tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN September 9, 2017 11:00am-11:30am PDT
lifelong floridian, he knows storms. you have 72 hours worth of supplies, batteries, water, food, why that long? because it may take that long to get to you. first responders can only do so much, especially in the aftermath of something like what is expected to be coming here right now. as the track shifts, so do the priorities. where anderson is, that's new ground in terms of where this storm is expected to hit hardest. they worry about the keys, they still do. they worried about here. they still do. even if you're not in the direct path, even if it's not about the eye, a direct hit is not the only type of bad hit. so here this morning while we have nothing, this is nothing compared to what's supposed to be here, it was easily overwhelming when their gusts of wind came in up to about 90 miles an hour, which is no joke, but nothing compared to what we'll see. just gusts. not sustained winds with gusts far in excess to that which is what is expected over the docks, messing with the boats, in the parking lots, affecting the
cars. the rain came, affected the driving. so it takes a little bit to do a lot. chad myers, most of what i'm saying i've been learning from you. i'm still waiting on picture out of cuba. our patrick oppmann is holed up right now in a closet with his crew because it's been so bad. but what are you seeing and what does it add to your expectations? >> the eye now of irma has moved offshore of cuba. our patrick oppmann right there, so he's finally going to get away from that purple band. and why is it purple and not red anymore? because that's the next level of coldness on the satellite. the storms are getting stronger around the eye. and the eye will begin to get deeper in pressure, lower in pressure, and the storm will continue to strengthen as it is right now. hurricane hunter aircraft is in the plane trying to get there. the hurricane hunters will probably be another hour before they actually locate the center and tell us what the new pressure is. ft. myers, your wind gusts will
be 136. now, this isn't all at the same time. this is storm total. as it comes across key west our winds are going to be 129. you get up to orlando, 123. now, i remember what charlie gene francis did across parts of central florida because my parents lost the roof twice that year. and this is going to take off roofs again. not just shingles. this will be a devastating storm for central florida, tampa, ft. myers, naples, all the way down to key west. here is the latest european model. now, the new one is out 24 hours, so we're still waiting for the rest of the run to happen. what i just watched at the 24-hour model run, the center of the eye is west of key west just by a little bit, by three miles. just under sunset key. that will put big pine key,
schar key in the eyed wall. likely 140-mile-per-hour winds. and of course key west because i just said that. ft. myers, naples, 125 possible. people evacuating to, atlanta, may c ma con, winds there 70 miles per hour. for you, anderson, i'm afraid almost 10 to 15 feet above normal dry ground. don't worry about the tides back and forth, above normal dry ground. if your house is less than that above sea level, you need to go. because not only will it be or could it be 15 feet, there could be 20-foot waves on top of that. time to go. anderson, you too. >> all right. chad, thank you very much. and i want to explain what you've been telling me what storm surge actually is. people think of it in terms of linear feet. oh, so it's going to be 6 to 10 feet, so the water instead of there will be about where i am. no, it's going to be 6 to 10
feet higher than what you see right now u which means this entire area would be under water. it would be submerged. on top of it the waves, dave, look at that right now it's just light chop. i mean, most people fish in this. this is nothing compared to what's coming. so on top of this extra 10 feet you'll get waves, you know, ten times in excess of this. this is like two feet of waves. you could get 10, 12, 15 feet of waves if the wind is hitting it right. that's where you get this problem of now you've gone from a situation where you could easily handle it to you're overwhelmed by it. that's why the emergency managers and politicians and our leaders are saying if you're not supposed to be here, leave. and if you have left and you saw that the storm track has shifted, don't come back because this is still plenty of bad news coming this area's way. kyung lah is across the bay there, there, that's miami beach. beautiful place to be. too many people have stayed too
long. kyung, when you saw the first band and the gusting it is the same for you as it is for us. about 90 miles an hour is where it's peaking so far. how did everything change when that happened? >> well, i think people started to understand that perhaps they needed to clear off the streets. there are still a few stragglers, but if you are aware what collins avenue, a commercial district in south beach looks like, it looks like zombie apocalypse now. there are a couple cars here, but really there's no one out here. normally this is packed with shoppers. we're seeing a couple of cars here. and we should tell them there's actually a curfew now in place for 8:00 p.m. tonight to try to get some of these last-minute stragglers off the streets. but look at this place. everything's boarded up. the concern here is not just the storm surge, which is expected to be 5 to 10 feet, but also some of the wind. look further down the street, every single business has boards up. they're very concerned about
flying glass, about any debris. the population of miami beach has grown about 35% since hurricane andrew. and then take a look down this way. no one here either. so the concern from miami beach police and why they've issued a curfew this evening is that's when they are expecting more wind, the storm surge, the concern overwhelming concern here beyond just some of the heavier winds we're now starting to experience is that storm surge. they want to make sure that people are off the streets so they don't get caught in any sort of flooding and drown, anderson. >> yeah. that's obviously the concern as well here. we're going to talk to the chief of the fire department here in just a second. but first, i want to check back in with drew griffin who's not too far from outside ft. myers. he's outside a shelter that can accommodate, i think he said previously about 8,000 people. but we'll double check that. at last we checked with him he estimated as many as 2,500 still outside waiting to get in.
drew, what's it like there now? and how many people actually can get into that shelter? >> they say 8,000. they think everybody here is going to get in. anderson, i want to answer a question you had for me last hour. this is what last minute decision looks like. these people woke up this morning, many of them telling me they looked at the new forecast and realized they too had to get out. many of the barrier islands had already evacuated on thursday and friday. a lot of lee county and collier county shelters were full. but i'm just going to walk down this line as quickly as i can so you get a sense of how many people are still here, still trying to get into this shelter and now we have wind blowing and the potential for some rain bands to come in. and many of these people have been waiting, anderson, as you're looking at this line, waiting in this line for up to five hours just to get in to a shelter that they think they will be able to ride out the storm. and i'm going to tell george,
our photographer, to just get to the front of this area here, george. take a pause. and we're going to swing around and show you the rest of this line right here. so it goes all the way down that building, all the way out into the parking lot. and that, anderson, is a smaller line than it was a couple of hours ago. but many of these people they woke up, they thought they were in a good spot. then the additional surge warnings came out and they thought we've got to get out. the county had to scramble to open up a shelter big enough to handle it. that's where we are right now, anderson. >> wow. and they're still trying to open up more shelters here. the bus service -- the shuttle service that they had set up to try to get people to shelters people call into 211, which is the emergency number to try to get transportation, that bus service according to the mayor is going to stop around 3:00 for safety reasons. so, you know, the clock is ticking on trying to get to one of these shelters you don't have
transportation out of your own. i want to talk to the chief of the fire department here in ft. myers. thanks so much, chief, for being with us. what is your biggest concern right now and your biggest message? >> well, we have two concerns, one is public safety and one is first responders safety. so that said our folks are out driving throughout the neighborhoods warning people to evacuate. get to a center. and we're trying to really be mindful our firefighters and police officers, public works -- workers safety. >> and they're still working on opening up more shelters because obviously as the track of the storm changed earlier today, a lot of the people outside at the germane center where drew griffin just was there were people who woke up, saw the new track and said, uh-oh, we're not going to be able to ride this out. >> yes, i do suspect we'll have greater demand. we have been the last couple days trying to anticipate this need. we're hoping people heed the message. >> we've seen police cars going around with loud speakers saying it's an evacuation zone. this area's now a new evacuation
zone. this is zone b, basically down this direction. also across the river. it's an expanding evacuation zone. >> it is. we've been working at planning this for the past four days. we had plotted out different evacuation zones and we're just waiting to implement the plan we've been working on for these days. warning people to evacuate to get to safety. >> so obviously as a lot of people know now at the height of a storm you can't have your firefighters going out risking themselves. it's just too dangerous given the high winds, particularly in this area that's expected. once you're able to start going out again, what's the number one thing? is it responding to people who've called to 911 or is it just clearing roads, something as basic as that so you're able to respond? >> it's a combination of both. but throughout the storm event while our folks won't be actively responding, we'll still be able to gauge which
communities are impacted the most. and we'll start focusing our recovery efforts on them and then critical infrastructures, hospitals and so forth, main arteries inside and outside of the city. but we want to get the city up and running again so we can get out into these neighborhoods and really find out where the problems are. >> there's also been call for the governor for volunteer nurses to go to the shelters, especially special needs shelters. so, i mean, you can't underestimate how strapped resources are going to be over the next several days. >> that's right. we're double and triple shifting our firefighters and police officers doing the same thing. so we had warned them and discussed this you need to take care of your families and then it's time to get to work for the public safety. but ensure your own family safety first. >> that's the thing. so many times -- we were just in harvey and i talked to firefighters there who they didn't even have time to check on their own homes or see what condition their own homes were in. they knew their families were okay but didn't know about their houses while they were out responding. >> we've been very clear on that
message. we started planning effort on tuesday morning and that was number one message to our folks is prepare your families, prepare your homes, take care of your pets and then when it's time to come to work, come to work. but take care of your family first. >> if people now are at a house that's not above 15 feet, i mean, you're talking about a storm surge and then there could be waves on top of that, should they try to get to a shelter? should they try to get out at this point? >> i think there's still time for them to do that. i can't anticipate exactly when shelters will be completely filled up nor when the safety of their evacuation effort is impacted. so, you know, we're telling people post haste, time to go. >> clock's ticking. chief, thank you so much. appreciate it. be careful. we have a lot more ahead. obviously correspondents all throughout the region. we're going to take a short break here from ft. myers. our coverage continues just a moment. dental professionals recommend using an electric toothbrush. for an exceptionally fresh feeling choose philips sonicare diamondclean.
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all right. welcome back to cnn's continuing coverage of hurricane irma. what's impressive about what's happening now here in miami here on the water is that this is nothing. we've seen steady winds around 40 miles an hour. we've seen gusts up to about 90 miles an hour. that is nothing compared to what is expected to be here. and just this, little touch of storm surge, some winds but nothing of the hurricane variety overwhelming the dock, going into the parking lot, getting cars that are parked too close, rain that makes it impossible to drive. so the window of opportunity to do the right thing and do the right choice for safety that the experts have been telling you about, that is closing. because at this time tomorrow the storm surge is expected to be this high with waves on top that could be 5 or 10 feet, you
won't be able to be here you won't be able to move in this area. the storm chaser are a fundamental part of this situation. they go up and tell us what's going on with the hurricane and what we can then expect down here. ben mcmillan is one of them. he joins us on the phone right now. ben, can you hear me? >> yes, sir. yes, sir, i'm here. >> do you hear ben? grif, do they hear ben? my ifb went out. >> yes. we're outside ft. myers, can you hear me? >> do you hear ben mcmillan? >> yes, sir, i'm here. >> what? all right. right now we're not getting communications right now. we're trying to get to ben mcmillan. we'll get ourselves together. let's take a break. when we come back -- by the way, this is proof. it takes very little, very little to disrupt what is normal. our coms are down.
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all right. thank you. it is amazing how little it takes to make a big difference. the wind picks up, the comms go out, your ability to communicate is gone. then what do you do? what do you do if the cell towers go down? another variable that makes the officials and the experts say if you're in an area where you have to move, do it now before the storm is here. now, how do we know so much about these storms? a big way, storm chasers, people who go out there who measure things when they're in planes way up in the sky in the eye of
the storm or who follow them on the ground. ben mcmillan is one of those chasers. he's with us now. ben, can you hear me? >> yeah, good afternoon guys, we're just outside ft. myers, florida as we reposition for this hurricane. >> all right. great. thank you, and thank you for your patience. you know, it always amazes me how you can hear me when you're up by the eye of the storm or in the middle and so close to a tornado and yet i can lose communications here with barely a breeze hitting us in the back. so with this storm of irma, what do you think matters for people to know who are inits pathin florida right now? >> the biggest thing, guys, is the shift of the track. there's kind of a false sense of security for the cities along the western coast of florida, and we felt that the eastern coast was the most at risk. however, the shift of the track is just an indicator of how quickly these situations can change. and officials are rushing to kind of find places for people to go and reevaluate evacuation
procedures on the western part of the coast now. and we hope they've done that and people are getting to a place of safety because these hurricanes, they don't follow a plan. they don't have to do a certain thing. they're going to have their own way as they work their way through the ocean and on to the shore. very unpredictable. that's why as a storm chaser, we're constantly shifting our position and try to adapt to the changing environment. >> what is the significance of location within a storm? the idea that if the eye isn't going to pass over us, we're okay, there's not much to worry about. what do you say as a caution, especially with this particular storm given its unusual width? >> the eye is a smaller area in the hurricane but a lot of folks don't understand the hurricane wind field stretches out much further than the eye. we have a hurricane wind field of 75 miles at least in width and we're looking at the entire western florida coast that will most likely experience these
winds from naples, ft. myers, sarasota, tampa and points north all going to be if this forecast holds in these hurricane winds. that's a very large population area. tampa itself is about 3 million people just in that metropolitan area. so all the folks along the western kimberly osicoast need seriously. >> ben, thank you. stay safe. i'll check in with you soon. anderson, the good news is you're in the right place to tell people what they need to know about irma when she comes to florida. the bad news is you're directly in the path as ben was just describing. >> yeah, actually, as we were driving here on west on i-75, the only gas station we were able to find was open there were no lines really there because there were really no vehicles heading in this direction, wisely. and you could get gas, but you can only get about $25 worth. there was another storm chaser actually getting gas.
and you never really want to be heading in the stam direction that a storm chaser is heading, nevertheless here we are. but for the people in ft. myers, as we've been talking throughout the day, chris, the alarm bells are ringing. people know the clock is ticking. there's only about another half an hour that the shovel service is going to be in operation to even get people to shelter. so after that is done at 3:00 p.m. then it's really up to people to get themselves to shelters. and then of course as the weather starts to deteriorate, i mean, right now it's fine, but as it starts to deteriorate, it's going to be too late. and that's what city managers and the mayor, the fire chief, everybody we've been talking to is saying. look, try to get to a shelter now if you can in ft. myers. and as we saw outside the arena with our drew griffin, there were thousands of people still waiting. and thank goodness they were able to wait in weather that was okay. imagine if it was pouring rain, if the winds were already
picking up what it would be like for them standing in those lines for hours and hours and hours. let's check in with chad myers at the weather center. chad, can you give us a sense just in terms of the timeline for, you know, when people on the west coast of florida or in the keys when they're going to get those tropical winds, really start to get hurricane force winds, what do the next 24 hours look like? >> every time, anderson, a squall goes by, an outer band, the winds are going to pick up. and every hour a squall goes by that pickup is going to be greater than the hour before. so i think the tropical storm force winds are already hitting marathon, big pine, all the way down to key west. that's already a given. i've already seen a gust of 60 at the marathon airport. the storm is off now the coast of cuba. it's gaining strength. we will eventually begin to see hurricane force winds tomorrow afternoon in miami. these are the -- this is the map now of the brand new european model. and i'll get to the track in a
second. these are the max winds that we're going to see over the entire storm. not just one minute, one hour or whatever, the entire storm. your max wind in key west is going to be 138. naples 132. ft. myers 1:36. orlando, because the storm has shifted even more toward tampa, now you're not over 100, you're 94. not that you can tell the difference, but it's better. 116 for tampa, losing shingles, losing roofing boards, an awful lot of damage in tampa that they weren't expecting because the models as they try to simplify the atmosphere earlier this week had it like this, and then like this, and then like this, we're waiting for the turn. it never happened. and now we're over key west, just to the west possibly of you and then making landfall south of sarasota. landfall is going to be a long process because the eye wall will be on florida's coast for a long time tomorrow afternoon doing significant damage from ft. myers all the way through
venice and all the way into tampa bay. this is the model as it's going to be moving on up to the north. there's your latest track. this now -- oh, get rid of this. this now is what the european model has been working better than the american model, at least for this storm, is doing. you leave cuba, you go eight miles west of key west, which puts key west on the bad side of the eye, floods all of big pine, all the way through shark key and the like, the naval air station there, moves just to the west of pontegorda and makes landfall south of tampa, florida. that's the latest track of the european model. i said it before, said it at 8:00 a.m., said it at noon, irma doesn't know that there's an american model or european model. it's going to do what it wants to do. you have to pay attention. if this goes into tampa bay, that's a completely different