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Historic Hurricane Devastates Florida Panhandle; Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal Wuerl's Resignation; Turkey Has Audio & Video Evidence of Journalist's Murder. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired October 12, 2018 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never been scared of a storm a day in my life, and this one right here put the fear of God into me.
[07:00:10] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are nearly half a million people without power across Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The damage is still yet to be fully understood. The top focus is search and rescue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is wondering if we're alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We made it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just can't describe the feeling, and I know I'm not the only one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Saudi government has an absolute responsibility to account for itself.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The Saudi government vehemently denies any involvement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This should be making the president think about engagement with Saudi Arabia.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our administration is very concerned. We're determined to get to the bottom of it.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is great to have you back.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's good to be here.
CAMEROTA: And it was great to have you there to help us see the devastation. And this morning, it is hard to find words to describe what we're seeing in the Florida Panhandle. An entire city is gone. Fishing villages, beach resorts, they've been
obliterated. Hurricane Michael punishing the Panhandle with historic force and leaving countless lives and communities in ruins.
There are thousands of homes and buildings all along the Gulf Coast that have actually just been flattened. The aftermath is almost surreal to see. At least six people have been killed, one point -- more than, I should say, 1.4 million customers are still without power.
Emergency crews have performed hundreds of rescues, and some are still under way. This recovery could take years.
BERMAN: I hope people understand just how stunning those pictures are. There are lots where there had been houses or homes or businesses. And there's nothing there. They were swept away.
CAMEROTA: That was like what you were standing in front of yesterday, your live shot just looked like a debris field, but then when we found the picture of how it had been a shopping -- little shopping center 24 hours earlier, it was stunning.
BERMAN: And that was the win. The storm surge in Mexico Beach devastating.
There's other news this morning. A major development in the suspected murder of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A source now tells CNN the Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence proving that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. This disappearance is sparking an international crisis.
Now a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is threatening to block a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia and calling for the White House to investigate.
This is complicated, very complicated for the White House and the Trump administration because of Trump family ties to the Saudi crown prince.
We have a lot to cover. We want to begin with Brooke Baldwin, who is live in Destin, Florida, this morning. Brooke got on a helicopter, basically stole a helicopter yesterday, flew to Mexico Beach and provided us the first aerial pictures of that town so the world could see what they are going through.
Brooke, thank you for your reporting. Tell us about it.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we talked our way onto a helicopter, because I -- I wanted to shine a light on the worst-hit area down here in the Florida Panhandle, and that is Mexico Beach. And because of just the logistical challenges, because of all the downed trees, the roads were impassable.
And so we're able to secure a helicopter here out of Destin and flew about 90 miles down the coastline. And you could see that slow deterioration here in Destin, over to where you were, John, in PCB and then over to Mexico Beach.
And it's one thing to see it on TV. It is quite another to see it with your own eyes. It is devastating. It's like a bomb went off. And it was everywhere.
BALDWIN (voice-over): From the air it's clear, much of Mexico Beach is gone. From the ground, we see up close the devastation to the seaside city, home after home on this stretch of beach destroyed. While most of the 1,200 residents evacuated, a small number stayed behind. We don't know yet how many survived the near direct hit from Hurricane Michael.
Scott Boutwell didn't make it out in time. The bridges closed, and he was stuck.
(on camera): How does it make you feel to look around at everything just leveled?
SCOTT BOUTWELL, SURVIVED HURRICANE MICHAEL IN MEXICO BEACH: Well, the thing is, you know, this is a small little town, you know. This is our little town. And so every restaurant is gone. Every store is gone. And then all my neighbors, everybody's home is gone. So when you think about it, you know, all of these -- their lives are gone, you know, so how do you -- what do you do?
BALDWIN (voice-over): Scott says he lost most of his possessions, but he will stay and rebuild.
BOUTWELL: So the stuff that I thought I had, you know, this stuff -- all the stuff of value, it's even gone here, you know. It's hard to talk about this.
[06:05:04] BALDWIN: All over the area we heard this constant, high- pitched beeping. They are fire alarms buried in the rubble, warnings that perhaps came too late.
Again and again I heard from survivors here who told me they're simply grateful to be alive. These three friends were searching for one of their homes. It was hard for them to even recognize the street.
(on camera): There are just no -- there are no words?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, there's not. There's so many memories here.
BALDWIN: This woman, named Sherry, says she didn't have time to grab anything but some clothes and her jewelry box.
(on camera): And to see this feels like what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't describe it. It's just terrible. It's -- I just can't describe the feeling, and I know I'm not the only one here that feels the same. They've lost everything.
BALDWIN (voice-over): Mexico Beach is virtually cut off from the rest of the state, though emergency crews are working throughout the area. Roads are still blocked, power is out, and cell service is nonexistent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Halle, it's Mama. I'm OK. I'm OK. It was a lot more and a lot rougher than we thought. How are you guys?
BALDWIN: Our satellite phone was the only way for these women to contact their loved ones.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, too. Bye. There's OK.
BALDWIN (on camera): Oh, your daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're OK. They're all OK!
BALDWIN: I just want to speak to if you haven't been to this part of the country, the -- the generosity of spirit here among the good folks that I met in Mexico Beach. I mean, they were offering us water. They were offering us gas so that we could fuel our computer to go live yesterday afternoon. It's staggering to still think about.
I'm so glad we were able to share our satellite phone, Alisyn, to you know, allow these good men and women to reach out to brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles just to tell them that they were OK.
The challenging part, though, for firefighter emergency personnel rescue, you know, they still don't have an official death count in Mexico Beach, because so much is leveled. They've been going door to door. When I talked to Miami Fire and Rescue yesterday, so we should have a better indication, perhaps, today as trying to see who rode it out who survived and just who needs the greatest, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: And Brooke, look, that's always the silver lining of these tragedies, which is humanity and heroism, you know, comes to the fore, and that is always heartwarming, but it is possible that things are going to get worse before they get better there, as you point out. So Brooke, we'll check back with you. Thank you very much.
Let's get the latest on the federal response to Hurricane Michael's aftermath with FEMA administrator, Brock Long. Mr. Long, thank you so much for taking time out of your very busy morning to give us an update.
I don't know if you have a monitor there or if you've been able to watch CNN. But we just showed Brooke Baldwin's incredible chopper video. She had some of the first eyes on that location, because she got an aerial view and it looks like a bomb went off.
I mean, there's just no other way to describe it, and I'm wondering what you've seen from your vantage point?
BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: What people are seeing in Mexico Beach is the storm surge lesson that continues to not be learned in this country. We learned it in Camille in '69. It killed 270 people in -- or over 270 people when the ocean rose in Mississippi.
We learned it again in Mississippi in Katrina. The damage looks very similar to what we saw in Mississippi, where the water rose 29 feet. And then here in Mexico Beach, the ocean rose somewhere between 12 and 14 feet with wave action on top. Just shoving buildings out of the way.
Unfortunately, these storms are classified by winds, but that's not wind damage that you see. That's the ocean just coming up onshore and pushing buildings out of the way. And that's why we asked people to evacuate, and, you know, the people you're interviewing down on the ground, and my heart goes out to them. But they're very lucky to be alive, actually talking to you today, because a lot of people that stay behind, that don't heed the warning and experience storm surge don't live to tell about it.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I understand. And that is just a really striking statement that all of -- everything we're seeing there is water, that it's not wind, because that's not what our first instinct is. We think that these houses were blown apart as if there was a tornado, but you're telling us that the water came and the 12 feet of water just swept everything into a debris pile.
LONG: Right. So -- so there's a couple of things going on. Mexico Beach hadn't been hit like this in a long time, so you've had -- and there's a lesson here about building codes.
The key to resiliency in this country is where our local officials and state officials are going to have to do something proactively to start passing building codes to high standards.
It's OK if you want to live on the coast or on top of a mountain that sees wildfires or whatever. But you have to build to a higher standard or we're going to continue this vicious cycle over and over again.
[07:10:08] And unfortunately, you know, we're still not through all the rubble. It's going to take us a while to get through it, and people are not going to be able to return home.
But you know, the other thing, too, is that Mexico Beach is going to have to strive for a new normal. But when they do so, they have to do it to a higher standard.
What you're seeing is older -- you know, older construction that was built before the Florida building code of 2001 that was wiped out. Anything that was not built slab on grade concrete that was not elevated, or not elevated enough, was shoved out of the way by the ocean.
So the houses that you're seeing that survived were not only wind mitigated but, hopefully, elevated enough to where the ocean passes underneath and through them. And so that's why you'll see where some of the homes probably built after the 2001 Florida building code, you know, survived. So when we look at this damage, this is why we keep preaching the pre-
disaster message. Congress proactively passed laws last week, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which is transformational. It's going to actually put pre-disaster money up front, a large amount to mitigate the infrastructure. But then we've got to get citizens to understand that, when they buy a home in these areas, it's got to be mitigated. It's got to be built to a higher standard or we're going to continue to do this over and over and over again in this country.
CAMEROTA: Look, Brock, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're angry, if that's the right word, that people do continue to live here or that you keep having to issue these warnings?
LONG: We keep having to issue the warnings. Look, I, like anybody, love the ocean. You know, I love the mountains, but when you want to live in these areas, hazards come with them.
We just have to build correctly if we want to populate these areas going forward, and particularly if we're going to rebuild. Do it right is all I'm asking.
You know, the bottom line is, is when we ask people to evacuate, and we clearly asked people to evacuate and the governor asked people. And we even used the wireless emergency alert system to warn people that the ocean was going to rise and, you know, do this type of destruction. People still failed to heed the warnings, and they've lost their lives.
I expect the fatality count to climb today and tomorrow as we get through the -- through the debris, and I'm very frustrated by that. Because we seem to not learn this lesson in this country. And, you know, these guys behind us, they get to deal with the aftermath. They're often the source of blame when everything goes wrong after disasters, and it's a vicious cycle. Bigger FEMA is not the answer. Building codes, resiliency, pre-disaster mitigation is the answer. We want to start overcoming and reducing the impacts of these disasters in those areas.
CAMEROTA: Before I let you go, I know that search-and-rescues are still underway as we speak. Are you finding people trapped? Are -- are rescuers finding more casualties?
LONG: I expect the fatality count to come up today. I expect it to come up tomorrow, as well, as we get through the debris. Hopefully, it doesn't rise dramatically, but it is a possibility from where we are, unfortunately.
Today we're going to be concentrating on people, as well, so we're moving our disaster assistance survivor teams into areas. We're going to concentrate on those stuck in shelters right now.
You know, the president proactively approved Governor Scott's major disaster expedited -- expedited request yesterday. So there's five counties that are eligible for individual assistance right now in Florida. That number will grow, but right now, if you live in Bay, Franklin, Ocala, Taylor and Gulf, we're asking you to go to DisasterAssistance.gov to download the FEMA app or call 1-800-621-FEMA if you can begin registering for assistance if you live in one of those counties and you see damage.
So we're going to move as fast as we can, as rapidly as we can to help people, but this is the type of event where it's going to take neighbor helping neighbor.
The voluntary organizations active in disaster, the strongest element to come in, they get to do things. They're not bound by laws like we are, when it comes to the types of assistance we can render. So we ask people to donate their time, their money to the volunteer organizations. They can go to NVOAD.org -- N-V-O-A-D dog org -- to figure out ways to help.
CAMEROTA: We have CNN dot impact, as well, for people to help guide them.
Brock Long, thank you very much for the update.
LONG: Thank you.
BERMAN: We are focusing on Mexico Beach, where there's damage across the Panhandle, especially in Panama City. And patients at a Panama City hospital, they had to be evacuated after the building suffered heavy damage in Hurricane Michael.
Joining us now is the CEO of Bay Medical Sacred Heart Hospital, Scott Campbell.
Mr. Campbell, thank you so much for being with us. My understanding is you had 225 patients still in the hospital when the storm hit. Now you're down to 100. Just give me the status of the people inside. Do they all need to be evacuated?
[07:15:09] SCOTT CAMPBELL, CEO, BAY MEDICAL SACRED HEART HOSPITAL: All the patients will be evacuated. And correct, our census was around 225 total in the house at the time of the hurricane. We began to evacuate after the storm the patients that were in our surgical ICU, medical ICU, getting those patients that are on vents, because of the compromise to the building. We wanted to get our patients into the safest position possible.
We're very fortunate, because our relationship with Sacred Heart, our ascension partner, we were able to have patients transferred by helicopter and by ground to Pensacola Sacred Heart; Mobile, Alabama, and also into Jacksonville, Florida.
BERMAN: So you were one of the many staff members who chose to ride out the storm inside that structure, inside that hospital. Tell me what it was like during those hours.
CAMPBELL: You are correct. I stayed, along with many physicians, their families, their wives within the confinement of our buildings. It was obviously life-threatening, it felt, in many ways, because of the hurricane winds that exceeded over 150-some miles per hour.
So it was something I have never personally experienced, and it's a direct hit. I've led hospitals in Florida on several occasions have had tropical storms to come nearby and to -- and to pass by, but never to have such a threat, an impact that this hurricane had to our hospital.
Very, very proud of our physicians, our nurses, all of our staff who coordinated an amazing amount of high-quality care so that the care to our patients was never lost during the time of the storm.
We had two teams that came in to assure that the provision of care is provided, teams A and B. One team came in before the storm. One team would come in and stay within the hospital all the way through the storm. And the next team would come back in afterwards in order to relieve those who had been on the grounds for perhaps as much as 48 to 72 hours with limited rest.
BERMAN: I know at one point it felt like the roof was being lifted off the hospital. The patients moved into the hallways who were still inside.
Scott Campbell, thank you for being with us. Thank you for sticking it out there in the hospital and keeping all of your patients safe. We appreciate it.
CAMPBELL: Thank you. Thank you for the interview and thank you for looking into how the care was provided at Bay Medical Sacred Heart. Proud of our doctors and our staff. Thank you very much.
BERMAN: All right. Keep up the good work.
Coming up in the next hour, we're going to speak to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is now down on the ground in Florida, surveying the devastation. He'll speak to us live.
CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, John, we do have some breaking news right now, because Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Washington, D.C.'s embattled cardinal, Donald Wuerl. He is one of the most powerful Catholic leaders in America, and he was facing intense scrutiny for his handling of sexual abuse cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh.
CNN's John Allen is live in Rome with the breaking details. People were wondering, John, when exactly this would happen, and it's this morning.
JOHN ALLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Alisyn. This ends about three months of speculation since the Pennsylvania grand jury report appeared in mid-August, August 14, in which Cardinal -- Cardinal Wuerl figured prominently for at least three cases of clergy sex abuse when he was the bishop of Pittsburgh. He was mentioned more than 200 times in that report.
Over the last three months there have been steady calls for his resignation, including from some of his own priests and his own faithful in Washington. Today Pope Francis did accept his resignation, as expected, although two interesting notes there, Alisyn.
One -- and this is unusual -- he asked Cardinal Wuerl to stay on as the interim administrator in Washington until a successor is named. The other is that Pope Francis issued a personal letter to Cardinal Wuerl, praising him for the nobility of the way he has handled this situation and saying he is proud of him.
All of that, Alisyn, would indicate that, while Donald Wuerl may no longer be the arch bishop of Washington as of today, he may still have Pope Francis' ear.
CAMEROTA: John, that is very interesting, those developments, because the survivors that we've spoken to will not be happy about the pope praising Cardinal Wuerl for anything. So thank you very much for bringing that to us.
BERMAN: A big deal in Washington and a big deal for the Catholic Church.
In the meantime, major developments in the disappearance of a Saudi journalist. Turkish authorities now say they have evidence of his murder. This will also have a huge impact on the Trump administration, which has had a very strange, muted response so far.
[07:24:13] BERMAN: A major development in the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A source close to the investigation tells CNN that Turkish authorities have evidence that he was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Joining me now is someone with a unique perspective on this, a colleague of Khashoggi at "The Washington Post," global opinions writer and CNN global affairs analyst Jason Rezaian.
And of course, Jason was arrested and detained in Iran for allegedly spying, spending nearly two years in prison until his release on 2016. So Jason, you know the perils and the risks that people take when they speak truth to power, when they commit to reporting and shining the light on what goes on inside some of these oppressive regimes.
So when you learned that this colleague, an acquaintance, maybe not a friend, but someone you know, Jamal Khashoggi, we're hearing that he was murdered, there's audio and videotape evidence of it, we're told by reports, what's your reaction to that?
[07:25:08] JASON REZAIAN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, John, it's horrifying. I mean, this is, you know, to an extreme other level compared to what I suffered and what many journalists have suffered over the years and continue to suffer now. But we are seeing more and more of these murders of journalists taking place around the world on the soil of various democracies and countries that we're aligned with.
So it's very hard to stomach, first of all. But secondly, you know, you want to know what -- what the response from the U.S. government is going to be, and you know, you see corporations pulling out of events and deals with the Saudi government. You see the Senate and Congress coming out vociferously for action and an investigation. And in the White House, you know, still a lot -- a lot of unclarity, and frankly, that's -- that's more than disheartening.
BERMAN: You call it a lack of clarity. Let me play what the president said here, if I can, when asked repeatedly about Jamal Khashoggi. He seems to distance himself or diminish the importance of the man, saying that it didn't happen in our country.
I don't think we have that, but let me read to you what he says. He says, "It's not our country. It's in Turkey. And it's not a citizen, as I understand it." But the president said, "A thing like this shouldn't happen."
Why even say, "It's not our country"? Why even say that Jamal Khashoggi wasn't an American citizen? Why does that matter in this case?
REZAIAN: Well, I mean, he shouldn't say that. You know, he's -- yes, he's a citizen of Saudi Arabia, but one that had chosen to move to the United States and -- because he felt comfortable here. He felt like -- he felt safe, and he felt like he could work. He felt like, in this environment, he had the freedom to express himself in a way that he couldn't back in Saudi Arabia.
And why did he have that feeling? Because for decades, if not a couple of centuries, presidents of this country have -- have stuck to the fact that -- that we honor a long tradition of allowing people to express themselves, no matter what their opinions or views are. And for this to happen to somebody because of the views that they were expressing is horrifying; and any American president should be able to come out and just say that and say that we won't stand for that.
BERMAN: What kind of pressure could or should the United States and the international community be bringing to bear on Saudi Arabia?
REZAIAN: Well, I mean, I think that there are sanctions that can be placed on specific individuals if they're found to be involved in this. But I think that we also need to -- to continue to shine a light on the sort of things that -- that the Saudi regime does to its own people inside its own country, bit now apparently outside of its borders as well.
And that could take the form of economic sanctions, of not doing business with Saudi companies, and I think those are the things that we're going to start hearing about more and more over the days to come.
BERMAN: You know, one of the things we are hearing is that Jamal Khashoggi had expressed concerns about his own safety, saying he could never go back to Saudi Arabia at this point. Is this something he ever expressed to you or to the paper?
REZAIAN: Not to me personally, and I'm not sure about with my colleagues. But what I can tell you is that he wanted to go back to his country. He wanted to feel safe to return there and live and work there. And you know, he didn't want to see himself as a dissident or didn't willfully want to be, you know, an exile. He came to this country because he had safety concerns for this work, for expressing himself. And you know, it's very sad, but it didn't look like that was going to change under the current leadership of Saudi Arabia.
BERMAN: Jason, we introduced you, and so many people know you have your own personal story. You were detained inside Iran by that regime, largely for the reporting and the work that you were doing there. And one of the unique things that had happened was that you appeared on an episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" prior to your detention. And this Sunday night, I want people to know we're airing a special episode of "Parts Unknown," where we look into the impact, the social and worldwide impact Tony had.
I want to play people a clip of that first show with you and Tony to remind them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CHEF/JOURNALIST: You like it? Are you happy here?
REZAIAN: Look, I -- I love it, and I hate it, you know. But it's home. It's become home.
BOURDAIN: Are you optimistic about the future?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially if there's no clear (ph) it finally happens. Yes. Very much, actually.
BOURDAIN: Let's assume the worst. Let's assume that you cannot see any way to reconcile what you think of Iran with your own personal beliefs, and you just generally don't approve.
BOURDAIN: I think those are exactly the sort of places you should go.
BOURDAIN: See who we're talking about and where we're talking about here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)