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Hurricane Warning Issued for Southern Florida; Housing Voting Today on Harvey Relief Bill; Mexico Quake Leaves at Least 5 Dead. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 8, 2017 - 04:30   ET



GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: This storm has the potential to catastrophically devastate our state. And you have to take this seriously.


[04:30:04] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Get out while you can. That's the message from Florida officials. Get out while you can.

Weather experts call this a once-in-a-generation storm. Brand-new hurricane warnings issued overnight. We're live in Miami.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. It is 4:30 Eastern Time.

And we begin with the National Hurricane Center issuing a warning for southern Florida. It extends from Jupiter inlet on Florida's east coast, southward around the peninsula, to Bonita Beach including the Florida Keys and Florida Bay.

ROMANS: Storm surge warnings also being issued in coastal communities. Those surges could reach 10 feet. Mandatory evacuation orders now in place in parts of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, low-lying parts of Brevard County, and Monroe County.

BRIGGS: And it's not just Florida bracing for Irma. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal ordering a mandatory evacuation for anyone east of I-95 in the state, that includes the city of Savannah, along with Chatham County and other low-lying areas.

And in South Carolina, mandatory evacuation order takes effect Saturday morning at 10:00 Eastern in coastal counties including Charleston.

ROMANS: Irma holding strong this hour at category five. Slamming Turks and Caicos overnight. It's now approaching the Bahamas.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis tracking the monster storm from the CNN Weather Center.

And this is a storm not to be underestimated, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No, you're absolutely right. It is one for the ages.

And the window is rapidly closing for anyone who's thinking about leaving, at least in south Florida to leave. Here's the reason why -- we've got about a 24-hour window before we start to really see any kind of significance as far as the rip current here and the storm surge that is expected across the region. It looks like it will interact with land, weaken to category four -- still a major hurricane.

It is expected to make its way into south Florida, exactly where -- we have to look at the computer models, the European being the one that is really been -- the one that we kind of favored because it's more precise, it has more data associated with it. By Saturday, well on shore, goes up the spine of Florida and into South Georgia, and then maybe curving towards the west.

All right. Let's talk when what we can expect as far as winds. So, you think you're in a condominium or high rise. Maybe you're protected. Let's take a look at this. Are you protected?

Well, at the surface, perhaps you're looking at winds at 145 miles per hour. So, you're looking at very powerful winds. But if you went up about 30 stories, then your wind is going to increase about 20 percent.

Go up another few stories, maybe between 80 and 100 stories, and we've got an additional 30 percent greater wind. Why? Simply friction.

There is more friction in the lower levels of the atmosphere than there is higher up.

So, if you're thinking you're a little safer because you're in a high rise condominium, that you're going to be more protected, that is untrue. There is going to be stronger winds, the higher up you go.

All right. What are we looking at as you go through time? Over the next 48 hours -- we think that landfall within the next 36 to 48 hours, perhaps as a strong category four, maybe it will maintain category-5 intensity. But the storm surge associated with this, the heavy rainfall, already the flights at the major airports are ending tomorrow afternoon. So, even if you wanted to buy an airline ticket and go, that's not going to be a possibility.

This is RPM. It takes it up mostly along the east coast of Florida. But the computer models are varying. The European model has it just to the west of central Florida, and the American model just to the east.

But either way, guys, this is such a major hurricane. There's almost no escaping anywhere in Florida. They have to batten down the hatches now.

ROMANS: Yes, the size of it just going to -- BRIGGS: Yes, that was good context with the buildings. This is the

third highest skyline in the United States in terms of high-rises. A building boom the last decade in particular in Miami. So, it's terrifying.

ROMANS: Karen Maginnis, let's talk about that building boom. Millions of people live there in Florida in the path. The number is higher than it's ever been. Last year, the three-county area that stretches from Miami to Palm Beach topped 6 million people for the first time.

We've got some have time-lapse video I guess. It's time-lapse satellite pictures showing rapid growth since 1992. That's when Hurricane Andrew hit the area.

[04:35:01] The state's governor, Rick Scott, warning people to get out fast.


SCOTT: We cannot save you when the storm hits. We cannot save -- just remember this -- once there's an evacuation order, get out. We can't take care of you in the middle of a storm.


BRIGGS: The administrator for Monroe County which includes the Florida keys making it clear all hospitals will be closed, ambulances will be gone by this morning. He also warned that if you dial 911, no one will be there to answer.


BRIGGS: CNN's Isa Soares live for us in Miami with the very latest.

What are you seeing there, Isa?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Dave, I was hearing your conversation that you were having with Karen Maginnis about the boom that we have seen here in Miami. That is without a doubt one of the most striking things that I saw coming in is the high-rises peppered along the way. And that is one area I think that many people will be concerned about despite, of course, the fact that many people have left. Despite the fact that many have gone into shelters.

But one hotel person I was speaking to this morning, she was basically saying to me to there -- they had reservations. But then they decided to evacuate the whole hotel. And they were basically hunkering down, closing everything. They were putting plastic over every single bit of tableware that they could because they think there is just no way they could actually escape the fierceness of this storm.

But on the ground, what we are seeing is in many ways a ghost town. It doesn't matter if I've arrived here at 7:00 or 3:00 or 4:00. It's very much empty. Yes, I have seen a couple of people walking their dogs and some on their bicycles. But like Karen Maginnis was say, we've got between 36 and 48 hours before it's expected to make landfall.

In the meantime, those who are leaving Miami, they are preparing not just with goods, supermarkets, basics such as water, food, that's practically empty at one of the supermarkets I went to today, but also filling their tanks with gas. And those are the biggest problems. Long lines of cars trying to get out of Miami but also long lines of cars trying to get petrol, trying to get gas.

And what the authorities are doing here, trying to facilitate that, trying to mitigate that is the police are escorting these fuel tankers into these key petrol stations, gas stations, to try and make the fuel, get it moving again. So that is one area they're hoping to get things moving. But of course, if you're thinking of leaving, some may add, some may say that perhaps now may be too late, in fact -- Christine, Dave.

ROMANS: Yes, really important moments here. You look at the hotels around where you are. All of them -- they've canceled all the reservations, not taking any new reservations until the 11th -- September 11th or 12th at the earliest.

All right. Thank you so much for that, Isa Soares.

Joining us by phone right now, Miguel Ascarrunz, the director of emergency management for Broward County.

Thank you so much for joining us. I know it's very busy, very busy moments for all of you.

Mr. Ascarrunz, can you tell us what exactly you're doing right now, and warning people, telling people to do in Broward County?


Broward County is under a hurricane warning. Basically 36 hours out of tropical storm-force conditions. That's why we're strongly urging preparations to be completed by late this evening, late Friday evening.

So, we have issued a mandatory evacuation for our low -- for our coastal areas. And our two evacuation zones basically from U.S. 1 East. But we don't want people to get on the road and start evacuating hundreds of miles. We believe in evacuating tens of miles, not hundreds of miles, evacuating in county and staying at one of our 14 shelters which are now open and available to the public.

Our emergency operations center is now fully activated as well with over 300 representatives from agencies that are dealing with transportation issues, to medical health issues. Our utility board of power and light is also available to assist with power outage situations. So, we're all working in a coordinated fashion to ensure the public safety.

ROMANS: That's good. I was going to say, you know, to say that people don't need to go hundreds of miles, they maybe just need to go out of the danger zones.

[04:40:01] You're -- you know, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Boca Raton, you've got -- I think of all of these canal ways and boatways that you have there, you locked down the drawbridges.

Tell us a little about the threat you're expecting. High winds, high waters, what are you looking for?

ASCARRUNZ: Yes, definitely, with the category four possibly even a five hurricane where we can expect destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, maybe four to five feet, flooding rains, even possibly tornadic activity, tornadoes. So, very important that the public heed our evacuation orders especially along the coastal areas, our two evacuation zones.

BRIGGS: Miguel, how do you balance the desire for people to get out with the difficulty, the degree of difficulty just to get out now? We're told 40 percent of gas stations are out of gas. Roadways are clogged. What do you say to people who say it might be too difficult to get out this morning or later this afternoon?

ASCARRUNZ: Well, again, if you're in one of with the two evacuation zones, basically from U.S. 1 East, we definitely want you out of there. And the window to get out of there again based on the arrival of tropical storm-force winds is later this evening. So, it's important the public heed the evacuation order.

Broward, Ft. Everglades remains open, and basically stores, a lot of our fuel for south Florida and in fact most of Florida. So, we have received up to 8.4 million glance of gasoline yesterday, and deliveries to gas stations will continue through the end of today, Friday. So, we're trying to ensure gasoline is flowing freely. Tanker trucks are also being escorted by law enforcement officers. So, we're trying to ensure the gasoline is getting to the retailers as quickly as possible.

ROMANS: Yes, I saw they were getting police escorts, those tanker trucks.

We know there are 14 shelters. One is pet friendly. We're told by your mayor that that is already filled up. We know that the Ft. Lauderdale airport is still open, but I suspect that's going to have to close later today. You'll start feeling the effects of the storm by tonight, right?

ASCARRUNZ: Yes, what I understand, the last flight out of the Broward/Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport is expected at about 7:45 p.m. this evening.

ROMANS: All right. Wrapping up for this -- the arrival of Irma.

BRIGGS: All right. Miguel Ascarrunz, the emergency -- director of emergency management for Broward County. It's nearly two million residents. Thank you for joining us this morning.

ROMANS: Thank you. Irma starting to move over the Bahamas this area. Parts of other

islands in the Atlantic already left in ruins. Hurricane Jose is not far behind. We're live in the Bahamas, next.


[04:47:39] BRIGGS: We're tracking Hurricane Irma, but news this morning on two other hurricanes as well. The National Hurricane Center just now saying Hurricanes Jose and Katia both in the Atlantic are getting stronger. More on that in just a bit.

ROMANS: We're waiting for an update on Irma. Irma still churning across the southeast corner of the Bahamas overnight. A hurricane warning now in effect as Irma takes dead aim at the central Bahamas today and tracks toward Florida.

Journalist Stefano Pozzebon joining us via Skype right now from the Bahamas where the storm is going to be underway here.

What are you seeing?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, Christine. The storm is going to be out of the way, and we expect we are -- in the island of Nassau, which is in the northeastern of the archipelago of the Bahamas. The storm is expected to arrive between tonight and early tomorrow morning.

But we can already feel its presence and we can already see the sea just behind me, about 50 feet behind me is the seashore. And the sea has been rising, and the wind is extremely picking up. And the wind is the main source of concern for these islanders -- these people yesterday. Authorities warned that the main worried was the winds because winds gusts about 175 miles per hour can blow away anything that can go under their path, Christine.

ROMANS: You look at some of these pictures of that boarded windows, so many folks really hunkering there. We'll look for real damage from the winds, sustained winds of 180 miles per hour.

Stefano, thank you so much for that. We'll check in with you again very soon. Stay safe.

Four people have died in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of Hurricane Irma. That brings the number of storm-related deaths to ten. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for parts of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. This is just part of the destruction. A bridge connecting the Dominican Republic to Haiti washed away by the category-5 storm.

BRIGGS: A hurricane warning also issued in Turks and Caicos, where conditions rapidly deteriorated overnight. Governor Freeman warning everyone on the islands not to test Mother Nature.


GOVERNOR JOHN FREEMAN, TURKS AND CAICOS (via telephone): Hunker down. Stay where you are because you can't go out because the winds are far, far too strong.

[04:50:00] Nobody can get to you either. So, you know, people are on their own.


ROMANS: The governor tells CNN 15 roofs have come off and there's damage to parts of the roof of the hospital as well.

BRIGGS: All right. Some major breaking news this morning. At least five people dead after a powerful 8.1-magnitude earthquake in southern Mexico, off the coast, near the border with Guatemala. The strongest quake recorded in Mexico in a century, according to President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Power outages now being reported 600 miles away in Mexico City where people were running out in the street barefoot in their pajamas. The quake triggering a tsunami, but the threat appears minimal at this hour. Guatemala has activated security protocols. Police reporting some damage along their border with Mexico. This was a monster quake.

ROMANS: All right. A huge hack, possibly affecting half of all adults in the U.S. We'll tell you how to find out if your information has been compromised. That's next.


[04:44:14] BRIGGS: Welcome back.

A senior Republican aide tells CNN the House will vote this afternoon on a $15.2 billion hurricane Harvey relief package passed by the Senate on Thursday. The measure also increases the debt ceiling and funds the government for the next three months. The deal was sealed by the president and Chuck and Nancy, Democratic leaders.

So, is the long-awaited Trump pivot to partisanship? What does this mean for Republicans and their agenda

Let's bring in Zach Wolf, digital director of CNN Politics.

ROMANS: Hey, Zach.

BRIGGS: Good morning to you, Zach.

Color me skeptical. Forty-eight hours ago, less than that, here's Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on President Trump's DACA move.

Listen -- all right, we don't have that. But what they said is that essentially president Trump was brainless and gutless. The very next day --

ROMANS: And heartless.

BRIGGS: And heartless.

ROMANS: Yes. BRIGGS: The very next day, a pivot to bipartisanship. Should the

American voters be skeptical?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Or, you know, just not be fooled. I don't think this is a move towards bipartisanship on other things. It is, you know, a very focused moment where we see Trump coming together with Democrats to fund the government in a short-term matter.

I don't think the American people honestly care if it's a three-month extension or six-month extension or 18-month extension. You know, how often they do the debt ceiling. I think they're more interested in getting the money for FEMA that's needed for Harvey and presumably for Irma very soon here and funding the government.

You know, when Trump did this sort of surprise turnaround and caught Republicans off guard, I don't think he was thinking so much about this Republican chess match with Democrats on Capitol Hill. He was thinking more probably about what's going to look good on TV, which I don't think it's any surprise that that is more of his focus.

ROMANS: Well, and he wants a win. He badly needs a win, right? And so this -- at least in the short term, this gets him a win. What does it do for the Republican legislative strategy, though, coming into the beginning of December?

WOLF: You know, and what you said there is important. It gets him a win. It doesn't get Republicans a win. And that's the real distinction here. This is a somebody who was elected kind of outside of the party almost.

So, for him, a win is not what Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan see as a win. So, that's the real difference here.

BRIGGS: Yes. CNN spoke with Congressman Peter King from New York who described the interaction between President Trump and Chuck Schumer as almost a love-in yesterday. They were finishing each other's sentences, very odd. I don't know if it's a pivot as much as it is a dramatic U-turn, in a complete opposite direction.

Can the president trust Democrats if this is the direction he's deciding to take?

WOLF: I mean, this is a -- let's not kid ourselves. This is a transactional relationship between these guys. They're both New Yorkers. Maybe there's some camaraderie there.

I think they have something of a history. But this is not them suddenly joining forces to ride off into the sunset. This is a very specific thing that they did.

ROMANS: All right. Zach Wolf -- you know, it's been a crazy week for politics, no question. It's -- natural disasters are the headlines here. So, interesting.

All right. Zach Wolf, CNN politics digital director, we'll talk to you again next hour. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

U.S. stock futures pointing lower partly because the value of the dollar is weaker because of some moves out of the European Central Bank, got the two hurricanes, worries about North Korea. Stock markets in Europe also lower. And shares in Asia are mixed.

Shares of Equifax are tanking 13 percent in premarket trading. That comes after the company disclosed a huge data breach that could affect 143 million Americans. Another 209,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen, 182,000 people who were involved in credit disputes were also compromised.

Now, the stock had been a strong performer this year, up 20 percent. The company will not be contacting you. No. Instead, you have to sign up for its free credit monitoring to find out if your info was stolen. And there's plenty of outcry on social media this morning about how that does not seem very fair that you have to jump through hoops --

BRIGGS: To say the least.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Credit freeze. Two words.

ROMANS: So, credit experts are saying perhaps you should go to the major, three major credit agencies and put a freeze on your credit. If you're not going to open up a credit card in the near term, not getting a car or house loan, just freeze your credit with them.

BRIGGS: Listen to this lady.

All right. EARLY START continues with the latest projections on Irma and the two hurricanes right behind her.