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Hurricane Florence Shifts South; Flooding Is To Be Very Critical; Florence To Be A Storm To Be Reckoned With. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, HOST, CNN: All right, top of the hour, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York and we do begin with this breaking news. Hurricane Florence is shifting its track south. You now have millions and millions, some reports saying tens of millions of people in the path.

This message from FEMA says it all. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF BYARD, FEMA OFFICIAL: This is not going to be a glancing blow, this is going to be, you know, a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

A Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast, also these brand new pictures from space, the International Space Station showing the eye of this monster storm as it turns across the Atlantic.

At any moment, the governor of North Caroline, Roy Cooper, will speak. He will take questions and give us an update of how things stand there. We're bringing his remarks live, millions under watches and warnings, flooding is the most critical threat right now.

City officials with a stark message this morning, leave now or give us the contact information for your next of kin. Moments ago, NASA released this brand new image of the eye wall, look at that, the wind speeds at the center of this thing right now 130 miles an hour.

We have live coverage from our entire team up and down the eastern seaboard. Let's go first to meteorologist Chad Meyers in the Severe Weather Center tracking all of this. So Chad, I mean, we got this update early, early this morning and it does show a really dramatic turn.

What does it (inaudible)?

CHAD MEYERS, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: It doesn't even show as dramatic of a turn as the European model is implying either. This is kind of a oh, we were over here, the model's over here, let's kind of go some place in the middle so that we're not too far out. This could certainly change again in exactly 59 minutes when the next

11 o'clock output comes here. We will see this storm, though, continue to grow in intensity. Here's the same picture you were just showing from the GOES-16 NOAA satellite picture.

What an amazing shot here, these are the very latest, brand new satellites that are up there, 127 miles per hour, if you want to go old school and fly through it in a propeller air plane, because they don't fly jets through these things, they fly props.

If you get a jet with the wind going the wrong way, you can get a flame out. That doesn't happen with the propeller planes as much. One hundred and twenty seven is the miles per hour right now, 130 moving on up maybe even to 145 later on today.

And this is the exact same forecast we had yesterday, right up to 48 hours and all of a sudden the models started doing this and this and the Hurricane Center went where's that? What's that coming from? How is this happening?

Turning to the left right here and then maybe making a run toward Myrtle where it wasn't doing that yesterday and then possibly even farther down toward Charleston. The cone is in the ocean, so really at this point in time, it's just take it or leave it, left or right, we'll still have to see as the models progress later on today.

But why, but why is this happening? Because - well I can't tell you, I have to wrap, I will tell you later on today.

HARLOW: Only have to wrap for a moment, Chad. We're going to get to our - our (inaudible) we want to show folks what's going on real time right now, OK. This is North Carolina, but let me take you to the governor of North Carolina Roy Cooper giving an update right now I believed everyone. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROY COOPER, GOVERNOR, N.C.: Said it will be unbelievably damaging and they can't emphasize that enough. Violent winds can blow down power lines and trees, heavy sustained rain that can flood our rivers and low lying ground will be coming, and expect this storm to batter our state for days.

Floodplain experts at the North Carolina Emergency Management have been modeling the storm's projected impacts. And from the storm surge alone, tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded in North Carolina.

We are sharing that information with local officials so that they can prepare. Shelters began opening yesterday with more opening today to take people in who have been displaced by evacuations.

There are at least 16 shelters that are opening - that are open now and we are truly grateful for the volunteers, the Red Cross and other who are helping this. I've authorized more North Carolina National Guard soldiers to report for duty. By 7:00 p.m. today, 2,800 soldiers will be on active duty joined by

even more on stand by. These soldiers are directed to preserve life and safety and provide route clearance of roads and support communications and logistics.

Prisons and jails in vulnerable areas are being evacuated as well.

[10:05:00]

Long term care facilities have been urged to work with local emergency - emergency management officials to ensure resident and patient safety.

Today our state parks and museums are closed, state universities have cancelled classes, and many public schools are closing as well plus providing their buildings as shelters. No matter where this storm comes ashore, it will have widespread significant impacts in North Carolina.

The coast will feel the blast first thing in the morning with damaging, life threatening surge, winds and rain. Those of you in central North Carolina should be prepared to feel the impact of the storm from Thursday night through the weekend due to the sustained rainfall and persistent wind.

And western North Carolina residents should be prepared for heavy rain. As we remember earlier this year, that can trigger mudslides and road closings. In short, every county and every person in North Carolina needs to stay alert and to take this storm seriously.

Yesterday I ordered a state evacuation of North Carolina's barrier islands from the Virginia border to the South Carolina line. And thanks to our local partners, many evacuation orders are in place for other areas and I urge residents to heed those orders.

For those not under evacuation orders, gather your emergency supplies if you haven't already, food, water, flashlights, extra batteries, medications, important documents if you need to evacuate.

Remember to make plans for your pets and clear your yard of debris that can cause damage in high winds. Finally, download the ReadyNC app for updates and to learn the weather about the storm.

And call 211 for information or to connect you with local resources. I want to thank everyone across our state, helping us get ready for this storm. And I want to introduce part of North Carolina's team here to provide input for you.

To my far right here is Mike Sprayberry, Director of Emergency Management. Next is Colonel Glenn McNeil, the commander of the State Highway Patrol. Immediately behind me is Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

We also have Secretary Jim Trogdon, the secretary of transportation to my immediate left. We have our federal coordinating officer from FEMA, Albie Lewis who is here with us in the middle there. And of course we have the - the general of the North Carolina National

Guard, Major General Gregory Lusk, who's here. So I'm going to recognize some of these for updates and then we will take your questions.

So Mike Sprayberry, we'll begin with you.

MICHAEL SPRAYBERRY, DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Thank you, Governor. Good morning everyone, we continue to urge all North Carolina residents and visitors to comply with local evacuation orders of - from our local jurisdictions.

I'd also like to thank our county partners for all their hard work as we prepare for the impacts of Hurricane Florence. The State Emergency Operations Center has activated a level two, we anticipate going to a level one full up tonight. Of course, we're on a 24 hour schedule.

We are ramping up with additional National Guard, as you just heard the governor refer to as - as well as more swift water rescue boats, search and rescue task forces, helicopters, ambulances and a whole host of other assets to include commodities.

We position some of these assets forward and we also had staged others locally in Garner. Our federal, state, volunteer and private sector partners stand ready to provide the full spectrum of disaster response capability to Hurricane Florence.

And thank you very much for your support today.

COOPER: Colonel McNeil, the commander of the State Highway Patrol.

COLONEL GLENN MCNEIL, COMMANDER, STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: Thank you, Governor. Good morning. The State Highway Patrol continues to make appropriate preparations for this powerful storm as it approaches.

Troopers state wide have been placed on alert to ensure that they are ready should they be called in the need at a moments occurrence. In part, this allows us to be readily organized

[10:10:00]

SPRAYBERRY: ...powerful storm as it approaches. Troopers statewide have been placed on alert to ensure that they are ready should they be called in the need at a moments occurrence. In part, this allows us to be readily organized, and allocate members to the affected areas.

Yesterday, in partnership with the Department of Transportation, and we remain to do so today, members assisted with the evacuation process along our ferry terminals, and along the Outer Banks. Additionally, the patrol is removing abandoned vehicles and disabled vehicles from along our evacuation routes to ensure that our roadways and shoulders are clear for motorists (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: All right, we just got a briefing from North Carolina Roy Copper. We're hearing from some other emergency management officials there in North Carolina. We're going to keep you posted on that, but the message there is violent winds, heavy sustained rain. The governor of North Carolina saying look, this thing is going to hit on Thursday night sometime, early Friday morning. Expect for it to last through the weekend with this heavy, sustained rain.

He warned of mudslides, et cetera. Lets' get to my colleague Brian Todd, he's in Swan Quarter, North Carolina. And Brian, those - you know, trucks we were seeing driving off while the governor was speaking. Those were coming off from some of the last ferries that are evacuating people off of those barriers islands.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. These last two ferries that landed are two of the last three. There's only one more arriving at about, we think, noon, Eastern Time, these people who you just saw offloading here, dozens of cars in this ferry, and then one over here to my right. Our photo journalist, Dave, can, kind of, pan over there.

These two ferries just landed. Dozens of cars offloaded, probably, hundreds of people taking their last chance to get off of Ocracoke Island. It is an isolated barrier island about 25 miles east of here. The only way on and off of that island under normal circumstances, Poppy, is by boat. And they're offering one more ferry.

There's one last chance for people to get off of that island. There are about 900 permanent residents of Ocracoke Island, and if they - if they're not on that ferry coming in a couple of hours they're, pretty much, stranded there. And they could be stranded there for days, so, a very dramatic scene of evacuation here.

They're just going to take these ferries over here and moor them over here to your right. There's one ferry over there that's already moored. They're going to moor them here, at Swan Quarter, to ride out the storm. It's really the only safe place where they believe they can moor these ferry boats.

So, again, a pretty dramatic scene here, these are people taking their very last chance to get off of that isolated barrier online. But there are people who are staying, despite the advice of the governor and local officials. Even the commissioner of Hyde County, where we are, who lives on Ocracoke Island told me this morning, he is staying.

So, he may be staying to try to make sure that those people there who are staying are going to be OK. But, Poppy, they have a very good chance of being stranded for several days if they're...

HARLOW: Yes.

TODD: ...still on that island.

HARLOW: Stranded without power, without resources, all of it, Brian, thanks for the reporting. Joining me on the phone is Mayor Jerry Dove of Southport, North Carolina. Mayor, thanks for joining me. Can you hear me?

JERRY DOVE, MAYOR OF SOUTHPORT NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you, yes I can. HARLOW: OK, well we just all heard the update from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, you know, just saying how important it is that people evacuate from these evacuation zones. They're expecting violent wind, heavy rain all the way through the weekend. More shelters opening throughout the state today. What can you tell us about residents in South Port?

DOVE: Yes, we've had a mandatory evacuation here in Southport. And a lot of our citizens have left, and some of the - and some of our businesses has closed up. I'm here, now, in our emergency operations center along without our city manager, our fire chief and his personnel, and law enforcement. So, we have that so we can coordinate all of our resources, and all of our efforts to keep our city safe, and our citizens who have decided to stay here.

HARLOW: You know, we always hear, as we cover these - these huge hurricanes and these storms, from residents who will not evacuate, right? Who say, I've - I've ridden these out before, I'm going to do it again. What's your message to those folks in Southport?

DOVE: Well, our message was to them, we do have a mandatory evacuation, but we're not going to go and drag people out of their homes, and we want them to understand, and they do, that if the storm comes, and once the wind is so high that we're now going to endanger our safety personnel, and - to have them to come out to save them. So, they're taking a chance.

HARLOW: Are you receiving all of the - the federal resources, at this time, that you need because we did hear from FEMA just a little bit ago, last hour, and they said, look, you know, we have plenty of funding, we have the resources we need right now. They're all being dispersed. Do you guys have what you guys need in Southport?

[10:15:00]

DOVE: We - we have everything we need to handle the storm right now, and if we don't, our county EMS and our and our sheriff's department, and all of the other agencies that have a vested interest in keeping the county and our city safe. So yes, we - we do have enough to - hopefully, to weather this storm out.

HARLOW: Yes, OK. Look, we're all thinking about you guys up and down the coast of the Carolinas there, and also Georgia which is now - the President just tweeted about Georgia. Also, as this storm turns south. We appreciate your time. And good luck to all of you, Mayor.

Thanks so much. All right, stay with us. CNN is all over the latest pass of this catastrophic - potentially, catastrophic hurricane, Hurricane Florence, barreling south, the coast of the Carolinas bracing. This, as the President, this morning, again is touting his own administration's response to last year's hurricane, Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico. He says officials did quote, unprecedented great job. He said it was unsung success. The facts beg to differ.

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[10:20:00]

HARLOW: All right. We are staying on top of this breaking news. Hurricane Florence over night shifting its course and the Carolinas now clearly its main target. Also turning south a bit. Some concerns about Georgia, which the president just tweeted about as well. Let's go to Conway, South Carolina. Traffic lanes there going all in one direction right now for all the people evacuating. Nick Valencia is back with me from there. And Nick, you've been telling me last hour, look it's good that traffic is a little bit lighter here today.

But do we know that's because, you know, most of the folks actually evacuated yesterday or are there concerns that, you know, too many of them are staying behind?

NICK VALENCIA, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's what local officials are telling us, Poppy. They're under the indication that most people have already left. That's not essentially what we're hearing, though, on the ground. A little loud right now as an ambulance is coming. I wanted to show our viewers what's happening in real time here. This is the main highway out of Myrtle Beach. We're about 20 miles inland in Conway, South Carolina. We're standing in the middle of 501 as all four lanes have been reversed to try to get people out as quickly as possible.

Occasionally this traffic builds up, backs out (ph), I'm able to talk to some people. They tell me they're evacuating as far away as Tennessee, just trying to get west inland as far as possible. You see who's helping here, the first responders, the local police, state troopers as well as the National Guard. And it was earlier, Poppy, that I spoke to the mayor of Myrtle Beach and she was urging people to get out now. Now is the time to evacuate if you have not evacuated already.

She indicated that there are evacuations taking place right now at the local hospitals, the emergency room is being shut down as well and she says that is an emphasis that I want to say to those who are deciding to stick this out. There's not going to be any first responders to help you out if you get injured. That is the main fear right now as this model has changed and put Myrtle Beach in the eye of this hurricane. Poppi.

HARLOW: OK. Nick Valencia, thank you for being there, showing us what's happening on the ground there. I want to hop over now to Carolina Beach, North Carolina, where they are making some of those last minute preparations before this monster hits. The only way in and out of that area is a bridge that is set to close very soon. My colleague Kaylee Hartung is there live on Carolina Beach. Look, they've got one bridge and -- and a few hours to get out.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, Poppi. That clock is ticking until 8:00 pm tonight when that bridge off this island is expected to close, 8:00 pm or when 45 miles per hour sustained winds reach this island, whichever happens first. So local officials are saying if you are trying to wait until the last minute to leave, you might get stuck. This is an island three by one miles. Not a very large space. About 6,300 residents. But the mayor says he believes about half of those people left

yesterday and he expects 100 people at this point to be planning on trying to ride this thing out on this small barrier island off North Carolina's coast. For those people who choose to stay, disobey that 8:00 pm mandatory evacuation deadline, they'll get a knock on the door and there will be a local official who will ask them to hand over contact information for their next of kin. A very serious conversation that needs to be had, Poppi, with those folks to understand the risk they are taking with their lives if they choose to stay.

HARLOW: OK. Kaylee, thank you for the update there in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Again, keep us posted if that bridge does close sooner than 8:00 pm. More than a million people are being told to evacuate right now, especially in the Carolinas ahead of Hurricane Florence. Some are planning to ride it out despite all of these warnings. We're going to talk to one of those residents next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:25:00]

HARLOW: All right. We are staying on top of this breaking news. Hurricane Florence over night shifting its course and the Carolinas now clearly its main target. Also turning south a bit. Some concerns about Georgia, which the president just tweeted about as well. Let's go to Conway, South Carolina. Traffic lanes there going all in one direction right now for all the people evacuating. Nick Valencia is back with me from there. And Nick, you've been telling me last hour, look it's good that traffic is a little bit lighter here today.

But do we know that's because, you know, most of the folks actually evacuated yesterday or are there concerns that, you know, too many of them are staying behind?

VALENCIA: That's what local officials are telling us, Poppy. They're under the indication that most people have already left. That's not essentially what we're hearing, though, on the ground. A little loud right now as an ambulance is coming. I wanted to show our viewers what's happening in real time here. This is the main highway out of Myrtle Beach. We're about 20 miles inland in Conway, South Carolina. We're standing in the middle of 501 as all four lanes have been reversed to try to get people out as quickly as possible.

Occasionally this traffic builds up, backs out (ph), I'm able to talk to some people. They tell me they're evacuating as far away as Tennessee, just trying to get west inland as far as possible. You see who's helping here, the first responders, the local police, state troopers as well as the National Guard. And it was earlier, Poppy, that I spoke to the mayor of Myrtle Beach and she was urging people to get out now. Now is the time to evacuate if you have not evacuated already.

She indicated that there are evacuations taking place right now at the local hospitals, the emergency room is being shut down as well and she says that is an emphasis that I want to say to those who are deciding to stick this out. There's not going to be any first responders to help you out if you get injured. That is the main fear right now as this model has changed and put Myrtle Beach in the eye of this hurricane. Poppi.

HARLOW: OK. Nick Valencia, thank you for being there, showing us what's happening on the ground there. I want to hop over now to Carolina Beach, North Carolina, where they are making some of those last minute preparations before this monster hits. The only way in and out of that area is a bridge that is set to close very soon. My colleague Kaylee Hartung is there live on Carolina Beach. Look, they've got one bridge and -- and a few hours to get out.

HARTUNG: That's right, Poppi. That clock is ticking until 8:00 pm tonight when that bridge off this island is expected to close, 8:00 pm or when 45 miles per hour sustained winds reach this island, whichever happens first. So local officials are saying if you are trying to wait until the last minute to leave, you might get stuck. This is an island three by one miles. Not a very large space. About 6,300 residents.

But the mayor says he believes about half of those people left yesterday and he expects 100 people at this point to be planning on trying to ride this thing out on this small barrier island off North Carolina's coast. For those people who choose to stay, disobey that 8:00 pm mandatory evacuation deadline, they'll get a knock on the door and there will be a local official who will ask them to hand over contact information for their next of kin. A very serious conversation that needs to be had, Poppi, with those folks to understand the risk they are taking with their lives if they choose to stay.

HARLOW: OK. Kaylee, thank you for the update there in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Again, keep us posted if that bridge does close sooner than 8:00 pm. More than a million people are being told to evacuate right now, especially in the Carolinas ahead of Hurricane Florence. Some are planning to ride it out despite all of these warnings. We're going to talk to one of those residents next.

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