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CNN TONIGHT

Floridians Losing Patience Without Basic Utilities; Aid Groups Struggling to Help Homeless People; Florida Power & Light Working Day and Night to Restore Power; Fuel Tankers Arriving at Florida Sea Ports; Looters Taking Advantage of the Dark; People Rode Out Hurricane Irma Went Missing; Trump Administration Snubs Climate Change Topic. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 12, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:25]

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And here is the breaking news, the death toll from hurricane Irma rises to 24 in the United States. At least 38 people in the Caribbean. This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

The deadly storm has passed but for so many the misery is just beginning. Five million homes and businesses including gas stations without power in the sweltering Florida heat. And it could be days or longer until the electricity comes back on.

One in four homes in the Keys destroyed. FEMA saying every home there is impacted in some way. Frightened family searching for those who rode out the storm in the Keys. But with bridges battered by the storm, reaching those people can be very difficult.

And in the Caribbean one aid group is saying that 200,000 people desperately need help. In the midst of all this the White House says this is not the time to talk about climate change. And I'm going to talk to one republican who says this is exactly the time to talk about it.

So let's get back to the ground now, CNN's Anderson Cooper is in Bradenton, Florida. He's been covering it for us. And in the coming days people are going to have to come to grips with the devastation and what they've lost. What's the biggest issue there at this time? Is it electricity, Anderson?

COOPER: You know, I think it depends on where you are. Certainly, you know, for the folks in the Keys it's just trying to get through the next couple of days. I mean, you know, they were told to have three days of food supplies and stuff although for a lot of people, that's running low. There is obviously a lot of damage in the Keys.

So, they're just, you know, and there's a lot of folks who did evacuate who want to get back to try to figure out are their homes still there. And i area like here in Bradenton which this street wasn't very badly damage, folks are without electricity and maybe until September 22nd. Obviously the home behind me is one of the few on the street that

really got hit as this tree basically tossed over and upended the entire house that these people were living in. So it really depends on where you are.

But you know, this is, the wind -- the storm winds are gone, but the heat is coming back strong. People don't have power, don't have air- conditioning, running low on supplies, hard to find gasoline. It is just -- you know, it's going to be a miserable couple of days certainly at the very least for an awful lot of people there.

LEMON: Anderson Cooper. Anderson, thank you. Great reporting all day. We'll see you soon. CNN's Brian Todd is in Lower Matecumbe Key tonight. Let's check in with him. So, Brian, isn't just residents are just now able to return to parts of the uppers Keys for the first time. What's the situation by you?

BRIAN TODD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Right. Well, Don, take a look behind me. This is kind of what they were turning to. This looks like a single level family home behind he. This is three-storey condominium complex. This is a Sandybrook condominium complex. Three stories. Behind me is the third storey.

I'm standing on the place where the garage was. This driveway that I'm standing on went right into the garage. Well, during the storm on Sunday the storm surge just basically took out the underpinnings of this building. It just basically pancaked and the storm surge washed out several, you know, several feet of soil and dirt. And then this thing just came crashing down.

So what you're seeing is the third floor that's just, you know, crashed down on the garage and the second floor on top of it. I talked to a homeowner here, Tom Ross, 73 years old, he's had a place here for 18 years. He said that he believes everybody here got out of this place and evacuated.

Thank goodness they did because they probably would not have survived it. And believe it or not, he wants to come back here and rebuild because he thinks it's going to be rebuilt to code. They are going to -- this was built in the 1970s, so he thinks when they rebuilt it, it'll be built, you know, to a stronger code and be able to withstand hurricanes.

But you know, he, when we talked to him here, he had the same look on his face as so many people who we see in front of their homes. It was just kind of shell-shocked. So coming back to scenes like this and it's worse south of here toward Marathon Key and Key West.

More damage to the south because of course because they literally took the brunt of hurricane Irma when it hit on Sunday, Don.

So, they're also frustrated here. A lot of people voicing frustration that some of them, even residents cannot get past these check points. And the sheriff's deputies from Monroe County are not letting them into their neighborhoods pass these checkpoints. [22:05:02] The sheriff's deputy and official say there's a reason for

that because there are no coms. There's no communication, no cellphone, no land line, no power and no water in most places.

If they are going to let people go into their neighborhoods and something, you know, God forbid happens to them, they're not going to be able to call anybody and first responders aren't going to be able to get to them, Don.

So, a lot of frustration here tonight, people coming back to scenes like this and they can't get to their home. A lot of people are waiting to get to their homes to see if it looks like this.

LEMON: Brian, you were also on Islamorada addressing the damage -- or assessing the damage there. And you saw a 35 foot sailboat dragged to shore. Tell me more about what you saw.

TODD: I mean, incredible. We came upon this thing, Don. And it's a 45 foot sailboat, blue and white with a large mass and it had a huge anchor attached to it and a buoy. These things the anchor and the buoy had to weigh several hundred pounds collectively.

I talked to the owner of the house, I said, is that your boat that just washed up and like right offshore. He said, no, no, that's not my boat. That was a quarter mile offshore at least and the storm took it and barely missed my house.

You should see the size of this boat and the anchor we were looking at it. And he said, I said, that was a quarter like out, he said, at least it was at least a quarter mile out and the force of the storm dragged that thing and it narrowly missed his house.

So, again, you're looking at scenes like that throughout the Florida Keys. He doesn't know who the owner of that boat is, and he's not sure how he's going to get it out of his yard.

LEMON: My goodness, lots to clean up there. Brian Todd, thank you very much. Millions of people hoping to make their way home to Florida in the next few days. The situation complicated by shortages of gasoline i communities all across the entire state. But help is on the way.

Fuel tankers arriving in port -- in the port in Tampa, ports across Florida prioritizing fuel shipments.

CNN's Ryan Young is in Tampa with more for us this evening. Ryan, good evening to you. I appreciate you joining us. You're at the petroleum terminal at the Port of Tampa where tankers have been arriving. Fill us in on what's going on out there.

RYAN YOUNG, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, we are and this has been a big conversation all day. As we've been driving around we've seen lines for two things. Fast food and gas. Anytime someone said, hey this business is open or gas line would open people would rush in there and try to take as much as possible, fill up their cars or get some fresh, hot food. And you can understand people are a little frustrated, especially since it's getting so hot here, those cars aren't cooling them off. We were actually patrolling with the Coast Guard today as they were opening up those shipping channels. And when you talk about those fuel lines getting back open, if you look behind me there you can see those large shipping containers.

We are in central Florida. There is no pipeline to Florida. What they do is they bring the gas into those large ships. Today we watched as the first three came in. We know seven more are coming in. And those are going to be a priority through the shipping lanes for the next few days.

But there is something else to remember. There is a kind of a combination here that goes on, Don. Not only was there unprecedented demand for people who needed gas in this area, but there was also a shortage of electricity. We've been talking about that. The power is out.

Well, you need power to pump the gas. So you have this combination and people are sort of saying what's next? Well, as the power comes back online, we know the gas will be flowing here from the ports back into those gas stations and hoping to getting people up and running.

But I can tell you there is a frustration level when it comes to the idea of searching for gas. Even our crews have experienced this, as soon as you see a gas station open, you e-mail everyone to say hey, we've found an open gas station because not only is there a gas station they can go inside and get something cool to drink. And in this Florida heat you know you need that at this point.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, though, once those tankers come ashore. Because remember before the storm when people were stocking up on gas or trying to get gas just to, you know, for that exodus out of the state or wherever they were in, there were police escorts that were escorting the trucks to the gas station. So what happens once the tank, the tanker gets to shore? What's the process?

YOUNG: Well, we've actually learned from here that they actually felt like they didn't get really to a critical low point. So there is some gapping here that we have to still try to figure out, Don, in terms of what happens when the gas leaves this area.

But what we do know is when the gas goes to a gas station, that gas station has to have some sort of electricity to get that added gas out of the tanker. And of course you had so many of these gas stations closed because of the warnings or the evacuation levels.

Slowly some of these are coming back online. But I'll tell you this, we saw today for ourselves as soon as the gas station opened, there was a run. And you would see people from all over the states coming over to get that gas and it would be gone at that particular gas station.

So the hope is as power comes back on, and businesses start to open, that more gas will get into the ground of those gas stations and we can kind of slow this down just a little bit in terms of that run on gas.

But I can tell you, people are even using their cars to charge up their cell phones so they can make phone calls, and that is creating somewhat of a situation here where people think that is what is needed as well in terms of also getting gas for the generators at home just to keep that power on as much as possible.

[22:10:06] LEMON: Yes, they need power, they need gas, they need water. Thank you, Ryan Yong. I appreciate that.

And speaking of power, power outages in Florida affecting five million homes and businesses. Joining me now is Rob Gould, he is the vice president and chief communications officer for Florida Power & Light.

Mr. Gould, thank you so much for coming back on this evening. So, what's your -- give me your best estimate for how long it's going to take to fully restore power to millions of people who so desperately need it?

ROB GOULD, VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT: Well, we're making a lot of progress, Don. We had about 4.4 million customers out of service, and we're fast approaching getting half of those customers back in service tonight just after one day.

So about 2.1 of our -- 2.1 million of our customers are still without power. What we've said to them today is that we're basically bifurcating the state, if you will in terms of estimated time of restoration. While we work the entire state, the East Coast of the state, we said, we'll have essentially all of our customers restored by the end of weekend.

In the west coast where we saw more damage, essentially all of our customers would be restored by Friday the 22nd. So, about a 10-day restoration. We're working aggressively but we are making progress, but you know, let's face it, if you're in the dark tonight, that progress is small solace. It's not a whole lot for those folks that without power tonight.

LEMON: So what will the next days or 10 days or so, which is your estimate, what is it going to be like for those people?

GOULD: Well, we're going to keep aggressively attacking the area. What we'll do is we'll be swarming certain areas. We're challenged by some flood waters still in place, we're challenged by frankly some traffic and other things. We have enough resources in our territory to respond and restore the power, but we have set expectations.

This is still a very manually labor-intensive process. We're encouraged though, I will say, by some of what we're seeing. The investments that we've put in over the past decade, about $3 billion worth is actually yielding some results that we think will benefit our customers in terms of a faster restoration.

And what I mean by that is we're not seeing the poles down that we anticipated, we're not seeing the transmission structures on the ground. That's the backbone of our system, almost the interstate highway of electricity that helps us bring power into the neighborhoods and the like.

So, we think we're going to be in a better position than we were going into it, but it's still going to be a very long restoration for some people just because there were tornadoes, there were severe flooding and other severe impacts.

LEMON: So let me ask you then about generators and such. How about the other, all the other infrastructure systems that are dependent on power being restored? How are they affected? Will they need to be bringing in more generators until power is back up?

GOULD: No, absolutely not. In fact, our generator assets, our power plants did very well. That's not an issue. We have plenty of power to supply our customers. This is really a pure restoration play right now. And we have to get out there.

You know, at the end of the day we have a ton of technology on our system, a lot of self-healing. But there is still an element of this industry that is dependent upon manual labor. There's just no way around that.

So having an army of about 20,000 restoration folks out in the field and attacking this as we are, that's really what it's all about. What we need from our customers and what we beg from -- for from them is the patience to work with us and understand that we're not going to rest. We are going to go day and night until we get this thing addressed.

LEMON: You said you have an army of about 20,000 people out there. What are the biggest dangers? I'm sure you want to keep them safe and the customers as well.

GOULD: Yes. Well, the biggest danger, frankly, is downed line, downed wire. Especially at night where there's a lot of water standing, if customers don't know, if our people and your viewers don't know where they're walking, they really just need to just avoid areas, period, end of story.

We could have a line that is not even moving and laying on the ground or laying in water, it still can be energize and that can be fatal. And the same thing for generator. You know, if you have a portable generator, and many of our customers do and you're using it, it needs to be outside of your garage, it needs to be far away from any doors any windows.

Because what we can -- what we can find is that carbon monoxide can find its way into a home and that can be fatal. You know, at the end of the day what we find is most fatalities due occur after the storm. Not during the storm, not before the storm, but after the storm when people get complaisant.

Particularly when the weather like we saw today, the sun comes out blue skies, you know, people start to get frustrated and impatient. [22:15:00] And we're just, you know, again, we're going to get through

this, but we really need to be patient and exercise as much safety as possible.

LEMON: Robert Gould of Florida Power & Light, thank you, sir. We appreciate your time.

When we come back, the Coast Guard is hard at work in Florida tonight. I'm going to talk to the rear admiral in charge of the efforts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A crucial part of Florida's recovery is reopening the state's sea ports, a much tougher job than you might think.

Joining me now on the phone now is Rear Admiral Peter Brown of the Atlantic area Coast Guard. Rear Admiral, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

Before the Port of Tampa reopen earlier today the Coast Guard conducted a very thorough search of the area just to make sure everything was safe. What types of things were you looking for?

PETER BROWN, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES COAST GUARD'S 7TH DISTRICT: Well, Don, thank you for the opportunity to come back to your show and explain how the United States Coast Guard has responded to the multiple impacts of hurricane Irma in the United States.

With regard to the port reopening specifically, the Coast Guard together with the Army Corp of engineers, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and port partners including pilot association worked to review several aspects of port readiness.

One of them is the aid navigation, what we call the traffic lights and the street signs that tell mariners where to go. Another is to do under water survey of the channel to make that there are no obstruction, there is no something boats, no containers or other debris that's obstructing the channel in anyway.

[22:20:01] And then the third one is to make sure there's been no shoaling, no shifting of sand or other bottom sediment that would reduce the amount of water available for ships to safely navigate in.

Once those three factors are confirmed then we're able to open the port back up and allow commerce to resume. And as you stated for the Port of Tampa, for the port of Port Everglades, or Fort Lauderdale, and for Port Canaveral in Florida, today all those ports will reopen with some restrictions but allow the free flow of critical fuel supplies into those ports.

LEMON: OK. So, let's -- can we talk about all the 15 ports, right? According to the Florida Department of State, there are 15 sea ports in Florida. Can you tell us about their status and how soon they'll be open and become fully operational?

BROWN: So, for the ones that I just mentioned those are open with our restrictions. Basically we want operations in daylight only initially. And so everybody is confident. Because in some cases some of the aids in navigation the buoys that we have may have been moved off stations.

For some of the other ports, for example, the Port of Manatee which is near Tampa, that one is also open with the daylight only restriction for the moment.

We are working hard to get the survey equipment that we need and the personnel that we need into the ports of Miami where survey operations began today, and then in Jacksonville where they were expecting to begin tomorrow. We're also working to get equipment down to Key West, which is a little bit tougher for us but we expect we may have equipment there tomorrow and be able to begin surveying that port, as well.

LEMON: I'm glad you mention the Florida Keys. Can you tell, can you give us an assessment on the situation in the Florida Keys. I mean, i was badly hit. I saw some footage of some very frustrated people who weren't allowed back in their homes. It's upsetting for them, obviously. Can you give us an update on the Keys?

BROWN: Sure. I had the opportunity to over fly the Florida Keys yesterday in a Coast Guard aircraft and a small section of the Keys earlier today. In both cases we found varying levels of damage depending on house construction and also how close to the actual landfall of the eye those places where.

Some new construction that's to the new code seemed to fair very well while some older light - more lightly constructed structures and mobile homes in particularly were heavily damage. So there's a variety of types and extent of damage.

But the good news is that the road structure, the overseas highway and its associated bridges appear to be at least from the air, in good condition. Traffic was flowing on those.

And I understand the frustrations of the residents. We have hundreds of Coast Guard families that have been displaced from the Keys that are eager to get home as well. But I urge people to be patient and listen to civil authorities who really have people's safety foremost in mind before allowing them to return all the way down to Key West.

LEMON: I want to talk to you a little bit more about tankers. Because avoiding a fuel shortage and getting fuel distributed throughout Florida, I mean, it's going to be a top priority for you right now.

How many tankers specifically do you know have come in, if you can assess that, and how many more do you expect to come in, in the coming days?

BROWN: The individual captains of the port for Tampa, for the Miami area, including Fort Lauderdale, and for the Jacksonville sector which includes Port Canaveral, keep a running tally of vessels in the queue. That's the term of art that we use to describe that.

As of today, I believe there were about nine originally in the queue of Port Everglades. But I flew over Fort Lauderdale at about 9.30 this morning and at that point the port was closed, there wasn't much activity. By 3 o'clock this afternoon when my flight returned, there were three cruise ships in the port unloading passengers and tankers were on their way in as well.

I believe two tankers arrived in Tampa today. One in Port Canaveral with one in the queue for tomorrow. And there may have been as many as seven in the queue for Fort Lauderdale earlier today. But I don't have an update on how many came in today and how many are scheduled to come in tomorrow.

LEMON: Rear Admiral, I understand that the Coast Guard has also been involved in rescue operations throughout the state. What can you tell us about those and any idea how many people the Coast Guard rescued, if indeed?

BROWN: That's a great question and thanks for that. Because the safety of human life in life-saving search and rescue operation are really our top priority. We're very fortunate with hurricane Irma that people really paid attention to the warnings and civil evacuation orders.

And so we didn't have the number of search and rescue cases that we might have anticipated. Up in the Jacksonville area where some unanticipated flooding surprised some people, we had over a hundred people by a combination of small boats and vehicles that had actually performed similar rescue missions in hurricane Harvey in Texas and were then prepositioned in north Florida to be ready to respond.

[22:24:58] And these hardworking Coast Guard men and women were in the right place at the right time and saved over 100 lives in the past two days.

LEMON: Rear Admiral Peter Brown, thank you. I appreciate your time and thank you for your service.

BROWN: Thank you, Don. And I appreciate the opportunity to talk about our United States Coast Guard.

LEMON: Absolutely. When we come back as many as 200,000 people across the Caribbean are in desperate need of aid. And now reports of looting and lawlessness that's making matters much worse. We're going to have live report from the ground, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Tonight the World Food Programme says that 200,000 people in the eastern Caribbean are in desperate need of aid. Irma flattened many of the islands when it slammed into the region as a category 5 hurricane killing at least 38 people.

I want to bring in now CNN international correspondent, Clarissa Ward who is in Guadeloupe. Clarissa, you have been at a processing center in Guadeloupe today. What did you see?

CLARISSA WARD, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, Don. I mean, don't be fooled obviously right now things are quite. Because what they've done is trying to find housing for people who are stranded.

[22:29:57] And then once they've found that temporary housing or if they're tourists and they need to repatriate, if they need to be repatriated to their countries of origin, they try to move them out of the processing center during the late night hours.

But we spent half of the day here and it was extraordinary to see. There was a steady stream of people flowing through here. Roughly 4,000 have passed through here is just the last few days. The vast majority of them, Don, come from the island of St. Martin.

This island has been decimated according to French authorities in St. Martin is partly French territory and partly Dutch territory. According to French authorities 91 percent of buildings, 91 percent of building in St. Martin have been damaged. Many of them have simply wiped this.

But get this. The people that we were speaking to here who waited for days to be evacuated were describing some really pretty sinister scenarios, Don. It was almost like a sort of Lord of the Flies situation whereby; food was running out, water was running out, they were rationing things between them.

And then on top of that you have this criminal element. With gangs of young men with machetes roaming around, looting everything they could get their hands on, burglaring people's homes, many of them which have been destroyed. And I think this only really compound of the stress that a lot of these people were feeling. You know, it's one thing to lose your home, it's another thing to have to fear for your life on top of that, Don.

LEMON: Clarissa Ward, thank you. I appreciate that. When we come back, one family separated by the storm. Their harrowing story next.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Irma has brought death and devastation to the Caribbean with many survivors desperate for food, water, and power.

Joining me now on the phone is Mary Anne Steele, a St. John's resident who was evacuated to St. Croix. Her husband stayed behind. Mary Anne, thank you so much. How are you doing?

MARY ANNE STEELE, ST. JOHN RESIDENT: We're doing OK. We're very lucky.

LEMON: Yes. You were in St. John when hurricane Irma passed with your husband and two children. Describe what it was like.

STEELE: Well, it was a pretty crazy experience. We were unable -- we knew that our house would not withstand the wind, and it is very isolated from the rest of the island. So we decided to go into town to Croix Bay to ride out the storm there because we did find safer structures and then also just be around people and resources in the aftermath.

So we did check into a hotel there in Croix Bay. And you know, everything just seemed to be happening around us and it seem very surreal at that time. I was walking out the windows, which you're not supposed to do, but it was hurricane glass. And we lost power at about 10.30 in the morning. I was watching, you know, trees and pieces of houses and things fly past and hearing them hit the building that I was in.

And then at one point about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, which apparently is when we were experiencing the eye wall, the southern eye wall, we never hit the eye. We never got the calm. We just got beaten up by the eye wall for a very long time.

LEMON: Yes.

STEELE: My neighbor from the next door over came in and she had been coming a few times before and expressed concern that she had spoken to another woman in the hotel on the other side of me who was seeing light between the top of the concrete wall and where the wooden roof began was and worried that the roof was about to go.

And no sooner did she say that than it did. And I'm very thankful that she was in my room when it happened. The entire roof came off of the room next to me and part of our roof as well.

LEMON: Wow.

STEELE: The building, the room just filled up with wind and rain, and everything was swirling around immediately. I grabbed my two-year-old. My husband grabbed my 4-year-old. I didn't even have shoes on. And as I ran the neighbors that come follow me, and we ran into her room, and put the mattress over against the wall, box string.

My husband through a big heavy armoire on top of us, and we all huddled in there for the next couple of hours.

LEMON: My goodness.

STEELE: And riding out the storm. Listening to the rain coming into the building, it sounded like a water fall. And my husband was such a hero. He could see from his vantage point. I was way under the mattress with my kids. He could see that the roof was about to go in the room that we were in.

So he was running out in the worst part of the storm, out around this hotel. It's a small inn with several different buildings. So, all of the moving in between is all outdoors. And he was running around trying to find a place safe for us, which he did. And when the winds started to subside just a bit, we ran to another location within the same within the complex.

LEMON: So, Mary Anne, let me ask you, why did you guys stay?

STEELE: Well, we get so many near misses, Don. I mean, we get these near misses all the time, and it wasn't until it was getting close and you know, the forecast was saying it was going to turn, it was going to north, and she just didn't turn north. I tried to get twice out, but there were none left. You know, it's an island. It's not like you can jump in and ride away like in mainland. So we knew for several days out that we were going to be riding out this storm.

LEMON: So having experience with you, experience would you -- would you stay again, would you ride it out or you leave?

STEELE: I would definitely don't want to go through that again. However, I love the Virgin Islands. I've lived here for 11 years. I lived on all three islands, and this is my home. And I am leaving temporarily because to take my kids to states to visit their grandparents and get a little (Inaudible) since they have lost, you know, all of their toys and all of that.

[22:40:00] So, we'll be back. My husband is still there. He is part of the effort to help on St. John. And we'll be back in a few months.

LEMON: Are you worried about him, because you know, there have been reports of violence and looting because he's still there. Are you concerned?

STEELE: I am worried about him, but he's a pretty tough character. So, and he's a very smart guy. And, you know, the beautiful thing about all of this and experiencing something like this is looking for all the silver linings, we were there sitting after the storm thinking that we've been forgotten. And that's one of the reasons I'm doing this interview with you.

We were so worried that the media would forget about us in the Virgin Islands as soon as Irma hit Florida. So I wanted to speak to you in order to bring say about our situation and the need for aid. But since I've been able to leave, I have been -- and come to St. Croix, my former home, I have been moved to tears many times at the effort of the people here on St. Croix to bring help to St. John.

There are people setting up donation sites, they are buying lots of goods and shipping them -- sending them over on private boats and bringing those boats back for us people that want to get out of St. John and St. Thomas.

LEMON: And Mary, you know, it's been tough to get in and out of there but you'll be glad to know that we have people on the ground in the islands, and you'll be getting many more reports coming. So thank you so much for joining us. We're glad that you OK -- you're OK. Thanks.

STEELE: Thank you so much, Don.

LEMON: Yes. When we come back the town of Marathon, Florida was hit hard by Irma and some residents who didn't evacuate are still missing. We'll speak to one woman who is desperately searching for her aunt.

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: FEMA estimates that 90 percent of homes in the Florida Keys are damaged or destroyed. Emergency teams scrambling to make their way into the hardest hit areas while worried relatives try to locate their loves one.

Joining me now on the phone is Devonne Burgos-Herras (Ph), she is looking for her missing aunt last seen in Marathon, Florida. We're so happy that you could join us this evening, and we hope that we can help locate your aunt who lives in the Florida Keys. When is the last time you heard from her?

DEVONNE BURGOS-HERRAS, SEARCHING FOR AUNT MISSING IN MARATHON: The last time that I spoke to my aunt was in Saturday afternoon. I've given her, I called her just to make sure that everything was OK. When I first spoke to her she actually wanted to stay. I called her back in like about an hour later and I was like I think that you really need to leave.

She was like I'm going to leave. I packed a bag, I'm going to stay with a friend. Her home is a little bit more sturdy. Since then we haven't been able to get in touch with her. You know, my understanding is that Marathon is completely under water. And we have no way of trying to reach out to her at all at this point.

LEMON: Let's put her picture back up. Let's get it up as much as we can because we're hoping that someone -- her name is Dolores Duncan. Dolores Duncan. And you last spoke to her, do you know where she was last see, was it at her home, do you know if she went to a shelter, anything?

BURGOS-HERRAS: No, she was going to a neighbor's house, someone who only lives a few buildings away from her. From there all we know is her neighbor is Maria, and that's the last we heard of her. We tried to call her cell phone, it's going to voice mail. My voice mail if we can, you know, we had family in Florida but they can't go down there. They're not allowed in Marathon at this point. Only the National Guard. And we just have to kind of sit back and wait. We started to search in church and we can't get in touch with anybody.

LEMON: And you don't know the neighbor, you don't know the neighbor Maria. You just, she just told you she's going to Maria's house?

BURGOS-HERRAS: Correct. Just going to Maria's house. You know, her -- what she's saying is not something not going to withstand 180 miles an hour winds, unfortunately. So at this point we just don't know what's going on. There's no electricity, no water, nothing.

So there's no way of us trying to get in touch with her. We've tried to see if we could find any other neighbors. Unfortunately, you know, we, I've ran across numerous people who came to find their own loved ones in the same area.

LEMON: And what have you heard from authorities, anything?

BURGOS-HERRAS: Nothing. She's on a list of I believe it's over 600 people at this point with the National Guard.

LEMON: Wow.

BURGOS-HERRAS: Ask them if they knew, if they come across where her home was or is, they will contact us to tell us know if it's still standing, if it's not standing. And I guess we just have to kind just wait and see what the next steps will be at this point.

LEMON: OK. There's a picture of Dolores Duncan, Marathon, Florida. If you have seen her in the last couple of days you can reach out to us in social media and make sure you contact authorities.

Devonne, thank you so much for joining us. And best of luck. We hope that you're able to locate her and she's safe. Thank you.

BURGOS-HERRAS: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Thank you. When we come back, some republicans now telling their own party they need to rethink climate change. But after years of staunch denial, can the GOP change its stance?

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is the first year on record that the continental United States has had two consecutive category 4 hurricane land falls. The White House dodging questions about whether climate change is to blame saying the president's focus is on the federal disaster response.

So let's discuss now. Bob Inglis, the former republican congressman from South Carolina, and Myron Ebell, the director of the Center for Energy and Environment with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. They both join us. I appreciate you joining us, gentlemen.

Congressman, you first, the Trump administration is avoiding answering questions on climate change in the wake of the hurricanes, hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Before the storm hit the EPA chief Scott Pruitt said it wasn't the time to talk about, to talk about that calling it, you know, insensitive. Is he right?

BOB INGLIS, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: No. If this isn't the time, I don't know what would be the time. You know, the people of Florida. The people of my home state of South Carolina deserve a government who can do more than just hand them a life jacket as they float out of their houses. They need a government that can think through, and accept science, and then act on it with wise policy. So they have that expectation of their government.

LEMON: So why is it -- why is it so hard to even have a discussion with conservatives or republicans to even discuss the possibility of climate change, what is that?

INGLIS: Well, it has to do with the activists within the party who have basically been sold a bill of goods about how it's going to destroy the economy or something if we take on climate change.

[22:54:56] When in fact, what it is, is bedrock conservatism simply to put all the cost in on all the fuels, eliminate all of the subsidies and then watch the free enterprise sort out the winners and losers, not regulating it, not doing it at enormous complicated cap and trade system. It's just a simple attachment of the cost associated with burning of fossil fuels. Now there are people who went to fight that because they want to extract the last little bit of economic rant out burning fossil fuels. And there are some people with some real vested interests that are funding campaigns of disinformation about climate science.

LEMON: Are you saying that members of your own party don't believe in facts and science?

INGLIS: No. I think it's a third and third and third. The first third actually are legitimately skeptics. That's my friend Senator Inhofe, for example, from Oklahoma. Another third just to consciously disregarding the science. And then yet another third are persuaded that the science is real but they're just afraid of the activists within the Republican Party who have been ginned up by that machine that's trying to extract that last little bit of the economic rant out of these old outdated technologies.

LEMON: Interesting. Your point of view is very interesting, especially coming from a conservative. Myron, you don't hear that from a conservative all the time. What's your response?

MYRON EBELL, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL WARMING AND INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, the shameless hucksters of global warming alarmism will take advantage of every natural disaster. I think the Trump administration and EPA administration Pruitt are exactly right. This is not time for idle chatter, it's the time for the government to take action, to help restore order and get people back on their feet in Florida and Texas.

The fact is that we are in a, you say, shouldn't we be talking about climate change now, we're in a period of relatively low activity for major hurricanes. We haven't had a category 3 or above hurricane since for 12 years. In the period from 1920 to 1969 we had, according to NOAA, a government agency. We had 10 category 4 or 5 hurricanes. In the same periods from 1969 to now we have had four.

So, if you think global warming has a direct impact on hurricanes it must be a pretty good one because we've been in a relatively down phase. I don't believe it. I think it's cyclical. But look, these people always try to take advantage of disasters to say what we need is more government. And you know, just listen to us.

If we had listened to Al Gore 12 years ago when he predicted more stronger hurricanes what do we think of the long period between 2006- 2017 when we didn't have any hurricanes?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, let me just post a -- let me just post a question to you, just a couple of questions. So you don't believe in climate change.

EBELL: Of course I believe in climate change. LEMON: You believe in climate change. And so you don't think that now

is time to talk about it especially when you have two category 4 storms.

EBELL: I think, this is -- every time we have a natural disaster the people pushing the global warming agenda of higher energy prices and energy rationing try to take advantage of it. And the Trump administration and administrator Pruitt are exactly right to resist that. This is -- this is nothing but boosterism for their cause based on the sufferings and the disasters of other -- of people. It's shameful.

LEMON: So the climate change agenda would be to what end? To save -- to save the planet? What would be the end goal, an agenda for climate change?

EBELL: Well, the proposals of the alarmists in fact have almost no effect on the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. What they do is transfer huge amount of wealth from industries that make money on their own to industries that can't make money without government mandates and subsidies.

And so when Bob Inglis talks about people trying to squeeze the last little bit of profit out of an old industry, look at the huge subsidies that go to wind power, to solar power, to electric vehicles, at the expense of people, of taxpayers and consumers.

LEMON: OK.

EBELL: This is...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: For the sake of time I need Bob to respond. Go ahead, Bob, please.

INGLIS: So, Myron, let's eliminate all those subsidies.

EBELL: Absolutely, Bob. Let's do it.

INGLIS: And that's exactly what's causing all those fuels. And then -- and then have full accountability and so that the burning of fossil fuels would actually be charged with all of the health cost associated with those and the climate damages.

[23:00:03] Put those on the meter, put those at the pump, eliminate all of the subsidies you were just talking about and you have a smaller government, Myron, not a bigger one.