tv MSNBC Live With Velshi and Ruhle MSNBC September 12, 2017 8:00am-9:00am PDT
we'd love to hear your thoughts on facebook, twitter, snapchat, as well as instagram. i'm headed over to the white house for a briefing. for now i'll turn it over to ali velshi and stephanie rhule picking up coverage. >> have a good middle of your day at least. good morning, everyone. i'm ali velshi. >> and i'm stephanie rhule. it is tuesday, september 12th. let's get this thing started. >> the water's been coming over this wall for the past i would say couple of hours and it's only getting worse by the minute. it's almost like the ocean has come into downtown charleston. this is incredible. >> river street, the tourist haven in savannah saw the savannah river spill out of its banks into the streets. >> as we look at what irma is still doing, it is breathtaking. >> nearly 8 million customers without power this morning across the south. >> the storm decimated the florida keys. at least one official is warning this morning of a potential humanitarian crisis in the florida keys.
>> right now there is no food, no water, no electricity. first responders are in triage mode. their supplies and communication, limited. this is cudjoe key. this is where irma made landfall. >> the water is not working. the sewer's not working and there's no electricity. so it's very tough. >> in jacksonville, flash flooding has swallowed entire streets. flood levels along the st. johns river surpassing a 153-year-old record. the surge unlike anything residents have seen before. >> the mayor and local authorities asked people to hang white flags outside their homes as a signal for help. >> just within the past few minutes, the line here has started to build. >> according to early insurance estimates, irma causing $20 billion no $40 billion in damages in florida. >> we are watching still out in the atlantic, jose. it is a hurricane. it is something we have to watch and have to be concerned about. >> a new report claims that
lawyers representing president trump in the russia probe wanted his son-in-law jared kushner to step down. some of the legal team worried about complications from the russia probe. >> the president's in-house lawyer called the story completely false. >> all right. we're watching a humanitarian crisis affecting tens of thousands of people unfold right now in the wake of hurricane irma. let this number sink in. 90% of homes in the florida keys have either been destroyed or severely damaged by irma's direct hit as a category 4 hurricane when it landed first in the keys. re-enforcements cannot come soon enough. there's no power in the islands. food and water are scarce. right now the uss abraham lincoln aircraft carrier and two other navy ships are headed to the keys to help the search and rescue. >> for anyone who said this storm was a miss, you've missed the plot. look at this. we are thankful so many people evacuated. in jacksonville, it is still a very dangerous situation with
the city now dealing with the worst flooding they have seen -- are you ready for this? since 1846. new video was posted this morning of dive teams in the flooded streets looking for anyone still needing rescue. officials say they saved almost 400 people yesterday when a record storm surge suddenly caused the st. johns river to flood. and governor rick scott has just gotten an up-close look at the damage in jacksonville. we heard him overhead as our own team was reporting on the ground and said help is coming to those who are in dire straits. >> fema's been a great partner. it's been seamless. we have -- they have assets that they're deploying around the state. we're doing that with them. we're going to do everything we can with water, food, any resource we can out to people as fast as possible. >> cudjoe key was ground zero for the eye wall and was slammed
with category 4 hurricane winds. an nbc news crew has made their way in and is the first team to broadcast live from the battered island. gadi schwartz is there with more. >> reporter: this is what it looks like. this is really ground zero for where the hurricane hit. and this is what irma did. you can see those winds just ripped through this home. the concrete structure is still standing. that's what we've seen along this road. this is called jolly roger road. but you see, that's a washing machine over here. if we take a look over here, there are two other. there's a washer and dryer over here. showing you just how strong those winds were. here's another one. and then over here in the marina, if we just take a quick little walk, there are couches floating in this marina, beds in this marina. then there's some boats that have been turned over on their side. we've got a drone flying overhead right now. that drone shows kind of the scope of the devastation here.
the good news is most of the homes here are concrete. they're still standing. there are some exceptions, obviously, but those seem to be wooden structures, the concrete structures we've seen don't seem to have much structural damage. it's mostly railings and sidings that have been torn off. and there is some heavy roof damage. but when it comes to withstanding the storm, even the houses that were closest to the pay that took the direct impact are still standing here. residents are not being allowed back here right now. there are some residents who chose to weather out the storm. they are going house to house to make sure everybody cleared out and there is no one there. we're still waiting for emergency crews to come through and do the checks as well. >> stunning images. gadi schwartz, thank you. can we just reiterate? two-thirds of the people in florida are without power. and we know there's still a gasoline shortage. this thing is far from over. joining us on the phone is commissioner of monroe county
district three which includes the keys. heather, you have been on conference calls with emergency management officials already a few times today. how long is it going to take to get food and water to those people? i mean, you've got so many people in the keys who didn't evacuate. they're stuck in their houses. >> yeah, we don't know exactly how many people didn't evacuate. i guess the latest estimate is about 10% which is about 7,000 people. i think most people who did stay knew that this was going to be a long haul, so they're probably personally well provisioned. that said, we had red cross and salvation army trucks going down monday morning. so we're setting up distribution points at high schools. and we'll know exactly when those places are going to be provisioned later on today. >> heather, some residents of key largo were able to return today. of course we had crews there and a lot of people from the keys and the central keys moved to key largo to ride out the storm. so we knew there was road access
there, but there's still no power or water or medical services. so tell me about the wisdom of people moving back without those things and are they just able to or does somebody have to approve them going back to their homes? >> well, yeah, there's a check point at the top of what we call the 18 mile stretch where people have to either show their yellow sticker -- re-entry sticker or show proof of residency or business ownership. they can only get to about mile marker 74. while we have inspected all the bridges, all the 42 bridges all the way down to key west and we know they're passable, we have a couple areas where other pavement has ripped up and some of that will be repaired later today. but that said, you're right. there is no water, no sewer, no power, and spotty cell service even in the upper keys. now, some neighborhoods may have better access to utilities.
but we don't encourage people to come back and stay. we know people want to come in and see if there's anything they can secure or salvage if their home's been damaged. so that's part of why we allowed them to come in this morning. >> people can't stay in shelters or with friends and family indefinitely. how long is it going to take for the hardest-hit areas to be inhabitable again? >> that's a tough question to answer right now. the hardest-hit areas are from about cudjoe key to marathon. marathon city manager this morning said as they were getting into the actual neighborhoods and clearing the streets in the neighborhoods, they found that the damage was not as bad as they had originally assessed. the original assessment. but that does not mean it's not still intense. and it's probably -- if our experience from wilma is any indication, it's really going to be on almost a house-by-house basis. depends on the age of the home and how it was built.
that said, it's probably going to be in the lower keys, in key west at least, seven to ten days before we get power everywhere in the city of key west. the lower keys, there's about 200 concrete, you know, utility poles that are down. they're going to have to be restored. it could be a month before we have full electricity in the lower keys. we have two power sources. we have keys energy that really operates from key west up to the seven mile bridge and florida keys electric co-op that operates in the upper keys. they're in a better situation than keys energy right now because the brunt of the storm was in keys energy's territory. water -- >> oh, sorry. go ahead. gadi schwartz was just talking to us from cudjoe key saying
concrete structures weren't as damaged. it's a cinder block and masonry structure. it's actually fine because it's about 16 feet above water. but it does seem to depend on how close you are to the water, how low you are to the water, and what kind of structure you're in to determine how long before that structure is habitable again. >> yeah. that is true. key west of course faired far better than everybody expected it to. we had storm surge that was less than it was for hurricane wilma. i can tell you that there are some wood frame homes that did quite well. personally, my home was built in the 1800s, late 1800s. a lot of those pick old wooden structures were able to bend with the wind and not break with it. they managed to survive as well. but we have, you know, a lot of different kinds of construction and what really is upsetting to me right now is mobile homes and folks who lived in mobile home parks. because, you know, frankly, that's been a source of
affordable housing for much of the keys. and they did not do very well at all during this incredible event. >> heather, i want to ask you something. i think this is always instructive for the next storm because there's always a next storm. you mentioned marathon and the city manager there chuck lindsay. he was on the phone with us a lot before this happened. and on i think might have been friday night or saturday morning, chuck and the folks in marathon and other places in the keys made a decision to relocate closer to key largo and areas like that to be safe so they could come back and do the necessary evaluations and figure out when people could come in. what's your initial evaluation of the decisions that were made by officials in the keys to get out and seek safety while they rode the storm out? >> well, i'll tell you. you're talking to me and frankly i have a family. i've got little kids. so you're talking to me from orlando. and you're talking to me because i have cell service. and the people who are south of
islamorada don't have cell service. it was a smart decision to make. we do not have in the county of monroe at this point a dedicated emergency operation center. we had literally been using our marathon government center. that building is not rated. so it was smart for us to get our folks to a place they could at least communicate with the outside world to start getting some supplies in there which they've done very successfully. >> heather, we are glad to hear is that you and your family are safe and that you're in orlando with that cell service that you can help people in monroe county. thanks so much for joining us this morning. i appreciate it. ali, i want to point out to you, i spoke to dennis o'brien who is the owner of digicell. they don't have any infrastructure there. all the power lines we heard heather talking about that are
down, if you're in st. martin or st. john, they don't have any steel. they don't have any concrete. when they need to rebuild, they don't even have the basic materials. it is going to take such a long time. they have such a long road ahead. we cannot forget about all those people in the caribbean. >> we've got cal perry who's going to be reporting on that for us. we've got congressman stacy who is in the u.s. virgin islands. and we're going to be speaking to her again later this afternoon. and we'll be speaking to somebody in a few moments who rode out the storm from the u.s. virgin islands to tell us what the situation is there. >> stick around, everybody. this morning the white house named the new department of communications director. you'll remember this woman. a familiar face on the campaign trail. hope hicks. the third person to hold this position in the trump administration thus far and she's only 28 years old. next, who is this woman and how is she thriving where others
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welcome back to velshi and rhule. in addition to lingering effects of hurricane irma, we are following other major developments in washington this morning. >> the white house now has a -- i don't -- i'm careful to say this. a permanent communications director. they've got a new communications director. hope hicks. she replaces anthony scaramucci who left at the end of july
after between six and ten days. the white house is also denying a "wall street journal" report this morning that some of president trump's lawyers want to oust the senior adviser and son-in-law jared kushner. they were worried about legal implications related to the russia investigation and the white house is pushing back against the headline-making comments that were made by president trump's former chief strategist steve bannon on "60 minutes." >> someone said to me that you described the firing of james comey. you're a student of history. as the biggest mistake in political history. >> that would be probably be too bombastic even for me but probably modern political history. >> peter alexander joins us from the white house. let's start with the new communications director. hope hicks. she has been with president trump since the beginning. but at only 28 years old, she
has zero political experience. i mean, she worked for an outside pr agency just a couple of years ago. she was ivanka's pr person -- >> for her brand. >> for her brand. handbags and shoes just a year ago. >> yeah. no, you're exactly right. 28 years old. becoming the youngest white house communications director. you see she's a former model and lacrosse champion. more notably, she's viewed here as a trusted aide and a strong leader because she does have these relationships that go back with the president and the trump family as you noted having worked for the trump organization. she was the campaign's press secretary. she has been playing an active role here at the white house in the course of the first several months that have passed in this administration. what's notable is the high turnover, of course, that we've seen here. she in part is going to be tasked with trying to, you know, remove all that focus, all the high turnover, all the internal rivalries as one of the items she'll try to work on as they
communicate not just with the other administration offices but also with congress in just eight months in office the president went through mike dubkey as a communications director, sean spicer who held that job, and 11 days anthony scaramucci. now finally at least for now, they've settled on a new permanent as you noted communications director. >> anthony did wish her well over twitter. said she was a great permanent choice. i have to ask, though, recently she hired her own outside lawyer, didn't she? >> that's right. obviously that doesn't indicate any wrong doing or any potential concern, just at its basis that she is among a series of white house officials who have now hired counsel as it relates to the russia investigation to guide them through this process as it goes forward. we've also reported that the white house counsel has actually hired an attorney as well. but hope hicks is on that list including several others like jared kushner. >> i said it before. you know who won this election?
the legal industry. >> no kidding. by the way, some of these people around the president, there are reports from "the wall street journal" that they want jared kushner who is the president's special adviser on i think kind of everything -- >> and son-in-law. >> and son-in-law, removed from his job. why does that hold any sway? >> well, the bottom line is the journal first reports there was some of these white house attorneys who had concerns about jared kushner, specifically as it related to his contacts with russian officials and business people that he interacted with during the course of the campaign. and during the transition. some of whom are now being looked at by federal investigators. and by the special counsel. the white house is pushing back firmly against this storm saying, basically in the words of the white house, in-house counsel right now that this is absolutely false. that the story's not true. that jared kushner remains one
of the president's most trusted, able, and intelligent advisers. but one of the men outside that's leading the president's legal team right now, john dowd confirms to me that to the best of his knowledge, the president wasn't presented with this proposal. he called it absurd but he did acknowledge there were some differences within the team on what should happen to jared kushner. >> i mean, this one is stunning to me. people who i talked to inside the white house have said the problem with jared is he doesn't know what he doesn't know. and he could be a danger -- >> i'm going to save peter alexander from getting into this conversation because we're about to get into it. peter, thank you. good to see you, my friend. you know hope -- >> hicks? >> and we know jared. the fact is there's nothing wrong with these people. they're good people. but even kushner, his portfolio of responsibilities, it's kind of remarkable. world peace, middle east peace, cleaning up most of -- >> china, innovation, technology.
>> -- making government more effective. like you described hope hicks, not a bad person. but a very limited world view and perspective on things given her work experience at the age of 28. jared kushner's a richer version of that. he's in his early 30s. and also has had a limited view of what has to happen. these are not direct correlations to the kind of problems they have to solve. >> but if the recipe for success inside the white house is serving at the pleasure of the president and pleasing the president -- >> they are going to do very well. >> that is what they do. but i take you back to steve bannon's interview with "60 minutes" the other day. while you can see john mccain on tv cleverly saying i'm not going to comment on what steve bannon has to say, the question is how right is steve bannon? how much influence does he have still on the president? steve bannon was very clear and smirking when he said what a bad idea it was for the president to fire james comey. >> in modern presidential history. >> guess who knew the president was going to fire comey?
on some level he could be laughing on the outside. >> i'm going to use that. stand by, everyone. we're looking at irma's devastation in the caribbean. dozens have died from the hurricane. some islands are nearly uninhabitable right now. >> that last image you saw was the bitter end yacht club. ro roofs gone. and we're watching another hurricane coming, jose. hoping it pushes away from land. it could be a category 1 storm headed toward the u.s. in days. you're watching velshi and rhule live on msnbc. oh, you brought butch.
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all right. we're watching velshi and rhule. welcome back. let's go to florida now with new details on the recovery efforts on irma. in jacksonville, a city still grappling with the flooding. >> that looks like a river. >> this happened after the storm was turning in the other direction from jacksonville. officials are warning people in the city, stay out of these waters. these are rushing waters.
listen to this. the city tweeted just moments ago. there have been reports of an increased number of snake bites in the city. please be aware of displaced wildlife and be safe. i mean, honestly. if there isn't enough to worry about, you were talking about this as we were covering it on the weekend. >> alligators. this is my worst nightmare. coming up your front drive -- al gators. think in the nature preserves, with hundreds of thousands of alligators. imagine you go out your front door, snake bites. that for me, worse than my nightmares. dive teams are still looking for anyone out in need of help. more than 350 people around this time yesterday were rescued in rising waters. it is worse than the flooding we have seen in jacksonville since 1946 and the mayor says it could be a week before the waters recede. anyone who said this is no biggie, you're wrong. morgan radford joins us now from jacksonville.
do we know if anyone is still being rescued? >> reporter: we know there were about 350 rescues so far. and this was just in, like, the past 24 hours. you're making my skin crawl talking about the alligators. because we were actually standing in this st. john river. and someone said they saw an alligator in the water where i was standing. that made me pretty concerned. but you can see where the floodwaters have actually receded. because right now we're in low tide. as we get closer to high tide around 5:00 p.m. today, these waters are going to come back over what was once a very clear barrier. you could see the cement now lying here on the ground. and it's really these floodwaters and the storm surge that is the primary concern for officials today. especially that coupled with the mass power outage we've seen. about 6 million people across the state of florida still don't have power. fema said that's usually kind of a conservative estimate. like 5 million or 6 million. could be about 15 million people who don't have power. we spoke to some of the people many of whom were lifetime
jacksonville residents and said they'd never seen anything like this. take a listen to tracy and what her son eli had to tell me today. when you were hunkering down in the hallway, what was going through your mind? >> everything. just making sure that we were in the right part -- like, if there was somewhere better we could be. and just praying that everything was going to be okay. >> reporter: is this a city you recognize and grew up in? >> no. it's devastation completely. >> i protected my mom in matthew last year. >> reporter: you're a hurricane storm chaser and awesome guardian. give me five, brother. all right, so not all heroes wear capes. some of them have teddy bears. eli was the man and said he was protecting his mom not only in hurricane matthew but also through this hurricane. but really stephanie and ali, this is really the beginning of those recovery efforts. only now with the storm surge
still just now receding at low tide are we able to really see the effects and the extent of that devastation. school remains closed, businesses for the most part remain closed. we only found about two restaurants in the city that were open last night from what we can tell. so our entire crew waited in an hour and a half long line like other people in the city to get food. people are really trying to make the most of what they can. many are just now returning to their homes this evening. this is as they hoped things would turn on t back to normal later on in the week. >> at least they don't have strong winds and more rain coming, but it is going to take awhile to deal with this. morgan, thanks. >> and again, without electricity, without ample gasoline it's hard to get back to normal. today parts of florida are still under water. jacob soboroff is down there. >> reporter: it's a long drive for some of the floridians hit
hardest by hurricane irma. this is everglades city, florida. normally 500 people live here and most of them evacuated ahead of irma. this is what they're coming back to. it's total devastation. the entire community under water. residents this morning picking up the pieces. most will have to start from scratch. this woman rode out the storm in her aunt's home with their family. >> it was crazy. we thought the roof was going to blow out. >> reporter: how'd you make it through this? >> i was scared. >> reporter: she said the power of prayer got her family through the storm. >> we still got to wait for the water to go down a little bit more so we can start working on this city now. >> reporter: rebuild. >> yeah. yeah. but we're safe and that's what matters. >> reporter: this is what it looked like here before the storm. living at sea level, they're used to flooding in everglades city, even hurricanes. but these storm-tested residents say irma was different. >> i was here the last time for
wilma. right now i can't believe that this is a lot higher water than wilma gave. >> reporter: people are going to be watching this from across the country and say, how are they ever going to come back from this. >> i would say that just watch and you'll see amazing things happen. >> reporter: that optimism is what jim and laura stoner residents of the island a bridge away from everglades city are banking on too. >> you got to look at it from a standpoint of at least we didn't lose any friends or, you know, we were safe. we care about our neighbors in this community. it's a small tight knit community. and people struggle down here to make a living. we don't want to see them hurt. >> reporter: residents today submerged in this water hoping to be living peacefully alongside it again soon. >> all right. nbc's jacob soboroff there. we'll look at irma's devastating impact in the caribbean.
dozens have died from this hurricane. some of the islands are nearly uninhabitable. we'll have the latest on the other side of this. >> that's virgin gorda there. despite hurricane irma, markets have been breaking records this week. yesterday the dow gained 260 points and the s&p 500 hit an all-time high. you are watching velshi and rhule live on msnbc this tuesday. stay with us. your brain is an amazing thing. but as you get older, it naturally begins to change, causing a lack of sharpness, or even trouble with recall. thankfully, the breakthrough in prevagen helps your brain and actually improves memory. the secret is an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. the name to remember. dad: molly, can you please take out the trash? (sigh) ( ♪ )
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welcome back to velshi and rhule. stephanie namake this point if your home hasn't collapsed isn't all that useful if you don't have power or fuel or drinking water. florida is experiencing a fuel crisis as residents start to restart their lives after irma. up to 60% of gas stations are out of fuel in portions of the state. and with a complex pipeline system in the united states, some people are saying why are there any fuel shortages at all. let's go back to hurricane harvey. up to 25% of the refinery capacity in the united states was already offline ahead of hurricane irma. that storm harvey was preventing some of the capacity from being
out there and as a result, the entire country has less fuel than it used to. now let's look at how fuel gets from the refineries from the pumps. even after refineries started getting back up running and it's not actually full capacity yet, there's an issue of how you get the fuel to the pump. it has to be going to the pipeline. you have to have enough fuel going into pipelines to keep the pressure up. think of it as a garden hose. if there's not enough fuel, not enough pressure going in, it's harder to upump out of the othe side. once you get to the terminals in florida, there are more than two dozen of these terminal sites in florida. the fuel gets loaded into tanker trucks that keep the different grades of fuels and diesels separate on the trips to the gas stations. you'll notice these trucks have been escorted by law enforcement so they can get to where they need to go. when it arrives at the station, all they do is open up a hole in the bottom in the ground of the
gas station and pump the gas into it. but here is a major issue. power outages. we already know 5.6 million customers are still without power in the staut te of florid. more than 3,600 gas stations are reported to be without power. any fuel delivery is effectively useless without power to work the pumps and the final problem is that the severe damage that irma's impact is still being assessed for, it is actually unclear how many gas stations are physically too damaged to function. so almost all of this is leading to 43% of gas stations in the state running out of gas as many evacuees are trying to make their way home. here's a thing that's interesting. after 2006, every new gas station in florida had to have a switch to be able to change from what they call short power, the city power to generators. the law didn't say they have to have a generator. it has to have the ability to use a generator. sop there are, in fact, many gas
stations that just don't have power. >> can i go one step further? let's say you have a generator and you don't have gas. >> so these are the problems. that's why half of the gas stations, you can't get gas. >> let's go live now to msnbc's mariana entencio who spent the morning in a helicopter surveying the damage over the keys. mariana, i saw those images with you. when you think of the 7,000 or so people that stuck around, i moo en, they're going to need support. >> reporter: it was devastating to watch, stephanie. i literally just landed about ten minutes ago here at the airport. and we were surveying the devastation over the keys. it was hard to fathom especially if you've been in that area of the keys before. considered one of the most beautiful areas in the country just ravage bid hurricane irma. we started our trip in key largo, then moved to con key and
then made our way to marathon, florida. we couldn't even get down to key west. the worst of the devastation i saw was in marathon, florida. it was just very hard to watch. entire marinas that had been completely destroyed, roofs peeled off, boats, one on top of the other. just gas stations completely pummelled to the ground. it was also heart wrenching to watch firefighters and rescue vehicles starting to make their way into some of these neighborhoods walking door-to-door and knocking door-to-door to make sure everyone is accounted for. those 7,000 to 10,000 people you mentioned that we know decided not to evacuate the area. and that are now all not accounted for because, again, we have just no idea what the death toll could be, what the amount of injured people could be. because the access to the keys is just so lumte limited.
we know it's one way in, one way out. and that makes the search and rescue efforts so incredibly difficult. we also saw around the islamorada area which is the most northern part of these keys i was able to survey, the highway there just completely blown out by these winds. i mean, you could actually see pieces of the highway, you know, about a quarter mile away from where the actual highway is. you can imagine just what that does to the military, to the people that are trying to conduct these search and rest key efforts. and also something that was really shocking for me to see. and stephanie, i know the environment is one of the causes you're so passionate about. the color of the water. the color of the water has completely changed in some of the areas of the keys known to have that turquoise colored water that is just so pristine. it was just completely covered with debris, brown, looked like it had trash and oil in it. and even from our chopper, we
could smell that contaminated water. we could smell what -- you know, what hurricane irma really did to the environment there. so it was really a gut wrenching flight we just took. and we're just beginning to get to know the extent of the devastation in that area, again, where this hurricane first made landfall on sunday. ali and stephanie? >> mariana, thank you for your continued excellent reporting from that area in letting people understand this devastation. because one of the things it served is to show people when it was happening that it was, in fact, really serious while you were in the streets of miami and our reporters were across florida. but also to all those people who really thoughtlessly suggested that this was an overreaction by the media that it was some kind of a climate change agenda that was driving the coverage of this. this is a serious, serious matter for these floridians without homes, without power, without water, without gasoline. >> we are so grateful to those who took the warning seriously
and evacuated their homes. we're grateful to our reporters who tirelessly and bravely covered it all. at any moment the president will meet with the malaysian prime minister at the white house expected to discuss north korea's threat and isis in southeast asia. you are watching velshi and rhule on msnbc. we've got about 12 minutes left. there's interruptions on the horizon. that's all we do, right?
welcome back. you're watching velshi and rhule. as georgia and the carolinas feel irma's dying punch and florida feel irma's punch and florida starts to assess its losses, it's important to remember that islands through the caribbean felt a much more ferocious and destructive storm. irma tore through the atlantic with winds that felt like a buzz saw. there was only one confirmed death from the storm, but congressmen from barbuda and d codrington port said they were ravaged by then category 5 irma. over 1200 americans were
evacuated from the dutch side which includes phillipsburg. french president macron is assessing the damage to the virgin islands. the largest british area, parham town, tortola is usually very picturesque. but now the island is not fit to live on. let's bring in nbc's caliper pe for more on the bleak situation in the islands. cal, walk us through that. >> reporter: we're talking about an island that has 80% damage to all the structures on the island. i'm going to talk about this like it's a military operation because it's quickly becoming a military operation for that reason. when you have infrastructures
gone, most of the structures basically washed away, it becomes a military operation. we're talking about groups in st. john up to 50 people huddled in houses with month roofs on it, so we're trying to get tarps to those people. the military is making that effort. 70% of the island's police force had their houses destroyed. so the infrastructure of the local authorities has now slowly disappeared, and what you have is a continuing road to a kind of lulless situations on this main island. the main hospital which serves both st. john and st. thomas was destroyed. all of this adds up to the virgin islands governor saying, quote, we need to manage expectations, stephanie. that's how bad it is there. >> ai >> it's a structural problem, cal. there are people struggling for food, all the things we just described for florida where there are housing issues, food
issues, water issues. it's actually harder to get supplies in to the virgin islands. >> it's a harder situation where you have access to the keys via a road. you don't have access to these islands. we're talking about runways that were destroyed, docks that were destroyed. that's why i really do want to stress, the u.s. military is going to take this situation over, and they already have. the u.ss e-- u.s.s.iwojima. they're dropping food and people have to walk through roads where you have power lines down, and that's dangerous. fresh water is a big issue here, because you can't rebuild anything without fresh water. >> they're delivering medical
equipment, food, tarps. you need infrastructure. they don't have concrete, they don't have steel. when power lines are down, they have no lines to tap into. >> and they don't have fresh water. this was the problem in the worst part of new orleans in the lower ninth ward. it's a catch-22 situation. if you don't have restaurants, if you don't have bars to feed people, then the workers don't have anywhere to eat. if you don't have fresh water, working on a caribbean island without fresh water is impossible. you can't do it. the devastation is just at a scale we've never seen in the caribbean before, and that's why, again, we'll be talking about 600 marines coming onto that island and they'll be inbound as we speak. >> by the way, cal, you've been keeping an eye as stephanie listed these other islands. barbuda is 90%-plus destroyed. there are other islands that do not have the benefit of these
u.s.s. ships that are coming in and the strength and economic power of the united states to build them up. there are some dutch territories, french territories and british territories where they're going to get help from their mother countries, but there are independent islands out there that don't have that kind of money. >> barbuda is a perfect example. you're talking about 95% devastation. 95% devastation is basically a total loss on that island. the citizens, and you mentioned on st. martin, half dutch territory, half french territory, were evacuated because the security situation deteriorated so quickly that the dutch army has been deployed on the streets in the north of st. martin to try to bring some order to that island because we were seeing significant looting on that island. and i'm not talking -- i did say this two days ago. i always hesitate to say looting because oftentimes it's food and water. this was looting of goods, it was lawless in nature and it spun out of control.
>> you're trying to get food to your family and people are stealing tvs. >> 50% of the gdp comes from the hospitality industry, and you think back to new orleans where people permanently relocated because there were jobs in the caribbean. is this going to be this situation? >> new orleans, a lot of people went to mississippi, they went to florida, they went to texas and they never came back. the problem here, again, with the infrastructure gone, how do you rebuild it? right now they're using the cruise ships that normally serve the people locally. let's go to justice v. p. he's a survivor on st. john's island. he joins us via skype. justi justin, talk to me about what you know is going on on st. john's. >> right now i know st. john is in some pretty dire conditions.
when we left, the communication infrastructure was totally down, supplies were running low. they were coming in albeit in pretty meager amounts from private donations. homes are completely destroyed. we had -- you know, as you can see, roofs laying in the streets, telephone poles laying in the streets. you couldn't really discern what was identifiable property and what was not because there was just stuff everywhere. >> you were visiting family members. are they going to stay? >> no. we all three left on a private evac boat three days ago. we plan on coming back at some point in the future, but as of now, no. >> what does the relief effort look like there? can people volunteer? are people uninjured and still have a place to live able to do anything for anyone else? >> sure. what i did in the immediate
aftermath was join this group operating called bitema, the bridge territory group agency. it's all volunteers looking to start repairing the island, doing what they can to make it more accessible for the aid coming in and try and bring some relief to the people who are there and who, in a lot of cases right now, are stuck there. that's what i tried to do as best as i could, yeah. >> people there, do they have any means to communicate? one thing that has truly helped the social and economic mobility from islands from the developing world is access to cell service. do people in st. john, the people who you are with, do they have any means to communicate with people now? >> when i was there, there was one point on the island where you could receive any kind of signal. that was at the top of a local pizza joint. but because of that, you know,
you had 100, 200 people crowded there all trying to get signal which in a lot of cases made it very difficult for anyone to get a call out. other than that, there was no kind of communication infrastructure available. everything was down. wi-fi was unavailable. we had a brief signal the day afterward that was being powered by a generator, which has since run out of fuel. when i was there, no, there was nothing. there was no way to get in contact with anyone, really, off the island besides that one place that i mentioned. >> what is needed, dustin? what's the most important thing -- is that an obvious question? what's the most important thing the folks in the u.s. virgin islands need right now? >> right now they need two things, supplies and proper personnel to enforce the law, to distribute supplies. we need food, we need water
purification, clothes. when i was there, the supreme order there was not necessarily active. >> what do you mean? >> they were kind of milling about and they were present, but i didn't get a sense that a lot of people felt safe because of the police officers. >> dustin, thanks for the work that you're doing to help others there, and frankly for the ability to communicate with people in the u.s. virgin islands to at least let our viewers in the nation know the devastation. when we keep talking about how so many people have dodged the devastation of this hurricane, lots of people didn't dodge anything at all and we need to show that. dustin, thanks very much. dustin vichi for us in the u.s. virgin islands. >> thank you so much for watching this hour of