tv MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle MSNBC September 13, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PDT
of politics and she happens to be an afghan refugee. >> i love it. >> final thoughts. >> an experienced -- like you said, we have affluence coming into south carolina, north carolina, and we have a governor -- in florida who just has no experience and may have to face something similar. >> that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. >> thanks, mika, thanks, joe. i'm stephanie ruhle. we're watching hurricane florence as it is closing in on the coast. the dangerous category 2 storm is slowing down but growing in size which could mean days, days of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic flooding and destructive winds. we've got an incredible team of reporters deployed across the region as the outer bands of the storm begin reaching the carolina coast. first, let's get you caught up on what the serious storm is
doing. florence, now a category 2 hurricane, packing maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. parts of the carolina coast bracing for conditions that could last, this is very important, 24 hours or longer. that's a lot of water. the storm is forecast to bring up to 25 inches of rain. some areas could see as much as 40 inches of rainfall triggering catastrophic flash flooding. north carolina's governor is urging people to get out of harm's way while they still can. >> there is still time to leave. the winds may be down a bit. but the one-two intense punches that we are expecting are still there. this storm surge can be deadly and then the flooding that will come thereafter with rain being measured in feet instead of inches. we know that this is an
extremely dangerous situation. >> let's start with msnbc's garrett haake. he's in newbern, north carolina. you are next to a river that is sitting high and we know there's a threat of historic flooding. how are officials getting people out of there? some are saying we're now down to a category two. it is not about the hurricane force winds. the storm surge. the amount of water that could fall exactly where you are. what kind of threat is that? >> yes, stephanie, we're starting to feel the wind here. this is really a water issue here in newburg, carolina the city is built right up to the edge of it. a river that sits very high in its banks. if we get 1 to 6 feet of storm surge this far up the river which is what's being expected, they're going to have a problem. it's just now starting to rain.
the storm drains here are already backed up just from the water that's starting to come up the rifrt. if we have 1 to 6 feet of storm surge coming up, 20 to 30 inches of rain coming down, that water just has nowhere to go. the good news, as you said, this county is under evacuation order. the city has been under a curfew. we got in last night. most of the residents here seem to have left, at least in the downtown area that's most susceptible to flooding. we're going to be watching this river all day long, stephanie, and that is the real threat here as that storm slows down and falls apart and drops a lot of water on a place that really is not in a situation where they can handle much more water than they're going to get. >> most of the residents. i wish you said all. now from newbern south to oak island, north carolina. our colleague mariana atencio is
standing by. >> let me give you context where i am. oak island is the biggest beach in north carolina, both in population, 8,000 people, and size, 19 square miles. it has the waterway to the north, the cape view river to east, and the ocean to the south. so it is extremely vulnerable to the storm. look that the pier behind me. you can see it is being repaired from hurricane matthew damage. matthew is a storm that came and went. you can just begin to imagine the extent of the damage that a storm like florence will linger and do to this area. to your question, why are some people still staying? i ran into sherry this morning. can you tell our audience, what is your biggest motivation for staying on the island? >> well, this is our home. this is where my kids have grown up. this is my livelihood. we want to make sure the home is safe, you know, throughout the storm. and after the storm. and also the getting back. i mean, it's heart wrenching. it can be up to weeks before we
get back with the inland flooding. you know, it's a decision that for a lot of folks it's hard to make but we just can't do that. we just can't do that. >> thank you, sherry. i just spoke to the mayor. she said you still have time to get out today. >> we'll be right here. we're going to ride it out. >> thank you, and be safe please. so people determined to stay as you heard. but the mayor really tell megin do not be fooled by the fact the storm is a category 2. it is the flooding and the storm subje surge that makes this storm dangerous. >> let's go to myrtle beach where there is a mandatory evacuation order and the storm surges there could be as high as 13 feet. tammy, what's the biggest concern there right now? >> good morning, stef. the biggest concern here is getting residents out. only 60% of the people in this county have evacuated. that means 40% of the people
have chosen to stay. and for those people, time is running out. i can tell you the owner of the store, robert mills, he told me he wants to evacuate but he has no choice. he is on a mission, a mission to save these adorable animals here. now, robert, what are you doing here today? >> well, we're condensing everybody down, getting them to get plenty of food and everything we're going to need while we go through this all. >> where are you moving the animals to? >> they're all going to my house. we've got the generators, plenty of food and water. that's where we're going to bunker down. >> you've already moved 154 animals to your home and you're moving how many more? >> about 60 here between everything i think that's left. >> you really care about these animals? >> yes, i can't just leave them. we don't do that to our animals.
>> you'll have roughly 200 animals at your house, plus your dog, your children, your wife and your mother. >> and my brother. >> wow, wow. that's a lot. thank you, robert. so this area is still under mandatory evacuation. a curfew for all the coastal towns. they're telling people they still need to get out even though this is a category that people need to take this hurricane very seriously, stef. >> indeed they do. now let's get the latest on the track from nbc meteorologist bill karins. >> it's going as we thought yesterday. i really don't care if it went from a 4 to a 2. the extreme winds around the center will do a little less damage. could be record high. rainfall could be record high. river flooding could be record high throughout the area. we're talking about one of the worst impacting hurricanes in the history of eastern and southeastern portions of north carolina. that's the bottom line with this storm. it's now starting to get close to the coast. it's starting to slow down so that's right on schedule as we
thought. the outer rain bands from the morehead city area to cape hatteras. we have a chance of tornadoes. tornado watch up until about 10:00 p.m. this evening. that's where the strongest winds will come on shore. when we get to this band coming on shore, that's when we'll get the transformers blowing. the winds are starting to pick up on the coast a little bit. notice how the reporters weren't blowing around much. those winds will pick up this afternoon. the hurricane force winds will wait until after sunset. this is the latest projection from the hurricane center with the landfall some time around 5:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, over wrightsville beach, the top of wilmington. that means the worst storm surge and the worst of the conditions will be north of there. then the storm rains itself out over south carolina and even west of charlotte, we could have flooding concerns. this is why i don't care as much about the wind, only 8% of fatalities come directly from the winds and hurricanes.
50% from the storm surge. 75% are from water in hurricanes. that's why the storm surge is the number one fear. as we go through tonight, all day tomorrow. north of the eye, the wrightsville beach area. through camp lejeune area, surf city, emerald isle, morehead city, atlantic beach, those are the areas of great concern. this is newbern here up on thes into rivenoose river. that east wind is going to pile up that water. then we get the rainfall on top of it. i think we'll have more water rescues for people in these little rivers and the tributaries that go into the sound than we will at the coast. a lot of coastal people left. it isn't even a mandatory evacuation for people in pimlico sound. so as far as the rainfall goes, let me show you this, this is one thing that was interesting. the predicted water height tonight is supposed to be 7 1/2
feet at beaufort, morehead city. half a foot higher than 1954 when hazel hit. water in homes and businesses starting in areas around morehead city and buford. then it will continue from there. here's the rainfall predictions. this is 20-plus inches of rain from myrtle beach to wilmington. these problems with that much rainfall will last well into the weekend. the cape fear river is supposed to break the record crest sunday night into monday. never have river levels higher than floyd in '99. go google what the floyd river flooding looked like from '99. it was horrendous with homes under water. just because it went down to a category 2, the water issues with the storm will be life threatening and we will have immense destruction of property
because of the storm surge and the river flooding. >> never say never. so to all of those people in the region, please heed the evacuation warnings. calls. if a flash flood comes through, you cannot protect your home. let's head to wilmington. right in the storm's path. joining me is a man who is very busy these days, the mayor of wilmington, mayor, it's impossible to say is your city ready for this hurricane, but how prepared are you? >> we're as prepared as we can be, stephanie. folks have had about three days to prepare. i think most of our citizens have heeded the warnings. a lot of people have left the area, evacuated the area. we're beginning -- starting to feel those first bands come into the community here. and it's -- we're as prepared as we can be. i think if people heeded the advice of the emergency management folks and taking the storm very seriously, we know
we're going to have trees and a lot of water. 20, 30, possibly up to 40 inches of rain. this thing could sit over us for about 48 hours. i don't think we've been pounded by a hurricane for literally two days. >> 40 inches of rain. what are you going to do, mayor, do you plan to evacuate? >> well, we've got an emergency operations center right up the road so i'll probably be there most of the time. i'm going to hunker down in my home and wait this storm out. >> and to that point, for those who have not evacuated at this point, what is your advice to them? should they go to an emergency center or should they hunker down? >> at this point in time, with the wind starting to come in now, i think it's too late. the window has close order it's closed. you know, we want people to stay in their homes or if you're in a shelter, stay in the shelter, wait for this storm to pass before you venture out. also, heed the advice of the emergency operation folks. we need to get resources and our assets into the community to
start cleaning u the roads, getting the power back on, making sure the roads are passable. the last thing we need is for people to be sightseeing, driving around town. i know they're going to want to come back into the area since they've left their homes just to see how their homes fared during the hurricane. we caution them to please make sure you contact the highway patrol to make sure those roadways, especially interstate 40, is open. because we know this is going to produce a lot of inland flooding and with that, there's going to be a lot of roads that will be impassable. so please, you know, use extreme caution. contact the highway patrol. make certain you wait for this storm to pass before you venture out and listen to what the emergency management folks are going to be telling you. we're going to have a doozy here. >> mayor, less than 24 hours before this hurricane is in full force, we are sending you best wishes. be safe. and to his warning, no sightseeing, no walking streets,
no driving around for no apparent reason. please stay safe. mayor, we're wishing you best. all right, well, as i mentioned, we're less than 24 hours from hurricane florence reaching the shore of the united states and president trump, he is still defending his response to the last major storm to hit u.s. territory. that of course is hurricane maria which happened almost 1 year ago, devastating puerto rico. this morning, the president, he took to twitter, tweeting, quote, 3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit puerto rico. when i left the island, after the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. as time went by, it did not go up by much. then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3,000. the president blamed democrats who you said wanted to, quote, make me look bad as possible when i was successfully raising
billions of dollars to help rebuild puerto rico. if a person died for any reason like old age, add them on to that list. we should explain that number came out after researchers, not politicians, researchers, looked at the puerto rican population before and after the storm. using historical models, they accounted for people that died of natural causes and for people that flood the island. that left them with an estimated 2,975 deaths that researchers now believe could have been linked to the storm. by the way, the report, as i mentioned, was not the work of democrats. it was conducted by people from george washington university along with researchers at the puerto rico graduate school of public health. robert costa is a national political reporter for "the washington post" and moderator on pbs. when the president siays he's
been raising billions of dollars for puerto rico, to me, that's an outright lie. do you know of any evidence of president trump raising billions of dollars to rebuild puerto ri rico? >> there's no evidence of what he's saying on twitter. i've been asking people on capitol hill what is this all about, this twitter storm this morning. and they say what's new. that's what they've texted back. the point is he's isolated. there's the u.s. government and the buck stops with president trump, no doubt about that. whether it's the u.s. government right now, they tell me, trying to handle this storm. and then there's a president of the united states watching cable news, responding to it on twitter, and taking positions that the government, frankly, isn't taking anywhere else. >> okay, so are president's aides just hiding under the covers this morning? it's pure ignorance to say the day after the storm when i was there, only 6 to 18 people died. not factoring in the regions without power for weeks, if not months. once you don't have water, you have people drinking water from contaminated streams.
the president could tip his hat saying fema was handing out thousands of meals a day when they needed millions. there are no facts supporting what the president is saying. so who is watching him here and saying right on, brother? >> no one. there's a resignation inside of this west wing. the top echelons of the republican party. that no one can push president trump towards the reality of what's happening on the ground and he only sees things through the prison of himself. advisers have mostly given up in trying to pull him back from these kinds of outbursts. >> the president's base might say who cares about puerto rico, they're our neighbor. i think santorum calling puerto rico a country when it's humiliating for him to say it's a country when we know it's a u.s. territory. from a popularity perspective, besides his core base who's saying, well, it doesn't help me
or my neighbors. who on earth hears president trump say that and gets behind him? we know what happened. even if you think about the thousands of people who fled puerto rico and moved to places like florida, texas and new york. they might not have been able to vote for the president from puerto rico but they can when they live here. >> they're americans. they're human beings. there's plaa political cost her. a government is evaluated not just how it handles the storm but how it handles the message during the storm. is the president showing empathy? is he showing assertiveness in handling the situation? you have suburban voters across the country watching this very closely. the storm may not be hitting their home but they're watching the president of the united states. his approach, his leadership, is going to be under scrutiny. >> you can put suburban voters aside. what about puerto rican voters? what about the hispanic vote who maybe didn't turn out to vote last time who's going i'm
sorry -- >> florida, key swing state. the thing about puerto rico, too many people constantly make the mistake that puerto rico is somehow an island off there and is not part of the united states. ed it is part of the united states. these are americans. beyond that, these are people. and the way they're kind of talked about as units or as things that are separate is just very odd and disturbing frankly to be honest. >> they're not your neighbor down the lane. they're our family and they're our responsibility. extraordinary. i cannot fathom why the president would say that this morning. up next, how a restaurant, a restaurant, became a barometer for storm recovery is called the waffle house index. and we're waiting for the latest storm information from fema officials. they're set to begin speaking in just a few minutes. we'll bring it to you live when it happens. please if you know anyone in the region of the storm, get them to
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welcome back. i'm stephanie ruhle. here's a question. what does waffle house have to do with hurricanes? turns out if you want to know how bad a storm is going to be, just see if the local waffle house is still serving breakf t breakfast. if they're closed, watch out. why? because they almost never close. the joplin, missouri, tornado in 2011, it wiped out hundreds of
businesses. both waffle houses in town stayed open. when a blizzard hit lancaster pennsylvania in 2010, waffle house was open. 24 hours before hurricane irma flooded jacksonville, florida, in 2017, standing room only in the waffle house. even federal officials now keep an eye on them as a way of determining how local communities are standing up to mother nature. there's even a waffle house index. former fema administrator craig fugate came up with it and described it on npr. >> they are open most of the time. and that was the index. if a waffle house is closed because there's a disaster, it's bad. we call it red. if they're open but have a limited menu, that's yellow because they lost power. >> all right, all right. and they have regular menu, everything's fine? >> they're green, we're good, keep going, you haven't found the bad stuff yet. >> if they've got a full menu, we're good to go. walt ehmer is the ceo of waffle house. he joins me on the phone from
north carolina. along with brendan greely, of "the financial times." if waffle houses tell us how bad the storm is going to be, how many, if any, are closed in the path of hurricane florence? >> well, we're actually doing pretty well right now. we only have a couple of them closed. the ones that are right along the beach. most of our restaurants fortunately are a little bit off the water. so we're able to keep just about all of them open right now. and we're busy. >> and how exactly has the waffle house become, i don't know, call it the gold standard for figuring out how to weather these big storms. >> i tell people all the time, i said, we're really not that smart, we're not that complicated. we just have a lot of want to. we want to be there for community. we want to be there for our people. we want to be there for the first responders. so we just show up and get to work and work really hard. and over time, i think people started to recognize in places
like even where i am, where i am in charleston, there's nobody open but us. it just became kind of a little folklore over time. i heard craig fugate's voice on the phone. unfortunately, he's retired. but he gave us a lot of attention when he mentioned us. i think that's how he got started. >> just there on the screen, we showed your sort of command center where your team monitors the storms. how can you ensure -- i know you want to ensure the community and the first responders but you've got an awful lot of employees who are not at home with their families, they have not evacuated. how do you make sure they're safe? >> our first concern is their safety. the folks who work for us who are in places that are unsafe, a lot of them do leave so we bring in our management from around
the country to support the operations. and then we buy a whole lot of hotel rooms in safe areas. i think we're up to a couple hundred, maybe 250 hotel rooms right now where our people from out of town are staying. a lot of our local associates are staying as well. a lot of our folks do leave. and we first ask them to make sure that they and their families are safe. but we tend to put people in places that are much safe. if anybody wants to leave, we let them leave and supplement from people around the country. >> i'm a massive fan, i take my eggs smothered. can you tell us about the logistics of how you make sure, for example, the communications are in place? and also you have to make sure all of the eggs are there, that the ingredients are there, you know, in the event that supply chains are disrupted. how do you make sure the stores that are open can actually serve
eggs. >> and waffles. >> well, fortunately -- yes, hello. >> please, continue. >> i'm sorry. fortunately with things like these hurricanes, we have plenty of notice. you mentioned a couple tornadoes there. those are challenging. with hurricanes, we have some notice so we mobilize a lot of resources ahead of the storm and bring in a lot of extra supplies, extra food. those folks you saw sitting around the table are kind of the command center to call a lot of plays. mostly our management team is out in the field in the restaurants where we can assess what we have and what we need. and we try to get as much loaded into the restaurants ahead of the storms and prepare with generators and construction folks and electricians and all the resources we need, we try to stage nearby so that when the storm finally does come in, we are -- we're supplied ahead of time and then we also have some great suppliers we work with that help us out on the back end
because when you're the only act in town, you tend to go through a lot of food pretty quickly. there is a pretty big logistical challenge. probably the bigger challenge for us is the people logistical challenges. is getting them all in here, finding them places to stay. rental cars. deploying them to the couple hundred restaurants we have in this affected area. there is a lot of work that goes into place. i'm not going to tell you we're really good at it. we try to get better every time. every one of these things is a little bit different. >> we appreciate it. you're living up to the term "comfort food." really creating a safe haven. help us understand, how high is the bar for you to close a restaurant in terms of weather danger? >> well, you know, certainly we work closely with the local authorities. when they come by and tell us that we are in a dangerous place, we will close down. so we have developed really good relationships with the fema folks and all the local and state agencies that we -- where
we operate. so we've got good communications with them. and we know where our restaurants are that might be in harm's way. that would cause us to close it down. and then, you know, obviously when the storm is really rolling in, near the eye of the storm, we will probably shut down just to make sure our folks are sheltering in a safe place. but we don't try to get too far away so we can get back in there quick. if you think about it, all these first responders and the folks who did choose to stay behind, there's no other place for them to get any food. so we sense somewhat of an obligation at this point. it's a huge part of our culture to be there for the community all the time. i guess that comes from working for a restaurant chain that never closes. >> and while waffle house in general is a huge point of pride and destination down in the south. i know you need to tune into it and we have to go there now. the fema press briefing is starting right now.
>> doing to get the preparedness message out to our citizens today. before we get started on floyd, i'm very aware of a recent article that -- in regards to an ongoing investigation by the oig in regards to fema vehicle usage. we work closely to make improvements and make sure we're running policies according to regulation. and bottom line is we'll continue to fully cooperate with any investigation that goes on. and own up to any mistakes and push forward and keep going, keep moving on. here's the thing, regardless of an article, right now, i'm 100% focused on floyd. that's exactly where our attention needs to be from the standpoint of the life safety mission so with that we're going to invite in our federal partners. florence, excuse me. >> do you feel confident you are following the statutes and laws as it relates to the use of government vehicles? >> we're going to get to floyd -- florence, excuse me.
we're going to get to florence and push forward and concentrate on the life safety issues. thank you. >> -- time for q & a -- >> thanks, guys. got linda? all right. all right. so in regards to florence, just because the wind speeds came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a cat 2, please do not let your guard down. the storm surge forecast associated with this storm has not changed. it has remained the same. here's why. as the system's encroaching on the coast, the wind field has expanded. what you're going to start seeing in a matter of hours, in the next coming hours, is these wind bands that far proceed the center of circulation are going to start pushing water up against the coast. but more importantly, up the back bay and inland areas. storm surge is not a problem
just along the coastline. it's going to be a major problem. way up into the streams and trip u teributaries that push up int the sounds, like the west side of the sound. storm surge is why you have been placed under, many of you have been placed under evacuation. we're asking citizens to please heed a warning. your time is running out. the ocean is going to start rising. along the coast. and in the back bay and inlet areas, in the sound areas, within a matter of hours. your time to get out of those areas is coming to a close. i cannot emphasize that enough. with that, the other thing that's going to happen is not only are we going to see high winds, 110 mile per hour sustained winds coming upon the coast, the wind field is large. there are hurricane force winds that extend far out from the center of circulation that will not only inundate the coast, but you're going to see some high
inland winds as this storm starts to come in and push into the coast. coupled with that is copious amounts of rainfall. as the system's pulling a lot of moisture out of the ocean. you're already seeing rain bands come along the carolina shoreline. and unfortunately, these rain bands are going to be with us for several days. we're going to, you know, the forecasters are basically indicating feet of rain, not inches, in portions of the carolinas and into virginia. so this is a very dangerous storm. inland flooding kills a lot of people unfortunately. that's what we're about to see. so please keep that in mind. the other thing is, i want everybody to know that fema and our federal partners have fully prepositioned in support of our state and local partners. here again, we are here to help our governors achieve their response and recovery goals. emergency management is a team sport. it is a whole community effort. you know, as this system pushes through right now, we're focused
largely on life safety, supporting evacuation movements. supporting mass care. as this system pushes through, starts to exit the carolinas and virginia. you know, the threat seizes. we're going to be focused on community lifelines. we've got to quickly understand the damage that's been done to the transportation systems. the communications systems. the power systems. and we are positioning and had been positioned for multiple days now to get ready to get those critical lifelines back up and stable as quickly as we can. but let me set the expectations. this is a very dangerous storm. we call them disaster because they break things. the infrastructure's going to break. the power's going to go out. it could go out for a number of days. it could go out for many weeks. it's hard to say at this point. so not only that, but many of you who have evacuated from the carolina coastlines are going to be displaced for a while, particularly where the areas
received the highest amounts of storm surge. so, you know, we need people to get their mind-sets right. that disasters are very frustrating. and it takes time to get the infrastructure back up and running. we're going to do everything we can to push forward as quickly as we can to get things back up and working along with our state partners in the private sector who owns a large portion of the critical infrastructure that's going to be impacted. with that, i want to quickly turn it over to our partners over at noaa, dr. jacobs and steve goldstein, so take it away. >> okay, good morning. florence is a category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles an hour. it is moving northwest and is presently centered 170 miles east-southeast of wilmington, north carolina. and 220 miles east of the myrtle beach, south carolina. florence is a very large hurricane. hurricane force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center
and tropical storm force winds extent nearly 200 miles out from the center. florence is forecast to slow down as it approaches the coast. so even today as we see outer rain bands from florence move into the outer banks of north caroli carolina, landfall is not expected for another 36 hours some time friday afternoon, friday evening or even early saturday morning. this slow moving very large hurricane will bring a long-term extreme rain, storm surge and hurricane force wind threat to eastern north carolina and south carolina into the weekend. in north carolina, we're particularly concerned about the pamilco sound and the noose rivers where 12 to 15 feet storm surge is forecast. 6 to 9 feet of storm surge are forecast. and several astronomical high tide cycles.
as far as rainfall, possibly 40 inches or more, especially in eastern north carolina and northeastern south carolina. in addition to all of that, there's also a tornado watch in effect for eastern north carolina today and tomorrow. the next advisory from the national hurricane center will issued at 11:00 eastern time. >> i just like to take an opportunity to emphasize that the expanse of this storm. so the tropical storm force winds extend out 200 miles and the hurricane force winds extend out 80. this is a large storm. when it slows down, what you'll see is this expansive wind field will pile up water along coast. in addition to that, there's going to be a tremendous amount of rain. as the storm slows down, there's going to be lots of coastal flooding. with that, combined with the on shore flow, it's going to be very hard for this water to evacuate. you're going to see a tremendous amount of inland flooding. i'd also like to thank the noaa
corps officers for flying into the storm to improve the forecast and the models. i'd like to thank the air force for providing reconnaissance fleets as well. >> next, we have our partners with the american red cross, charlie english, to give us an update on the mass care efforts under way. >> thank you, administrate effort long. we certainly appreciate your leadership and your inclusiveness of our faith-based and private nonprofit partners on the team, so thank you very much for that. the red cross and other private nonprofits continue to prestage resources in the theater of operations in the atlantic area. just like to set a little expectations. if the public has not experienced staying in the shelter in the past, you'll be safe. but conditions are spartan. so we'd ask you to bring your toothbrush, your pillow, other
comfort items with you. and we'll keep you safe until the storm passes. and then post landfall and post impact, it will be a more comfortable situation for you. i'd also like to take the opportunity to say that this storm is a significant event. our resources will be stretched. if you're fortunate enough not to be impacted, we would like to have you consider being a volunteer. you can do that at redcross.org or any of the other fine agencies that you choose to volunteer with. thank you. >> and, folks, one of the most powerful arms of the whole community is the nongovernmental organizations like the red cross and here, again, when this storm passes, this is about neighbor helping neighbor all the way up to the federal government. if you're looking to get involved and you're not in the carolinas but you're looking to get involved to help out the situation once this thing's
past, go to redcross.org. thank you, again. next up we have our partners with the army corps of engineers, mr. ray alexander. >> thank you, administrator long, good morning. the army corps of engineers is prepared and ready to respond to hurricane florence working with our federal family members and state and local partners. to date, we have over 200 personnel. >> please, heed this reminder. it is not the wind, it is the water. the storm surge could cause massive flooding. could reach as high as 9 to 13 feet in some coastal areas. so for those who are saying they're going to stay home and hunker down, please, get your head around that. understand the risks of flash flooding. nbc news meteorologist dylan dryer is on the coast in wrightsville, beach, north carolina, with more. dylan, what kind of damage could this storm surge do? >> it's hard to really understand the amount of water,
but 9 to 13 feet above sea level on top of the normal high tide. i mean, i'm 5'4", so that's going way above my head and it goes above the average sized person's head. once you're looking at a storm surge around 9 feet, that could easily fill the first floor of a home. if it's a one-story home, that's water up to the roof. so it is very dangerous flooding. and it rises quickly. so to understand what exactly is happening, you have this giant storm out over the ocean. and it is just pushing the water on shore. it moves inland at the same rate the storm moves inland. if the storm is moving 10 to 15 miles per hour, the water rushes in at 10 to 15 miles per hour. we're looking at several feet rising in just minutes. so it's an incredible amount of water that rushes in from below quickly. once it starts, you really can't stop it. there are two main times we're focused on. tonight just after 11:00, that's
when we could start to get into that 9 foot storm surge range. we have another high tide just after 11:30. that's another time when we could see that 9 to 15 foot storm surge. that being said, once the storm surge moves in it doesn't just trickle back out and all's said and done. the land here is very low level. it's very marshy. they had a lot of rain this summer so the ground is saturated and the water table is high. and then you're looking at the rivers and the estuaries and all that kind of stuff where the water has nowhere to go. unfortunately, it's going to pile up and that concern starts as early as tonight, stef. >> it's got nowhere to go but up. dylan stay, safe. here we in now, our guest, a former fema official. you have been part of the response teams for major storms like sandy. for those new yorkers who lived
through sandy, put it into perspective what it means when people say, oh, look, it's been downgraded to a category 2. sandy was only a tropical storm. maybe a category 1. and it devastated parts of new york and new jersey. >> that's the thing that's often tricky when you see these cones where it says category 2 or category 3. that's not tracking the storm surge. the storm surge is what's the dangerous part. that's the part where the floodwaters flood in, raise the levels and do damage. the cone, the wind speed is one thing, but the storm surge is the critical key. in new york and during hurricane sandy, you had new york harbor with all that water sitting there. i know noaa's working on models where they're actually along with the wind speeds that we traditionally see, they're working on models to say this could be a storm surge of a category 3 hurricane for example. >> i look at twitter and people are saying to me you keep telling people to evacuate. many can't afford to go anywhere. do people have an understanding of the options afforded to them,
the shelters, the transportation? is it a communication issue? >> i think part of it is a communication issue. i've lived here for 30 years and it's never been that bad or it's never been, you know, i've gone through other hurricanes, you know, i feel safe here. that's the wrong answer. i think we're seeing increasing strength in storms over the years. we're seeing an increase in the frequency of storms. i think governments are doing a much better job of providing transportation, of giving people a head's up. the voluntary organizations opening shelters. there are a lot more opportunities for people to get where their need to go. i think as was said earlier in the broadcast, now's the time to hunker down because the storm's coming. >> there are more opportunities and more support for people to go to safety in times of emergencies. are you seeing any changes from a preventive standpoint in building code requirements? i think back to last year when we looked at the storms hitting texas saying why are there
entire communities living in such low flood plains? they said well, you know, maybe they shouldn't have built there. is that one of the issues we face now? >> it is a huge issue. a number of groups, pugh being one of them, that are working on changing, making flood regulations, making standard building codes a thing. and it p it is an issue. there are -- there's a need to enforce building codes. there's a need to make our building codes stronger. and people are continuing to work on that. >> when you look at this storm, if you were in the region right now, if you were working with fema, what would your number one priority be, what would your concern be? >> my number one concern would be people trying to evacuate now. now's the time to hunker down. my priority would be to get those supplies, get those energy supplies in place, which fema and states are doing as we speak. they have teams on the ground that are designed to have supplies in place so that once the storm passes, they can get those --
>> if you're going to get 9 to 13 feet of water what does hunker down look like? >> yes. i mean, that's why we ask people -- that's why the federal officials and state officials have asked people to evacuate a couple days ago. it's hard. i don't have an answer for you on that. >> once fema, always fema. he's like we, we'd like you to leave. we care about people. >> they should leave. >> please, heed these warnings if you can. evacuate. i promise there is local support. call the authorities. up next, much more on the emergency response for those who chose to stay behind in the carolinas. we're going to go live to sunset beach where fire rescue teams are warning anyone who stays behind, we're not answering 911 calls when the storm hits. that reminds me of chris christie ahead of sandy. nothing says fall like a homecoming football game, so let's promote our fall travel deal on choicehotels.com like this. touchdown. earn a free night when you stay just twice this fall. or, badda book. badda boom. book now at choicehotels.com
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so let's promote our falle a homecomingtravel dealame, on choicehotels.com like this. touchdown. earn a free night when you stay just twice this fall. or, badda book. badda boom. book now at choicehotels.com welcome back. i'm stephanie ruhle. as hurricane florence nears the coast people in north and south carolina are preparing for the absolute worst. myrtle beach area, one of south carolina's biggest tourist destinations. head north and you'll find sunset beach, north carolina, a retirement community that is
right in the path of the storm and currently under mandatory evacuation. nbc's matt bradley is standing by on sunset beach with more. matt, are people listening to the mandatory evacuation order? when i hear retirement community, i can only pray that they have left. >> reporter: you know, stephanie, there are -- almost everybody has left. this is actually a voluntary evacuation area. across this bridge to the intercoastal waterway is a mandatory evacuation zone. they'll be cutting off that bridge. and almost everybody has left except for a few stubborn holdouts and some of the rescue workers i've been talking to say it's not just their lives at risk, they're putting rescue workers lives at risk, too. richard childress joins me. what are you expecting? >> water. 30 to 40" of rain. >> there are people across the bridge, holding out, really stubborn. they're not going to leave.
what are the strategies you're using to get them to leave? >> scare tactics in a way. we use a next of kin form. when we go to your house, knock on your door and say if you're not going to leave, i would like to know the information for your next of kin. they fill that out. sometimes that works and gets people to leave. >> how does that work? just them jogging through their mind, thinking about their next of kin? >> thinking about us having to make that call to their next of kin. something has happened. we can't find them. they're under the rubble. >> they get a bit emotional and decide to leave? they don't want to put their family through that? >> exactly. >> reporter: at what point are you guys going to say we're not going out there? we're not going to rescue anyone? >> 45-mile-an-hour. sustained 45-mile-an-hour winds, that's when we're going to stop. at that point, metal is flying. trees are blowing. it's really dangerous to be out. >> you guys are going to, what, hunker down? >> hunker down. rest. i imagine when this starts, prior to the 45-mile-an-hour
winds we're going to be busy. so we're going to have that chance to rest and gear up, plan for the next go. >> reporter: if you're stuck on this island and you can't get off, it's 45-mile-an-hour winds. what do you recommend people do if they need emergency assistance? >> wait. that's it. there's no other option. >> reporter: there's nothing else they can do? >> nothing they can do. >> reporter: good luck deputy chief childress. wish you the best. and back to you, stephanie. >> thanks, matt. i can't believe we're seeing someone right now in the water. a surfer off oak island. please, sir, get yourself on dry land. coming up at the top of the hour, commander of the joint task force katrina with his top concerns just before this lif life-threatening storm makes landfall. life-threatening storm makes landfall billions of mouths.
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you know how we like to end this show no matter what, there's always good news somewhere. good news rules. whenever there's a disaster or something bad happening, i always think of what mr. rogers said. look for the helpers. they're certainly in the carolinas today, people willing to help from all over those in hurricane florence's path. california task force seven, team of first responders specializing in swift water rescue is making the 2,800-mile drive from coast to coast to offer their expertise.
many others have taken to facebook to offer spare bedrooms, couches, cars to those fleeing the storm. there are ways you can help. please, visit redcross.org or habitat.org and donate. every dollar, every penny helps. these are our friends. these are our neighbors. these are americans. that wraps up this hour. i'm stephanie ruhle. i'll see you again with my partner, ali velshi. lucky me, i'm in d.c. >> i get to talk to you in person. >> we'll see you in an hour, steph. that is good news, by the way. i'm hallie jackson. the time to get out has come and gone, hurricane florence closing in on the east coast. don't be fooled. just because it's a category 2, doesn't mean it's not dangerous. it's actual ly getting bigger, now the size of north and south carolina combined. we're expecting an update from the hurricane center in the
hour. and the north carolina governor, one of his last updates before it is expected to make landfall. he will speak to that podium. we'll bring it to you live. the president is reimagining the histostory of a different hurricane. hurricane maria, the response from democrats coming up. our team is spread out across the storm zone, covering every angle of this, from the forecast to the preparations to the evacuations. but first we want to start with what is happening over at the white house. president trump's latest comments -- not about the dangerous hurricane barreling toward the carolina coast, but hurricane maria and the thousands of people who died as a result of that storm last year. it comes as the head of fema responds to reports that he is under investigation by the inspector general at dhs. >> every day, we work very closely with the oig and gio to make meaningful improvements and make sure we're running programs and policies according to
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