tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 10, 2017 3:30pm-4:01pm PDT
tonight, irma's fury. florida under assault at this hour by a monster hurricane pounding almost the entire state. the ferocious winds, the driving rains, the floods expected to get much worse. widespread damage and destruction, including giant cranes toppled, shelters at their limits. tonight, more than 2 million homes and businesses without power. the big fear now, a storm surge along the gulf coast that could reach 15 feet or higher, and the strange effect that sucks the water out. tonight, our teams are in the thick of it, as the storm churns north in a state of high anxiety. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: hurricane irma, this is "nbc nightly news"
with lester holt, reporting tonight from tampa. >> good evening. from the path of hurricane irma, tampa is bracing for a rendezvous with a dangerous storm that's happening right now, in a little more than seven hours irma continuing its violent march up and across the state of florida. the florida keys the first to feel its full wrath this morning, striking with 142-mile-per-hour wind gusts. concern tonight for those who did not evacuate the low-lying island chain, and then just three hours ago, the hurricane made landfall on florida's gulf coast, marco island and naples, in its eye and as anticipated, no corner of south florida has escaped the storm, including miami. tonight officials are warning of a potentially catastrophic storm surge that's happening as i speak here on florida's west coast, as millions in the storm zone are left with no power. our correspondents have been in the teeth of irma all day, kerry sanders starting us off tonight south of us in naples.
>> reporter: punishing winds, torrential rain, and a violent storm surge. florida is in the grip of hurricane irma. after gaining strength overnight, the monster storm began battering the state even before it made landfall around 9:00 a.m. in the florida keys, as a category 4. water rushing into the streets, feet deep in some places. the treacherous conditions quickly expanding, roads littered with downed trees and debris, many impassable, waves rising over the highways. millions already without power. >> irma is deadly. it is massive. there will be damage to our system. we're already seeing it. >> reporter: more than 100,000 are huddled in shelters, many others are riding out the storm in their homes. >> we'll do anything and everything to protect and rescue every person, and we will spare no expense in doing it. >> reporter: in miami, a construction crane
on a high-rise building is dangling by wires after being whipped around by nearly 100-mile-per-hour wind gusts. few hours later, another collapse. neither appeared to cause injuries. conditions in the city deteriorated throughout the day. >> these palm trees were yanked from the earth right here. >> reporter: streets turned to rivers. in naples, the powerful winds came across the state before the eye wall arrived. gusts topping 115 miles an hour. this is the eye wall here right now, the strongest winds. hours later, when the winds shifted, a dramatic storm surge, and around 3:30, the hurricane made landfall again in nearby marco island as a category 3. shelly connolly is there. >> we saw cars that literally were blown like taken from their location and blown into each other, blown into walls that were broken down. >> reporter: tampa now next in line to be
hit. >> even though we haven't had a direct hit in 90 years, we know our number is coming. this is that day. we think we have a good plan, but you never know until you get into the middle of it. >> reporter: the hurricane winds are now coming directly out of the west, which means those winds are mu pushing the gulf of mexico which is at high tide onshore and inland. the storm surge here could get up to 15 feet deep. it's still not over tonight here in naples. lester? >> all right, kerry sanders, thank you. and despite the eye striking here along the gulf coast, the sheer width of hurricane irma ensured that the east coast of florida would take a blow, too. you saw some of it there in kerry's report, miami was hard hit, strong winds, heavy rains, and a great deal of flooding. nbc news national correspondent miguel almaguer loongz ks at the impact along the atlantic coast. >> reporter: miami escaped irma's eye but not its wrath, leaving parts of the city
submerged. >> i have never seen -- whoa, i just got part of a wave. >> reporter: parts of downtown taking on feet of water. to the north at jenson beach a daring rescue at sea. zbl >> it's my home. everything i own. i was doing everything i could to save it and it just got out of hand. >> reporter: before irma plowed into the mainland, the storm ripped through the keys. 130-mile-an-hour winds rattling seaside communities, and along florida's east coast confirmed tornadoes on the move. >> stronger winds than we thought and a lot of tornadic action on the northeast side of this storm. it's dangerous. we got metal objects, we got 2x4s through houses. >> reporter: further inland in florida city, no shelter from the looming disaster. it's not just the hammering damage that's doing daster but the powerful wind. this region has lost power, the entire city is in the black and it won't come back any time soon. the sands family rode out the storm in
florida city hall, still too dangerous to return home. >> there's no running from it. it covers such a wide variety of the state. i mean you can go east, you can go west, north and south but to totally beat it, you have to get out. >> reporter: tonight, irma may be on the move, but for so many, not quick enough. in cities like this one, where irma still is not done, the extent of the damage is being measured and may not be known for days. this twisted debris of metal is actually a swimming pool that was blown through this fence from a neighboring yard. lester? >> miguel almaguer thank you. the florida keys got hit first as the hurricane made landfall in the united states. nbc's gadi schwartz is in plantation key. what does it look like there? >> reporter: lester we're coming across some very difficult scenes. i don't know if you can see all the way down, but this is one of the debris fields from the storm surge that came up and if you take a close look,
you're starting to see these were inside of people's homes. this right here is a couch. that's a refrigerator with people's food inside. this right here, this is a christmas tree ornament, and it's littered all throughout this road. over there is actually a boat that has floated up onto the road here. we understand that this, that you're looking at over to the left, this was a mobile home park of about 100 mobile homes. we talked to the manager here. he came out, he was very emotional. that house right there that you can't see because it's been crushed by a tree, that is his home. he thinks it's a total loss. he was evaluating all the homes. he says he believes that about 70 homes here have been lost. lester? >> gadi schwartz with our first look at the damage in the keys as the winds pick up here in tampa. the leading edge now. let's get the latest in the path of the storm from al roker. it's going to be a long night where we are. >> it certainly is, category 2 storm. we don't want people to focus on that
because that is still a category that can cause a lot of damage. as we look and show you exactly where it is, currently it's 25 miles south-southeast of ft. myers, florida. 110-mile-per-hour winds moving north a little faster at 14 miles per hour. the path of this system brings it up into tampa tonight with 85-mile-per-hour winds or more around 2:00 a.m., continues up past tallahassee tomorrow afternoon with 65-mile-per-hour winds and then continues on into the south, and making its way into parts of kentucky, and tennessee, as we move on into wednesday. we've also got a storm surge that we have to deal with, stretching from tampa bay, five to eight feet, captiva may see ten feet here in the southwestern part of florida. 15 feet of storm surge miami beach still could pick up a couple more feet and that storm surge stretches all the way up to the georgia/south carolina border with four to six feet and lester, tornado watches are still out, tornado warnings are being still posted as we speak. >> all right, al
roker, thanks very much. as you heard, the hurricane will hit the area, expected to hit this area, tampa st. petersburg, tampa bay, later tonight into tomorrow. nbc's jacob rascon reports on the situation here. >> reporter: tonight a worse case scenario in the tampa bay area. home to more than 3 million people, bracing for what could be the first direct hit by a major hurricane in nearly a century. >> there's large portions of the area that yes, could be underwater. there's lots of low-lying roadways not just the bridges but the roads themselves that will experience flooding. >> reporter: dozens of shelters overflowing. at wesley chapel high school. >> this is our makeshift kitchen. >> reporter: food, water, medicine and bedding for hundreds of elderly evacuees. >> got to get the wheelchair, the cane, get on the bus, this and that. >> reporter: a last-minute rescue operation moving trucks packed with critical supplies. caretakers prepared to hunker down for three days. >> it's very scary. like i said, i left my
home, my husband. these people have left their homes, their families and so we don't know what the next few days is going to bring. >> reporter: few metropolitan areas are vulnerable to catastrophic storm level as tampa bay, built at sea level connected to low-lying bridges. home levels packed on hundreds of miles of coast and islands, including tampa general, one of the largest hospitals in florida, built on davis island. inside the evacuation zone -- this will all be underwater? >> it will be. >> reporter: officer newton patrols a deserted downtown. >> it's going to be nerve-racking and you know, but for us, being law enforcement first responders we have to be here. >> reporter: later conditions are too dangerous. hundreds of first responders sheltering in place. the worst of irma bearing down. >> what worries me is the surge combined with the high tide which will take place at the same time. >> reporter: downtown st. petersburg among
those areas bracing for a direct hit. lot of the water from the bay has been sucked out, and will return later along with high tide expected to be well over my head. flooding many of the island and coastal areas in the middle of the night. lester? >> all right, jacob, we've been watching the same phenomena with the river behind us thank you. the pictures we've been seeing all day as the storm cuts through southern florida make the case for why people were urged to move in to shelters, more than 100,000 of them did so. many more have chose on it take their chances at home. gabe gutierrez reports from nameless on that part of the story. >> reporter: tonight evacuees are crammed into emergency shelters across florida, most at capacity, including the germane arena outside of ft. myers. gina munoz. >> the anxiety levels, just one person you pray to god. >> reporter: hours
later she made it inside. >> we're just trying to survive helping one another whatever way we can. again my grandkids are safe, and these are the lines. this is what i really want to show you, this was to get something to eat. >> reporter: an ordeal shared by thousands of families as irma roars through. >> he was very petrified and nervous to leave, but as we got the mandatory evacuation order, we decided to move, because we are in a flooding area. >> reporter: more than 500 shelters throughout the state took in evacuees. >> you have to be impressed with what the number of people volunteered, the number of shelters that got open. you have to be impressed. >> reporter: but authorities say they still need volunteer nurses to help patience. >> we work to make sure people can get food. we spent hours moving trying to move people out of assisted living locations making sure they have the support they need. >> reporter: the need is overwhelming. stretching resources statewide. >> thank god that we made it here and everything is going to
be all right. i believe in my heart. >> reporter: others deciding to avoid the shelters and ride out the storm at home. in naples, kelly musico is hunkered down with her family and employees with wind gusts outside topping 100 miles an hour. >> it's scary, i'm more concerned about the storm surge than anything else because we're so close to the beach. >> reporter: whether they evacuated or not, right now families across south florida are packed together as irma packs a punch. as strong winds continue to pound naples and the eye cross this is region we are getting an update on the massive shelter outside ft. myers. the power is out and the building is leaking, although emergency manageable officials say the situation is calm and the building is safe. lester? >> all right, thanks for that. it's fair to say this is probably the most stressful time to have a baby and that's why dozens of women late in their pregnancies have taken shelter at a hospital in miami. our medical correspondent dr. john
torres spent some time with them today. >> reporter: inside one of the largest hospitals in miami, more than 100 pregnant women hunkering down, many just days away from giving birth. >> no baby yet. i want him to stay in there as long as possible. >> reporter: baptist hospital allowed women at least 36 weeks pregnant to ride out the storm here. if they went into labor at home during a hurricane, emergency crews would not be able to get to them. >> who knows? the roof may fly off and my water might break. >> reporter: the city of miami tweeting during the first waves of irma last night that one woman had to deliver a baby by herself at home, transported this morning to another miami hospital, baby and mom are okay. and it's not just moms-to-be here at baptist hospital. thousands of others line halls. hospital chefs feeding 8,000 people today alone. >> we were cooking nonstop from 4:00 in the morning. >> reporter: and among
those thousands of others sheltering at the hospital include those in need of essential medical or surgical care, even in the midst of a natural disaster like hurricane irma, and the staff at this hospital is more than willing to stay to make sure that gets taken care of. lester? >> dr. john torres tonight thank you. still ahead as we continue, we take a closer look at the big fear from this hurricane, the storm surge, and the strange effect that often surge, and the strange effect that often precedes (con artists...) they'll try anything to get your medicare card number. so they can steal your identity, commit medicare fraud. what can you do? guard your card? guard your card? just like your credit card. nobody gets my number, unless i know they should have it. to protect your identity, new medicare cards without social security numbers will be mailed next year. visit medicare.gov/fraud stay sharp people!
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>> welcome bark. we've been talking a great deal about storm surge from the hurricane and the threat it poses and it say real one. there is another dramatic hurricane effect we've been seeing, one in which the water is sucked away from the shore. we get more on that tonight from nbc's kristen dahlgren in ft. myers. >> reporter: irma's surprise, a rarely seen calm before the surge. tampa bay this afternoon emptied out. dogs playing where it's normally feet deep. >> this is normally entirely underwater. >> reporter: the water literally sucked out to sea, canals dropping, bays emptying up and down the gulf coast. people helping stranded manatees, even for floridians who have weathered hurricanes before, this is something new. it's become irma's calling card, this video from the bahamas went viral showing a normally sapphire sea gone, as far as the eye can see. here in ft. myers beach at the pier the water would normally be well over my head.
the fear now is that all of this water that's gone out has to come back in. >> this has been a once in a lifetime tidal event, before the eye made landfall the winds were blow so long hard offshore at the exact same time as low tide. people saw low water levels they've never seen before on the west coast of florida. when this water rushes back in it is going to rise feet in minutes. >> i got lines tied to the light pole. >> reporter: p.j. pike is a fesherman in ft. myers. have you ever seen the water like this? >> never this low. this is going to be the worst one yet. >> reporter: so worried about the coming surge as the water rushes back, he's staying with his boats. you're not going inside during this? >> inside where? >> reporter: inside a house? >> in my boat. >> reporter: you're going to stay in the boat? >> yes, yes. >> reporter: this area could see a 15-foot storm surge overnight. by morning, all of this could be changed forever. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, ft. myemrt myers ft. mye.
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>> reporter: whether president how is the irma response so far? >> i think it's been going well really. >> reporter: president trump trying to reassure those in the storm's path, just moments after returning to the white house from camp david. >> i think we're really well coordinated as well as you can possibly be. we have great people. >> reporter: the trump administration is throwing the full weight of its resources behind irma, some 13,000 federal workers already committed, nearly 2,000 prepositioned throughout the affected area, and supplies, more than 7 million meals, 10 million liters of water, generators, tents and medical equipment. the president briefed at camp david this morning, so what concerns him most? >> just the power of this hurricane. i think the hard part is now beginning, we'll see what happens. >> reporter: mr. trump vowing to visit florida very soon. and saying right now, he's focused on saving lives. kristen welker, nbc news, the white house. >> we'll take a short break. when we come back we'll look at some of the most memorable images of hurricane the most memorable images of hurricane ira -- irma. it's time to rethink
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discriminate. in cuba, irma turned roads into obstacle courses with hurdles made of toppled power poles. in haiti the storm reduced possessions to what could be carried in plastic bags through riding floodwater and in barbuda at least 95% of the property on this 62 square mile island is damaged or destroyed. all of it caused by a hurricane with category 5 wind gusts that at one point were twice as swift as a major league fastball. from above, it's hard to tell what is a house and what was a house. where do you even begin, when homes and businesses are reduced to piles of kindling and cars are flipped over, as if they were match box toys? now, in the aftermath, a new evacuation as families look to escape storm ravaged islands. in st. martin a mom comforts her child as they wait outside the airport, already so many across the caribbean feel forgotten as all eyes
turn to florida with the hurricane's frightening force is still on the march. families are hunkering down in the safest spaces they can find, like this utility closet. the human spirit every bit as powerful as the storm. joe fryer, nbc news, tampa. >> we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. that is "nbc nightly news" for this sunday night. we're going to take cover in some higher ground. reminder that matt lauer and savannah guthrie will have complete coverage on hurricane heir ma tomorrow morning on "today" and of course complete coverage all day and all night on msnbc. for all of us on our team on the ground here in florida around the world i'm lester holt. have a good night, everyone and thanks for watching.
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