tv Sunday Today With Willie Geist NBC September 10, 2017 8:00am-9:01am EDT
i. good morning. breaking news, irma arrives. the most powerful atlantic hurricane ever, lashing southern florida right now. the storm strengthening overnight, back to a dangerous category four. >> this is clearly a life-threatening situation. >> 130 miles per hour winds and heavy rain, hundreds of thousands already without power. a potentially catastrophic storm surge expected up and down the coast. more than 6 million people, a third of the state's population, evacuated. >> property is replaceable, lives are not. >> we have correspondents around the region as this historic storm bears down. it is sunday, september 10th,
2017. and we want to welcome you back to this special edition of "today" on sunday morning. i am matt lauer with savannah guthrie, as you just heard, lester and al are in tampa, florida, going to check with them in a moment. let's get the latest on the storm. >> here's where things stand. it is a powerful category four hurricane and it is slamming southern florida at this hour, with in some cases 130 miles per hour winds. >> as you might expect, power outages are really widespread, hundreds of thousands of people are without power and we are hearing about more of those with each passing hour. >> that's right. in all, more than 7 million
people have been evacuated in florida and also in georgia. more than 400 shelters are now open. >> talking to dave price and the latest forecast or update on the storm, hurricane force winds up to 80 miles. tropical storm force winds up to 220 miles outside the eye of that storm. that's a big area. >> it is a big piece of business that's going to touch every single piece of florida before it is done. let's start with philip mena in ft. lauderdale this morning, reporting there all night. philip, good morning. >> reporter: good morning. we are in ft. lauderdale, about 7 miles west of the coast. 200 miles north of key west. and just overnight this parking lot has now turned into a pool, you can see how deep that water
has accumulated. it has gotten so dicey out here, it would start every couple minutes and pick up, then blinding winds and rain, dumping rain, it was cause ago problem. good news, they were under evacuation orders and curfew, no reports of anybody out there, and that's one good thing. in broward county, they started pulling deputies for their own safety once wind gusts started to hit 45 miles per hour. >> philip, thank you very much. >> let's go over to national correspondent migel almaguer in florida city. this is a town south of miami, boy, has he been feeling it. feel like every time we see him, it is getting worse there. good morning. >> reporter: hey, savannah, good morning. rain and wind has become blinding in the last hour, we have been in these conditions about 13 hours now, they continue to deteriorate. it is not just the pounding, steady rain flopping us in the
face all night and all morning, it is also powerful winds overnight. we could hear debris flying through the air and some of the buildings. want to show you how deserted it is. pan the camera here. this is downtown florida city. you can see it's a ghost town. a short time ago thought we saw first responders coming down, it was a fire truck, spin the camera here to get a better picture so the rain is not hitting the lens, this is what we are dealing with. very high winds pulling down palm trees and froms flying across the street. power lines are beginning to sag, seen transformers explode in the last several hours. first responders are out here. we have seen a few members of the public driving cars out here. this city has not for the most part evacuated. most are hunkering down. we are only a few miles from the florida keys which is getting pounded by the storm right now, and we are feeling those bands,
those effects from the storm. first responders telling us for now, the city seems to be fairly manageable, although conditions will deteriorate in the hours ahead. >> all right. keep us posted, stay safe. >> talked to the mayor of florida city, he wanted to get out to assess damage, but with migel saying it is deteriorating, mr. mayor, you should wait awhile. jolene kent is at a small airport there. good morning. >> reporter: good morning, matt, savannah. winds have significantly picked up since last time we talked. we can tell you that major transformer right here on this building exploded. sparks are flying, the wind continues to ramp up. we are here at a private airport. and the fence behind me has taken a hit. you can see that water flying. the intensity here is remarkable. i would like to remind you, we are not in the path of the eye of the storm, we are barely
standing here, able to stay up. you should know 100,000 or more in ft. lauderdale area do not have power because some of the transformers continue to go down. the wind continues to pick up. miami dade, 200 some thousand don't have power. folks are in shelters, left homes along the beaches in ft. lauderdale. this area was shut down yesterday and the day before, no more flights going in and out. what we see here, matt, savannah, is continued ramp up are bands that are very, very strong. ft. lauderdale residents say they've seen hurricanes before, but they're still treating outer bands as if they're in the eye of the storm as precaution. >> be careful there. obviously a lot of things are starting to fly around, don't want to get hit. lester and al are watching irma and waiting, they know it is headed their direction. they're up in tampa area. good morning to you. >> reporter: good morning. as you watch that fence there.
>> i was very concerned for jolene. >> reporter: when those get going, we have seen a lot of things, things become missiles. they cleared out, that's good. guys, camera guys, everybody, clear away from that. that is not good right there. try to seek shelter. we just got new video in from key west, florida to give you a sense of what's been going on. the eye hasn't touched down. so we are looking now at dangerous conditions in key west. they've had wind gusts over 95 miles per hour. you can see they're getting hammered as the eyewall gets closer and closer. >> look at that. >> that's simon brewer and justin, two storm chasers we
know. justin drake, trying to measure those. >> is this a live image? >> this is not live. they just sent this in. wow. you can barely stand up. that's unbelievable. we're starting to see as we mentioned earlier, lester, we're in a tornado watch. dave price mentioned there was a tornado warning in southern florida. we have a tornado warning right now just to our east in polk county. that's in effect until 8:30. that's the danger as the bands start to fire up, we're going to start to see tornadoes as well starting to spin up. we're going to be watching this situation closely. right now, here's the latest on what we've got on irma. still a category four storm, east southeast of key west. 130 miles per hour winds, moving north, northwest at 8 miles per hour. here's the track. here's what we are looking at, what you can expect. key west now, 100 to 125 miles
per hour winds. storm surge five to ten feet, high tide at 2:15. on the east and southeastern side of the state, winds up to 75 miles per hour. storm surge, we upped it to three to five feet. as we make our way toward ft. myers and naples midday today, upwards of 125 miles per hour winds. the big storm surge, 10 to 15 feet. then tampa bay area, looking at 75 to 100 miles per hour winds. 5 to 8 foot surge. we continue to watch this system make its way, jacksonville, 50 to 75 miles per hour winds on the eastern side of the state, storm surge 4 to 6 feet. it will continue to make its way up into georgia and eventually into kentucky and tennessee. the winds gusting, big pine key, 86 miles per hour wind gusts, everglades, 78 miles per hour gusts. as this pushes north, we will
see the winds start to fire up. it is going to continue to build as the afternoon wears on and into the evening. this is going to be a 24 hour event that effects this state. >> and there are not a lot of places on the coast to get high ground. we were in ft. myers yesterday, i met a member of the urban search and rescue team volunteer who was preparing to go to miami, now sticking here, but they had their equipment staged in kind of an arena now, an exhibit hall, he acknowledged we may get flooded out. the risk if you put the vehicles out, they get flipped. hard choices, naples are relocating some city employees, spreading people out. there are not a lot of safe places along the water, certainly in st. petersburg, tampa area, the bay, expecting a significant storm surge. probably 8 or 10 feet above water now. >> that's right. and the other thing, we are approaching the point now in
southern florida where winds are at the point first responders won't be going out. if you have any kind of an issue that you are hunkered down in place, they can't come out now. >> easy to shrug it off now, harder when you find yourself in water rising in your home. take the warning. going to sent it back to matt and savannah, we continue to watch, we get the northern edge, we are above the bad stuff now, but it is coming this way. >> as al mentioned, put out a tweet, city of meech saying due to extreme winds, rescue teams are no longer able to respond. stay inside and stay safe until the storm passed. we are joined by the mayor of miami itself. good morning. >> good morning, savannah, good morning matt. since midnight, we have been on tropical storm winds, now we have a tornado watch as you have reported. what is happening here in miami is that the first responders are
not being able to go out. as a matter of fact, out of 41 rescue calls, we can only do three calls. we missed one, it was the birth of a baby girl. the mother was rescued with the baby girl, now they transported her and the baby to jackson memorial hospital, so she's doing fine. i don't think she's going to be named irma, but the fact of the matter is we have had 82 calls for fire, could only respond to two because of wires. we have hundreds of trees down in the streets of miami.
i think the worst is to come. we are told by national weather service that we will be getting squalls more than cat one in city of miami, so everything here is ready. there's a sense of relief, we were told we were going to hit a direct hit, but now we're getting a lot of wind, a lot of rain. we're concerned about storm surge. miami, city of miami has about 12 miles of coastal area with 100,000 residents. most of them did not go to shelters. and we have a lot of customers in city of miami without power. county wise, 343,000 customers without power.
as a matter of fact, georgia power and light has the largest prestorm restoration team in u.s. history. 16,000 workers down here in south florida. they're doing what they can. unfortunately we have many trees in south florida, many wires down, many trees down. the streets are closed here in miami. we do not have flooding as we speak but we do expect storm surge and of course more water and we are afraid of flooding in downtown miami. >> thank you for keeping us up to date on what's happening in miami. we will check back in with you. miami mayor, tom regalado. thank you very much. >> we showed video of a storm chaser testing extreme winds of irma. his name is justin drake. he joins us now by phone.
justin, even as we say good morning, this is what you do, this is your personal choice, but as we look at this video, we want to make sure nobody at home in the florida area takes this upon themselves to go out and do what you're doing. how are you? >> i'm good, yes. that's correct. my buddy, our meteorologists, we know where we can get chasing hurricanes. we can chase it safely while also getting measurements. i was out getting wind measurements as well. >> we are looking at this video of you bracing yourself into the teeth of the wind. where exactly were you at that moment? >> we were up on the causeway, higher area in the region where we can avoid storm surge. we took the spot where there was nothing downwind of us, if any debris started to blow around, it wouldn't be able to hit us. >> you broke up for a quick
second. say the exact location. the causeway in what area? >> saddle budge key. >> and justin, we see pictures. the picture tells the story quite well. what did it feel like to be facing down that wind? >> it was by far the strongest winds i ever experienced. we actually got a wind measurement of 117 miles per hour. but i have no doubt there are wind gusts stronger than that that we weren't able to measure. it was so strong and powerful, it made it almost impossible to stand up as you can see from the video, i fell down. >> did you see much damage to local structures? >> we saw quite a bit of damage when we were in key west earlier today. there was a lot of trees that got damaged. one of the outer feeder bands,
because we wanted to get in the eye, we decided to head east this morning to get right into the eye of the hurricane as it made landfall on one of the keys. >> everybody is worried about storm surge. have you seen any flooding, seen any of that or heard about it? >> we experienced two foot storm surge exiting out of key west. it was a point where we were on the causeway, trying to get to the other keys where we ended up crossing water over the road, got out to see how deep the water was before we tried to drive over it, it was knee deep. it was about two to two and a half feet high. >> a second ago you said those were the strongest winds you had ever personally felt. you do this as your hobby or living. compare it to something else you experienced. what's the next most severe winds you felt? >> probably compare these winds
to what i experienced in hurricane harvey. we were actually facing that hurricane in the rockport area when it made landfall a couple weeks ago, and up to this point that was the strongest hurricane i personally had ever experienced. this one is even stronger, puts everything in perspective, just how powerful this hurricane is. >> justin, please be safe even as you do what you do. >> thank you. i appreciate it. >> thank you very much. let's go over to miami beach. we've seen a lot of bad weather, good morning. >> reporter: there's flying debris there. that's precisely what makes this situation so dangerous, for residents. this has been boarded up, part of that awning was ripped apart from the wall.
you also see a lamppost behind me, that also came down moments ago. the situation is worsening by the minute. you still have tropical storm force winds, hurricane strength winds powering into this barrier island. even though it is not a direct hit, it is incredibly dangerous and violent. i want to pan left. i don't know if you can make out how bad the street looks here on collins avenue. right now, looks like something out of a horror movie. i don't know if you can make out palm trees over here behind me. it is really picking up, very strong, storm surge, powerful winds. that is the biggest concern for residents of miami beach. the mayor of miami beach calling this a nuclear hurricane. again, if it is not a direct hit, people shouldn't take it lightly, shouldn't be walking
around. the next couple hours are incredibly delicate for miami beach. i am at the southernmost part of miami beach. as this hurricane hits the keys, when you talk about a hurricane that's the size of the florida peninsula, you're going to feel it here. it could potentially be very dangerous. >> matt, savannah. >> all right. thank you very much. dave price picked up a quick piece of information. >> yeah. the eye of this storm now is just beginning to trend slightly east of the forecast path. too early to tell, but we have to watch that, that could have implications for landfall as we take a look over the next several hours, we will watch and see if that's a trend or wobble or slight adjustment and where the eye winds up continuing to go. >> very volatile. >> without a doubt. go to sam champion in florida, he is in miami. sam, good morning. how is it looking? >> reporter: good morning, matt, savannah. we are good in miami. you saw that shot, information
that dave told you as well, combined with the eye making that cross between big pine key and big key. we are getting gusts from miami beach. it is a direct shot across to miami where we are. we are protected by a building for the crew, we have wind gust, debris, tree limbs flying, power outages all over the place in this area to the tune of about over a half million. 600,000 power outages at this point from what we have been able to find out in the south florida area. the other thing, we had tornado warnings in the last 30, 40 minutes. we had them come and go and expire. one of them spotted on doppler indicated radar in north miami beach moving away. we had power lines down in north miami beach as well. one thing i want to say to people watching in south florida area, even with the bands, every now and then the wind like now will relax. when it relaxes, you think you
can go out, we have downed power lines, crews and police and first responder says once they're up to this point, they're not going out. they're not going out now. downed power lines are live in north miami beach. don't go out of your homes. until the crews leave and until winds go down. even if they're downright in your area, there's another band to the north, another to the south, we will have heavy winds for several hours. as we get closer and close toer t to the eye of the storm. don't leave your home as the storm continues to move north. information that's coming out of the keys so far has been that main eyewall, hurricane center as we looked at radar before we came outside for this shot, that main eyewall was just making connection and making connection a little east of key west.
with the eye making it through the center keys. as it moves to the north, this weather will pick up. we get stronger winds as we get closer to the eye. everything you see here, matt, savannah, we'll have the rest of the day as the storm slowly passes west. >> sam champion joining us this morning. thanks so much. let's go to dylan dreyer in sarasota. good morning again. >> reporter: hey, good morning, guys. i am joined by mayor of sarasota, and thank you so much. i know you're very busy now. >> yes. >> reporter: so sarasota has never been hit by a storm of this size. are you guys prepared? >> we are absolutely prepared. we have been in constant contact with the emergency operations center, they advised as the storm was beginning to hit landfall south of miami-dade, you can expect storm surge to begin from around 11:00 a.m. this morning until 1:00 or 2:00, then the first hurricane force winds around 3:00 this
afternoon. expected to carry over until around monday afternoon. in terms of preparedness, we have taken everything to keep residents safe. we are praying for the best, prepared for the worst. we have been in contact with the responders. people seem to be heeding warnings. we're at about 15,000 currently in shelter within the sarasota county limits, and everyone has a place to go. we are hunkered down, hoping the storm won't get worse. >> reporter: 6 to 10 foot storm surge predicted for the area, what will it look like at its worst and how do you prepare? >> what we have been told, higher surges are expected to happen in tampa bay, hillsborough county. we hope we are at the lower end. three to five. in terms of preparedness, we are moving people down. we made sure property is
secured, we removed physically we can that can be threat to life and property. what we will do in the morning early, assess property, remove limbs and downed power lines, continue to be in touch with first responders and utilities to hopefully have light, power, water. >> i wish you guys the best. we'll be in touch. going to be a rough night here, guys, they're certainly prepared. >> dylan, they are. thank you very much. we appreciate it. we have much more ahead of coverage of hurricane irma as the storm lashes the southern part of florida and then up the southwestern coast. we have noted the eye is moving a little bit away from its projected path. we will find out what impact that will have when we come back after these messages.
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sunday morning, 8:30 in the morning on the east coast. 10th of september, 2017. this is a special edition of "today," tracking hurricane irma. the center of this storm making landfall over the florida keys a short time ago. high winds, a lot of rain, hammering parts of the state. >> it has been interesting. we now know the trajectory is for the center of the storm to hit the west coast of florida. yet images we have seen this morning that have been most devastating is southeast florida, miami, miami beach, florida city getting hammered and this isn't the worst of it. >> if you're joining us, that image of the guy standing in the brunt of winds was a storm
chaser, talked to him a second ago, he was on the causeway in the florida keys, said those were the heaviest winds he's ever dealt with in his line of work. right now, irma is right on top of the florida keys. the eye reaching there in the last hour. sustained max winds remain at 130 miles per hour, making it a major category four storm. >> in addition to wind and rain, storm surge is another major problem with this one. it could be as high as 15 feet in some places. >> the storm has lead to the largest evacuation in florida history, more than 6 million people there. hundreds of,0 hundreds of thousands told to evacuate in georgia. >> in florida city, south of miami, migel almaguer is there. good morning again to you. >> reporter: good morning. it is really coming down. these are conditions that worry first responders. they're not going on the road
any longer. saw a fire truck coming down the road a short time ago. want to show you what it looks like. all the palm trees are bending sideways. as i send the camera more in the direction of the wind, this is how powerful this becomes. difficult to stand, difficult to move. certainly going to become that kind of situation for the rest of the day here. power is a major concern. we know the mayor told you earlier there was some concern that power would be going out for much of the community. that's happened. we have seen transformers explode. here in our building at city hall, the police department, they're running on generators, no longer connected to the grid. they tell us many officers here are hunkering down in place. they're checking streets when they can. we have seen a few patrol cars, even a fire truck from miami-dade that came to give out a helping hand. for the most part, seem to be passable, but conditions will
continue to deteriorate. we are not that far from the keys where they've already seen about one to two feet of water from storm surge. we haven't seen storm surge here because we are at higher elevation, we are about 8 miles from the ocean. but there's no question about it, the rain and wind continues to be the problem here. the wind is definitely coming down in waves. the rain hitting us sideways, pounding us. and it is going to become a worse situation in the next several hours. >> thank you very much. >> last time we checked in with gotti schwartz, he was in his car, driving south toward the florida keys. how has that gone? >> reporter: we have been trying to check on the highway, u.s. 1. let me show you where we are on the map. if you can pan here, that blue to the, that's us. that's the eye. these are the florida keys here.
we can show what's in front of us, over here to the left, that's manatee bay marina. there's a neighborhood back there. that neighborhood is now -- it has water in it. saw flooding yesterday from storm surge coming up. there was three or four feet of water, deepest parts, we see water higher than that, probably four or five feet, six feet. good news, most homes seemed like they were on stilts there. we are going to drive right here down the south 1. if you look over to the left, that's the northbound lanes of the south 1. you're going to see water licking up onto the south 1 on the northbound lanes. just a little further up, that's as far as we're able to go because we know the northbound lanes are impassable. not sure, we are proceeding with caution making sure we have an
exit strategy. pull up here to the left, that's what has been pushed onto the roadway. a bunch of storm surge, brought tons of debris, looks impassable and gets worse down the way. so that's what we are looking at here on the u.s. 1. this is a critical juncture, basically a choke point down into the keys. we are going to make our way down southbound a little further. but that's about fairly impossible now. matt, savannah. >> you want to be able to get out, gadi, thanks. >> jolene kent is in ft. lauderdale where she's seeing flooding from irma. good morning to you. >> reporter: matt, good morning again. we're seeing flooding. probably standing in six or seven inches of rain in a lower lying area in broward county. the curfew because of these rising waters and because of rain has been extended to 10:00 a.m. streets are completely empty. no first responders out there.
they're taking a pause. may not necessarily be answering 911 calls and going out because they have a curfew, want people to stay inside, stay safe. thankfully, the wind has died down. what's interesting, we are no longer in the eye of the storm. this is a community that prepared for the eye of the storm. we are seeing waves of high wind and rain and calm. right now, we are in a moment of calm. but you see waters rising, transformers we told you earlier exploded in this particular area, causing power outages. we are going to see property damage in ft. lauderdale, even though we are not in the eye of the storm, you see that damage. strong band that al keeps talking about coming in and out of the area. it is going to be wreaking havoc. seeing downed trees and water coming up. guys, we continue to monitor the situation. over 100,000 in broward county already going powerless. >> lester and al are in tampa where this is headed.
guys, good morning again. >> good morning, savannah. long time since this city was hit by a major hurricane. they're bracing, seeing what's coming. they have a little more time, they're farther north. al, in the forecast, we should put in perspective some of what you've been seeing. you saw video of storm chasers fighting the wind. if there's any benefit of that to the audience, it is to remind people what this is all about, these kinds of winds, what might it do to a home and floods, the surge as well. i want folks to know without getting into big discussion on what we are doing, we are not here to be reckless, we are here to get home at the end of this. >> these guys have been doing this, i have known justin and simon for years, they're professionals, they've been doing this. we have people here, folks that took time to find safe haven. >> we have fall back positions. >> we don't want people going out.
it is not a case of do as i say, not as i do. >> when you look at that, think about buildings that aren't structurally sound, this is very dangerous stuff. again, that may be the best, most benefit of seeing that. we would not recommend that. >> and they're in the keys now. they were on a causeway. let's look at the latest on irma. category four storm. in fact, going through the keys as we speak. we are watching this start to develop. it is moving north, northwest at 8 miles per hour. 20 miles due southeast of key west. 130 miles per hour winds. again, the big story of course is going to be with this track, it is storm surge. sunday, 2:00 in the afternoon approaching fort myers. overnight, 115 miles per hour winds, and then moves on toward the panhandle as a category three storm into tallahassee
monday afternoon, tuesday still a category one storm or at least tropical system. by thursday morning, it is still hanging in there as that low pressure area. we have tornado watches, we had tornado warnings, since expired. tornado watches are up for the southern and really almost all of the state. surge warning. this is a big issue besides the wind. we have to worry about flooding due to surges. southwest florida, tampa, down to marco island, you can see we have upwards of nine feet or more. sanibel, this is a storm surge map. first time we have seen the national hurricane center put these out. that's where we could see heavy flooding on the southwestern coast, 9 to 15 feet of storm surge. >> here's the thing to know about storm surge. you can hear the wind pick up,
storm surge just sneaks up, suddenly the water comes rushing in and you're surrounded. >> and it moves quickly. it is about as fast as the hurricane itself is going. in this case, 8 miles per hour. >> let's go back to savannah and matt in studio. >> thanks so much. quick update on conditions in miami beach. good morning again, mariana. how is it looking? >> reporter: i have come up to the second level of a parking structure to give you a pan a ram a of what miami beach looks like as this category four hurricane pounds us. here behind me, you can see the palm trees are moving. over there to the right of the shot is where the beach is. that's where you're going to get storm surge, that is the biggest concern at the beach. i also want to point to this
situation that's happening at the tgi friday's. appears to be a homeless man walking the streets, miami beach has a relatively large homeless population. we have already called miami beach commissioner to report on the fact there's a person that needs help. he said he would look into it, try to send someone. as winds start to pick up, as rain starts to get more and more violent, it becomes that much harder for first responders to come out and get people to safety. i want to show you some structures that have already fallen. you see that man, doing an incredible job bringing you these images. the awning of that tgi friday's has fallen. street signs, lamps. power lines fall, trees topple. and again, in miami beach, the barrier island will get the brunt of the storm here when it comes to the southeast part of florida. the west going to get the worst of it.
here it will be impossible not to feel these hurricane like conditions. matt, savannah? >> the people in miami beach and miami said first responders can't get out. i hope someone watching can try to get a hold of that man, he is clearly in harm's way. we appreciate you calling the county commissioner or town commissioner. check in with senator bill nelson joining us by phone from orlando. senator, as i say good morning, we have to remember, this is a very early stages of this event. i don't know if you're getting to see the images we're seeing, this is only going to get worse as it moves through your state. that's when the relief effort will happen a day, two days, three days from now. in your discussion with federal officials, are they prepared to give your state what it is going to need? >> yes. first of all, i want to give credit to you all. you've got it pretty well analyzed in your coverage.
your coverage is good. what has happened, this has shifted from an east coast of florida hurricane to a west coast, and where lester is in tampa and those bays coming in like tampa bay, like just north of fort myers, charlotte harbor, with the eye just off the coast in the gulf of mexico, counterclockwise winds bring that water into the bays. that's going to be the real damage. it is going to be that wall of water coming up into the bays, no place to escape. and therefore you wall up the water, you're going to get a lot of water damage on the west coast of florida. >> and we look at these images, we know and worry about what's to come. to matt's question, is fema, do
federal officials feel confident they have what they need to weather the storm and respond to the aftermath? >> indeed. fema is stretched, no doubt about it. people that they were going to send to texas they held back, some of them are already in florida. i will be there today in the emergency operations center, they're prepositioned, supplies are prepositioned, but this is a massive storm, there's going to be a lot of damage, going to be a long time coming in the aftermath of the storm. but fema is positioned. levels of government, state, federal, local all working together. >> you must be pleased, senator, by the fact that so many people in your state heeded warnings and evacuation of some 6 million
people in florida. the message got out, people listened to it. >> especially in the keys. now i think there are only 10,000 people left in the keys out of a population of 150,000. that's substantial. interestingly, the reverse of that, people were evacuating from the southeastern coast, miami, et cetera, thinking they could go to the west coast. the reversal started yesterday when people realize it's going to come up the west coast, now they were suddenly clogging the roads going the opposite way, going west to east. >> i know you lived through quite a few of these. how does this compare in terms of what to expect in size and scope? >> well, the monster was andrew,
25 years ago. the difference now is that in andrew, it was utter chaos. nobody was prepared. fema wasn't prepared. local governments weren't. we had no building codes. i'll never forget, and a helicopter over ground zero the day after the hurricane, homestead, florida, there were only two buildings left standing. an old florida cracker house from the 1920s, built to withstand the wind, everything else was flattened. now we have building codes. i think you'll see the intensity of this wind is also less than andrew. the damage on this one up the west coast is going to be the water. >> senator, i know you're working the phones when this storm passes through to make sure resources people of florida desperately need are delivered. we appreciate you taking time
with us this morning. >> thank you, sir. >> thanks. >> let's go over to willie standing by in the orange room. >> guys, good morning, good to see you. this is a totally different world than during andrew obviously. but even 12 years ago with katrina in terms of how we get and share information. getting video from sources, sometimes even our crews can't reach. this is a look from key west, provided by a user on snap maps. they had a first test in hurricane harvey, it was helpful for people trying to locate a friend or stay up to date on local conditions. you can zoom in on a particular area where a family member or friend lives and see the snap messages and videos that come out of there. guys, another resource that spiked in popularity during harvey and irma, free app called zello. you use cellular data or wi-fi.
gas buddy, another one, godsend for floridians trying to escape irma's wrath. keeps you updated which stations still have gas and power as more and more run out of fuel. all of this in addition to twitter and facebook, keeping people connected. like you said earlier in the show, matt, we can't get crews safely in and out of places, now in the social media world, we are able to see in real time what's happening on the ground. >> not only there are times we get crews there, quickly move them out when weather conditions start to threaten them. we did that with several. we will continue to monitor it. willie, thank you very much. >> sam champion is with us in miami. we have seen the storm dikick u there. how is it looking? >> reporter: we have been clocking wind gusts we are a part of. we have been part of 60 miles
per hour wind gusts, haven't gotten to hurricane strength. to the south, a few miles, everglades national park. 77 miles per hour wind gusts in a van. we know it is very close to us. this is going to be a long day of ratcheting up winds as the eye moves up. savannah, if you can, i want to show you something i have been noticing about the eye of the storm. if you can see it, we have been looking at the intensity of wind and rain around northern eyewall that's kind of pounding the lower keys. from big pine key for hours now, four, five hours. strongest 130 miles per hour winds are, where the surge has been. but it is hitting it, right on top of it. if you look out, that 130, up to key largo, they're getting heavy bands for several hours now. one steady stream of bands of
winds 90 miles per hour and sideways blowing winds. if you go south of that, one of the things i notice is the southern eyewall, little dry air trying to get in and wrap underneath that eyewall. in some ways, it has been horrible news for the worst part of this, sitting over the lower keys for several hours. but in other ways when you get out of that, eyewall replacement that it seems to be going through now, it won't be as bad on the back side of it, once they get through this. this is one of the things we have been noticing about the storm. all storms are different. every storm is different. heard a couple of people say this storm doesn't have the winds that andrew had. i have to tell you, andrew breezed across the tip of south florida with 145 miles per hour winds. you can't compare that to what's going to happen with irma. when you hear people say that, point out that we're going to be
all day with this storm. some of the worst damage i've ever seen was a category one hurricane that sat on the coast of texas for 18 hours. now, that constant blender effect, that wind of 75, 80 miles per hour, but whirling over one area, pounding it, pounding it, pounding it, destroyed buildings, just blew them out. buildings that we were in. so when i look at categories, i don't actually try to compare storms. you can compare winds in storms, but the fact is this storm with 130 miles per hour winds may sit over some places for five or six hours. that's going to be intense damage. >> good point. >> relative perspective. sam is in miami. >> we have been watching the correspondents, mike seidel, and mariana and sam, and you were talking a second ago when you get into a place like miami beach or miami, you get into
high-rise situations. >> look how many areas developed. many rebuilt since andrew 25 years ago. as you get to the top of some of the high-rise buildings, you're going up in altitude. wind strength will increase. some of these tall buildings will be hit by winds upwards of 100 miles per hour. couple things to keep in mind in the last 25 years, since andrew, we have had florida completely readdress its building standards, but in a lot of locations around south florida, southeast to southwest, plenty of structures have been there long before andrew rolled through. once again, you talk about wind speeds, 100 miles per hour plus, they're in danger. >> you were saying to us, you could even go up a category, a storm if looking at the top of a building. >> absolutely, go up 25, 30 stories, all of a sudden talking wind speeds that are 25, 35 miles per hour faster than what
we are seeing on the ground. and it is scary to look at some of the live shots we are presenting now, imagine being all the way up there. >> again, we are hoping nobody in those areas is hunkered down in high-rise buildings. dave, thank you very much. >> stick close. lester and al are in tampa. al, i was thinking about the storm surge, i had a question. i wondered when does the storm surge come? is it more or less in conjunction when the hurricane rolls in and hits wherever it hits, storm surge comes with it or is it one of the delayed effects? >> depends where you are along the storm route. so ahead of the storm, for example, now, we saw it in miami during mike seidel's shot, you saw flooding in the streets at miami beach. as the storm comes up, counterclockwise flow pushed water into miami. you can see the water. if you look at the palm froms, you see the direction the wind
has blown, look at the water. you can see the waves almost pushing along. that's the storm surge coming in. and then as the system moves away, you will get return flow and water will push back the other way. so along the west coast as the system is making its way up the coast, we're not going to see storm surge at the beginning because winds will be coming in from the land. but as the storm moves up and past the southwestern part of florida, that return flow, counterclockwise flow will bring storm surge into the southwest. for the eastern part of the state, as the storm makes its way up. you can see follow the radar, follow the loop. you can see that rain coming in. that's the storm surge. that's the way the storm surge will come in. as that system lifts up to the north on the back side of that, it will be the western coast that gets the storm surge. as it moves up, that's where you see it. ahead of the storm on the east
coast, you'll see storm surge. on the west coast, we'll see more storm surge as the system starts to make its way parallel and goes to the north, savannah. >> second ago, you said water comes in about the same speed that the hurricane is moving, you said 8 miles per hour. a day or so ago, that was moving at 13, 14 miles per hour. do you expect it to continue to slow down or pick up speed? >> generally speaking, it starts to speed up once it gets on land but right now we don't see much of a pick up in speed. i think it will remain between 8 to 9, maybe 10 miles per hour at most. >> lester and al there in tampa. at the moment, fairly peaceful there, but not for long. that's where it is headed. >> guys, thank you. >> thank you so much. our coverage of hurricane irma as it is making landfall in florida and the keys, you see it battering southeastern florida, see signs of it in western florida. we'll stay on it. our correspondents are all over the region.
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good morning. irma strikes. sglu south florida hammered right now. the hurricane -- knocking out power to hundreds of thousands. the region bracing for a potentially life threatening storm surge. we have correspondents across florida and the region to cover it all today, sunday, september 10th, 2017. : from nbc news, this is a special edition of "today," hurricane irma, with