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Hurricane Irma to Hit Florida; Evacuation Orders in Effect in Parts of Florida; Hurricane Irma Devastates Cuba; Florida Governor Urges Residents to Evacuate or Shelter ahead of Hurricane Irma. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired September 9, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chad, thank you very much.
Look, just as another piece of evidence that it takes very little to make a difference, I have no communications right now with our bureaus. We have all of this equipment and all of this sophisticated stuff. I'm listening to the show like everybody else from just the use of my phone and the Internet. So it just doesn't take a lot to make a disturbance. And that's why the local authorities are worried about people coming back, about people being situated in areas where they can't be reached.
So let's get to some more of the urgency in the area and the preparations. We've got Kyung Lah who is out there monitoring the situation. And we know Kyung, you've been monitoring what they were telling people to do in advance. And now the message is still the same, even though the path is moving, they want people to stay where they are. Kyung?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're obviously having some technical difficulties there. This is Boris Sanchez in Atlanta. Chris Cuomo obviously having difficulty communicating with reporters. As he mentioned, the effects of the storm are being felt all across south Florida and the Caribbean. I want to move over to Alex Marquardt now. He is actually in the southwest coast of Florida near Sarasota. Alex, what are you seeing there? Alex?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Chris, we are in the roving vehicle. We have just gotten to the west coast. We're heading north towards Sarasota. We're just coming from the east. Remember last night this cone of Irma was expected to swallow up the entire Florida peninsula. We started feeling the effects of Irma out there in Fort Lauderdale with winds picking up significantly.
But the prediction as of 11:00 p.m. shifted westwards. So sparing a lot of the east coast from some of the worst effects of Irma, but putting Sarasota, Port Charlotte near to where we are right now, smack in the middle of that cone coming from Irma.
Now, just a short time ago we heard from Governor Rick Scott. He was speaking from Sarasota just to give you a sense of the urgency in this area. He was talking about storm surges, that the major fear that the storm surges around Sarasota are expected to be about 10 feet. There's a mandatory evacuation order along the coast. People are heading to shelters. They're asking everyone to either shelter in place or get out now. The urgency is right now to get out of town if you're going to leave.
Now, we are in this roving vehicle, we've got a bunch of cameras around me. So I'm going to give you a sense of what we're seeing right now. This is the shot from the roof of our car. And as I mentioned, we are heading north. And what you're seeing right now is, we're not seeing the worst of the storm by any stretch. Right now the skies are still relatively clear. This is exactly what officials want to see. Not many cars on the road. The few cars that you do see, they are -- they're heading north. They're trying to get out of town. Governor Scott was saying just a short time ago that if you are going to leave, you have to be on the road by noon or be in shelters.
We were just driving a short time ago past a big shelter, the Germain Arena near Fort Myers, and we saw thousands of people gathered outside trying to get in. This is exactly what officials want to see. No one on the roads and people trying to get into shelters. They want people to stay in place or get out as soon as possible. Chris?
SANCHEZ: From here we're still having difficulty communicating with Chris Cuomo in Miami Beach. The major concern obviously, as Chad Myers mentioned, is that that part of the state was looking at a much weaker storm. Obviously overnight Irma shifted westerly and instead of 80 to 85-mile-per-hour winds, they're now looking at upwards of 115-mile-per-hour winds.
Let's turn over to Bill Weir now in Key Largo, which was going to be very close to where this storm hit. It is still going to be felt very strongly there, Bill. What are you seeing now?
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Boris. We saw a couple of squalls, we thought here we go, and now it's calmed down. The rain has stopped and the whitecaps have eased off a bit right here at Snappers Beach Bar.
I've been getting messages from people. You keep talking about conchs, what's a conch? This is a conch. It's a marine snail. It's the symbol of Key West. They in a tongue-in-cheek move in the early '80s seceded from the United States and form the conch republic. And when you talk to somebody who is a conch, they're a lifetime resident of the Keys. They know wind and water and sea very well. And when they get scared, stuff's about to get real.
[10:05:12] And we've seen that in real-time over the last couple of days. The stereotypical laid-back, Jimmy Buffett attitude of the locals through the keys saying I rode out every storm, I was here for Wilma, I was here for Andrew, this is just another one, that changed last night. There was a meeting of emergency managers in down in Key West. People I talked to who lived here their whole lives and weren't going anywhere came out of the meeting saying I got to get on the road.
Other developments out of that meeting, they're moving that whole emergency operation center from Marathon Key, which is about 40 miles north of Key West up to where we are here in Key Largo, about 90 miles north of Key West. They're evacuating the Monroe County prison, the jail, which was one of the few buildings with a category five rating. They thought it would be safe enough to hold 500 prisoners and all the sheriff's deputies and even their families. Last night they had to frantically scramble and figure out a way to move 500 prisoners up north to new jail facilities.
So the urgency is noticeable down here as this monster chainsaw in the sky bears down. It's just a matter of what part of the Keys will take the brunt. The thing they worry about more than -- storm surge is obviously a main concern when you live inches above sea level here. But I heard from local after local who talked about a bridge going out and the abject fear of what would happen to them after the hurricane passes if they are cut off from the mainland.
They do have a desalination plants in Key West and a small power generation station, so they can keep the folks who are there, you know, keep the lights on, keep the generators going. But a long-term disaster could unspool here if this, the most vulnerable neighborhood in America right now, is cut off from the mainland. Chris?
CUOMO: Bill, you're hitting all the right points. And you do have an unusual level of resolve down there. Fair point. They're actually dealt with differently by the officials here in the state. But the point remains the same. This is all about adjustment. The track moves, the preparations move, the shelter priorities moves, and also with that is this parallel need of incremental change, which is it takes very little to make a difference.
When we came here, a small example of where we are here in downtown Miami. The water was about a foot below where it is right now. It wasn't a tidal shift. It was just a little bit of a shift in the wind. Now I'm probably going to get out of here because I have no interest of getting splashed with water unnecessarily, so we'll move to something a little bit higher. That's where the officials' heads are. It takes very little to make a difference.
That little change in the wind, you started seeing all the guys come out and start readjusting the lines on their boats. Why? Because now you have to deal with a different situation. They're moving the position of their boats as they can in slips. They're tying it in different areas. And they're hoping that as the storm changes, as the conditions change, they will be able to as well. And that's why officials say even though there's a move in the path, don't come back home.
And it is also why we are seeing increased urgency along the western coast of Florida. So let's go to Drew Griffin. He is near Fort Myers. That has become a new area of concern. We heard the governor address it. Drew, again, the path moves, so does the urgency. DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and additional evacuations
ordered just this morning for Collier County. This is Lee County. I know you can't see this, Chris, but there's an incredible scene outside the Germain Arena. I've never seen this many people in line waiting for a shelter to open. There are thousands and thousands of people wrapped all across this major arena's parking lot waiting to come in.
Many of these people went to different shelters around the county at night. They found those shelters were closed. Now this shelter has opened up. They're going to try to open many more throughout the day. Collier County in effect down by Naples announced they're going to open 20 additional buildings by noon. That's how serious it is. Each of these persons, they look like they're evacuating from a war zone. They have all of their possessions they need for several days. Their children, their children have toys, they have their dogs. They're trying to figure out what to do. One of them standing next to me is Penny. Penny, you have been here since when?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About 7:30, I think.
GRIFFIN: Did you expect this big of a crowd?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, and I didn't think we would have to sit outside while this, in a line for so long, either.
[10:10:00] GRIFFIN: What is your story, you have your dogs with you, you have a suitcase, you have something to sleep on?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And we have stuff in the car and I can't find my mother. My mother is in the line somewhere back there. And she's 85 years old. If you find her, tell her I'm over here. She decided she had to go find the end of the line, and I kept trying to tell her no, stay here. But she walked. And I can't carry all this stuff back there. So we've been separated.
GRIFFIN: But the line will I guess come by.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will come by.
GRIFFIN: So once they open the shelter, which should be open right about now, Chris, they were going to open it at 10:00. So --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're talking.
GRIFFIN: I'm going to back up. I'm not going to get in the way of the sheriff's deputy. OK, the sheriff's deputy is basically just telling people to calm down. You'll get everything you need inside, and that everything is going to be orderly. I'm going to keep my voice down right now.
But, Chris, I have never ever seen a line this big for a shelter this late in a hurricane evacuation. Most of the shelters early on were filled very quickly. And these people have decided to come to this shelter because, I guess, Penny this was the only one you could find?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, there were some others, but this one was the biggest. So we just thought it would be easy coming here.
GRIFFIN: Are you nervous?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very uncomfortable. I don't know if I could say I'm nervous. I'm not happy.
GRIFFIN: Where is your home? Where did you leave?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fort Myers, just about 15 minutes from here.
GRIFFIN: And you were in an evacuation zone A?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. We're not in a flood zone, but we're -- I went through hurricane Charlie and saw a lot of damage during that. So that's what made me, and plus I have my mother with me who is 85, so we want to get her to make sure if she needs any help that she can get it. So it's better to be here than there if something happens.
GRIFFIN: Good luck to you, Penny. I wish you all the best and your mother as well.
And Chris, that is one of I'm assuming thousands of stories we could tell you about people whose lives have just been overturned hopefully just temporarily by the oncoming hurricane Irma.
As for the weather, the clouds are moving in. I hope they get all these people inside before the rain starts. We're just feeling light to moderate winds right now.
Chris, Drew Griffin from Estero, Florida, at the Germain Center, which is a huge arena.
CUOMO: All right, Drew, we'll be checking back with you. What did we learn from what Drew Griffin was just reporting? One, when Drew Griffin says he hasn't seen anything like this before, listen to it, absorb it, because this man is a veteran. He's been through just about every scenario we expect with Irma.
So what does that mean that you see these long lines? You have a little bit of a delicate dynamic. You have heeding the call, and the urgency from government has been very heightened. Get out, respond to the evacuation calls, go to a shelter, find somewhere else. OK, so now people start to listen. It's a good thing, as we heard from the FEMA executives yesterday. You want to inform, you want to inspire.
OK, so once you check those two things, can you accommodate the need? And you start seeing the lines, and the state is going to have to expand its shelter system. How does it do that? It has to make calls to different buildings, different management aspects, government, nongovernmental, private, create deals and cooperation, to have places open up. That takes time, that creates variability. So people like who you heard Drew Griffin speaking, they have to make choices. There are other shelters, but which one do I go to. Can I get in? How long does it take? How long will I be here? And all of this compounds confusion, anxiety, and fear, frankly. So that's something that has to be managed as well. And why are we seeing it there? Because the storm has shifted. So
people in Fort Myers were looking at people here in downtown Miami and south beach and saying they're going to get it. They weren't preparing the same way. And that makes sense. But now that the storm track has shifted, the urgency shifts as well. That doesn't mean it's over here. Again, what have we seen? The highest gusts I think we've seen here is about 35 miles per hour. It's nothing. But it is enough to change the dynamic of the water and these lower structures, and we're seeing it come over the shoreline and into the parking areas here. And we've seen nothing yet. We're literally a day away to the worst of it.
But now let's get to Kyung Lah. She's at another location here on Miami Beach where Virgil Hernandez, one of the fire chiefs, has a message to people, don't come back. Ten feet of storm surge, 90, 100- mile-an-hour winds, still very dangerous. So if you evacuated, stay where you are. What is it like where you are, Kyung?
[10:15:09] KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see for yourself what we're standing in. We're starting to feel those tropical-force winds. I want to give you a look around on what it's doing over here. You can see what's happening with the palm trees, they're being pushed around.
And some of the preparations we've seen here and you've seen here, Chris, these, all of these businesses, the majority of it staying here in Miami Beach have boarded up their first floors. This is Saturday morning here in Miami Beach. It's normally packed here. We've seen a few stragglers here and there. What they're concerned about what lies just over those bushes. It's the beach. It's not very far away at all.
And so what the city is worried about and what the fire chief was talking about is the storm surge. Even though the eye may not pass right over Miami Beach, the concern here today is that people are going to see that forecast and think we can come back to Miami Beach. That is absolutely not the case. As the day progresses it's going to get worse here. They want people to stay off the roads. In fact, the fire department is in the process of moving all of their rescue vehicles, the great majority of them off of Miami Beach because they are anticipating there is going to be major flooding, that people are going to be trapped but they are going to be on their own.
We are already seeing a wind gust that are exceeding the limit of what Miami Beach considers safe for their first responders to go out in. Once it hits 39 miles per hour, Chris, they say they're not going out there. You are on your own. So if you're thinking about coming back, do not come back. Remember, people who die in hurricanes die by drowning. And that storm surge here remains the big concern, Chris.
CUOMO: You're hitting the right points. Kyung Lah, thank you very much. Please stay in position. We're going to check back with you.
We're going to take a little break as we see the surge, the wind here, about 35, 40 miles an hour in gusts is enough to change the dynamic. So I'm going to move. Why? Because there's no reason to stay in a place where you're going to get wet if you don't have to. It's about making smart choices, and that's what everybody is being asked to do.
So let's take a break. CNN's continuing coverage will be with the mayor of Tampa next. That's where the storm track has shifted toward. Is he ready? Stay with CNN.
[10:21:55] CUOMO: All right, this is -- CNN is still in continuous coverage of what's going on with hurricane Irma. I'm looking now at some of the images of what's happened across the Caribbean. And as we've been told, this storm reenergized overnight. Irma went from a four to a five. Again, that is a distinction that is largely irrelevant to you on the ground because a four or a five, is like the difference between a punch in the throat which could kill you, and a punch in the face, which is going to hurt you any way you look at it.
So we don't care about four or five. Yes, the meteorologists care, yes, there are significant differences in wind speed, but once the wind gets over 80, 90 miles an hour, you're in a bad place. Look where we are right now. We haven't seen gusts anywhere meaningfully above 40 miles per hour. But they tell me that this water should be nowhere around here even at the top of the high tide. And it is. It's over everywhere. They couldn't put any boats in these slips because the boats would ride up over the docks, and then that's unsafe.
Everybody is tied up here. The boats are moving about to capacity. People come out to adjust lines about every 15, 20 minutes because that's what you do during a storm, you make adjustments.
Now, Dave, bring the camera back and let's show them across the water at Miami Beach. This is the area of acute concern here, OK? The storm is moving as we look at the sky, west-northwest. You just look at the sky, it tells you the story. So as the storm starts to come we are nowhere near the worst part of what they expect from Irma. We're about a day away from it, OK?
And yes it gets increasingly a concern. You get tropical force winds, then hurricane-force winds, et cetera. But that's Miami Beach across the way. It can't take much. It doesn't have the capacity. It's low-lying, there's a lot of Florida pools, and not swimming pools, but pools in lake areas, ponds. And the experts tell you that water becomes weaponized with high winds. It floods up into the surrounding areas, those homes, those structures. So it all matters and it takes very little.
What is the most pressing concern? The shift in the track. The difference between having something that's bad versus what we just saw in the Caribbean. That's the acute concern. That concern has shifted slightly west from where we are. The storm at last count, last measurement was moving about 12 nautical miles an hour west-northwest. OK, so that takes us from where we are in Miami. You start going Fort Myers, the next big major point, Tampa. We have the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, is on the phone. Mr. Mayor, you have always been preparing for this storm, but now the preparations are more acute. Are you ready to make the leap in urgency? Can you meet the demand? MAYOR BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA: Chris, I think I'm about I'm the guy
that's going to get punched in the face. We train hard for this all year-round. We hope we never have to execute, but we are relentless about training. We're a city that believes that we play on game day the way we practice during the week. And we practice hard. So yes, it's not looking good for us. We're going to have severe impacts in terms of hours of high winds, hours of heavy rain.
[10:25:06] The storm surge for some of our low-lying areas that you talked about which are already saturated by virtue of it being the summertime are problematic. And so we've evacuated people on level A flood zone. And we're hunkered down and ready to react. We're here, as you see behind me at the control center, the command center will be in operation for the next two days or as long as we need to. But yes, we're ready to go execute and take care of the people that need us the most.
CUOMO: All right, so Mr. Mayor, you, I'm sorry if I cut you off. Your signal is coming in and out with me down on the dock. If people start to heed the call, which they should, and they start to evacuate, they start to get nervous about whether or not their sheltering in place plan is adequate, can you meet that need? Is there anything that you need now that we can make the audience aware of? What do you need to be able to meet the demands that increased urgency, increased evacuations will put on you?
BUCKHORN: I appreciate that, Chris, first and foremost, we need their prayers. We have 14 shelters that will open up shortly. We don't know whether that will meet the demands. We hope so. But we obviously never expected, nor did anybody in the state, a storm of this magnitude.
We're going to do the very best we can. We have been beating this drum for four days now. A lot of people have evacuated out of flood zone A, which is the low-lying areas. My family has evacuated. They need to move to higher ground. They don't have to go to Georgia, Chris. They just need to move to the next level up on the flood zone map.
Obviously there will be people who think they can ride this out. We hope they will be OK. I will tell you if the winds are consistently at 40 miles per hour or greater, our police and firefighters cannot come to get you. So if you are going to stay, hunker down, get all of this stuff, the lawn furniture, the chimes, the plants, out of the yard. We will have sustained tropical storm winds for a few hours. They will cause some damage. And then we'll see literally on Monday morning.
And here's the problem, Chris. Monday morning through Monday afternoon is high tide here. So high tide combined with a five to seven-foot surge is really where we're going to see the intrusion of the water into the low-lying areas.
CUOMO: And let me ask you something, you know, just from one guy who is on the water a lot to another. Moon phase is going to matter. Are you in a good place that way? You can add 25, 30 percent to the top of your flow tied, your high tied just from moon phase, and that of course will exacerbate everything as well.
BUCKHORN: It will indeed. I think we're in good shape. I'm more concerned about the high tide which will occur early Monday morning through about 2:00 Monday afternoon. Tampa is on the water. We have low-lying areas that typically flood in a summer storm. Our downtown is right on the bay.
So you know there are some concerns. Fortunately this is a quick moving storm. So barring it stalling, it's going to blow through Tampa pretty quickly. We will have four or five hours of sustained wind and rain, and then the surge will come as we get on the back side of the storm. But we're about as ready as we can possibly be, Chris. We really have trained hard for this and we're prepared to execute.
CUOMO: Look, what makes the most sense is the only reason we're here is to be of service of local leaders like you and get the information out and tell the stories that are necessary to help prepare and to help recognize the need and what it takes in the aftermath. The duration is a key point you made there, Mr. Mayor. It's not just the intensity of the storm, it's going to be the duration, how long it is over your area.
So let's do this. You have the number. Anything you need to make people aware of just hit up the producers and they'll get word to me and we'll tell people what they need to know. As this storm makes the shift, so will our resources. We'll be in your area, we will volunteer to be with your search and rescue folks. I'll be in touch with you so we can get out and show what the impact of the storm is and what it takes to move past it. OK, you have our word on that.
BUCKHORN: We thank you, Chris. Keep us in your prayers.
CUOMO: Absolutely, absolutely. And we'll be in touch.
So that's Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa. Tampa now relevant. Why? We've seen a shift in the path. Chad Myers, the meteorologist, has been showing us that. That does not mean that people who are not as much in the path of the eye are safe. This is about the size of Texas this storm. And the bigger it is, the more damage it can do in its reach.
So again, even though it's shifted, 40 miles per hour you heard the mayor say, that is basically the standard for first responders everywhere in the state. Once you get above 40 miles an hour sustained winds, they don't want their men and women out there because it's dangerous.
[10:30:05] We're getting close to that here right now. And while I'm standing here pretty much unmolested, right? It doesn't take much, the water is over the docks now, you're seeing it come over the shoreline in storm surge. And this is still relatively mild.
So let's take a break. After checking in with Tampa, CNN is going to continue its coverage. We are everywhere the storm is expected. We'll show you what hurricane Irma has done already and where it is expected next. Please, stay safe, and stay with CNN.
[10:35:10] SANCHEZ: Breaking news just in to CNN, Florida Governor Rick Scott urging residents, telling them you will not survive the storm. He's trying to get them out of harm's way as hurricane Irma is now a category four storm, and it is hurtling towards Florida. I want to bring in CNN's Chad Myers. Chad, overnight the storm shifted slightly west. It weakened a little bit, but this is some of the warmest water in the Atlantic. It's like adding fuel to a fire.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: As soon as that eye leaves the Cuban Keys and gets into the Florida straits, the storm will regenerate. Right now it's down to 130. There's something to be said for that. If it doesn't regenerate, that's a positive thing for the Keys and for Naples. But we know that there's been some devastation in Cuba because of it.
So you know, it's someone we knew, someone was going to get hit, so far right now it has been the Cuban Keys, and the people here of northern Cuba have really been hit hard overnight. One of our reporters was there and we watched just in awe of him just trying to stay on the air. It was Patrick Oppmann. We hope he's OK. So far, so good for him. Winds are blowing offshore and that will take the storm surge away. For a while we were concerned, he was on the second floor and the water was almost that high.
Here we go, 130 miles per hour moving west at 12 miles per hour. Here's a category four hurricane making landfall very close to the Florida Keys. We're talking about Key West, either that or possibly Dry Tortugas. It may go west of Key West, and that would actually be bad. That with put Key West on the bad side, the dirty side that we talked about yesterday. If you take it and you look you separate the whole storm right down the middle, this is the better side to be on. This is the worse side to be on because not only are the winds going this way and this way, but your travel, your direction of travel is adding to the speed on that side of the storm.
So here we go, what will we see for the next couple of hours? Wave after wave of showers coming in. These are the outer bands of the weather, of the storm itself. But it's going to take another, I think, before we truly get the worst winds, it's going to take another 24 to 30 hours to get into Miami.
Let me show you what I'm expecting here for parts of Florida. Take this camera and put it right here. This is 8:00 tomorrow night. That is 143 miles per hour. But at the same time Chris Cuomo on the other side of the state, you're at 87 miles per hour. So it depends on what side of the eye you're on or how far of that eye goes to the west. This is the European model modeling the highest gusts. I think Miami will be OK with 87. Sure some damage, but not 143. Boris?
SANCHEZ: Chad, thank you, and CNN weather center. I want to turn it over to Chris Cuomo who is in Miami. Chris, my family has been in Miami for almost 30 years. They are hunkered down right now. They say they've never seen anything like this.
CUOMO: That's meaningful, and you know, you know we'll be thinking about your family. You know how to get me. If you want to send me their address, we'll check on them throughout the duration once we get out there with search and rescue and move around. We'll deal with that privately, you and me, Boris.
But Chad is making the right points, which is the situation is shifting, but you're looking at bad versus worse. I think the most we've seen here, Boris, is about 40 miles an hour of gusting. That's different than sustained, OK? Sustained here, what they'll call just like a normal ambient state, nothing. Five, 10 miles per hour, nothing. Forty sustained makes a difference. The water is already over the docks. You're seeing the tidal surge. And we're not at top of the tide yet, coming up over the rocks and the barriers along the shoreline and going into the parking lot.
So it doesn't take a lot to make a difference. And that's why the officials down here are saying even though the storm has shifted, that will increase the area of urgency, but it does not decrease the concern of areas like this, Miami Beach across the way. Still matters, still listen, still be safe.
Let's bring in Craig Fugate. He was a former administrator with FEMA. He's in Gainesville. Craig, if can you hear me, the governor in his most recent, his most recent announcement to this state was, from the top of the state to the tail down here, it all matters. Everyone has to be ready to adjust to what this storm could require. And he just gave a more dire warning, saying if you're in the path, think about your plan, think about getting out, think about getting to a shelter because you may not survive it. It's a very dire warning. What do you make of it?
CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: It is very factual. You go back to the great 35 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys, the primary cause of death was storm surge.
[10:40:00] And again, this is a very large storm. We're going to have impacts east to west. Inland areas we're seeing tornadoes being produced by the storm. A lot of people live in manufactured housing in the state of Florida. And this storm is coming right up. Even here in Gainesville, shelters are being opened and we're preparing to support evacuees that are coming as far away as south Florida. But now with Tampa having to evacuate we expect maybe more people coming up here off of I-75.
CUOMO: So Craig, one of the factors of concern for people who have been told to get out is the drive. We've been showing the traffic. We got reports this morning that someone spent eight hours, went about 100 miles. People say they don't want to deal with that. We know you have an expectation down here, the emergency management people -- face the drive so you can survive. What do you say to people who look at the traffic and say, I don't want to sit in that. I don't think that makes me safer.
FUGATE: Go shorter distances. For most of the folks, we're talking about evacuation out of the coastal areas, the most vulnerable areas. And it's literally just going inland. A couple of miles changes the risk for you. So you know go, to friends and families. Go to the shelters that are open. But if you are planning to go long distance, leave early and give yourself time. And that is running out. So if you haven't started evacuations in some areas, other than going short distances, it's getting too late.
But for Tampa and other areas, they still have time to evacuate. But as the mayor said down there, they just need to get inland to get out of the most dangerous areas. Again, we're evacuating from storm surge, not from the wind.
CUOMO: All right, and look, Craig, let's manifest your advice in reality where we are down here, downtown Miami, I am more than an hour from high tide, OK? But the difference in the wind and the difference in the storm surge already has this place, water over the docks, the boats are straining their lines. The shoreline and where you see the bulk heads and the natural rock formations are already over capacity. The water is already going into parking areas. And again, storm is a day away.
So the message is very simple -- it does not take much to make a major difference. And that's why the officials here are saying, don't come back just because the storm path shifted. I know it's hard to change your life and put it on hold because of a storm that may or may not be catastrophic. But think about the calculation. Think about what you'll be gaining versus what you'll be risking. That's the message from the officials.
Let's take a break, when we come back, CNN has assets, has us everywhere that the storm could be and has been. So we'll do a whip- around to the people we have out in the field and show you what Irma has done already and show you the places where she is headed next. Please, stay safe and stay with CNN.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The size of this storm, it is wider than our entire state, and it could cause major life-threatening impacts from coast to coast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not a woman that is frightened. But this is frightening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are scared right now after they seen what happened in Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't even begin to describe the feelings that I'm going through.
[10:47:41] CUOMO: Thank you for being with CNN's continuing coverage of hurricane Irma. Sayings, expressions exist for a reason. Learn from the past, otherwise are you doomed to repeat it. That applies very acutely to what we're dealing with right now. We have to look at where the storm has been. And that's how we'll know what it could do where it goes next. That takes us to Cuba, CNN is there. Patrick Oppmann is about a couple hundred miles east of the capital of Havana in a place that Boris Sanchez tells me, I pronounce it Caibarien. Patrick, is that they right pronunciation? Tell us where you are and tell us what you've seen.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, weather conditions just continue to deteriorate here even though Irma is heading off the Cuban coast towards Florida. Some of the most powerful swells we've had during the whole storm just blows behind you, every which way. My cameraman Scott McKinney is actually in a closet now and the house that we're using broadcasting from, just to get one place where our view won't get absolutely soaking wet.
This tower was under about six feet of water this morning as the storm has pulled off, and so the water thankfully has receded. But we're so close to the houses in this town, we've seen a few people coming out to assess the damage. By and large most of the town late last night when the storm got pulled back started to evacuate. But right now people can't come back into the area because the water is still a couple of feet deep, and you have these punishing, punishing winds that make it very dangerous to try to walk out. So I think one thing we've learned is that the even though the storm has passed, we had a few hours of relative calm, it came back with a fury, and again it's absolutely battering this part of Cuba.
CUOMO: Patrick, thank you very much. Stay safe. Be where you need to be to get through it. We'll deal with the reporting afterwards. That's Patrick Oppmann, he is in Cuba. That's where Irma had hit.
Now you'll hear people say, the storm weakened there. I really don't like that word because what is weak about these conditions that you just saw Patrick Oppmann dealing with.
[10:50:04] Yes, statistically when a hurricane comes over land it doesn't get the same energy that it does from water. But that's about science, not about the practicality of survival.
And also, another big point that Patrick just made -- yes, the eye will pass, but that doesn't mean the storm is over. These bands that move counterclockwise continue miles and miles, which will then translate into duration of even hours of potential exposure afterwards. So that's the story from Cuba. We'll check back with Patrick, he's got to stay safe right now. That's the priority.
Let's go to Rosa Flores. She's in Miami. Yesterday she was figuring out what the situation was at the airports. Rosa, a lot of people there were frustrated. There was talk of pricing being too high, availability too low, worries about getting out. Where are you now, and what are you seeing?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I'm in downtown Miami right now. You can see the skies are gray. Every now and then we get some increased wind gusts, but for the most part conditions are good here. One of the big concerns in downtown Miami are these cranes, construction cranes. There's about 20 to 25 construction cranes that dot the Miami skyline.
Now, officials tell us that they couldn't move them. There was just not enough time. Probably in the past hour one of those cranes completely did a 360. Now, according to city officials, they didn't have enough time to move them out. But they are very dangerous, of course, for obvious reasons, because there are high rises. People live in those high rises, people in those high rises have been told to evacuate. And officials telling them that that is their best bet because it is too dangerous, because, of course, we don't know how high these winds will get.
Now, that's what authorities are trying to do when it comes to cranes. But they've done so much more, Chris. You know they've asked people to evacuate, they've provided sand bags. We've been checking with Florida power and light. At last check, there was about it 22,000 people without power. But that company brought in about 11,000 people on the ready to make sure that they can restore power whenever Irma hits. Good conditions right now in downtown Miami, Chris, but as you know, we're bracing for Irma.
CUOMO: Absolutely. And Rosa, look, just a little bit of demonstrating the reality, we are basically in the same place, you and I. And yet the conditions here on the water, different. We're getting gusts now about 40, 40-plus miles an hour down here. It makes a difference. It makes a difference for these boaters who keep coming out even though the sun is shining and we're a day away from the great impact that they are most concerned about.
All right, so we're going to take a break right now in our coverage here. When we come back, we will continue to track the path of this storm, where Irma is headed, where it's been, and the impact we have seen.
COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back. I'm Coy Wire. Hurricane Irma is impacting the sports world. The Miami Dolphins already canceled their game against the Bucs tomorrow. Team owner Steven Ross chartered a plane yesterday to take the players, coaches, staff and their family members to Los Angeles. They're not scheduled to play the Chargers there until next Sunday but they are staying the entire week to be away from the storm and harm's way.
The Jacksonville Jaguars play the Texans in Houston for their season opener and they will stay in Houston after the game. They're monitoring the storm and will evaluate the situation in Jacksonville Monday morning to see if it's safe for them to return home.
Tampa Bay also in Irma's potential path. So that series between the Rays and Yankees next Monday through Wednesday is being moved from Tampa to New York where they will play at City Field, the home of the Mets.
The U.S. Virgin Islands have already been devastated by Irma's wrath as a category five hurricane, and the rebuilding process is just beginning. Future NBA hall of famer Tim Duncan was born and raised there, and he is on a mission to help the people there. He wrote an emotional article in the "Players Tribune" yesterday called "Don't forget about the island. He personally pledged $250,000 for relief efforts there, and he will be matching donations up to $1 million. You can go to YouCaring.com/21USvirginislandrelieffund if you'd like to help him help others.
Stay tuned right here for continuing coverage of hurricane Irma here on CNN.
CUOMO: All right, so here's what we know at this hour. Hurricane Irma has given a beat-down to the Caribbean. It is now hitting Cuba and starting to exit. Yes, it went from a category five to a category four when it went over land. That's to be expected. Hurricanes do lose energy when they go over land, and we'll see the same thing when it does come to Florida. Remember it's not an if, it's a when. And the giant concern now is that as the storm leaves Cuba it will re- energize over open water as it heads to the Florida Keys.