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tv   CNN Newsroom Live  CNN  October 1, 2017 1:00am-2:00am PDT

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this is cnn breaking news. >> and welcome to our viewers here in the u.s. and around the world, i'm natalie allen live in atlanta. we begin with breaking news, riot police in the catalonia region of spain are making sure no residents pass a vote in a hotly debated independence referendum. flashes broke out in the northern city of jarona last hour, where catalonia's president was set to vote a short time ago. police as you can see there were physically preventing voters from entering the polling station. police then broke windows and padlocks on a door to get into
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the building. once inside the gymnasium, they had to maneuver through tables and vending machines set up by vote supporters to keep police out. spain's highest court says the vote is illegal and unconstitutional and vowed to shut it down. cnn's esa soares joins us live from barcelona, it is quite evident that the police were serious and the government about shutting this down. what is the situation there where you are? >> reporter: absolutely, i mean, they said all along it is illegal, it is unconstitutional, minister of interior for spain said this is a sham referendum that is being held by the catalonian government and that the gymnasium, the images you were showing there, natalie, that is where the president of catalonia is expected to vote, he's expected to arrive at 9:30. but the police we saw in the footage, that's the police force
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of some 7,000 according to the catalonian government. they're waiting at the port of barcelona for orders to move in. after that point, you had the police who really were just watching and keeping a lot of the calm, they never intervened, but the station here, the polling station, this is a school, people have been waiting now since 9:00 this morning for those doors to open , many have been here since before that, roughly 5:00 this morning in the portion ra pouring rain and waiting to get in. it snakes behind us too, the corner, the people are starting to hand out chairs so those slightly elderly can take a seat and wait. what we heard from those inside is the ballot papers are in there, the ballot boxes are inside, but the doors haven't opened and the reason they haven't opened, they tell us, is because the electronic system that basically verifies your identity when you go in to vote,
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so you say who you are, they take you off the list, that has basically -- it is frozen. they say the government has put a freeze on that. what they're telling us is other polling stations have been able to work around it and we start the system and they actually came out in the last five minutes and told people to stop using the phones as much as they could so that the system could move slightly quicker. also in the last five minutes, i don't know if we can play the footage, we saw the interior minister of catalonia arriving here to vote and when he arrived, he was met by a huge applause. have a look. >> isa, before this, did the people there expect that heavy-handedness by the police?
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>> reporter: not until probably the last week or so, natalie, to be completely honest with you. everyone who we have spoken to has been saying, look, we want this to be a very peaceful show of our democracy. this is our democratic right. those who are for the referendum, those who are against it we have seen also in barcelona, it is important to note, they want to keep a united spain, to say this is not the way forward for catalonia. but the actions of the central government by -- in the last week, so we have seen some 140, 150 websites shut down, 14 catalon government officials arrested, we have seen thousands upon thousands of ballots apprehended, confiscated by authorities, has actually perhaps shifted some of the momentum to the separatist cause. speaking to one gentleman yesterday who was basically saying to me, look, i've never been pro independence, but given the action by the central
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government of the prime minister, i now will go out and vote. i'm not voting for independence, but i want to have a say, this is my democratic right. so perhaps some people may have been influenced by the actions that many here say has been one of heavy-handedness by the government of rajoy. it is very important to point out, natalie, a poll conducted back in july by the catalonian government show the roughly 49% did not want independence, 41% wanted independence, but more importantly, 70% wanted to have a say. wanted to vote. whether those numbers have shifted somewhat given what happened in the last week, we just do not know, natalie. >> looks like they're not going to have that day as this unfolds here, one hour into what was supposed to be catalonia's vote today. looks like it is not happening. we'll continue to follow the breaking news, the fallout and we know you'll be there for us throughout the next two hours or
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more. isa soares in catalonia, thank you. we have breaking news this hour out of the united states. the state of nevada, o.j. simpson has been released from a nevada prison. he left a short while ago on parole after serving nine years of a 9 to 33 year sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery. the former u.s. football star is best known for a different criminal case, in 1995 he was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife nicole brown simpson and her friend ron goldman in los angeles. that was a trial that riveted the united states for many, many months. for more now on this development, i'm joined live by our paul vercammen, tracking events from las vegas, nevada. paul, what can you tell us about his release? >> it was done in secret and according to prison officials without incident. they call it clean. they said they had extreme concerns about letting him out, about paparazzi trying to chase
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his vehicle perhaps, and they said he was picked up by a friend. they said prior to that, his paper paperwork, his release paper work was processed and he went over the conditions before with a parole officer. they say he was upbeat, and that he was happy, seeming thrilled to get out of prison after the nine years, they also said they went over inventory with him and he took very basic stuff that all inmates have, shower sandals, hot plate, some clothes, that sort of thing, and put three or four of these boxes, the size of about a microwave in a car, they also took inventory of some things he didn't want to take, prison officials saying they didn't want those things suddenly be found out in the prison yard, but they said it was very calm, very smooth, and they said the reason they had done it this way, because they had indicated they were going to transfer him and going to be a long journey,
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the reason they let him out is because they just wanted to ensure the public safety and the safety of any of the officers. they had long said they were fearing that somebody would try to target o.j. to make a part of a -- a name for themselves in prison in the 11th hour and so that's why they guarded him so carefully. at one point, basically put him off completely alone and by himself, not interacting with any other inmates. >> so we are seeing this picture of him walk ing out, just the few seconds we see him there, so it -- it happened without incident as you say. any idea where o.j. simpson is going, what's next for him? has he made comments about that? >> he has not, but his good friends have. and several friends say that he is going -- he's going from this prison in far northern nevada,
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in this drab gray country side, in a tiny cell, and he's going to go into one of the greenest most affluent enclaves of america, in las vegas, and live in a friend in a gated community. as you heard, in the run-up of to this, heard at his parole hearing, simpson said he wanted to move to florida and his two youngest children, justin and sidney, who he had with nicole brown simpson live in florida. that was the plan, but none of that paper work has been processed according to the state of florida. so it sounds like, his lawyers said this, the short-term plan will be for simpson to live in this area in las vegas and then eventually move to florida's west coast in specific. >> paul vercammen right there covering it for us, thank you so much, breaking news, o.j. simpson is out of prison.
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thank you so much, paul. other news we're following, the humanitarian crisis in puerto rico is now in its 11th day and for the vast majority of americans who call the island home, not much has improved in the aftermath of hurricane maria. each day they get a little more desperate. many say they feel abandoned by their government. even the mayor of san juan is living in a shelter, sleeping on a cot, family also there too. late friday, when she pleaded to washington for speedier federal aid, the president of the united states seemed to take it personally. he tweeted, from his golf resort where he is this weekend, from new jersey, the mayor of san juan who is very complimentary a few days ago has now been told by the democrats that you must be nasty to trump. such poor leadership ability by the mayor of san juan and others in puerto rico who are not able to get their workers to help. they want everything to be done for them, when it should be a
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community effort. 10,000 federal workers now on the island doing a fantastic job. our anderson cooper asked the mayor for her reaction to the president's criticism. >> you woke up this morning to tweets from the president of the united states, what did you make of what he said? >> i smiled. i smiled, really. i have no time for small politics or for comments that really don't add to the situation here. >> the president also said in a tweet earlier this morning that you had been nice to him early on, but that democrats told you have to be nasty toward him. >> i don't know, maybe he sees women, he doesn't like to be told what to do -- >> we get more from cnn's ryan nobles. >> reporter: for the third weekend in a row, president
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trump spent his saturday at his private estate golf course in new jersey. and he spent a lot of his time on saturday tweeting, specifically about the situation in puerto rico, and his administration's response to that crisis. he started out the morning with a series of texts indirectly at the mayor of san juan who has been critical of the overall response but never specifically called out president trump himself, just pleading with him to do all he can to fix and help the response. now, there was a period of time where the president was off twitter, about six hours, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. eastern time and 2:00 p.m. eastern time. we don't know what the president was doing during that period of time, but we asked the white house if he was golfing, he was, of course, at his private golf course and they said they could not tell us one way or another. we know that in the afternoon, the president did hold a round of fphone calls with members of the leadership team in puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands
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including the governor of puerto rico, a former governor of puerto rico, the member of congress that represents puerto rico, and the governor of the u.s. virgin islands. after those phone calls, he fired off a series of tweets, a readout of those calls, speaking highly of those leaders and also talking specifically about the work of those first responders on the ground. u.s. military forces and fema employees that are a part of the effort to try and restore some sort of normalcy to puerto rico. meanwhile, vice president pence announced in an interview with a television station out of florida that he would visit the u.s. virgin islands next week. pence visited the headquarters of fema on saturday, and he said in that interview that he believes that the mayor of san juan is becoming a political distraction to the cleanup efforts there, supporting the president's criticisms on twitter from earlier in the day. this is what he said, well, it is frustrating, i expect, to millions of americans to hear rhetoric coming out of some in puerto rico, particularly the mayor of san juan, instead of
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focusing on results. our joint field operation at the convention center in san juan has more than 1,000 personnel working out in a football field environment, the mayor of san juan has only visited our joint field operation once. of course, president trump scheduled to visit puerto rico on tuesday, first lady melania trump will be joining him. ryan nobles, frenchburg, new jersey. let's bring in a professor of international politics at the city of university of london to talk about these developments. good morning to you. thank you for joining us. no sooner than the mayor of san juan pleaded for help and said it was becoming donald trump president puts her down, puts the people of puerto rico down, basically blaming the victims for their troubles. in twitter rants. why would he do such a thing? i mean, he's done things in part like this before. >> yes, i think part of the whole strategy that president
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trump -- really to blame the victim, especially in these kinds of cases, and very often there are minorities involved as well as you recall in the london terror attacks, he often paid more attention to the london mayor, who happens to be a muslim origin than he did to the terrorist attack itself. and i think to some extent this plays to a sort of instinct which he has for his political base. and i think this is a kind of red -- it blames the victim and suggests they are responsible for what's going on. and you'll recall earlier in the week, instead of actually responding very, very openly and -- to changing the sort of -- waving the jones act, to allow foreign ships to dock in puerto rico and deliver aid, he actually basically tweeted a lot more about the nfl and the take a knee protest as well. so i think he wants to distraction on occasion. there is a sort of madness to it, seems to be, but i think
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there is a method too, i think he has a strong instinct of his political base and he does that and that polarizes american society. >> right, but do you really think it is that -- doing that to support the base when melania trump said in the past, when my husband is pushed, he pushes back. perhaps he felt he was being pushed by this very outspoken and desperate mayor of san juan. >> well, i think if you look at the sequencing, i don't think that stands up to much scrutiny. the mayor of san juan is mired in a deep crisis which is a personal crisis as well for her and her family too, and actually the more aggressive kind of messaging started with the trump administration. but i think there is an aggressive character to the presidency that donald trump runs, and there is a very authoritarian character, he doesn't take any criticism,
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implied or otherwise, this suggests something of the character of this whole administration. i would say probably more like a rehe jigim regime, i don't mean that as a complement, than it is an administration. i think there is a distraction strategy too. because if you like the health care reform, it has collapsed again, and so the nfl takes front and center. he's just delivered a so-called tax framework, and that is likely to be a big giveaway to very wealthy people, going to be much better off as a result of it, than a lot of people on the political base. i think he does do this often to distract attention from other areas which are a lot more damaging to his presidency overall. >> pretty interesting, though, when he gave a speech, you know, early on in his presidency, his numbers went up, because he read from prepared remarks. he went to houston and got one on one with victims and showed compassion and support, he saw his numbers go up, but i don't know, one's got to wonder, does that matter to him?
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we really appreciate you coming on. thank you. >> thank you. coming up here, hurricane maria left this town completely shut off from the rest of puerto rico. we'll tell you how a task force is finally able to get aid to people there. so we'll have more about this developing story affecting puerto rico coming up here. .
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we're taking with the puerto rico story, the governor there urging the evacuation of people near a damaged dam on the northwest part of the island, the u.s. military has been reinforcing the dam with sandbags, but heavy rains have stressed it to the breaking point. look at that dam, if it were to collapse. officials fear it could give way. elsewhere, across puerto rico, here is the latest from u.s. emergency officials. search and rescue teams have scoured the island from end to end and rescued 843 people. 11 highways have now been cleared of storm debris. that should make it easier for large trucks to move emergency aid that just has been sitting there at the port into the battered country side. only about half of puerto rico's
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residents have access still to clean water and most of the island is still without power. remote areas are now starting to see some relief, the city of lutada was shut off from puerto rico when the hurricane hit. a task force had to build a pulley system to give the residents much needed supplies. britain gingras is on the ground there. >> reporter: merriam rode out hurricane maria from inside this bedroom. the storm's eyewall traveled right through mountainous utuado, 90 minutes from san juan. the river that runs through this area rose more than 20 feet. what was your thought looking out the window and seeing this river go up? >> terrible. i thought it was going to come, you know, up here, but it didn't. thank god for that. >> reporter: but the flooding caused landslides and knocked out this bridge, the only way for cruz's community to get out. >> we were afraid we will be
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left alone. >> reporter: but they weren't. right now we're crossing a river with a pulley system constructed by a task force under the direction of fema. across the river about 40 families who haven't seen relief up until today, up until this system was constructed. this group of specialized officers, firemen and ems come from new york, indiana and ohio. and in the past week, their teams across puerto rico have saved more than 800 people. >> thank you. >> reporter: this task force took us to cruz's neighborhood. >> while we were conducting those assessments, that's how we received information from the local emergency management officials that, hey, in these particular areas we haven't been able to get there yet, we have no communication with them, can you help us? and that's really what we're here to do. >> reporter: now, residents are rationing this new shipment of supplies and they're grateful. >> when i saw them come, the first time, i saw heaven. >> finally we knew that they
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knew of our situation. >> reporter: but with a broken bridge, food and supplies will be needed again, and communications are still out. this man can't get in touch with his daughter, bringing him to tears. what do you want to say to your daughter in texas? you're surviving. >> we're okay. >> reporter: even without the help, we found this community doing all they can can to stay alive. >> see the line there, that's the water on this side. >> reporter: you did that yourself? >> no, not me, the men. >> reporter: if you didn't have that -- >> we would have no water. >> reporter: that despite president trump's recent criticism of puerto rico's leaders and local response. >> of course, we get frustrated because we have done what we can. >> reporter: as for the task force, this assignment is over. and they're on to the next
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mission, continuing to help the people of puerto rico. >> thanks, guys. >> reporter: brynn gingras, cnn, puerto rico. >> we want to remind you, you can help, if you want to learn how, you can go to our website, there is so much that people are doing right now to help support puerto rico, and that's where you can find out what you might be able to do as well. well, spain is a country divided this hour. thousands are trying to vote and catalonia's independence referendum, but riot police are physically blocking people from being able to vote. we'll have a live report from our reporter isa soares live in barcelona, next.
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welcome back to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world, you're watching cnn newsroom, i'm natalie allen. the headlines this hour, former football star o.j. simpson is out of prison. he was released in the u.s. state of nevada. he left a short while ago on parole after serving nine years for a las vegas armed robbery. simpson became infamous in 1994 for being the key suspect in a double murder. he was found not guilty of those charges. puerto rico's governor is urging the evacuation of people living near that damaged dam you see right there on the northwest part of the island, the u.s. military has been reinforcing the dam with sandbags, but heavy rains have stressed it to the breaking point. officials fear it could give way. clashes have broken out in
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polling stations in parts of spain as police try to block voters in catalonia's controversial independence referendum. in the northern city of girona here, riot police are physically preventing voters from entering the building. spain's highest court says this vote is illegal, it vowed to shut it down and it looks like it is working to do that. our isa soares is covering the story for us, at a polling station in barcelona, what are you seeing there after police came in and blocked people from voting? >> reporter: we have seen, natalie, some of the polling stations, some of the polling stations we have seen police go in, this is one of the polling stations, a gymnasium where the president of catalonia was expected to vote. let me tell you, in this polling station here, which is a school, the doors, although they are closed, they're allowing people to go in, roughly about ten
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people at a time, a group of elderly just came out to great applause, they're letting the elderly in first and then the rest. but are trying to contain the numbers. but i can tell you that this line snakes right around the corner here, just behind our live shot position. and everyone, different groups of ages, children, parents here, as people come out, those who voted, they're greeted by applause. it is being very peaceful here, i must say, we have had two police officers approach and ask everyone who is in charge and they all raise their hands and say we are all in charge. we haven't seen some of the -- the state police appearing here today, as we have seen in some of the other polling stations, but i can tell you that one of the ministers for the catalon government has been, he came, he voted, and he walked out to great applause.
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at the moment, people are able to vote, but not everyone feels this way in the region of catalonia. in the last poll conducted by the government, back in july, natalie, showed that 49% didn't want independence, 41% wanted independence, but critically 70% want to have their chance to vote. some perhaps would argue that the number could have shifted, given the police presence here, and some of the measures that the central government of spain has taken. central government, of course, saying this is unconstitutional and illegal. i want to bring in -- diego who works for the newspaper here, i want to get your thoughts on what has been happening. this isn't really about them versus madrid, it isn't about catalonia versus madrid. how do you see what's happening here in catalonia? >> one of the problems is the catalonian population according to all of the elections, held
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eight elections in seven years, are split. that's why today it is very difficult day, very sad day. i will say it is one of the darkest days in the history of catalonia because we have many, many citizens here trying to vote, peaceful people, and you have another very peaceful people staying at home against their idea that you can make a referendum against the spanish laws and declaring independence in 48 hours because the law approved early this month says that you held that referendum, with no requirements and the results go to parliament and in 48 hours our men will be able to approve for many people, this is not democratic way. but it is a lot of image.
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>> reporter: but the divisions, how much -- as you and i talk, you are listening to people behind us and they are basically saying, we will vote. how much of what we're seeing in catalonia, how much of what we have seen by the central government, the actions of the central government in the last two weeks or so, how much do you think that has shifted, the more moderate voices within catalonia to vote for independence? >> in the short-term, people on the middle ground will go to the people trying to vote. that's normal because that's normal. but i believe that after a few days or maybe a few weeks people will start to think that we have to find a democratic exit from that situation. and that's its duty of both governments. i believe both have acted very
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responsible -- in a very responsible way. >> reporter: irresponsible. >> irresponsible. in a democracy, it is not normal that people decide on the streets and that's what is happening today. >> reporter: so what will happen? the critical point now is what will happen the next 48 hours or so. the catalon government says it will vote, it will vote, the central government says it is a sham referendum, it is illegal, it is unconstitutional. both sides say they want to meet and talk, but the spanish government saying they don't want to talk with any prerequisite. where does this go? what happens? what changes in order for the divisions to have a more united spain? >> first of all, we have to wait for that -- what kind of political lesson will take the catalon government. if they think now is more is strong and has now the capability to approve the
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independence, we have a problem that -- with no solution. on the other hand, if both sides recognize that none of them is stronger to impose their -- their ideas, we -- i hope, we will start to have a real negotiation because so far it has been both sides trying to arrive today and arrive with more -- and the other side in order to negotiate. this is very responsible. >> very responsible. joaquin luna, thank you very much. as we were talking, you were hearing applause, that's because people are coming in, coming out from the voting, polling stations. they have just voted to taking ten people at a time to vote and as they come out, they are greeted by applause. as joaquin was -- and i were just discussing, this is not everyone here, not everyone here in catalonia supports this, many people have gone to the streets
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against this. some say they would like to vote, but not in these circumstances, natalie. >> right. as you talk, we have been seeing a live video of the police there, still working this situation. of course, we'll continue to follow the developments in the next few hours. isa soares, thank you so much, and your guest, for that perspective. our other big story, the mayor of san juan, puerto rico, responding to a harsh attack by u.s. president donald trump when she begged washington for hurricane relief, he accused her of poor leadership.
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11 days after hurricane maria ripped through puerto rico, u.s. government assistance has been slow to reach the people who need it most. but when the mayor of san juan pleaded with washington to speed up relief efforts, she found herself on the receiving end of donald trump's ridicule. cnn's anderson cooper spoke with her about it.
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>> you woke up this morning to tweets from the president of the united states, what did you make of what he said? >> i smiled. i smiled, really. i have no time for small politics or for comments that really don't add to the situation here. >> you said that -- you talked about you, your leadership, and they, i don't know if he meant they the leaders or they the people of puerto rico want everything done for them. >> i believe, you know it was kind of funny because i got them real later -- late because we don't have internet. it is spotty at best. but he did say that we wanted things to be done. and, you know, the truth is staring us in the face. just today i was telling you we had to evacuate another hospital because the generator caught on fire. so this is another hospital that will not be able to work for
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another week. we transported 14 patients from one of our facilities. the dam in the eastern part of the island is two towns, for the first time that i know of in my lifetime in puerto rico, two towns are being completely evacuated. people are still coming and saying the mayor -- the mayors are saying where is the help, we need it, please help. >> do you feel your speaking out has been effective? >> i don't know. but if it has, you know, good. >> the president also said in a tweet earlier this morning that you had been nice to him early on, but that democrats told you have to be nasty toward him. >> i know. i don't know, maybe he's -- women told what to do, that's not who we are here in san juan. but, really -- >> democrats said anything to you about how you should treat him?
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>> no, actually i am not a democrat. i share values with the democratic party in the united states. but i do not participate in the democratic party. so it is interesting, senator marco rubio sent representatives to here, so he's not a democrat. i just think he's looking for an excuse for things that are not going well. >> brock long, the fema administrator, has said today about you, about there is a joint command and that's essential, there is a unified command, and joint field command office and that you should be go by there to kind of get clued in to what is really going on. >> well, yesterday after my press conference all of a sudden things started coming in from fema. and when they give me my phone, i can show you a text, a text saying more supplies were coming. all i want is more supplies.
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>> so you feel speaking out has pushed fema to -- >> a lot of mayors are scared of speaking out because they think if they speak out, whatever help they haven't been getting will not get to them. >> derrick is here to talk about the weather. it is hard to play off that, that mayor having to defend herself when she was asking for help. so very sad. and, you know, we have been reporting did we have four reporters on the ground there, we have been reporting on everything they have been doing, being resourceful, to try to help their neighbor, but there is something they can't fight and that's the flooding they're still having to deal with. >> and mother nature bringing more rain, unfortunately. >> from a different system. >> a completely different system. hurricane maria was ten days go, and yet another tropical disturbance moving across puerto rico bringing heavy rain and stressing one of the nearly failed dams in the northwestern corridor of puerto rico. in fact, that's where we had that flash flood warning where you see the red in the upper
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left-hand corner of puerto rico. >> massive dam. >> that is a massive dam. they had to start evacuating people from that area. we did that again last week when the original rains brought this problem to the dam, but now they're reevacuating people because of the threat of more flooding and collapse of the dam. the spokesperson for puerto rico's governor said on the recommendation of fema, authorities evacuated a few hundred residents from the areas adjacent to the dam, flash flood warnings in effect for the northwestern parts, flash flood watches cover the entire u.s. territory. here is the latest satellite loop, and at the moment we have a brief break in the thunderstorm activity, but there is more shower and thunderstorms, abundant amount of moisture means more rainfall for this area through the course of the day today. the heaviest of rain was on saturday. we have lighter showers anticipated to end out the weekend and finally a break as
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we head into the day on monday. we checked out some of the latest river gauges, and none of them are indicating any major flood stages at the moment, that is good news. but they are definitely stressed to the extreme because the ground is so saturated there. additional rainfall, additional water on top of what has already fallen can only lead to more problems across an area, especially as hurricane recovery efforts continue. a little update on how water services are being restored across the island, put this graphic together, the eastern half of the island seeing 46% recovery of water, south part of the island, 72%, north, 29%. western parts, 19%. interesting to note this is san juan, metropolitan area received about 55% water restored to that particular area. but this slow road to recovery to say the least, and more rain not making it any easier now. >> absolutely. all right, derek. cnn's michael holmes reported from hurricanes maria and irma, he saw devastation all around
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including this and domenica. >> we walk and we walk and we filmed and we filmed. and all along the way we're thinking never seen anything like this before. >> next, he recounts the caribbean islands being destroyed right in front of his eyes.
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the caribbean is nothing like what it used to be before hurricanes maria and irma, within days of each other, the hurricanes destroy islands leaving death and devastation behind. cnn's michael holmes was one of our reporters on the ground there, he reported from both storms. and here is a report from him now about what he witnessed. >> reporter: have a look at the conditions around us -- it was an extraordinary couple of weeks covering two separate hurricanes. we began this trip by covering, of course, hurricane irma, once we knew what sort of impact irma had had on some of the caribbean islands, we flew down to san juan, anchored from there for a couple of days and we came down to antigua to start to look at the effects, the damage that irma had done. because we knew anguilla was hit hard by irma, ironically the
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best way to get there from antigua because of the damage that had been done to the island was to rent a boat. we spent some time on anguilla, with a local deejay who showed us around and we do a story on him as well. we put that story together on the boat, actually, because we had to leave anguilla to head back to antigua. we wanted to go to st. bart's, but there was another storm coming through and that turned out to be hurricane maria. the thing is, bear in mind, we're 120 miles or more away from the main track of hurricane -- we actually did what a lot of reporters do, broadcasting from your hotel balcony. you get a great backdrop, but you have some protection. give you a sense of how the live shots work, this is our cameraman's room, he's got all the cases here, over here, got about ten iphones, which is about fonormal for us. alex is our cameraman. this is where we have been doing
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the live shots throughout the whole storm. after maria passed, we knew that domenica, the island of domenica had been right smack in the path, the first landfall, category 5, and maria had just ripped through the middle of that island. we knew we had to get there. we knew the damage was bad. the trick was how to do that. this is as close as we or anyone can get to domenica, at least for now. the airport is shut down. it was interesting because our pilot who flew us around the island, he flies the islands for leifing, this is what he does, and even he was shocked. the next day the runways were cleared to be safe, but there were assessment teams going in and the like and it was hard to get permission to land. but the prime minister himself wanted us, wanted cnn to come in and see what happened to his island. so he and his aviational authority said you're clear to come in, please, come in. not only do they have immediate needs, their entire industry of agriculture, the tourism
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industry that they were trying to build up around those rain forests, gone. the drive between domenica's capital roso and the coastal village of point michelle usually takes more than ten minutes. after hurricane maria getting between the two is going back on an odyssey of hurricane carnage. it was a difficult walk, because we're climbing over all this debris, climbing over tree trunks that now formed what was the road and we knew we had to get there. we just set off and we walked and we walked and we filmed and we filmed. and all along the way we're thinking, never seen anything like this before. this is just incredible. and as we're going into point michelle, people are coming out. they're worried about getting food, starting to run out of food. they're all walking their way back to the capital roso to try to get supplies. one of the striking things is that it had these beautiful lush rain forests, promotional videos you can look at that show you
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what it was like. and then when you look at what it is now, that's gone. it is all gone. the communications were down all across the island. nobody could talk to somebody down the street, let alone relatives in the u.s., so we had people coming up to us and saying, please, when you get out of here, please call my family, tell them i'm okay. tell them i've lost my house, but i'm alive. and, you know, the producer would write down the name and the number, i took a couple of names and numbers and when we got back to antigua, we called the families and sent the messages on. during the storm, ra veenz avin water ways became torrents. there is no rung water on domenica, the water ways are the only way to bathe or wash clothes. what we heard here around the islands is things are changing. these storms are not category 5s. there is not a category for it. they need to invent a category 6 or 7, that's what people told us. these storms are getting
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stronger, they're getting bigger, they're getting more frequent. and these caribbean islands are right in the path. >> michael holmes there for us. we have much more ahead in the next hour of "cnn newsroom." i'm natalie allen. please stay with us. my name is jeff sheldon,
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this is cnn breaking news. >> hello to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world. i'm natalie allen live from atlanta. our breaking news, riot police in the catalonia region of spain have been restricting residents from voting in a controversial independence referendum. clashes broke out in the northern city of girona sunday morning. police were physi


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