tv MSNBC Live MSNBC September 9, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
12:00 out west and good afternoon, everybody. i'm thomas roberts and we continue our live coverage of irma and just hours away, the full impact on the u.s. mainland. >> really bad. >> so we've got wind, we've got rain. it's already moving in. the outer bands of this storm system, and in a few hours, it's going to be a lot worse. we've got irma listed as a category 3 hurricane right now. that means it packs winds of 125 miles per hour. it weakened after slamming into cuba earlier, but this catastrophic storm is expected to refuel because once it goes off the side of cuba and back over warm waters of south florida, it could return to strength of a cat 4 or even a category 5 storm. >> reporter: as you can hear, the wind is really picking up here in fort lauderdale. >> storm surge will be the most serious part of this storm. it's the most deadly potential
part of the storm. >> protectings li life is our absolute top priority. there will be no resource, no expense spared to protect lives. >> it's not just the trees falling. we've already seen one transformer blowing up and that is just from the outer bands of the storm coming in. >> we've got nearly 7 million people reportedly ordered to evacuate throughout florida. and other states that are going to be impacted by the path of irma, but those who have chosen to leave their homes, they are facing some different problems, because in southwest florida, that's over on the gulf coast of florida, people are dealing with what you're looking at here. seemingly never-ending lines just to get inside of a shelter. so, we've got reporters scattered all over throughout south florida covering every angle of this story to bring you the very latest and i want to start with sam champion, he's been monitoring the storm from the miami beach area and sam, it's been a lot of different calculations going into the tracking of this storm system, and the east coast of florida
was definitely on high alert, and now it seems as if the west coast is going to be the people most impact bid thied by this bf south florida is going to have to deal with the storm surge. >> definitely. and we have all that storm surge projection to show people, thomas, because this storm is a big storm and it's going to move a lot of water. i want to tell you kind of why we're here. so, if you look out there, straight out there, past that rock jetty, that's all atlantic out there. we're right at a manmade area, canal here that's called government cut. this is where the cruise ships come from the atlantic into the harbor, into the port of miami, and it's also where an awful lot of those container ships will unload cargo in that same area that's just down the canal from that area. you can see a few white caps coming in off the ocean, but remember, the center of this storm is still on or just half on the coast of cuba. look at this satellite picture with me. and if you look very closely at that northern coast of cuba, the little islands, you can see
dotting on the edge of it they call the cuba keys there, you can barely see the faint eye. it's not like that beautiful open eye that we could see when it's a cat 5. this eye looks a little shut down but believe me, as soon as it pulls away from that coast of cuba, it will open up and restrengthen a little bit. also, one of the things i want to show you about that satellite picture, look at the white swirls that go all the way around that hurricane. those are the feeder bands when people talk about feeder bands, that's what they're talking about. look at the one that covers south florida and look how far it extends into the atlantic. we're pulling moisture off the atlantic, bringing it across south florida and swirling it back into that hurricane. so we'll have thunderstorms, strong winds, on shore flow, which means there will be some water moving in, particularly at high tide times, all over the east coast. let's talk about the west coast. that's a whole different story. this storm leaves the cuba coast as a category 3, strengthens in the florida straits, gets to the
keys and probably right around key west, the eye may make impact with key west as a category 4. that's 140-mile-per-hour winds pushing about a 20-foot storm surge is possible and 20, 25 inches of rain. and that's up and down the keys is one of the things we're really concerned about. now look another this track as we take us through the next few days. this is a two-day event for florida, sunday and monday. monday, it spends much of its time in north florida. moving key west in sunday, then going from key west to fort myers, maintaining that category 4 strength. that's really a damaging storm on that damaging side of the storm for the coast of fort myers and naples and that area. watch it get to tampa. this is very important. if it stays on land as it works up toward tampa, the storm surge will not be catastrophic for tampa. it will be bad. but it won't be catastrophic. we don't want that storm as a cat 3 or 4, thomas, to be out in the gulf, pushing water into tampa bay. we're going to be watching that
very carefully. >> all right, our sam champion, nbc weather contributor, thank you very much. we'll be talking again to you shortly. i want to bring in gabe gutierrez. gabe is on the west coast of florida at a shelter outside of fort myers, in estero where the line gabe was demonstrating in the last hour was literally wrapped around the block. gabe, i know you've had some time to speak to folks and learn more about the situation there. what have you learned? >> reporter: hey there, thomas. well, we're here at the germian arena. the line has only grown and we got some rain, making these people very uncomfortable here. there had been a report that was tweeted out that this shelter may have been at capacity. however now we're told by a lieutenant on the scene that that is not the case. that this shelter, so far, is not at capacity. but for many of these folks, this has been a very difficult and heartbreaking ordeal. they've been here for hours. they started showing up just before midnight and they had to wait in line for hours when this
thing opened this morning. several of the shururrounding shelters have been filled to capacity. we understand that lee county is planning to open a few more shelters this afternoon and they're really rushing to process these folks as quickly as we can. now, thomas, i had spoken with this woman over here named susan. h hi, susan. he's one of the folks that have been here for several hours. susan, tell me, how long have you been in this line? >> i've been here with rachel and kit. we've been here like all of us for five hours. >> reporter: five hours. how difficult has it been? >> it was harder when the sun was out. now that it's kind of drizzling and a little breezy, everyone's not feeling so much with the heatstroke stuff. >> reporter: now, susan, in the last few minutes, we've seen this line has broken up into two so maybe they might be starting to process some more people processing here. do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? do you think you're going to get there soon? it appears you might be just a few people away. >> well, we're hoping, first of
all, that we're in the right line and we want to just get in and get settled and we're praying that they're not full. >> reporter: susan, you live nearby, right? why did you decide to evacuate today? >> so, we got a call from family that we were in a major, major, major hit in south fort myers, and that we were going to really get hit and we needed to evacuate no later than this morning. >> reporter: when you saw that track of irma shift over the last day or so, last two days or so, shift to the west, what went through your head when you saw that storm, you know, shift a little bit and perhaps come into southwest florida? >> it's been really overwhelming, and stressful. we were like really fine the whole entire week until it shifted to us, and then we really panicked, and we were -- our emotions were really running all over the place. but then like my mom and my really great brothers that are
in california and my mom's in massachusetts, everyone's been so supportive and they just keep reminding us, you can't replace people, but you can replace stuff. >> reporter: susan, it's such a pleasure to meet you. i'm sorry it's under these circumstances. thank you so much for talking to us. >> thank you. >> reporter: good luck getting inside. looks like you're almost in. >> thank you. >> reporter: thomas, that is something we're seeing over and over again, people -- the ones that have been fortunate to be near the front of the line, and susan's been here for several hours, they're almost in. again, the authorities here saying they're processing people as quickly as they can. it seems like they just opened up a new section where they're processing people so the hope is to get them all processed in the next few hours, thomas. this county is trying to open up a few more shelters as well to accommodate this. but i should mention, since i spoke to you last hour, earlier in the day, we have been at another shelter that had just opened up in collier county, near naples. that shelter just opened up this morning, and emergency management officials tell us that within an hour of that shelter opening, they had new
forecasts or new numbers, and they decided to -- they decided that building wasn't going to be adequate to ride out the storm or they had concerns that it was the best place to house these people so they actually told those folks that had been in that shelter and were just getting processed that they had to come out. so that is certainly a very devastating situation for those folks. the frustration that we keep hearing over and over again from those people that decided not to evacuate but then they changed their mind when the storm changed track, and now we're feeling more rain now. these folks are going to be soaked, essentially, as they have been for the last couple of hours. it's not easy out here, thomas. >> gabe gutierrez reporting in estero, florida. that's just outside of fort myers. gabe, thanks so much. we know that the evacuations that are happening in affected counties here, the governor has said that there are over 320 different shelters across south florida that have become open with 450,000 people that are currently in those shelters. he said they were going to be
making room as needed for more people in the affected counties. but joining me on the phone now from marco island is florida police captain dave bayer. as we think about marco island and where you are for lee and collier counties, how important is it for people to understand irma and getting to shelter if they need to, if they don't have a safe place to hunker down ride this storm out. >> it's exceptionally important. we want to stress that it is not too late to evacuate. collier county opened six additional shelters this morning in golden gate elementary, golden gate paris, lake traford and pine crest elementary so it is not too late for people to leave soon. the weather on marco island is moderate at this point in time. we've had very minor rain showers and moderate wind so it is safe to get on the road at
this point in time. and we would encourage those people who have not heeded the mandatory evacuations issued by both the city and the county to do those -- to evacuate as soon as possible. >> sir, i think you said that one of your opinions about irma was that this is hurricane andrew on steroids. explain why you think that this is so much more deadly and dangerous than what homestead, florida, and the rest of south florida lived through in 1992 with andrew. >> well, that was my colleague, chief murphy, for the fire department, but building on his theme, you know, we are looking at a very, very serious event here. we are going to have serious storm surge. we're going to have winds estimated well over 100 miles an hour. we're going to have flooding rain. and although people tend to think that what's not going to happen, it's not going to happen, this storm is coming and
it's a deadly storm. and so chief murphy was in hurricane andrew, and you know, learned those lessons wisely, and we don't want people to learn lessons by being injured or a loss of life like one of your prior interviews was mentioning. it's just stuff. so, please evacuate. i do know that roughly there are about 16,000 people from collier county currently in shelters, the shelters are not full. there's still room in the shelters so we would ask people to evacuate as quickly as possible. >> sir, thanks so much. captain dave baer with the marco island police department. i appreciate your time. marco island being on the west coast of florida, the southwest florida gulf coast, and we know that there are some 200 miles of coastline and when you think about over fort myers and heading down south and around the tip of the peninsula and over into miami, they could be affected by deadly storm surge with irma and we have local officials here at the ready for whatever this storm is going to
bring, but what about federal officials? remember, they are still busy. they are at work helping the victims of hurricane harvey, so how are they going to be able to pull off this herculean effort in just a matter of hours? i'm going to speak with the former fema deputy director next about that. and as 25% of florida's population is escaping to safety out of irma's path, we've got drivers confronting issues with where to find places that are open with gas. we've got gasbuddy.com. this morning talking about critical shortages in miami, fort lauderdale, with at least 65% of stations out of gas and that's followed by gainesville, florida, and west palm beach with more than 50% of stations out of gas. situation not much better in tallahassee. tampa and st. pete, running on empty and followed by orlando with about 34% stations out of gas. we've got shortages in georgia and south carolina now, just beginning to creep up. we're going to be talking more about the impact of irma live
as soon as winds get low enough, search and rescue teams are going to start moving out. national guard, law enforcement will move in. transportation, our highway folks and local departments of transportation, their mission is simple, make a hole, make it wide, cut a hole in that debris so the teams can get to those that need help. this will occur throughout the state. >> so there we have the former fema director, craig, on the role that fema is going to play after irma makes landfall in florida, and we have just two weeks after dispatching relief efforts to texas for hurricane harvey, fema now facing fallout from another series of storms.
we have hurricane irma heading towards florida, hurricane jose right behind it, so is the agency best prepared to handle this onslaught of natural disasters? it's a big question. fema and brock long saying they are up to this task but joining me is former fema deputy administrator rich. we know that fema almost ran out of money last week. how do you think that the agency is best prepared, financially, to deal with consecutive issues like harvey and the irma fallout? >> good afternoon, thomas. i think one of the things is that fema is ready and they, at this point in time, the money is there, and life safety is the most important to what we have to deal with. that's -- that is the absolute priority. and fema is ready. fema is set up in a regional system that people in fema region 6 that were handling harvey and there are people in region 4 that are ready to take care of what's needed in florida to support the governor, support the cities and the counties in florida, as well as the folks in region 2 that are going to be --
that are already supporting the people in the virgin islands and puerto rico as we continue to move forward. >> when we think about assets that are already in place for what's going to be needed here in south florida, does fema have the staff that they need to have those resources in place to be able to juggle what they're already doing in texas for what the needs will be here in florida? >> well, one thing i think it's important to realize is it is not just fema. fema helps coordinate the federal response, including the department of defense, health and human service, the assistant secretary of preparedness and response in health and human services, the department of transportation, other components within the department of homeland security, part of the surge workforce that was activated. in addition to that, fema has a number of people, already about 10,000 federal employees in florida ready to go to florida, fema has large number of employees that have been deployed, including fema core, they're reservists as well and the fema employees, especially
the ones all over in headquarters in the regions have been working 12 to 16-hour shifts. in fact, i was talking to one of my former colleagues, mentioned that everybody is going all in. in fact, one woman said, i don't need my full annual leave. i just need to day off to get married in a week or two. so people are really dedicated to working through these issues. >> former fema deputy administrator, thanks so much for joining me. i appreciate it. >> thank you. all right, so nbc's jacob soboroff is over on the west coast of florida in cape coral just outside of fort myers and jacob was able to catch up with the fire department on cape coral. jacob, what are they best prepared for right now? >> reporter: so, thomas, the whole idea here in cape coral is that cape coral essentially is at sea level throughout this -- almost the entire community. this is brandon morris, a lieutenant with the cape coral fire department and we're riding along in a fire engine right now where they are making -- you can hear the sirens going off. listen to this real quick.
they are making announcements to tell people this is a mandatory evacuation zone, advising people to take shelter elsewhere. so lieutenant morris, if you can describe to us a little bit about what you guys are doing, where we're at right now and why you are doing this now. >> well, like you said, we're letting everybody know this is a mandatory evacuation zone. not everyone's aware of that. many people shuttered up their houses and they think they're safe. last night, zone a was declared a mandatory evacuation zone. so, not everyone knows that. all south of pine island road is a mai a mandatory evacuation zone. >> so what you're telling me, even though we could see a storm surge that is 5 to 10 feet and we're probably at about 5 feet -- are they talking to someone right now? let's take a quick look. thomas, what's happening right now is we can show you that residence right here. are you evacuating, sir? are you going to evacuate? he's not going to evacuate.
all right, thomas, that's what we're faced with. let me ask you about that, lieutenant. there's a resident out there having a cold one, coming up to your department saying he's not getting out of here. is that a stupid decision? >> it is. it is. that's why we have the evacuation zones. people much smarter than us make these decisions. you know, they're not evacuating because we say it's a good idea. the people who know the weather and know storm surge, they're the ones saying to evacuate. so we're letting them know it's not a good idea. >> reporter: when you look at the map of cape coral, there are waterways that go all throughout this community. can you tell me what those waterways are and how that's going to play in -- that's another resident right there. that's going to affect the safety of the residents here. >> cape coral is surrounded by the gulf of mexico, the river, and we also have hundreds of miles of canals. >> reporter: hundreds of miles of canals. >> yes. >> reporter: so those canals, ultimately, if the storm surge comes in here, those canals are going to rise up, overflow throughout this entire community? >> they can overflow into backyards but really we're worried about the gulf surge.
yeah, it's all -- none of it's safe as far as south of pine island road. >> reporter: there's another resident right there. thomas, as we drive through this neighborhood, it's likely saw just on the other side of the florida peninsula, over on miami beach, just yesterday, there were people who are stubborn, who don't want to leave, who are staying there and frankly, you tell me, lieutenant, does that put you guys at risk as first responders at the end of the day if something happens, you guys are going to have to save their lives. >> that's what we told someone earlier. they said they didn't want to go, and we discourage it because i don't want to see something happen to anyone here. we're heavily invested emotio l emotionally into this community and we don't want to be put at risk either. we all have families and but we're going help everyone that we can. >> reporter: thomas, we just passed by another house where we saw a woman walking out with a big crate of water. it's very late in the game but as the storm has shifted, we are in the direct target right now of irma, and that is why these
firefighters are doing god's work, frankly, to tell people, get out of here and get out of here now. we're going to stick around with them, see what happens, see wo t they run into over the next little while. >> jacob, thanks so much, and i used to live on cape coral right off skyline boulevard and i know what it's like for all those places over there that have canals behind them for the water that will rise. and we know that after harvey, that there was an issue with storm surge there. and we just heard them talking about the storm surge that they're concerned about with irma. jacob, does the fire team know exactly what they saw in terms of the canals and the rise after harvey on cape coral? >> reporter: yeah, so, they're asking about the rise after other storms in cape coral. do you know, is there a way to sort of tell what you've seen in previous storms with regard to the storm surge in the canals here on cape coral? thomas roberts, the anchor is
over in miami and a friend of mine, quite frankly. used to live here. talk to me about the storm surge previously. >> well, to be honest, i work for a different fire department before, during the other hurricanes so i can't speak personally to it. >> reporter: when you talk about the word about five feet right now, above sea level, those canals, any little bit, i mean, what does it take to have them overflow? >> it doesn't take a lot. we flooded from hurricane harvey. >> reporter: that's right. >> that was in texas. and that shut down parts of cape coral. >> reporter: that's what thomas was just saying. so the fact that a hurricane that impacted texas ultimately came over here and flooded parts of cape coral, florida, it just goes to show you, that's a storm that came from very far away. this is one that's going to have a direct hit. any way to tell how much more of an impact it's going to have? >> the meteorologists are, you know, you have to talk to them, honestly. i can't answer that personally. but you know, we didn't have -- we didn't evacuate zones a and b for hurricane harvey. >> reporter: was that a mistake?
>> i don't believe so. but you know, we still -- it still affected us a lot. we had roads shut down, schools were out. and that wasn't enough -- that wasn't predicted enough to shut down or for us to evacuate zones. we've now evacuated everything south of pine island road here in cape coral. >> reporter: thomas, as you know, everything south of pine island is quite a bit of cape coral, a lot of residents, hundreds, thousands, i would think and there's another one still out here right now and you can hear the evacuation orders continuing on as we drive down here, the streets of cape coral, florida. very, very at risk from an impact of hurricane irma, thomas. >> all right, jacob, thanks so much. thank the team in cape coral that are doing their job, trying to make sure everybody is staying safe and we know cape coral is just outside of fort myers if you're familiar with the mcarthur causeway, also it's just north of fort myers beach if you've ever been there.
it's a residential area that's been populated over the last couple of decades but as we know, jacob was talking about there, they've had repeated warnings for folks that are kind of ignoring them like we saw with people walking up to the fire truck, saying they were going to stay in their homes, ride out irma. there are many other thousands of residents who have decided to leave their homes and to seek shelter elsewhere. now, some people may say that the reason they could be refusing to leave is they haven't seen a hurricane like irma in quite some time with the exception of hermene. the state has gone really more than a decade without a single hurricane landfall. joining me now is michelle cholo cholodof cholodofsky who evacuated bell island. why did you choose to evacuate o and not go further? >> my brother went to north carolina, other people went to atlanta. you didn't really know where to go and what to do. i have a pet, my sister has a pet, i have an 85-year-old
mother so it just seemed like such a tumultuous thing to do and you want to be close to where you live and not stay where you live and you just don't know but it's better to go somewhere, and we were here once before during another storm, so we came to where we felt comfortable, and a lot of people left and a lot of people hit the road and headed to orlando, which is one of our options, and then we got phone calls from friends saying they were stuck on i-95, stuck on the turnpike. people ran out of gas and were abandoning their cars and taking like 12 hours just to get a orlando and at that point, you just pick the best of all of our options and hope. >> typically orlando is like a four-hour drive. >> yeah and it was turning into a nine, 10, 12-hour drive. >> that's the other issue with people not knowing exactly where to go to get gasoline and then they hit long lines of people that were leaving. some people have said evacuation chaos could be more dangerous than actually hunkering down and
staying in place. do you feel prepared to ride it out here or did you feel because you talk about the family and having your mom with you, that the onus and a little bit of panic was setting in to figure out where to go. >> i wasn't nervous because you know, you just power through. you get the gas, you go to publix, get your groceries and then last night, i did not sleep all night because at that point, it was like, oh my god, this could potentially really be happening. and then you just get in the car at 7:00 in the morning and you drive here and you hope that you've done everything that you could do and there's just nothing else you can do. but i have some of my family with me. we're here together, and there's food and, you know, ac for now and electricity for now, and you're as prepared as you're going to be but it's better than doing nothing, i think. >> and you said you've had this experience before with other storms. >> yeah. >> how long have you lived here and which hurricanes have impacted you and your family most? >> so, i've been here since the late '60s.
we were away for andrew, but we had to fly back after andrew, and we couldn't fly back into miami. we had to fly into west palm. that was a whole big thing. last year, and i can't really remember the name of the storm but there was an impending storm last year and i grabbed my mom and my puppy and we came here. so we've had some near misses but nothing horrific, and this one seemed like it was going to be the one that hadn't happened. so, hopefully it's diverting a little bit. but it's still, you know, still scary. >> we can see behind us. it's still scary. we are not out of danger yet and still the storm surge to come. they're predicting 3 to 12 feet for 200 miles of coastline on the florida peninsula. michelle, i look forward to seeing you and the rest of your family and your mom especially around the building. and we're going to pass along this latest information that we have about the half hour headlines for you as we continue with the latest update for hurricane irma. and we expect this storm to be charging through.
the biggest information that we can pass along right now is concerning the outer bands. it's a colossal storm and just look at what it's done in certain parts of cuba, the images coming out of there are startling, and we know that it's going to lash the florida keys. the strong surf, just being whipped outside the window here. we've seen it happening for all afternoon long, the rain bands have not been as bad as they were earlier, but we have 25,000 people reportedly without power in florida so far. it's now technically considered a category 3 storm, but we don't want to have that designation fool you. irma has been limping along, and battering cuba but it still has winds sustaining 125 miles per hour, and there is the opportunity for it to pick up energy. a short time ago, authorities in florida asked an additional 700,000 people to evacuate. all told, 7 million people being asked to relocate during hurricane irma. our team is standing by, ready to bring us the very latest on this and i want to go to nbc's
kristen dahlgren on the west coast, joining us from fort myers. kristen, we saw jacob soboroff riding with the cape coral fire department and residents getting warnings about evacuation saying that, no, they're going to stay at home. what are you hearing from people not too far away in fort myers, their comfort level at staying at home. >> reporter: it really is a mix. throughout the past few days, we have seen people packing up, boarding up and leaving but we're here at this mobile home park today and i got to tell you, at least eight to ten people going to be riding out the storm here, we're told, and it's just frightening. you've seen the pictures of mobile home parks after a hurricane, a major hurricane moves through and it's really scary. they know that. i asked them, are you scared? they say, we're terrified. but they've chosen to stay. many of them said they were f l fooled by the forecast really focusing on the east coast, even though they were in the cone of
uncertainty, they didn't think it was going to be that bad here. and now they find themselves where they're thinking it's too late to get out. so, what are their plans? you know, some of them in these homes that do have concrete foundations and they hope to be in there and others just really praying that the winds aren't that bad. the water here is going to be a big issue, though. and take a look over here and you can see. this standing water in this culvert here. this is left over from when harvey came through, not as a hurricane, a direct hit here, but just the moisture, the rain that came down, the ground here is saturated. there was a foot of water in many of these homes just from a couple of days of rain. that's not storm surge. so that's what we're looking at now. the storm surge predictions here in the fort myers area are between 6 and 12 feet of water in some places. that would be the entire first floor of some of these homes, and so that's what we're looking
at. this potential for just disaster here. so one guy has a homemade boat he says he's going to get in. another woman said she's blowing up air mattresses and she could float on those. so, really, a dire situation as time now does run out to get out of here. >> kristen dahlgren reporting over in fort myers, we know that there are over 320 different shelters that have been set up in place with the governor saying that 450,000 people are in them, so if these people need to get out, hopefully they will do so and not have to rely on those crude measures that you're talking about there. kristen, keep us posts. we continue to follow the data that is coming out from the hurricane hunters, which is really helping people get ready for the storm, and we have the hunters literally flying zbooint right now. joining me on board the flight is jack parish, the flight director and sir, explain what you're collecting right now in terms of data about irma and how different it is from different
missions you've flown on this hurricane. >> good afternoon. we're -- we've gone through the west side to the east side, one pass so far, we are currently very near miami and about to proceed straight south, going for the second pass. very important information we're getting today is the eye fixes and most especially when does the center of irma move off of the north coast of cuba. so that's our number one priority is to get multiple fixes and to capture that moment of when it starts to move more toward florida. >> jack, what are the biggest influences that you've been able to figure out from the last calculations of data we had on irma that changed its trajectory from the east coast of florida to the west coast? >> interestingly enough, this is a n.o.a.h.p-3 aircraft so we're doing the inner corps work.
n.o.a.h. 49 is drop ago lping af expendable probes in the center and a combination of those data give you the strength of the high and the low that's supposed to -- north. so it's a combination of the aircraft that are giving that influence of the storm going more from the east coast to the west coast. >> jack, for you and your team specifically on board this aircraft, how rough has the flight been trying to collect data on irma? has it been bad? >> good question. we have already done one pass. it wasn't terrible but we did get a couple lower bars pressure than the previous aircraft. last night, we were flying in and had a really rough trip out on the north side. so, we do see extensive rain on the north side of this storm, and we're getting some good strong winds out here, but yesterday was quite a bit stronger, so fortunately, cuba has temporarily reduced the
strength of this storm. >> jack, we're seeing images right now of team members, hurricane hunters also visuals from what it look like up there. just explain to us from your see and say vision what are you literally looking at right now out the window or ahead of you? >> good question. at the moment, i'm looking at a huge breaking waves down below the aircraft. we can barely see the surface because it's raining so hard. what we're flying through. and more importantly, i'm looking at the -- at our n.o.a.h. radar that looks all the way around the airplane. i see the center of the storm, roughly 110 miles due south of us, so pointing right at it. so we're on our way. >> jack, how much longer are you and your team going to be collecting data on irma before coming back? >> for today ice flig's flight, going to be out here until what we call 23 zulu or 7:00 p.m. and
then i think n.o.a.h.'s flights will be concluded when our jet landed about 8:30 this evening. at that point, we have to evacuate the airplanes because our home base in lakeland is kind of ground zero. >> all right, so, a little over three more hours for you and your team above irma right now. the flight director on board one of the hurricane hunting flights that is live above irma right now, jack parish, thank you, sisi sir, i really appreciate your time and insight. it's fascinating to think about how important that is to the calculations. with we know there have been a lot of comparisons made between irma and the 1992 killer storm andrew. there are similarities and huge differences. but first, what it looks like in one florida resident trying to drive through irma. this was from westchester, and it's not in florida. this is in north carolina. it's expecting to feel the remnants of irma by monday. we've got the governor there,
my families are in the kitchen, all that's left. >> for anne mitchell, the devastating reality of what she and her family have lost just sank in today. the mitchells live in country walk, a once tidy miami suburb ravaged by the hurricane. >> after 30 years, this is all we have left. >> reporter: like 180,000 others in florida, the mitchells are now homeless. their dream house and the things they cherished, like this grandfather clock, lie on the front lawn. >> you have no idea what it's like to sit on a wall and pray
and that that's the only room that was left intact. really, i'm not this bad of a housekeeper. >> reporter: a short distance away, a neighbor, brenda smith, jokes to keep from crying while surveying what her family has left. >> oh, god. i guess that doesn't mean anything anymore. >> so there we have a flashback to over 25 years ago with nbc's noah nelson reporting. the aftermath of hurricane andrew, august 1992, and andrew was the last category 5 storm to hit florida, which is why so many people are looking back to it to try to figure out exactly what will happen with irma and the fact that it continues to vacillate between a cat 3 and it has, over the past several days, gone from cat 4 to cat 5 status. we know andrew killed 65 people in the bahamas, florida, and louisiana. it caused nearly $48 billion in damages, and nearly wiped out the town of homestead, florida, just south of miami where we are. when it made landfall. here's a comparison for both of these storms.
we've got andrew's maximum wind speed, 165 miles per hour. irma's was 185. andrew was 400 miles wide. irma, 650 miles wide. joining me now via skype from texas is john nielsen gannon, texas state climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at texas a&m university. professor, good to have you with me and when we talk about what you are looking at and how you are trying to intellectually think about this storm, do you think it's going to be more destructive than what we knew andrew to be? >> it has potential to be more destructive. it may not be a cat 5 at landfall, still too early to tell, but because of its great size, it's going to have a much bigger influence across the state. and another difference was andrew went across the state from east to west. this storm, of course, is moving from south to north, and so it's going to be not just making one landfall, it's going to be going up the coast for potentially
hundreds of miles, so it's going to affect a lot more people, a lot bigger portion of the state. >> well, as we think about the different population statuses of florida, certainly over the last 25 years, and what people have had to deal with in terms of hurricane season here and the different types of storm systems that have played through, we think about this snapshot in time with the storms that are katia over in the gulf, we've got harvey that had passed through and decimated in houston, but with irma and then jose, explain the conditions that have made it so ripe for these storms to populate and become so deadly. >> well, we knew going in that it was going to be a fairly active hurricane season. the conditions you need for that are warm water in the atlantic ocean, the warmer it is compared to normal, the more active a season tends to be. the second factor is the winds. if the winds aren't blowing at different speeds at different levels of the atmosphere, then
storms can get organized and develop and intensify a lot easier. so, those two key aspects were in place. of course, we had that before. we've had active hurricane seasons since the major landfalls of back in 2005, but we've been lucky they haven't made landfall in the united states so much. and really, we don't have a good ability to predict weather, particularly seasonal, affect the united states in particular. the storms are too random to be able to pin things down to that level of specificity. >> and right now, and as you talk about 2005 with katrina and rita that were back to back wallops for the gulf coast, these storms, specifically, especially irma, and the type of infamy it's going to live in now, professor, the fact of its sustained wind speeds are record-breaking, the sheer size of this storm, is this something that you think, based on research and what we've seen over the last couple of decades,
could become more common in our future? >> well, we do expect to see more of the very strong hurricanes, the category 4s and 5s. it's not clear whether we're going to see more hurricanes overall, but the conditions that allow a storm to reach major intensity, 150 miles per hour or more, that depends on basically how warm the ocean is compared to the top of the atmosphere, and as the climate warms, those conditions get better and better for storms to reach a higher peak intensity. irma's an example of a storm that did seem to reach its highest potential intensity while it was over the water. it may still do so again. harvey, fortunately, was still intensifying before it made landfall here in texas, so we don't know how bad that could have been if it had more time over water. >> well, and that's the thing with irma returning to these strong, warm waters off the southern tip of florida.
we wait to see if it's going to reorganize, recollect itself after battering cuba. john, atmospheric sciences professor at texas a&m, thank you, sir. i appreciate it. i want to return to florida. my colleague, jacob soboroff, is in cape coral, florida, has been seeing what people are saying about why they want to stay. jacob? >> reporter: yeah, thomas, we're still in cape coral and actually we just -- the lieutenant and i just got out and we're here with a couple of local residents. can i grab that stick microphone from you? thank you. i'm jacob from msnbc. what's your name. >> michael. >> reporter: what's your name. >> jenny. >> reporter: so lieutenant morris from the fire department here, you guys haven't evacuated yet. how come? >> getting the how the buttoned up, trying to get everything situated. we're heading north. >> reporter: so you're heading out. >> yeah. >> reporter: in the next hour. are you guys worried about your home? you sit at a pretty low elevation here in cape coral with the sea level rise. >> well, i am that not much is going to be left, but we'll just
have to wait and see when we come back. >> reporter: with the storm surge. what's your name, sweetie? >> phoenix. >> reporter: hi, phoenix. you obviously have your family here, you have someone else bringing you have a generator. is this something that you feel like you're prepared for? >> overly prepared. >> so why did you wait to get out until now? you said you were going to butten to up the house. this thing is coming quickly. >> we knew it was coming and we prepared for the worst and just based on looking at what the water will do, i'm not comfortable having my family in the house with as much water is coming, so we'll take a run for it. >> have you ever been through anything like this before? >> a few times, but nothing this severe. >> anything you want to ask the lieutenant? we're driving door to door ask being people to leave basically. >> you can tell me that i'm the last person to leave this city centeaskincenters
asking people to leave basically. >> you can tell me that i'm the last person to leave this city cente centers. >> i wish i could. >> luckily this family is leaving, but if you didn't leave, would you be able to get to them in the aftermath? >> it all just depends how bad it is. i'm very happy to see that they are leaving because that is one less on our mind. >> and frankly, we should just get out of your way so you can get out of here. anything else for friends, family possibly worrying about you knowing that we are in the direct target? >> just stay safe. we'll be safe. and we'll just have to figure it out after the storm is over. >> are you worried? >> i am a little bit, but i'm trying to stay calm for the little one and the sake of the rest of us. >> all right. phoenix, you will do xwlat. gi great. give me a high five. before we were inside the engine. nice to meet you. but this is what it looks like out here. we'll hop back in and head to
we've been talking about the rain and the storm surge that is a big concern, but the other issue is wind. and hurricane irma will potentially be a big test for miami's hurricane-minded hori h highri highrises. there are cranes on active construction sites. they were built to withstand 145-mile-an-hour winds. so when irma moves over warm water to our south, these wind speeds could pick back up
because irma has been clocking wi about 125 miles per hour in sustained winds. but this crane issue is something of interest for evacuation zones here in miami-dade. a miami real estate consultant and writer for crane spotters.com is joining us. peter, we were talking in the break about cranes on being a difference construction sites. >> that's right. >> in new york we november what happened with super storm sandy. and that got a lot of attention. but why are cranes active on construction sites and up to code when a hurricane is coming? >> the reason they are active is there have been a lot of investors who want to come down here and buy. we have wihave about 48,000 uni the pipeline. we have 12,000 under construction right now. and this is only the area where the vevacuation zone is expect difference. >> and the top part that looks like a "t." >> yeah, the horizontal part.
>> that for many of the cranes that are active are set loose so that they can spin. is that more safe? >> that is what is ped. and i'm staying in a highrise so i can see how the construction code is. but i can tell you there is only one job site where they have taken or the horizontal part of the "t" crane. everything else is up and floating and they are hoping that the cranes dochbn't go dow. >> when it comes to building well, people have learned over the years what best to do. and situations like irma will test it. are there no rules in place for cranes and active construction sites how much lead time you need to lok thock those down if know a cat 3, cat 4, cat 5 storm coming your way. >> i'm not an attorney but from
an industry perspective, effectively no. they don't want to face liability issues and there is bonding and shufrinsurance that involved. but silicon valley makes technology. miami, we make condos probably better than anyone else. so this is cutting edge. the bad news is after the building code went into effect, we've never been tested. so we don't know what will happen. the onanecdotal evidence is aft katrina. there was a crane. and katrina knocked the crane off and out of the building and laid across a 1 a. >> and you're willing to be your own beginfully p fulguinea pig strength of building regulations? >> i know a lot of the developers and the developer who built the building where i'm in, i have a lot of confidence in. they have built a lot of stuff and if everything goes sideways what i'm thinking is i go in the
stairwell. it's like a cement bunker, like the safe room. so that is what is going through my mind. >> all right. we'll check back in with you in a couple days, make sure that you are all right because there are a lot of people in these k evacuation zones that are staying put. and there are hundreds of thousands of people that have taken to shelters. 450,000 people are in shelters and they will accept more on a case by case needs in affected counties. that will do it for me. i'm thomas roberts in miami. chris jansing will be picking things up right now. >> thomas, thank you so much. good afternoon. i am chris jansing in new york. we continue to track hurricane irma. a storm that florida's governor says could be the most catastrophic ever to hit that state. right now, irma is punishing cuba as a category 3 hurricane with 125-mile-per-hour winds.
we expect to strengthen in the coming hours. possibly back into a category 4 storm. and south florida is already experiencing tropical storm conditions with wind gusts topping 40 miles per hour. one of the major concerns, the surge. that could reach 15 feet in some areas along 234florida's west coast. more than 50,000 are in shelters. nearly 7 million people throughout the southeastern united states have been ordered to evacuate. >> this is a warning because we never take these kind of things seriously, but now we will because this is a serious situation. >> it's been difficult finding a shelter. we live about two miles away, but we are afraid of the water. >> it's been in a 2. didn't bother me. this one concerns me. >> and they are telling us we have a chance of 6 to 12 feet of storm surge, which i've been here since 1986 and we've never seen that.