tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN September 8, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
welcome to "the lead." i'm jim sciutto in for jake tapper. it is becoming much clearer that florida is a not-miss for this potential hurricane full of catastrophe. hurricane irma puts miami right in the path of this storm, and all of south florida, and eventually the entire peninsula, for that matter. this is the approximate size of hurricane irma. it is huge.
400 miles across. the entire florida peninsula would easily fit inside the hurricane. mandatory evacuations have been ordered for hundreds of thousands of people up both coasts of florida. the governor today pleading with people to get out. and we are getting a glimpse of the pain that could be ahead for the continental u.s. these pictures of hurricane irma just raking across the caribbean. take a look at this, to try to giff give us an idea the size of the storm heading miami's way. irma is across the florida coast, at the airport, and on the road. allison at the cnn center, the models, i know with these storms there are multiple models, but there is little doubt that southern florida is right in the crosshairs of this storm. >> you're right, jim, right now there is so little difference between the two models that the
track has come together. basically what this means for the u.s. is we expect to make landfall around key largo or into the keys. that would be 7:00 sunday morning. that's the expected landfall time. as we go through sunday into monday, it continues its trek north into florida. this is where we expect it to go as it continues to push forward. as we advance this to show where it ends up going, you'll notice it does weaken pretty quickly. this will be really good news for the folks who live further north into florida. by the time we get to, say, just around tallahassee, jacksonville, we're talking winds only about 75 miles per hour. that's going to be good news for the folks that live further north. remember, 75 miles an hour is still a category 1 hurricane. we'll find out where the storm surge is going to be, but right now the worst of it is expected to be on the south side of
florida. that's where we could be looking at upwards of 10 feet of storm surge. let's take a look at what that means if someone's house is there. when we talk about south florida having storm surge of 5 to 10 feet, keep in mind a standard one-story building is 10 feet. so that means the water would actually come all the way up your entire first story of your house. okay? >> the scale of this just incredible. thanks a lot, allison. i want to get an idea of the physical size of irma here. you get a sense of it looking at the map. here's cuba here, this is the entire breadth of the storm coming towards florida. let's look at the numbers here. if you look at the center of the storm, about 140 miles across, hurricane winds in that 140-mile zone. 140 miles sounds like a lot. let's compare it to florida. this is the i-4 corridor that goes from tampa here to the atlantic coast. that's just 132 miles.
so hurricane-force winds here, 140 miles across in irma, wider than the entire width of the state of florida this will get you as well. the entire breadth of the storm, it's about 375 miles with at least tropical storm strength winds. to give you an idea of that compared to the state of florida, this is i-95 going from the top of the state all the way to the bottom. that's only 352 miles. so hurricane force winds here, 140 miles across in this storm. that is wider than the fat part of the state of texas. north to south here, i should say, it's actually 382 miles from the top of florida to the bottom along i-95. the tropical storm force winds in this hurricane, 370 miles across. so as it comes this way, and as allison just told us, there is really no question, 100% probability based on the models that this is the path it's going to take and hit miami, the
southern part of florida here, and most likely, based on the models, continue up this way big enough to swallow the state of florida both longways and at the width of the state. truly an incredible fact there. allison, storm surge, we talked to the florida governor. he talked about 12 feet of storm surge. as you said earlier, that's an entire story of a building. that's the height of your house. how far across the state are those kinds of numbers going to be a danger? >> okay, so it's going to start in the southern half of the region. again, we expect the track to take it from the southern point all the way to the north. so when we talk about the storm surge, your higher amounts are going to be further south, okay? now, when we're talking about, say, key west and into miami, this is where we're going to talk about that storm surge being up around that 10-foot range. here you can see miami, ft. lauderdale, west palm beach down to key west, that's the 5 to 10-foot range.
naples into key west, this is actually 10 to 12 feet. typically when we talk about the strongest section of the storm, we talk about the northeast quadrant. think of a clock with numbers 12 to 3. that would be your strongest point. but in a storm surge, it's difficult because of a dropoff. on the eastern part of florida, the dropoff is pretty steep into the ocean. whereas on the western side of the state, it's more gradual. so that can afford to come in at much higher totals than it can on the eastern side. no matter how you look at it, we're looking at pretty strong storms on both sides. >> andrew was big, but irma is bigger. much bigger. historically bigger. i want you to listen to an urgent message tweeted by some miami firefighters today. here is the warning they sent
out. >> please, our primary concern is that you leave miami beach. we won't be able to help you. >> they made it very clear that if you don't leave, once this storm hits, they can't help you. >> reporter: the police department saying emergency services will stop once winds reach 130 miles per hour. when you think about the numbers you're talking about, that's really nothing. get out today. hurricane irma headed towards florida, expecting to make landfall over the weekend, leaving catastrophic damage and a rising death toll throughout the caribbean in its wake. >> the storm is wider than the entire state and is expected to cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast. >> reporter: residents in miami-dade county waiting in
long lines for shelters and boarding up their properties, building sandbags to help protect against the expected 3 to 10-foot storm surges. despite mandatory evacuations, some saying they will hunker down and wait it out. >> do not put yourself or your family at risk. if you've been ordered to evacuate and are still at home, please go to a shelter. >> reporter: but as millions of floridians do try to escape the storm's path, airports and roads are jammed. >> got boarding passes and everything, and no calls back. you get here and the plane has been canceled. >> reporter: airlines have increased flights from miami to other nearby airports to help with the demand, but many outbound flights are scheduled today. the mass exodus from south florida, potentially one of the largest evacuations in u.s. history, is causing heavy traffic on interstates and long lines at gas stations. >> now i'm taking this seriously
because i realize compared to andrew, it's too much to put my family at risk. >> reporter: florida isn't the only state making preparations. georgia and north carolina said to be at risk. >> anybody from alabama to north carolina should be watching this storm very closely. >> reporter: back live here at miami beach, you're looking at one of the biggest concerns here, the storm surge. they've had an infrastructure explosion, a population growth since hurricane andrew, the miami beach police reminding people here that this is an area that floods. people who die in a hurricane die by drowning from the storm surge. jim? >> the danger is very, very real. kum-la from florflorida, thank
very much. > >> if you're in an evacuation zone, you have to get out. think about it. we love our families, i love my family. i want to keep my family safe. everybody has to focus on keeping their families safe. if you're in an evacuation zone in plor flflorida, you need to now. if you're in the southern part of the state, make sure you're off the road before midnight. you need to be off the roads because this storm is coming. it's not days away, it's hours away now. >> you've been getting briefed regularly by your emergency managers. i know you just had a briefing within the last hour. what are they telling you are the worst case scenarios on the coast, both on the atlantic side and the gulf side? >> here's what's different. everybody remembers a little bit about andrew. i went through andrew when i was in business. i had to evacuate to a hospital. andrew was not a storm surge
storm. this is a massive storm. it's bigger than our state. it goes coast to coast. it could hit more than one coast because it's still moving a little bit. the winds will be 150-mile-an-hour plus. we're going to see possibly as much as 12 feet -- 12 feet -- think about that. that's above your first floor. 12 feet of storm surge. what happens, when the storm surge comes in, it rushes it. then it goes back out. you can't survive. even 6 feet is life threatening. so far as we know, it's in the southern part of the state. you have to evacuate. if you're in an evacuation zone, you have to get out. >> let me ask you this, because you mentioned that the storm is as wide or wider than the state. where is safe for people to evacuate to? is there anyplace truly safe in
florida from the fury of this storm? >> well, the biggest risk we feel right now is the storm surge. if you're out of the evacuation zone and you go to a shelter, we have shelters all over the state. we're opening shelters in all the impacted counties other than, of course, in the keys, monroe county, where we had to evacuate everyone. go to a storm shelter. you've got security there, we know the buildings are safe, you've got food, you've got water. so go to a shelter or go to a friend's house. but if you get away from the storm surge and you get away from the areas that might because of 12 to 15 irchlz of rai rain. we're still fighting to get more fuel in the state so people can evacuate. we're getting some more fuel
from the panhandle down to central florida. you can go to fl511.com and look at our highway system. you can go to gas buddy to see where the gas is. we're fighting to make sure we have enough fuel so everybody can evacuate. but we will get you out but you can't wait. >> i know it's difficult to predict, but when you get briefed by your emergency managers, what do they predict is the worst case scenario for florida as it gets hit by this storm in terms of damage, extensive damage? >> if you look at the models, they include the areas that are more populated. on the coast they're worried about the storm surge. the biggest worry i have is the storm surge and we have lake observing keechobee okeechobee. it's also the communities south of there because the corps of engineers said the lake is not
going to be compromised but we might get more water because of the wind and amount of rain. i'm focused on every county. i've talked to sheriffs, i've talked to mayors, i've talked to county commissioners and emergency individuals all over the state. we do conference calls. my next call is 5:15 and we'll go through what do you need? i'm getting calls from mayors about shelters, but we just keep solving any need anyone has. i want everyone in the state to be safe. >> governor, i've heard your heartfelt pleas today and i know this is something personal for you. we're watching very closely and we wish you the best of luck. >> thank you. jim. thank you for helping get the message out. >> you heard governor rick scott in florida talking about the danger of the storm surge. that's what keeps him up at night and i'll show you why that is. this is a map of the storm surge hazard area, the danger area, in the event that a category 4 hurricane hits florida.
that is what the prediction is, that in the next 24 hours it comes up the southern part of florida here. it's going to be category 4. see the area in sfled sthas the risk of a storm. now, this is mostly the ever gl everglades and you get to these areas here like tampa and st. petersburg. that's why these areas are calling for mandatory evacuations. the central command are the headquarters of the u.s. military. that's where the wars in iraq and afghanistan are run out of. service members there were run out also. you can also see as you come down here, miami. extremely populated areas, the storm surge expected to be four to six feet. many of these areas under mandatory evacuation. take a look atment florida keys.
that's talking about a storm surge for nine feet or greater. you get one foot, you're talking about immense danger. thls for a. if it hits in the southern part of florida, it's going to be category 4. one of the questions, and alison chin char. depending on where it comes in this band here. that will show you whether it's the west coast or east coast that gets hit first, but all of them. it's hard to think about what it would be like to be standing in the middle of the ocean in hurricane irma, but that's ba basically what you're doing if you stay in these areas by the keys. bill, we know that island.
it's only four miles wide. its only access to the mainland is via. and yet, where. . fierce r. and others boo say foolhardy but it's a regular ghost town. there are a few locals that are there, but this place if you've ever been here on a friday night is usually packed. we're across the sleep from sloppy joe's. ernest hemingway used to hang out here. he wrote about the sea that is a dual nature. the ocean that can float your boat. ironically, hemingway's old house may be the safest spot in key west when irma comes to shore. >> this is a national historic landmark. this is the rock of the island. it's built out of 18-inch blocks
of limestone. >> so if there is a place to hunker, this is the safest place. >> we're also located 18 feet above sea level, one of the highest places in the florida keys. >> dan gonzalez is also taking care of hemingway's great-grand cats, the six-toed cats that are popular there. there are all sorts of other animals. the prison on block island, which is just north of key west, is one of the only real category 5 structures on this island. they have 400 prisoners there, most of the sheriff's deputies and several animals will be riding out irma, jim. >> i imagine some folks at home are saying, look, it looks perfectly sunny there. that's what happens with storms there, it's literally the calm before the storm. bill, stay safe. it's not going to be easy where you are. >> we're headed north before she
blows a shore. we wanted to check in with these folks and get to higher ground. >> good move. with me is mayor cates. mayor, thanks for coming on. we know you have a lot in the coming days. i want to ask you this because there is great concern for the bridges to the mainland, the keys' lifeline to the mainland, the only way to escape. how does your community survive this? >> we're definitely concerned about the bridges, you're absolutely right, but key west, we're fortunate that we do have our own electric generating plant for backup, we do have a plant that could make a certain amount of water, but we don't use it, we use wells out of florida city and homestead. if we had to, we could do that temporarily. but that being said, that is one of our largest concerns is
definitely the bridges that could damage. we have 42 bridges connecting key west to the mainland, and any one of them could cause a serious problem for us. >> key west is under a mandatory evacuation order, and yet many people are staying behind. in your view, aren't they putting not just themselves but others at risk by staying? >> they're absolutely putting others at risk. we've been trying to tell everyone, but some people won't leave. they want to stay here with their homes and their belongings, and i'm sure they will go to high ground, to a strong building to get through the storm and they want to be the first ones here back at their properties in case they get damaged. that's something that will never change, but we have been warning them that the hospital is closed down. there is nobody here to help you you. if you get injured, you won't be able to get airlifted out.
if you do stay, stay inside a safe building. don't come out in the storm. >> mayor, i know that you and the residents there are tough, they've weathered difficult storms before, but this one is different. i wonder if this time your concern that there is potential damage from this storm that the community cannot rebuild from, recover from? >> no, i don't think there's any storm that we can't rebuild from. we'll be back up and running, i'm sure, in a short period of time. i can't say exactly how long until we have the actual impact, but it looks like it's going slightly east of us and we're going to get -- you know, the 120-mile-an-hour winds, hopefully not the full category 5 storm. when it comes from that direction, the tide surf will come from the base side, and that's our best chance. coming from that, it won't build
up as high as it could be coming from the ocean. all of those things kind of working in our favor, and we're hoping they work out, but we're prepared for the worst. we're locked down. we got our category 5 buildings where our first responders are and be ready. we'll come out and help whoever we can. >> thank you very much, mayor. traffic is bumper to bumper on almost all of florida's major highways as people try to flee in what's become the hurricane's largest massive florida storm in history. what if some people can't leave? the shelters already almost at capacity. dental professionals recommend using an electric toothbrush. for an exceptionally fresh feeling choose philips sonicare diamondclean.
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welcome back. as hurricane irma closes in on southern florida, some of the last flights are getting out before the storm. just hours earlier, flight tracker showed the hundreds of flights departing florida, almost all of them headed away, headed north. at one point last night, there was so much air traffic in southern florida, a ground stop was issued in ft. lauderdale, miami and orlando airports. you can see right now, this is current, there are far fewer planes flying out of florida. miami international airport is supposed to see its very last flight leaving in two hours. ft. lauderdale's last flight is for 8:00 tonight and orlando will start shutting down commercial operations tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. authorities desperately trying to make use of this critical last chance period and convince defiant residents to listen to those evacuation orders and to leave now.
>> announcer: attention, attention, attention. evacuation is mandatory. >> i don't know how the message could be much clearer than that. that's police in west palm beach today going door to door, in effect, there. brian todd is there. brian, palm beach county, a high concentration of elderly residents there. are they getting special help to get them out of harm's way. >> reporter: jim, they have a special shelter for these people to go to. as far as special help, it looks like many of them will have to rely on their caregivers for that. there might be public transportation for them, but it's kind of scattered because they have to get as many people to these shelters as they can. they want everybody to get to them and not just have a special emphasis on the he would erld b -- elderly do need special care. that's tough because some of them don't want to go. those that do are tough to move. i just talked to a person who
runs a small in-home care center. it's a care center for alzheimer's patients. he's got only four people in that care center. it's not much bigger than a small house, and he's moving them from one of his facilities to another, not to one of the special needs shelters. but they do say if you're going to a special needs shelter, you have to bring your caregiver with you because they do not have the personnel. moving thousands of people in palm beach county is a huge task, but it is a real struggle. as for the actual physicality of this, you saw that video of the police cars trying to get people out of the street. this is what they're concerned about, the storm surge. it's going to come right here on the intercoastal waterway. 5 to 10 feet of storm surge, we're told. we're about eight feet above the water. at high tide, we're only about four to five feet. when it's high tide and you get 5 to 10 feet of storm surge, over here it's going to be inundated. that's why police were going door to door in this
neighborhood right now, telling people to evacuate. over there on palm beach, that is another area where they're trying to get people out of. the mandatory evacuation has been in place since this morning. they want people out of there now, they want people off the roads by tomorrow morning, jim. >> brian todd, it is that storm surge. that's the warning that keeps coming up. let's move north to the city of davie. democratic congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz joins me now. thanks so much. i know you have a lot on your plate now. we have a map showing where your district is. i know a lot of that is in mandatory evacuation areas. are you finding that people are heeding those calls? >> yes. for the most part we have folks who are really paying attention, listening to the instructions, following them. the folks in the mandatory evacuation zones, for the most part, we've seen them actually leaving over the last couple of days, but it is a very important
message to send to those folks who have been deciding to stay. it is absolutely critical that you leave if you're in a mandatory evacuation zone. that's east of u.s. 1 in broward county. broward county is in the crosshairs of a direct hit of this very powerful storm. it is bigger than any storm, even than andrew, 25 years ago that we've seen. jim, it's also important to note we have a thousand people move to florida a day. there are many, many people in our community who have never lived through a hurricane and who need to be heeding these instructions. i went door to door in neighborhoods in my district yesterday just west of the mandatory evacuation zone. people are preparing, but we also have vulnerable people who need help, so we're asking people to look out for their neighbors as well as for themselves. >> as i'm speaking to you, i'm showing a map here that shows the storm surge hazard areas. just pointing down here, this is where congresswoman wasserman schultz represents, and you're
seeing predictable storm surge danger 3 to perhaps 6 feet or higher. what would that kind of storm surge do to communities that you represent there? >> we already have very significant flooding problems on the east side in our communities in hollywood and hallandale beach and dania beach. let me tell you, that kind of storm surge will be devastating. there will be a tremendous amount of devastating impact, and so it's important for people to leave the afterma. the aftermath and cleanup of this storm will be the likes of something we've never seen. i represent a district that goes from the sawgrass to the seagrass. on the sawgrass side of the district, because irma is likely to go over the everglades where we have warm waters there, she's not likely to slow down very much as a result of passing over that land, so we have real
concerns over the west side of our community as well. the shelters are filling to capacity. people need to finalize their preparations now. another really important thing, jim, i want to caution people especially because i just came from this shelter, people should only bring to the shelters what they're going to need for a couple of days. i saw so many people bringing queen-size, full-size air mattresses. if you're bringing that kind of amount of things with you, then you're taking up space and shrinking the capacity of the shelter. we want you to be comfortable, but please try to be considerate so we can make sure we can utilize the maximum capacity of these shelters. >> you've been, of course, meeting with county officials today. if the worst comes, if the strongest part, the northeast part of the storm, right, with the biggest storm surge, winds, et cetera, if you get a direct hit, are you concerned that parts of your community cannot survive such a hit? >> you know, since we were hit
by hurricane andrew in 1992, the south part of the building code was significantly upgraded. any construction built since 1992 really is built to withstand category 3, high category 3 hurricane force winds. so we have a lot more structures that can withstand a very significant storm. but if this is a high category 4, then we're talking about a different situation. i mean, we're going to have very significant structural damage. we're going to have mobile homes and the kind of devastation that we have seen in other communities, and we're going to have a lot of work to do. that's when we go back to washington. our congressional delegation, really, across this whole region is going to need to double down and make sure that we pass a quick emergency supplemental fund like we did for harvey. >> no question. that just passed today, in fact, signed by the president.
we can expect a similar request. congresswoman wasserman schultz, thank you very much. >> it's going to pale in comparison, i'm afraid. much more on hurricane irma coming up. the latest storm track just minutes away. please stay with us. i count on my dell small business advisor for tech advice. with one phone call, i get products that suit my needs and i get back to business. ♪
welcome back. sticking with our breaking news on hurricane irma, time running out to evacuate. as the latest storm tracks show, the worst case scenario for the state of florida might actually happen. as governor of florida jeb bush responded to the fact there has been two hurricanes in a t two-year period, as you look at this one, how does it compare to the eight you handled directly in florida. >> we had two or three cat 4
storms. this one is bigger and it's as powerful as any that has hit the -- maybe other than andrew, that's hit the state. but the path it's taking is going to impact more people than any storm than in the past. so this is a storm that's going to have hurricane force winds over all the peninsula. we now have 19 million people living in the state. everybody can evacuate in a community like miami that's so densely populated. thankfully we have the best building code in the country and we have great emergency managers at the local and state level. so we're prepared. one advantage, which is kind of unusual, is that the storm has been so strong for so long that there's been five or six days to prepare. i think most miamians, most floridians, have taken this very
seriously. >> governor bush, when you look at the models right now, it shows with most certainty that it's going straight up the state. it's going to make a right-hand turn and go right up the state. this graphic i'm showing viewers now, that is the most certainty of the path and less certainty as you go on up. governor, because of that, since it's bakely goisically going to roughshod, what do you think about in terms of damage? >> millions of people will be in harm's way. first and foremost, the safety of people i care for, and i know governor scott does, is the first priority. the physical damage is going to be serious for sure. there is some unique risks. maybe lake okeechobee there could be a risk of some kind, but the army corps has
strengthened late okeechobee's dike system. right now the focus is making sure people are prepared and getting people to hunker down if they can't safely evacuate. >> you responded to several hurricanes, as we said, as governor. what did you and the state learn then that you see florida doing a better job of now in advance of irma? >> well, we learned that you couldn't evacuate everybody and that we needed to have much stronger shelter space. we passed the most meaningful building code reforms during my time, so all the new schools that have been built are shelter compliant. there is a greater focus on special needs shelters. the state learned a lot during those hurricanes and i think those lessons have been applied now, both at the local level and the state level. governor scott is really all in on this and so are the mayors. they understand this is their chance to really show their
heart. >> governor bush, i know you love our state. >> thank you for covering this story. we want to go back to cnn analyst allison chinchar. we know we're up for the next big update on hurricane irma. what can we expect from the storm's path? >> we don't expect to see much of a drop. the fact is it's over open water. this is where it wants to be. when it's over land, it weakens. when it's over open water, it can maintain or strengthen. we expect it to maintain. 150 miles an hour, up to 180 miles an hour. if be start to get some say even in the northern tier, perhaps in
jacksonville? we expect it to weaken to a category 1, but it's still going to have incredibly strong wind. we're looking at category 4 which is where we are now. tampa, we could be looking at winds around 115 miles per hour, then by the time it comes all the way inland, say up toward atlanta, georgia, we could be looking at winds up to 40 to 50 miles an hour. when you look at it again, it doesn't matter if you're on the east side or west side of florida, you're going to be dealing with really intense winds. take a look at this. it just goes to show you there are a lot of high rise buildings in tampa. the higher you go in those buildings, the stronger it gets. let's say the wind is 140 miles
an hour, for example. you get into a 30-story building, you're talking about winds at 180 miles an hour. so again, this is going to be a concern for a lot of the highrises that we even have in the areas of southern florida and some other reasonablgions. the other thing we're talking about is jose. this is going to impact some of the exact same islands that already had to deal with strong winds. once is makes the right-hand turn, the only place it's likely to impact would be, say, around bermuda. one of the things people have talked about is the comparison of andrew. this is to scale. i want to point that out. this is a true scale comparison. when we talk about it, the winds for andrew were a little bit
higher. but again, the time over florida. andrew only spent four hours over florida. we expect irma to spend over 30. that's likely to cause some significant damage just that point alone. >> amazing how big it is. looks like the perfect storm. category 4 track as it continues to florida. stay with us. super-cool notebooks, done. that's mom taking care of business. and with the "25 cent event", office depot officemax takes care of mom! now, all this just 25 cents each! ♪ taking care of business iso being cool comes naturally. on car insurance, hmm. i can't decide if this place is swag or bling.
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effort to move these people along. what do you make of it? >> we're amazed at how many people in south florida are heeding those evacuation warnings. you're looking at the southernmost part of 85. we've driven this from broward county north into palm beach as well. it has been smooth sailing through here. i don't want to give everybody the wrong impression. once you get further north, you apparently do start hitting those traffic jams and it slows down considerably. but at least here, down in the southernmost part of florida, this is the way we've seen those roads throughout the day. out in the surface streets, more cars which gives you the impression that most people are staying in the dade county area riding out this storm. jim? >> that's exactly what many florida officials said don't do, and yet they're doing it. ed lavandera, thank you very much. the island of barbuda was
devastated with trees uprooted, buildings damaged. here is an early view of pictures there. this is a view of its immense power. leyla just returned from barbuda where she's seen the devastation firsthand. she just arrived safely in antigua nearby. leyla, we're seeing these images now, but i imagine as you walked around, drove around, just devastation. >> reporter: yeah, what you see from above, right, in those aerials and kind of what you feel when you're down there is very overwhelming feelings. it is pure destruction, it is desolate, people are overwhelmed. you can tell that it's not a what am i going to do tomorrow, it's a what am i going to do next hour? they are overwhelmed trying to get off of the island, those that were still there. the priority now not so much to
save what irma did leave behind but to save lives. on wait therthe way there, we a saw five ferries coming from antigua to barbuda. so right now they're bracing for things to come with hurricane jose, and it was just this feeling -- barbuda is such a vibrant island, not just in color but in hosting people. to see it so did he sesolate is overwhelming, and then people with tears in their eyes not knowing what to do next and not knowing what the next storm will actually bring, jim. >> no question, our leyla santiago the first one to see the devastation there in barbuda. thank you very much. the next update on the path
of hurricane irma. where will it land next? stick around. earch on them. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident. switch and you could save $782 on home and auto insurance. call for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance.
we're back showing a live picture of the calm before the storm. hurricane irma closing in around south florida, and there is an eerie feeling, especially this time of year. chris is at that beach. chris, that beach normally full of people right now. do you find as you go around the area that people are actually listening to these evacuation orders? >> reporter: yes. the experts, the police will say more than usual but not enough. there are actually more people on this beach right now. police are coming to tell people they have to leave. this is an evacuation zone, so you're not supposed to be here. >> we looked at the map down there, and of course governor rick scott told us earlier in the program it's the storm surge they worry about. he's talking about some areas as much as 12 feet. one story of a house or building. the thing is, you get storm surge like that, there's nomar engine for error there. it's all low-lying, isn't it?
>> reporter: that's the problem. you make a choice to stay, you think you'll be okay, but if it turns out to be a bad choice, then it falls on search and rescue. even though they have one of the best units in the country, they get sent all over for catastroph catastrophes, they're going to be overwhelmed. so anything puts a strain on the system. >> you put at risk firefighters that might have to rescue you. as you're there now, you've been talking to some of the locals, first responders, et cetera. do they give you a sense they're ready for this? i know they've seen a loft hurrica -- lot of hurricanes but you haven't seen one like this. >> the downgrade from 3 to 4, as we both know, that's like a punch in the throat or a punch in the nose. it's really only a distinction for scientists. they say they've done as much as they can. especially the first responders here, jim. a lot of them came from harvey
and they're here to defend their homeland, so they're legally motivated but they leave their families to help the rest of us and that's a big commitment. >> no question. you're going to be sticking out through it there. have you talked to any residents who are sticking it out, and have they explained to you why they're making that decision? >> reporter: yes. there's a range. sometimes it's they're elderly or infirm and can't leave. they have other people to take care of, they didn't have the money, didn't have the access. then you have people who say they just want to stay, they think they'll be okay. look, you can't make them leave, but it is a choice that, as you said very well, jim, puts others at risk. >> chris cuomo, stay safe down there. we're glad to have you there, but stay safe. be sure to stay tuned for "state of the union." jake tapper will speak to senator john mccain. it's his first interview since
his cancer diagnosis, plus he'll have the latest breaking news about hurricane irma as the category 4 storm hits south florida. that's it for the lead. i'm jim sciutto in for jake tapper. i turn you over now to the very capable hands of wolf blitzer. he's in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. direct impact. a monster storm bigger than the entire state of florida is bearing down on florida and could bring catastrophic devastation from one end of the state to the other. it's expected to make a direct impact near miami. path of destruction. hurricane irma is lashing cuba and the bahamas. right now after carving a path of destruction across the caribbean, killing at least 24 and leaving one island