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On the Ground in Decimated Florida Keys; Students Care for Elderly Abandoned in Nursing Home; White House Says Clinton Is Propping Up Book Sales with Attacks. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired September 12, 2017 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We have yet to really fully see hurricane Irma's full devastation in the Florida Keys. The damage is so bad federal officials won't allow people back on the islands. It's not safe. The mayor of Islamorada is calling what he's seeing pretty devastating. Kyung Lah is live for us in Islamorada. Kyung, it's so rare we get a live shot. My floor is yours. Show me around.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I will do it the best I can given our limited circumstances. I want to give you a look of where we're standing as we widen the picture out a bit. I'm standing in a mobile home park, but what you see behind me is a motor boat. It's not particularly uncommon sight just right in this area, we have seen several boats have been lifted out of the water. You can't see in the shot. It's way over there. They've been lifted right out of the water and dropped in directly into communities. This mobile home park we can't go far into with the concern that we may step on nails or other barriers is destroyed. That rubble you see back there, that used to be someone's home.
BALDWIN: Did I speak too soon? Did we lose her? That's what happens unfortunately in the Keys. We'll try to get Kyung back up live to get an assessment of how bad it is. Meantime let's move on. Irma ripped through and left some devastating places. In Ave Maria, Florida, that is in Collier County near Naples. Elderly men and women left to care for themselves until rescue people showed up brought them some thoughtful young people from Ave Maria University. Florida Senator Bill Nelson talked about them.
BILL NELSON, SENATOR, (D) FLORIDA: The university opened its facilities for the poor people in Immokalee to have a place to stay in shelter, and then they found 12 senior citizens that had been abandoned in a nursing home. And the police brought them to the university, and the students took them in and took care of them in their dormitories.
BALDWIN: And one of the students joins me on the phone -- on a phone. He's Stephen Akers, a student government president at this university. Stephen, you have been hailed by a U.S. Senator. You could have done nothing and you chose to do something. Kudos to you, sir. Tell me how this came to be.
STEPHEN AKERS, STUDENT GOVERNMENT PRESIDENT, AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY: Yes, Brooke. Thank you so much for having me. You know, this came together and at the last second the sheriff's office brought these senior citizens to us. You know, this isn't a heroic act by any means. We're just doing the best we can. And, you know, we have the space. We said absolutely. We're going to do everything we can for all of the people in our surrounding areas.
We're so grateful and fortunate for our university to have strong buildings that were able to withstand this hurricane. And so, we wanted to maximize every square inch that we had and just take people in, encourage each other. The students are here as well, they were helping out with these senior citizens. All of our other guests, too, and each with each other.
[15:35:00] The students, they're in high spirits. They're incredible. It's just been, you know, sometimes you think what good can come out of this. I have seen, you know, first hand, so many accounts of students stepping up and giving themselves to the situation. It's been incredible.
BALDWIN: I love it. We're looking at pictures that look to be inside of a gym, Stephen. Where do these more mature men and women, where were they taken? Were they in dorm rooms, apartments? How are they now?
AKERS: Sure. They're doing well. We had about 400 visitors from the surrounding areas in our fieldhouse, which is kind of like our gym. And these senior citizens, however, a few of them have specific needs. And so, we brought them into our university dorms where we have the space available. We had some students checking in on them. They're doing well now. I'm not sure at what point they'll return to the nursing home. I think it's a little too soon. But I'm told they're doing well. As far as we know, they love being here and we're happy to have them.
BALDWIN: Reliving their college days in a sense. Stephen Akers, good for you and your friends. Just a sad story. Let's go back to Kyung Lah in the key, fingers crossed. Technology works in our favor. You're live. You were talking about boats and mobile homes.
LAH: Yes. The boat that is right behind me, that's right in the center of a mobile home park. We're not going to widen out too much or think too much. We think that may be part of the problem, so bare with me. So, bear with me. This is a powerboat. You can't see it in the shot. It's way back there. Beyond that destroyed rubble, which is someone's home, this entire park -- we tried to go through some of it, we haven't traversed too far in because of the destruction.
Much of this mobile home park is completely destroyed. This is from storm surge. This is from wind. This is the power of hurricane Irma. We're getting our first look here because residents were finally allowed back to this area. The new road block is not very far from where we're standing. So, what they're doing is opening up each community bit by bit. Residents came home for the very first time. We followed and talked to many of them. At least a couple of them as they saw their homes for the first time. Sometimes utter relief. At times despair because they didn't know what they were going to see. And then others immediately began with the process of cleaning up. We were at a business where they are looking at almost a complete
loss. People whose homes -- they left treasures because they didn't think they'd need them. Even though, Brooke, we're talking about widespread devastation, widespread damage, this is an area that didn't get it nearly as hard as the area that we haven't been able to see quite yet, this team at least, which is further down the Keys. That area is among the hardest hit areas in the state. That's the area where firefighters say is in most urgent need of help. Brooke?
BALDWIN: OK. Question. I pulled up my handy dandy google maps as I'm talking to you trying to understand where Islamorada is. You're just about halfway down, is that right, Kyung?
LAH: I would say it's half the way down or a little more than third. Again, the people here are really trying to pick up the pieces and try to look forward and part of it is that they try to keep everything into perspective, because if you travel further down the Keys, that's the area where people who stayed are in incredible need of help. It's a major supply problem because U.S. 1 is the only way in or out, and what they've done is just opened the upper Keys. The very first part, to check to see, is my house standing, are my memories still there, are my papers still there, my papers because you can't pack your car full enough with everything in your house in the amount of time they had. So, they're able to go back and check. Further down the Keys, they need to clear the debris.
[15:40:00] We followed a fire & rescue team, Monroe County fire & rescue team. They're going house by house. Some of the houses, their entire back was smashed in. We were at a mobile home park. Firefighters were using axes and saws and hammers to hammer their way in to see if there before people inside because some decided to ride out the storm. I haven't mentioned yet, Brooke, in a far less devastated area. Someone had an incredibly harrowing experience. Some who decided to say are saying these were unbelievable conditions.
BALDWIN: And, again, the point being, you're just the third of the way down. The point is it's so much worse the farther south you go. And look what's behind you there. Kyung Lah and crew, thank you so much, in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. We have a person on the boat touring the damage in the lower Keys. We're talking about where much of the damage was sustained. We'll take you there live in moments.
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We talked with Kyung Lah and her crew and they were on Islamorada which is a third of way down the Keys, and we are going to work or way a little farther south. Brian Todd joins me now from lower Matecumbe Key it is about 50 miles from where the eye of the storm came ashore. You're standing in front of some sort of structure. It sustained serious, serious damage, Brian. Show me around.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, it's really incredible. We talked to people who lived here what this thing used to look like. We're going to show you what it looks like now. This is the Sandy Cove condominium complex. Our photojournalist David Brooks going to come past me. He'll show you inside. This level was on the third floor. This looks like a one-floor condominium complex. This was on the third floor. Imagine this two stores up then there was one in between it. On this level, I'm standing was a parking garage.
The parking garage at the lower level are both underneath all this right now. This was a 12-unit condominium complex here in lower Matecumbe Key. Three units here, three units below where you are seeing and a garage below that and six units on the other side. All of it gutted. Look at this. We talked to Tom Ross, 73 years old. He used to live in this center unit right here. He said his wife can't even come back here and look at it, she's so devastated by what happened. This is an image of the sheer force of hurricane Irma.
Look what it did. It pushed two entire floors down under the water with storm surge and massive hurricane-force winds. We've traversed the entire section of these Keys part of it by boat, by car, by walking. The sheriff's deputies from Monroe county stopped us. They wouldn't let us go further. They're not letting residents go beyond that point because things are completely out. If people go back there and there's an emergency, they're going through the house and come across an electric wire and hurts somebody, there's nobody to call.
It just gives you kind of a look at the extent of the devastation and of the remote nature of this and of the people who stayed there just how cut off they are. So, I know we've been talking about this all day. With no calls, no water, no electricity. For those who need medical care, they may be struggling. Also, I heard you talking with our colleague Kyung Lah in Islamorada we were dockside. There were restaurants that got completely destroyed.
One called Island Grill. The other called Hog's Heaven, a dockside bar. Completely gutted. And a popular fishing boat that was about 60 feet long that a contractor was taking out. That got completely destroyed. You're talking, Brooke, livelihoods destroyed here throughout the Keys as well. You're been probably mentioning the stats from FEMA, 25 percent of the homes in the Keys got completely destroyed. Another 65 percent suffered major damage. So, officials are saying, Brooke, that basically just about every home here was impacted in some way. When you talk about roughly 80,000 residents along the 115-mile stretch of the Florida Keys, that's how devastating this whole stretch of the state is -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: I still can't believe that's the third floor of condominium complex you are standing in front of. That looks like thick concrete just crumbling. And the picture from the dinghy I mean finally now days after the storm, we're beginning to get an inkling of what it looks like. Brian Todd and the crew, thanks so, so much there in lower Matecumbe Bay Key.
From the Keys to the Caribbean, a paradise turning into a destruction zone. Dozens killed by Irma, folks running out of food and water and telling the world, don't forget about us.
[15:50:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worst and most devastating done more damage than any other storm that we in our lifetime have experienced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though we're days after the storm has been ripped through St. Martin, we're still very much in the immediate aftermath in a state of emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you live in an island community like the Virgin Islands -- people become really social to see what's happening them and what everybody else is going through, it is really hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We finally heard the roof starting to be peeled off and light started to come into our room, oh my god, I think the power is coming back. No, that means we got a hole in your roof, we don't have a roof back there anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The houses in this town they single story houses and they are absolutely flooded and destroyed by this storm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Hillary Clinton's version of what happened during the 2016 election is now on bookshelves as of today. Those eager to read and meet her stood in very long lines that wrapped around these New York City blocks downtown. Whether President Trump will be picking up a copy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, had this to say about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Whether or not he's going to read Hillary Clinton's book, I am not sure. I think he's pretty well versed on what happened and I think it is clear to all America, and I think it is sad that after Hillary Clinton ran one of the most negative campaigns in history and lost and the last chapter of her public life is going to be defined by book sales of false and reckless attacks, that's a sad way for her to continue that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Here are some of the attacks from her book that Hillary Clinton says she's convinced that the campaign colluded with Russia. The president is played by Vladimir Putin and she says his daughter, Ivanka Trump is complicit with the president's agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel she is complicit in the administration's actions and should we by sympathetic for her?
HILLARY CLINTON, (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The way I look at is the person that has to be held responsible is Donald Trump. He's the president, he listens to who he listens to and he tweets and speaks out and makes common cause with white supremacists and neo- Nazis and takes away the protections that were granted 800,000 Dreamers. And so many ways just trying to impose a political agenda that is turning the clock back or attempting to do so or in ways that I find not only really repulsive but wrong headed in the country that we are. Everyone associated with him. They're either on board with that or they're not. And if they are not, they need to be speaking out or leaving. If they remain silent and just gives lip service to contrary points of view then they are part of his agenda and should be judged and held accountable for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: A man who's actually read the book. CNN political director David Chalian with me here in New York, so, you got this copy and you took a look at it and there is a ton of attention today, how revealing was she?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Pretty revealing for Hillary Clinton. Here is somebody that we have seen in the public stage for 25 years and some of the words that's associated with that 25 years public career are cautious, calculated and she seems keenly aware of that. So, I think it is some of the first time that Americans are going to hear Hillary Clinton or read Hillary Clinton in her own words in a way that's a little less guarded and caution in the wind. It is still Hillary Clinton.
BALDWIN: That's a caveat.
BALDWIN: She does sort of go through the emotional experience and the telling of the emotional experience of losing the election in ways that we have not heard Hillary Clinton speak before.
BALDWIN: Anderson's big interview with her tomorrow, what is the one big question, David Chalian who was in the weeds of 2016, the question that you want to ask her?
CHALIAN: The question that I want to ask her more than anything else is not actually about the campaign but is what is like being Hillary Clinton right now of the eight months and feeling the pain of the lost of election, and seeing the results of that and watching events unfold, what does it go through her day right now to me is most compelling.
BALDWIN: It is a great question. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting on this, this was something that's addressed to the White House briefing today just about how some members of the Trump legal team had questioned the possibility of Jared Kushner and son-in-law and senior adviser to step down because of his communications of Russia and transitioning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders essentially said, I took her to say that no such conversations was had.
CHALIAN: She says no conversation that I was aware of, I think she went on and certainly presentations were made from the legal team formally to the president about this. That does not mean that the word were people on the legal team who thought that Kushner should go. I don't think what she says today negates the foundation of what "The Wall Street Journal" was reporting. And they are reporting that folks want to do that because Jared Kushner is central to this. He apparently according to the report had more contact with Russians in the transition of the campaign than anybody else close to Donald Trump throughout that time period.
BALDWIN: The notion of Jared Kushner leaving the White House, he's family. This is why it is so complicated. It is not as clean cut and if this were -- perhaps, we have been a lot easier to have ties with that person and as we have seen Donald Trump doing with Michael Flynn and others.
BALDWIN: Can we on a story that everyone has been giggling about a little bit today?
[16:00:00] Not if you are Ted Cruz by the way I should point out, they are not entirely giggling, just how uncomfortable for his staff today. Follow this, the story is essentially, Ted Cruz's Twitter account liked a pornography video. Let me be
precise in our reporting, an aide to Cruz speaking on background, confirms the Senator told reporters that multiple members of his staff have access to the Twitter account and someone hit inadvertently hit the like button on that post. The aide says it will be an internal effort to figure out who's responsible. That is a big old oopsy.
CHALIAN: That is a big old oopsy. The danger of social media and Ted Cruz talked about this today when he faced reporters and at the end of that, people asked him, were you the one what hit the heart button and the like on Twitter? And he said he was not. The other thing he though was that they don't believe any maliciousness involved. There was not malicious intent to create a problem for him. So, we'll see if we'll learn more of this. It is clear in this age the dangers of social media and you know that's, you know, bizarre.
BALDWIN: One way to put it. Don't ever do this. David, thank you very much.
BALDWIN: Thank you, Brooke.
Again, do not miss Anderson Cooper's interview with Hillary Clinton. It is going to be an hour long airing the interview tomorrow night, 8:00 eastern time here in CNN. I am Brooke Baldwin, thank you for being with me. We'll send it to Washington now with "The Lead" with Jake Tapper.