tv MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin MSNBC September 20, 2017 10:00am-11:00am PDT
thanks for being with us. here's craig melvin. >> good afternoon. craig melvin at msnbc headquarters here in new york. two major disasters we're following this hour. the death toll has climbed in mexico after that earthquake there leveled home, schools and apartment buildings. meanwhile, hurricane maria also ravaging the island of puerto rico at this hour with 155-mile-per-hour winds. the cat 4 storm packed those massive winds, it battered the coast, the capital city of san juan as well. while the worst of the storm may have passed, the danger most certainly has not. flooding and wind damage could
still bring catastrophic results. part of the island, part of puerto rico may be uninhabitable for months. meanwhile, in mexico, rescuers right now are literally digging through rubble. a strong earthquake centered about 75 miles from mexico city rocked that capital. mexican officials confirm, so far more than 220 people have been killed. rescue workers, some working with their bare hands, digging through rubble in an attempt to find survivors. nbc's ron mott is on the ground in mexico city. he's been following the massive search and rescue operations there. we also have a team of reporters in puerto rico as well covering the impact and aftermath of hurricane maria as it moves on from puerto rico. nbc meteorologist dylan dreyer is in the weather center tracking the storm's current track. we'll get to dylan in a moment. let's start with gabe gutierrez, he's hunkered down in san juan
with that city expecting major damage that could impact the area for months. gabe, what's the scene there right now? >> reporter: hi there, craig, good afternoon. we can tell you within the past hour or so, we have noticed the wind and range here to get just a little calmer. that's expected as hurricane maria goes to our southwest. and we start to see a little bit less of the wind. but every once in a while, we do get of one of those gusts. here where we are, you see behind me, the surf is kick up and the palm trees swaying in the wind. throughout the day, though, and throughout the morning, we have seen much more intense winds, this powerful category 4 hurricane that slammed into puerto rico. this morning the southeast coast. we had hunkered down, have been hunkered down at this hotel for a while. this concrete wall is preventing me from getting the brunt of the winds right now. earlier today we were several floors up and we're getting these howling winds and torrential rain.
water started to come into the building. we had to move to safer ground. authorities in puerto rico are getting a dire initial assessment of this. san juan's mayor says at some point this morning half of the city was flooded and now remains a major concern here. the storm surge that we're expecting, 6 to 9 feet. of course, this storm is not over, so there is concern. that that could be deaf stating. so, they're expecting 18 inches of rain in some areas. the major fears were for buildings that were wooden structures, along much of this island and flood-prone areas. authorities gave such a dire warning, saying to evacuate or die. there's no telling exactly how many people heeded those warnings. there was word 10,000 people were in emergency shelters. the governor said he hoped that number ended up being much higher. they had capacity of 100,000 people in those emergency
shelters, 500 of them throughout the island. now, this is the strongest storm to make landfall in puerto rico since 1932. there hadn't been a category 4 or 5 since then. the fear is, according to san juan's mayor that the power could be out in some areas for four to six months. of course, the power grid is a huge concern here. weakened infrastructure of this island that had just been grazed by hurricane irma and only 75% of the island lost power, more than 60,000 people were without power going into maria. and now there's just the vast majority already without power, communications is an issue here. most of these cell carriers have dropped and we had to change our transmission in order to bring you this live report today. back to you. >> my goodness. it's hard to get your head around, four to six months without power on parts of that island. gabe, stand by. we want to come back to you later in the hour. let's go to dylan dreyer, meteorologist standing by in the
weather center where the worst effects of -- where are these worst effects being felt right now? >> craig, we're going to start to see things improve in puerto rico because the storm is about to make its way back over land. you can see, here was the center of the storm before it made landfall as a category 4. then moving over the terrain did kind of shift and change that eye wall a bit, so it's not as defined looking right now. it's still a category 4 storm. winds still are up to 140 miles an hour. while we will see improvements, we certainly aren't in the clear yet. let's break down what we're going to see. you can see parts of northwestern puerto rico -- or still dealing with winds up to 108 miles per hour. we still do have the potential of winds to gust over 125, possibly as high as 150. we're going to see that continue to produce a lot of damage, especially to not so well built structures. we have the threat of a 6 to 9 foot storm surge surrounding most of the island on the northwestern part of the island. on the northwestern side we're
looking for 4 to 6 foot storm surge. a lot of rain coming down in the mountains, and the rivers -- the mountains are the source region for the rivers, so it's going to continue to push that water down into the san juan area where while we won't see as much rain in that area, we will still see a lot of flooding from the rivers filtering down that way. now, tomorrow we're going to see most of our effects for the dominican republic. not as intense because the storm will stay offshore, but 75-mile-per-hour winds possible with a 4 to 6 foot storm surge. turks and caicos could end up with winds at 100 to 125-mile-per-hour. then they're going to watch this storm weaken as it moves into cooler water, stay out over the water, and then there's a big question mark what's going to happen after that. we do have hurricane warnings, our tropical storm warnings still in effect. turks and caicos under those warnings as well. i want to show you the spaghetti plots here. these are taking the different models and showing they're all
in line here. watch what happens as we go into tuesday and wednesday. they indicate that some models want to bring it into the northeast. mid-atlantic up to the northeast. several models take it along the same track jose took. that should hopefully take that storm out to sea. you can see maria is moving out. because of jose sandwiched between these two areas of high pressure, that should help to steer the storm eastward. then we've got this approaching cold front. that should help push it eastward. there are a lot of things indicating this storm should move out to sea and not affect the mainland united states but that's still far out. we're not sure what exactly will happen as we go into the tuesday, wednesday time frame. >> dylan, one of the things coming out of puerto rico, the storm is so bad right now that radar is down. you guys are having to rely on satellite to track this storm. is that true and if so, what does that mean? >> the radar originates from the ground. it's usually a tour and shoots
out a beam that reflects back the raindrops. so, we're actually able to see a picture where we are getting the heaviest rain. when the towers go down, we can't get that picture from the ground, so we rely on satellites up in space, but they only show us the clouds. we know the way the storm is designed that the higher the cloud tops, the better chance we're getting of heavier rain. but it's not giving us as good a picture of where the torrential downpours are occurring, which affects how we know just how much rain certain areas are getting. >> dylan dreyer, meteorologist, keeping a close eye on maria from the devastation and destruction there to the devastation and destruction in mexico. nbc's ron mott is on the scene there in mexico city where, again, rescuers are literally using their bare hands in some cases, trying to pull people from the rubble of those buildings. ron, last hour i saw you on the streets there as rescuers were able to have some success. is that still the case or are they still being able to pull
folks out of these buildings? >> there are a lot of moving parts at the moment, as you might imagine. let's turn the camera around. there are some folks that have just come in with the 4x4s. these are all volunteers. these are folks who have given up school for the day, work for the day, and come to this neighborhood that's been hard hit, that at least half a dozen buildings have collapsed in this neighborhood. as you mentioned in the last hour, we believe we may have gotten a positive identification of someone still alive in an apartment building that's collapsed about a block and a half away from us here. so, there are organizers on the ground, asking people what sort of supplies do they have, do you have gloves, shovels, ropes, harnesses. they're trying to organize team and take them back this way. if we can just walk this way, craig, i'll give you a better sense of what's going on in that building itself because it's a tall seven-story building that is now probably standing about
40 to 50 feet with bricks and mortar, if you will. they're just down this block here. this is where all the action is. every now and again you might see people raise their hands. that's when rescuers are asking for quiet because they want to be able to detect, they can hear people inside the rubble. we can turn the camera down here and you can see what's left of this building here. there's an apartment building that stood on that block down there. that's where the focus is right now. there are a lot of people with their buckets going through hand by hand, brick by brick, pulling pieces off, trying to detect any signs of life in that building. and in the last hour, after one of the periods where they asked us all to be quiet, there was a huge round of applause. so, there was some positive identification of life in that rubble there. to the left of our camera, there are a bunch of dump trucks taking the debris you see here and putting it into dump trucks and getting it out of the neighborhood. they're literally doing this
five-gallon pail by five-gallon pail. that's what folks are doing. they'll go in in small teams and gingerly lift bricks and concrete bricks off the pile. they may have limited gap of air and any disruption could be life-threatening. we do believe there are people trapped in there. we don't have a sense of how many people are in the rubble. the focus is this neighborhood and the elementary school where we've had upwards of almost two dozen students and adults who were killed confirmed in that collapse yesterday. they believe upwards of 38 to 40 people may still be unaccounted for just in that elmane school alone. this is a very ad hoc, a spur of the moment rescue. one gentleman said he came from a good, long rage to be here today. he said this is what mexican
people are about, helping people in crisis. >> while you were giving your report, i heard a dog barking a few times in the background. is that a search and rescue dog? do they have search and rescue dogs on hand? >> reporter: i don't see any dogs working the pile just yet, craig. there are people with their dogs. i think they're just household pets who are coming up and down the block. but i have not seen any dogs in the pile just yet. just a number of rescuers standing on that debris. i don't know what type of equipment they have, if they've got audio equipment that will allow them to sort of penetrate deep into that rubble to hear any signs of life in that building, but they're going to keep going here. they've been going since this essentially happened yesterday. we're coming up now on 23 hours and five minutes since this earthquake hit. obviously, the painful thing, a reminder for a lot of folks yesterday who were here in 1985, when they had that monster earthquake that killed nearly 10,000 people. sort of a cruel coincidence that this earthquake hit on the day
it did yesterday. >> ron mott for us there in mexico city. ron, we'd like to check back in with you a little bit later as well. keep us updated on the search and rescue effort there. josh is the mexico bureau chief for "the washington post." he's on the phone with me. he's also in mexico city. he's at the school ron referenced where they've been trying to rescue people all morning long. josh, bring us up to speed on the rescue effort at that school specifically. >> yeah, this school is in southern mexico city. it's a private elementary school that a large portion collapsed. a three-story building. from what rescue workers say, it was an "l" shaped building and the shorter leg of the school collapsed where there was kindergarten, first and grade classes, as well as the teachers and cleaning staff that was in there. like you said earlier, i think the numbers are at least about
two dozen confirmed dead with possibly much more still to be found in the school. right now the police have basically sealed off the blocks around the school and they're leading the rescue efforts, from what volunteer rescue teams told me, they're going in there with -- they're burrowing holes, trying to get into the classroom. they're using mirrors and hoses and other methods. they do have canine search teams as well trying to identify any survivors right now. it's a pretty chaotic scene. i mean, there's a ton of, you know, volunteers. they're handing out water or sandwiches or coffee to people and then there's a large military presence, you know, pursuing this rescue effort. the president of mexico visited late last night, so they've been going, you know, about a full day trying to -- trying to rescue children.
they put up lists of paper, they have taped to trees with names of the deceased children as well as the survivors who went to various hospitals in the area, you know, those are lists in the dozens at this point. >> josh, while you've been providing your report there, we have been showing these images of the rescue effort in mexico city right now. we see them -- what appears to be a large gathering of military personnel. before that we saw rescue workers literally wedging themselves into what's left of this particular building. here's that video again of this brave rescue worker trying to find any signs of survivors. josh, in the any aftershocks? have you experienced any aftershocks since that initial quake? >> no, i haven't felt any. maybe there have been in other parts of mexico city, but where i was, it was just the main
quake at about 1:00 p.m. tuesday afternoon. >> this, of course, is the second major earthquake in mexico in just the past few weeks. you know this region better than most. what is it about mexico that makes it particularly susceptible to earthquake damage? >> the main thing is mexico city, a large portion of the city is built on an old lake bed, so the -- you know, the ground is not stable in many neighborhoods. particularly neighborhoods that are popular with a lot of tourists, upper middle class neighborhoods like condesa, as well as the historic center where the famous plaza is and cathedral and the presidential palace. i mean, you know, that stuff -- those areas have suffered tremendously in past earthquakes and they have again this week. it's hard to access a lot of
these places because so many roads are blocked off and the traffic is snarled so badly in other parts of mexico city. there's ambulances racing everywhere. it's still a very chaotic scene in large portions of the city. >> mexico bureau chief for "the washington post," thanks for that report. keep us posed. we are going to continue to closely monitor the rescue efforts there in mexico. we are also bottom right of your screen, hurricane maria, we're keeping a very close eye on that particular hurricane as well. meanwhile, former president barack obama, this is a live look, he is speaking right now at a bill and melinda gates event. he's blasting the republicans for trying to get rid of what's become known as obamacare. more on that and what's next for the efforts to repeal and replace straight ahead. this is msnbc.
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ugly, ignorant words were spoken by the u.s. president against the iranian nation. full or hatred and baseless allegations and unfit for the u.n. general assembly. earlier today in one of the president's five meetings with international leaders, president trump said he's made his decision. >> to say or to leave? >> i have decided. >> okay. can you tell us -- >> i'll let you know. i'll let you know. >> bill crystal, founder of the weekly standard, nancy soderbergh, deputy national security adviser to president clinton, and david, reporter for "the washington post." bill, let me start with you. president trump saying he's made up his mind, but he won't reveal what that decision is just yet. what -- what's the thinking there or is there any thinking there?
>> it's a little hard to know. i think he won't certify to congress -- he won't rip up the deal. president trump did not have the votes to actually win an up or down vote for his treaty, when he didn't call agreement, a treaty. so they went with this bill, which majority of congress voted against and president obama vetoed and they had enough votes to veto. part of the legislation asked the president every three months to certify that the deal is in the interest of the united states. i think president trump will say he doesn't believe it is and then it's kicked back to congress, they have 60 days, imbedded in the legislation that president obama, that lets congress decide whether to reimporei reimpose sanctions. i expect to see in november a noncertification by president trump. i'm just saying i think this is what they're thinking in the white house. then we'll have two months debate in congress.
which is not a bad thing on iran policy. >> david, it would also seem to be if that's the route he takes, that gives the president some political cover as well. >> it does, splits the difference. if you listen to the speech yesterday when he called the iran deal an embarrassment to the country, which he said before but to say it right there in u.n., he got kudos from benjamin netanyahu, but others in the room were upset about it. i think that signals what he'll do. the question is how iran reacts. you've seen a lot of tough rhetoric from rouhani and others, including the foreign minister saying this rhetoric from trump belongs in the medieval ages. but i think rhetoric is one thing. iran says if trump dessert cert they can take their own actions.
>> we could begin a process of dialogue to discuss what comes after this deal, sunsets or elements of its sunset. that's worth doing. but we can't do that when we're hurling threats, threatening to walk out, acting like a spoiled child at dinner table. >> if you go after the iran deal in iran the way he did yesterday and you talk about throwing it out, you make your diplomatic efforts of solving north korea far more difficult. >> i do think the language he used was so harsh that in some way it strengthened kim jong-un, made him the center of attention. >> john kerry saying, nancy, if you nuke the iran deal, you make dealing with north korea that much harder. do you agree with that assessment? >> absolutely. i think the bombbas we heard yesterday from the president, some of this childish name-calling that actually worked quite well for him in the republican primaries l not work on a global stage.
none of these problems can be solved without u.s. leadership and none of them can be solved only by the united states. we need the rest of the world to help us solve these problems. yesterday set us back in that effort. the i agree with bril crysthris likely to happen with the iran deal. it will only unravel if we try to put sanctions back on iran. unilateral sanctions on iran are not particularly effective. i think the president's going to try to have it both ways, as he'll decertify, congress won't do much, the deal could stay in place and we could talk about what will happen after ten years. but as iranians made clear, this deal will stay in place or fall apart, and that's the president's choice right now. >> president trump begins a meeting with a group of african leaders. president trump in the room and so is his secretary of state, rex tillerson in the background. you see secretary tillerson as
president trump works the room here. again, it's bit a bit of a whirlwind of a few days for the president here. this most recent meeting coming on the heels of the speech we talked about yesterday. how glaring was the oe of russia yesterday? in all the president's talk of national sovereignty in that speech, bill, not once did he mention russia, the cyber attacks, the interference with the election. >> it was striking and consistent with president trump's views of rush shashgs i guess, which are much more, i don't know the right word, friendly. and i think most people in the center left or center right, mainstream republicans or democrats, would be willing to see harsh rhetoric. if he's dolling out harsh rhetoric anyway, it wouldn't be bad for vladimir putin to hear some from donald trump. looking at those pictures -- i'm not a big trump fan, obviously, but being president does let you
appear presidential even if in your speeches you do think un-presidential and we sit around and criticize things, you see why presidents do tend to get re-elected. you see why even a president who does things that aren't genuinely presidential and may damage the country in some places, still i think as a practical, political matter, trump's had a pretty good few days. every time look up, he's meeting with a foreign leader, he's sort of joking around with some of them, like macron who's a moderate, center is, liked by the establishment here. he's had a couple better days than i would have expected. >> his national security adviser, h.r. mcmaster appears at the podium as well. meanwhile, while all of this is happening, former president barack obama at the bill and melinda gates foundation talking about his legacy. this is what the president said just a few moments ago on health care.
>> when i see people trying to undo that hard-won progress for the 50th or 60th time, with bills that would raise costs or reduce coverage, or roll back protections for older americans or people with pre-existing conditions, the cancer survivor, the expecting mom or the child with autism, or asthma, their own coverage once again would be almost unattainable, it is aggravating. and all of this done without any demonstrative economic, actuarial or plain common sense rationale, it frustrates. and it certainly is frustrating to have to mobilize every couple months to keep our leaders from inflicting a degree of human suffering on our constituents. >> a picture of two presidents there, obama pbarack obama on t
and president trump on the right, meeting with african leaders. david, we just saw something and heard something, president obama up front and center, defending his legacy. do you think he will be successful? do you get the sense that this latest effort to repeal and replace, the graham cassidy bill will go through? >> it seems like groundhog's day. for obama, he hasn't been out there speaking too much. he said before he left office, he didn't want to be overshadowing the next president the way that george bush sort of allowed him to take the stage. you've seen on a couple big issues, immigration, health care now, president obama's put out long statements defending his positions on facebook. now he's at a public forum talking about this. i think democrats -- a lot of them pine for him to be out,there but he also recognizes some democrats do, if obama is talking too much about it, it becomes about obama. one thing that can continue to
gav galvanize the right is president obama and hillary clinton. i think he's trying to be patient with his statements. when it matters, he's doing it like now. >> let's listen in. president trump here at this meeting with african leaders. >> going to your countries, trying to get rich. i congratulate you. they're spending a lot of money. but it does, it has a tremendous business potential. and representing huge amounts of different markets and for american firms, it's really become a place that they have to go, that they want to go. six of the world's ten fastest growing economies are in africa. increasing american trade and investment across diverse industries, including agriculture, energy, transportation, health care, travel and tourism will further transform lives throughout the continent. secretary tillerson and the u.s.
millennium challenge corporation are already considering an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars in cote, which has made impressive economic reforms. really, you've done a tremendous job. we hope afternoon firms like the company sasol, will consider making investments in the united states. as an example, they are building a $9 billion petro chemical plant in louisiana, which will bring new jobs to the state and really hard-working americans will be manning those jobs. we cannot have prosperity if we're not healthy. we will continue our partnership on critical health initiatives. uganda has made incredible strides in the battle against
hiv/aids. in guinea and niger, yeah you fought a horrifying ebola outbreak. namibia is increasingly self-sufficient. my secretary of health and human services will be traveling to africa to promote our global security agenda. we know our prosperity depends, above all, on peace. the united states will partner with the countries and organizations like the african union that leads successful efforts to end violence, to prevent the spread of terrorism and to respond to humanitarian crises. i commend your troops currently serving in the field. very brave. very, very brave what they're going through. as you well know too many people are suffering from conflict in africa. in the central african republic,
the congo, libya, mally, somalia, and south sudan, among others, they're going through some very, very tough and very dangerous times. terrorist groups such as isis, al shabab, boko haram and al qaeda also threaten african peace. the united states is proud to work with you to eradicate terrorist safe havens, to cut off their finances and to discredit their depraved ideology. and a number of you have told me, actually, last night that we've been doing a very good job over the last six or seven months in particular. we're closely monitoring and deeply disturbed by the ongoing violence in south sudan and in the congo. millions of lives are at risk and we continue to provide
humanitarian assistance, but real results in halting this catastrophe will require an african-led peace process and a since sincere, really sincere commitment of all parties involved. and i know you're working on that and you're working on that very hard. to assist in these efforts, i'm sending ambassador nikki haley to africa to discuss avenues of conflict and resolution. and most importantly, prevention. lastly, i want to discuss our partnership against a global challenge. today the world faces an enormous security threat from north korean regime. we must all stand together and be accountable in implementing united nations sanctions and resolutions in response to north korea's hostile and menacing actions. we believe that a free, independent and democratic
nation in all cases is the best vehicle for human happiness and success. thank you for joining me for this critical discussion of the challenges and the opportunities facing our nations. africa, i have to say, is a continent of tremendous, tremendous potential. the outlook is bright. i look forward to hearing from you and your advice during the meal. i thought rather than just eating, we'll have long discussions. and i look forward to that very much. but i also look forward to getting to know some of you and so many of you i do know. and it's an honor. it's an honor. and i really want to congratulate you. growing very fast, economically and in every other way. you've done a terrific job. you've had tremendous obstacles
placed in your path but you have done an absolutely incredible job. i want to thank you and i look forward to our discussion. thank you. thank you all very much. [ applause ] >> there you have it, president trump at that meeting with african leaders here in new york city. it's a working lunch. we heard president trump there praise a number of those countries for the economic growth. also spent some time talking about the fight against terrorism, talked about investments and infrastructure. also made a bit of news, saying he's going to be sending his u.n. ambassador nikki haley to that part of the country. did not -- excuse me, to that part of the world, africa, although didn't say when and ended with where he devoted much of his time yesterday, the general assembly, north korea, saying all of us must stand against north korea. ambassador soderbergh, what did you make of the president's remarks there? >> very un-trump like, actually. and i think probably the first
time he's thought seriously about his policies towards africa. i think it's a good thing. on all of these issues, it's going to depend on whether he can get results. the u.n. is great theater. it makes a president look presidential. the side meetings are fun entertainment of who rubs elbows with another one. on an african agenda he laid out exactly what i thought the united states should be doing, but on the flip side, why is secretary tillerson going? he's cutting dramatically the state department, cutting the delegation at the u.n. all those initiatives he talked about require robust diplomatic effort and money. so i think he's going to have to match the -- that speech with the policies that he's putting in the state department. and this is an education of donald trump. these meetings at the united nations. we'll see how good a student he is and whether he can deliver some of the ruls.
i'll add one comment to your health care comment. they are not going to be able to rip up the obamacare. what they need to do is make it affordable, stabilize the markets. >> we'll leave it there. ambassador soderbergh, thank you. mr. crystal, thank you for sticking around. david, good to have you in new york. >> thanks. >> the big apple looks good on you. we'll have a lot more on those incredible rescues that are happening there in mexico city, that devastating quake. folks literally in a race against time to find survivors there as the death toll continues to rise. meanwhile, hurricane maria, destroying homes, cutting power to millions. puerto rico's governor already asking president trump to declare the island a disaster zone. folks expected to be without power for months. we'll take you on the ground for a firsthand look at the kind of damage we're seeing in puerto rico. oh, you brought butch. yeah! (butch growls at man) he's looking at me right now, isn't he?
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triaging patients yesterday. a lot of walk-ups, people who had some scrapes from the earthquake yesterday. so, we've got a team sort of going inside. you can see i'm just standing outside the gates of the hospital. i see a lot of white coats, lab coats. there are a number of hospital officials outside here, but i can't tell from this vantage point if they're treating people. what i can tell you, there are a lot of young people, especially in this neighborhood, college students, it looks like, who just decided they aren't going to wait around -- there goes another truckload right now. they're not waiting around for the government to sort of spear head this rescue effort. they are going literally block by block in pickup trucks, in cars, with air, dust masks on, gloves, shovels, trying to see how they can help. we do see a military presence here. there are convoys of military officials here. most of it looks like there they're to organize the traffic around some of these relief areas. but there are a lot of young
people. it's quite striking to see people this young taking to the streets as they are, walking, driving, trying to get to some hard-hit neighbors, especially the one we're in here, where they believe a number of buildings that collapsed here, between six and seven, trying to get a handle on the number, but it is a significant outpouring of resources, human resources here in this neighborhood. neighbors helping neighbors. i asked a number of people, why have they come out today to do this? they said, this is the mexican way. in is the mexican spirit. they're helping one another at a time of real crisis here, craig. . >> ron mott in mexico city. we'll let you get set up there with the camera. thanks for that report. david oglesby is a professor of geophysics. thanks for your time, sir. this is a 7.1 quake. a few weeks ago there was the 8.2 quake there in mexico city.
are the two earthquakes at all connected? >> that's a really good question. the -- right now i'd say it's premature to draw a connection between the two earthquakes. it is possible but i think the jury's still out on that. they're relatively far away and separated in some time. we're learning more and more about earthquake interaction as the years go by. i'm sure people will be looking at this question quite a bit. but right now i'd say it's premature to say they are. >> it's just a coincidence you would have earthquakes this massive so close together? >> it could be a coincidence. mexico is sitting on the ring of fire and has a lot of pretty big either quakes on a regular basis. it's not inconceivable they could be unrelated. >> what's the ring of fire? >> the ring of fire is a region around the pacific ocean where you have the big techtonic plates, sliding past and underneath each other. in mexico you have a portion of the pacific floor sliding
underneath the north american plate. where two plates slide past each other is where you typically get the biggest and most earthquakes. >> earlier in the practical broadcast there was a reporter from "the washington post" indicated the soil -- again, as we're having this conversation, this is video of people literally running for their lives as the earthquake hit yesterday. but we're told the soil is also a factor in the severity of these earthquakes in mexico city. what do we know about that? >> that is absolutely correct. mexico city is built on essentially a filled-in lake bed. so, it's built on top of rather soft, unconsolidated soils. unfortunately, these types of soils tend to really amplify ground shaking. so, it could be a situation where outside of mexico city, even closer to where the earthquake was, there might be less ground motion than in mexico city because as the waves enter the soil under mexico city, they get stronger and can cause more damage.
this is a known factor in mexico city's history. it's been responsible for a lot of damage due to earthquakes going back to decades, including the devastating one in 1985 that killed 5,000 people or more in mexico city. >> do you expect the death toll will rise here? >> well, sad to say, the -- as the first responders and rescuers delve into these collapsed buildings, i think it's inevitable that more victims will be found. certainly, the community here in the u.s. sends its best to victims and first responders and all of our friends there in mexico. >> dr. oglesby, professor of geophysics. back to puerto rico, folks on that island coping with devastation, the likes they have never seen and won't see for some time again. hurricane maria hammering the island as a cat 4 storm. 155-mile-per-hour winds, wiping out homes, businesses,
triggering widespread flooding. a short time ago the governor of puerto rico announced the island is 100% without power. i'm san juan by phillip schoen, can you confirm that. can you confirm that there's no power around where you are? >> without question and i think some people will have cellular challenges as well with communications. i don't know -- i guess i'm one of the lucky ones. but the intensity it had to have devastated much infrastructure. we went through the dress rehearsal with irma a couple of weeks ago and barely got -- we were lucky to have the eye wall 49 miles offshore, off of san juan. we had mostly tropical storm force winds and still we had a
bunch of the secondary lines for the utility company and transmission and distribution down. we had some close to 1 million people without electricity for that event. i cannot imagine -- i haven't been out to take a look around but it has to be significant. >> did a lot of folks evacuate? >> there were about 6,000 evacuees last time around. this time i was unable to check but i'm certain there were people who evacuated. we have -- i've been through a cat 3 with george but we had a significant water event with -- and this combined both elements. so there has to be significant flooding from what i'm told and we experienced it on our street where we had some of the drains at the end of the street that got clogged up and we had to go out and unclog it if you will. people working together always in the face of natural disaster.
>> phillip schoen in puerto rico, thank you for that report. the blast from hurricane maria, it's one that puerto rico can't afford. the struggling u.s. territory back in may filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in u.s. history. its public debt ballooned to $74 billion, legal fights between creditors are ongoing. puerto rico is going to need help from the federal government to shoulder the massive recovery effort. joined by an expert on disaster recovery, michael brown. mr. brown, for folks who might not be familiar with this island that want to put it in perspective, puerto rico's population and puerto rico's size because context is important, population, 3.4 million people roughly. again, a reminder to some it is a u.s. territory, large eflt city population somewhere around 347,000. the territory's total population been decreasing since 2004.
most of the island mountainous, how prepared was puerto rico for something like this? >> well, actually not much you can do to be prepared for something like this. when you think about the fact as you just described the island, craig, i heard your previous reporter talking about maybe 6,000 people evacuated, which always raises the question if you're stuck on an island, where do you evacuate to with the storm the size of maria that from all of the reports that i've seen and been watching are going to some point virtually cover the entire island. you have the complication of both the wind damage and now the rain, which is just going to saturate the ground. so you will have some severe flooding. then i want your viewers to think about the logistical problem of responding to this. if you put the supplies and people on the island before the hurricane strikes, you run a very high risk that those supplies and personnel become
victims of the hurricane themselves. so you want to keep those supplies and people out of harm's way. they are somewhere in florida, georgia, maybe somewhere in texas ready to go. but now how do you get them there? because if you're going to take the supplies and equipment by ship, you now have to make sure the ports and harbors are ready to receive those ships. if you're going to fly them in on c 130s or other cargo planes, you have to first repair the runways so they can land, this is going to be a logistical nightmare for fema and all of the first responders, it's truly in that sense something that is been -- i think it's hard for people to grasp. a tiny island virtually been destroyed and now you have to try to get stuff in there when you don't have the infrastructure to get the stuff there. >> fema right now stretched thin, i mean the response of course in and around houston, the response in florida, puerto rico has long considered itself
to be somewhat of a red headed stepchild when it comes to the other 50 states. is it reasonable to expect that fema's response from puerto rico is going to be at the same level as the agency's response in texas and in florida? >> absolutely will. i'm always frustrated and not saying that at all craig, does fema respond differently to other different demographics and different populations and different areas? i can tell you unequivocally the answer is now. fema and brock long will take whatever it takes to respond. these are u.s. citizens, we get the virgin islands and puerto rico and guam. so our responsibility as taxpayers and as the government is to respond equally strong to all of these. >> former director of fema, michael brown. thank you sir. do appreciate your time and insight. >> you bet, craig. >> stay with msnbc for continuing live coverage of
hurricane maria as it continues to wreak havoc on the caribbean islands. you can also get the latest updates and real time video as well at nbc news.com/maria. thank you so much. thank you! so we're a go? yes! we got a yes! what does that mean for purchasing? purchase. let's do this. got it. book the flights! hai! si! si! ya! ya! ya! what does that mean for us? we can get stuff. what's it mean for shipping? ship the goods. you're a go! you got the green light. that means go!
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country didn't believe me until i was gone and then suddenly they believed it, they said things are great. >> president obama with some jokes there ats that bill and melinda gates event here in new york city. we'll have much more of what the former president had to say in our next hour. my colleague katie tur picking things up. >> you'll want to stick with us for that, craig. it is 1:00 p.m. in mexico city and 2:00 p.m. in san juan where we're following two major natural disasters. in puerto rico residents are hanging on as another hurricane batters the island. mariah made landfall as a category 4 storm. first responders are digging through broken buildings trying to find survivors of yesterday's major earthquake. first to hurricane maria, she slammed puerto rico head on. the strongest storm to hit the island in 89 years. >>