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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Widespread flooding and damage as Irma moves inland; 10,000 may need evacuation from ravaged Florida Keys; Parts of Florida Keys destroyed; Florida Governor: "Devastation" in Florida Keys; Record storm surge, flooding in Jacksonville; Riding it out in the keys; 6.5 million customers without power in Florida. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 11, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We're broadcasting tonight from Bradenton, Florida which is south of Tampa, just north of Sarasota. This community largely dodged a bullet on the storm, you can see not everybody was quite so lucky in this area. We're on the West Coast, but it's hard to find a part of this state, frankly, that wasn't affected one way or another by hurricane Irma. And over the next two hours, we're going to take you all over the state from the Florida Keys where we're really just getting a first look at the extent of the destruction there up in Jacksonville.
We saw historic storm surge and flooding and they are still right now dealing with very dangerous flooding. Irma's strong winds are hitting Atlanta right now. So far there's one confirmed storm-related death in Florida, which is a single car accident in Orange County, but sadly the death toll likely will mostly rise. And the full extent of the damage, frankly, that won't be known for days. There's, of course, the immediate issue that so many Floridians are dealing with right now. Lack of electricity, millions are still without power.
But as we seen all over the state, the people may be without electricity, but they are certainly not without their strength. Irma's fury, the path of destruction not seen in Florida in decades. The storm knocking out power to millions.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been here for, what, 22 years? I never seen nothing like it.
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COOPER: The southernmost keys bore the brunt of the storm. The images emerging show widespread destruction. Some of the towns remain cut off, making getting them aid a challenge. Naples was hit hard as well. This aerial footage over the city capture some of the flooding. The number of homes damaged or outright destroyed is still unknown, but the impact of Irma spans nearly the entire state. Many first responders had to remain off the street during the storm, but quickly got to work as soon as possible. They rescued 50 people from a Riviera Beach apartment complex after the roofs partially blew off to the buildings, according to the city's mayor. And amidst the chaos, a healthy baby girl was born. Thanks to the help of the Coral Springs Fire Department.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): When we got there, she was pretty much all the way -- almost all the way out and she was -- and the patient's mother, the mother of the person in labor was actually pretty much delivering the baby, her own granddaughter, in the bathroom on the floor.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Moving all the flamingos for the hurricane.
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COOPER: People went out of their way as well to protect animals. From escorting flamingos to safety --
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're filming this manatee right now. This is crazy.
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COOPER: -- to these men who helped save a stranded manatee in Sarasota bay. In Okeechobee, Taittyn Fischer brought her horses inside during the storm.
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COOPER: As Irma moved north, it brought record-breaking flooding to Jacksonville, water levels surpassing the previous held record set in 1964. In Charleston, South Carolina, portions of the city are flooded. The governor says thousands are without power.
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COOPER: We're going to talk to the mayor in Jacksonville shortly just to get extent -- a sense of the extent of the flooding that's the situation they're dealing with, there's a lot of water still on the ground. As I mentioned, we're also getting a look at the damage now at the Florida Keys, really getting our glimpse as Irma, you know, hit the keys someday morning. It was a Cat 4 hurricane when it hit, thousands of people stayed there to ride out the storm. Our Bill Weir has been reporting from the keys since before the hurricane hit. He joins us now. So tell us what you're seeing, where you are, and just what it's like?
BILL WEIR, CNN HOST, THE WONDER LIST: You know, Anderson, you know, the sky today turned from black to blue, paradise blue, and the mood turned from anticipation and then fear of the storm to just utter shock and heartbreak as you see what's left of so much of the Florida Keys. This is the Sea Breeze Mobile Home Park here on plantation key, Mile Marker 87, about 60 miles north of where the eye of the storm. So worst the farther south you go, you just can't get down there, the roads are impassable, the cell service is out, we have to use cellular phones.
So there's so much uncertainty as to how loved ones -- ho how neighborhoods are doing. It's so hard to talk to each other and the basic necessities are all gone. But I actually met a few residence of Sea Breeze. This is Rich and Stacey (ph) and Roche (ph), come on over. And this is Billy. These folks moved out of here in May, good to see all of you. Thanks for being with me. Billy, here as well. You guys were -- I was seeing the shock, Stacey, on your face as you came and saw what your old neighborhood look like.
STACEY, SEA BREEZE RESIDENT: It's just devastating. We feel for our friends and family that became part of our family when we lived here, we've been -- we're here for about three years. And we just -- we came to take some pictures --
STACEY: -- for people that were concerned about their homes and they're, you know, they're not just snowbirds, these are their homes, families that lived here. And we're just so, so sorry and we just pray that everybody's safe and, you know, everybody will be okay.
WEIR: Right. And you can see this -- I don't know if you could see behind, Stacey, the X on the door there, that's a sign as it is search and rescue, they had the date and time, that means no bodies were found and a lot access here. Thankfully, Billy, no lives lost. You rode out the storm nearby here, your family has been in this neighborhood since Donna blew ashore basically in 1960, right? What was it like seeing your home scattered everywhere?
BILLY, SEA BREEZE RESIDENT: Yes, it's devastating. You know, we were right on the oceanfront there and so there's nothing left, which completely gone. And we're hoping -- just like Stacey said, we're hoping to get the families back in here and back to normal living conditions. We're hoping FEMA and Sun Communities will help us out in doing that as soon as possible because this was a residential neighborhood, Sea Breeze Mobile Home Park not a tourist destination.
WEIR: Right, right. These are year-rounders, right?
BILLY: Yes, absolutely. WEIR: Yes, yes. And what's so striking to me today, I had total strangers come up and offer us water and offer us gasoline. That's sort of the spirit of the keys, right? And that gives hope that the rebuilding will come together.
RICH, SEA BREEZE RESIDENT: Exactly. We actually came down here, we brought pizza to somebody that lives across the street. And the Tower of Pizza was open, I'm sure you guys have been down there.
WEIR: Yes, the one place. Yes.
RICH: So we had just enough gas for one more trip and a lot of people have been on Facebook that live here, they kept asking us again, this is the second time we've been here and we are able to get in. They're like, "Just, you know, please tell us what's left. Take a picture, you know." And, you know, like I said, sadly, this was Mark's (ph), this was Kat (ph) and Dave's (ph), I mean, these are people that, you know --
WEIR: Right, right. Yes.
RICH: -- our friends and there's nothing, you know.
WEIR: You see wreckage, but you see homes and families.
RICH: Yes, exactly. Exactly.
WEIR: What about just the day-to-day going forward, Billy? Come on in here. We got no power, no AC, you know, we got no telephone service, we got no running water. Are you going to stay here and ride all this out? You're going to get out and let things take its course?
BILLY: Yes, stay here and try to help out the residence as much as possible, like I said, get us back to normal living conditions. You know, we're devastated here. We still have probably about 50% of the buildings still standing, but other than that, everything else is off its foundation. And so we're just hoping to get back to normal living conditions. Hopefully, FEMA -- like I said, FEMA and Sun Communities will help out Sea Breeze Mobile Home Park and get us back on our feet.
WEIR: Sun Communities is a big multinational that I heard, bought a bunch of mobile home parks recently.
BILLY: Yes, yes.
WEIR: So, it's up to them either turn this into condos or give the trailers back to the folks who've been here forever.
BILLY: Yes, and we're hoping that that doesn't happen --
RICH: That's their decision to give it back to the people who've been here. These are people that work at the local restaurants, bars, or, you know, the dock master across the street at the park, you know. It's a community. And hopefully it can return to, you know, community.
WEIR: Well, our hearts go out to all of you and I know our viewers do as well. And so thank you for talking to us and be so hospitable.
RICH: Thank you.
STACEY: Oh, thank you. Thank you.
WEIR: Good luck and Godspeed going forward. Anderson, yes, just a little sample of just a couple families that are still reeling from what Irma wrought. I'll send it back to you.
COOPER: Yes. You know, Bill, I was watching you walk around earlier today when I was seeing some of your reports. And one of the things that really struck me is just kind of the silence that exist. You know, you hear the wind coming off the water, but you don't hear cars, you don't hear the usual sounds of a community alive.
You hear, you know, things that are broken, you hear a storm drain, you know, a storm gutter scrapping on the street, all the sounds that kind of wind whipping through the metal and residue of people's home. It's a surreal and kind of sickening sound.
WEIR: It is. It strikes me. I've come in a few, you know, disasters and one of the pieces of the soundtracks is always there are car alarms or home alarms just sounding to no answer, you know. And you walk through a neighborhood like this and you see children's coloring books on the ground. We found a box of family photos and you imagine, you know, what this place sound like full of life, right? But at the same time, we also heard the sound of the cavalry coming.
We saw first responders from L.A. Fire Department rolling down US-1, Miami-Dade. So soon they'll hear the sound of rebuilding and hopefully life back to normal. It'll take a while, but you got a sense of the resilience and the (INAUDIBLE) who call this place home.
COOPER: Yes. Well, Bill, we appreciate you being there and wish everybody there the best. Key West has been cut off. We hadn't heard really from many officials there until just before I air, I spoke on the phone with Key West City Manager, Jim Scholl.
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COOPER (voice-over): Jim, how are things on the isle and how are the residence doing?
JIM SCHOLL, KEY WEST CITY MANAGER (voice-over): We're doing reasonably well considering that we had Cat 4 make landfall just 20 miles up the road. It was a lot of devastation, but mostly as the mayor told you --
SCHOOL (voice-over): -- vegetation and the complications of trees falling on utilities, either falling on power lines or the roots tearing up, some of the water distribution system, those types of Impacts. The storm surge in Key West was not as bad as it was in some of the areas in of the keys. We were fortunate that we were on the weaker side of the storm and that eye wall area, I think, could have been stronger, but seem to not batter us as bad as what we expected at the time.
It was very significant. The strongest storm anybody has seen in Key West in decades, but, you know, we got by much less damage than what I thought.
COOPER (voice-over): Yes, I mean when you were riding out at the height of the storm, given what you saw, what you were hearing, did you think it was going to be much worse?
SCHOOL (voice-over): Well, I expected it to be, but I have to tell you, we're in a new city hall building that we just moved into this last November and it was built to the latest building standards for South Florida, and it was amazing how solid this building was and looking out the windows and seeing the effects of the wind and the water, but really not necessarily feeling the impact behind the walls and the windows of this building.
So my hats off to the contractors for that, but still, it's very impressive to be in a weather event like that and then be able to come out and start the recovery process and help out our community.
COOPER (voice-over): And just in terms of that recovery process, in terms of supplies right now for residence who are there, obviously, water is an issue, you know, electricity, I know the cell service is out, what kind of supplies do you need?
SCHOOL (voice-over): Well, we need the same supplies everybody needs. We need food, water, fuel and communication, better connectivity. You know, we planned for these things constantly and we know we're going to have deteriorated ability to communicate, but this one's been particularly challenging with the power out throughout the keys and then having the cell phone communications and internet communications out.
We've had to degrade down the old analogue pot system, telephones -- plain old telephone systems and those have been working. So we've been making network and some of us are old enough to remember how to do that and we're teaching the younger ones, but, you know, that makes it a challenge. You know, we only have one road in and one road out for the keys and Key West is at the end of that road.
So we were, again, very fortunate that, as the mayor said, the bridges were not compromised to the point where they're not able to handle traffic that really will help the recovery process, having the ability to have vehicles come down and not have to rely on all aircraft or Seabourne logistics to bring in the resources. But the recourses are starting to trickle in and we expect them to start flowing in much more tomorrow.
We've got three airfields that are open and ready to receive aircraft and the Florida Department of Transportation did clear the road for road passage all the way down here to Key West.
COOPER (voice-over): Well, Jim, I wish you and everybody there the best. Thanks so much.
SCHOOL (voice-over): Thanks, Anderson. Take care.
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COOPER: Well, again, we're on the Western Coast of Florida tonight, we're in Bradenton. You know, so many corners of the state, so many communities -- basically every community one way or another was affected by this hurricane and now by its aftermath, in the northeastern part of Florida, the City of Jacksonville as we mentioned, saw record storm surge and flooding. I spoke with the mayor in Jacksonville just before we went on the air to talk about the dire picture.
He was saying, "Look, this is not over for the people in Jacksonville, there's a lot of water on the ground." We're going to have more what he told me in a bit. But first CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in Jacksonville, she joins us tonight. Kaylee, just describe -- and you've been covering this now all day, all yesterday, can you describe what you've been seeing in Jacksonville today and how big the flooding is there right now and how much of a concern it is?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Anderson. I'm standing in Downtown Jacksonville here, anybody familiar with this areas will be familiar with the landing, a very popular watering hole and these parks, but this morning, a Category 3 storm surge carried the waters of the St. Johns River here up and over the seawall and rolled it through the street of Downtown Jacksonville.
When we walked up upon Hogan Street here at 11:00 am this morning, the water was three blocks inland and it continue to rise throughout the day. As bad as it looks in three blocks inland, we were told, it is going to get worse. 2:00 pm, that's when the tides was at its highest here is when the water was at its highest through these floods --
HARTUNG: -- five and a half feet today, above what you would typically see at high tide in Jacksonville. At times, we saw white caps in those waters as they flooded the street of downtown. I had my rain jacket on all day, but I don't think I ever felt rain fall from the sky, it was the wind that was whipping up on this tunnel that it created down these downtown streets to then smack us with the water as it kept coming.
You could really understand the power of the storm surge throughout this day as we felt incredibly powerful gusts of wind. So now yes, some of these waters have receded, but as the mayor told us, "Don't be fooled when you see some of these pockets with the water starting to recede because you can turn another corner and find more water." We all recognize how unpredictable these waters can be, but this situation in Jacksonville, Anderson, very far from over.
COOPER: It's also kind of a slap in the face of the residence, you know, who thought -- when that storm started, you know, going to the west, what, two days ago, everyone thought, "Okay, it's going to be Tampa, it's going to be, you know, it's going to be Naples, it's going to be Fort Myers." I think probably some folks in Jacksonville who they've been told to evacuate anyway, but probably breathe the sigh of relief and thought, "Okay, well, it's not going to really affect us." But obviously now, here we are talking about Jacksonville, you know, one day after the storm made landfall.
HARTUNG: Yes. In downtown today, I met so many people staying at downtown hotels, Anderson, who would come here from other parts of Florida, from as far south as Boca Raton or Hollywood. Others had coming from Amelia Island or even Punta Verde just across the bridge here, but they thought this was a safe place to be. And then they come out from their hotel this morning to see waters lapping up at the doors of hotels downtown.
The other area of concern I need to point out, Anderson, while we spent our day in the central business district down here, it's the residential areas in Jacksonville that are still feeling so much of the pain and suffering through what the damage, the flood waters could cause. There's a river side area just behind me, Ortega to my right, and then San Marco further up.
These are areas where those flood waters are not going anywhere any time soon where many of the rescue operations that are underway today and will continue tomorrow, that's where a lot of them will be happening. The mayor, other officials saying, "If you are in one of those homes, maybe on a second floor thinking you can ride it out, that's not the best idea. These waters aren't going anywhere any time soon, make that call for help."
COOPER: Yes, Kaylee Hartung, I appreciate you being there. As I mentioned, we're going to hear from the mayor of Jacksonville in just a moment, I spoke to him just before we went on air to get the latest. He says, "Look, this is not over, not by a long shot, and maybe not for days. Some of that water is still going to be on the ground." Also more from the keys, there are people rode out the storm there against all odds, against all the advice.
I'm going to speak with one of them coming up. We have reporters all across Florida and other states. All the latest ahead, we'll be right back.
COOPER: Irma's blamed for the worst storm surge flooding ever recorded in Jacksonville. Earlier, I spoke with the Mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry who said, "It is not good at all and it is certainly not over yet."
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COOPER: Mayor Curry, just in terms of the flooding in Jacksonville, what are you seeing now? How bad is it?
LENNY CURRY, MAYOR OF JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: That this is a serious event and we've been telling the people of Jacksonville, this is going to be serious event for days. On Wednesday, we started volunteer evacuations and we told people those were going to be mandatory in just a couple of days. And we started them early because of the traffic coming from South Florida and now, here we are, we have Category 3 storm surge and a tropical storm.
And so we are in rescue mode right now, we've flipped to rescue mode and that's exactly what's happening been all day and will continue to happen.
COOPER: Do you have a sense of the scope of those operations? I mean any sense of how many people may be unaccounted for or stranded in any way?
CURRY: Well, it's serious. I can tell you that I was around today visiting some of the places that were being searched and rescued. And just (INAUDIBLE) I had, you know, some of the fire guys and gals that were doing the work told me they had rescued about 100 people just in a small area of town.
So the thing we need the people of Jacksonville to know is if they think that these -- that they're going to wait this out, maybe on a second floor, they're going to wake up tomorrow and everything's going to be okay, this could take up to a week, maybe days maybe a week.
And, you know, we wish everyone had heeded our evacuation orders when they -- when we put them out there, that didn't happen, but now it's time for us to go in and save our people, make sure that they're safe. We've had a great partner in Governor Scott, he's been on top of this on the front end through the entire state and in Jacksonville. The president's team reached out earlier on to ensure that we had access to those resources when we need them.
But right now, we are working in rescue mode to make sure our people are taken care of.
COOPER: You know, you talked about trying to get people to heed evacuation orders, clearly people were caught off guard. I mean, not just in Jacksonville but elsewhere, particularly when the storm shifted more to the west than days before. Did you think -- or did people there think they were out of the woods before all the flooding happened?
CURRY: Anderson, one of my concerns was the people would think that. And it's very clear, the message that I communicated when it started to shift to the west, I said, "Please, people, do not think that this is not going to be a major event. Do not think this is going to have major impact. We are not changing our evacuations orders.
They are serious as now than ever." So, you know, we weren't surprised, I wasn't surprised, my team wasn't surprised by such a major event. The development that was knew was the type of event it was and that was this morning we learned that there would be Category 3, hurricane Category 3 storm surge in a tropical storm.
And so, we are just dealing with that now. The policemen, firemen, contractors are here. The neighbors are helping neighbors, just doing everything that we can. First thing's first, make sure our people are safe.
COOPER: And I mean, obviously it differs in different areas, do you have a sense of how deep the water is in some areas?
CURRY: Oh, gosh, there are areas that I was in today that you can't drive a major public rescue vehicle into, I mean with major tires --
CURRY: -- high up off the ground. You got to take the big truck in, you've got to drop the boat in that the rescue guys take, and you've got to go down the road, get these people in above, get them out and get them back to a truck and drive them out. And then get them to a shelter or get them to someone's home that can take care of them. So it's deep, it's serious and dangerous and the threat is still with us. But this is --
COOPER: And of course --
CURRY: But Anderson, this is what I told the people today, this is why we're here, this is my job, this is the job that policemen and firemen signed up for and they are answering the call of duty and I am so proud of this community, working their butts off right now to save people.
COOPER: Mayor Curry, we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thank you. Wish you the best.
CURRY: Thank you. Thank you very much.
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COOPER: I think for some people who in other states haven't been personally affected by what has happened here, they think, you know, well, the storm maybe wasn't as bad as people anticipated, thank goodness, but when you see what's happening in Jacksonville, you realize -- and there are people facing, you know, with water on the ground, the electricity is out, it is dark.
It is miserable conditions and there are millions of people without power right now. Obviously, that is a major concern. I want to check in with John Berman who is in Miami, he has been all throughout this storm. The mayor there says 72 percent of the city has no power, 72 percent, imagine that for Miami. That's number -- that's 6.5 million people across the state.
But John, I mean, that's the vast majority of people in Miami without power, according to the mayor. Just walk us through the damage to the marina where you are because I've been watching you all day, and jus those images of those boats piled up, it gives you a sense of the power of that water and that wind.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It really does. Especially considered as you just said, Anderson, Miami did not get hit as hard as it could have been. I'm in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, outside Monty's, a well-known bar here. And this marina was really, really affected by the storm surge. Came up four to six feet and just pushed all these boats right up onto the shore here, one boat after the other.
And then there are other boats lining the shores, it's too dark to see right now, that were just crushed against the shoreline. A little bit down the street, we saw a sailboat in a baseball field. The waters have all receded now, but obviously it's going to take some time to clean up.
We were here all day and people were walking, checking out their boats just shaking their heads, wondering if they would ever get them back in the water or if it was even worth trying, Anderson.
COOPER: Let's talk a bit about the power situation, not only in Miami whereas we said, according to the mayor, 72 percent of the people don't have power just across Florida. How long before that's expected to come back online?
BERMAN: Unfortunately, officials here say it could take weeks and weeks. We have more than 6 million customers right now in the State of Florida without power, 1 million -- about 800,000 in Miami-Dade County alone. And if you listen to officials, it's going to be a mammoth undertaking to get it back up. They have nearly 20,000 line workers who will be out in force, who are told they're going to be working 24 hours a day.
With every trick and tool they have, they're using drones right now to fly over areas to identify the places of greatest need. One thing they tell us is that it will be over 1 million man hours to get the lines back up and running. They have a serious task ahead of them. You know, hurricane Andrew, somebody just told me that 1.4 million people lost power after hurricane Andrew. This is 6 million.
Part of the reason was Andrew really was Southern Florida event, this is the entire peninsula, Anderson. And right now the crews can't even get everywhere they need to get, but they won't stop, we are assured until their done. In one point, they do say they have 1 million customers who have been brought back online over the last 24 hours. But even as they're bringing some people up, other people stay up in Jacksonville are still losing their power. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Tough days ahead, weeks ahead. John Berman, thanks. Joining us now CNN contributor, former director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, David Halstead. David, you got mandatory curfew right now in Miami until 7:00 am. Just in terms of emergency responders, what tonight are they most concerned about?
DAVID HALSTEAD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER DIRECTOR, FLORIDA'S DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Well, I think the mayor of Jacksonville said correctly, we're really still in that life-saving mode. We're still looking for people that might be trapped or caught in a lot of areas. In Miami itself, though, what we're worried about is the people that go out after dark and perhaps are looking to do things that they shouldn't be doing after dark. So again, that curfew is in place to protect the businesses downtown and also to protect the citizens and the homes that have been damaged. It's important that people obey that curfew and stay off the streets.
COOPER: You know, we're talking to John about getting power back online and in some places, you know, authorities are just say weeks and weeks. Explain just the difficulty that that entails.
HALSTEAD: Well, you've just talked to the leadership in Key West, and they said it correctly, you know, they're going to need support and supplies now. Why? Primarily because that electrical system has been dropped off and that runs from the mainland out to the keys, and especially ends there in Key West. So it's very difficult to get that power grid back up and running.
But the power not being up, that means people have to be in shelters. People being in shelters means the school are still going to be closed. So it's a trickle down affect until we get the power solved, all those other issues, support and so fort for all the people in shelters, support for all the people that are still down at the keys at the end of the road at Key West is still going to be there.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And obviously authorities want to get businesses back online, want to get stores open, so people can get supplies, but until that happens people are going to end up running low on their supplies and ending up relying on aid from authorities.
HALSTEAD: Well, that's certainly true. And we've got the great secret weapon here in Florida, and that is a warehouse in Orlando, called the State Logistics Response Center. It has 300 truck loads of water, which is a couple million gallons of bottled water and it has over 1.5 million chef stable meals.
Guest what, those are already pushed out. FEMA is now in partnership with the state because of the presidential order and they're going to be pushing 200 truck loads of each of those products out probably every day for several days. So, the food and water is coming.
But you're right, the faster we get stores up and running that I don't need to provide free food and water you can go to the local stores.
COOPER: Yes, it makes a huge different. David Halstead I appreciate that.
Up next, more from the Florida Keys, another survivor shares his story riding out the storm at a marine out there. We'll be right back.
[20:35:19] COOPER: Almost two hours south of Bradenton where I am tonight, you're going to find the city of Bonita Springs that was also hard hit by Irma. Brian Todd took a look today at the damage. Take a look.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Much of Bonita Springs, Florida is under water. This small community sand between Ft. Myers and Naples. It was slammed with Irma's highest winds unrelenting rains when the imperial river flooded so did the mobile home neighborhood, the Imperial Bonita Estates. When we come upon Dorey (ph) Ragle caretaker of the mobile homes she is visibly worried about an elderly couple who decided to stay in their home.
TODD: Through water that sometimes comes up to our waists water contaminated with oil and chemical and garbage. We tracked about a mile into the neighborhood. Homes are inundated, badly damage, some are completely overturned.
TODD (on camera): Your Dorey and husband?
TODD (voice-over): We meet a Dorey and Ragle's husband Roger also a caretaker of the mobile homes who couldn't get to that couple. He is shaken by the condition of his neighborhood.
ROGER RAGLE, CARETAKER, BONITA SPRINGS MOBILE HOME PARK: There's a lot of damage.
TODD: We finally make it to the home of Edith and Ed (ph) Nalepa she is 88, he is 93, and has Parkinson's and diabetes. The water is lapping the front door of their trailer. The alarm of their flooded car is buzzing.
(on camera): Do you want us to fall the Fire Department or Police Department?
EDITH NALEPA, HOME FLOODED IN HURRICANE IRMA: No no no, we're fine we're doing good.
TODD (voice-over): Edith says, they knew they probably have flooded we asked why they didn't leave when most of their neighbors did.
NALEPA: Difficulties taking care of my husband. We have -- you know, he has herbs (ph) here at home, and he has all of his medications and everything, it's easier.
TODD: And a question we often ask of disaster victims like Edith and Ed. Do they want to continue to live in a place so devastating?
NALEPA: Yes, we love it here. We've been here for 27 years. This is home.
COOPER: And Brian joins us now. Hey Brian I'm so glad you found Edith and Ed that they're doing OK. Strong that they want to stick this out. Is the water in their home or is it just about to be? And how long might that water be there? Because in some communities, you know, they're talking about water being on the ground for days and days.
TODD: The water was just lapping the front door of their home Anderson. It was not in the home just yet. Hopefully it will recede right now. Other homes right around them that were completely inundated and really unhabitable. So they got a little lucky there.
And the way, we offered to give them food and water to this elderly couple, Edith and Ed Nalepa. We offered food and water, we offered to call the police and the fire departments for them. We even offered to carry them physically out of the neighborhood ourselves, if they wanted us to, and they were very resolute they said no they've got enough supplies to last for days. And Edith said they have flood insurance too. Her spirit is really just incredible.
COOPER: And in terms of, you know authorities, are they able to go and check on people's homes in a community like that or at this point is it still too kind of early hours and early days have authorities not been around?
TODD: You know I talked to the mayor of Bonita Springs today and I asked them that very same question. They say that they really just trying to get their arms around this. They are sending fire and rescues police teams out 24/7 he said just trying to check on people. But you know, what that neighborhood where that elderly couple is inundated, it hip deep in water. So getting asset up there is going people tough. And getting people like them out of those neighborhoods is going to be tough. I'm not sure that city has the recourses for it.
COOPER: And Brian, just so I know, I mean, if that decided -- that couple decides to change their mind are there people around there who can check on them, neighbors so that they can at least tell somebody, you know what, I think I want to go now, and somebody can come and help them?
TODD: There are. I mean, the two people who are the caretakers there, they were another couple. They were the caretakers of that mobile home community. They were worried about them. They're around and the Nalepas have a phone. They can call people. But they're older and, you know the elderly couple who are the caretakers of that neighborhood they had no way to get to those people. They were telling us how worried they are about them. So we just trudge off on foot through the waist-deep water to find them ourselves. So, you know, again resources in that neighbor, they may not be so great right now.
COOPER: Yes, Brian Todd, I appreciate you being there. Thanks for checking on them. The storm certainly caught a lot of people by surprise, no matter where you are in Florida there were a lot of different reports. The tracking was pretty good but then the storms surprised a lot of people over the of course of 24 hours.
[20:39:57] Tom Sater in the Weather Center. Let's check in with him. Tom, I mean, it moved to the west coast, that surprised a lot of people who are on the west coast, who had gone there from the east coast and then it started moving east and certainly, you know, a lot of people in Jacksonville is certainly surprised to see the level of flooding, record setting flooding on the ground today.
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's interesting to know. I mean, the forecast and the warns from the storm surge and the winds, I mean it didn't encompass all of Florida. And we were talking about this for days. I think a lot of it, Anderson, is even with Harvey and Texas, if you tell someone expect flooding, sure they think maybe three or four, five inches of flooding and then they get 40 or 50 it's hard to fathom.
And I think that's part of the issue here as well. When you talk about a category four hurricane and a storm surge it's hard to fathom the damage. And the forecast even called for 3 to 3.4 million without power even, FEMA went to five. So yes, it's a little bit greater. But even a couple of days ago when the storm is 500 miles from Naples, we were talking about that surge coming into Jacksonville and the radar was even hinting at the accumulation being heavy there with the surge moving in.
Didn't expect to break a record from of course Matthew, in fact the flooding in St. Johns is the worse since they start recording the flood records, back in 1846. The center of now tropical storm Irma is 125 miles south of Atlanta. And we've now have two fatalities in Georgia and one in South Carolina due to falling trees.
For the first time ever a tropical storm warning is in fact fall all the way into north Georgia from Eastern Alabama to South Carolina. So that again is shocking people because still wind gusts from 50, even 60 miles per hour and we talk about the massive area of pine trees in here and they easily fall.
Heavy rainfall, tornado watch still in affect for part of south of Carolina. Charleston still under a flash flood emergency. They had some pretty good flooding. The state of Florida issued 69 tornado warming, the all-time record was 46, but I want to take a look -- I'll show you all of these numbers, Florida 6.5 million without power. Georgia, almost a million, 930,000. South Carolina a 166,000 almost 167,00, 45,000 in Alabama, North Carolina 13,000 that's a total of 7.67 million people without power. It's stagger the imagination. But it's all going to come to an end and falls apart over night tonight.
COOPER: Yes. Tom Sater I appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Before Irma battled Florida it left the path of destruction in the Caribbean. Millions are desperate for food, water and other supplies. A lot of places on the Caribbean have not gotten the attention that they should. We'll talk to one witness to what's happening on one island there next.
[20:45:53] COOPER: We've been getting reports over the last couple days from about people who are trapped and in need of aid and in need of evacuation. And even just American tourist who are on vacation trapped on some of the islands in the Caribbean. U.S. territory like the island in St. Johns, St. Thomas, and the U.S. Virgin Island, St. Croix; even some of the -- I had a report yesterday of two Americans in Tortol, in the British Virgin Islands who were desperate to get off the island.
We're having a real hard time getting off. They managed to get off today. But there are also reports obviously out of St. Martin. So we were just in contact with someone in St. Thomas who road out the storm there. And he's facing -- it was kind of tells about the reality for a lot of people there on the island and it is not a good reality.
We just lost contact with them, we're going to try to get back in touch with him. Because we do want to bring you reports about St. John and St. Thomas certainly in the days ahead. And other island in the Caribbean.
But I do want to have right back now to the Florida Keys. Irma showed little mercy to this string island when it's slammed into them Sunday morning, it's a cat-4 hurricanes. Everyone, was told evacuate. We all know that some chose to stay including Tim Jones who rode out the storm in a Marina. And I'm pleased that he joins us now on the phone.
First of all Tim, how are you, how is your boat, how are the other boats in the area?
TIM JONES, RODE OUR STORM IN FLORIDA KEYS (via telephone): We had a few minor issues, one lost map (ph) -- one lost his sun deck. There's a couple had drifted in that from the surrounding neighborhoods, one of those is upside down, another just sink one's just kind of drifting around in the marina. But we did very well. We figured it much better than we had expected.
COOPER: Did you feel -- I mean, in retrospective, you feel you like you made the right decision to stay, to not try to evacuate?
JONES: Yes. We did, we were all today talking about, you know, that we -- I mean, I want to say we got lucky but we all feel like we made the right decision by staying here. Had we not, there were a couple boats we would have lost, they broke free during storm and we were able to pull them back. And get them back in the morning for they got damage. So in that respect yes, we did. We're here, we're able to get the marine and put back together before the rest of these residents get back.
COOPER: How are you set up just in terms of food, of water? Obviously there's no electricity now. Cell service in a lot of places understand is out. I don't know, are you -- do you have cell service?
JONES: Barely. Barely.
COOPER: So, in terms of other supplies, how are you?
JONES: We don't have any ice, we have plenty of water because all the boats have water tanks. We have plenty of waters. My car actually happens to be a diesel car so we have plenty of fuel for our car, some of the others don't. Food is a little bit sketchier, we have some, unfortunately we didn't think quite far enough ahead, and some of it needs to be cooked and we've lost power to the boats and so we don't have the ability to crock as much as we want to. We've been doing a lot of grilling, a lot of camping.
COOPER: Well, no doubt that's going to go on for a couple of days. I know authorities obviously were able to get there today. We talked to the mayor. We're going obviously continue to cover that. And Tim, we just wish you the best. Certainly, more supplies are said to be coming in the days ahead.
When we come back, we'll look at the records in Naples, Florida. Now, if you were watching yesterday watching Ed Lavandera, Chris Cuomo and all of those folks in Naples riding out that storm. Just some incredible 140-mile-an-hour gusts of wind there. Just incredible images. What families are facing there tonight ahead.
[20:51:51] COOPER: Well, the damage in Naples, Florida has been extensive, city official said some parts were look like a war zone but it could have been worst. CNN Randi Kaye tonight has the latest.
ASSISTANT CHIEF JORGE AGUILERA, NAPLES FIRE DEPARTMENT: Our main objective is we want the roads open.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): To open the roads in Naples and Collier County, the north collier fire rescue is on a mission. They call it push and clear.
AGUILERA: Imagine how long it would take to us to chain saw that. We would be in one community whole day just moving trees, you know, just cutting tress. This is a super effective way for us being able to -- we call it push and clear.
KAYE (voice-over): They had to wait for the flooding to recede first and for the winds to calm down. But they've been at it ever since, eight teams working in ships.
KAYE (on camera): How many neighborhoods you think you've clear so far?
AGUILERA: Probably 20 percent, 30 percent. This will be going on for the rest of the week. One of the emergency that's actually occurring in here, we have to be able to get to it. So the first objective is clear the roads.
KAYE (voice-over): Others in town are left to do their own cleanup, like Ernie Bordon and his family who rode out hurricane Irma at home in Naples.
ERNIE BORDON, SURVIVED IRMA: It sounded like three freight trains all at once like just all around the house. That noise, the sound.
KAYE (on camera): Just hammering. E. BORDON: It's unbelievable. The wind, it wasn't whistling or moaning. It was screaming. The wind was just like screaming. It was deafening.
KAYE (voice-over): The Bordon spent the night hold up at home listening as hurricane Irma blew right through here. Incredibly, the house is still standing.
E. BORDON: The whole house started vibrating. You know, I mean, I felt the noise against the glass and everything started shaking.
KAYE (voice-over): The lost power and water and their property is a disaster.
DONNA BORDON, SURVIVED IRMA: There were white caps in the driveway. We literally had waves in our driveway last night.
KAYE (on camera): Wow.
D. BORDON: It was unbelievable.
E. BORDON: I feel like one man trying to clean the sand off the beach one grain at a time and, you know, which one do you pick up first.
KAYE (voice-over): But their horses luckily survived.
E. BORDON: The tree used to be this -- just big, magnificent gorgeous shade tree that they really enjoyed. And now it's shredded. I look at it now and it looks like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. It's just pathetic.
KAYE (voice-over): Pathetic perhaps but the Bordon family is counting their blessings they survived.
COOPER: Yes, I think a lot of people are certainly doing that. Randi joins us now from Naples. How much structural damage -- I mean, clearly, you know, tree damage there, how much structural damage has there been in the areas that you were in?
KAYE: Plenty, Anderson. In fact, we had to pull off the road and we saw this. This is actually ace oil gas station. You can see behind me there, just to put in perspective for you, that piece used to be up there. That's basically the top of the gas station. And it just went over and you can see too in the distance some of the gas tanks down with it.
[20:54:54] And in this area right here is where you would drive through and pull up with your car to fill up. And now it's just a mangled mess. But this isn't the only structural damage that we saw. We found a trailer home today that had a roof blown off and a side wall and sitting right there was a television set, a big comfy sofa and two big chairs right next to it. It was like an outdoor living room almost like a stage set, Anderson.
COOPER: Randi, I appreciate you being there, to tell us the latest tonight. Thank you.
Up next, one of the hardest scenarios in Florida, Key Largo, a lot of homes and businesses were destroyed, damaged. A lot of power ruins, left after Irma road fell. We'll take you there.
COOPER: Welcome back from Bradenton, just north of Sarasota on the west coast of Florida driving around this community seems to have done actually pretty well. Obviously not at all, the homes, this is -- on this block this home is obviously severely damaged. But most of the houses on this block are OK. They even have electricity tonight.
For 6.5 million customers elsewhere in Florida, they are without power tonight. Irma isn't even done yet. There are four storm-related deaths being reported. In other states, three in Georgia, one another in South Carolina. Florida has one confirmed storm-related death. And number that will sadly most frankly rise.
There has also been flooding in Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. Tropical storm force winds in Atlanta, historic storm surge in Jacksonville, Florida. So we have a lot to cover over the next hour. We want to begin though in the Florida Keys which took a direct hit from the hurricane when it was still a category four. (INAUDIBLE) spent the day in the Keys. She's now in Miami joins us.
[21:00:03] I understand you actually had to take a boat out to Key Largo because there's no way to access to the island by car?