tv NBC10 Issue NBC September 10, 2017 11:30am-12:01pm EDT
good morning. breaking news. irma strikes. south florida being hammered right now. that hurricane a devastating category 4, making landfall in the keys this morning. washing out roads across the region, damaging homes, knocking out power to more than a million people. the worst of the fierce storm still to come today, sunday, september 10th, 2017. >> announcer: from nbc news, this is a special edition of "today." hurricane irma. with matt lauer and savannah
guthrie live from new york, and lester holt, live from florida. welcome back to this special edition of "today," sunday morning, the 10th day of september, 2017, 11:30 on the east coast, 8:30 out west. >> we came on the air 6:00 a.m. eastern time. we've been watching the conditions deteriorate. yet it's still early in this whole process. we've got places like tampa, major population centers, potentially bracing for a direct hilt. let's get the latest on what it's shaping up to be, an historic storm. the southern tip of florida began to feel irma's impact on saturday. it didn't officially make landfall in the keys until just after 9:00 a.m. eastern today. >> as expected, irma actually gained strength overnight to a category 4, with 130-mile-per-hour winds. utility officials in florida say more than a million customers, i
think it's 1.4 by now, are without power. that's a number that's been climbing and is expected to climb throughout the day. >> here's going to put that in perspective. irma is so massive a storm, as to storm warning is now in effect for the first time ever in atlanta, georgia. we've got complete coverage for you this morning. we're going to start with miguel almaguer in florida city, south of miami. boy, miguel is getting battered at the moment. hi there. >> reporter: hey, savannah, yep, it's coming down on us again. the wind and the rain blowing sideways. it comes down in sheets and in bands. we had a bit of a break in the weather over the last 30 minutes, but it's picking right back up again. we know the wind is the major concern here in florida city. we're about 10 miles from the coast, on the doorstep to the keys. they're not as concerned about the storm surge here. but it's the wind that's doing all of the damage here today. we have seen debris blowing down the street behind me here. trees, trash cans, and other items like that that have blown
loose from homes, flying down the street. for the most part most homes are fairly buttoned up, they have shutters on their doors, wood planks over their windows, fairly well-protected. we're with the city police department here, we've been embedded with them overnight as we rode out the storm. it was a ferocious evening. from midnight to 4:00 a.m., we heard what sounded like the roof peeling off our building. our building was completely destroyed in hurricane andrew. it was rebuilt with reinforced windows and doors, it made it throughout the night without serious damage. we know power is out all around the city. in these conditions, first responders say it still remains too dangerous to go door to door. if people are even calling for hip, it's unclear if they would even be able to get through, because so many cellphone towers and phone lines are down across
this region. some still do remain up. the mayor says about 80% of this city did not evacuate, and they are hunkered down in their homes. they are certainly riding out a very nasty storm at this hour. savannah? >> all right, miguel, thank you very much. we've got sam champion for us standing by in miami as he has been all morning long. sam, what can you tell us? >> reporter: hey, matt, savannah. we've actually had a pretty good last hour. we've been in a lull from a lot of the winds and rains. we've been watching these bands. we've got radar in lofront of m we're watching the band. we've got a significant amount of wind and rain coming up to us from the south. we had that crane topple, we had power outages here. the power outages went up with that big band of 90-mile-per-hour wind gusts.
first responders told you you would be on your own. this is the time that you're on your own. as the eye continues to progress, it will become parallel with us later this afternoon. we stay in that hurricane-force wind gust field, tropical storm-force winds, for modified day. this is the time not to venture out. if you get into trouble right now, no one can come and get you. that's from here all the way up to the tip of southern florida. so you just have to stay in position where you are right now, because what we've seen here, matt and savannah, the biggest tree limb i've seen go was about eight inches. i've seen the tops come off of some of these palm trees. palm trees usually absorb the wind. this is one of those nice breaks when i can have a real conversation. when the top of a palm tree comes off, that's a pretty big gust of wind. when a crane comes off the top of a building, that's a significant problem. we've seen both those things happen in the miami-dade metro area right now. we're still not even through.
and there's a little one. we're still not through the kind of winds we will have all afternoon long. >> all right, sam. >> by the way, the branches on those palm trees look pretty when you see them on vacation, but when they're driven by 80-mile-an-hour wind gusts, they pack a huge punch if they were to hit you. >> and we just showed an image of a crane in miami dangling. gadi schwartz has been driving around south florida this morning. he made his way down to key largo, i think he's on the road again headed north. gadi, what's going on? >> reporter: that's right, we were down in key largo. we knew the opportunity to get out of here was basically going to close. we were talking to some people who said the tides were coming close. sure enough, coming to south dixie highway. it's basically u.s. 1. one of those lanes is impassible right now.
if we can turn the camera forward, you can see this is a little bit of a break in the weather. a little bit earlier it was zero visibility. but right now, it's the lane on the right side of the screen that is impassible. this lane is still open, which is good, because it means that emergency crews are still going to be able to access the keys. this is the major choke point. we know there are a lot of people in the keys. we've been speaking with people in key largo, they are saying there are some families down there and there are a lot of first responders, emergency crews that have hunkered down as well. they believe that over the next three or four hours, the worst of the storm is going to pass over them. they are very thankful at least in the northern part of the keys that the hurricane was tracking west and it did not come and have a direct hit. but when it comes to key west, that was one of the places where it looks like the eye passed over them. a lot of thoughts and prayers are going down to key west right now, but not very many reports on the extent of the damage so
far. back to you guys. >> okay, gadi, thank you very much. let's go to tampa, al and lester are there. lester, you're just in that stage where you know what's coming. there's no way to get out of the way of it. it's just a question of waiting for it to arrive. >> reporter: yeah, we're feeling the breaths of wind now for the first time. the rain is increasing as we get northern bands of the storm. >> reporter: we're in kind of a protected area. i went just across the street, and we're getting sustained winds of 25 miles per hour. >> reporter: i can see trees bending over there. but we're behind a six-story building with a parking garage. >> reporter: now as we take a look at the latest on irma, and again, category 4 storm, 130 miles per hour. and it is moving now north at nine. and it just continues that motion. and so if we follow that out and extrapolate as far as the path of this, it's going to come
onshore right over ft. myers, naples area, at about 8:00 tonight with 125-mile-per-hour winds. you take that further, and right where we are in tampa, sometime around midnight, we're going to see a direct strike. it's going to come right over us, and then continue on its way along the coast into tallahassee on monday into tuesday, and then it moves on into georgia and beyond that. but we are looking at perhaps the first direct strike of a major hurricane in tampa in almost a hundred years. >> reporter: how far do the hurricane-force winds extend? >> reporter: the hurricane-force winds are 80 miles out. tropical force winds extend out almost 200 miles. and then, when we talked to the mayor, the storm surge is the big concern. >> reporter: will that precede? >> reporter: it will come after the eye. because it's a counterclockwise
direction of the winds. so those winds will come in offshore, come in offland, i should say, as the system approaches. but as it starts to parallel and then move north, we'll get that return flow. and that's when you'll get the real push of winds, those hurricane-force winds, into the bay, into the rivers, into the whole area. >> reporter: meantime, you have pretty interesting video to get insight into the science at work here. >> reporter: low pressure basically draws water in, it draws it in. i've heard about this, i've never seen it. this is from long island in the bahamas. it literally, between the winds coming off the land and the sucking nature, literally, of this low pressure, this is how intense it is. it emptied out the ocean. people were able to actually jump down, walk around, they found conch shells, things like that. guess what, it happened in the keys. this is video of key largo.
and you'll see the same effect. look at that boat just sitting there. and you look around, and now you can see there's nothing but basically dry land. >> reporter: it sucks the moisture up. >> reporter: it sucks the moisture, and eventually it will come back. it won't come back in a whoosh, it will gradual come back. we are also at low tide here, but we've had reports that we may be seeing the same effect in tampa bay itself. we haven't verified that. we're going to go check it out after we get off the air. but it would not surprise me to see that happen. this is such an intense pressure system. >> reporter: this is a fascinating phenomenon. >> reporter: it is, but we have to also remember these are people's lives and livelihoods. it's affecting people, it's going to affect people long after we're gone. so we have to remember that while it is from a
meteorological standpoint something to behold, it's a life altering event for the coast. >> reporter: we're not seeing the houston harvey effect of a steady rain for days and days. >> reporter: no, although we'll get a decent amount. some areas will pick up about 20 inches of rain. >> reporter: that's a lot of rain. >> reporter: but the surge is really what we're concerned about. and of course those winds will do a lot of damage. >> reporter: all right, al. we'll continue to keep watch here in tampa. for now, back to you guys. >> thanks, guys. as al just showed us, parts of bonita springs could see a storm surge of nine feet or higher. its mayor, pete simmons, is with us now. mayor, good morning. you're between naples and ft. myers. tell us a little bit about your community. >> good morning. we are certainly on high alert here. we have 30,000 people in our local shelters. we have a storm surge projection
of somewhere between 10 and 15 feet. we have suspended operations as of 9:15 because we have sustained winds of over 40 miles per hour. and we're gearing up somewhere in the 2:00 range this afternoon, give or take a few hours, of 100-mile-an-hour winds, sustained, somewhere around 8 to 10 hours. >> this is savannah guthrie. did most of the folks evacuate or are they hunkering down and sheltering in place? >> like i said, we have 30,000 people in our local shelters. a lot of people absolutely evacuated. and we have a lot of people hunkered down and hunkered in, like myself. my family did evacuate, they're in georgia, which as you know is not out of the woods yet. and people are hunkered in. and we're gearing up. >> mayor simmons, have you had people call in reporting
emergencies, and your emergency service personnel simply had to tell them that they couldn't go out and help, and how frustrating that must be for people like police and first responders? >> we responded to some this morning. but we were able to get out of the 9:15 suspension. we are just hunkered down, and we were able to deal with the calls in bonita springs that we needed to. we're just asking people to stay safe, and as soon as it is safe, to get back out, we will be back out in the community helping people. >> all right, the mayor of bonita springs, peter simmons, mayor simmons, thank you for your time this morning, good luck to you and your town. >> thank you very much, matt, god bless. thank you, savannah. >> cities like that on the west coast of florida await this storm. cities on the east coast are already experiencing it. ft. lauderdale is one of them,
jo ling kent is there right now. >> reporter: savannah, the wind and rain are back with extra ferociousness. we heard a sign rip off of a wendy's we're in front of. we drove by this yesterday, now you can see this tree is completely down and uprooted. it came down in the storm here. there was a pretty brave squirrel earlier, kind of confused, climbing around here, wondering what happened to my tree. this is an example of the winds in the hurricane irma band that we are seeing in ft. lauderdale. this is a community, as we said before, that was very well-prepared. broward county evacuated, they are hunkered down here. yet they're still seeing this kind of excessive damage here along major streets. we do believe there will be significant damage. we've seen overall estimates for hurricane irma damage throughout florida to possibly be $120
billion, maybe $200 billion. so as these communities start to assess the damage on the eastern coast of florida, we do expect those totals to rise here. again, the winds and rain continue to pick up as outer bands show us strength, guys. >> thank you, jo. tornado warnings over broward count county, cocoa beach, that should add another layer of fear. >> al was talking about that strange situation where the storm actually sucks the water out of bodies of water. al is going to talk more about that in tampa. al? >> yeah, guys, this is a salt water river, the hillsboro river. if you look over by that drainpipe, 007, we've had long time residents come by and say they've never seen that decline pipe, even at low tide. you see all that land, they've never seen that either. we've been watching over the
last half hour this river actually lowering. this feeds into the tampa bay. and that would correspond with the reports we've been getting that the bay itself is emptying out, due to this lowering of pressure, this -- in fact if you look down beyond that bridge, dwayne, if you can see beyond that white bridge, there's land underneath that. that was not visible when we started this morning. it really is a testament to the intensity of this pressure, this low pressure of irma. that's why this is such a powerful storm, and goes out so wide. tropical force winds out 200 miles from the center. that's pretty amazing. >> the bay is in that direction. >> right. >> so any surge would be coming at us. >> yes. but we're not going to get that yet. this is all draining out to the bay and beyond, and corresponds with the report that the bay
itself is actually emptying out. i don't know if that's happened before, but i doubt it. they've never had any kind of system come that close. >> if you weren't in awe of the storm before, this certainly gives you pause. >> we're getting pictures of the actual bay where the water level is extremely low, we'll get that on the air hopefully in a minute or so. >> it speaks to the power and the force of the storm that we are about to see hit this area. >> while we're working to get that picture, let's go to gadi schwartz as he drives through key largo, gadi, good morning again. >> reporter: yeah, good morning, we're coming back from key largo. if you take a look at what's in front of us, you're seeing the visibility start to go down. we're in the southern glades. in the southern glades, water is actually a little bit higher than it was coming out of the keys. so we were over by manatee bay marina. manatee bay marina, there's a neighborhood behind there that
looks like it's under three or four feet of water. there are some homes. most of those homes appear to be up on estimates. there were some boats that looked like they had broken free of their moorings and they had blown into different fences around there. the good news is out here there's still one lane of the south dixie highway that is open. it is still passable. the bad news is the other side of the south dixie highway that you're looking at on the right side of the screen, that one has water in it, it has debris in it. this barrier is keeping pretty steady. it looks like there's another two or three feet of this barrier that's still to go before the water crests over. as long as this storm continues to move over the next two or three hours, things might be okay in terms of getting emergency crews back and forth between the keys. but right now, what we are seeing is just some of those bands, some of the torrential
rainfall coming through. it lets up, hits us again, lets up, then hits us again. fortunately the wind is at our back so we're not feeling it quite so much as we would if we were driving into the wind or if the wind was hitting us from the side. back to you guys. >> thanks, gadi. incredibly important for one of those lanes to stay open to emergency responders can get in. let's go to mariana atencio at miami beach where we've seen incredible gusts of wind this morning. >> reporter: guys, this is an area of miami beach where it always gets flooded. you can imagine what hurricane irma is doing to this area right now. what i'm standing on here is the pier that is at least a couple of feet tall. you can see that the water has already entirely covered this pier. and the wind is just pounding very strongly right now. you can also see that there are sailboats behind me. they have been tied down. but irma might be too much for
them. i'm going to move over here to show you those temporary pumps we've been talking about throughout the morning that the city installed. these are the pumps. this is connected to a generator. and this goes under to the sewer. they're hoping that these pumps can suck up water and bring it back out to the ocean. again, this is the first time they're trying them out. we don't know how they're going to fare. this is an upscale area of the beach. you have islands even smaller than miami beach to the back of me. this storm is pounding so hard right now, it's hard to imagine what residents of those islands are going through right now, matt and savannah. >> mariana, who has been in the thick of it all morning long, thank you very much, we appreciate it. let's get another check in with gabe gutierrez who is in naples where the storm is arriving later today. >> reporter: hi, matt, good morning. the wind is starting to pick up
here. you see the trees starting to feel it right now. we're at the beach in naples. we're seeing the water pushed away from short. county authorities now say they now expect the worst of this storm surge to happen after the eye passes naples in the next few hours. the concern is, as the governor has said, the naples area expects from 2 to 15 feet of storm surge. they're very concerned about what this could mean. right now, naples is a virtual ghost town. buildings are boarded up. it's really -- authorities have pulled first responders as these winds have picked up. again, as the eyewall makes its way near naples sometime this afternoon, the biggest concern right now is for all that storm surge, all this water that's being pushed out to sea right now is expected to come crashing into naples. the question is exactly how much of it and how much of this downtown floods, matt and savannah. >> that's gabe gutierrez in
naples. the storm is creeping closer and closer to that area. what's the latest, dave, what can you tell us, where this is going, how long? >> the tracking doesn't so much matter at this point. we know this huge storm is overtaking the entire state of florida. what we are going to see over the next several hours is first on the southwest side of florida, from naples and ft. myers and tampa, winds will increase rapidly, very heavy bands of rain. on the back end of that, that's when the surge happens. that is the biggest concern at this point. it's remarkable considering in some cases we're going to have wind gusts up to 125 miles per hour. a storm surge in some locations, 5 up to 15 feet, that's what we're facing. that's as we head through the afternoon hours into tonight. other complicating factors are high tide. and again, as we fall into darkness, that is another issue. it is near impossible at this point for first responders to get out and help people.
now is the time to make whatever your last ditch plan for safety is. and in most cases, that is going to be shelter in place. again, naples area, around three or four. ft. myers, six to seven. sarasota, ten to 11. >> a scary night too, when you think about the storm surge creeping up. >> listen to public officials, you have miami officials saying we are sheltered in place, we can no longer help you now. the mayor of tampa saying, we're about to get punched in the face, we've avoided a storm for 90 years. >> i think a lot of times people get accused of hyping things like this. but this is one of those circumstances where officials all throughout the state of florida, and i think the media has also done the job of getting the word out there and telling people it's not to be messed around with, and luckily, as
away just said, people seem to have listened. lots of places on social media where people can stay in touch and connect with loved ones. >> you look at something new like snapmap from snapchat, people can zoom in and find people, look at video. there are places we just can't get with our cameras, it's not safe anymore. the world of social media has made those images available now. >> the map behind you, dave, this is a storm that's so large, it's double, triple the size of the peninsula. >> the state of florida. the effects will be felt throughout the southeast, and eventually as it creeps up, into the northeast as well. >> we'll continue to watch. we've got lester down in tampa, they'll be moving their location because unfortunately they're right where we think the water will rise. we'll continue to cover it with all of our correspondence. >> dave and willie, thanks very much. much more on this story all day long right here on nbc.
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>> announcer: this is an nbc news special report. hurricane irma, here's kate snow. hello, everyone. glad you can join us. we're continuing our special coverage now of hurricane irma as it comes ashore in florida. this historic category 4 monster storm which began almost two weeks ago now. thousands of miles away in the eastern atlantic. well, now, it is upon us. every bit as powerful and dangerous as predicted. the latest as rains and high winds lash much of southern florida. irma's eye has torn across the florida keys with winds as high there as 130 miles an hour. the storm is bearing down on florida's west coast. threatening a devastating storm sturge event, potentially