They had power up until about three -- three-and-a-half hours ago about when you started seeing the explosions of the blue and green light from the transformers in the darkens here. And it's kind of a -- it's a very eerie night, everything is completely dark. The hotels here are dark. Everyone's just kind of bunkered down waiting for sunlight to appear. And it's -- it's going to be a long night.
At one point here, the winds were getting so strong that inside the building we're in, you could actually feel the walls vibrating, just a little while ago.
CALLAWAY: Yeah, absolutely, like there is no power at all in that area. No generators working at this point. What are people telling you? Are you able to speak with anyone?
LAVANDERA: I'm sorry. It's kind of cutting in and out on me.
CALLAWAY: Let's -- Ed, stay with us, lets bring in Jacqui Jeras.
Jacqui, what can you tell us about the situation there at Lake Okeechobee?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, on the north shore you can see where some of these stronger rains bands are and those area starting to push in and with those, heavier rain showers. You're going to start to get bigger bursts of those wind gusts moving on. And the other thing to think about with Lake Okeechobee is once this eye starts moving over it we're going to start to see that storm surge, start to watch that -- you know, wall of water begin to push on up over the shoreline and that could be tides maybe six feet as that moves on in. So, that's going to be just maybe an hour or two away, once that starts happening, but this is looking pretty persistent with this first band that's pushing on through over the north shore.
Things look just find across southern Lake Okeechobee, so this is where Ed is, in this area. We've go Gary up here, this is where the center has been, as of the 1:00 advisory, and down here is where we've had our John Zarrella, so we've got everybody kind of keyed across all parts of the storm.
Other thing I wanted to mention here is, take a look at this, right here on the east side of the storm and that is going to be the northeast end of the storm, really. That's where some of those stronger winds are, that's that second part of the strong storm moving on through the back half, the back eye wall and that's going to be moving onshore, I think, probably within the next hour or two, as well. So, those people who are getting that calm, look out because the next round is going to be moving in here pretty shortly.
GRIFFIN: Jacqui, we did get an e-mail from Melanie from Houston, I wanted to acknowledge her. She was asking if we had anybody in the eye of the storm and you kind of mentioned, we've got everybody around that eye.
JERAS: Who knows.
GRIFFIN: But we don't have anybody in the eye, Melanie so we can't tell you what it's like...
JERAS: That's right. But, the eye is calm, so you know, it's all good there, right now.
GRIFFIN: But, Jacqui, does it look like the -- most of the eye now, is onshore. I'm trying to get a sense of it from you...
JERAS: More than half, yeah. Let me get my telestrator, as well. But, you know, here's the back half of they eye, is right here. So, I -- still I would say, offshore, this whole thing is certainly not on land, just yet. But, it's getting close and once that moves on, the second eye wall is going to be pushing onshore and that's when we're going to run into really the worst part of the storm.
CALLAWAY: Well, we haven't heard from John Zarrella for a while. He is West Palm Beach, Florida.
John, are you there?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm here, no change. Things are still -- still pretty miserable, here. Jacqui was saying that we've got it surrounded, but nobody's getting the calm. We haven't had any of that calm. I guess we're just on that south side of that eye wall and again the winds are continuing just to howl out of the south, and that's quite interesting that the worst of our weather has come since the wind shifted direction, rather than from the west or the east, from the south to the north. And the water is really coming up.
Flagler Drive (ph), this main drive that runs right along the Intercoastal here, on the mainland side, and where we are, at least, which is in the downtown area, but -- you know, a little bit to the east of the downtown area, right along the Intercoastal. It's completely underwater, the parking lot that we're standing in is just about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's getting close to, is just about completely underwater. We moved our satellite truck a few minutes ago to hopefully try to get a better location where we might be able to start broadcasting live, but it's still too difficult on that side of the building, as well. We're just not shielded enough. But even as he was driving through the -- through the high water, you could -- you could just see even up to about half way up the satellite's truck's wheels, the water splashing up as he went down one of the -- around the corner just behind the building, so the water is continuing to rise.
And again, all of this Flagler Drive, this main street, at least where we are, is underwater, I can't tell you how deep it is, but it's certainly several inches deep here, so the flooding is going to be pretty significant.
CALLAWAY: We heard Gary Tuchman say a few moments ago where he is in Fort Pierce, it's almost like the "Wizard of Oz" there. John, are you seeing as much debris flying around where you are.
ZARRELLA: I -- yeah, we're seeing quite a bit of debris and -- you know, it is like the "Wizard of Oz" because the wind coming in and out and around the buildings and -- you know, you have that south to north wind and then you have it just swirling and blowing and -- you know, the trees going, moving back and forth from one direction to another and -- you know, I'm looking out here at some of these tall spindly palm trees and they -- at one point they were bending in one direction and now they're completely bending in the other direction and -- you know, they're just -- just literally bending back and forth and back and forth, and palm fronds flying and the wind whipping off the parking lot. Literally you can see little waves being generated by this wind at the ground level, literally right on the -- in the parking lot. There's just so much wind now that just being whipped off the surface of the water, here. So, yeah, I would agree with Gary 100 percent that it's like being in the "Wizard of Oz" right now, no question about it.
GRIFFIN: If only we could click our heels three times and be out of it.
Jacqui, we haven't talked a lot about the rain amounts -- the rainfall amounts. Are you getting any gauges yet as to how much rain is falling?
JERAS: We haven't seen a lot and I'm going to ask Mike, here, who's operating our Viper System here, if we can get the precip total on there. These are the Viper Cast, there we go, and most of the heavy bands have already been offshore, but this part is starting to move in now, and so we're going to watch for the rainfall to start to increase.
Overall, the total hasn't been all that bad, on the range of three to four inches. There you can see right near Sewalls Point around four inches, closer to two as you head down toward West Palm Beach, three around Fort Pierce. I think West Palm Beach itself was reporting about three-and-a-half inches of rain earlier. But you can see just up to the north is where you're getting some of these three to four inch bands.
But as I mentioned, back here out over the open water, that's where the real heavy rain has been and radar's estimating maybe up to nine inches, and we've also been hearing some estimates in from the National Hurricane Center that there's a big swath or maybe 10 to 10 inches of rain in here. So, as this pushes onshore here, we'll watch for those numbers to continue to total up, especially up around where Gary is, between Fort Pierce, up here into Melbourne, once this little area pushes onshore, it's going to be coming down very, very heavy. And that rainfall, by the way, too, we can't forget, not just right here in the center, it's going to be widespread. We've been seeing plenty of rain into the west coast of Florida, too, and we've had tornado warnings even over near the Tampa Bay area. So, widespread flooding because this is going to take it's time moving all the way across Florida.
CALLAWAY: Let's bring in Ed Lavandera again, who's at Lake Okeechobee.
Ed, what is the scene there? Are you seeing more rain now? Has the winds picked up over the last 30 minutes?
GRIFFIN: Ed. You've just lost audio, there.
What happens is the condensation and water in those microphone lines and then you just, sounds like what?
CALLAWAY: Charlie Brown's teacher.
GRIFFIN: The "Peanuts." Yes, "Peanuts."
Jacqui, one more question, you know, we're continuing to answer questions from our viewers. This is David in Jersey City, New Jersey. He wants to know about the sinkhole situation in Florida. A lot of sinkholes in Florida. There's the saturation level of the ground.
I know I'm catching you off guard, Jacqui.
JERAS: I don't know a whole lot about sinkholes.
GRIFFIN: Do you have any idea?
JERAS: That's geology rather than meteorology.
GRIFFIN: Maybe we'll find out. OK, so maybe we'll find out about that David, but we do acknowledge you sent that into us.
CALLAWAY: You know, we're also getting a lot of e-mail from people who have family in Florida. I can imagine how frightening that is for those who were not able to evacuate, even those who are in shelters now, for family members who are not in Florida, concerned about them, unable to talk with them.
Here is one from Phil who says, "I have a question about how much the wind speed decreases on the interior portions of the coastal regions." They have parents, the parents are in a house in Palm Beach Gardens, that's about four to five miles due west from the ocean.
"You reported the wind speeds in West Palm are gusting to around 100 miles-per-hour on the coast, what can they expect at four miles inland?"
JERAS: Well, the main thing to keep in mind is how far out the hurricane force winds go, and how far out the tropical storms force (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You can do the math from your location, if you want to
But right now, the hurricane force winds extend out about 85 miles from the center of the storm. The tropical storm force winds go out, believe it or not, nearly 200 miles from the center of the storm. So, we're certainly getting tropical storm force winds all the way to the west coast of Florida, staying all the way into parts of northern Florida, as wall.
Hurricane force, again, about 85 miles out from the center of the storm. That's on both sides.
CALLAWAY:: Yeah right. Well, Phil brought a good point up, though. He says, "A lot of people that were on the coastal regions few -- you know, few the -- they thought they were escaping to safety by going inland, and a lot of people went like, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, all the way into Jupiter and they're concerned about the conditions in that area.
CALLAWAY: Certainly the winds are going to be strong there, but the rain is going to be a big problem.
JERAS: Right you can't immediately escape it. You want to get the people away from the coast, because of the storm serge, because of the strong winds and the very localized area. You know, once this whole thing makes it's way on landfall, we're going to watch for a dramatic decrease in intensity of this. This is going to be a tropical storm later on today.
CALLAWAY: All right. We're going to take a break while we continue our live coverage of Hurricane Frances.
Stay with us everyone.
GRIFFIN: Well, one hour and 20 minutes ago, Hurricane Frances officially came onshore, the eye of the storm, Jacqui Jeras is going to bring us up to date now. Exactly where the storm is, where it's going and what's happening.
JERAS: Yeah, 1:00 when it made landfall is when we've had our latest advisory, too and when we haven't shown that for a while, so we just kind of want to go thought he nuts and bolts, here of the latest here on Hurricane Frances. But the way, we will get a new advisory in at the top of the hour, 3:00 Eastern time advisory.
OK, Hurricane Frances these are the points: 27.2 North and 80.2 west, it's near Sewalls Point, or at least it was at 1:00. Winds at 105 miles-per-hour, that's your maximum sustained winds . You are going to see some winds beyond that. At times it still makes it a very strong category tow hurricane, is moving west/northwest at seven miles-per-hour, and that's been our biggest change with this outside of location at the 1:00 advisory, but it has picked up a little bit of forward speed.
Most of the eye is onshore now and this the backside of the eye wall and that is getting dangerously close now to making its way on land, now., We have had a tornado watch in effect throughout much of the evening, this will continue until 8:00 in the morning and we will likely see an extension with that I would think. And we -- it does extent all the way up toward Jacksonville, all the way down into West Palm Beach, all the way over to Fort Myers, and northward, almost kind of budging into the pan -- the Big Bend area, almost into the Panhandle, but not quite just yet.
As we take a look at the flooding situation that should amplify over the next couple of hours once we get the backside into some of these heavier rains once again. We have flood watch across the entire state and flood warnings into the dark green areas, here. Most of the flood warnings that you see here, though in the west central Florida, these are river flood warnings. They're watching for the rivers to be rising rather than the flood -- flash flooding.
This is a forecast track of what we're expecting. Here's your time stamp as it moves across, you can see our icon just changing there as it moves down to tropical storm status. Moving back over the open water here, as we head toward Labor Day and then making a second landfall probably early Monday morning as it makes its way farther on up to the north into Alabama and then it will be weakening probably Monday night, maybe into Tuesday morning, into a tropical depression. So, we've got two landfalls with this storm, and ever after it weakens, into a tropical depression, it's going to be spreading rain up into the Tennessee Valley and up into parts of the Appalachian. So, this is certainly a very prolonged event in terms of it's taking its time across Florida, but it's also going to be affecting much of the southeastern U.S. There's people traveling, you've got the Labor Day holiday on Monday, of course. So, that is going to be some big trouble, as well.
CALLAWAY: Jacqui, just to back up a little bit, when that storm gets to the west coast of Florida, what is the projected time of that and how long will it take for that -- the eye of the storm, the whole storm to completely move off the state of Florida?
JERAS: Well, Monday evening, well overall we're talking about over 24 hours from the time that the first eye wall moves on until we're going to see that push out of there and move over across western Florida. So really, probably later on tonight, maybe even into the overnight, Sunday night into Monday morning. Second landfall likely on Monday morning it's still a little bit too early to tell, if the forward speed continues to pick up, it could happen a little bit faster, but probably sometime on Monday morning that it's going to making it's second landfall right here, and then making its way, as you can see, 8:00 p.m., on Monday into south-central parts of Alabama.
CALLAWAY: What are the chances of that storm, when it becomes a tropical storm, picking up more strength when it hits the Gulf waters?
JERAS: Yeah, it probably will, at least just a little bit. It will weaken really dramatically, as I said, as it moves over land, we'll see a little bit of intensification, but I do not expect this to back to hurricane.
CALLAWAY: Right. Well, the less time it spends in that water the better.
GRIFFIN: Let's go back with John Zarrella who's on the phone with us in West Palm Beach, Florida. They've been looking for a place to set up for a live shot, but quite frankly John, I guess it's just too windy to put up the satellite dish.
ZARRELLA: Yeah, we keep trying and every time we think we got a good spot, then next thing you those wind gusts just kick up and make it absolutely impossible. We don't, certainly, don't want to take a chance of ripping the dish off the top of the truck, and that's exactly what would happen if a gust of wind were to catch it. I was trying to work my way out around the side of the building just because we had seen just a few seconds ago, as you were talking to Jacqui, the -- those arching and flashing of the blue-green lights, the transformers and they have been repeatedly going off, one right after the other to over to our west, a little bit to my west, so a little more inland than West Palm Beach, but can't get out far enough to see exactly where it's coming from, but the wind is still kicking up pretty significantly, here. We haven't seen really any lull in it in the last couple of hours since the wind shifted directions around to the south. It has continued to just absolutely blow and pound us here, and there's a lot of debris now, in the street here, a lot of pieces of tree limbs and trees, and the water continues to come up a little bit. We've moved out cars to about the highest ground we can get them to, right now. I don't think we have to worry too much about that ultimately, but there is a lot of standing water, a lot of blowing water, really, right now, it's not just standing. It's like watching -- watching a river as the water get pushed down the streets, here, on Flagler Drive, literally just like racing water down in a river that -- and that's going to continue on, obviously, for several more hours as we're getting ready to catch the backside of this storm, as well.
Again, we never did see the eye, here. We have always been pretty much in the south side of the storm, so consistently in the back since about 6:00 this evening.
CALLAWAY: Daylight, 7:00 a.m. coming this morning, that seems a long way off, John.
ZARRELLA: Well, I'll tell you what though, we're counting those hours down, believe me. It'll be good to just see a little bit better and to get a better gauge on exactly -- you know, what's happening. All I can see as I look out, and I'm standing underneath the overhang of this condominium and I'm looking out to the north and all I can see in front of me are just palm trees, spindly palm trees, thicker palm trees, it's absolutely blowing and swaying one way and then the other and back and forth. And signs being blown from one end to the other. So, it'll be interesting to see -- you know, when the sun comes exactly how much damage that has been done here in Palm Beach.
I noticed, I heard Jacqui saying that -- I think she said we had wind gusts here, approaching 100 miles-an-hour, it certainly doesn't surprise me at all, if that's the case because literally we have had sustained winds probably around hurricane force periodically here, during the last couple of hours and some gusts that definitely would knock you down if you were standing out in it.
GRIFFIN: Yeah John, I think can say for sure now you that are going to see any part of that eye at all. I'm wondering what the rain fall is like. Because that's the other equation when we talking about trees actually falling over. Just how saturated the ground is.
ZARRELLA: Yeah there's a lot of ground -- the ground is very saturated. Earlier when we were -- where we were standing out along the edge of the road, standing there along the grassy median and it was just absolutely saturated and soaked, you sank down in it as you walked out through it and -- you know, a lot of where we are now is somewhat under several inches of water, so it's just, it's coming up through the drains. The drainage systems can't handle it anymore, and the water's actually backing up out of the drainage systems because it -- because the ground is just so saturated, so we're experiencing that right now, as well, which is part of, I guess, the reason why the water is rising.
The rain is actually slacking off quite a bit in the last 30 minutes or so. The wind is still whipping tremendously here, but the rain has let up, it's -- I guess you would say it's primarily, right now, a wind storms, that driving rain that stings your face and -- like sand hitting you, has really lessened up quite a bit in the last 30 minutes or so, but the wind had not, it is still blowing the trees from one direction to the other just battering us here, relentlessly hour after hour, and probably will continue for several more hours.
CALLAWAY: Just to through some numbers at you, at everyone. There are some 200,000 people tonight, in shelters across Florida, more that 400 shelters have been set up. This is a significant increase from last night when there were some 63,000 people in shelters. We know more that a million people are out of power and, as you know, close to three million, 2.8 million people were forced to evacuate and I'm sure many of those people who only went inland, are thinking they did not evacuate far enough.
GRIFFIN: Yes, it's -- it's going to...
ZARRELLA: I was just going to say, that Charley scenario really -- what happened with Charley really had people take greater notice three weeks later. And, you know, I remember three weeks ago today, I was standing in the middle of rubble over in Punta Gorda covering -- you know, the first day of the disaster over there, and I think -- you know, that certainly what happened over there had a lot of people on East Coast take notice very quickly. And we saw many, many people in shelters yesterday morning.
Even as of yesterday morning. That's the other part of this story, the fact that people who went to shelter they might only be in that shelter for 12 hours, 24 hours are finding themselves in that shelter for two or three days before they're going to be able to get back to their home. We are really getting blown right now with another tremendous gust of wind just blowing through here. But, those folks that are in the shelters for two or three days at a time now, that's a long time to be in those shelters.
GRIFFIN: And if the damage, John, is as bad as we think it might be, certainly from Gary Tuchman's viewpoint, it's going to be a couple of days yet. I don't thing the authorities are going to let people back in these areas as quickly as they want to be. It's going to be another whole situation, angry people, you know. The governor was on this morning asking people to be patient. I think the patience is just going to have to start about now.
ZARRELLA: Yes. No question about it. You know, you had that swath of damage with Hurricane Charley that literally was about -- the swath of real intense damage was about 10 miles wide, now you won't have that catastrophic damage, hopefully, here, but the swath of damage is going to be some many -- who knows, 50, 75 miles across that you're going to have some degree of damage, or not. I know even down in the Fort Lauderdale area today that their trees are down, and power was out, so you're talking between Fort Lauderdale and Melbourne, Florida. What are we talking? Well over 100, 150 miles along the coastline of some sort of damage or -- in one form or another.
CALLAWAY: John, stay with us, we're going to check in with Anderson Cooper who is in Melbourne where he is not getting a break, as well, Those winds continuing to batter that part of the state -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yeah they sure do, and no let up at all. I just want to show you some of the stuff that's flying around here. This, I just picked up from over there, just a second ago, it's some roofing material, it's very flimsy, it's made out of plastic, but the edge is very sharp and when this thing is flying through the air, it can really do some severe damage. That's why we're not over there anymore because this stuff is -- every few minutes just flies, as you can see some on the ground over there, it's in the trees it's going to be all over the place by tomorrow morning. We saw the same sort of thing down in Punta Gorda a couple of weeks ago. You also see palm fronds just about everywhere the trees are just blowing so much, the branches are coming off. We'll be lucky -- we've been very luck in this area though, we haven't had too many downed trees and we keep watching these trees behind us, they keep shaking a lot, but so far they haven't come down.
But again, it's just these sustained winds that just keep blowing. They have been blowing for many hours now and the worst still is yet to come, we're told, around 4:00 a.m. is what we expect.
CALLAWAY: Anderson are you regretting volunteering for this assignment, yet?
COOPER: I'm not, actually, I'm -- I've never been more wet, but it's really interesting and you know, there are a lot of folk who have it a lot worse. I am -- I feel lucky to be here.
CALLAWAY: All right.
GRIFFIN: Anderson, let's bring in Gary Tuchman, who's back on the phone with us in...
CALLAWAY: Fort Pierce.
GRIFFIN: ...are you there, Gary?
TUCHMAN: I am Drew and Catherine. We're here.
GRIFFIN: OK, last we talked you were driving around Fort Pierce and describing some terrible damage that you were viewing.
TUCHMAN: Yes, it's just very extensive and we've continued to drive and we've seen more of the same kind of damage. There's signs down and windows broken and parts of roofs broken off. You know, this is like a meteorological nightmare. It's been going on so long and it is so relentless and -- since 10 -- at 10:30 this morning we know that the winds became tropical storm strength here in the Fort Pierce area. It is now 2:33 in the morning. We're talking about 14 hours straight and you've had winds of over 35 miles-per-hour and probably for us, since 9:30 tonight, we've had the winds hurricane force and they still remain hurricane strength winds.
It's hard for us to do a direct comparison because we are about a mile inland now, from where we were before. We were right near the ocean and the Intercostal before, now we're a mile inland. Maybe a little less windy, but the rain is still torrential. We just pulled into the motel that we're staying in, at a convenient location near the marina where we've been doing live reports all day. And all around here, the parking lot is flooded and parts of the roof are now blowing off the hotel. We're afraid, actually, to look inside our rooms and see what's happened there.
I remember last year when I covered one of the hurricanes on the island of Bermuda. I went back to my room afterward and I found that all my belongings were underwater. So, we're hoping that doesn't happen this time, we put our stuff up at higher ground in the room. But, it gives us idea with the roof blowing out, that perhaps the dryness of this hotel's been compromised a bit by the weather we're seeing here.
But, everyone here was kind of hoping, when I say everyone, I'm talking about the emergency officials I've been talking to all night, were hoping that the eye would cross here and we'd get a few hours of calmness, so at least everyone could just settle down for a little while before the next part of the storm came. But it looks like we're in a -- and I'd allow you to ask Jacqui Jeras this, but it looks like we're not getting the eye at all. We are just getting that northern eye wall which is the worst part of the storm. It is -- there is no break for us here whatsoever.
CALLAWAY: Jacqui's not available right now, she's working on her weather map, but you know she said that it doesn't look like you are going to get a break at all from this, where you're located. The eye of the storm is south of you, and it doesn't look like Anderson is going to great a break either.
You know, Gary, tell us is there anyone else besides the media at the hotel where you're staying?
TUCHMAN: By the way, that did sound rude what I said to you -- get Jacqui Jeras right away! Ask her another question. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
GRIFFIN: She's racing down the stairs right now, Gary, in a cold sweat.
TUCHMAN: Jacqui's so nice, I know she would do that if she heard me. "I got to answer that question for Gary." No, but whatever, whenever she gets the chance, that would be great.
But, I will tell you, I have never covered a hurricane in which I saw so many people who listened to what authorities have said and have gone either to shelters or gotten away.
We have seen virtually no curiosity seekers on the roads, at the marina we're at, almost always we have people coming out saying hello, wanting to go to the beach. We just did not see that, and you can credit Hurricane Charley for that.
CALLAWAY: Well that's welcome news.
GRIFFIN: Gary, the fact is that we're watching the radar screen of Frances and you are just on the northern eye wall and you're not -- it doesn't appear like you are going to see any break in this. In fact, the eye seems to be getting smaller and smaller. It was such a tremendously large eye that we thought everybody might get a piece of the calm inside this storm, but as it came onshore it seems to have -- seems to have been shrunken a bit and you are going to miss it to the north, John Zarrella will miss it to the south.
TUCHMAN: Well, I guess that makes John and I unlucky, but I will tell you that this is very unusual in the sense that when we heard this, at one point, that this eye was 70 miles in diameter and then I head it cross near Stewart, Florida, which is actually near the Saint Lucie inlet also, which is only about 20 miles away. It must have shrunk, because it was only 20 miles away and we're not in that eye wall -- we're not in that eye here, that means it obviously has gotten much smaller which, Jacqui Jeras will tell you, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gotten better organized. This has come over the coast, the smaller they eye, that means the tighter the spin and the more wind you get.
CALLAWAY: Anderson, so you have a question?
COOPER: Yeah Gary, I had a question for you. You're further south of where we are, now we have been told Frances made a lot of rain, a lot of flooding, we haven't really seen the rain up here in Melbourne much of the day. Right now it is raining, but it's more of a just a sort of a fine mist. Are you getting heavy rains?
TUCHMAN: We're 50 miles south of you, Anderson, and the rain here has been torrential for three hours and the storm's moving very slowly in your direction and I would expect that with the next couple of hours, Anderson, you are going to see rain that you have never seen before. It's just really incredible, what we're seeing here.
COOPER: Interesting. Yet another thing to look forward to, I suppose.
CALLAWAY: Because you're not having enough fun, Anderson.
CALLAWAY: Gary, can you tell us -- you know, you have covered so many of these you -- have you seen extensive damage over such a large area as you have seen -- that you saw when you were driving back? TUCHMAN: Yeah, I don't think I've ever seen the extensive damage like this. And once again, I'm not saying that we have a lot of catastrophic damage. I'm certainly hoping we're not, but there's no way to know now because it's so dark, and I really rarely seen a scenario where it's so dark, there's just no power anywhere near us and the only lights we see are the headlight on our cars as we're driving. And then, I mentioned this before, and I just thought this was so ironic, the only other light we've seen all day are on a -- on a railroad crossing, it was broken from the storm and it's flashing eternally. Hours and hours with the bells going off, it's very eerie as you cross the tracks. You know there's no train coming, but nevertheless, you're still taught, when you hear it and see it, to stop and look and we've done that each time when we cross these particular railroad tracks in downtown Fort Pierce.
But, they're very unusual, John Zarrella pointed this out, in Punta Gorda, you know, you had a situation where you could see terrible damage, 27 people were killed, but it was still in a relatively small area. Here, when all is said and done, and people see this passes though and the sun comes out again here in the Sunshine State, and people start examining the damage, here in Florida, they're going to see damage, possibly form Broward County in the south, passed Anderson in the north, and that -- we're talking about a 200 mile area where we're going to see damage from this huge storm which has been described, accurately, as the size of Texas.
GRIFFIN: Jacqui Jeras, when all is said and done, how thankful will we be that this went from a category four down to a two before it hit? Because combine the wind with this breadth of a storm and it would have just been something else.
JERAS: I couldn't even imagine it. If this is a category four sitting over here for this long, it would be absolutely catastrophic for the state of Florida. They were very lucky that is down to a two, but in a way, it's still certainly, going to be a big problem and we still haven't the worst of it yet. As you can see, we're still here on the back side. I want to go back to our VIPIR source, we can see that backside of that eye wall coming on in. And Gary was talking about how it's just been unrelenting over and over. Take a look at this return, right here. You can see some of those reds starting to pop up there, so even more intense rainfall to be expected and he's also going to start to see a little bit more of a wind shift pushing in here into Fort Pierce, those winds are going to start coming in form the north into the east and they're going to be stronger, certainly, could see the 90, 100 mile-an-hour plus hurricane force winds within that area here very shortly.
CALLAWAY: While you've got that map up, I need to correct myself, make sure everybody knows where our correspondents are. Anderson is in Melbourne, which is of course north of the eye of the storm. We have Gary Tuchman. Can you show them for us? We're at Fort Pierce...
JERAS: Yeah, we need to pull out just a little bit wider here on our map. There we go. Here's Anderson and Chad, they've been up here. This is where Gary is, right here. John Zarrella down here in West Palm Beach and then along Lake Okeechobee, right up here, that's that where we have Ed Lavandera. So, we've got, really everybody on all sides of this storm and...
CALLAWAY: And no one in the eye where it's quiet, right now. All right, Anderson have you seen the winds as saw -- heard Gary say a moment ago, he's warning you that the rains are going to kick up again. Have you seen the rain increase?
COOPER: Not so much in the last couple of minutes. We have seen the wind seem to increase in the last couple of minutes, though. A couple -- you say, a few debris pieces flying around. It is still very, just -- you know, it's just sort of frustrating, because it has been this way for hours now and you feel like -- you know you keep staring out there, you keep seeing it , you keep watching it just thinking it's got to let up at some point, but it doesn't. I was just in the car listening to the radio -- local radio stations and there are people calling who have been sitting in their shelters, who have been sitting in their closets and their bathrooms and they're just talking to the radio D.J.s because they're just board. I mean they're just sick of it, they're tired of it. Thankfully most of the people who were calling in, they had little kids who were asleep, which is something to be thankful for, because -- you know, you can only imagine how scary this is -- it's scary for adults, you can only imagine how scary it is for little kids out there.
CALLAWAY: Yes, and some of these people have been in shelters since Wednesday or Wednesday night.
COOPER: Yes, it's so frustrating.
GRIFFIN: Gary Tuchman was just about to check inside his hotel where he believes the roof has come off of that hotel -- Gary.
CALLAWAY: Part of the roof.
TUCHMAN: Right. We haven't had a chance to go in the hotel yet because we're outside here in the parking lot right now, just exploring the area around here, so we'll know as soon as probably the next time I talk to you, I'll let you know, but it wouldn't be a surprise if there was flooding inside this hotel because there has been flooding across the street in a Kmart where part of the roof collapsed. It's right across the street from this hotel. So, emergency officials tell us that the store has serious damage because of the water that has poured in through the open hole on top of the roof.
They also say that a restaurant in Hutchinson Island, which is the Barrier Island just to the east of Fort Pierce, has collapsed from water. These are just two of the things of the things that they know about at night, we don't know what they're going to find tomorrow. I've got to anticipate they're going to be very busy tomorrow evaluating and finding out what happened, we just hope that the most important thing, the casualty count is very low, hopefully nonexistent. We don know of one person here in Saint Lucie County who has died of a heart attack who was at a shelter. We don't know of anyone who died directly from the hurricane, but that is something we don't anticipate learning until tomorrow because the emergency officials and the police are inside, also right now.
GRIFFIN: All right, and that's still what we have here, one person stress related, it was in a facility of people with special needs, so that is the one fatality we have so far.
CALLAWAY: Perhaps the only good thing that Charley brought was warnings -- letting people know just how dangerous these hurricanes can be and maybe most people did evacuate, as we're hoping.
And Gary, we'll be back with you in just a few moments, we're going to take a break as our coverage of Hurricane Frances continues.
CALLAWAY: As if rain and wind were not enough for the residents of Florida to worry about with Hurricane Frances, now the threat of tornadoes. Let's go right to Jacqui Jeras who give us an update on the tornado situation -- Jacqui
JERAS: We have a brand new tornado warning right now and this is near Jacksonville, Florida, to the south of there, actually its for Putnam County and also for south central Saint Johns, it includes the city of Hastings, this is a Doppler Radar indicated tornado possibly near Hastings, it's moving to the west at 55 miles-per-hour. A couple of the other cities that could be affected by this include Bostwick at 2:45 a.m. and Florahome at about 3:00, so we've got a tornado warning again, for Putnam and Saint Johns county and if those people do happen to be up and you're looking outside for this tornado, you may not see it because the rain is so heavy here, often times in hurricanes a tornado kind of getting drenched with the rain and you can't always see them. So, you need to heed these warnings very seriously.
We could go back over to DR115 and show you where the tornado watch is in effect, right now. There you can see, it's just kind of on the edge of the box where we're getting that warning right now. It extends all the way down to West Palm Beach and all the way over towards Fort Myers, and all the way on up the coast up toward the Big Bend area. This watch is in effect until 8:00 this morning and you may see an extension on that. So, tornadoes very likely and we've got a radar indicated one, right now.
CALLAWAY: Jacqui, is there any one area, in the storm area, that's more likely to get the tornadoes, like the edge of the storm, the center of the storm?
JERAS: Yeah, in particular, especially on the north the northeast side, once again, and we get these feeder bands that move out, we get these little (UNINTELLIGIBLE) within them and that's when you start to see some of the tornadoes pop up.
CALLAWAY: All right Jacqui, thanks.
GRIFFIN: Really at the end of this storm we may find out that the Bahamas suffered some of the worst damage. The storm did sit over the Bahamas for a good length of time. Our Karl Penhaul filed this report from Freeport, which did take the brunt of this storm. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If Grand Bahamas anything to judge by, then Florida can expect that the tail of Hurricane Frances could be even more vicious that the leading edge. That's certainly been the case here Freeport in the western Grand Bahama Island. The first leading edge came through on Friday afternoon and seemed surprisingly unpowerful compared to what we've seen in the course of Friday. The island has really taken a pounding. According to assistant police commissioner, here at least one man has been found dead, drowned another man, an 80-year-old is still listed as missing. He house was completely flattened by the powerful wind. There's no sign of him as yet.
In fact, the winds at one stage were so powerful that the police and other emergency service were all battened down, too. They couldn't go on petrol, they couldn't attend to the 10s or even 100s of emergency calls they were receiving from frightened residents as roofs blew off buildings and residents were forced to scurry and try and seek refuge either on roof of their houses on the roofs of other house, or even with the neighbors.
Police have told us now though, that winds are dying down, that the tail of Hurricane Frances now seems to have passed over the island and they will begin their full damage assessment tomorrow, but certainly beyond that, one death and one man missing, no other report as yet of death and injury, but we do believe there is widespread damage. All the power is out on Grand Bahama. The telephone lines are out, the cellular phone lines are out, and the last remaining radio station that was broadcasting here, fell silent a short while ago. The power and satellite signals to that radio station now out, also.
Karl Penhaul, CNN, Freeport, Grand Bahama.
GRIFFIN: So, even though things have passed the Bahamas we still don't know what the damage is because now it's just pitch black, no power, and I'm sure, dangerous to drive around.
CALLAWAY: And the storm's clearly not through yet in Florida, not even half the way through.
Anderson Cooper, John Zarrella, Gary Tuchman our correspondents following the storm for us throughout the night.
We're going to dip in now, though with one of our affiliates WPLG in Miami and listen to their coverage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see a lot of our reporters up and down the coastline because the weather is just not allowing for any sort of a signal to get and get to us. Obviously as soon we can get an update to get some real clear ideas of what they're going through, we'll bring it to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of people know what that's like because many of have satellite systems at home and they know when the bad weather rolls through they lose their picture in the middle of a movie, so that's the same type of system we're dealing with here too. We're relying heavily on the satellite systems now.
Do we have the opportunity to check back in with Michael Putney at the Miami-Dade County Emergency Operations center?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is well fed there, as of the last check and has more to bring us now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, Jacquie and Mark, I think the one thing I want to leave you with before I go off duty and my colleague Rad Berky is going to be standing in this spot, is to say that Miami-Dade County is actually looking forward. They are looking forward to tomorrow when they can send out damage assessment teams which they are going to do, they are going to send out people to begin debris removal, they area going to start looking at clearing roads and waste disposal. The kinds of governmental services that, in some ways, have been suspended over the last day-and-a-half, they're going to try and get Metro Rail and Metro Mover, Metro Bus back up and functioning according to schedule. They are just waiting to do all these things.
The other thing that I might say. I asked Miami-Dade County manager, George Burgess, before he left here a couple of hours ago about the cost of this storm, because even though we have not borne the brunt of Hurricane Frances, it has caused some damage, and I said, "You know, we have a rainy day fund, especially for this kind of situation. Are you going to have to dip into it?" And County Manger Burgess said that he thinks that the answer is no. He says "If we need to we can do it, but I really don't think there's a huge amount of damage," and he also said that, of course, federal funds are available for some kinds of damage and for some overtime costs. They go to, eventually, I guess an Alpha Bravo shift for the Miami-Dade police and Fire Rescue departments, which means they're 12 on and 12 off and that involves overtime, but there is some federal help that Washington can provide and the state can help out in a situation like that.
So, even though we are in the midst of the storm, I think that and encouraging sign is that the people who run Miami-Dade County government and the municipalities are looking forward to cleaning up and getting our community back on track and back functioning as we normally do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael, I guess the one thing I was curious about, when you say that he feels we'll be able to handle it from a dollar and cents stand point, we're only talking about here, obviously, damage to services that would affect the county. I mean, he's not making any kind of an overall pronouncement or gauge about what may or may not be the case for a lot of the businesses or anybody else effected, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you're absolutely right, Mark. We are not talking about any store windows that have been blown in or other kinds of damages. We are talking about repairing stop signs or other signs, traffic signs that have been blown down, that kind of thing. And then, of course, just the cost of cleaning up the streets. I mean, I think about the report that saw eerier, there on Fort Lauderdale Beach, I mean city of Fort Lauderdale, and Broward County are going to spend a lot of manpower and hours and money putting Fort Lauderdale Beach and A1A back in good shape. It won't be quite that serious or challenging in Miami-Dade, but they're ready to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Well, it's good to know. I like the fact that you say they're looking forward because I think we're all looking forward to putting Frances in our rearview mirror.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When this finally moves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes when it finally moves. But listen Michael, I know that you're going to be relived there. Thank you so much for the last 12 hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My pleasure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And finally one thing I forgive you and Jilda for this...
GRIFFIN: That's WPLG's coverage out of Miami. We're going to switch to another affiliate, WFOR, they have a live shot up. Let's dip in on here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't understand what he was saying, but at the end of the day a lot of rain coming at them right now. It's not over yet.
Damages around us, all over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And let's go to the newsroom. Susan Barnett's got information on the damage that we've been seeing throughout Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right Ileana, you know as this storm the size of Texas just plows its way across Florida's east coast. It's pounding our coastal communities. The further north you go, the worse it gets. These pictures coming from Palm Bach during the daylight hours. Right there, you see one of those lightening strikes -- looks like a lightening strikes where a transformer blows, or wires hit, it just lights up the sky, putting out power to a lot of areas.
This right here, some military vehicle looks like a cross between a Humvee and tank moving through the area.
As you can see here, a mobile home park, proof of why those areas are not the areas you want to be in. Roofs flying off, street lights just hanging down on the ground. The beating the boats are taking from this fierce surf is just incredible. Boats that weren't secured properly just -- you know, in jeopardy, now. And you can see here, the plight of a lot of these people how have had to evacuate their homes, rushing to shelters for safety. And you know, those shelters get crowded, they've been there a long time. Fatigue sets in. It's noisy there. It's not comfortable, they don't have beds, they just have whatever blankets they've taken, whatever comforts of home they can manage to carry in two hands. So those people, as you can imagine, getting restless. But it's certainly better than the alternative, being in those homes. Especially the mobile home parks where you saw the roofs just flying off. The power of this wind is just incredible.
And I want to mention, too, you saw the electricity just lighting up the sky there, power lines knocked together, transformers blow and last we heard from a Florida Power and Light they said some two million people, statewide, were without power, 500,000 of those in Palm Beach County, and that's where that video just came from. And I do want mention, as well, President Bush, of course, signed a disaster declaration for the state of Florida and that will allow money to come into our state to help clean up some of the destruction that Hurricane Frances has caused. And certainly once we see the daylight hours come, this morning...
CALLAWAY: We'll check in now with WPLG again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...is wreaking havoc with the water -- with the -- with this dock area over here. It's kind of surprising that the water has got -- I'm sure it's going to surprise the people that the water even got this high over here, because I understand recently they put up a wall out there to keep the tide and keep the water -- keep these surges from happening in this way, but apparently the wall has not work as intended and we have quite a bit of rise in the sea, right here.
And the wind, wow, this is like standing in one of those wind tunnels. I don't know if you can see me standing here, but the jacket seems like it's trying to fly right off of me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. Excuse me. When raindrops go down your throat you cough. So, the conditions out here are about same as they've been for awhile. And I know we talked about that earlier, Mark, that -- you know, hey, I mean the -- it really hasn't been up spikes in the chart, it's been a consistent -- the wind and rain has been at a consistently high level and that, in keeping with Trent Aric's forecast, that you know, this system is going to be with us for a while, it's going to be consistently a troublesome storm system for us here in Dade and Broward counties, and of course, in the rest of the counties affected in Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Henry, we'll give you a chance to catch your breath, there. It's Diane Magnum, back in the studio. And if it looks that bad at Hallover (ph) Beach, you can imagine what it's doing further up the coast.
As a matter of fact, you may be wondering why we haven't gone, for quite a while, up to our crews further up in Stewart and Juno Beach. The reason is the storm is hitting with its full impact and we are no longer able to a signal out of there. Besides the fact it is not safe for then to be out of shelter at this point.
Let's bring Trent Aric into the conversation.
Trent, while I was back in the newsroom I was looking over some e-mail...
CALLAWAY: We want to thank WPLG, our affiliate there in Miami. And WFOR, for dipping into a bit of their coverage, tonight.
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