tv Sunday Today With Willie Geist NBC September 10, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PDT
tuesday cooler by midweek. >> i'll have another local news update in half an hour. good morning. irma strikes. south florida being hammered right now. the hurricane a devastating category 4 once again, after gaining strength overnight. wind already damaging homes and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands. the region bracing for a potentially life-threatening storm surge. we have correspondents across florida and the region to cover it all today, sunday, september 10th, 2017. >> announcer: from nbc news, this is a special edition of "today," hurricane irma, with matt lauer and savannah guthrie,
live from studio 1a in rockefeller plaza, and lester holt, live from florida. good morning, everybody, welcome back to this special edition of "today" on a sunday morning. that's the scene in miami beach. i'm savannah guthrie alongside matt lauer. lester holt and al roker are in tampa, florida, this morning, and are also anchoring our coverage. we'll get to them in just a moment. >> we're sitting here with our maps of florida in front of us, all the counties, trying to figure out who's going to come into impact or have impact with this storm next. here's the latest on irma. packing quite a punch as it slammed southern florida, a dangerous category 4 storm. winds about 130 miles per hour. the eye wall hit the florida keys around 7:30 eastern time this morning. >> the number of power outages has been steadily going up all morning. three hours ago the total is about 200,000, but now more than 800,000 people are in the dark. >> by the way, the storm is
massive. if you look at that satellite image, 350 to 400 miles from side to side. its reach is remarkable. of course southern florida is under hurricane warnings. well, just a short time ago, a tropical storm warning was issued for atlanta, georgia. that's some 600 miles to the north of where irma is right now. >> that will give you an idea of the reach. our team of correspondents covering every angle of the storm. let's start this half hour with nbc's mariana atencio, she is in miami beach this morning. good morning to you. >> reporter: good morning, guys. so as this hurricane pounds south florida, you're already starting to see conditions worsen by the minute here in miami beach. i want to point our camera over to my left. that is where you have the beach and that is where that deadly storm surge is going to be coming in this way bringing in, they say, from 6 to 10 feet of
storm surge over here to my left, the water coming in very quickly, flooding. in just a couple of hours, the streets here in collins avenue. many trees have been toppled. we've seen toppled power lines, street signs. i'm just going to move over here so you can get this view. i'm in the second floor of a parking structure here in miami beach. it turned very eerie just in the past couple of hours and you can already feel tropical storm winds in this area of miami beach. i just spoke to miami beach commissioner again and he said that more than 60% of miami beach power grid is down and now is when it becomes very dangerous for first responders to be out here monitoring people. we've seen debris flying around all morning long. they're urging residents to hunker down in their homes and to take shelter because the next couple of hours as this category 4 hurricane, the size of the florida peninsula, pounds our state over here, you're going to
feel it everywhere. just because it isn't a direct hit here in miami beach doesn't mean that it is not dangerous, if not deadly. so again, in these barrier islands, it's really where a lot of the vulnerability will start happening in the next couple of hours. the wind and the gusts, rain picking up incredibly hard in the past couple of hours. back to you guys. >> the city of palm beach putting out a tweet saying we can't respond. it's not safe for our first responders to get out in the storm, so hunker down. >> let's go down to florida city, which is south and a little bit inland of miami and that's where we find miguel almaguer. miguel, good morning to you. >> reporter: hey, matt, good morning. the rains are certainly blinding, but the big issue here is the winds. they have been gusting in sheets and in waves coming at us relentlessly for the last 12 hours here. i'm going to spin our camera around so you can see what the conditions look like if you face
them head on. the rain pelting right into our lens, the wind blowing people in every direction. for the most part the streets are evacuated. there's a power issue here. we've seen transformers explode over the last several hours because the gusts of wind have been so powerful. the mayor told us he expects most of the city to lose power. we believe nearly everyone in this region is without power. there are some generators that are powering streetlights. for the most part the city is in the dark. the trees here are swaying side to side and power poles are beginning to come down here. we expect these winds, actually believe it or not, to intensify over the next several hours. first responders tell us they could face a catastrophic situation. they won't be going out in conditions like this if they receive emergency calls because it will simply be too dangerous for many of the first responders. matt, a precarious situation out here, one that will continue to get worse. back to you. >> thank you very much. we put gadi schwartz in a car. he's made his way to cross key,
which is the tip of the florida keys, getting battered this morning. hi, gadi, what do you see? >> reporter: we are just across key on the southbound side of the u.s. 1, south dixie highway going south and we realized that the northbound lanes, i don't know if we have that video, but if we can play that, the northbound lane going north was completely impassable. so we were going down south dixie highway. we were unable to turn around because that would have exposed the side of our suv here to those hurricane force winds so we continued in. we're actually right now at the tip of key largo. so we are in key largo right now. if you take a look, basically what we did is this turn-around spot, instead of going through these winds, we're going to take a little bit of a break here. i'm going to the out and show you where we're at because we found a decent spot of protection. but this is where our suv is here. give me two seconds, i'm caught in some cords here.
but this right here, this building is very sturdy. we've got a brick building here. over here you can see how hard the wind is blowing. i'm just going to take a week right over here. you've got some debris that's starting to come down. if you take a peek this way, this is what the wind is doing. there's a tree that has broken over here. there's another tree over here. let me show you exactly where we're at on the map. that's us. we've got a red band headed straight towards us so we're going to shelter in place right here and wait until the eye of the hurricane makes its way further. we're not going to get any closer to the eye. in fact the eye will be moving farther away from us from here, so as soon as things calm down here, then we're going to go back over to the mainland before the southbound lane becomes impassable, but that's the latest condition that we've got right now. >> before we say good-bye, we're going to put that video up one more time that you shot of the northbound lanes of u.s. 1 where
there were white caps and waves on that side of the road. nothing getting through there in the near future. >> reporter: that's right. and we're worried about the southbound lanes. so the southbound lane is protected by about a three-foot barrier, which is good, because emergency crews will be able to go in and out of the southbound lanes unless that's breached. you can see the storm surge starting to come up. but for now the northbound lanes have been flooded out. they have debris on the roads and in fact we saw a kayak that had been pushed up onto the northbound lanes. so the northbound lane right now looks like it's impassable. at some point when the storm passes, the hurricane passes, they'll bring backhoes i imagine in there and clear that out. hopefully it doesn't get worse. again, the hurricane is tracking westward so in about two, three hours we should see things start to calm down a little bit. we're just hoping that the storm surge does not continue to rise. we understand in other parts of the keys, the sturnl is starting to come up. here we've only seen it come up
at the road about two, three feet from where it was yesterday. we were checking on this road yesterday, but that's where the situation stands. matt. >> gadi, thanks very much. get back to cover. jo ling kent is in ft. lauderdale. jo, good morning. >> reporter: hey, matt, good morning again to you. what we're seeing is the skies darkening, the winds picking up here in ft. lauderdale. take a look at these palm frons usually sustaining a lot of wind. they have come down and they are blocking the roads here in ft. lauderdale where there is now a curfew, according to broward county sheriff, until monday morning at 10:00 a.m. you can see the velocity of the wind there. we are not in the eye of the storm here in broward county, but this county has been protecting itself since the beginning. they thought that they might be in the eye of the storm so they shut everything down. there was a curfew that went into place last night around 4:00 p.m. i'll show you what that means for folks here in ft. lauderdale. that means there is not one person on the streets as the
water continues to gather here. we've seen some emergency responders coming in and out when the winds are down, but right now they have decided not to take emergency calls and respond to those because we're seeing this wind velocity creep up. even though we do have some power in the street lamps or in these stoplights right here, power in our area is mostly out. there have been exploding transformers as ft. lauderdale bears down and folks are hunkering down in shelters. matt, savannah. >> all right, jo, thank you very much. let's go to florida's governor rick scott who's with us on the phone. governor, as we say good morning to you, i assume that your information is even better than ours. i know you're up in tallahassee. what are the conditions reports that you're getting so far? how bad is it out there? >> i just talked to key west and they have significant waves, they have significant flooding. they're going to get 10 to 15 feet of storm surge. so you saw how bad it is in miami and just at the top of the
keys. just think about the west coast now as this comes up. we'll have 10 feet above ground level of storm surge in my hometown of naples. ft. myers, maybe a little less in tampa. still, i don't know how you're going to survive this rush of water coming in. let's say it's 10 feet. it's going to cover your whole house and then it's going to go out. and so i can tell you people ask me what they can do. the most important thing is pray for us. i know people want to donate. you can make a $10 donation at text disaster at 20222 and i need more volunteers. we've opened up over 400 shelters. we need more volunteers for our shelters. we'll need volunteers to get food and water out. we need more nurses for our special needs patients. i just talked to the president, oh, probably 45 minutes ago. he said he's going to be praying for us. everything i've asked out of the federal government, he's made
sure he gave us. i spent a lot of time with brock long, the administrator at fema. but i can tell you what, we're going to do everything we can to take care of every person in this state. our first responders as soon as this passes will be out there saving people. i've called up 7,000 members of the national guard. i care about every family in this state. i want every family to be safe. >> can i just clarify something. i think you just said you need more volunteers to help staff the shelters. you're not asking people down in the southern part of florida to go out on the roads to head to those shelters? you're talking about people that have not been impacted? >> yeah, we have over 400 shelters, we've opened a lot of shelters in the last two days especially as the track has turned west. but we need more people in our shelters up north and we'll need help afterwards, a lot of help afterwards. we're going to need a lot of help afterwards.
i can tell you this is a tough state. we're going to come through this. people are taking care of each other. right now in the southern part of the state, everybody is hunkering down and i pray that everybody survives this. >> florida governor rick scott, we're glad that you're getting the response from the federal government and you do have everyone's prayers and hopefully also their efforts in the days to come when we deal with the aftermath. thank you. we'll check back in with you. >> thanks, governor. let's go over to lester now in tampa. as the governor said, we're expecting the storm to head there. guys, good morning. >> good morning. we're following this thing on the radar and then we're following it here in realtime as the rain bands become a bit morsteady here. winds haven't picked up here. tampa is bracing for what's coming. everyone is watching these images and realizing that the evacuation orders were a very, very smart idea. >> right now the eye of the hurricane is at the lower keys.
so it is 20 miles east of key west, florida, 130-mile-per-hour winds, category 4 storm, moving north-northwest at 8 miles per hour. if you're watching on our nbc news app or nbc stations, you may see a wobble here or there but it's pretty much on track. key west, 100 to 125-mile-per-hour winds. 5 to 10 foot storm surge right now. in the next several hours it makes its way toward naples but it will be affecting southeastern florida with 100-mile-per-hour wind gusts, 3 to 5 feet storm surge and high tide is at 12:26. as it continues north, nape eldeld -- naples, ft. myers, they'll see 100 to 125-mile-per-hour winds, storm surges of 10 to 15 feet. overnight tonight into the night hours, tampa bay will see a storm surge of 5 to 8 feet with winds of 75 to 100 miles per hour. up in jacksonville on the east side of the state, 50 to
75-mile-per-hour winds. it will be 65-mile-per-hour winds where the governor is right now in tallahassee. and this system will continue to push up. we've had a big gust of 106 miles per hour. as the day wears on, those strong winds will make their way into the midsection of the state as well and this is going to be a 24-hour event. this system is going to take its sweet time getting through the state and then moving on into georgia and on into parts of the southeast. storm surge, again, the big problem. we cannot stress enough about this storm surge. we're talking about storm surge warnings from the okeechobee river all the way down to key largo and on up into savannah and even into the carolinas where you could see a 4 to 6 foot storm surge. and we cannot also rule out tornados. there are tornado watches for the entire state. that will last right through this evening. we've had several tornado warnings, so we're going to
continue to watch this. but it's a very, very volatile situation. >> now, as of last week there was a lot of attention on the east coast of florida, so a lot of folks in this area in the west didn't have the same level of concern. then everything changed. we saw huge lines outside one of the shelters yesterday. hopefully everyone is going to find a place to ride it out because certainly the western mainland of florida is next. >> and it's going to continue to affect this entire state because of the size. we started talking about this last week. the diameter of the storm is much bigger, almost twice as wide as the state of florida itself. so everybody is going to be affected by this thing. >> savannah and matt, we'll go back to you now. >> lester, just one second. what you just said, the western coast of florida will feel the impact. al, i want to put up -- do you have a monitor down there? do you see this? >> yeah. >> if i look at that track again that you just put up with that category 4 storm heading up the west coast, do you have a -- it already made landfall in the keys. do you have an idea of where you
think the second landfall is going to be? >> if i had to guess, i think maybe around sarasota, tampa bay, that area. this area that we're in right now. i think we could see landfall between sarasota and tampa. >> so it stays off the coast up to that point. >> it parallels the coast, unless it takes more of a north to northwest path, then it might make landfall before that. but right now it seems like it's on track. so we may be actually within the eye. >> but if it stays over the water, doesn't it maintain its strength? >> it will keep its strength up. it's not going to lose anything because the water, while not as warm as it is between the straits of florida, between florida and cuba, it's still plenty warm. >> so tampa, st. petersburg, these communities should be watchful as this comes north. >> absolutely. >> all right guys, thank you. >> and it does maintain strength the more it's over the water. kristen dahlgren is in ft. myers for us. hi, kristen. what's the situation there? >> reporter: this is really the worst we've seen it here.
we've got these real gusty winds coming through here and we're just being pelted by rain. still these outer bands, so the conditions expected to get much, much worse obviously as we go through the day today. so we're worried about the wind and the rain. take a look over here, i want to show you this and it may be a little ugly as we go under our shelter here of this hotel, but this is what we're most worried about. the gulf of mexico right there. so not far from ft. myers beach from where the buildings are. storm surge, worst case scenarios, predicted to be maybe between 10 and 15 feet of storm surge coming ashore. you can imagine just what that will do to this little island community here. hurricane donna came through to the south of here in 1960 on september 10th. 75% of the homes here on ft. myers beach were damaged by that storm. many of them were rebuilt, but think about it, back in the '60s
there weren't the building codes that they have today and so there are many older homes still on this island and many low-lying homes. so many people have evacuated, but we still do see a lot of people who have decided to ride out the storm. i talked to one guy who said he has five kayaks. his plan is to ride it out and then go out and try to rescue people. and he said, and i don't think he was trying to be dramatic, but he said he really hoped that he doesn't find anyone who lost their life who decided to stay and ride out this storm, and that is the fear that the storm surge could be catastrophic, guys. >> we hope he's good and sure that this event is over before he jumps into a kayak. >> absolutely. don't need any heroes just yet. >> the entire florida national guard was mobilized ahead of this storm. some 7,000 men and women. brigadier general ralph revis is the joint task force commander for the florida national guard. general, good morning to you. i know that all these men and
women of activated, they're mobilized but there's not a lot they can do during the storm. what's the first thing they'll do when they're sure it's safe to get out? >> well, good morning. the first thing they're going to do is obviously immediate assistance to people that might be around them, but we have throughout the state, the plan is in place so that search and rescue elements will immediately go out to the hardest hit areas, or those areas because as you mentioned, the encompasses the entire state. they will begin looking for and assisting any citizen that may need it and eventually to set up the points of distribution to provide them whatever relief we can. >> of course your resources are in the state of florida and the whole state will be touched by this storm. is there any concern about those resources, your personnel not being able to get to the area, being damaged during this storm?
>> well, some. the logistical support areas are far enough away from the coast and we're not too concerned about the commodities, where they're at right now. as for the soldiers, they're hunkered down as the governor stated earlier, in shelters that will allow them to be safe prior to mobilization. there is always going to be a challenge getting to the locations because of potential debris on roadways. the way we've distributed our task forces, our engineer assets associated with each one of them that will work with them to clear whatever debris might be prohibiting them from moving. >> we should just make mention of the fact that those men and women of the national guard who have been mobilized and as you say are hunkering down, they in most cases have now been separated from their own families who were forced to evacuate, so they're providing an incredible service. >> yes, sir, they are. and thankfully the governor was
proactive enough to mobilize us early. as such, those soldiers, we were all able to make sure that our families were taken care of before going to the armories. we've got a plan in place to help assist in locating their families, that they know they're being taken care of while they're helping the citizens of florida. >> sir, when do you know it's time to deploy and safe to get those resources out on the streets? >> well, we have liaison officers with all the county managers and management areas. really it's almost as the weather clears. we don't have a -- we can't say specifically when the storm surge -- i'm sorry, when the wind dies down to x percent or x miles per hour, but as soon as we deem it safe, we'll be moving to those locations. >> all right. brigadier general ralph ribas with the florida national guard, thanks to you and thanks to all of the brave men and women of the florida national guard. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, sir.
>> nbc's tom costello is in washington, d.c. he's up at fema's headquarters. tom, what are they talking about? >> yeah, matt, we have just now stepped outside of fema headquarters because they're holding some personnel briefings inside. let me give you a couple of headlines as of this moment. fema's administrator is now saying that the westward movement of this storm presents a worst case scenario for florida and for the emergency response. that's coming from the fema administrator. we expect to be back in the command center in a number of minutes here. let me give you a couple of headline concerns or bullet points that they have here in washington, d.c. that millions could be without power up and down the peninsula. that remains a big concern for them. they're also talking about having to preposition so much emergency supplies. they're talking about two and a half million meals ready to go. 1.4 million liters of washington. they are staging additional commodities across the entire
region. they have a major fema staging point along with local authorities in grovesville, florida, between orlando and tampa. and then in addition, maxwell air force base up in alabama is going to be a major transit point into and out of the state, and then additional resources out of the storm zone. so that's georgia and north carolina as well, even texas, which of course is still recovering from hurricane harvey. all of that is what they're now looking at as the storm comes ashore. guys. >> tom costello at fema headquarters just outside as they get a personnel briefing this morning. >> bill price is back here playing the role of bill nye the science guy. >> it's just interesting, the weight of just about a cubic yard of storm surge, of this water, is about a ton. it gives you an idea of the force. and when it comes at you, it's coming at a rate equivalent to a class 3 or class 4 rapid. so it gives you an idea of the strength.
often it's not a wall like we think, but it is rapidly rising. so you've got literally minutes to get out of the way. some people think if they move their stuff away from the door, that will make their property safe and lives safe. you'll be pushed right into it. >> but it might have picked up debris along the way as well. >> correct. once this starts picking up, there is no way to get someone to rescue you. >> and it's a double-headed monster because not only does it get you on the way in -- >> it takes you on the way out. >> it gets shifted. dave, thank you very much. >> and the storm surge is often the deadliest part of any storm and that's why we're watching it so closely along with all those florida officials. we continue our coverage. hurricane irma hitting as we speak. we've got our correspondents across the region. lester and al leading up
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i )m kira klapper. this special edition of )today) returns in a moment - with good morning. it's 6:29. i'm kira klapper. this special edition of "today" returns in a moment with the latest on hurricane irma battering florida as we speak. there are crews from the bay area in florida poised to help out. the air national guard rescue wing is there. also california task force three based in menlo park will help in the gulf coast and pg&e is sending staff to help with power outages from the storms. let's check in with meteorologist rob mayeda with a quick look at the local forecast. in our weather today warmer than we saw yesterday. 80s, san francisco to oakland. 90s closer to san jose. out to the east bay valleys close to 100 degrees. now tomorrow san francisco and inland will see some cooling. a chance of showers tuesday cooler at midweek.
>> nice to have relief on the way, thanks. another local news update in half an hour. we're back now, 9:30 on a sunday morning. it's the 10th of september, 2017. this is a special edition of "today" as we are tracking hurricane irma. this massive storm, and it is huge, just made its first official landfall in the u.s. in the lower florida keys. >> and we've been watching it as it batters the southeast coast of florida and we've been waiting because we know the storm is coming to the west coast of florida. >> we've been showing you this all morning, trying to give some idea of what it's like to be on the ground during this. top winds 130 miles an hour making irma a major category 4 storm. it's showing no signs of letting up. >> in fact conditions are
getting worse. the winds increasing throughout the morning. all of this leading to major concerns over storm surge. this could get as high as 15 feet in some places. >> the storm led to the largest evacuation in florida's history. more man 6 million people fleeing, many heading to the state's 436 evacuation shelters. we're understanding that those shelters are jam packed but in a lot of areas, they are making room. they are getting people in out of the storm. >> for some people in some parts of the state there is still time. for others, they're out of time. we've got correspondents across the state. the hurricane is hammering the area and we're going to start with nbc's miguel almaguer. he's in florida city which is a little inland south of miami and he's right in the thick of it. >> reporter: hey, savannah, good morning. yes, certainly about 8 to 10 miles inland but definitely not protected from irma. that pelting, blinding rain continues to hammer down here, but really it's the wind doing most of the damage here.
over the last several hours we have seen transformers explode, power lines are beginning to sag, even some trees are coming down. we lost power in this area a short time ago. here at city hall at the police department, they have a backup generator. that's the only thing that's keeping the lights on. we spent the night actually inside city hall with city officials. it sounded as though the roof was going to peel off overnight. we rode out the storm with several other reporters across this region and this is the problem, guys, this wind and this rain that's just coming sideways. it's too dangerous for first responders to go out on these streets. so what they're asking everyone here to do is hunker down in place. the conditions continue to deteriorate. it started raining here in florida city about 12 hours or so ago. we see that some folks have been driving out through this weather. that's incredibly dangerous. we've seen some first responders who were hunkered down right next to us. wow, these winds are really picking up now, guys. they tell us we won't be going
outdoors any time soon to respond to any emergency calls because it's simply too dangerous for them to do so so they're going to hunker down and ride out the storm right next to us as these conditions continue to deteriorate. back to you guys. >> miguel, thank you very much. let's go to the north now and the city of miami and miami beach. nbc's mariana atencio is about 40 miles to the north. she is in miami beach. good morning. >> reporter: matt, so the destruction is here, the wait is over. you can just see this large tree that fell here this morning as this hurricane, we're getting confirmation, has made landfall in florida. a car just went by. i believe those were first responders. we have a camera attached to the back of our suv here to bring you these images of collins avenue as the wind and the rain and also the sand i feel pounding on my face right now because the beach is about a quarter of a mile to my right.
here is where you're going to start to get that dangerous storm surge that governor rick scott of florida is calling deadly. they're expecting 6 to 10 feet of storm surge, which could flood this entire avenue in a couple of hours. also here to my right you see all of these very fancy hotels. this is a street with a lot of tourists, most of them boarded up. also you start getting that debris flying around and that sand that could be potentially dangerous for anybody who's walking around here. again, what we're hearing from the mayor and first responders, the next couple of hours are going to be crucial to save lives here in miami beach. because this hurricane is not making a direct hit on miami beach, that does not mean, does not mean that people are out of harm's way. the final thing that i want to point out to you, i don't know if you can make out the sand that has made its way here all the way from a quarter of a mile all the way here in just the past half hour.
so you can just imagine what this will look like a couple of hours from now. matt, savannah. >> it's going to be a massive cleanup, thank you very much. >> let's go to gadi schwartz. he drove from florida city down to the florida keys. he's riding out the storm and you've seen some major flooding along highway 1 there, gadi. >> reporter: yeah, savannah, matt, can you guys hear me? we lost one of our mics. can you hear me okay? >> we hear you. >> reporter: we've got a backup mic hiding it in here. our equipment is getting kind of soaked. right now we're on the tip of the florida keys. this right here is key laurg rg. we're starting to see the debris being swept over here. we're kind of taking shelter behind this brick building here, this brick gas station. this is what it's looking like. these awnings right here are starting to rock. if you take a look, if they fall, they're going to fall that way, but they're getting pounded by these hurricane-force winds right now.
we parked our suv over here where it's safe right behind the building. but this right here is the one. that is the south dixie highway. that's the way that we came in. we were actually just coming to check out the south dixie highway to see if it was still passable for emergency crews. hold on real fast. yeah, in key largo. so we're talking to emergency crews. they are hunkered down and they want to know whether or not that road was passable. we were down in that area and checked it out. northbound lanes right now are completely impassable. a storm surge has come up and has brought debris onto the roadway. the southbound lane, however, is still passable. it's protected by that three-foot barrier that you're seeing right there, so as long as the storm surge doesn't come up and breach that, things should be okay. but we were talking to the first responders, the emergency crews hunkered down and they were saying that they are anticipating these types of hurricane-force winds for possibly six to eight hours.
so you can see there's a little bit of brief respite and then these hurricane-force winds kick up again. that's the latest here in key largo. back do you, matt and savannah. >> stay safe. we've got senator marco rubio with us. good morning to you. >> good morning. >> what are you hearing about the conditions and what your state faces this morning? >> well, obviously i mean i'm here in miami-dade in my home. while we're safe, we've been out power since 2:00 a.m. more importantly we're starting to get reports from marathon, florida. there's a shelter of last resort that outside is deeply flooded. somebody in the shelter died overnight of natural causes so they're concerned about food supplies. really people should not have stayed in the keys but some did and they're in the shelter. so we've lost some communications with the southern part of obviously key west which is now directly in the eye of the storm. i was just listening to some of your reporters.
they're in southeast florida. florida city is just south of here. conditions here are nasty and dangerous. i hope they get indoors, by the way. i know everyone wants to be out reporting but it's also dangerous. but it is nasty in southeast florida. just imagine how bad it is going to be in tampa bay, naples and ft. myers, sarasota. the southwest coast will be affected, heavily populated, very susceptible to storm surge. if people still have the ability to leave these evacuation areas, they should. this is the worst case scenario, the tampa bay hit that would potentially happen. >> job number one is to keep people safe while the storm is hitting. job number two is to assess the damage. job number three, try to help with recovery. you know, you have the power to pick up the phone and talk to the heads of all kinds of agencies. what are they telling you? >> well, they're positioned. here's the challenge and the unique challenge of the storm. fema has prepositioned a lot of assets and supplies in alabama
and in georgia. well, now alabama and georgia are potentially going to be impacted. not by hurricane winds but by tropical storm winds, which means it's going to delay the ability potentially of getting on the road or in the air to deliver those supplies. so people are going to have to hold on, especially in the southern part of the state, for a couple days extra until they can get on the road and get here. so that's a concern. and then it's the sheer scope of it. this is a heavily populated state going through southwest florida. there's a lot of people in the tampa bay reregion. and third, we have a lot of people, hundreds of thousands of people who left south florida and headed north to orlando, to tampa, other parts they thought would be safer. now they find themselves in a target. number one, they have to stay where they are. and number two, we have to deal with all those people trying to come back home after the storm and the traffic that might create for the emergency crews and others trying to get down to help. >> senator, you said a couple of minutes ago this is the worst
case scenario for tampa. is that part of what you're getting at above and beyond the fact that it's a terrible storm? >> yeah. i mean the bigger challenge is not just that, it's the storm surge. tampa bay, the basin of water and a storm like this is going to push all that water inland into the low-lying areas of tampa bay. heavily populated. tampa bay hospital is right there on the waterfront. we have a nicu neonatal intensive care unit there which should be safe but tampa is susceptible to flooding and stur storm surge. so you hadadd the wind and the storm surge, and this water event is what we're deeply concerned about on the southwest coast of florida. that is deadly. you can shelter from the wind. you cannot shelter from the water. it will -- the only way to protect yourself from storm surge is to get away from it so we are very concerned about that. >> looking forward, you talk about challenges. we know and you know that fema is stretched very thin.
they're reacting to the devastation from hurricane harvey. there have been wildfires out west. i know there's been more money delivered by congress, but are you at all nervous that fema has just got, you know, too many things going on at once? >> no, i think from a resource perspective congress is going to allocate whatever emergency funds are necessary. as long as we stay focused on that, what do we need for the next year, for the next six months to respond to these storms, that will happen. everyone knew that going into this weekend. obviously what you're talking about is the scale and scope of it. a lot of people -- usually these storms will hit one city. they'll hit houston or miami or tampa. this is going to hit multiple metropolitan centers, so you do worry about volume overwhelming, but i'm sure that it's not just fema on its own. you've got a lot of other people involved, the department of defense, state officials of course, so we'll get through it. job number one is to keep people
safe because the less people you have to rescue, the more time you have to go help people recover. those rescue efforts, if we can avoid them at the front end, really will make the recovery not easy but it will make it easier if we don't have to spend time and resources on the rescue part of it. people should take responsibility for that on the front end and not put themselves in that position. if they do, our brave men and women, first responders, firefighters and others will be out there, but i hope people will heed the warning. >> senator, thank you very much. good luck to you and the good people of florida. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you. >> sam champion. >> he's in miami actually this morning. sam, what's the situation there? >> hey, matt, hey, savannah. we continue to watch ourselves get in bands and get out of bands. there will be moments like this where it feels really good and all of a sudden the wind will pick up. one of the things that we've been watching all morning long are the wind fields progressing a little bit to the north with the center of this storm. so this is what we get all day
long today. this is an all-day kind of south florida event. and that's what i'm talking about right there. just to give you an orientation of how we're protected, if i'm looking at you right now, i'm looking north. if i'm looking this way, i'm looking east and that's west. so right now the bands have more of a northern direction that are whipping in so we're blocked from the worst of it. if you look back out at the trees right there, you're seeing the trees are all leaning sideways and i'm not having to dance too much because there's a little block from the east so we've chosen this spot so that this morning as those wind directions come around, we can still get on tv and talk to people about the things that are coming on and not take the direct impact. now, later on today when that storm goes -- actually it's tonight into tomorrow, when that storm drives a little north, the winds will shift around from this direction so we might have to find another spot to block ourselves from the wind.
right now crew protected, we're protected and we're able to show you what's going on in miami without having to basically do this the entire time in that position. so we're taking these bands. the winds, the gusts that are in those bands get more intense as we go through the entire day. the important thing to understand is the damage here is enhanced because of the time that south florida will spend under this storm now that it's slowed down. >> 8 to 9 miles an hour, sam. you have more numbers? >> more than a million people now in florida without power, so this is a situation that is going to be very unpleasant for some time. lester and al are in tampa. guys, i don't know if you heard senator rubio talking about how uniquely situated tampa is and why it is such a concern that it looks to be going to be facing a hit from irma. >> we were just looking at the map. a lot of water here. of course the bay and the channel and the hillsborough river here, there's a lot of
places for that water to come up. following up on what the senator was saying, we were in a multi-vehicle convoy driving from miami to ft. myers yesterday. we pulled off and a couple of people pulled up. where can i get some gas? you can't help them. and so you're thinking about all these calls for evacuation. that makes a lot of sense. but if you're looking at a quarter tank or an eighth of a tank and you're doing the math of getting from here to there, it's going to put some people in a really difficult position. you talk about the power loss. the gas shortages you've seen up to this point have just been logistics of fegetting it there and demand. once power goes out, those pumps are going to do you no good. so there's a lot of different multi parts moving here. >> with roads being impacted either from water or debris, being able to get those things cleared out, people who probably used their last gas to get where they were to hunker down or to hunker down in place, now they have to try to get back. >> and you don't want to get stranded when this thing is
coming in your car. >> and it's going to be another 24 hours before the all clear is even sounded. again, the latest on irma, still a category 4 storm. and it is continuing to pack 130-mile-per-hour winds. it's probably even a little further east-northeast of key west with north-northwest movement at 8 miles per hour. and the path of this thing, again, it's going to be taking its own sweet time. sunday, 130-mile-per-hour winds just north of -- i should say south of ft. myers, continues on. overnight it's going to be a category 3 here in tampa and that's going to be a mess overnight. by monday afternoon it's in tallahassee and then it moves on into the southeast and continues into thursday as a tropical depression into parts of kentucky and tennessee. so this is a long-range event that's going to take a long time. we've got severe -- we've got
tropical storm warnings for atlanta, for inland atlanta, which is unbelievable. >> why is this thing maintaining such strength, though? let's say it hits the tampa bay area, it's inland at that point. >> but it will come back out onto the water and parallel the coast. and then of course the storm surge is just going to be really, really massive, especially along that southwest coast. >> we continue to watch it here. again, tampa with the gift of time right now because it's ahead of this, but it sees what's coming and it's not pretty. >> lester, al, thank you very much. jeff rossen is in tampa as well, diving a little deeper into the situation there and talking about just how vulnerable this city could be in that storm. jeff, good to see you. good morning. >> reporter: hey, good morning, guys. yeah, no city is ever fully prepared for a hurricane. no city ever wants it or any town, but tampa is especially at risk. you know why, it's because of all of the water and the storm surge you were talking about. i want to swing around this way. take a look, a lot of the roads
here in tampa are just like this, right next to the water, and those are going to get cut off and flooded pretty quickly. the last time they had a hurricane here was in 1921. there were about 135,000 people that lived here, that's it. today, 3 million people, nearly 3 million, and that is why tampa is so vulnerable right now. hurricane irma bearing down, causing major destruction and flooding all over the caribbean and florida. now heading right toward tampa, a potential disaster. according to a study by the world bank, tampa is the seventh most vulnerable city in the world for damage. why? it's a low-lying area with water surrounding it from the gulf of mexico to tampa bay. >> a lot of neighborhoods around here were built on dredge material just a few feet above
sea level so a little storm surge can wreak a lot of havoc. >> reporter: so what would that look like? noaa once did a full-scale mock-up if a category 3 hurricane swooped into tampa bay, more than nine feet of water would cover these areas. for a category 4, the flooding gets worse. if a category 5 rolls through, this entire section of the city would be under water. city officials estimate nearly 500,000 homes would be destroyed, nearly 2,000 people killed. >> reporter: how bad could this potentially get? >> if the storm comes up the west coast of florida at just the right speed at just the right angle, there would be 12 to 15 feet of storm surge above normal high tide. >> reporter: and it's not just homes at risk. if people get hurt during the storm and they need help, they're going to have to come here to tampa general hospital. it's the biggest hospital in this city and one of the biggest hospitals in the entire state. but it's built here on an island.
yes, this is an island. let me show you how you have to get in. through these low-lying bridges. yeah, you need to take this low-lying bridge here. experts say this may get cut off pretty early into the storm with the storm surge. the hospital says they plan to operate during the storm but they have an evacuation plan and they may need it. officials say the city's infrastructure isn't equipped for a storm like irma, so we went straight to the mayor of tampa at the city's emergency command center. >> why is this city so vulnerable? why haven't the infrastructure changes been made? >> we're a city that's on the water. our topography is low. in the 1970s the federal government basically washed their hands of local jurisdictions and so we've been basically duct taping our infrastructure together for decades. >> are you worried about this storm and how it's going to impact this city, considering all the infrastructure problems. >> i'm worried about the storm in general, infrastructure notwithstanding. this is a storm unlike any other storm florida has faced. it's more intense than andrew,
bigger than andrew. it's coming to a place that has avoided a direct hit for 90 years. >> reporter: now it's a waiting game with tampa in the crosshairs. the wind and the rain are kicking up here. you know, we are not getting the worst of this until tonight and overnight so we are all bracing. i was in our hotel. we checked into a hotel. one of them was about to be evacuated so we checked into another one and got some rooms. i met some families here and there are a lot of people here in tampa that lived in miami and ft. lauderdale and west palm beach and they came here to tampa to get away from the storm because everyone thought it was coming to the east coast. now here they are right in the middle of it all over again. we talked about how low lying this area is surrounded by all the water. we showed you that road over there. i want to zoom in. i know it's very far in, but these are the kinds of bridges that we are talking about, all very low here in tampa, and that is why all of those studies show that this city is one of the most risky in the entire
country, some would say the entire world of a storm like this. the officials say they're ready, they're doing the best job they can. they have drainage issues here, infrastructure issues here, so it's something we'll all be watching. this will be a very dangerous spot to be in just a few hours when the storm comes in and this water is all pushed inland. >> this is the worst case scenario with regard to tampa. >> with all the twists and turns and coves, tampa has 700 miles of shoreline. that's a lot of exposure. >> a lot of nerves there for sure. willie geist is over in the orange room. willie, good morning. >> good morning again, guys. dave price was telling us some winds in the miami area could reach between 85 and 100 miles per hour in their gusts. we know the kind of structures that are in cities like miami and all the way up that west coast. high rise structures. what does that mean exactly? well, if you look at our animation here, about 100-mile-an-hour wind amounts to 130 miles per hour at the top of one of those buildings.
it won't be an issue down low, but up top it could be. windows in buildings that went up after hurricane andrew designed to withstand winds up to 175 miles an hour, but it's important to make sure those windows are shut tight as the wind rushes alongside of the building, it creates a vacuum that could cause significant damage inside of the windows if they're not closed right. now, wind also can spell trouble for the construction cranes that dot florida's skyline. here's new video just out of miami this morning. cranes take about one to two weeks to dismantle. a lot of people saying why didn't you take them down? well, they didn't have time in some cases. downtown miami was left with at least two dozen cranes still standing. they're counterbalanced and weigh up to 30,000 pounds. obviously very dangerous if the crane collapses in a high wind. people who live in buildings with cranes nearby have been urged to relocate again. just to underline, miami over the next two hours could see gusts up to 80 to 100 miles an
hour and that could have a big impact on those buildings and cranes. >> it's part of the energy which is connected to the right side of the storm and you're going to see heavier bands and you're going to see times when things calm down a little bit. that's one of the things when hurricanes begin to roll through an area. it is not always the case where you're going to see sustained heavy downpours and sustained winds. there are going to be ebbs and flows to all of this, so that's the first thing. important to keep in mind especially in some of these areas where we've continued to develop these skyscrapers. the issue of debris, this is a very different storm than harvey was. harvey was a water storm. this is a wind, debris and surge storm. different situation here. so we're going to watch that in some of the developed areas. >> while they weren't able to take some of those cranes down in time, you can bet they were
battening down the construction materials at the top of those buildings, because the wind gets ahold of that and you've got a real problem. >> without a doubt. keep in mine, we're going to have trouble in metropolitan areas in florida from the east to the west. as we head through the next several hours, that trouble is going to begin to transition. where al is and where lester is and where dylan is, those areas are going to begin to see the rains really begin to pick up and that surge roll in. and that surge, that's the water issue we're going to be facing. >> and power outages. we started off the morning with a few hundred thousand and thousand we're over a million. >> and that affects communications as well. >> it's a very tense situation right now. our friends in florida, our thoughts are with them and we continue to check in with our correspondents fanned out across the region. our live coverage of this storm rolls on right after a check of these messages.
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good morning. it's 6:59. i'm kira klapper. this special edition of "today" returns in a moment. first, there are people who flew to the bay area to take refuge from irma. also on nbcbayarea.com we spoke with a former san jose couple riding out the storm in florida. and our own vianey arana is in south florida covering irma. follow her on facebook and twitter. she is constantly updating her feeds with new pictures, videos and stories. meteorologist rob mayeda has a look at the bay area forecast. and right now 60s, hazy skies in san jose. later on highs in the 90s around san jose. 80 san francisco to oakland and the trend will be cooler as you get back into the workweek. we'll see increasing clouds, though, leading to a chance of showers late monday to tuesday
and trending cooler the second half of the week. kira? >> something to look forward to, rob, thanks. i'll have another local news update in half an hour. ♪ good morning, breaking news. irma, the most powerful hurricane ever pounding florida right now. 130-mile-per-hour winds. flooding rain. a life-threatening storm sturge expected. 1 million people without power in florida. more than 6 million people, a third of the state's population under mandatory evacuation orders. our correspondents are all across the region, as this historic storm hits today, sunday, december 10th, 2017. >> announcer: from nbc news, this is a special editi