tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN September 12, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
>> i'll see you down there tomorrow. >> safe travels. be safe. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. our breaking news, hurricane florence now a category 3 storm. 115-mile-an-hour winds. 115 miles an hour. hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds now extend outward up to 195 miles. that's massive. i've covered a lot of storms. i'm going to be heading down to the zone in just a few hours. by any measure, this is a monster storm. this one is a monster. an extremely dangerous major hurricane according to the national hurricane center. a storm so massive, an astronaut on the space station said they could only capture it with a super wide angle lens, calling it, quote, chilling even from space. that's a quote right there. with wave heights of up to 83 feet. that's about the height of a seven-story building. moving more and more slowly as it closes in on the carolina coast. from late tomorrow through early sunday, florence is expected to
travel slower than you could walk, about two to three miles an hour. so here's why that's really bad news for some 20 million people in the storm's path. it's bad news because florence will effectively stall, and then it's going to absolutely pound the storm zone for days and days. so forecasters are warning of life-threatening flooding as rising water moves inward. the storm surge basically a wall of water. it could be 13 feet high. we're going to have a brand-new forecast coming up for you during this show, so make sure you stay tuned, okay? it's very important. but i want you to listen to the president, president trump tonight, talking about preparations for hurricane florence. here he is. >> tremendous people working on the hurricane. first responders, law enforcement, and fema. and they're all ready, and we're getting tremendous accolades from politicians and the people. we are ready. but this is going to be one of
the biggest ones to ever hit our country. residents in the path of these devastating storms should comply with all evacuation orders and other emergency instructions. protection of life is the absolute highest priority, and that's what we're doing. it's called protection of life. so god bless everybody and be careful. >> accolades. just couldn't resist giving himself a pat on the back in advance, okay? only one day after he praises his administration's response to hurricane maria in puerto rico, where an estimated 2,975 american citizens died. >> i think that puerto rico was an incredible unsung success. texas, we have been given a-pluses for. florida, we've been give a-pluses for. i think in a certain way, the best job we did was puerto rico, but nobody would understand that.
>> here's what is very clear. it is clear that this white house knows that less than one year after hurricane maria, they have to be ready for this storm, a storm that fema describes like this. >> this is going to be, you know, a mike tyson punch to the carolina coast. >> that gives it to you right there. that describes it. fema keeping a close eye on six nuclear power plants in the path of this storm, while the army corps of engineers is watching five federally owned dams in the storm zone. 1 million to 3 million people are expected to lose power in the carolinas, and the power company says they may not even be able to begin to assess the damage until next week. curfews are in effect tonight all across this area, and more than a million people have been ordered to evacuate. most people are heeding those warnings. >> yeah, we're leaving. we're going further off from the beach.
>> most but not all. >> i filled my bathtubs. i have containers filled with water. just hunkering down and bring it on. i mean there's nothing more i can do. >> yeah. good luck. the governor of north carolina, though, saying this. >> my message is clear. disaster is at the doorstep, and it's coming in. no possession is worth your life. >> so let's get to it now. i want to bring in now cnn's miguel marquez live for us in north carolina. miguel, good to have you. let's see what you look like and what's going on there. there we are. there are the conditions. miguel is on a beach there. residents, are they heeding the evacuation orders? >> reporter: well, as you said, yes and no. this is a town of 6,200 people, carolina beach, and most have left. the sheriff's department and police department here in carolina beach are going to take stock of who is staying here tonight.
a couple of hours ago, the mandatory evacuation order went into effect. the town is now closed. the bridge -- the one bridge into town is now closed to get in. if you are leaving, you can get out, but you can't get into town if you are out and about. you could be arrested and moved out of the town. so they aren't playing any games there. they expect much of this town to be underwater in the next couple of hours. just want to show you, so this is the regular beach. the tide is coming in now at about four or five, maybe six feet tonight. pack on top of that 12, 13 feet of storm surge. pack on top of that another 20 or 30 inches of rain that falls, and they are expecting widespread flooding through much of carolina beach. that's why they are being very serious about these evacuation orders. go home. they think somewhere in the hundreds are in their homes tonight and are going to try to ride this storm out. they're going to go through the area tonight and see whose lights are on, knock on doors, make sure they're fine, make
sure they know what they're facing if they're going to stay. don? >> there's a lot going on here. did you talk about the emergency responders, miguel? are they getting out of there too? >> no. you're going to have emergency responders here in carolina beach. there is one area about 13, maybe 15 feet above sea level where they are going to hunker down. there's going to be several people with the city there and emergency responders who will be there. but once, for instance, those winds hit 45 miles per hour, which is expected tomorrow afternoon, the bridge even out of town will be closed, completely closed once conditions become so bad that they can no longer respond to emergencies. you may be able to get through to them on 911, but they will not be able to respond, and they will not risk their police officers' and deputies' lives to come out and try to help people. >> so as i understand, miguel, and as i said in the open, they're keeping an eye on some sensitive spots there, some nuclear power plants, dams as well. can you talk to us about that?
what are they doing? >> reporter: well, specific to carolina beach, there is a nuclear power plant, the brunswick nuclear power plant about 20 miles from here, between here and wilmington. that is of great concern here. it's a power plant that is similar to the model of the japanese power plant, fukushima, that got inundated by water during the tsunami there after the earthquake. and so they put up barriers so that they can keep water from hitting that plant. it will be tested during this storm. they expect it to be tested. there's also a water treatment plant here on carolina beach. they are concerned about that if that overflows. the water table is very high because they've had lots of rain in the last couple of weeks here and months, and they are trying to pump out all of the systems as quickly as they can so they can absorb as much water as it starts to come in.
there's also a munitions plant near here, an army munitions plant, or a storage facility where that is a concern as well. perhaps not as great as a nuclear power plant, but they are certainly concerned. you can see the water here and the tide starting to come in here. it does come about halfway up the beach just normally. tomorrow they expect this water to be moving right into town. don? >> hey, miguel, just quickly, it's pretty dark there, but have you seen anything going on? anything else you can show us? is it just a dark beach behind you? >> reporter: i mean it is very dark. this is the calm before the storm. it is an absolutely beautiful night here in north carolina. the wind is blowing. it's a nice breeze. it sounds lovely out with the water crashing. but this is the calm before the storm, and it is certainly coming. from what it looks like, it is going to be massive, and it's just going to hang right where we are standing for what will
feel like forever. don? >> miguel marquez, you're right. calm before the storm. miguel marquez in carolina beach, north carolina. we'll get back to him. thank you, miguel. now i want to bring in cnn's tom sater. he's in the cnn weather center. tom, good evening to you. you heard what the fema administrators -- what they say about hurricane florence not going to be a, quote, glancing blow. it's going to be a mike tyson punch to the carolina coast. give us the latest. >> well, even mike tyson got a little tired from time to time. it may not have been until round eight or nine, but he looked a little ragged at times, and that's what florence looks like. however he always came back with a couple of combinations, punches. when florence gets into the gulf stream, those warm waters, don't be surprised if florence gets a little power back and throws her own flurry of punches here because what we're watching looks like the eye is trying to collapse. i mean winds are at 115, don. if it gets down to 110, this is category 2. do not be fooled by this. this has got a lot -- she's got tricks up her sleeve. but the eye wall replacement,
when you spin a top on a table, it can only sustain that strength and that centrifugal force for so long. it's got to go through these cycles. but what happens is that tight eye starts to wobble, and it throws the winds out, and it creates an outer eye band. once that outer eye band forms, it tightens back up, and it gains its strength. but this is interesting. each time it goes through one of those cycles, which could be 8, 9, 10, 11 hours to take the process and take it through, it pushes the winds out from the center. so every time we have an eye wall replacement cycle, the strong winds go out farther. they go out farther. they go out farther. so our winds, our hurricane winds now, are from the center out 140 miles. the tropical storm force winds that have been extending out from the center are now 320. that's what happens when it goes through these cycles. so you can see with the angle of the coastline, that increasing surge that's going to take place, that wind-driven wave
action, the heavy amounts of rainfall. and of course if this thing stays over water, it's not going to cut off its fuel supply line, and it's just going to siphon all of this ocean water up onto land. so that is a big, big concern. the latest with this model here puts it where we expect, pretty close off the coast of wilmington, the european model. and then does make landfall. this is friday at 2:30 in the afternoon. this model, though, as you mentioned in the opening part of your broadcast, you could outwalk it. 150 miles from thursday night to sunday morning. and still brings it pretty close to charleston. so there's still a lot of here or there. will it be on land? will it be off of land? but we know it's coming, and it's still going to be a massive storm. there's no doubt about it. don't look at the ragged satellite picture and think, oh, we're in the clear here. >> tom sater, checking back with you as well in the cnn weather center. we appreciate that. let's go to the mayor now of north myrtle beach, marilyn
hatley. mayor, thank you so much for joining us. the advisory from your city to residents is please leave. it's good to see you. there are mandatory evacuations. are folks listening? have you been going door to door? what's going on? >> well, as we all know, this is one of the largest devastating storms that may possibly be in the history of the east coast of the united states. it is so important that people listen to the mandatory evacuation, and that has been my message that we have been sending out through facebook, twitter, websites, and begging people to please leave. now, many people have left. but i still have 35% of my citizens in the city of north myrtle beach that are staying. and those 35 need to take this storm serious and realize that
with the storm surge, with all the rain, with the high winds, this is going to be an enormous storm, and it is going to be devastating to our community. >> if residents don't listen and decide to ride it out, what do they need to know, mayor? >> well, the first thing we're going to do in the morning at 8:00, 8:00 a.m., we are going to start knocking on doors and we're going to be encouraging and asking everyone to leave. the only thing that we can tell them is this, once those winds get over 40 miles per hour, we can't send our emergency officers out to help you. we can't send our fire trucks. our ems will not go out if it's 60-mile-per-hour winds. and we know we are going to have at least that high of winds and higher. and this thing -- this hurricane is going to battle our coastline
for 24 to 36 hours. it is so important for people to understand that this is not just a little hurricane 1 that is going to come in and skirt over us and go by within a few hours. this storm is here to stay for a long time. >> how do you make them understand that, mayor? >> well, as i keep saying, we are putting all the information that we possibly can on all of the media. our newspapers, our tv stations, our websites, our facebook, our twitters. i'm personally on my facebook telling the story and letting everyone know just how devastating this storm can be and more than likely will be. god forbid that anybody loses their life.
there is not one personal piece of property that is worth losing your life over. as i say, be smart. be safe and take care of your family and listen, and evacuate from our city. >> mayor marilyn hatley, thank you so much. we appreciate it. i will be seeing you probably once i get on the ground tomorrow. but thank you. be safe. we appreciate you joining us here on cnn. >> thank you, don. when we come back, up to 3 million people could lose power in hurricane florence. but how long will it take to turn that power back on? ♪ flintstones! meet the flintstones. ♪ ♪ they're the modern stone age family. ♪ ♪ from the town of bedrock. ♪ meet george jetson. ♪
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we're back now with our breaking news, and it's hurricane florence slowing as it approaches the east coast. that means the region could get pummeled by devastating hurricane-force winds and heavy rains for days. add to that dangerous storm surges and potentially catastrophic flooding. let's bring in now captain john reed. captain reed is the commander of u.s. coast guard sector charleston. good evening to you. i know it's very busy. we thank you in advance for joining us, captain reed. how is the u.s. coast guard preparing for this life-threatening storm? >> good evening, don. thank you very much for having me. in preparations for the coast guard, we've been preparing for the last five days as we watched and tracked this storm. first we've taken preparations with our families, evacuated them, got them out of the low-lying areas following the orders of the governor to evacuate.
next we've kind of moved our stations to a protective posture along the low-lying areas of south carolina, actually closing a couple of the stations and moving those assets upriver, which has severely degraded our ability to currently respond to search and rescue inland and offshore. still able to conduct those rescues, but it is hampered, and those responses now will be delayed up until the storm and then after until we assess the ability to get back out has been achieved. >> another question for you, captain reed. what's the plan for emergency response post-storm? i mean you're deploying helicopter crews to savannah, georgia, post-storm response, right? what are you doing? >> yes, that's right, don. we have crews, not just our aviation assets from air station savannah, but we have environmental response teams coming from the gulf strike team in mobile, alabama. we have flood pump teams, which are shallow water rescue
capabilities that are staged for both north carolina and south carolina. the coast guard is bringing operations and mission support teams and personnel from miami, cleveland, really all around the country, to be able to move in as soon as we understand what the impact of this ever-changing catastrophic storm will be. >> captain, can you talk to us about the port conditions now? >> absolutely. thanks, don. the port is actually servicing its last -- its last cargo vessel as we speak. after that vessel departs, we are not anticipating and we will close the port of charleston. that vessel was really a team effort of the ila, the ports authority, and the pilots to get that in here and get it serviced overnight with the american-made vessels that are outbound from the port of charleston. >> mm-hmm.
so are you having to prepare for this hurricane any differently than how you have prepared for other storms? >> you know, i don't think so at all. this is my first one here in charleston, and we've been through preparations for other storms in south florida as well. but i think we're able to leverage lessons learned from harvey, from maria, from irma last year that are really helping us get the teams in place and ready to respond as the governor and the state eoc kind of asked for those requests. >> all right. i mean this in the best possible way, get back to work, captain. thank you for joining us here on cnn. >> all right. >> we appreciate it. best of luck to you. >> thank you, don. >> absolutely. hurricane florence expected to knock out power to millions of people. joining me now on the phone is jeff brooks. jeff brooks is a spokesman for duke energy, which is about 4 million customers across north and south carolina. good evening to you, mr. brooks.
you expect, what, 1 million to 3 million customers to lose power during hurricane florence? do you have any sense of how long it may take to get that power back on? >> that's right, don. it's going to be an epic storm with a lot of damage. we do expect up to 3 million or about 75% of our customer base to be out of power. >> wow. >> we're not talking about a three-hour outage. we're talking about days, potentially weeks depending on the area with a lot of flooding and a lot of downed infrastructure. >> wow. so what do customers need to know in terms of safety about downed power lines and on and on? what can they do at this point besides leave? is there anything else? >> well, you know, they need to mentally prepare for an extended outage. and if they rely on electricity for medical needs, they need to get out if they still have time to do so. and if they're going to stay, they need to recognize that we're not going to be able to get there quickly to them. we're going to work very hard to get power restored. we've brought in 20,000-plus
crews into the area, and they're going to be the largest deployment that we've ever done in our system. so we've got the resources, but this is a tough situation. it's a tough storm. so we're just going to encourage folks to stay safe. if they see downed power lines, stay away from them. assume they're energized. keep your family safe and keep our crews safe. if you're out and about, give them space so they can work. >> so you've got crews coming in from other places, i would assume. can we talk about these nuclear power plants because duke energy has a number of nuclear power plants in the carolinas. your brunswick plant is close to the coast. how do you prepare those power plants for a storm like this? >> well, you know, these plants are engineered for very extreme conditions. they're designed for major storms like hurricanes, steel reinforced concrete. we've also done a number of upgrades at the brunswick facility and our other plant related to flood mitigation and making sure they can respond in these types of storms. so the staff is very highly
trained. they drill. they practice these scenarios. in many cases we can continue generating through storms. when it reaches a certain point, we have safe shutdown procedures to keep the unit safe. i think we'll be in great shape, and we're ready to respond. >> can i ask you something, mr. brooks? how do you assess like which area is going to be the most vulnerable, and is there a priority for certain areas of getting the power back up? >> well, you know, we first focus on getting our transmission infrastructure in core facilities like emergency management, hospitals, fire departments. those are certainly a priority. then we work to restore as many customers as possible. one of the challenges we're going to see in this storm is what we saw in hurricane matthew, and that's flooding. we saw communities that were flooded, equipment that was underwater. that can really hamper restoration efforts, but our goal is to get as many customers on as quickly as we can, recognizing that this is going to be an extended, potentially multi-week restoration. >> thank you, jeff brooks. i appreciate your time. >> thank you. >> duke energy spokesperson.
when we come back, how bad could florence get? how bad could it get? well, we're going to take a look at past hurricanes in the carolinas and beyond and what they can teach us about this one. that's next. that's why capital one iss feel the building something completely different. capital one cafés. welcoming places with people here to help you, not sell you. with savings and checking accounts with no fees or minimums. that are easy to open from right here or anywhere in 5 minutes. no smoke. no mirrors. this is banking reimagined. what's in your wallet?
hurricane florence, a monster 3 storm, category 3 storm, taking aim at the carolinas but expected to make a slight turn south when it makes landfall, putting georgia in jeopardy as well. look at the size of the thing. i'm headed to the storm zone in just a few hours. i have covered a lot of hurricanes in my career and i've seen firsthand just how powerful and devastating and destructive
these storms are. they're always unpredictable, and it's not just the wind and the rain. often the most danger comes from storm surges, from flooding, lack of enough food and water, really basic services. i've seen it with my own eyes. it seems like there wasn't a storm before, you know, katrina, but i've covered a lot before then. but in 2005, i went to louisiana. i also went to mississippi to cover hurricane katrina. the storm slammed into the gulf coast, but the true measure of the devastation, it really came after. the days after katrina, after that storm hit, they were a blur. in some ways it was like reporting from a war zone. and then three years later i went back to louisiana to cover hurricane gustav where i went out with the national guard to see the damage for myself. watch this. >> this is another example. it's probably good that the homeowner here wasn't at home. >> yes, sir, absolutely. if it would have fell on top of the roof, they could have absolutely had more damage to the house.
it looks like it only touched the fence. >> and then there was 2011 in philadelphia. i went there to cover hurricane irene which made landfall as a category 1 storm, but that storm lingered over the northeast for longer than a hurricane usually does, causing catastrophic inland flooding. >> stay inside. >> absolutely. >> stay home and stay safe, anderson. that's the message that everyone has been carrying throughout the east coast. >> so if you're in the path of florence tonight, i want you to take note. four major hurricanes over the decades have left a trail of destruction along the carolina coast, okay? hurricane hazel. this is 1954. it was the first category 4 storm to hit north carolina. the storm surge reached 18 feet in some places. 18 feet. then there was hugo, 1989. after barreling through puerto rico, it set its sights on south carolina and then continued to produce hurricane-force winds seven hours after making landfall.
>> during the eye, it was just absolutely dead quiet, nothing. but the wind, i mean the whole house was like it was going to be lifted up off its foundation. >> you know what? 50 people lost their lives in that storm. then there was fran. fran was in 1996. extensive flooding and damage all the way from south carolina to ohio. look at those images. 26 people died. >> it's just gone. it's shifted off the foundation. everything is broke. everything you've worked for for the last 22 years is just gone just in the matter of an hour or so. >> a matter of moments. then most recently isabel. in 2003, packed the greatest storm and wind surge in half a century. >> waves started hitting above the porch. we took refuge to my attic in my garage. >> the names of all four of these storms now retired because of the devastation they brought.
joining me now is jay barnes. he's the author of "north carolina's hurricane history." jay, it's so good to have you here. thank you so much. we know folks are preparing there. we just showed the history of some of the most devastating storms. some we didn't get to because they didn't reach the level of these storms, but what can people learn from these past storms? >> well, don, there are a lot of lessons to be learned. unfortunately, these storms keep coming. our problem is really permanent and repetitive. so i could add a number of others to the list you just described, and it's sort of a rogue's gallery of disasters. here in north carolina, we rank third in the nation in the number of hurricane landfalls. so the area where florence is coming in, sort of on the southeast coast there near the south carolina line or maybe even into myrtle beach area, that is a region that has seen a number of these storms. fran was a landfall near there. hazel came right through that region. so it's been a hot spot for some time.
>> so florence, it's a strong category 3 at this point, and it could bring a storm surge of up to 13 feet, jay. do any of these past storms that hit the carolinas look like what we're already seeing with florence? >> well, one thing that the history does tell us is that each storm is unique in its own way. every storm has a different size, intensity, forward motion, and track. and you can do some comparisons. hazel was a category 4 at landfall. fran perhaps would be a good comparison as a cat 3 in the same region. but fran raced inland to raleigh and became an inland storm in a different way. a lot of flooding and a lot of wind. floyd in 1999 actually is another storm that i think bears some resemblance to what we may face with florence. >> that's right. >> hurricane floyd stands as north carolina's greatest natural disaster with $6 billion in damage. there were 52 fatalities, and the rainfall was the story with floyd. it was not a powerful cat 4 or
anything like that. it was the excessive rains that fell in inland counties, places that were many miles from the coast. and that really caused that great disaster. 66 of our 100 counties were declared disaster areas. unfortunately with florence what we're seeing emerge could be a lingering storm that dumps copious rains that unfortunately might even approach what we saw in some cases with harvey. harvey set new rainfall records, and i think everybody knows that story. and right now that's one of the fears. but there are other things to be concerned about. that storm surge you mentioned on the coast is another great concern we have, particularly because the storm is likely to slow down, track very slowly across the coast, and that could put the storm surge through multiple high tide cycles. >> so, let's talk about -- you mentioned harvey and floyd. let's talk about hugo here. i want to put this up. this is florence compared to hugo, which hit back in 1989. it was previously the most
powerful storm to hit that region. florence seems to be much bigger. should people take any different precautions ahead of this storm than with past storms? >> well, i think that one of the differences as the years roll by, we have more people and more property in harm's way. that's really one of the stories that's emerging as the coastal regions of our country continue to grow. we're going to continue to see more large-scale evacuations and really have more dollar damages in the aftermath of some of these, particularly in the more populated regions. but, you know, all of the north carolina coast just like the rest of the u.s. coastline is growing rapidly. what we're seeing with florence is a pretty good response so far. i think people are taking it seriously. the fact that it was a category 4 for so long really got people's attention. and even though it may weaken a little bit, i will tell you that the danger is still there for storm surge. the wind is not anything to sneeze at either. but the rainfall is, i believe,
in the history books is what's going to make florence stand out as a memorable storm. >> so, jay, you say that after florence has passed, that we shouldn't let our guard down because as history has shown, there could be another storm that comes right after this storm. talk to us about the dangers of that. >> well, i almost don't even want to mention it. but there have been a number of years just in the past 100 where in our region, we've had more than one hurricane strike in the same season. and so it is a fact that we have to get through this storm. we have to begin our recovery efforts and do what we have to do to keep people safe and start to build things back. but we also have to keep our eye on the tropics because there are more storms out there. we're just over halfway through the season, and we don't even want to think about that. but that has been a reality. and floyd i mentioned earlier, we had a hurricane that came just before that. it was dennis. with fran in '96, we had bertha just a few weeks before that.
and in 1955, north carolina was hit by three hurricanes within six weeks. so there are some examples like that, but let's just hope that florence is going to be the last we see of this for 2018. >> jay barnes, i learned a lot with you. thank you very much. i hope the audience did as well. we appreciate your time. >> thank you. when we come back, a massive stockpile of bottled water sitting unused on a puerto rican airfield, raising yet more questions about how the federal government handled hurricane maria. we're going to have the story behind those bottles. that's next. - i love my grandma. - anncr: as you grow older, your brain naturally begins to change which may cause trouble with recall. - learning from him is great... when i can keep up! - anncr: thankfully, prevagen helps your brain and improves memory. - dad's got all the answers. - anncr: prevagen is now the number-one-selling brain health supplement in drug stores nationwide. - she outsmarts me every single time.
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nearly 3,000 american citizens dead. here's what the president said about that. >> i think puerto rico was incredibly successful. puerto rico was actually our toughest one of all because it's an island. so you can't truck things onto it. everything's by boat. i actually think -- and the governor's been very nice, and if you ask the governor, he'll tell you what a great job. i think probably the hardest one we had by far was puerto rico because of the island nature. and i actually think it was one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about. i think that puerto rico was an incredible unsung success. >> an incredible unsung success? it's incredible, all right. incredible that anyone would call that a success. the president's comments coming on the same day we saw these shocking images of what appears to be millions of bottles of water meant for victims of hurricane maria.
shocking. those bottles still sitting on a runway in ceiba, puerto rico, nearly a year after the storm. cnn's bill weir went to puerto rico to get the story for us, to find out the information, the facts here. we learned the supplies were brought in by fema in the aftermath of maria. but as storm survivors drank from spring water, risking disease, these bottles of water, well, they just sat on the runway. and they sat there for months. puerto rican officials tell cnn that in may, fema reported it had about 20,000 excess pallets of bottled water. when the water was finally distributed, complaints came pouring in about its foul smell and taste. the mayor of ceiba tells weir, well, he believes that too much water was delivered at the wrong time. but the question remains did federal officials ship bad water to hurricane maria victims in puerto rico? did they, or did the water go bad from sitting in the hot sun for at least five months?
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so president trump already praising his administration's response to hurricane florence even though the storm's full impact won't be known for several days. >> we've got people working on the hurricane, first responders, law enforcement and fema, and they're all ready. we're getting tremendous accolades from politicians and the people. this is going to be one of the
biggest ones to hit our country. >> tremendous accolades already. we hope no one dies from this and that the federal government responds really well. all the emergency responders, we really do, but tremendous accolades already? let's discuss. contributor and "new york times" frank rooney and former department of homeland security official juliette kayyem. these are very serious times. you know, he's talking about the administration getting tremendous accolades on there. before it happened. you have to remember, i just for context, frank, this happened during a medal of honor ceremony. >> yeah. >> people who really deserve accolades. >> it's never a bad time to talk about the wonder of donald trump and his administration, right? tremendous accolades. it's so strange. he makes it sound like the academy awards. we don't know what's going to happen. we hope that the government has learned from their mistakes in the past and the response to this will be terrific.
he cannot see into the future any more than he can though he tries to reinvent the past when it comes to maria. >> let's talk about that. as frank just mentioned, this comes a day after this president called hurricane maria where nearly 3,000 americans died. an incredible unsung success. how should these comments be interpreted by someone living in one of the carolinas or in maybe even virginia tonight? >> i think if i were in north carolina or south carolina, i would interpret the president's comments as suggesting that 3,000 is the baseline of success. remember what 3,000 deaths means. it means that absent but for the government effort, even more people would have died. right in the his tolerance is 9,000, 10,000, 11,000. it's a ridiculous thing to say. we know in disaster management a leader, he's not an operational leader. let those people tell people to evacuate.
a leader like donald trump has to provide data and hope. data, what are you providing, what assets are being deployed? what do people need to do, the numbers and hope. here's what the federal government will do to protect your life. you need to evacuate and here's all the things we're doing. this president gives lies and gloating. i've never seen anything like it, and if i sound more energized than usual, it's because in all my years in homeland security, the idea of preself-congratulations is like so, i don't know how to finish my sentence. >> tone deaf isn't the right term. >> it's weird. >> yeah. the main reason that we're doing this you said it's weird. i think josh dossey got it right for "the washington post" about president trump raising hurricane maria. what does it say about the president he can't even admit the loss of nearly 3,000 lives was a problem? >> he sees any admission of anything that smacks of failure
as a sign of weakness. when i heard what he said about oh, this is an unsung success, first of all it's unsung because the melody and lyrics stink. when he said that, i thought we're back to i would have won the popular vote except for millions of illegal votes. whenever there's anything in the past that doesn't flatter him, he gives us a different version of the past even if it's flatly unbelievable. it was not true there were millions of illegal votes cast and he would have won the popular vote and it's not true the response to maria was a success. nearly 3,000 people died. to ignore that body count and talk about your own heroic effort is more than tone deaf. it's kind of obscene. >> also, he knows the political ramifications of this because he's talked about it two days in a row, right? he knows that the response has to be huge. it's got ramifications for the midterms and also in 2020, do you think his administration understands they've got to get
this one right? >> i think they understand it, and i think the lucky thing for the people whose lives are in danger, this isn't just about donald trump. people who are going to run this effort who are going to succeed or not are people throughout the federal and state and local governments. so i'm hopeful given the amount of preparation for this and to give the president credit, he has told people to evacuate. i'm hopeful the damage and loss of life can be kept to a minimum. it's not reassuring to have a president who seems poised to tell you it all went well regardless of how it went. >> when the president was discussing storm preparations with the fema director yesterday, he seemed presidential. he was engaged. he was informed till he made those horrific comments about hurricane maria. does his past experience florida state construction and development come into play when he's dealing with a natural disaster. >> the most important thing for him to do, he's not an operational person.
he shouldn't be. that's on the local and state level, is to provide guidance, resources and tell fema to lean in as much as it can. it's its own agency. we need from the president a sense of urgency what's going on. he did a course correction this morning. he fixed what he said. yesterday he said we were fully prepared. everyone's jaws dropped, that can't be true because we don't know where florence is going to hit at this stage. look, i mean, there's an old saying in emergency management, you know, there's no good talking, you can't talk your way out of hurricane katrina. right? if the response is good, even if there's deaths but if the response is viewed as adequate, as coordinated and with urgency, people will forgive the inevitable consequence of a bad hurricane, which is some people will die. we know that. but you can't talk your way out of it and it will be -- and the president just keeps trying to do that. >> okay.
thank you all. i appreciate it. stay with cnn all night for the latest on hurricane florence. miles on every purchase, every day... not just "airline purchases". think about all the double miles you could be earning... (loud) holy moley that's a lot of miles!!! shhhhh! ♪ what's in your wallet? shhhhh!
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