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tv   MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle  MSNBC  September 20, 2017 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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>> of course, i agree with you. >> i saw what he did around katrina. >> absolutely. >> there's no question people will lose insurance in the short term and perhaps in the long term. >> mike barnicle. >> he's a very nice man, but it's incredibly depressing to sit here in a country so wealthy, we pay so much attention to walls being built in noblowing up north korea tha extending health care for a sick child. >> is it available or is it affordable -- >> access is very important. >> what does that mean? this is why president obama's effort to try and fix the system and add this to the system was so difficult. and so imperfect. i don't know. in my opinion i feel you fix it. >> you've got to have psychiatric care for these people in washington who are so obsessed still with barack obama. >> what is that? >> it's a sickness. >> it's a sickness? halprin, is it a sickness? >> it's a problem.
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i'm not sure i'm able to diagnose from afar. >> will they be successful at repealing and replacing obamacare? >> my hunch is they're not going to get there but it's closer than i thought it would be. >> that does it for us this morning. a lot going on. stephanie ruhle and ali velshi pick up the coverage right now. >> thanks, mika. good morning, everyone. i'm ali velshi. >> and i'm stephanie ruhle. welcome to aspeci special editi v "velshi & ruhle." >> the situation here is dire. we have been seeing howling winds and pounding win. san juan is getting hammered by maria. >> we are dealing with the first landfall of a category 4 hurricane since 1932. and the winds here are only
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increasing as the eye wall gets closer. >> in mexico, the death toll climbs to more than 200 from the powerful earthquake that caused buildings to collapse. >> this is the scene across mexico city, block after block, building after building in ruin. >> at a nearby school, we are told the bodies of 20 children have been recovered. the death toll now officially stands at about 200. that number will rise. >> we are covering breaking news as hurricane maria pounds puerto rico. this is going to be the worst hour yet, more than three people -- excuse me, 3 million people in the path of one of the strongest storms in the history of the atlantic. >> here's what we know right now. the hurricane is packing
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150-mile-an-hour winds, although i'm going to tell you the wind speed monitors on the island, all of them are broken. i'll tell you how we're getting this measurement, but this is a category 4 storm. it's just a tick below category 5 status. it made landfall around 6:30 this morning, about 35 miles southeast of san juan on the opposite or southeast part of the island. it's now just a few miles from the capital. by the way, the last time a category 4 hurricane hit puerto rico, 1932. >> more than 10,000 people are already in shelters. according to the governor of puerto rico, the public safety commissioner was blunt. he said tuesday that if people did not evacuate, they could die. well, we have got a great team of reporters covering all of this throughout the region, but let's start here with nbc meteorologist bill karins. bill, put up the map. what are we looking at? >> new information in from the hurricane center, we're now down to 145-mile-per-hour winds and also with the storm we're still
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heading to the north-northwest at 13 miles per hour. it is 15 miles away from san juan, puerto rico. that puts san juan in that northeast quadrant of the strongest winds. that's what we were afraid of, the highly populated areas going through an extended period of the northeast eye. that's what's going to cause the most long-term destruction through there, horrific destruction. the black line shows you the path of the storm. there was the landfall just after 6:00 a.m. right now maria is smack in the middle of the state. i can't show you the radar imagery because the two raiders in puerto rico are done. we're actually in that dreaded blackout period. it's hard to get any phone reception with anyone in puerto rico right now. the raiders are down, all our weather instruments are down. right now we just call this the blackout period. we know there's horrific destruction taking place. it's just hard to show you the pictures because our crews, it's not even safe for them. a lot of these wind gusts, this
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is the highest that was recorded. a lot of these stations broke as the storm was making landfall. this was sandy point on st. croix, 137-mile-per-hour winds. i've seen some pictures of st. croix. a lot of damage, but not destroyed. san juan was 113 before theirs broke. del ray marina was 99. la jardo, some homes were destroyed and arecibo at 91. that's just a simple. this red circle shows you where the hurricane-force winds are and almost encompasses the entire island, the exception being the pfar western portion f the island. we're halfway done with the storm moving through puerto rico. we only have another three hours and then it will be heading off the coast. things will improve dramatically as we go throughout the afternoon. >> bill, don't go anywhere, thank you so much. we're going to head to the region. gabe gutierrez is live in san juan. gabe? >> reporter: hi, stephanie, good
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morning. well, as bill karins mentioned, san juan expecting to get hit with this northeast quadrant of the storm. it is simply devastating. we've been in the thick of it for the last few years. we're expecting the winds to pick up even more over the next few hours. we are safe. we had to move from a floor that we were on higher up into this area where we are. it's a courtyard surrounded by concrete walls so right now we're not getting hit with the worst of the winds. if you look further down in that direction, you can see the palm trees swaying quite a bit. throughout the morning, we have seen utter devastation here in san juan. we have seen parts of roofs being blown off, debris on the street, rising water. there's really no telling right now the extent of this damage that we expect to continue for several hours. a category 4 storm slamming into puerto rico. something that authorities have been warning people about for days. they have been begging people, especially in those wooden structures in those flood-prone areas to evacuate as we get a strong wind gust right now.
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more than 10,000 people are in emergency shelters. that's at the minimum. and the governor says that they have opened 500 shelters. we have seen that people were streaming into them throughout the past 24 hours. there has been a run on gas, a run on supplies, stephanie and ali. i can tell you that communications are now a problem. most of the cell phone carriers on this island are no longer working and it is difficult to establish a communications signal. but as you can see, this is not letting up any time soon. we have seen plenty of debris going through the city of san juan. this could be the strongest storm to slam into this area in nearly a century. stephanie, i know you've been following this quite a bit, the economic fallout from this. this is a -- this is a catastrophe in the making for an island with weak infrastructure and already dealing with this debt crisis, the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. there is a huge concern of course for the lives lost but also for the recovery effort.
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we spoke with san juan's mayor yesterday. in an emotional interview she had this message for the u.s. mainland, don't forget us. just don't forget us. guys, back to you. >> and that's why we're doing what we're doing today. we're going to stick with you and the folks in puerto rico this hour. it's really getting hard to establish contact and keep it. >> we need to remind people that it was puerto rico that was going to the aid of the virgin islands over the last week. when i left st. john on friday, i took a boat to san juan. when i arrived, there were ngos set up with tents delivering water, had ffood, clothing and those are the people who need it most. >> the people who have evacuated to the virgin islands, we were speaking to richard branson yesterday who said the british virgin islands, which has nothing to offer anybody at the moment, has said to puerto rico whatever we've got, we'll come to your aid. >> you know who has something, the united states government. and again, we cannot forget these people. >> joining us now on the phone from puerto rico is philip
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shone, the editor of the main paper. how are you riding out the storm and where are you? >> this is unbelievable. i've been through hugo here when my children were small, through george, which was a cat 3, hortense, which was a significant water event with massive flooding, but there's nothing like this. i'm in the eye wall right now. i was looking at the coordinates. when they say that a cat 4, you multiply it by a factor of 250, they're not kidding. it's just hammering. i'm looking at this tree outside my house and it snapped like a toothpick. it's still hanging in there, but i am seeing flooding at the bottom of the street because of debris where we have our sewage system and that's not able to go down. we're waiting for the winds to subside to be able to free the debris from that area. >> let's talk business.
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i mean your energy infrastructure in puerto rico is 44 years old. puerto rico -- >> yes. >> -- is already billions of dollars in debt. last week there was a sense of relief saying, guess what, irma mostly missed us. maybe that fema insurance money is going to help us get back on their feet. surely they're knocked off their feet with this. what happens now? >> i would think so. i know that there is -- you look at the law that was passed, it's for debt restructuring. there are some things in there, title v for infrastructure development, critical infrastructure projects and to do it in an expeditious fashion, but this thing here, i mean this is entirely separate. i know some people at the utility that say they have a fund, they have a cash account of some 550 million set aside so they will be able to start working on repairing. but the repair is going to have
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to be massive because, as you said, when we were hit two weeks ago, that was just a dress rehearsal, you know. we had eight of the nine main power lines crossing the island from the south to the north. they were unhinged. but that's something that they were able to deal with rather quickly. it was the secondary lines that were in a decrepit state. god knows how long it's going to take to get us back online. >> look at those images on the left. that is a live shot of san juan, puerto rico, right now. >> you never see a palm tree looking devastated by a hurricane. >> i want to bring sam champion in. we are fortunate enough to have our weather guru with us in the newsroom. sam, what is going on here? >> so wind gets the headline and it's the most visual. what you're going to see are these palm trees shredded. you'll see the tops broken off of them. you'll see a lot of trees that look like there are no leaves on
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them any longer because they're going to take this wind. but the flooding, the water is the killer. just before we came on the air, we did a quick survey of a lot of river games in puerto rico. they run a line like this and then shot straight up. some of these river gauges are already running 10 feet above flood level. we're going to see 25 inches of rain move across the island of puerto rico. now, puerto rico, a good-size island in this area. only hispaniola is bigger, cuba is bigger, they have mountains at 4,000 feet. that's like the white and green mountains of vermont and new hampshire. i mean that's kind of like people go skiing on those mountains. so that elevation with that much rain, you're going to get rain running all day down today down both of the mountain sides. and you're going to get flooding, you're going to get mudslides. so it's very difficult for people. people are going to have a shifting problem today. wind is -- that storm surge is first. get away from the storm surge.
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that completed. now wind will tear all the structures up that you're under today so you need to be in a safe structure. then you're going to have to worry about mudslides and flooding for the rest of the day today. remember, this eye is traveling right now about 15 miles to the southwest of that very populated san juan. it's cutting through the middle of the island, so they have the whole afternoon ahead of them with all of these problems. >> let's bring paul goodloe in from the weather channel live in san juan. paul, take us there. we can hear what it's like and the wind is simply whipping. >> it certainly has been. again, we're here in san juan. we lost power about 1:30 in the morning and this is one of the few hotels that has a generator. the generator kicked on and has been on generator power ever since then. the winds were already in hurricane-force gusts at that time and continue. we had this morning a 91-mile-per-hour wind gust at the airport and that was around 6:00 a.m. or so and it stopped reporting after that. we've been dealing with very
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strong winds. so much so we had parts of the roof of our hotel come off. that's a lot of the debris that you see at the pool. we got to the back pool patio and this is a protected area because the winds are coming this way. so we went inside a couple of hours and now we're back outside. the winds are coming in from the east and the southeast so the center is just passing off to our west. but look at some of the damage, some of the debris here. this is why we had to seek shelter inside. this is a big part of like a lum numb air conditioning duct that was on the roof. parts of the roof coming down, insulation, even drywall, parts of the roof that were ripped off with the strong winds. now the winds are coming this way. but the damage is everywhere around me. in fact if i can get brad reynolds to focus in on the top of this building here, that's a cell tower and with the gusty winds it's been moving back and
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forth. the higher off the ground, the stronger the winds will be. we will see easily on the back side of this hurricane winds gusting over 100 miles per hour if not sustained in that range as well. again, i want to show you some of the other debris. it looks pretty large, but the good news is it's pretty light. it's like styrofoam insulation, which was on top of this roof. so it's pretty light but if it gets hit in the wind, it flies around and looks pretty ominous coming down. that's why i went inside. there was too much of that coming down. with the winds shifting we're a little safer here. but bottom line, there's a helmet i have under this hood. there's no way i'd be out here unless i had some head protection and eye protection. we expect the winds to increase the next couple of hours. when they do, we'll head back inside because it just will not be that safe. one more thing i want to point out. look at the trees just past this first little building here. those trees normally have leaves
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on them. the winds have been that strong and that persistent. they have stripped the leaves off of the trees. in fact some of the bark as well has been ripped off the trees. that's how strong it is. again, i worked for the weather channel for over 18 years. i've witnessed hurricane damage, but also witnessed tornado damage. this is now, again, harvey, irma and maria i'm in. i've seen tornado-like damage with harvey and irma and now seeing the same thing with maria here in puerto rico. the winds are that intense as you get close to or in the eye wall of this hurricane. that's one of our big concerns. yes, we have flooding, mudslides and storm surge at the coast, but the relentless winds will be a big issue here. irma passed by this island about a week and a half ago. we had 70 plus-mile-per-hour winds. there are still thousands of people with no electricity because of irma, and that didn't hit the island. we're getting hit right now by maria, so the damage, and i'm not trying to sugar coat this,
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the damage will be and has been so far catastrophic in portions of this island. so again, here in san juan, the most populated city, we got a lot of concerns as we head through the back half of maria as we head through lunch hour and into the early afternoon hours. and again things will start to quiet down sometime on thursday, but it's going to be devastation as it's safer to survey the area, but it is rough out here. again, third straight hurricane to impact the u.s. of a category 4 nature. by the way, the last time puerto rico was hit by a category 4 hurricane, 1932. so we're talking well over 80 years ago. and it is going to be one for the record books in terms of damage on this island. >> then is puerto rico prepared? we know, as you said, they haven't seen a storm like this in decades and decades and the infrastructure is old, but san juan compared to places like the virgin islands has much stronger building codes, it's actually a
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city. you've got the building codes because it's a coastal place as well as it has to adhere to earthquake rules. can we hope that we're going to see these structures in san juan hopefully survive more than we saw, let's say, in tortola where it looked like dinosaurs had smashed, had marched right on top of these rooves of buildings? >> i don't know if paul can hear us. >> he's got it. >> i could hear you. that is a big concern. as you mentioned, st. john. we're actually on old san juan yesterday talking to the national park superintendent for the caribbean and he was saying how there was a lot more damage on st. john. it was devastated because of irma directly hitting there, so they actually have people from the park service who sought shelter here in san juan, and
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now san juan is getting hit. fortunately they're in the castle part, so that thing is over 400 years old. that's not going to come down at all, but it is some of the other buildings that even though they have stronger building codes, you still have winds gusting 100, 120 miles per hour for a while and that will definitely do some damage. so building codes or not, again, there is two things in this world which have never been beaten, one is father time and two is mother nature. there is no such thing as a hurricane-proof building. they might have a hurricane-resistant building and stringent building codes but for a long enough duration of strong winds hitting something, a structure, it will definitely give way to mother nature after a while. >> and i spoke yesterday afternoon with the governor of puerto rico who had been pleading with people to take refuge. they had opened up more than 500
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shelters, most of them were schools, convention centers, things like that. paul, what's your sense of the degree to which people took those warnings seriously. obviously after yesterday late afternoon getting off the island was no longer an option. >> you know, i think what happened, which was a good thick, was irma. it didn't make landfall but came close enough to give you 70 plus-mile-per-hour winds and people had a wake-up call. that was a glancing blow by a category 4 hurricane. we're having a direct hit by cat 4 or cat 5. a lot of people were already in shelters or in hotels because they didn't have power restored from irma's near miss about a week and a half ago, so you had hotels almost at capacity because of irma of the a. and then you have maria a much larger and serious threat. they took it seriously of the
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also people who have been around for other hurricanes, they also took it seriously and knew the concern. we got here on monday evening and it was just after the latest advisory came out that brought the winds up to 150 plus miles per hour. between, say, 11 -- 10:30 and 11:30, that grocery store was packed. lines were usually ten minutes long just to check out. the canned goods, there was a run on that. as early as monday people realized that this is no longer going to be a cat 1 or cat 2, could be a cat 4 or 5 and there were a lot of preparations. they have a capacity of up to 500 shelters on the island. i don't know what the latest number is, but as of 2:00 in the morning we had reports of 10,000 people in those shelters. they knew, again, some of the damage just from a passing-by hurricane, we could see a multiplier when you have a direct hit like we're dealing with right now with hurricane
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maria. >> sam champion -- paul, stay safe. head inside. we're going to check back with you in just a few minutes. sam champion, why? why is this happening? >> well, i tell you, when we watch these storms develop, and again you get the forecast from colorado state university and the hurricane center, and we knew it was going to be an above normal year. but where these hurricanes develop and whether they develop coming off the coast of africa, we're not really good on knowing where they're going to develop or being able to forecast are these storms going to make landfall or where they'll make landfall. we have a lot to learn about hurricanes. we know the big patterns that steer them. we know that they feed on warm water. there's things we do know. that's why we're still sending planes into every one of these storms and dropping gauges into these storms. we need to know where they spin up, where they develop. this is being steered by an area of high pressure in the atlantic so we know what's steering it. but the fact that it's moving across an area that seemingly to
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us, because we are having the concept of one just went by there, but this is just the track because of that area of high pressure that the storm that developed right behind it is going to follow the same track. >> why do they feed on warm water? >> when you see something spin up, you need to create energy, you need to create lift. so you need something to feed those storms to get those towering clouds and they just pull up all of this warm water in a wide open space of ocean and develop these incredible structures that once they develop, they just kind of keep feeding on themselves. every storm is different, everything that we look at these storms are different, so we've been noticing a pin eye with this storm. you've heard people say pin eye as opposed to watching irma with na giant 70-mile wide eye. the pin eye seems to indicate the storm is still in a strengthening change. when you talk to climate scientists, there's many things that seem to indicate that. we need a lot more.
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and this is one of the reasons why anyone who says that we don't need funding to study this, anyone who says we don't need funding to keep satellites in the sky, anyone who says we don't need funding for the national weather service for these planes that we send in, this is exactly the reason we do. there are so many things that we know about hurricanes. we know more about them than we ever have before but there's so many things that we don't know. wouldn't it be amazing to be able to give people warning more than a week out. wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to tell people you cannot live in this area unless your buildings meet this code. so those are the things that we want to be able to do. but right now the main force of this conversation has to be about these people and keeping them safe on this island in puerto rico. 10,000 people in shelters. there are more than 3 million people on that island. so i would like to have seen a lot more people in those shelters, but people tend to believe that they can wait these storms out. >> but as of 2:00 yesterday afternoon there were only 1500 people and a few hours earlier
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there were 500 so it is much more than it was. the governor was pleading with people to do that. let's go bill karins again to see what the latest is on this storm. bill. >> i've got to show you this video. this is from radio 1320 in puerto rico. here is some pictures of a river just posted ten minutes ago. this river is well out of its bank. this is on the south coast of puerto rico closer to where the western eye wall came onshore. this river is fed by the mountains to its north that are just literally taking all the rain. it's heading south down the coast because the mountains go east to west. this is the fear, water kills people in storms like this and hurricanes more than the wind does. so again, that's just -- sam told you about a half hour ago it's the rivers and the flash flood emergencies that are going to cause the biggest threats to lives instead of the winds. this is a prime example of why. we think we'll deal with mudslides like this, flooding
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like this, possible problem with dams throughout the day today. >> ali, if you look at that video, you can see that that water is more than a story because you're looking at the stop of the second stories of those buildingsbuildings. so these people again -- yes, the win is an incredibly dramatic picture. look, there's not so much wind there, but watch that water rip through that town. everyone there is in danger from the flood. >> and remember outside of san juan, you don't have building codes. you've got houses made of wood, roofs made of zinc. let's bring in the mayor of san juan, carmen juline. mayor, how are you doing and where are you riding out the storm? >> well, i'm at the biggest shelter probably in puerto rico. we have about 700 people housed at the coliseum. the situation was so heavy early in the morning that there was a leakage in the roof of the
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building so we have to move everyone into the inside portion of the building where all the columns would protect them just as a precautionary method. we have seen pictures of major devastation. i'm 54 years old and i have never seen such devastation as the one that i am seeing in pictures. we have been able to keep communications going, so that is very good. but the flooding, almost half of san juan is flooded at the point. gas stations completely ripped off, all of the gas pumps completely ripped. buildings that are all of the windows shattered, so the devastation. people that are calling in now because they didn't know what
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they were supposed to do. call in saying my home is flooding and we cannot get to them until at least the storm -- the hurricane subsides into storm mode so that we can get out there and start rebuilding and reconstructing and saving people's lives if they remain in their homes. but this is devastation as i have never seen in my 54 years of life in puerto rico. >> mayor yulin, obviously in this kind of weather with it going on, you have no ability to provide emergency response. what is the plan? what happens? once the winds die down, are your crews stationed and ready to get out? >> yeah, we have about 200 people right here at the coliseum, which is at the center of san juan, and we have paramedics, we have emergency rescue workers, we have people ready, construction workers, people ready to chop off trees
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and move them out of the way. because one of the things that has to happen is in order for things to get fixed, the primary and secondary roads have to be cleaned right away of debris. and we will come out like lightning. i was telling somebody maria is hitting us with all she can. wait until she sees us getting this recovery and reconstruction harder than she hit us. so we have about 200 employees that will be out in the street right away for two purposes. one to clean up the main roads and number two to make sure that we get the most disadvantaged areas of san juan so we can get people out of danger and we can care for those that have had any type of accident or any type of injury. >> and those who are outside of the city center, talk to us about who's inside those
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shelters. we're worried about those who are from rural areas who maybe didn't even have the ability to get to shelters. >> yeah. most people think that san juan is mostly an urban environment, but 60% of san juan is really countryside. of course the city side is the urban side of it. we were recovering from hurricane irma. it was kind of a very, very good dress rehearsal for us. we haven't finished recovering so our weakened electrical system is being impacted as we speak and it's going to be annihilated. there will be very little left of it. we're looking at four to six months without electricity in the island nation of puerto rico. still in san juan we had a very
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large number of communities without electricity and power back from irma, so we're going to see a lot of wooden houses that will disappear, a lot of zinc rooftops that would have been taken out. hopefully people would have been able to find shelter somewhere in their community if they didn't come here. we have approximately 1500 people in shelters around san juan and now this will multiply because as we take people out of their homes, homes where of course it's unstable to stay, we will have to increase the number of people in shelters. right now for the hurricane and for the reconstruction after the hurricane. >> mayor yulin, we're looking at pictures right now and what we're seeing is trees but across that is the power lines. all of the power infrastructure, more than four decades old in most cases, is above ground.
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do you -- puerto rico already had a financial problem going into this. will you have the necessiary resources to restore the power infrastructure in san juan and in other places? >> we will certainly need a lot of money. in just two weeks we have spend $9 million in san juan just in food and purchasing diesel and gas for one month in advance and medications for our health system and surgical equipment for our health system in san juan, one month in advance. so the is answer is no, we willt have everything we need and some major aid will need to come our way from all sources. not only the u.s., but any international sources that will be available to us. what we are seeing is devastation. what we are seeing is the annihilation of an entire
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country. earlier this morning, a town on the eastern side, its emergency unit system building had to be evacuated because it couldn't take it. major radio stations are really just using their own phones, et cetera, because their buildings are being ripped apart. so, no, we do not have enough of what we need. you know, that's not going to stand in our way. what we have, we will begin. we will improvise, we will overcome and we will be resilient. i have no doubt about that. and i want to thank you, because your voice becomes the echo of our voices. this opportunity lets people know that we're here, that we are fearful because what is happening is still going to take until probably late this evening to come by, but that we're also lifted in the spirit of
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reconstruction and reconciliation and that we're going to push on and move forward. so i thank you very much for the opportunity as the mayor of san juan to have our voices and the voices of thousands of people that are hoping for this to pass, just to get a move on, and works to reconstructing our city and reconstructing our nation. >> well, we appreciate you joining us this morning. we know what a dangerous time it is for you and people want to know how things are going there. please tell us, i'm assume you've spoken to the governor and he is speaking to officials here in the u.s. do you have a sense, have you been told from government officials the kind of aid the united states will provide for you? >> well, they have said in general terms there's some ships that will come that are sort of floating hostels, which is important.
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i have spoken with the speaker of the new york legislature and we know mayor bill de blasio has already committed to sort of putting boots on the ground. by this i mean paramedics and rescue workers, because we need additional hands in order to get to the people that will need it the most. also i know that people from virginia and other states, rescue workers, fema, are already here and they will be sent throughout the island nation of puerto rico to wherever there is more devastation. but what happens is, you know, everybody's devastation is the most important, so we are going to have to find a way to in a very logical and structured manner just ensure that all those resources are being equally divided amongst all of it. san juan was already declared upon my asking the governor
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agreed to it and president trump finally agreed to it a disaster zone with regards to our infrastructure. so no doubt this is going to be even worse at this point. so we know that people will be coming here. i'll give you an example. soon we're going to need water. remember, this is an island. so everything we get is shipped to us. and the last information that we got was that there was no bottled water reservoir in puerto rico so we're going to need bottled water to come to puerto rico, medications and so forth. people have the commitment to making sure that our people are safe. i think that's the first step. restoring the access to our main areas, restoring the power to our health areas, those are two major important things that we need to do in order to push on
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and move -- >> we just lost the connection. you know, as we were seeing earlier, the cell phone towers being bent over in some places. we're having some communication problem with some of our folks and the people we've arranged to talk to in puerto rico. you know, somebody was just asking me as the mayor said, san juan is the biggest capital center, but much of puerto rico is rural. how come we don't have reporters out there. well, as the mayor just said, they have lost power all over the place. we can't even get phone calls into puerto rico. >> look at the sky, it is gushing rain even if you're trying to use portable satellites. the satellites cannot find you in conditions like that. that was the situation i was in last week at st. john. >> look at these pictures. we've now watched two hurricanes come in, but generally speaking with tropical palms they look like they're built for a hurricane. these things are getting whipped around. >> remember, this is a cat 4 so exponentially stronger than a
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cat 1. >> for those of us in the new york area, hurricane sandy was a cat 1 and for us, i mean sandy was devastating. >> but here's the interesting thing, again, sandy got that superstorm title because sandy was in the process of transforming, of opening up. so sandy had all this stored wind and stored energy with it when it had its category of a hurricane. remember, it's not like these storms just throw one line of wind out. there are pockets of winds in these storms. we even saw this with irma. remember that wind pocket that traveled through northern florida. remember that line of rain and wind that came through jacksonville that kept all of that water from getting out of the river there in jacksonville and caused all of that flooding. all of that storm surge that was still up on the carolina coastli coastline. though we look for the worst impact to be with that eye wall, once that eye wall makes impact and the storm starts to lose its structure, the wind kind of breaks apart in pockets. so it's not unusual to see some area that may be right beside
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the eye, to the left of the eye might not get as damaged or as strongly damaged as another area that's farther away. so with sandy, that was kind of the problem. the problem was the storm was coming apart was sandy was moving toward new york, so you had this big wall and these pockets of wind. and that strong surge that was still pushing along the coast well away from where the center of sandy was. >> i don't want to put you on the spot, either of you, have we heard anything about dominica? i haven't heard anything. >> but you're not going to see a lot out of it. the infrastructure problems, it's impossible to get anything other than satellite communication out and they were -- >> you can't get there. >> and they were really trying to get people out of these islands. so the islands that have been hit before, that just didn't have strong structures, they were really trying to evacuate and totally evacuate. >> one of the challenges, though, so many boats completely decimated. that was the case in the virgin islands. even if you wanted to get out, there were no boats to get you out. >> and the early reports we're getting is 75% to 85% total
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decimation in dominica. so again, these are not -- they're tropical islands, used to tropical storms. >> not like this. >> but this is something else. >> one of the things that we need to remember is we say that because these storms, hurricanes and tropical storms move through these areas all the time historically. but you've had a path that has taken the eye, the center, the most powerful of this storm through these islands in a way that they have never seen in modern history before. so we're looking at islands that a lot of people live in. you just heard puerto rico, what was it, 80 years, 85 years ago. they more than doubled the population since the last time they saw a 4. the other thing is how does the storm move across the island. if i hold puerto rico up like this and you're going to see people talk about hugo. hugo just clipped the tip of puerto rico. this storm is going all the way across the middle, almost like a section from corner to corner. so you'll see people say, oh,
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well we rode out hugo. no, no, hugo just hit the tip. this storm is going all the way across the middle -- it's like cutting it from corner to corner. and so the damage here will be much worse. one of the things i'm very proud of to show, remember i was managing editor at the weather channel for three years. you see someone like paul goodloe who's doing exactly the right thing. they have their crew wrapped around this solid protection. you have to look past paul to see where the damage is, but that's the safe place for folks showing you the storm to be. put the crew and themselves in safety so you can see past him where all the damage is. >> look at that stop sign spinning like a leaf. let's bring in gadi schwartz who is in san juan. gadi, give us an update. >> reporter: hello. >> gadi, can you hear us? >> i can kind of hear you. sorry, the coms down here are a little bit of a mess. we're starting to see the winds pick up a little bit. they were giving us a little bit of a break but when they were the worst, this is the damage
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that they did. this is a solid door and it was blasted off of its frame. over there, you've got plexiglass that was broken and then the roof here, a little bit of the ceiling coming in. this is a huge structure. i mean we're talking about a coliseum. it stretches down there. those doors that you see open over there, this were lashed together with zip ties and with fire hoses and they blasted open when the worst of the storm was hitting us. but let me show you where we're at. this coliseum is where we had hundreds of people there were taking shelter during this storm and they were actually down here. this coliseum has been cleared out, at least the floor has, because there were things that were starting to fall down from the ceiling. you see all that debris down there. they didn't want to take any chances. they think that it's structurally sound but they didn't want to risk it and so they moved everybody from down there over to areas like this. this is where people are sleeping. we're going to give them their space, but people that are
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sleeping under the bleachers, hoping for a little bit of protection from the wind that is just howling outside. a lot of people here praying. in fact we just saw a prayer circle a little while ago, people joining hands and praying for this storm to finally end. >> what's the timing? how much longer do they think it's going to be hitting that hard specifically where you are? >> reporter: well, stephanie, we were watching it on our radar and then a couple of hours ago it went blank, we couldn't see what was happening. it was about 12 to 15 miles away from us, the eye of the storm was. and so we're not exactly sure, but we -- we are anticipating another 4 to 6 hours, possibly even longer of these types of winds. it looks like the winds have shifted direction and there was a time there where we're not sure if we were actually in the eye of the storm or if things just calmed down, but the winds are definitely starting to pick up again. and then we're unclear because we just don't have radar right now. >> you know, something the mayor just told us is that, first of
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all, there's widespread flooding in san juan right now. so even once the winds end and people venture out, we don't know what the condition will be of the streets in san juan, but more importantly the people have taken shelter because they thought maybe their homes would not be sufficient for them, may not be able to access those homes. as the mayor said, the impression people have of san juan as being fully urban is a mistaken impression. it is a largely rural town. >> and outside the city, those are people in wooden homes with zinc rooves. >> and we saw a few hundred people at this shelter but we understand yesterday and last night, we were listening to the governor speak and they were announcing a little more than 10,000 people had taken shelter. hopefully that number is a lot larger because here on the island of puerto rico, there are 3.4 million puerto ricans that live here. if you're talking about 10,000 people taking shelter and 3.4 million people in total
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population, that's a lot of people that may not have taken the shelter. a lot of the people that we were talking to here, they said they did live in those low-lying areas. they were showing us on the map places that flood regularly and they're terrified they'll go back to their homes and their homes may have been swept away by the winds or may be completely inundated by the storm surge. >> gadi, thanks very much. we'll stay in close contact with you at the shelter that you're at. let's go back to nbc's gabe gutierrez is live in san juan. gabe, it looks like things are getting even windier where you are. are you standing in front of a pool? >> reporter: i am, stephanie. we're here at actually the condado hilton. we were on a higher floor but i had to leave that floor because it was taking on some water, the hallway was taking on some water. we're here on the ground floor in this courtyard area surrounded by a concrete wall on this side, a concrete wall on this side, so you don't see the wind so much right here. if you zoom in behind me, you
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can see the surf is still very choppi choppy and the winds pick up at times. a very powerful storm, as we've been discussing. this has the potential to be absolutely devastating for san juan, as you heard gadi just reporting. we were at that shelter yesterday as people were streaming in. the concern right now is this flooding. as the mayor was discussing, parts of san juan are taking on water. it's hard to see from our vantage point since we're having to stay and seek shelter through all this, but we expect this to continue for several more hours. we can tell you that we were experiencing those hurricane-force winds just an hour or two ago from our previous location. we saw parts of buildings being blown off, debris going on the street. thankfully on this side of the hotel it's a little quieter. we did see the wind shift direction as gadi was mentioning just a short time ago. so right now it doesn't seem too -- the position i'm standing
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in thankfully, we're not getting the full brunt of the winds for our safety, but this is something that's going to continue for several more hours here in puerto rico. as you mentioned, the governor -- or the mayor of san juan saying that some areas could be without area for four to six hours. the power grid here heavily impacted, very hard to get communications out of this area right now. most of the cell carriers appear to be down. >> some areas may be without power four to six weeks. >> and there's areas in the virgin islands that could be up to a year at this point, the estimation. >> sam, this is an infrastructure issue, right? one of the things about -- we were talking about sandy and we thought our infrastructure as safer in new york than it is in places like puerto rico where you've got above-ground wires. you don't see those in new york and the bottom line was it wasn't safe. in places with trees and above-ground power lines and a bankrupt state, replacing the electrical infrastructure, which is one of the two most important things you need, running water
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and electricity, that's going to be very hard for puerto rico. >> you're missing the third thing that you need, money. >> when we were live and standings in miami and i was telling you that florida power & light had gone up to new york during sandy to see how they got power back on pretty quickly, a lot of sandy, about 90% got it back on within a week. so you still have areas in miami that don't have full power yet. remember, fpl went in and put flooding sensors in some of those substations. they went in and reinforced those poles. they have really strong cement poles. a lot of this isn't even in puerto rico so you don't have any of this. you don't have the ability to know if those substations are flooding so you shut them down. you don't have the -- well, you do in the condado area. it's built up for hotels, it's strong construction. one of the strongest and best built areas on the island right there. but the rest of the island doesn't have those cement poles, doesn't have all of that. if you're looking at a place
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like south florida and you can't get power back a week, you're talking about puerto rico. you're right, to say three or four weeks, sure, absolutely. >> we also just have to remember that it's an island. i remember during the last storm sam was telling us these beautiful stories of utility trucks coming from different states, coming across the country -- >> we're going to take a quick break. when we come back, our coverage of hurricane maria which is over the island of puerto rico as a category 4 storm will continue and we'll go live to mexico city where hundreds of people have been killed in a 7.1 earthquake. we'll be back right after this. you're watching live coverage on msnbc. ["love is all around" by joan jett & the blackhearts]
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covering the 7.1 earthquake that hit mexico about 80 miles southeast of mexico city. but because of the way the plates are organized there, there was a lot of shaking felt in the city buildings that had come down and smoke was seen from the buildings. at least 217 people have been killed. that is not in mexico city only, that's in three states where the effects of this hurricane have been felt. >> that country struggling to survive. thousands of rescuers are still desperately searching for survivors. aed this point, we can tell you that at least 217 people died in that magnitude as ali said, 7.1 earthquake. let's go live to nbc's steve paterson who is fortunately safe in mexico city. steve, please, give us an update. >> reporter: stephanie and ali, when you get on one of these scenes, the desperate searches, it is a picture of hope and heartbreak. the hope you have to dig to find a little bit, but the heartbreak is east to see. it's over my right shoulder just
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up above. that used to be an employment agency in a beautiful neighborhood. six stories at the height of the business day here in mexico. shortly before 2:00 p.m. before lunchtime, that came down. and it is a pile of ruins that you see now. you can see rescue crews on top of there searching through the ruins. they are looking for people that could possibly be alive in there. we know there are some people alive in there, basically because we have been talking to families on the ground here. we have had our crews who have helped us translate to get the stories. and one is a woman who said her 26-year-old son has been stuck in the back corner of that building since it's come down. but he's so lodged back in there that crews have had a hard time to get him out. so this is a race against time. and it's a heartbreaking scenario for people trying to get family members out. however, once in a while, you see a guy up there who will stick both of his hands up in the air. and that is a sign to represent that they found somebody. in fact, there was one stretch for about 15 minutes where they
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found three people in a row. and that was a joyous occasion. so going back and forth between the hope and heartbreak on this scene, this is one of several scenes around the city, around the region. and around the state system here in mexico. as we mentioned earlier, there's a school to the south of here a few miles south where at least 21 young elementary school students were killed when they earthquake occurred. and there's at least 30 more that are unaccounted for. and that scene is a little more desperate than this one. and again, those scenes are all over this area now in this race against time as crews day and night and day and night again are trying to find and rescue people before it's too late. we'll send it back to you. >> steve, thank you very much. that's incredible destruction behind you. we'll be back in just a moment. our coverage of hurricane maria continues. business is in my blood. i'm the daughter of two entrepreneurs so i had a front
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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. welcome back. i'm ali velshi. >> and i'm stephanie ruhle. we are covering two storms that are unfolding right now. >> reporter: the destruction from this scene is dire. the scene behind me is utter chaos, blinding rain and wind. it is only expected to get worse. there are trees coming down right here. we're seeing debris flying through this area. >> it's hard to get any phone
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reception with anyone in port rico right now. the radars are down, all the weather instruments are down. right now we just call this the blackout period. we know there's horrific destruction still taking place. >> the big future of our coverage just gave way. stay there, brad, i'll come out here to keep an eye on it. >> rescue efforts happening right now in mexico after a powerful earthquake ripped through that country yesterday. >> one come, in particular, says her 26-year-old son is trapped back there in a small pocket. he's communicating with rescue workers and they have not been able

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