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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  September 11, 2018 5:30pm-5:59pm PDT

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coming p tonight at 6:00, the disfunction at a school now involves a restraining order. we'll have that at 6:00. amazing video out of southern california. take a look at this. wow, a pod of worker whales. the captain captured the footage near the coronado islands. curious whales trailed the boat for about 90 minutes, there are about five or six orcas. >> that is so much fun. >> i am so jealous. envious. look at that! gorgeous! >> look at that! i'm excited. >> the captain's on the boat all the time, he doesn't see this kind of stuff. that's amazing. >> nightly news with lester holt is next. we'll continue to watch the whale video. bye. a major natural disaster closing in. there are multiple states of emergency. over a million and a half people scrambling to evacuate. and people are being warned to get out now. >> don't bet your life on riding out a monster. and tonight, is fema ready? as president trump says this about a storm that killed nearly 3,000 people. >> i think that puerto rico was an ht paying tribute to the heroes of 9/11, 17 so many first responders now sick. doctors say the number of deaths related to 9/11 diseases could soon surpass the number lost that day. outrage from elizabeth smart. one of her kidnappers will be set free from prison five years
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earlier than expected. a surprise decision she calls incomprehensible. an nbc news exclusive. russia is the prime suspect for those mysterious attacks on americans in cuba. and parents divided over kids getting hit with paddles as punishment at school. what do you think? >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news with lester holt." good evening. for anyone even thinking about taking their chances and riding it out on the carolina coast, the carolina is warning this storm is a monster. it's big, vicious, extremely dangerous and it's hisc. the national hurricane center using terms like "life-threatening storm surge." at this hour florence is a category 4 and picking up steam as over a million and a half people rush to evacuate before the coast gets clobbered. states of emergency now declared in north and south carolina, in we have all of it covered tonight.
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let's get right to al roquer, who has the very latest. al? >> this is growing in strength and intensity and in size. right now, 140-mile-per-hour winds, 785 miles from cape lookout, north carolina. by friday afternoon, we expect landfall. so everybody to the west and south of myrtle beach all the way to cape hatteras have to be on alert because this storm could make landfall anywhere along that cone. >> al, thank you very much. we'll ask you to stay close. we're back to you in just a moment with a brand new storm track. but we want to get right to gabe guer carolina where those mass evacuations are under way. gabe, set the scene for us there. >> reporter: lester, a hurricane warning just went into effect here. this popular beach town is now shut down. the carolinas bracing for potentially their strongest hurricane in decades. tonight, the rush is on to get out. from the carolinas to virginia, more than a million people are desperately trying to outrun hurricane florence.
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how terrifying is this storm? >> yeah, it's something that i've been dreading since i moved here. >> reporter: in south carolina, authorities closed this highway in one direction, all lanes now leading west away from the massive storm that's ominously churning in the atlantic. this is the incredible view from noaa's hurricane hunter. just look as the plane reaches the hurricane eye. the blue sky clearly visible. >> we are in a very deadly and important game of chess with hurricane florence. >> reporter: in myrtle beach -- >> hurricane florence, bring it on. there's a rush on and maria nichols is using it to protect her home. but tonight she's bolting to higher ground. >> it's important for us to evacuate. we don't need to take chances. we don't need to put personnel on the line to come and try to save us. we need to go. >> reporter: still, not everyone is fleeing florence. lorain and mark taylor decided not to heed the mandatory evacuation order.
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instead, they plan to hunker down in their retirement community and check on their neighbors. >> why are you staying? >> well, i've been through a lot of storms and we feel like this is our home. >> reporter: a home now in the path of the most powerful hurricane to threaten the southeast coast in more than 20 years. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, myrtle beach, south carolina. >> reporter: i'm kerry sanders at ft. bragg, north carolina where the u.s. army ordered more than 80 chos fema staging. more than 200 semis and more coming, filled with critical supplies. so you're doing something different? >> we are, because we're putting supplies in various places. at an earlier time. usually you wait until after the storm. >> and you chose to do that with this hurricane because? >> because it's so wide, so intense. >> reporter: on the coast, residents preparing, but some also skeptical the government will be there when they need them. >> it seems like they're not doing as much as they used to.
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>> reporter: a recent gao report found fema was woefully understaffed during last year's unprecedented hurricane and fire seasons, with 54% of employees doing jobs they were not qualified for. at the time the storms hit, the agency was stretched thin, responding to 692 federal disasters. >> there's a lot of lessons we learned from 2017. we are at the ready. >> reporter: in carolina beach, a town of 6,000, they're hopeful fema will be there to help. >> there will always be little bumps in the road, but i'm confident we'll be able to weather the storm. >> reporter:ls preparing tonight, power companies like crews comindwest to help soldiers at ft. bragg. >> my point here is we are ready to respond should they need it. >> reporter: getting supplies from here to fr distribution centers before the hurricane hits is not only a first, it's a recognition that florence is going to dump a lot of rain and create floods. and the last thing anybody wants are supplies stuck here at
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ft. bragg and not where they're needed most. lester? >> kerry sanders, thanks. already, some of the biggest airlines are warning of a travel mess to come. the ripple effect from this storm will be felt far and wide. our tom costello has the latest on that. tom, lay it out for us. >> reporter: lester, we're talking about 23 airports that could be affected, potentially tens of thousands of passengers. airlines are already waiving the change fees. if you are supposed to fly in or out of the storm zone between the 13th and the 16th you are advised to change your tickets now. don't wait till the last moment. here are some , t least as of this moment. charleston, south carolina, myrtle beach, wilmington, h , greenville, north carolina, charlotte, north carolina, a major hub, the second biggest hub for american airlines. if they are affected, if they go out, that will have a major ripple effect across the country. also raleigh-durham
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potentially vulnerable. and then up in virginia, norfolk and richmond. airlines are planning to move their planes out of the storm's path. they'll sit out the storm elsewhere and then fly back into those airports once they're clear. lester? >> tom costello, thanks. we're going to show you the eye of the storm. this was captured by a noaa satellite. al is back with us right now. al, we look at that and we look at this. how big across is all that? >> we're talking 400 miles, lester, and it's intensifying. it's growing right now. 785 miles east-southeast of cape fear, 140-mile-per-hour winds moving west-northwest at 17. if it continues at that clip, a category 3 storm coming on shore sometime late in the afternoon on thursday. we'll be watching that very closely. and into friday, it makes its way in, and we are looking by sunday, it's still just in the carolinas. as far as the winds are concerned, the highest risk is from cape hatteras back to charleston as far as the winds are concerned. the storm surge, when all the walls of water come in, anywhere from 2 to 13 feet. put that on top of high tide and you have
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massive flooding along the shoreline. and the rainfall working its way in through sunday. isolated totals of 30 inches. could be 3 1/2 feet. but 10 to 20 inches generally, lester. >> it's going to bring a lot of misery. >> yes, it is. >> al roker, thank you very much. president trump in the oval office late today said the federal government is "absolutely and totally prepared to respond to florence." but he also praised his own much criticized response last year to hurricane maria in puerto rico, despite the official death toll recently being raised to nearly 3,000 people. that's almost as many lives lost in the september 11th attacks. our kristen welker joins us live from the white house. kristen, what's the latest? >> reporter: lester, good evening. tonight, president trump is insisting his administration is as ready as anyone has ever been to deal with hurricane florence. the president describing the storm as tremendously big and wet. and when asked about lessons learned from those storms that devastated puerto rico last year --
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>> the job that fema and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in puerto rico, i think was tremendous. i think that puerto rico was an incredible, unsung success. >> reporter: one top democrat calling those comments offensive given that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of hurricane maria. mr. trump started his day in shanksville, pennsylvania commemorating the 17th anniversary of the september 11th attacks, greeting airport by pumping his fists. theed presiwo campaign rallies to monitor the storm this weekend, leer. >> kristen welker, thank you. disturbingly, the horror of 9/11 continues to claim victims. almost 1,900 first responders have died in the years after, and now as cancers from inhaling asbestos and other toxins emerge it's expected deaths related to 9/11
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diseases will surpass the number lost on that day. nbc's anne thompson has that story for us. >> this is what you wore on 9/11? >> yes. >> reporter: bob serra is part of the 9/11 stories still unfolding. >> i have to think about it every day just because my body reminds me. >> reporter: just 21, he spent hours at ground zero that day, covered in a witch's brew of toxic dust. now 38, a husband and father, serra's endured multiple sinus surgeries, ptsd, and pain so bad he relies on a cane. >> it's like he's aged 15 years in the last 10 years. >> reporter: and showing signs of thyroid cancer. >> do you feel like you're a ticking time bomb? matter of . >> reporter: serra is one of 72,000 first responders enrolled in the world trade center health program. 8,000 developed cancer, a number dr. michael crane says will only grow. >> are you at an inflection point? >> yes, ma'am. we're at the point where the chronic disease due to the known toxins like asbestos will start to happen. >> so you could see mesothelioma?
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>> yes. >> you could see multiple myeloma? >> we could see lung cancer. we could see it all. >> reporter: already they've seen elevated levels of prostate, thyroid and prostate cancers. >> can you keep that ath sentence? >> i think we can. every day we're seeing breakthroughs in medicine. which, if not curative, can give excellent extensions of life. >> reporter: but federal funding for the responders' care who live across the country is set to expire in two years. with a young family, rob and kristen serra try to savor every moment. >> i have three kids, so i just give as much of me as i can. >> reporter: and he's hoping for a happy ending. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. let us turn to the protests erupting in dallas over the police officer who fatally shot a neighbor after allegedly mistaking his apartment for hers. many in the community are demanding answers, with the officer and the victim's family claiming two very different versions of
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what happened. nbc's gadi schwart >> reporter 26-year-old botham jean in his own apartment. shooting death of court documents painting a picture of a confused police officer, amber guyger, coming home to what she thought was her apartment. instead, she was one floor above her unit. guyger alleges the door was slightly ajar when she pushed her key into the key hole, fully opening the door. inside the dark apartment, she says she saw a large silhouette. believing she encountered a burglar, drew a firearm, gave verbal commands that were ignored, and fired twic a e, neighbor overheard.haened? >> instead of her pushing the door open, they heard her pounding at the door, demanding to be let in. >> reporter: guyger posted a $300,000 bond ahead of her grand jury hearing where the d.a. says she'll face charges of manslaughter and possibly a murder. >> according to the witness, she heard a man call out "oh, my god, why did you do that?" >> reporter: what could be his last words, now a question so many here want answered. gadi schwartz, nbc news, dallas.
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now to an nbc news exclusive. the strongest indications yet of who would be responsible for those mystery attacks last year when 26 u.s. diplomats and intelligence officials were struck ill in cuba. the prime suspect, according to u.s. officials, russia. nbc news correspondent andrea mitchell has the story. >> reporter: the mystery, who or what caused american officials living in these havana homes and hotels, to suffer headaches, dizziness, and some serious brain injuries, similar to a concussion? last year, cuban investigators said they would never allow their territory to be used that way. but now russia is the leading suspect. nbc news has learned according to three u.s. officials and two others briefed on the investigation. evidence they say backed up by highly secret communications intercepts collected during a lengthy and ongoing investigation involving the fbi, cia, and other agencies. u.s. officials also tell nbc news investigators now believe the americans were deliberately targeted.
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>> this is not an accident, and those who think this is some sort of rogue operation i think are operating in a fantasy world. >> reporter: the state department says it is still investigating. >> we have not assigned any blame, and we continue to look into this. >> reporter: why would russia target american officials? the leading theory, to disrupt president obama's opening to then cuban leader raul castro. no comment tonight from the cubans or the russians. lester? >> andrea mitchell in washington, thanks. still ahead, the stunning decision in the elizabeth smart kidnapping case and how smart is responding tonight. also, parents divided after a school brings back paddling. the new controversy over the old school form of punishment.
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back now with a surprise news that broke late today about one of the most infamous kidnappings in modern american history. the woman who helped abduct elizabeth smart and hold her captive for nine months back in 2002 is set to be released from prison years earlier than expected. and as our national
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correspondent miguel almaguer reports, elizabeth smart is calling it incomprehensible. >> it's real. it's real! >> reporter: 15 years ago, elizabeth smart's father announced his abducted daughter was finally coming home. now in a surprise move, one of her captors is about to go free. wanda barzee, who was convicted of helping her husband, brian mitchell, kidnap smart, will be released in just eight days. >> i despise them. >> reporter: tonight smart, who produced a movie and wrote a book about her nine-month abduction, says of barzee's release, "i was surprised and disappointed. it is incomprehensible." >> utah authorities are tracking down more than 100 leads. >> reporter: kidnapped from her bedroom at knifepoint in 2002, smart knew the 72-year-old could be freed soon. speaking to megyn kelly last year. >> she's just up for parole. so we'll see what happens. if she gets out, then i'll cross that bridge.
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>> reporter: barzee was sentenced on state and federal charges. the smart family thought she would be released in 2022. but the parole board now saying they must count time spent in federal custody towards barzee's state sentence. mitchell is serving life. for smart, who has moved on with her life, today a grim reminder of how her past can still haunt her. ellmaguer, nbc news coming up, corporal punishment controversy. why one school is bringing back paddling.
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let me pose a question to you. one i think a lot of you will be discussing after this story. if you got a call from school saying your d involves being struck with a paddle, what would you say? nbc's blake mccoy now on a controversial form of corporal punishment making a comeback. >> reporter: tonight, a georgia school asking parental consent for a classic form of corporal punishment. the paddle policy at the georgia school for
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innovation in the classics states the student will be taken into an office behind closed doors. the student will place their hands on their knees or piece of furniture and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle. >> there was a time where corporal punishment was kind of the norm in school and you didn't have the problems that you have. >> assume the position. >> reporter: for today's generation, a throwback to a time many have only seen in movies. it turns out, corporal punishment is legal in 19 states. 14% of school districts report using it. the supreme court says it is constitutional. this is the size of the paddle. a student would be hit after the third offense. for parents who do not consent, the alternative punishment is up to a week's suspension. with roughly 100 forms returned so far at the suburban augusta school, a third consent to the paddling. the school hopes this
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paddle policy serves as a deterrent. blake mccoy, nbc news. >> a lot for folks to talk about. when we come back, the 9/11 family member keeping memories of the fallen alive. name by name. "inspiring america" is next. staring down a man with a.
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what he claims the guy screamed as he came at him. plus, the hov rules are changing. the drivers who will soon be booted from the carpool lane. next at 6 finally in our "inspiring america" report tonight, as our nation comes together to mark the 17th anniversary of 9/11, we meet a woman who lost someone close in the attacks and is now helping keep the memory of the fallen alive, not just on this day, but each and every day. a ritual of remembrance. >> happy birthday, angela. >> unfolds every day at the 9/11 memorial in new york. liza yonis is laying a single white rose on the names of victims on their birthday.
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>> there isn't one day through the year where there isn't a birthday of a victim. >> how many today? >> today there are a total of 11. >> from angela houts, who worked at the pentagon, to john pepe salerno, a trader and soon-to-be dad. myh greenberg, known as the cool aunt by her family. >> happy birthday. must be hard not to get emotional. i find myself -- this is heavy. >> it really is heavy. >> for liza, it's personal. her brother, bobby, was a firefighter in the south tower on september 11th. remembering his birthday has helped her heal. >> so there he is. this is your brother? >> yes. not only do i come out here on his birthday, but i come out here on my own very early in the morning. it's just he and i with a cup of coffee. >> the flowers, all donated by mikey
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calerone, a florist who was a volunteer paramedic on 9/11. >> it helps me deal with the loss of the people here on that tragic day, knowing that we've never forgotten and always remember them. >> the roses never go unnoticed. >> my family and i are deeply touched. >> and families reaching out after discovering the touching tribute. >> it really tears at my heart and makes me want to continue what i'm doing. >> a single rose, were lost and who will always be loved. >> happy birthday. >> liza and mikey are just two of the people involved in the birthday roses project. we want to thank them for paying tribute every day on our behalf to these families. that's "nightly news" for this tuesday. i'm lester holt. we leave you tonight with a moving image captured today from the air. the world trade center on this anniversary of 9/11, towering in the distance above the clouds. good night, everyone. from camp
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defense mode. a bay area politician tells us how he right now at 6:00, from campaign mode to self-defense mode. a bay area politician tells us how he fought off an attacker. plus, the idea of tiny homes, could it solve our housing crisis? and fighting back against the move by president trump. the climate change summit. the news at 6:00 starts right now. i'm janelle wang in for raj mathai. >> i'm jessica aguirre. a global crisis the entire world uniting to address. those are the words of several leaders today talking about the global climate action summit that kicks off tomorrow. >> politicians, dignitaries and hollywood are joining to help stave off the crisis. sam brock has more.
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>> reporter: on the streets of paris, they march for promise, while in california, a climate emergency takes center stage. >> it is a global emergency. people here afraid like that, it sounds a little hair-on-fire hyper, but this is an extensional threat. >> reporter: it's not just al gore delivering an inconvenient truth. with fires on one coast and a hurricane looming on the other, the reminders of a warming planet everywhere. >> we're still losing tropical


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