tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 11, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
take years for the caribbean to recover from this disastrous storm. >> thank you, patrick oppmann. and good to see you as always. make sure that you follow me on facebook and twitter. that is it for "the lead with jake tapper." i now turn you over to wolf. >> still churning after slamming florida or for entire length, irma is moving forward as a tropical storm hitting georgia and the carolinas with the high winds and the high water and putting millions more people at risk. unexpected flooding. much of florida's coast is inundated with the storm surges up to eight feet in some areas where the onslaught was not expe expected. the city of jacksonville is seeing the worst flooding on record. cutoff, the florida keys hit first by irma as a category 4 hurricane are now cut off. the only way connecting the
string of islands is blocked. there is no electricity, water or cell service. powerless, more than 6 million without power in florida. in some areas, the officials need to know if there is a risk of gasline explosions before restoring the pow, and some areas could be in the dark for weeks. i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in the "situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> the breaking news is that irma is bringing danger and misery to millions. it is ripping through southeast with heavy winds and storm flooding. every major city from florida from one end to another is affe affected be i the storm and now it is lashing florida and south carolina where there is a flooding emergency in charleston. record flooding in jacksonville florida, and the water is
expected to rise. the pounding in northeast florida was unexpected and 25 people were rescued in daytona beach as they were caught in a sind onslaught of wind and rain. another 125 rescues nearer orlando. where the storm has passed, officials are trying tos assess the damage. the white house is telling the evacuees to stay put. the florida keys where irma first made landfall are cutoff by debris block, and the only part that is connect nod island has buckled in southwest florida where the landfall came to marco island where they are without water or power. and trees are uprooted and power is out for more than 6 million customers. offici officials say that parts of florida could be without power for weeks. the big international airports in miami and fort lauderdale are closed due to damage. i will speak to congressman al
al lawson, and our studio is filled with guests to talk about the coverage. first to miami where the storm knocked down trees and knocked out the power and turned streets into rivers. john berman is on the streets. what is the situation there right now? >> you can see it all around me, wolf. i'm in coconut grove, and the coconut grove neighborhood of miami near a very popular bar here where a big chunk of the maria that is pushed up behind me. it was a storm surge that broke free a boat that put it up here, and storm surge of five feet here in miami. rick scott had a chance to do an aerial tour of the state today, and one word that he described what he saw, devastation. >> reporter: as irma churned northward, it leaves at thorred and torn florida in the wake.
a path of deare struck shun running the entire length from key west to jacksonville. millions without power and a countless among others are stranded in or away from their homes. before the assault on florida, hurricane irma tore through the caribbean as one of the atlanta's most powerful hurricanes on record, pummeling the islands from antigua to cuba and leaving behind devastation on a different scale. then making landfall in the florida keys, as a category 4 storm. grinding northward, irma pounded naples, and the rest of southern florida. wa ter waist-deep in some places there. and we felt the power of irma fir firsthand as it bore down on miami. the force ripping the roof off of this apartment building. water rushing through the streets. >> i think that the thing is going to be come out of the ground. >> reporter: in fort lauderdale, home owns watch helplessly as
their home is ripped apart. >> holy bull p[ bleep ]. >> reporter: in jacksonville, unprecedented flooding. the national guard worked to rescue 24 people from their homes. >> our national guard and mi military members have been working around the clock to save people's lives. we have rescue teams with all sorts of equipment to make sure that we don't have, that we don't lose anybody. >> reporter: as the first responders deployed to help the most vulnerable, the reality that disasters like these bring out the population's best and worst. >> thank you. >> reporter: looters robbing a a store of tennis shoes in miami are where most of the city is without power, the state's largest power company said that it could take several weeks before the power is restored. and now, a powerful tropical storm, irma is weakening, but
flooding georgia and parts of charleston and other coastal areas which is well over 40 million people facing the ripping winds, and the torrential rain. there was something said about the white house home security adviser tom bossert said that the areas of consideration are key west and jacksonville, and you could not get two areas farther apart, and that shows you the scope of the storm not just simply in florida, but pounding south carolina right now. wolf? >> that jumped out to me as well. over to jacksonville as kaylee hartung is on the scene for us. and what are you seeing there? >> wolf, the waters of this st. johns river continue to roll into downtown jacksonville. we are about two blocks inland from the banks of the st. johns river right there, and it is hard to believe as striking as
the pictures are, but the water has receded just a little bit in the area. you can see by the debris a block ahead of me, that is how far the waters have come back, but the officials say don't expect this water to go anywhere any time soon. this is an evolving situation, a serious situation, and one that people here have not quite seen before, wolf. it is so striking to see the waters of the river downtown. as i'm told, the narrowest part of the river is right there over the tree, and that is why you are seeing the streets so easily flooded, but it is not just these streets, but streets blocks to my left and right, and wolf, this is truly unbelievable. we have not felt much rain today and i have been out here for about six hours, and we felt a couple of drops, but it is the wind that is unrelenting, the wind that spray s ts the water n
us, and that is what we are feeling all day, but with the wind, you will recognize the power of the storm surge that made this historic needing possible. >> awful situation there, kaylee hartung, reporting for us. the city of jacksonville has seen bad flooding before, but not quite like this. the flooding is going to surpass the previous record of 1864 with major roadways and city squares clearly underwater, and right now, the amount of with water hitting the city was unexpected. let's bring in the mayor of jacksonville lenny curry, and mr. mayor, thank you for joining us. what does jacksonville need most urgently right now? >> wolf, with we are in rthis w rescue mode still. as irma rolled in overnight, the information presented to me overnight is that while irma was a tropical storm when she hit, the storm surge is the storm surge of a category 3 hurricane, so we quickly mobilized and moved our search and rescue teams into getting people out of
areas that we had asked them to frankly evacuate. we have state assets helping us, and we trying to do everything that we can to get people safe. i have been out ander around the city today, and i have witnessed the heroes getting people out of their homes, and it is going to continue. >> are there enough state and federal and local resources on the ground, mr. mayor, in jacksonville at this point? >> the governor of the state of florida rick scott, we were on the phone earlier this morning, and he mobilized the source immediately, and our local fire department and rescue workers were already on it, and yes, we are, and our men and women were getting it done. we are asking for the people of jacksonville not to take it lightly. if they think that as the tides are going down that the floodwaters are going to be receding from their homes on the second story, it is not going to the happen any time soon. we have asked them to call our local city help line if they need help. if it is an emergency call 911
or put a white tag or flag there that represents it on the home so we can come get you. >> and people in south florida decided to evacuate to jacksonville which is raising the question, was all of this a surprise for you and the authorities and jacksonville prepare for the enormity of the storm? >> we were absolutely nd you ar progress right now. i we did start the voluntary evacuation, and i said i will give it to them early, because of so much traffic coming in, and by friday, i said i told you that it is coming and you need to go and then woke up this morning that the surge impact was going to be this impact in those areas, and we used that information and mobilized the teams and continue to do that to put the safe toif people of jacksonville first.
>> i guess that the question is, mr. mayor, did you expect the worst flooding ever in jacksonville? >> we didn't have information to give us thor worst flooding ever, but we did have information that told us that there would be a cat 3 storm surge and a tropical storm. but what we did know is that it was going to be a serious weather event, and that it would be life threatening, and we told people that, and we made it mandatory that they leave. these are the areas that are being impacted now. low-lying areas, and the zones that we vac waited and what with is most important now is the people there that we continue to get them out of there, and get them into the shelters and get them into the safe places. >> as bad as the damage is now -- go ahead, mayor, and finish your thought. >> well, while we did not have the information to suggest a category 3 storm surge, we certainly prepared for the
worst. we communicated that with people, and asked them to leave, and asked them to go to shelters and be in safe place, and have t the rescue teams mobilized and asked them to move and continue to move. >> and mayor lenny curry is the mayor of jacksonville, florida, and a beautiful city in the country, and good luck to you, may, y mayor, and the folks there in jacksonvil jacksonville, and around the country. and now, the district stretching from jacksonville to north florida to tallahassee, as we visit with the congressman there. congressman, how severe is the damage there? >> it is severe. i would like to thank and congratulate mayor curry down there for all of the magnitude damage that we never thought that would happen in jacks
jacksonvil jacksonville, a fornd tcle, aa e jacksonville, a fornd tnd or fo quick are response in jacksonville and rescue mode to save as many people as we could. and it is hard to believe that the most devastating damage is in key west and jacksonville, and that is not the way it is predicted. so throughout the district, we have, you know, in this district a lot of people are on food dependence program, and so it is very important that we petition the federal government through the state of florida to make sure that people who are on food stamps will get a hot meal, and that they will not be turned around when they go to restaurants and so forth because they have young kids and so forth. so we are still in the rescue mode here in jacksonville, and the flooding has been devastating, and the mayor was out there on the boats today rescuing people. you know, so we are not in rekov are -- recovery, but in rescue
mode. >> and in addition to that, what is the biggest concern in the cominging hours? >> well, you know, health care and making sure that the hospitals are functioning well to get the people there and as i hear from the colleagues across the country, you know, they are ready to get back in and vote for the emergency assistance, because what we need is for florida to join, we need jacksonville to be with the other county for the emergency relief that i think that we can get. so funds can can actually come down to help the city through the state of florida so we can get into the recovery stage. >> we wish you and all of the constituents only the best. good luck representative al law sop, democrat of florida. we have a lot more coming up in the break news as irma is moving north, communities that have been left battered by the storm are assessing the damage. we will take you the place where
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irma now, bringing tropical storm and winds and rains here, and georgia and south carolina are also now getting hit in the area s are where the storm has passed, and the officials are assessing the damage. cnn's brian todd is on marco island for us, and southwest part tof the state. brian, what are you seeing
there? >> just a lot of debris and damage all over this place. wolf, this is the goodland neighborhood of marco island and this is a neighborhood that got much of the brunt of the storm when it hit yesterday as a category three, and some neighbors here told us that they had seven-foot storm surges down the street a little bit, and the houses here had water three to four feet and waist-high and look at the damage here. that part of the met al roof just torn off of that home there. and this is really seen all over the neighborhood. there is debris all over the place. and looking over there, and there is downed trees that are going to be taking a long time to clear out of here. and this digging out process, of course, it is just beginning, because we are less than 24 hours off of the storm, but hundreds of people live on marco island in this section of it year-round, but only 40 chose to ride it out. thankfully, no serious injuries here, and we can also talk about another place here not far, bonita spring, florida, halfway
between ft. myers and naples, and a stoic community sandwiched in between the two communities, and we went there and we saw devastating flooding and most of it hitting a mobile home neighborhood called the bonita estates, and, when we got to tej of the neighborhood, we came upon a lady who was the caretaker of the mobile home, and she was visibly worried and said that she was an elderly couple there deep into the neighborhood and i don't know if they are alive or drawned, because she was visibly shaken from this and we got the directions from her as to where the couple lived and we walked through the neighborhood and trudged through it because to a water was waist-deep in most place, and the water is by the way, almost dangerous to be in, because it is so toxic. it has got oil all over the place, and other chemicals and garbage and we get through there and we go a mile into neighborhood and finally get to these people's houses, and knocked on the door of this one
e elderly couple's house, and they are okay. they had ridden out the house, the woman is 83 and the husband is 93 and he has diabetes and pa parkinson's, and they said it was too difficult, and they had a close call with the water lapping the steps, but other mobile homes there were completely inundated and one was comple completely ooverturned. so this is the stuff they are waking up today in the region of florida, wolf. and the you know, one, the mayor of bonita springs told me, quote, we are just trying to get our arms around this at that point, and he was sending people out there to that neighborhood, and deputies just to check to see if people were alive, and that is what this region is what people are dealing. >> awful situation, brian. and dianne gallagher is in bradenton on the state's gulf coast, and joining us now, and diana, what are you seeing? >> so, sort of similar really,
wolf to, what brian was saying. i want to give you a look of the roaming coverage vehicle, and you can see it here on the side bradenton, and they experienced high winds and gusts from irma, and since they were under curfew until 3:00 p.m. today, you have seen the people with the vehicles, a and we have to be careful going through that, because they are dealinging with the sewage spills here, and a lot of the standing water is unfortunately mixed with sewage, and some of it has to do with the trees coming up. we can go through the neighbor here, but you can see lininging the streets, lots of trees. lots of palm trees and frauns and things like that, and that is much of the reason that half of the county does not have pow power. if you can see it here, earlier we were at the base of the street, and we want to stop a little bit, but a was this tree here caused a massive sewage spill, and the tcounty and othes coming in to fix this, because
they don't have water or electricity. and this family was trapped in their home and they wept on the facebook to ask people if they could help them to get the tree away from the driveway and get out, and neighbors came, and you can see the people out on the jet skis here, but neighbors came, and they brought over the fuel, and got it out of the road, because it was blocking the street. we will go over here to the warner bayou east, because this water here, the bayou, wolf, this is what they were after raid would be the problem, because they had heard about the storm surge from irma that would come to threaten them, and they were all prepared for the flood i ing, but it is the winds of course that got this particular area. bradenton, andly tell you that we are going to be trying to go to one of the islands closed up until recently, and one of the bridges that is right there across the bay there to survey the damage there, and perhaps we will be aable to get more information on what they are experiencing on that island pretty soon. wolf. >> all right.
dianne gallagher driving around, and thank you. we are getting new video of the flooding in orlando, florida. wow, you can see the damage done in orlando, florida, and apparently, this is only just the beginning, and looking at the video of this courtesy of wkmg and you can see the streets underwater there, and not just orlando, but other parts of the state and especially jacksonville, florida, right now. we will stay on top of this, and new dangers and damage can as tropical storm irma is moving inland with the tropical force wind winds. we will have the updated forecast and a lot more on the breaking news coverage right after this. this is the j.d. power award for dependability. now i want you to give it to the friend that you think is most dependable. ohhhh. ughh. wow. that's just not fair. does she have to? she doesn't have to! oh, i don't? no, but it's a tough choice, isn't it? yes. well luckily, chevy makes it a little easier.
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looking at the live picture here coming in, and video from orlando, florida, where hurricane irma has left extensive flooding. take a look at the streets there, and now covered with floodwater, and you can only imagine that you can see the oil slicks developed as well, and potentially all very dangerous, and very, very dirty. we will will have a live report from orlando coming up. irma now by the way is a tropical storm spreading high winds and flooding from florida to the carolinas, and west across georgia and alabama as well. the florida keys were the first to feel the fury of what was a category 4 hurricane in the
united states. and now the islands are cut off ashs on t way running through the keys is cut off. bill weir is joining us from key largo, and what is the situation like there, and what are you hearing about the rest of the keys, bill? >> well, wolf, last hour, we were in one of the richer neighborhoods in key largo where the homes looked unscathed and little scattered landscaping and boats toppled, but this is for the lower tax brackets, a trailer park here, and set in paradise on the other side of the damaged and destroyed motor home you can see is the atlanta ocean, and it washed this way, and it is going to give you a vivid picture of the shattered lives and you can see the markings, and we remember it from katrina, and on 9/11 they s searched the trailer and no bodies found. so these human touches of some
angler's visor managed to stay on the throttle handle as the boat was shoved up thisser way, and the waves as irma was crusted across and no scattered bits of human lives and family, and pushed them right up against the overseas highway, and this is highway one, and key west is that way, and miami that is way, and this is looking like the kind of the litter that you would see on the beach the way it is lapping upment but i found something that absolutely broke my heart here. it is this lovely chinese chest here, and i opened it up, and it is baby book full of family photos and a baby book from the 1950s, and these are the kinds of the memories, and we talk about the stuff and the insurance replacing all of the stuff that was lost in this storm, but it will end up costing, you know, tens of billions of dollars, but that is and indication of the humanity at the center of this, a right
now, there is so much concern over lost humanity, and officially only a couple of fatalities so far in the keys burk a facebook has lists of hundreds of people now who are missing, and we don't know whether they are perished in the storm or if they are like the rest of us, they can't get a cell signal. i'm using a satellite phone here, because everything south of here at mile marker 88 or o87 here, and everything is south of us for 80 mile, it is harder and harder, and so you have to physically go find your family member, and the roads are impassable, and even the waterways have debris in them that it is perilous to navigate through that. there is a dusk to dawn curfew. right now the navy is sending in the "u.s.s. lincoln" aircraft ca carrier to help out with the humanitarian aid, but the search and rescue effort right now, it weighs most on the minds as the people are worrying about the loved ones, wolf, and what
became of them in irma. >> what a heartbreaking development, and that is one part of the state, and i can only imagine what is going on throughout the state. bill weir, we will get back to you, but once again, we want the show the viewers the pictures coming in from orlando, florida, and these are streets flooded now, and live pictures courtesy of our affiliate wkmg and you can see what is going on in orlando, and jacksonville, and john berman has been covering this from the beginning. and john, dare i say that the folks in orlando and jacksonville look ing a at the live pictures were not expecting this kind of flooding disaster? >> well, i think that part of the story, wolf, it is that the storm spared no one, and if anybody thought that they were going to have it easy, they are finding out otherwise. looking back to the forecast regot reper re -- we got repeatedly from chad myers and tom sater, and so
everyone knew they might be at risk, but first, the people here in the miami area thought they would get a direct hit, and then the storm kept turning left, and made the direct hit on the keys where we saw bill weir file that heartbreaking story there, and then made the turn over the southwest, and then over, over the peninsula hitting places like orlando that was a site that many people from here left for safety. left miami to go to orlandoer for safety. it is the city where they staged so much of the aid for the rest of the state. trucks, pallets full of water were stored in warehouses in orlando to be distributed after the fact to the rest of the state, but now you are looking at the pictures, and you can tell that orlando was frankly not spared. it is still the right place to stage things because it is closer, and you can get to the middle point of where you need to go, but the fact that the storm went over to jacksonville and gave that city the historic flooding showing you that it is a a state-wide event, wolf, and
one to take the entire resources of the state and the country, frankly to, recover from. >> yes, indeed. john, standby. hln anchor mike galanos is in orlando now. and mike, what you seeing there? >> well, i had a chance, wol witwol of the go into an area where they had flooding, and in people were watching john and chris cuomo in the height of the storm, and did not think that we here in orlando would get walloped like we did, but we did. it happened in a neighborhood five miles from where i am, i'm in downtown orlando, and it is flanking a kocouple of lakes in the retention pound, and after a hour of rain, it did not hold. the next thing, the water is pouring into the waist-high to chest-high water, and so they need help. the next thing, the national guard is there, and the orange
county fire and rescue using boats to get people out of there. they were thankful to get out of there, and we saw people waving as we arrived and people on the national guard truck, and the pictures of this phase is w wondering what next? this gentleman who is so gracious, and he said it, it was a lake coming through the middle of the home in the middle of the night, and washing away the things that bill weir was talking about that make life good, and that is what the people are dealing with across the state. >> and across south florida, whether it is miami or fort lauderdale, and they drove up to think it is a secure part of the state to ride it out, and we can see the live pictures here, and significant flooding in orlando, and hln anchor mike galanos, thank you very much. we will touch back to you shortly. coming up, the increasingly urgent search and rescue effort along the florida coast right now. we are standing by for an update from the u.s. coast guard.
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lauderdale, and look at the images just coming in to cnn. powerful, and pretty powerful images indeed of the damage significant. this is in miami, and joining us on the phone right now is the coast guard vice admiral call ig us from the station there. and admiral, can you tell us about the rekov are ri effort here? >> the u.s. coast guard is looking at our responsibilities across florida as irma has moved across the state here. we have brought the fixed wing and the rotary wing. and we have a call for the crew to go out on a medical evacuatio evacuation, and we are looking at opening up the seaports, and particularly the port everglade which allows the availability of
gas and those thing, and we are getting saddled back up here to support the state of florida and the federal emergency management center, wolf. >> can you understand that in the keys, that is where the damage could be significant and looking to see if there are individuals who may need to be rescued, right? >> well, earlier today, wolf, i overflew the southwest coast and the florida keys with governor scot scott, and, you know, we are still assessing the damages, and the local first responders and the sheriffs and the fire departments and the police are out to do the health and welfare checks on the folk, and we have not heard fidelity yet on the situation, there and we know that there is cell phone outage, and not a lot of connectivity, and the good news is that the main land is connected through the u.s. 1 highway through the key, and the accessibility on the roads is looking good, and many vessels are partially sunk,
and we saw mobile homes and rv park parks were fairly seriously hit. and so today sx the first day that the folk s as are getting o understand the situations to assessing the needs. >> and we are showing the viewer, admiral, hoo live pictures from the key, and we are seeing the extensive damage, and clearly more south you go, the more extensive the damage, and this is the area over the florida keys where you can see the roof of that building simply gone. it is one little image. i know that the coast guard is doing incredibly important work, and we are thankful for you and the coast guard and thank you for joining us, rear admiral schultz. and more on tropical storm irma going across the east, and another threat posed by hurricane jose. and also, we will talk about where the hurricane hit when it was a category 5 monster.
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admiral jeffrey hughes, comma commander. thank you for joining us. tell us how men and wement omen your crew are helping with the relief efforts. >> thank you for the opportunity to talk with you. we're currently under way, on board ship, about five miles south of st. thomas and u.s. virgin islands. first of all, our thoughts and prayers go out to those with the devastation caused by hurricane irma and hurricane harvey. we're at the request of the government of the u.s. virgin islands supporting the lead federal agency fema to help in the recovery efforts. i had a chance to meet with the governor to better understand his priorities so we could best match our capabilities to their needs. what we have is we're on three large deck ambiguous ships light now. t with 20 navy and marine tilt-rotor helicopters and three
shallow landing aircraft. tons of equipment supplies but we have 300,000 marines. all the services down here, army, air force, coast guard, national guard. we always come nothing a crisis. >> are you still, commander, searching for missing people? >> currently we have not had as much search and rescue activity as you might have seen in, say, hurricane harvey because the flooding damage was not as prominent. but i'd say we've done over 100 medical evacuation missions, including dozens of credit can cal care patients. the lion's share of the work we've done the lasts -- >> i think we may have lost our concludes with rear admiral jeffrey hughes. we want to thank him. thank all the men and women. u.s. navy on the scene right now. thank you so much. we'll try to reconnect with the
admiral. in the meantime, let's get an update on the storm from our meteorologist tom sater. what's the lateest? >> tropical storm irma, the center is about 150 miles due south of atlanta where now we're reporting in georgia already two fatalities. one in a suburb of atlanta from a fallen tree. it's nice to see the dry air infiltrate the system. in the next hour we'll go through the number of records irma has smashed and wree writing the record books. watches are still in effect where the water is high. until it recedes we'll lose these watches and warnings. in red, jacksonville, mentioned this two days ago when it was 500 miles away from naples that jacksonville, with a large extent of these bands, was going to see that wind coming in from the ocean. in jacksonville, on the st. john's river reaching over 5 1/2 feet. it's breaking the record by half a foot from matthew lass year. in savannah, the savannah river, getting up to over 12 feet. missing the record from matthew by just 0.2 of an inch.
into charleston on the harbor, water over the battery. getting up over 9.92 feet. that place is third behind hugo. and then, of course, matthew. the extent of the wind and rain field expressing itself outward. it is interesting to note, still a tornado watch in effect for parts of georgia and the carolinas. another record, in a 24-hour period the number of tornado warnings in florida, the record was 47. they issued 69. for the first time ever in history, a tropical storm warning. far north georgia encompassing much of eastern alabama, suburbs of atlanta all the way into south carolina. again, coming up in the next hour, we'll talk more about that, wolf. sustained winds are at 50. by stock market morning down to 40, continuing to lose its strength. thank goodness there will never be another harvey or irma. those names will be retired. >> good point. we'll check back in the next hour. more on the breaking news.
after hammering florida from one ind to the other, irma moves north as a tropical storm bringing high winds and high water to georgia and the carolinas. left behind, a path of destruction. as communities begin to assess the damage. welcome! how's it going? hi! okay, so you've got two friends here. yes. this is the j.d. power award for dependability. now i want you to give it to the friend that you think is most dependable. ohhhh. ughh. wow. that's just not fair. does she have to? she doesn't have to! oh, i don't? no, but it's a tough choice, isn't it? yes. well luckily, chevy makes it a little easier. cause it's the only brand to earn j.d. power dependability awards for cars, trucks and suvs - two years in a row. that's amazing. chevy's a name you can trust!
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record storm surge and historic flooding. the city is a top priority right now with water levels climbing institute hardest hit, florida keys. in crisis after taking a drit direct hit during irma's landfall as monster category 4 hurricane. tonight the conditions there are dire and thousands may need to be evacuated. and uncertainty. irma's fury, leaving millions without electricity and many may be powerless for weeks. the governor warning evacuees that returning to their homes now could put their lives at risk. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> the breaking news this hour, millions more americans are now under assault by irma as the dangerous storm that hammered much of florida plows north.