tv MSNBC Live MSNBC September 9, 2017 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
it is 11:00 a.m. out west, 2:00 p.m. here in florida. and i'm in miami. we've just heard from the governor, rick scott, once again over the last couple of hours, delivering this dire warning for people, if you live in south florida, in an evacuation zone, time is running out for you. we've got the latest tracking for hurricane irma, which continues to charge toward the sunshine state as a category 3 hurricane but let's not let that determination fool you. it's been downgraded but irma could still gain strength before it strikes the u.s. coming up in just a few hours, here in miami, we're already starting to see weather conditions sthat have deteriorated over the past hours as outer bands of rain have moved in. [ speaking foreign language ] >> so, irma's devastating force flattened several caribbean
islands, killing 23 people. the destructive high winds and the storm surge pounding cuba today and of course the state of florida is now stranger to hurricanes. 40% of hurricanes hitting the u.s. between 1851 and 2010, they slammed into florida's coast. that's 114 hurricanes in 160 years. but it's this storm, this storm irma, it's the strongest seen in florida in 13 years. now, officials predict millions will potentially be without power here for weeks after irma strikes. >> once the storm starts, law enforcement cannot save you. >> we're already seeing this water pick up considerably. >> we don't know where to go. you go to tampa? well, tampa's getting hit hard. we don't know where to go. so here, i think, was a safe place to stay. >> don't think that, oh, okay, if i live on the eastern side of florida, i'm home free. you're not. >> this is a big deal. >> any minute now, we expect to hear from president trump and his full cabinet after they receive a full briefing, they
are at camp david, and they've been following irma. but we have our team of reporters positioned across south florida with the very latest on this storm and we want to get right to it because we have the latest update from the national hurricane center, and i want to start with nbc weather contributor sam champion, he's been in miami beach and has that new update. sam, explain what we've seen because there have been millions of people under this forced evacuation, and people are confuseed now because the tracking of the storm has moved from the east coast to the west coast with more concern. >> reporter: yeah. thomas, very important movement to irma overnight, and this storm stayed on shore on the northern coast of cuba for most of the night, and is still partially -- the eye is still partially attached to that northern cuba coastline, an area they call the cuba keys. hurricanes don't do well when they interact with land. what i mean by that is they don't stay strong. land tends to interrupt their entire process, and the longer they stay, the harder and harder
it is for them to get together and that's why we've lost a little strength overnight to this morning. but as that storm pulls away and it's expected to, pull into the florida straits, that water is 89, 87 degrees. between the florida straits and the keys. so, it has everything it needs to regain strength, and we expect that it will. so, just as you said, thomas, at the top of the show, do not drop your guard, because you hear a number like 3. we're not dealing with numbers as much as we're dealing with a giant hurricane that has a deadly history. here's what's going on with this storm. as we said, category 3, high sustained winds at 125 miles per hour. that's because the eye, as you can see it, it's hard to make out, but right along that northern cuba coastline, see how close cuba is. the keys to cuba, you know if you stand at the tip of the keys, you see that sign that says it's just 90 miles away so the storm is not too far away from the u.s. coastline. take a look at the track the hurricane center has for it. as a 3 on the coast, pulling away as we get to the next few
hours of the day, it should pull away and become a 4. moving across the keys as a 4, moving towards south florida as a 4 and thomas, as you mentioned, the change here is the west coast of florida, more directly impacted with a very bad storm surge, category 4-like winds. we've got a lot of people to get hunkered down and out of the way of this storm on florida's west coast. >> and sam, we were talking 24 hours ago and it was more a straight swath, straight up the peninsula out of the tracking. so it really was a 50/50 in terms of where this storm would go when it eventually makes land, but we know the east coast seems to have gotten more attention. now the west coast, obviously, is under evacuation orders as well and has been for some time. but from what we see in the latest tracking information, which area is going to truly get the dirty side of the storm? >> okay. that, when you look at a hurricane and you break it up like a clock, that right front quadrant is what they call the dirty storm. it has the strongest winds. it has the strongest storm surge and here's the bad news for the west coast of florida.
they're going to get it all the way up the coast. if this track holds true, and remember, that's the reason we show a cone, a forecast cone, it can be anywhere. that line doesn't have to ride the middle of the cone. that's the ideal projection from the hurricane center for their forecast to ride right through that middle. but it can be to the right of it and it can be to the left of it. in this case, it kind of held off to the left of the cone so we'll watch that storm and we believe this forecast will hold pretty accurate for the next few days, dprrag up the west coast florida. i know a lot of people are watching from the east coast of florida and they were preparing for the direct impact of this storm. this storm is so wide that where we're standing right now, this wind and rain that we're getting periodically is still coming around that hurricane. we're going to get hurricane-force gusts that could be up to cat 2 force gusts on the east coast of florida. you're going to get tropical storm constant winds and you are going to get rainfall. you can see easily 6 to 12 inches of rain, depending on what kind of rain band you get
in and stay in for a while. the other thing, thomas, impact people to know in florida, today is as these rain bands drag across the state, we already saw it this morning, tornados are really likely to pop up in some of these storms. so when i see people and i don't see them around us right now, people are kind of good in this area but when i see people heading out to the beach to catch the surf or get a picture, it's a once in a lifetime moment, yeah, but if any of that catches you, it's not worth going out in it. so if you're home, stay home. if you settled in, stay settled in. let this storm do its thing and move past. and for the west coast of florida, we'll be talking to you a lot directly over the next few hou hours. we need to get you out of the way and for the keys, i don't want you riding the storm out in the keys, any of the keys. >> we've heard the governor reinforce that statement as well with the big concern that they have there. sam, we'll catch up again later. sam champion joining us. thank you very much. i want to go to gabe gutierrez over on the west coast
of florida just outside of the ft. meyers where literally the line to get in a shelter there is wrapped around the block and gabe, we saw this here on the east coast yesterday and the governor within the last hour updated us that there are over 320 shelters available in affected counties. but are most of these people showing up now going to be able to get room, get inside this shelter? >> reporter: hey there, thomas. listen. we're going to do something in this live report that i think is really going to show the extent of this because what we're seeing here is really quite remarkable. this is unlike any of the evacuation shelters that i have seen thus far. behind me is the end of the line, and this line snakes around the arena here and as my cameraman pans away, you can see kind of -- this is just the very end of this line. as we keep walking, thomas, thousands of people are now trying to get into this shelter in lee county. we were just in collier county to our south. we were in naples.
authorities there said more than 11,000 people had been in shelters in collier county. those are full. so what is happening is all these people are coming to the arena from surrounding counties, and it's absolutely incredible how many people are here. we've spoken with several of them. if i turn here, we can continue to see how long this line is. people are telling us that have been waiting here for more than five hours. they showed up here before midnight. when that track shifted to the west, they -- many of these folks had decided not to evacuate beforehand, but when that track shifted, they changed their minds. they are huge fears about storm surge. we are going to keep walking. we're not even a third -- not even close, not even a quarter of the way done with this line. it wraps around the entire arena, and there are people here with special needs. there are senior citizens. there are kids here. you can see pets there. see members of the army national guard.
it's unlike -- it really was amazing to walk in here and see how long this line was. we expected there to be a long line. we had heard when we were down in naples, they had opened a -- an elementary school, and we had heard frustration from people that had been to three or four shelters and they aren't even -- they had gotten to the point where they were frustrated because each one was filled to capacity. so then we decided to come up here, because we heard that this one was the newly opened one. and people, again, have been telling us they've been waiting in the heat for over five hours. there have been rain bands that have come through here. and one woman told us she was just absolutely desperate and as aaron pans around over here, we're still not even halfway done. and so thomas, it's really remarkable to see just a few hours before the storm, the question becomes, where do these people go? what happens in the next few hours if they can't get inside? now, the capacity here, as i
understand it, is 7,000 or 8,000 inside this arena. we have not gotten an actual count of how many people are here waiting outside. but assuming it takes several more hours, we're expecting, you know, the winds to pick up. we see some gusts here right now. and we see some of these rain bands picking up. these folks are worried that they're not going to be able to get inside and then what happens is, if they can't get inside, where do they go? because they keep being told this might be the last shelter that they're going to be able to go to. so we have ems here. we've seen some people with heat exhaustion. we've seen some people here with bottled water. parking is a situation here. the folks that are trying to drop off their cars, they're parking quite a ways away. we're starting to get to maybe the last section of the line here, but it's just really remarkable, thomas, when you see how many people just a few hours before hurricane irma makes
landfall, this is a desperate situation that was one woman who told us, this is -- this is a point when desperation sets in, when you get to the location -- to a shelter, you thought you didn't need to evacuate. all of a sudden, it hits you, you've got to go and then you realize there's no place to go. and we're about ready to finish. >> the governor had said -- gabe, the governor had said that evacuations are not meant to be convenient, but to keep you safe, but 450,000 people are in shelters right now, and he said that there is still room for more. have you talked with any officials on site to explain the lag time for processing, to let these people get in safely since the governor has recommended that more people leave their homes, especially for the west coast? >> reporter: well, we have asked, so far, and haven't been able to speak with anybody on site. they do say they're processing -- you know, the folks -- the workers here are trying to process people as fast as possible and i can tell you, thomas, we've just gotten to the head of the line. this is where people are being let in. we can tell you, though, there's been a frustration among many of
the people in line that there hasn't been enough information. they don't know when -- what the capacity is going to be and what the answer is. we're trying to find out if this does reach capacity, what happens to the people left in line, where do they go and what other options do they have? local authorities here on the west coast and east coast have been opening up more and more shelters but time is running out. we only have very short amount of time before the storm hits and so i suspect that some of the people towards the end of this line might get frustrated and if we get some rain bands in the next few hours, they might decide, listen, it's just not worth it, i mean going to go home and ride this one out and if you're in a mandatory evacuation zone, that's a really tough place to be, thomas. >> hey, gabe, let's give you a second. maybe you can get someone to speak to. i don't want to show people on camera if they don't want to talk to us because obviously this is a stressful time. >> tell you what -- >> you know -- >> reporter: and we have spoken with several people. i'm going to send it back to you and have my cameraman just stay here on this shot and i'm going to let you move on to other things while i speak with a few
folks and see if they're willing to go on camera but yes, some of these folks from prior interviews that we had, the people in here, they've been here for several, several hours. so, i'm going to see if some of them want to talk to us and i'll send it back to you, thomas. >> gabe, we'll let you get back to work and thank you very much. very frustrating for these people. the governor said there are over 450,000 people in shelters and there is room for more and they've been opening shelters. they have 320 different shelters that are open right now in counties that should be affected by this storm. we have nbc's jacob soboroff in ft. meyers roughly 154 miles from my location here if you shoot across the trail and you arrive in southwest florida down by naples and then you go north a bit to ft. meyers. jacob, i used to work in ft. meyers back in the late '90s so i was checking in with friends, a friend of mine just had surgery. he son came over from miami beach to stay with them. they don't know if they're going to evacuate or not because
they're confused about this and now we see these long lines at different shelters and we're getting this new tracking information about the eye wall. what are you seeing about extra precautions that are in place as they expect to be directly in harm's way with irma? >> reporter: that's the bottom line, thomas. this is where irma is coming. as far as the latest information that we have and as we know it, you know it well, this is san carlos bay. that's santa belle island out that way and this is one of the areas that's going to be most directly -- come take a look at this, dana. when we talk about 5 to 10 feet of storm surge, here's the water right here. look at the types of buildings that are going to be impacted. there's a lot of hotels, not just hotels, condominiums, residences over in this direction as well. for the most part it seems like, thomas, in this area, people have gotten out of the way but look in the distance as well. that's 187. it's another throughway that people can use to move throughout this area.
i think the thing that people are most concerned about is back in this direction is the river and so if you look up, basically this way, ft. meyers is there on the right and there's a mandatory evacuation going on right now for everybody on both sides of the river up that way. but what we are hearing from local ems, there are emergency response centers opened up for lee county. there's an emergency response center that has opened up for cape coral and there's an emergency response center opened up here in ft. meyers, a lot of different emergency response jurisdictions, and what we're hearing from the national guard is they're not -- they're staging, basically, right now. they will respond once the storm hits, rescue and recovery is necessary. the mission right now is to get people to shelters like the one that we passed where gabe is in estero on the way here to make sure people are safe. the scary thing is, hearing what gabe is saying from over there at the arena is that not everybody has a place to go at this point and when you're
waiting onning long lines and know your home may be a matter of feel off the water, it's a terrifying prospect and again it is only a matter of hours before we really start to feel the impact. the sun is still out. the wind is starting to blow and the water is starting to churn but this is nothing. nothing compared to what we expect to come through here in a matter of hours over the course of the next 24 hours. >> well, and you think about, you know, the islands and you go up north and go over to cape coral, think about all these places just like here on the east coast, there are these different barrier islands that are gorgeous surrounded by water and the issue of storm surge is going to be very crucial here on the east coast but even more so on the west coast as this tracking of irma has changed. jacob, we'll let you get back to work. jacob soboroff reporting in ft. meyers for us. i want to go to mariana. she's been here in miami on the ground for the last several days working around the clock and i know you've been taking a look
at what this city can expect when it comes to storm surge, but also for those cities pump system, how effectively it will work. >> reporter: that's exactly right, thomas. because as you said, the storm surge, it is really going to be the critical thing. here at least in southeast miami. i'm in miami beach, and i just want to show you this temporary pump that city officials have set up precisely to prepare for hurricane irma. this is a temporary pump. i just want to show you over there, it's connected to a generator, and i'm going to hop over the pump right here to show you the other side, because this actually goes all the way down into the sewer to suck that water and bring it back into the ocean to avoid flooding like the flooding we saw in texas with hurricane harvey. miami beach is especially prone to flooding. i've lived here for several years, and just regular rainfall here creates a flooding problem.
you can imagine with the 8 to o 10 inches that miami is expecting, it could be critical. they've also set up, besides this temporary pump, a permanent pump system, 15% of those permanent pumps have already been installed. they are underground and this hurricane is going to be their first test and we know that irma is no regular hurricane so we're just going see how miami beach fares in that regard and that flooding, that storm surge is precisely what has many people concerned and many of them going to the shelters and going to those shelters that are very much right now just over capacity in many of the places that you were showing on the show before. >> mariana reporting for us here in miami. thank you very much. i appreciate it. and we are continuing to follow this storm, and again, you know, forecasting this is not an exact science, because mother nature is going to shift this storm as we've been pa watchi -- watching it do so and all of this is while we see the
catastrophic images of what it's done to islands along the way, getting to the coastal mainland of the u.s. so we're going keep an eye on the city of naples, because that is in southwest florida. the lower portion of the west coast here. and that could take a direct hit. the mayors of naples, ft. lauderdale, and key biscayne are going to join me next and for many in southern florida, riding out this monster storm is now the only option they have left, especially for people who thought they'd dodge a direct hit and now with only hours left, there are people scrambling for supplies but they're still holding out hope for the best. >> i'm just thinking about my family, my wife. >> my family wants us out of florida, totally. but that's a little bit difficult to do right now with traffic. airlines are all booked up. >> by the grace of god, we'll survive again.
hurricane irma's forecast has shifted. that happened overnight, and the storm is now expected to hit the state's coastal cities, raising the real threat of storm surge. so we've been focusing a lot on the east coast of florida, but now it is southwest florida that really could be in harm's way, especially when we consider storm surge. in the hours before irma makes landfall, we've got last-minute preps under way, officials are making the final pleas for people who insist on riding out this storm to do so safely and if not, please get to a shelter. there are over 320 shelters that are open right now for affected counties in florida, for people that have been asked to mandatorily evacuate. joining me now on the telephone is bill barnett the mayor of naples, florida. we were just talking to our gabe gutierrez in estero, florida, and showing one o. sheltef the there with a line wrapping around the block. estero is just north of you in
naples, in between naples and ft. meyers beach. what do you think is happening with people that are trying to get in and they're waiting in these unfortunately long lines when the governor has recommended they go? >> well, you know, and by the way, thank you for having me on the show. i will tell you callier, you know, we're in collier county and we're continually opening more shelters. i think that there is maybe a little bit of surprise, not that the governor has said that, but i think people -- this go-around, i talk about hurricane wilma but i think this time, especially after harvey, they're realizing that this is the real thing, and i don't want to say that they got caught short like you were saying before, but i think all of a sudden people say, wow, i think we better get to a shelter, and hence the shortage. but we're -- we have, in collier county -- i don't think we've had long lines waiting.
as i say, they keep opening shelters to meet the need. but we're very -- >> sir, how many shelters do you have open in collier county? collier county is just below lee county in southwest florida. >> we probably have five or six shelters open now. and we have -- i know we have one that's special needs, and one that's pet-friendly. so -- and as i say, they have other designations that they will open if, you know, if the need is there. >> what is the largest designation you have right now in collier county? our gabe gutierrez was saying where he is in lee county, just north of you, i mean, there are people there that are from all over the state of florida. it's not just folk that are in lee county, specifically, that are showing up there. >> right. i think that where we are, i think it's going to be more
local, you know, collier county is pretty big, and i think it's going to be more local. as far as the city of naples goes, many of our residents took the -- took advantage of an early evacuation and so i think that it's more local in collier than from all over the state. you know, i have no way of knowing that, but i think i would have heard otherwise. >> okay. thank you, sir. the mayor of naples, bill barnett, thank you, sir. we know if you're familiar with naples and collier county to the south there, it's a little more lu luxurious in other areas than southwest florida. obviously the saturation of people in lee county just to the north and moving up to pun punpunt punta gorda and sarasota, they're going to have more people. joining me on the east coast is the mayor of ft. lauderdale, and sir, we read about the curfew that's taking place at 4:00 for
broward county. one of the earlier curfews in place for the east coast. explain why you went with 4:00 p.m. >> well, i think number one reason is that because of the evacuations on the barrier island, we have left a lot of people that have left their property unattended. i mean, this is not just personal property. this is real property. this is condominiums, commercial property, bars, restaurants, you know, our fort lauderdale beach is legendry and with the barrier island, we've had to tell people that they had to leave and evacuate the barrier island because of the potential for storm surge as you all have covered so well over the last couple days. and so now that storm surge potential is thankfully not going to happen but there still is a lot of wind, lot of rain, lot of storm effects. i mean, we are going see tropical storm winds if not hurricane winds, and we cannot leave fort lauderdale beach and the barrier island unattended so
we thought it was appropriate to put a curfew in place to make sure that nobody goes out there to take advantage of those that have already been disadvantaged by this storm. >> mayor seiler, we know that the folks in fort lauderdale, some of them went to naples to get away, to seek shelter, only to come right back and try to avoid what's going to happen to the west coast of florida. what's the biggest challenge right now in trying to track this storm and make sure that all of your folks stay safe? >> well, listen, every update we get, watching your tv station, every update we get, this thing is moving here, it's moving there. and as you focus on safety and security, and as an elected official for 25 years, look, you take the careful, very cautionary approach and that is, i mean, i don't want to send somebody over to naples or ft. meyers and have them have to come back across the state when it shifts. you all, msnbc, has so covered this storm for four or five
days. people ought on on notice. i was on with some of your experts last night. this is a big storm. it is one of the biggest, baddest, broadest storms i've ever dealt with. the level of -- the immense nature, the intense nature is huge. and rather than worry about, are we going to be on the east coast of florida or the west coast of florida, listen to the people and, you know, government that are telling you, go hunker down, grab a book, get with family and friends, go to higher and dryer ground but this thing about going back and forth across the shat a state and worrying about what shelter is filled, this is dangerous. this surpasses every storm we've ever covered. >> yeah, the evacuating can be as dangerous for folks that choose to hunker down. the chaos that is created. sir, we're going to let you get back to work. the mayor of fort lauderdale, jack seiler. i'm going to have you take a listen to this. it is the sound of the waves near key biscayne, an island
town here in miami-dade county. just listen. >> pena lindsey joining me now via skype. we have key biscayne's joining me now. you issued a mandatory evacuation on friday to people living there. how effective was that? did people listen? >> most people did listen. we have, i'd say, 98% of our residents have, in fact, evacuated. we have some people who decided to stay, despite our best efforts and our warnings. >> when you think about the changing track of irma, how difficult is it for people like yourself and also for the governor to get it right when it comes to evacuations, especially when we know that there are people trying to get shelter that are facing very hard, long lines. >> sure. well, the biggest challenge is
this is a monster storm, so while we are no longer getting the worst of the worst, all of florida will be impacted and will be hit. in fact, our causeway is already under water, and you see the visual over to the left of the video. and our sand dunes are already at, you know, impacted by the waves and the wave action. so, we feel lucky and blessed that we're not getting the direct brunt of the storm, but this is a very serious situation. i feel for our brothers and sisters over -- our neighbors in naples and in the other, you know, on the west coast that weren't quite warned five or six days ago to the level that we were. because this is a monster storm, and it is quite serious. >> madame mayor, the causeway that you mentioned being underwater, do you know how high the water has become to submerge the causeway?
>> i understand -- well, it should be about 4 or 5 feet. it may be that it's a combination of high tide and just the storm and the wave action coming in and the winds. and i need to get better information on that, but my last report is that there is water on the causeway and it's fully covered. >> and mayor, for expectations, the governor had said that certain areas of florida can face 3 to 12 feet of storm surge. for projections within key biscayne, what do you understand irma's going to bring to you? >> our last report was anywhere from 5 to 8 feet. but we're always subjected to the tides and it's a full moon, so we are hoping for the best. we are hoping that that does continue to shift, and we don't get that type of storm surge. storm surges are deadly. >> yeah, that's the other thing to consider about the moon effect of all of this.
i think it's one of the harvest moons coming up. mayor, thank you very much. we're going let you get back to work and we really appreciate it. i want you to stay with us because we've been talking about how people have had to evacuate from the state of florida. there are some people that decided that evacuation might be too chaotic so they decided to hunker down. there are people on the east coast that decided to go west and didn't know where to go from there. now, as the storm has changed, which area would be safe. so straight ahead, we've got the former florida governor joining us. he is now a congressman that is in the west coast on the gulf side, and he joins us now from st. petersburg. sir, we'll be back with one second and questions about how the state of florida is doing after this. >> okay. so, governor, can you hear us?
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good to have you with me. i'm thomas roberts. we continue our live coverage of hurricane irma here in miami. and we are covering all of south florida, and we want to give you another look at what we're dealing with in this storm. it's ever-changing, and right now, we have irma packing sustained winds of 125 miles an hour. it is deadly, and dangerous. it is now listed at a category 3 hurricane, but don't let that lower designation fool you because overnight and into today, we've been watching irma tear through cuba, which will help weaken irma's intensity and it's finishing this crawl across that island as we speak, but after it's through cuba, it's going to hit warm waters of south florida and irma could reorganize and strengthen back into a category 4 or 5 storm again and its next stop is the florida keys. we've got more than a quarter of
florida's population ordered to evacuate but the time to flee safely has nearly passed and now it's more of a matter of bracing for impact and getting ready for a landfall tomorrow morning. i want to go ahead and check on the track of this storm. wnbc meteorologist raphael miranda back in 30 rock for us with an update. explain why the system itself has kind of weakened over cuba but the ability to reorganize before coming to the u.s. mainland. >> that's right, thomas. and that's the big question now is how much strength will irma regain once it moves over these very warm waters. that's going to be the fouel source for the storm. we expect i wat to regain stren and this is way. moving over these waters between 85 and 90 degrees, that's the fuel irma needs to get up to category 4, maybe even 5 status. that's going to be moving into the keys overnight into tonight. here's what we're expecting region by region. southwest florida, that storm surge of 10 to 15 feet,
rainfall, 10 to 20 ichlnches an you'll be closest to the center of the storm there. up to 140 miles per hour. the forecast not as severe for southeast florida, including miami where you are, but it's still dangerous with 4 to 6 foot storm surge and i understand up to 75 miles per hour. you can see well over 10 inches of rain. moving up the coast toward tampa, storm surge of 5 to 10 feet above background logrou then our storm does move into the southeast where they could see 5 to 10 inches of rain, flooding will be a concern, as well as tornados across the region. currently 55-mile-per-hour gusts in marathon but this is the main concern, that storm surge, where you see red on the map and there's a lot of it, that's inundation over 9 feet, neighborhoods in naples and ft. meyers could be under water later on tomorrow afternoon and evening.
>> all right, thanks so much. i appreciate it. and we also know, you know, with the keys being first impacted that the reporting coming out is that by daybreak, they could see 145-mile-an-hour winds, 145 miles per hour -- excuse me. it's about 145 miles away. but the system itself, bearing 125-mile-per-hour winds as we continue to clock this storm, we want to find out exactly how state and local and federal officials are dealing with it. joining me is congressman charlie crist joining us from st. petersburg. congressman crist is the former governor of florida and knows all too well what it's like to govern during a harsh time of hurricane season. as a former florida governor, what's your opinion? have the combined efforts of the federal, state, and local officials done what's needed to be done to inform and protect people here? >> i believe so, thomas. it's been an extraordinary
effort at every level, federal, state, and local. and that level of cooperation continues to impress me and i think impresses all of our fellow floridians. the cautionary note of getting out and evacuating early was the right call. this storm is bearing down on us as we all know. and being prudent, being safe, and being smart, those are the watch words now, and you know, if you are in an evacuation zone, you need to, you know, not wait. you need to evacuate. and that's awfully important for people to go ahead and heed that. >> and sir, when you think about what governor rick scott is going through right now, how hard is it to make, as a former governor here in the state, how hard is it to make those life and death decisions when you know that there are people that are resistant to heeding evacuation orders. >> well, it shouldn't be that hard, to be honest with you, because what you're doing is you're relying on good advice from people that are on the ground, you know, people that are very good with weather
predictions, very smart about how they handle these kind of situations. we in florida are pretty experienced at this, thomas, as you know, and so as a result of that, we have some great, professional people to give any governor very good advice as to how to handle the situation, when to make the calls for the evacuations and frankly our local officials play a major role in that too. right here in pinellas county where i am, i was at the bay pines va center this morning. they're well prepared. our county commissioners have a, you know, given the evacuation order for the lower level areas from a and now into b. they've been very prudent, very smart, working together very, very well with the governor's office and us at the federal level. we were able to allocate funds going from more than $7 billion up to $15 billion so i think every level of government has responded well. this is a tough storm. it's a difficult situation. but you just kind of take it one day at a time. you do the right thing.
and for your viewers, just stay in touch. continue to watch your reports. get the latest advisories, and do the right thing. it's just about being smart, exercising that common sense, and heeding the advice of your local officials as so what to do in your particular part of the state of florida. >> congressman charlie crist, former governor here in florida. thank you, sir, i appreciate your time. the governor has said, governor rick scott has said that the evacuations are not meant to be convenient but meant to keep you safe. right now, we have a lot of people over in ft. meyers in southwest florida and that's on the gulf side here, where they are trying to figure out their plans, whether to shelter in place or go on to one of those evacuation centers and we have kristen d krist kristen dalgren. given what we've seen where the line is around the block of the shelter and they're waiting to
get in. >> reporter: hey, thomas. and i wish i could tell you that everybody was out. but we're here at this mobile home park and i cannot tell you how many people i am still seeing here and we've been talking to them. they are staying. they are going to ride out the storm here, and here's the issue. so you've got a mobile home park. we've seen them after other hurricanes have come through. the winds could be devastating to some of these homes but then take a look at this. this water is left over from flooding they had about a week ago after harvey came through and all of that moisture and rain. there was about a foot of water across this area just from rain. we're not even talking storm surge with that storm. and the storm surge here is predicted to be measured in feet, so i talked to one woman. she's got a blow-up mattress. their back-up plan is to blow that up. they have a paddle, and they say they could float away. the man in this house here has a home made boat that he has
built. other people don't even have a plan for if the water comes up. and we talked to a lot of them. here's what one guy had to tell us. >> i'm more of an optimist than a pessimist, but i'm also a realistic, and i've done everything that i can do. can i evacuate? yes, there's places i can go to, more safe, secure homes, shelters. >> so why not? >> because i feel secure enough to handle this. >> reporter: these people have lived through hurricanes before, many of them have been here for many, many years. they saw charlie come through this area. they really do think, some of them, that they're going to be okay here. the one woman i talked to said you know what, i really wish that we had gotten out on thursday. so some regretting the plan but you know, as we've been talking about, the time to evacuate really is passing.
we're starting to feel the first little winds here, nothing too bad, but you know, there is definitely a storm on the way, and as one neighbor said, it is a monster and you ask them, and they admit, they are terrified. >> yeah, it's certainly crunch time for a lot of people need to make that call about getting out and it's a great point you make about standing water for harvey coming through. for folks that have been to florida before, it is flat and water all around. and so there's already saturated ground here from what harvey did, and it's just about to get worse. kristen dalgren in fort myers, thank you very much. we've talked to a lot of people about the idea of fleeing this storm, but what about animals? what about the zoo animals here in florida? like these pink in flamingos. they're being relocated but how do you keep massive creatures like a rhino or a giraffe out of harm's way. a zoo spokesperson is going to join us next about their plan. >> good girl. get ready to hunker down.
you can see as we bring the camera over here, they're going to shelter in place. tell me first of all, it's a little skittish to move them. >> absolutely. we're taking the flamingos off their normal exhibit. we're putting them in their own structure so we'll be able to protect them through the storm. this is an ongoing effort. it's one of the few animals that we move within zoo grounds but it is important to protect them. >> there, my colleague kerry sanders as they were moving the flamingos to more safe structures. it was back in 1992 when hurricane andrew hit the city. that same zoo found a very unusual place to house their more than 30 flamingos then. it was the men's bathroom where the birds are going to be riding out the storm this time in the same spot. we're going to find out because ron mcgill is joining us now, communications director at zoo miami.
ron, how much have things changed in terms of planning for flamingos and other animals at the zoo in the case of irma. >> we've made a lot of upgrades at the zoo itself. hurricane andrew destroyed the zoo so in the process of rebuilding, we rebuilt it with these hurricanes in mind and of course just meeting the miami building codes now, probably the toughest building codes in the country so we've got a lot of additional safe structures now that we've moved these animals into. we no longer have to put the flamingos into the bathroom. they have their own safe structure and a lot of the smaller animals are move t to smaller enclosures that are moved to buildings throughout the zoo. >> we know a lot of folks that have had to evacuate. they've got their pets with them. pets obviously sense, you know, a big storm coming. what is it like for the larger animals and for your team to be able to move these animals to safety if they're feeling resistant or frightened? >> well, fortunately, most of the animals don't have to be moved at all. most of the animals spend their time in the natural exhibits and holding areas which are built strong enough to contain the strength of an animal.
whether bit a lion or gorilla or elephant, and fortunately, those areas are now strong enough to also withstand the strength of a hurricane. that's been proven when we went through hurricane andrew and katrina and wilma. this storm is a storm of its own magnitude so a lot of things are going to be tested. that's why we don't evacuate animals from the zoo. a lot of these storms with change at the last second, but more importantly, whereas people will evacuate their pets, these animals are used to being transported. when you try to do that with a wild animal, the stress that you put upon that animal can kill the animal. it can cause more damage than the storm itself. >> ron, thank you very much. you and your team over there at zoo miami, stay safe. and obviously we're going to be check income with y checking in with you as we learn more about irma and also post-irma. we spent a lot of time this week telling people about the
path of irma, the fact that you can see it for yourself, just how big it is, how enormous it is, and the warnings, the precautions that have been given. for people to evacuate. but for some people, it is their job and their duty to do the exact opposite. they fly directly into the storm itself, and they do it for the rest of us, the good of all of us. hurricane hunters, they are some of the brave and they have to collect some of the most unbelievable data and some of the biggest images that can actually save our lives. i want to talk to one of these hurricane hunters joining us on the phone from mississippi, air force reserve lieutenant colonel chad gibson. sir, it's good to have you with me and when you think about what hurricane hunters are going there now with irma, do you think that this is stunning data that they're being able to collect that really is unique in and of its time because there is no other storm really in recorded history like this. >> it's definitely a unique storm. every storm is unique but what's very special are the reserve citizen airmen of the 53rd
weather reconnaissance squadron. they're going straight into the fury of mother nature, no higher than 10,000 feet, collecting data as they go all the way through the storm. that data, sent back to the hurricane center to make their forecast more accurate. so while there are some rests that we take with that, we know this is life-saving data and this is going to give more accurate forecasts so people can heed the warning and take this very seriously. reservists are part of the communities too. we have to balance full-time jobs and our families so we're -- we've been there. we feel the pain of local communities and we also want to get the best information to them as possible. >> a lot of comparisons have been made to hurricane andrew but also technology has really updated since 1992 and obviously a lot of new hurricane hunters on the scene. explain the different instruments and technology that you have at your fingertips now that provides better and more informative data. >> that's a great question.
one of the biggest differences between 1992 and today is the upgrade at the aircraft, the "w" c-130 j super hercules built by lockheed martin is the latest iteration of the aircraft. you can see the data t flight data as you're flying without ever having to look down. you can see it through that glass. it gets a little more power, climb time is also cut in half, so with that extra 20% power, you can get a lot of data collected. the other thing is a step frequency microwave radio -- meter. >> i was just going to say, when we think about, you know, looking at these images of irma, and i know you haven't flown this particular mission, but for contemporaries of yours, you know, hurricane hunters that have been on missions to collect data for this storm, what have their impressions been about the scale and scope of this
ever-changing storm? >> it's -- unfortunately, it brings a lot of reminders of hurricane katrina. i flew that myself, and it's very large in scope. it's a very large storm. compared to andrew, it's almost twice as large and when you get a wind field that broad, you're talking a the whole state of florida has to take this very seriously, not just where it's coming on into landfall, and i think just the scope of it is something that's very impressive. also, there's a -- it's a very rough ride right now. and most of that's because it's interacted with land there in cuba so there's a lot of turbulence associated with this storm and our air crews are reporting back that, you know, any time they're getting through the plane, it's abnormally high turbulence when they're going through with this and a lot of times, you know, category 5s can be a very smooth ride. this one, not so much case. it's very large. it's very dangerous. and we hope the residents of florida and the rest of the
coastlines are taking this very seriously. >> we know the data's going to change again when it has the opportunity to get over warm waters again below southern florida. air force reserve lieutenant colonel chad gibson, thank you so much. stay with us because we're going to continue to track irma and one of the slogans that we've been hearing about for folks that are deciding that they don't want to leave and heed evacuations that are mandatory from the governor, they're saying you can call but we're not coming. that's what a sheriff of pinellas county is telling the residents that are saying they want to stay home and ride irma out. coming up next, we're going to talk with the chief hurricane specialist at the national hurricane center about what could be the worst and the best case scenarios for irma. we're going to have that and much more. keep it locked in here, msnbc special coverage. we're live in miami after this.