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Hurricane Watches for East Coast; South Carolina Orders Evacuations; Honoring 9/11 Victims; Avlon Remembers 9/11. Aired 8:30- 9:00a ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 08:30   ET

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


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[08:32:33] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hurricane storm surge watches now up for the entire Carolina coastline, all the way to the border with Virginia, as Hurricane Florence moves ever closer. Florence, at this moment, is an extremely dangerous category four storm. It has 130 miles an hour winds and is expected to get stronger before making landfall on Thursday. More than one million people in the Carolinas and Virginia are being forced to flee. Now mandatory evacuations.

CNN's Nick Valencia live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with the latest there.

Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

This hurricane has already strengthened. It's starting to widen as well. But you won't be able to tell that just yet from the vantage point here on Myrtle Beach. In fact, you see behind me, there are still some people here on the beach this morning enjoying the last bit of sun before this storm is supposed to make its presence known on Thursday afternoon and potentially make landfall Thursday evening.

I just got off the phone with Brenda Bethune. She's the mayor of Myrtle Beach. And she's really worried, quite concerned that people aren't listening to these very dire warnings that they need to evacuate now. About a million people are under mandatory evacuation warnings, under the -- by the coastal Carolinas, as well as Virginia. And she's really worried specifically about her area here in Myrtle Beach because of the heavy rains that they had this summer. The ground is heavily saturated and it makes the potential here for an issue that they don't usually have, flooding. She is also pleading with residents to evacuate Myrtle Beach, but she's very worried that this is going to be a painstakingly slow process.

Where we are here, it is connected from -- not connected to an interstate. So it causes a lot of problems here when so many people are hitting the road.

And one of the first conversations I had this morning with a resident was a woman who said she had two homes here and a business and she's not planning to evacuate. That's not necessarily the smartest thing. Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: No, she may change her mind as the conditions change there.

Nick, thank you very much.

Joining us now is South Carolina's governor, Henry McMaster. He ordered a mandatory evacuation of his state's entire 187 mile coastline.

Governor, thank you for being with us.

GOV. HENRY MCMASTER (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, thank you, Alisyn. Happy to be here.

CAMEROTA: OK, why did you go to that length of ordering a mandatory evacuation now before you know what the storm is going to look like tomorrow?

MCMASTER: Well, that's the point, we don't know exactly what it's going to look like. All we know is it's coming and it's even stronger than Hurricane Hugo. Once it gets on the ground, the velocity will be more, but it will be crawling across the ground, which means more and more rain. And that's exactly what Mayor Brenda Bethune in Myrtle Beach was talking about. We know we are going to have flooding regardless of how high the winds or how high the surge is. The surge may be 10 feet above -- above the ground along our coast, particularly up around Myrtle Beach.

[08:35:12] But I ordered the evacuation -- the mandatory evacuations because we're not going to gamble with a single South Carolina life. We're acting on the best information. People are working around the clock. We've got thousands of people analyzing information and setting up to move the traffic out. We reversed the lanes -- or will reverse it at noon today. Four of the main highways coming from the coast will all be going in just one direction, away from the coast. And we're closing schools to make space available for shelter and also make the school busses available if we need them to move people.

We're not going to take a chance. It's hard to get all this stood up and to get people in place and ready to go and ready to react and to get the people prepared to move out. We can -- we can deescalate if we have to, but right now we're expecting the worst, preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best.

CAMEROTA: Well, that brings us to the decision-making of your counterpart in North Carolina. Governor Cooper of North Carolina who has not yet ordered a mandatory evacuation of Wilmington, which is right above Myrtle Beach. And Wilmington is where our meteorologist was saying it's going to make landfall. So are you in contact with Governor Cooper? Are you urging him to --

MCMASTER: Yes, ma'am.

CAMEROTA: Think about a mandatory evacuation? MCMASTER: We've been friends for a lot of years and I've spoke to him

twice yesterday. And the governor of South Carolina has the authority to order an evacuation in all of the counties. The North Carolina governor has a different system, where there's more country decision making in that. But I'm confident that Governor Cooper is doing the same thing I'm doing, the same thing Governor Deal is doing, and I spoke to him as well, and that is looking at all the information, getting the best information, making the best predictions that we can to be sure that the people are safe. We'd rather be safe than sorry. This is going to be convenient at the very least for a lot of people, but we don't want to lose any lives. So we're taking it one step at a time and being very careful.

CAMEROTA: As you have mentioned before to other people, your evacuation something like 177 hospitals and medical centers, plus nursing homes. Where are all those folks going to go?

MCMASTER: Well, that's -- that's the -- that's the logistic nightmare that we have. We actually ordered those evacuations 24 hours before we ordered the evacuation of these coastal counties. Those are low lying areas on the coast and they're very susceptible. But when you go to moving people out of hospitals and nursing homes, of course that takes a lot of time and takes a lot of planning. So we started on that 24 hours before we started on this evacuation.

But that's what you call planning. That's why we have people that are making plans, opening places up to accommodate these people throughout the state.

CAMEROTA: This is currently -- Florence is a category four storm. But all of our storm watchers say that they see signs in place that it could go to a category five. Have you lived through something like that before?

MCMASTER: Yes, ma'am. Hurricane Hugo was a category four. I live in Columbia. And, if you remember, Hugo, in 1989, hit right smack on just above Charleston, about 40 miles up in McClellanville, and did damage all the way up into North Carolina and even some down in Georgia. That was quite a blow.

And that hurricane came all the way through Charleston, through McClellanville, which is almost to Georgetown, which is below Myrtle Beach. It went right straight on inland. It went through Columbia. It blew shingles off of our house and went on up to Charlotte and knocked down a lot of big oak trees in downtown Charlotte. And the winds on this one are predicted to be worse than the winds on that one. The water on this one is predicted to be heavier rain fall, which we know is guaranteed we're going to have a lot of flooding. The only question is, how high is the surge going to be and where it will be.

But we're taking -- we're taking nothing for granted. We are being careful. We are digesting and analyzing all the information that's coming in 24 hours a day. And we're going to keep the people alert and notified of what we know as soon as you know it.

CAMEROTA: Well, Governor Henry McMaster, we hope that all of your residents are heeding your warnings. We appreciate your taking time out of your very busy day to talk to us today.

MCMASTER: Thanks very much.

CAMEROTA: Stay safe.

BERMAN: All right, we have some pictures we want to show you right now from lower Manhattan. Emotional images from around the country. It has been 17 years since September 11th, 2001. We'll bring you some of these ceremonies coming up next.

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[08:43:36] BERMAN: We're looking at live pictures from near Ground Zero right here in Manhattan. Ceremonies being held this morning all around the country honoring the victims, honoring those killed on September 11th, 2001. Nearly 3,000 people died that day 17 years ago.

CNN's Miguel Marquez Live near the 9/11 Memorial here in New York City.

Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gosh, it is still difficult to talk about this.

What you're seeing now are the members of the New York Police Department, the fire department, the Port Authority police departments bearing the U.S. flag. This is a flag that was here at the site 17 years ago. And the bag pipes will begin to play shortly. There will be a rendition of what we are hearing right now by an 18-year-old young woman, Olivia Newton. She was just born on September 11th, 2001.

They are remembering 2,983 people today. 2,977 of them died 17 years ago. Six of them died on February 26th, 1993, in the first attack on the World Trade Center.

There will be six moments of silence throughout the day today. Two to commemorate the moment when the plane struck each tower. Two to commemorate when the towers came down. One to commemorate when the plane struck the Pentagon. And the final one to commemorate when Flight 93 crashed into western Pennsylvania. The 40 individuals who died on that plane perhaps knew what was going to happen and tried to take control of it and the hijackers crashed it into the field.

[08:45:27] That's where President Trump will be. Vice President Pence will be at the Pentagon. And just an extraordinarily somber day here in Manhattan and across New York a different day. It's a very foggy day. Sort of fitting for the memorial and this day. It's also a day that the city itself feels somber. Being on the subways, on the streets, it was just less of that New York ongst (ph) right now.

Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: Miguel, we can hear the emotion in your voice, and we feel it. I mean I remember that day, thinking that the searing pain of what I was witnessing would never leave us. I thought that life would never be normal again. And, of course, we have recovered. But on a day like this, we are reminded again of that pain. And it all comes flooding right back.

BERMAN: Seventeen years later is a long time. And as we hear the end of this song, we'll now wait for the moment of silence, remember the moment that American Airlines 11 hit the North Tower.

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BERMAN: That's the ceremony down at Ground Zero, just one of several that we will observe and watch here at CNN all morning long.

And I know September 11th comes once a year for many of us. And we watch these moments once a year. But, remember, for the families there, the people who lost loved ones, it's every day. It's every day.

And, yes, the children who were born that year, the parents, the mothers and fathers they lost are headed to college soon. But those that they lost will never ever be forgotten.

You are watching the reading of the names. This will go on for a long time here this morning. We'll watch. We'll be right back.

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[08:53:17] CAMEROTA: We're watching remembrances. These are live pictures of the commemorations all over the country of 9/11. So you see the World Trade Center site there in New York, the Pentagon, and, of course, Shankesville, Pennsylvania, 17 years after the terror attacks on this day, 9/11.

As we speak, in New York, the names are being read of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed on that day.

Our John Avlon is here with us to share his thoughts of that day.

John, I just saw the video of Mayor Giuliani. He's there in New York at one of the remembrances. And we all remember his steady hand and voice during that time. And you were with him that day.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I was. I was his chief speech writer at the age of 28. And this will never not be a hard day for any of us who were there and lived through that time in New York and lower Manhattan. The plane hit 8:46 and then the towers came down between 10:00 and 10:30. And in that time we not only lost some -- humanity -- the sure scare of the humanity and the collapse registering 2.4 on the Richter scale.

But -- and the 343 firefighters who were murdered, that was nearly half the historic total that New York City had lost up to that point in our history. And then there are the police officers, the Port Authority police officers and the humans who worked in the towers.

And the response of the city was what I found so inspiring. It was a response of a civil society to a massive attack. We did find a deeper resilience. And that's, as much as anything, what we're honoring when we mark the loss and why it's so important not to give in to a sense of historic amnesia that this is simply in the past because, as John Berman's pointed out, for the families that lost, certainly it is an everyday loss. I mean their children are now entering college.

[08:55:07] But it really is this obligation for us to remember and honor the folks who passed and the heroism we saw can't be said enough. The people who were leaving the towers, who got out, they said over and over again, they were running up, the firefighters, the first responders, as we were going down.

BERMAN: I think one of the things that's so hopeful to come from this is so many of these families have become involved with groups and charities of their own, which, to an extent, have begun to paid it forward and work with other victims of disasters, whether manmade or otherwise. And to watch the spirit and the resolve of these people as we're watching the names being read, you know, I don't know how old that girl is right there, but she can't be 17. I don't know if she -- who she lost there, but there are so many families who lost so much on that day.

AVLON: And they -- the families carry it forward. And the first responders carry it forward. When there's a disaster or a terror attack, a natural disaster, they go out.

CAMEROTA: I remember Mayor Giuliani that day being asked, reporters were chasing him as this was happening saying, how many people? How many people have been killed? And I remember he said, we don't have the numbers yet, but it will be more than we can bare.

AVLON: More than any of us can bear. And his leadership was inspiring.

BERMAN: All right, we are watching this throughout the morning.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after a quick break.

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[09:00:10] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York on this Tuesday morning where on this