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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Hurricane Jeanne: Storm Now Category 2
Aired September 26, 2004 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Our own hurricane chasers, Anderson Cooper and Chad are with us -- can you hear me, gentlemen?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We can hear you. Can you hear us?
CALLAWAY: Yes, we can. What's the situation there?
COOPER: We're just getting here -- yes, we're just getting our camera up to speed.
The situation is pretty much unchanged here. I mean, the winds are still just brutal. We've -- actually, we've changed locations like before, because the winds were hitting really head on where we were before. And this just seems like here we're much more protected.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. But now I walked out to the street, while you were in there. And just taking a little break. And as I walked down to the street, I saw an awful lot of aluminum siding that we saw on the other storm now finally coming off.
And we didn't see that two hours ago. So it's this relentless wind that just won't stop and just starts to peel a piece off, a piece of siding, and then all of a sudden, the rest of it goes. And that -- that weakens the house and then another piece goes, and another and another. We saw it in (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
COOPER: Chad, your eyes are freaking me out. Your eyes are like completely red. They're red.
MYERS: You know what? It's the stinging rain. The stinging rain just gets right in your eyes, and -- well, obviously it hurts your face, as well, the eye itself.
In fact, when we're not on the air, I actually have a pair of goggles that I put on, because it's just -- it's something for your eyes, so that something doesn't fly in it. Obviously, you can get a knick on your cheek, but you get a nick on your eye, that's bad.
COOPER: Are you surprised at the strength of this storm? I mean, you know, you can hear projections. You can kind of get a sense of it. But you know, a lot of people -- I mean frankly, I don't think I took this as seriously as I took the other storms. Maybe because I've been in the other storms.
But you know, this kind of seemed to -- after all the storms that came, I can understand why a lot of people around here thought, "You know what? I'm just going to ride this one out."
MYERS: Well, another thing happened. Jeanne was a meanderer. It went out to the ocean, was supposed to turn left into Florida. It didn't. It turned right. It went out and took its whole sweet time getting around and then back toward Florida again.
But it was never that Category 4 that Frances was. Everybody hearing Frances, Category 4 Ivan, was saying, "Oh, we better get ready." This thing was always a small hurricane, and for most of the time, it was only a tropical storm.
Now, it clearly did a lot of damage, a lot of deaths in Haiti. But it was still only a tropical storm. So that's 50, 70 mile per hour winds.
And then when it got into the Gulf Stream and it got into the Bahamas, that's when it became the strong Category 3 that it is. And people, one, they didn't have time to worry about it. And two, by that point, it was too late.
COOPER: I'm not sure if our other camera is up and running, but the shot that -- I'm seeing this over your shoulder -- is just incredible. It's mesmerizing to watch. It's just incredible.
It's this wall of white, and it's just -- I mean, it's ripping up off the ground, as well. It's not just blowing in from the water. It -- it seems to be -- I mean, it's coming up vertically off the ground.
MYERS: It even sucks up water from the pool. There's a pool over there, and sometimes we get the whole little vortex, its own little waterspout coming off that pool. And it looks like a snowstorm.
It's just incredible. And I mean, it just seems to be relentless. It's -- this is nonstop. It has been this way at least -- Catherine, I mean, I don't know. I'm guessing an hour and a half now. I feel like it's been this way forever.
COOPER: It's been longer than that. It's been since 5 p.m. Five o'clock, see, there you go. I mean, we've been at this since, I guess, what, 6 p.m. -- 6 p.m. So almost -- almost 12 hours.
MYERS: That's right.
COOPER: And -- and I'm feeling like it's still, you know, it's in a very bad place right now.
MYERS: It was already a tropical storm when we got up at 6 -- you know, at 6 p.m. on the bird, on the satellite here. It was already 39 miles an hour. And it just rose. It went so fast. It got right up to hurricane strength so fast.
COOPER: I'm amazed, though, that we've been able to stay on the air throughout the entire storm. I mean -- I mean, it's really a testament to the skill of the CNN satellite engineers and crew here who have done this a lot more than certainly I. They know where to locate a truck. They know how to set things up so that we can remain protected enough to keep going.
MYERS: Well, we spent a lot of time looking for locations. And yesterday -- you really -- I wish we had pictures of this. This guy was in the back of the Blazer, literally in the back of the Blazer.
There was two -- a guy in front, engineer in the passenger side, three of us in the middle seat, the back seat. And he was back where you're supposed to put the -- you know, the cooler and the dog.
COOPER: You know.
MYERS: All six of us drove around this town for literally an hour and a half to two hours looking for this spot. And when we found it, we knew that this was it. We knew we were protected, our cameramen were protected, and so was the truck.
COOPER: Actually, the people at the Day's Inn, this Day's Inn hotel, were very nice. They gave us two -- a couple -- actually five rooms where we can kind of go in between shots, although frankly, we haven't been able to use them very much. But it was a very nice thing that they did for us.
One of the nice things, Catherine, that you find in a storm like this, people really do pull together. You really -- there is a real sense of community. You know, in a storm like this, everyone is the same. You know, everyone just needs safety, needs shelter. You know, people are giving out food. There's a real sort of spirit which is -- is nice to see.
And the people of Florida, I mean, they've been through so much already. And I think Governor Jeb Bush talked about this, how proud he is of the state and how they've responded to these storms. Because they really pulled together when necessary, Catherine.
CALLAWAY: Anderson, in all your reporting tonight, this is actually the first time that we've been able to hear that howling wind.
COOPER: Is that right?
CALLAWAY: We can hear the wind and the rain, but that howling sound that we hear. Hurricane victims say that they hear relentlessly hours and hours, while they're huddled, trying to protect themselves from these storms. And it's frightening.
COOPER: Yes, it's really creepy. I actually now hear what you're talking about, as well. It's a really eerie sound.
You know, it's particularly eerie when you're in a room -- I was in the bathroom of one of these rooms before. It's a very small bathroom. And there was a window in it. And to hear that sound, and to hear the wind, Chad, as it hit those windows.
COOPER: And you're in this enclosed space. And I mean, I was there by myself. If there -- you know, there are a lot of families who are hunkered down in -- in their bathrooms, in the bathtub.
COOPER: It is -- it is a very scary thing.
MYERS: When you were out on the street, did you hear the wind blowing through the power lines?
MYERS: That -- that's such an eerie sound, as well. I went out there, and I went, "Who has a stereo on?" Because there is almost -- not a melody, but certainly a tone to it. I go, "That's really odd."
And when you were in the bathroom, I know the power was out. Did you look down? Did you look in the bowl? The water's moving. The water is moving, like you're in a cruise ship.
I'm looking down, and I'm kind of freaked out, going, "Why is the water moving down there?"
But -- but obviously, the wind's blowing around the stack pipes and maybe even some of the sewer pipes. Moving back and forth, all this pressure, going one way, going the other.
COOPER: It is really...
MYERS: A lot of stuff going on.
COOPER: It is just mesmerizing to see -- I mean, it's been this way now for hours. But you know, it's -- to just see this wind blowing, it's an extraordinary sight. I mean, it's -- you know, there are many things that make being a reporter very interesting and sort of you can look back on. And you sort of collect these memories.
This is certainly a memory I will have for the rest of my life of what it is like being in this northern eye wall, what this wind is like, what this storm is like on the ground. I've never seen anything like it.
CALLAWAY: All right, Anderson. Let's bring Rob in, Rob Marciano, to tell us -- you know, you keep promises -- promising. You keep promising.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's getting better for them. It's getting better. Come on.
CALLAWAY: I know. It's going to get harder, and it has been that way there for several hours.
MARCIANO: I'm -- I'm kind of like your mother, you know. You've just got to keep telling them it's going to get better. And it is.
Catherine, here is the latest from the -- not only the National Hurricane Center, but the Severe Storms Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. We mentioned these red boxes out that indicate we have tornado watches, the possibility of tornadoes. This one down south, that one expired 6 a.m. This one has just been reissued, and it lasts till 5 p.m. this afternoon.
So, you know, we're going to be probably seeing a greater threat as we go through the afternoon, because -- by the way, this little doohickey right here, that's just our radar thinking (ph) maybe a little spin. We'll investigate that further in just a second.
But north of where the rain bands are right now, and right now the rain shield ends at just north of Orlando. When the sun comes up here in the next hour or two, this area is going to start to be -- is going to heat up a little bit on the surface. And that's going to create a little bit of -- little bit of lift, little bit of instability.
And as these rain bands begin to lift up into this area, maybe separate a little bit, that's when we'll probably see a better chance of seeing tornadoes drop out of the sky.
But fortunately enough, so far with this storm, unlike Ivan and Frances, we haven't seen a whole lot of tornadoes. And this -- certainly take that as we can get it.
All right. Here's the storm south, making it's way to the -- across the northwestern Bahamas and landfall around Stuart. And now it is about 20 miles to the east of Sebring, which is in the central part of the state, just to the north Lake Okeechobee.
It's moving just north of due west at 13 miles an hour. Its winds have dropped 110. That's not a whole lot. Still, a strong Category 2 storm. So this is a dangerous storm, definitely.
But you can definitely see the eye wall here kind of squish. In the middle of the night, we get an eclipse, so we lose about two to three hours' worth of imagery here. That's why you see that jump.
But certainly, the last couple of frames, you see how that eye wall begins to collapse. And that is definitely a sign of weakening. And we'll hopefully start to see the wind shield collapse, as well.
But particularly, that takes a little bit of time. Wind fields will actually spread out a little bit, and we'll start to see tropical storm force winds maybe expand a little bit farther out from this storm system.
Right. Here's that watch box we spoke of. Fort Pierce now on the backside of the system. Melbourne, where those guys are trying to get some better weather, still on the northern part of the eye wall.
So the eye wall is collapsing, yes, but still the back half of it is -- is lined up with -- with Melbourne. We've got to get a little bit farther to the west. And once that happens we'll start to see weather improving for them. But Cape Canaveral, Titusville will start to see some gusty, squally weather, as well. I'll tell you what, the space program is kind of taking a beating. Definitely some of the hangars and the buildings where they keep the space shuttle out there took some pounding from Frances. They're going to get peppered throughout the morning, as well, as Jeanne now comes ashore.
All right. We expect it to move towards Tampa over the next several hours, likely making its way just to the north of Tampa. Right now, it looks like it's heading due -- just right in that way.
We do expect a bit of a turn to the north. That is the forecast. We could have used it about two days ago. That would have helped. But, it unfortunately didn't -- didn't work out that way.
Next graphic I have up for you here on "The Price is Right" are the flood watches. A tremendous amount of rain is expected, although the -- because this is moving a little bit faster than, say, Frances, we shouldn't see as much rainfall out of this (ph).
But because of Frances and the other storms, a number of these big cities have a big time rain surplus. Look at West Palm Beach, 11.73. Thank goodness they'll start to see the rains taper off as we go on through the day.
But Orlando certainly doesn't need any more rain. Daytona Beach doesn't need any more rain. Vero Beach got a whole lot of wind. They certainly don't need any more rain either.
I think the big story is going to be, along with the damage along the coast, Catherine -- we've been touching on this all night long. What was the latest you said for power outages? Right now, I mean, this map pretty much highlights what you've been saying, which is it's going to be extensive.
CALLAWAY: Well, they said 800,000 people. But that's not people, really. It's customers.
CALLAWAY: Which of course means a lot more people. Obviously...
MARCIANO: So well over a million people.
CALLAWAY: Easily, yes. And that was several hours ago.
MARCIANO: All right. So we can figure two -- two, maybe more.
CALLAWAY: And the problem is the length that these people are going to be out of power is probably going to stretch, you know, three or four weeks. They're just -- they're bent. You know, I mean, their crews are out working in the Gulf of Mexico right now. So...
MARCIANO: Well, it's just not a good deal.
CALLAWAY: It's not. MARCIANO: Hopefully, next year will be a better hurricane season for the coast of Florida. But this year, it's just been God-awful.
CALLAWAY: All right. Well, our thoughts are with them.
We're going to check in with Gary Tuchman now, who's in Fort Pierce. He's been following reports there of a car that may have gone off a bridge.
Gary, what is the latest that you're hearing of possible fatalities and injuries there in your area?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Catherine, the emergency operations center here in St. Lucie County, the people there do believe that somebody drove a vehicle accidentally off a bridge that goes over the Intercoastal Waterway just about a mile away from us.
Here in Fort Pierce, goes over to Hutchison Island. And they believe someone accidentally drove off in the midst of the storm.
They have not spotted the car, but two witnesses called the emergency operations center, because they saw a car plunge off the bridge. They were horrified and they called up. Because of the storm, because of the winds here at that point were up to 120 miles per hour, the emergency officials could not go out right away.
The Coast Guard a short time ago went out, did not see a car but did see a hole in the guardrail. We heard a witness reported seeing the car plunge off the bridge. That, indeed, is very sad news.
Here in Fort Pierce, a city of 40,000, St. Lucie County, a county of 210,000, there is lots of damage, according to the emergency officials. Many homes have lost parts of their roofs. Some homes have lost all their roof. Much of broken glass, many broken windows.
Even in our hotel, I was mentioning we have a broken window in one of our rooms that have been flooded. My intrepid -- intrepid camera crew, Steven Poppen (ph) and Donny Hutchen (ph) have -- can't get in their room. The huge box spring, queen size box spring, queen size mattress, pressed it up against the window and then put cables up to protect the rear window from breaking in.
It kind of reminds me from the scene from "The Night of the Living Dead," the movie, when they prop up everything so the zombies don't come in the room. And that's kind of what it looks like here.
You've got to take ingenious methods to protect yourself. And so the glass in their room or where our television equipment is, so far has been protected. But the winds have been very severe for hours now.
We went through the eye of the hurricane. It was relatively calm here for two hours and 15 minutes. But for the last two and a half hours, because the wind's come back, but not to the extent that they were before the eye came here to Fort Pierce, Florida. Catherine, back to you.
CALLAWAY: All right, Gary. And we'll be back with you in just a minute.
But we're going to go south now and check in with John Zarrella in -- in West Palm.
Looks like the West Palm area escaped the serious damage that it looks like Fort Pierce has -- has suffered.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about that, Catherine.
You know, we had an opportunity, again, between the last time we were on and now, to take another walk around. And we went down to a side street, just to the south of us here. That was where one of those giant blue tarps was covering the whole front and top of a house that had been damaged during Hurricane Frances.
And you know, the concern, of course, that we expressed throughout the night was it probably blew away, as many of the other tarps that are on the roofs around here blew away. And in fact, that one is completely gone, completely ripped off the roof of that house. So obviously, they've taken now more damage.
And you know, about 10 days ago or so, or a little longer than that, when we were on our way up the coastline, past Orlando, on our way up to Tallahassee to cover Hurricane Ivan, we passed house after house after house as we drove the turnpike north you could see in the Orlando area with blue tarps covering their roofs.
And of course, you know, one of the things is that the construction along the coastline is certainly to a different code than a lot of the construction inland. So it wasn't surprising to see that.
But now here again, all of those people that sustained damage during Hurricane Frances and even back in Hurricane Charley, with all those tarps on their roofs, are going to get hit again tonight. And are getting hit again in these early morning hours by another storm. And they're likely to sustain additional damage.
So, you know, beyond just the new damage that's being created, you've got existing damage that's being exacerbated by this storm.
You know, we also -- we also saw -- and again, as I heard when you were talking earlier with -- with the storm chaser, hard to differentiate and to some case what the old damage was from Frances and the new damage. And that's exactly the case.
Although you know, when we took this walk down the street, we did see some trees that are -- that are down, some trees that are uprooted, a bunch of newspaper boxes scattered all over the street.
But you know, if that's the worst of it here, then certainly in West Palm Beach and southern Palm Beach, central Palm Beach County got off very, very lucky. Had that storm just jogged or wobbled 30 miles to the south, it might have been a whole different ball game here.
But you know, the big thing is going to be the power outages and a lot of these poor, poor people that suffered so much through Frances and lost so much through Frances. Now we're seeing, you know, that here they are. The coverings that were on their roofs, protecting them from the weather have literally been ripped off again.
So they're going to have to start all over again from scratch, you know, getting the water out of their homes and getting the mildew out and drying out their belongings, whatever's left in there. It's just absolutely added insult to injury.
And certainly, that's going to be the case up the coast and, as I said, inland, you know, all the way into Orlando, where you're going to see that kind of thing again. So just a terrible, terrible situation that those folks are facing -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: And you're right; it's not over yet. Orlando just now beginning to feel some of the punches of Jeanne.
Concern about where you are, though, even though there wasn't as much, maybe, structural damage, but the power lines are down again. What about curfews there in West Palm? Because it's such a dangerous situation.
ZARRELLA: Right. The curfew went into effect at 8 p.m. on the barrier islands in Palm Beach County, went into effect at 10 p.m. on the mainland side. And police are saying they are absolutely going to enforce it this time.
What they're doing differently this time, as opposed to during Frances, they've actually got color-coded decals that they're going to be giving out to people at checkpoints, people that absolutely have to be at work. Whether they work for the fire department, whether they have to report to hospitals or the airport. They're going to get a color-coded decal which will allow them to go through those checkpoints.
Anybody else who's caught out there is going to end up being arrested if they're out during these curfew hours. Certainly, people are going to want to go out and survey their houses and homes. But folks that are out in their car, don't belong out, are, the police say, the sheriff's department said today, they're going to be arrested. And that's the bottom line. They're not going to tolerate folks out on the streets in the immediate aftermath of this storm -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: All right. Thank you, John Zarrella in West Palm. Back with you in a moment. We're going to take a break as our live coverage continues.
CALLAWAY: Hello, everyone. I'm Catherine Callaway in Atlanta as we continue our live coverage of Hurricane Jeanne.
We're going to talk now with Joe Baird. He's with the Indian River County Administration. He's with -- he's actually in Vero Beach, I believe.
Joe, can you hear me?
JOE BAIRD, INDIAN RIVER COUNTY ADMINISTRATION: Yes.
CALLAWAY: What is your situation there? Have -- have the winds subsided a little bit?
BAIRD: Well, when the winds are still 90 to 100 miles per hour, and it seems like -- it seems like they're going to last for another three hours. We've had heavy rains. Even the county administration building has -- has suffered severe roof damage. We're hearing severe roof damage throughout the community.
The sheriff's office, 911 center, has lost the other half of its roof. It lost the first half during the -- the Hurricane Frances.
Right now, it's still dark and the winds are too high. We can't get out to do an assessment, but we think we have severe damage like we've never had before in this community.
CALLAWAY: So the worst you've ever seen?
BAIRD: Well, we aren't -- we haven't been able to see it. But we're pretty sure it's the worst that we've ever had.
CALLAWAY: What kind of reports are you hearing of any possible injuries or fatalities?
BAIRD: We don't know as of yet. We've -- we've had calls of people having to abandon a house, get in their vehicles. We've had several calls like that. We have not been able to respond to calls due to the high winds. It just hasn't let up.
And with all the water that we've had, we -- we assume we're having -- we're going to have severe flooding. So things do not look good at this time.
CALLAWAY: Joe, what time did you start feeling the force of Jeanne yesterday?
BAIRD: It was probably around -- I would say around 10 p.m. that we started really feeling the heavy winds.
CALLAWAY: And do you think that the worst is over for you?
CALLAWAY: What now? What are your plans?
BAIRD: Well, we're going to wait, wait for the winds to subside and get out. We've got a couple of rescue teams set up, and we're going to get out and see what -- just take a look at the damage and make -- make a quick review and see what we can do to help the community.
CALLAWAY: What about some of the shelters where people have -- had gone to? Any damage to those?
BAIRD: Well, we've only -- we're hearing of slight damage to one of the shelters. Other than that, our shelters seem to have done well.
CALLAWAY: And we have some reports in Vero of extensive damage along the beach, of erosion, of course. But what are you hearing?
BAIRD: Well, we -- we know that there is severe -- just by the winds, there's going to be severe damage to our beaches, especially having two storms back to back like we've had.
BAIRD: And even with the last one, Frances, Indian River County lost just about all its boardwalks on the ocean. So we are -- the community's going to have suffered great damage.
However, we don't -- we haven't heard any fatalities. We think people have listened and stayed in their houses. It's just a catastrophic situation.
CALLAWAY: You sound exhausted.
BAIRD: Yes, I -- we've been up all night.
CALLAWAY: Well, our thoughts are with you. And -- and I hope those good reports of no injuries and fatalities continue throughout the day.
That's Joe Baird. He's with the Indian River County Administration. He's located in Vero Beach.
Moving on now. This hurricane caused, as you know, enormous destruction and despair elsewhere, not just in Florida. You recall that it was Jeanne's first pounding of the Caribbean a week ago that took a staggering human toll in Haiti, and it triggered a nationwide humanitarian crisis there.
And CNN's Karl Penhaul has the latest. Desperate efforts underway to help that nation that's in dire need.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lethal tide of mud and floods has receded, but in its wake there's a sea of begging hands and moving mouths (ph).
The Haitian government this weekend sent trucks of aid to Gonaives, in apparent response to criticism from some United Nations officials that it wasn't taking charge of the disaster. (on camera) People are lining up for food rations. Wheat (ph) supplies are beginning to run low. Tempers are beginning to get frayed.
(voice-over) Haitian police are struggling to keep order.
For now, Santani Santille (ph) doesn't have to battle for emergency handouts. She managed to get some aid earlier in the week. She says she has enough wheat, oil and dried fish to last a few more days.
None of her friends or relatives died in the storm, but a week after Jeanne struck, the one-room house where she lives with her husband and six children is still thick with mud.
"The day of the storm, it began raining and water began coming into the house. It kept raining day and night and the whole neighborhood was under water," she says.
A few blocks away, a single mother, Jeanique Constance (ph) is camping out on a neighbor's rooftop. Her own home was destroyed.
Emergency food distribution has been chaotic this week. She says she isn't strong enough to fight for a place in line. She and baby Louis-Nuit (ph) have survived the last week on a bag of corn she salvaged from a pool of water. Little Louis-Nuit (ph) is now sick.
"It's no good. He's got diarrhea, because there's no clean water," she tells me.
The Haitian government's effort at handing out food aid Saturday collapsed into chaos. Police tossed the aid out of trucks. Uncontrolled mobs of hungry people surged forward.
This old lady hangs on desperately to a bag of food rations, but a much stronger man tries to snatch it away. These men grab rocks and knives and fight for clean clothes.
"If the prime minister wanted to do something to help the people of Gonaives, then that's not the way to do it," this man says.
These storm survivors have gone hungry for the last week. Now they're getting angry with their government.
PENHAUL: Just a few moments ago, Carol, I was chatting informally with a representative with the World Health Organization here in Gonaives. He was almost in tears because of the chaos we're seeing here in the relief effort.
He was telling me that he believes now the survivors of this storm are being stripped of all their dignity, because of the failure of all the relief organizations, plus the Haitian government, their inability to coordinate this relief effort in an effective manner -- Carol.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Karl, who would think to just throw food off a truck to starving people? Where's the security? Where's the organization? I mean, either by the U.N. or by the Haitian government?
PENHAUL: The Haitian government seems to be responding today to criticism by certain U.N. officials that they weren't taking responsibility. So they hurriedly, it seems, put an aid convoy today.
There was some brief security. Initially, there were a number of lines set up and people were queuing up for getting their aid (ph).
But then the whole thing broke down. Disorder reigned again. And if people saw those supplies dwindling, then they just became very desperate. And that's why this chaos broke out.
LIN: All right.
PENHAUL: Everybody -- not the Haitian police, nor U.N. security forces, could control the situation.
CALLAWAY: Meteorologist Rob Marciano has been with us throughout the night, taking a long look at where Jeanne has been, where she's headed. And it looks like Orlando now is feeling the full force of -- of Jeanne.
MARCIANO: Orlando will. Looks like Tampa, as well. Looks like this thing wants to head a little bit farther West than North. And that means that folks in Tampa, although they look like they're going to be on the southern part of the storm, they're going to be under the gun.
Here are the latest numbers out of the National Hurricane Center. Category 2 storm now, with winds sustained at 110 miles an hour. Under discussion, they say that may be a little generous. Anyway, the winds are sustained at over 100 miles an hour, and it's a Category 2 storm.
Moving to the west at about 13 miles an hour or just north -- just north of west at about that, meaning it's heading in this general direction, right towards Tampa Bay.
We still have wind gusts of over 120 miles an hour in spots.
Here's the forecast track over the next 12 hours. We bring it towards Tampa Bay, just to the east. And it will be weakening as it does so, but weakening very slowly, because this is such a big hurricane it can tap and grab moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
And because it's a strong hurricane, it's going to take some time to weaken. And because Florida is so flat, it's going to take some time to weaken, as well. Look what this thing looks like it wants to do. And this is the latest forecast track as of 5 a.m. Now they bring it back into the Gulf of Mexico around Appalachee Bay.
Now some of the buoys out here don't have very warm water, I mean relatively speaking. Just barely 80 degrees. So for that reason, we don't expect it to intensify, you know, back to a hurricane or, you know, strengthening further than that as it makes a second landfall, looks like, later on tonight and through early tomorrow morning up Appalachee Bay and maybe around Tallahassee, likely as a tropical storm, possibly as a weak hurricane.
But at this point, the waters out there just aren't that warm. They got churned up quite a bit from Ivan, and that's probably one of the reasons it's not all that warm.
All right. These -- this is a radar, and this box indicates the tornado watches. It's just been posted. And it is in effect until 5 p.m. this afternoon. Notice that here's the eye. All that action, all the expected tornadoes are north of the eye, which is fairly typical.
We haven't had a whole lot of tornadoes drop out of this hurricane, and that, of course, the good news. As the sun begins to come up, it will -- yes, destabilize the atmosphere a little bit north of the system. And we could potentially see a little more likelihood of seeing that kind of action.
All right. But nonetheless, the red and the oranges indicate the more intense rainfall. Right now, the center is about -- right around Sebring, Florida. Not a very populated area here, but certainly to the north. You get towards Kissimmee, St. Cloud and up towards -- towards Florida.
Melbourne, Cape Canaveral not out of it just yet. They will see conditions improve here in the next 40 to 60 minutes. But certainly, Cape Canaveral, Titusville and up towards Daytona and Orlando will actually see conditions go downhill. Even though this storm is weakening, it's weakening so slowly, it's just going to take some time to do that.
And it's so big it encompasses the entire state. We've got the rain band is now going into southern Georgia. We still have rain bands that are heading across the Bahamas. So it's still going to be with us for quite some time, even though it's moving a little bit more rapidly than Frances.
And because of that, we shouldn't see as much rainfall out of the clouds. But because we've had so much rain from other storms, flooding is going to be an issue. And there are flood -- flash flood watches and warnings out for the state of Florida.
These are some of the numbers as far as rainfall surpluses for the year. West Palm Beach almost a foot above average. Similar numbers in Vero Beach, Daytona Beach plus 8.7.
By the way, folks in Daytona, you'll see a little bit more squally weather as the day goes along.
Power outage forecast, well, it's going to be extensive and not only just the east coast of Florida. But with hurricane force winds extending well inland, hurricane -- power outages are going to be widespread.
You only need a 55 to 60 mile and hour wind to take down a tree or limb or -- which takes down a power line. So that's one of the reasons that the power companies just -- I mean, are just going to -- it's a big, big headache and it's been an awful six -- six weeks. And they're not looking forward to the next six, trying to get these folks back online.
Jacksonville -- this is the rainfall forecast. Jacksonville might see a little bit more than, say, Tampa. But Tampa, you're going to see some winds here as this system begins to make their way towards you.
Haven't seen much in the way of stronger wind gusts, Catherine, than this list right here, which we showed you about an hour ago. One twenty-two seems to be the high number at this point, in Vero Beach. Sebastian, 113. And West Palm Beach on the weaker side of the storm still had a wind guest of 69.
So we are going to see a tremendous amount of damage when the sun comes up and our camera crews get out there. But in the meantime, it's still a strong Category 2 storm, and we still have to get it out of here and -- and have it dissipate.
But it's going to be with us all day long. So I suppose we need to take care of the -- tracking the storm before we can go cover the damage, which I'm afraid to say is going to be rather extensive.
CALLAWAY: Extensive, yes. We just heard out of Vero Beach that it's, you know, it's devastating there.
I would be a little frightened right now for sitting in Tallahassee. Now you've got that storm moving off into the gulf and shooting north right toward Tallahassee. What should they expect?
MARCIANO: Well, at this point we don't expect it to come on shore to Tallahassee as a hurricane, but it certainly will have winds 50, 60 miles an hour. And again, that's the cusp of what we consider to be damaging winds.
So not going to be Ivan, which -- which gave Tallahassee and points west a taste of some horrible...
MARCIANO: ... horrible weather, but it's going to be either a tropical storm or maybe even a minimal hurricane.
CALLAWAY: All right, Rob. Thank you very much.
Checking in now, Gary Tuchman in Fort Pierce. Gary, have things calmed down at all there?
TUCHMAN: Not really, Catherine. The punishing winds and torrential rains continue three hours after we were in the eye, which was for about two and a half hours where it was relatively calm. And the rain just continues to pelt us.
You can't see it because it's so dark, but behind me is a mobile home park. And the roads to the mobile home park right now are flooded. It's under, like, a foot of water. We just see refuse and people's belongings floating through the streets like it's a canal in Venice.
Unfortunately, that's the case around much of Fort Pierce, Florida, flooded streets particularly in the downtown.
Fort Pierce is one of the eeriest (ph) towns in the state of Florida. Florida is very flat, as you well know. But Fort Pierce has some hills, and that makes the flooding problems a little more serious, because it flows downhill in certain areas of the downtown.
And the downtown is right next to intercoastal waterway, which separates Fort Pierce from Hutchison Island, the barrier island. The Atlantic Ocean's a mile away from us.
We're also right near the Fort Pierce city marina. We spent the early part of the evening doing live reports from there, the same place we did live reports from three weeks ago during Hurricane Frances.
More than 150 boats are there. After Hurricane Frances, we ended up leaving that area because the boats started piling into each other. It was dangerous.
We got back the next day. Seventy-five of the boats were either destroyed or sunk. Well, they cleaned up most of the wreckage. The marina, about half of it was destroyed. More than $1 million worth of damage. They cleaned up most of the arena, most of the wrecked boats.
Tonight we were there. There are about 100 more boats that were there. They started piling up again. Perhaps not as serious as when we left three weeks ago, but we're afraid when the sun comes up what we're going to see there. There very will likely will be more damage, both to the Fort Pierce city marina.
And that was a very important part of this city's resurgence. The downtown area and the city marina is very beautiful, and there's so much damage to repair from Hurricane Frances. So now you've got a double whammy of this hurricane, too.
But at this point, we still have the rain coming down, the winds coming. And we know already, we were just talking about the damage we'll see when the sun comes up.
We drove around when the eye was here, when the had the calm winds and the clear dry run (ph). And even in pitch black -- there's no power whatsoever anywhere nearby -- we saw extensive damage at night -- Catherine.
CALLAWAY: All right, Gary.
Let's go south and talk to Chad Myers and Anderson Cooper in Melbourne. They have been receiving punishing rain and winds through most of the night. And it doesn't appear to have let up too much, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. You know, I wish I could say things sort of were mellowing out here, but unfortunately, they are not. As you said, it's just been punishing all night long.
Really in the last two hours, three hours we've seen the worst of it, and we're in a little bit of a protective alcove right now. But you know, if we stepped out three feet, the winds, though, would blow.
MYERS: Right. They're still -- they're still in the 65 to 70 mile per hour range, which is a lot better than we were seeing with 102 mile an hour gusts measured here by the storm chasers. And even probably higher than that in some spots, especially on the barrier islands.
But we're doing what we can. We just took a look at the radar, right here in our little toll booth (ph) here. And there are some small areas that are over us now. When they move away, the winds are going to die back off to 55 or 60. And that's good. You don't get a lot of damage at 55. But you're still getting damage with winds like this.
COOPER: You know, with the speed of the storm, I mean, 14 miles an hour is the last I heard. I don't know what it is right at this point. But I would anticipate it sort of moving off faster, but I mean, that's a fast moving storm. I mean, not that I know much about it.
But it seems to just be kind of sticking around.
MARCIANO: Well, the problem is the wind field is so large. It's not only the eye. We always say, "Never focus on the eye. Always focus on around the eye." The hurricane winds are now well over 100 miles away from the center of the storm. And that's what we're still in now. We're still in that wind field, rather than the eye field.
COOPER: It's -- you know, it's -- we keep talking about the -- you know, the various shots we've been getting. I don't know if we're still on our second camera. But again, you can just see, on the longer shot, how strong these winds continue to be. I mean, it basically looks the same as it has for the last hour, you know, even though we're in a little bit more of a protected spot. It's just brutal out there.
MYERS: You're from the Midwest, you know. And you get storms, and they last an hour. They last 20 minutes. And they're done. And then you go -- you go back out.
This has just been like this. This is a severe thunderstorm that lasted six to eight hours.
COOPER: And we have not been able to sort of drive around. We've not been able to kind of see how the rest of Melbourne is doing. It seems most of the places do not have power. I mean, as far as we can see along the coast, and certainly out on the barrier islands, from what we can see, they're out of power.
MYERS: Yes. I don't think there's going to be a lot of power when we get out there. A lot of the power lines are going to be down, even on the roadways. But also obviously, the biggest problem before daybreak is that many of the very heavy traffic lights are going to be hanging from the wires.
And they very well may be at eye level or lower. And you're going to have to be very careful as you drive, looking for those low hanging power lines and also looking for those low hanging traffic lights.
COOPER: We certainly saw that a lot in Punta Gorda. I hope, certainly, that you know, a lot of places aren't hit as badly as Punta Gorda was in Hurricane Charley. Because that was just devastating and a horrible thing to see.
But -- but again, I mean, you know -- you know, it -- there's no real telling, I guess, how long it's going to last. But you say we're starting to get in one of the last kind of bands.
MYERS: I think we're turning the corner now, yes. I think we're turning the corner because the rain bands that are out there now were only in the green and the yellow, rather than the oranges and the reds. So that means, really, that the big swells, the big squalls are now well west of us.
And that spells good news for Melbourne but not good news for all those folks that are feeling the squalls now from well west of here, including Kissimmee, including most of Orlando. Although the storm did move well south of Orlando and then some produced (ph) for Orlando. Obviously, a very, very large town. You don't want this overall (ph).
CALLAWAY: Chad, can you hear me?
COOPER: Actually, Chad doesn't have IP (ph), but I can hear you, Catherine.
CALLAWAY: I don't know if he was able to hear Rob's report a few minutes ago on this new projected path of Jeanne, now going west toward Tampa, then into the Gulf of Mexico and then north up toward that are of the Gulf of Mexico. Certainly what they do not want to see.
COOPER: Yes. Catherine was just saying that the projected path has this storm going for Tampa then going into the Gulf of Mexico.
Absolutely, I mean going -- the idea of winds this speed hitting Tampa, it's a very scary thought. You know, you've got a lot of high buildings, a lot of glass. These are some very high winds to be hitting a city.
MYERS: Well, of course. And the good news is even if we do get winds like this in Tampa -- it will be less than this, but it will be close. They will be coming from a direction that won't bring in storm surge.
So the problem with Tampa is how low it is. It's a very low city physically. Even the hotel that you and I were on (ph) was only four feet off sea level. And with a storm surge, Tampa gets devastated. When a storm comes in this way, there won't be a storm surge.
CALLAWAY: All right, Anderson, Chad, thank you very much. We're going to take a break from you guys and check in now with Dave Bruins. He's with the Florida Emergency Management Agency. He's in Tallahassee.
Mr. Bruins, what can you tell me about the situation there?
DAVE BRUINS, FLORIDA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: We're continuing to monitor still a very dangerous storm, continue to prepare the state's response and recovery efforts.
Hurricane Jeanne has not been kind to the state of Florida. This has not been a good hurricane season for us. But we're hanging on.
CALLAWAY: What are you hearing about possible fatalities, injuries, damage? What kind of reports are you receiving in your office?
BRUINS: It's very early for us to be receiving any reports like that. Most of the reports that we're receiving at this point have to do with damage that has been reported at shelters and -- and by emergency operations officials in the facilities that they're in.
Now, we have had some reports of that -- of that nature come in already. For example, in Indian River County, the -- the building housing the emergency operations center apparently sustained some fairly considerable damage.
There was a special needs shelter in one of the hardest hit counties over on the east central coast, where they had elderly and frail people who had to be moved in the middle of the hurricane because they lost power and because the -- the roof of the building started to come apart.
Those are not situations that anybody wants to be in. The good news, if there is any good news, is that the storm appears to be losing a little bit of its punch. It is now a Category 2 storm. But still, we're going to see significant damage.
CALLAWAY: What are your plans in the light of day?
BRUINS: Our plans are, as they always are, after the storm passes and the weather clears, to get assessment teams on the ground and begin to prepare -- begin to rush in the -- the supplies and equipment and assistance that has been waiting just outside the storm area.
CALLAWAY: All right. David Bruins of the Florida Emergency Management Agency in Tallahassee, thank you very much and good luck to you.
And we're going to take a break as our coverage continues in just a moment.
CALLAWAY: Welcome back, everyone. As we continue to cover Hurricane Jeanne, we want to give you this report from affiliate WFTS, filed by Barron Johnson in Lake Wales, Florida, just a moment ago. Let's listen.
BARRON JOHNSON, WFTS CORRESPONDENT: You know, just about an hour ago, another transformer exploded about 150 yards from here, lit up the entire sky for about a minute and a half. All around us the lights went out.
Right now, you can see, as proof that you can't see anything. Every single light in this entire parking lot, every streetlight, every house within the past three minutes has completely gone black.
Even here at Lake Wales high school, there is nothing turned on. And that's a shelter. Right now, it's over 800 people inside. And we had as many as that many back in Hurricane Charley and with Hurricane Frances.
So those folks at a shelter right now have nothing to go on unless they've got generator power.
But this just happened. The wind has picked up tremendously in the past 25, 30 minutes. We just relieved Bill Logan and his crew. They're going to try to get some rest, to pick back up here shortly by daybreak.
As we're standing right now, though, you just saw live pictures of that transformer. And our photographer had warned us earlier, he'd been here most of the night to keep an eye out for that power pole. And he was right. We just saw sparks like a July 4 parade, blowing up.
And at that same instant, every light within -- we're looking here at a high, elevated area -- within it looks like a mile from here has gone completely black. There is a complete blackout in the south portion of Lake Wales and southeast Polk County right now.
And as the wind continues to blow sideways, all we can tell you is it's extremely, extremely windy. We happen to be, still, in a concrete alcove from the back of the gymnasium here at Lake Wales. But when there was some light, we got here and looked inside. The floor is covered in water. And the gymnasium with the hard wood floor is also covered in water. We can see water flushing down from inside the gymnasium where the stands are. Apparently, there's some serious roof damage going on.
And we still haven't even seen the brunt of what this storm has to offer.
CALLAWAY: That was reporter Barron Johnson with WFTS, filing a report out of Lake Wales, Florida.
Rob Marciano back with us in the Weather Center. And Rob, we finally saw what you and Chad and Anderson have been talking about over the last few weeks, about that blue light you see when those transformers blow out and you just can't see anything.
MARCIANO: Yes, it's been scary stuff. No doubt that a lot of folks up and down the Florida coastline and inland, too, seen those transformers blow out in their neighborhood and blowing -- they're lights are out in their home.
Speaking of lights out, Melbourne, Fort Pierce, West Palm Beach, these automated reporting stations haven't reported since midnight. Lights out there. Either because of power outages or because the station itself was just kind of blown out of commission.
We saw similar circumstances when Hurricane Frances came on shore, so this is not out of the ordinary.
The stations that are reporting, these are the wind gusts. Daytona Beach, 39 miles an hour. And in Orlando, 64 mile an hour gusts are almost a hurricane strength there.
Tampa, 45. And Fort Myers, you have been consistent. New reports of seeing wind gusts that have been 40 miles and hour or better, even Tallahassee getting into the act.
So actually, Tallahassee, Tampa, the two "T's" here, are going to be the areas that -- well, could very well see hurricane strength winds as we go on through the next 12 to 18 hours.
I believe we have some video out of West Palm Beach. All right. Some damage there. No doubt.
Maximum sustained -- or wind gusts out of Palm Beach that we have reports of, 69 miles an hour or so. Tough to say, in this particular house, what the winds were. But certainly, at least that if not higher.
And you can see some of the blue tarps, as John Zarrella was reporting down there, that many of the homes have blue tarps on them to protect them from what Frances did to them just three weeks ago. And the blue tarps obviously not having much of an effect once this storm came through. As the sun comes up over the next hour, we're going to see -- I don't even want to think about what we're going to see, because I think the damage is going to be extensive. And it's not only wind damage inland in some of the bigger cities but along the barrier islands and some of the coastal communities.
Piers could very well be in the water or gone. Some of the homes that people either live in on a full-time basis or go three for vacation purposes, definitely some damage there in some -- in a lot of the hotels in the Melbourne area and the Treasure -- Treasure Coast. Sure.
All right. Quick check now, Category 2 storm. Here is the forecast track. Look at it, towards Tampa just to the east of north of Tampa, as the forecast here. Over the next 12 hours, it will decrease in intensity but likely still a hurricane as it passes just north of Tampa.
So folks in and around Tampa, St. Petersburg area are going to see, likely, some hurricane strength winds. I think Orlando will for sure see it. Daytona will probably see some gusty, squally weather and serious beach erosion, with rip currents a huge, huge problem. Now we can see the next couple days.
And then Tallahassee, again, could be an issue here, come later on tonight.
Tornadoes a problem? Not so far, Catherine, and we've been thanking our lucky stars for that. But as the sun comes up and a little bit of that land ahead of the storm north of the center, it could become more of an issue as we go on in time.
CALLAWAY: All right.
MARCIANO: Category 2 storm right now, max sustained winds of 110, and it is right over Sebring, Florida, right now. Not a very populated area, but heading towards more populated areas as we go through the morning.
CALLAWAY: All right, Rob. Thank you very much.
And that's going to do it for us on this overnight coverage of Hurricane Jeanne. I'm Catherine Callaway. Thanks for being with us. And we've been bringing you rolling coverage all through the evening and in the overnight hours as Jeanne rolled ashore.
We're going to leave you now with some of the more dramatic moments.
TUCHMAN: Destructive winds and intense rains have now been taking place for several hours here.
LIN: We just got official confirmation now that Jeanne -- Hurricane Jeanne has officially made landfall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lights you see beyond me now are from that Hummer. And it's just been bobbling (ph) about. Whoa! Oh, my God.
DON GERMOISE, REPORTER: We're getting too much debris flowing by here. In fact, this is the definition of hunkering down, guys.
TUCHMAN: These may be the worst conditions I've seen during any of these four hurricanes over those last six weeks in Florida.
COOPER: The wind now, facing directly in the wind. And it's -- it's obviously very hard to stand.
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