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Aired October 8, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.
Well, Hurricane Nate thrashing the U.S. Gulf Coast with drenching rains, damaging winds and a dangerous storm surge. The category 1's first landfall was at the mouth of the Mississippi River in Southeast Louisiana just a few hours ago.
The fast-moving storm has just in the last hour made a second landfall along the Gulf Coast at Biloxi, Mississippi, and the worry is the resulting storm surge. You can see it there, just how high the waters have been rising. Waves lapping at the doors of the Golden Nugget casino in Biloxi.
That casino and others in Biloxi along with hotels did shut down before Nate's arrival. When you see that type of video, seems like it was a good idea. Let's get the latest on Nate's strength and position. Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joining us with that.
It could have been a lot worse but that storm surge certainly having an impact.
HOLMES: Ivan was just mentioning Martin Savidge in Biloxi, Mississippi, why don't we check in on him
Martin, the last time we saw you, you were experiencing quieter conditions, we know why. The eye was passing right over you.
What's happening now?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's changing again. Now the wind gusts are coming from the opposite direction, coming out of the southwest. It's as strong as a --
HOLMES: We can see you, Martin. We cannot hear you, unfortunately. Let's try and get that signal back.
I think you might be doing it there, my friend. Try again. Yes, it was that connection. Carry on, as you were.
SAVIDGE: I was just saying that the winds have picked up again (INAUDIBLE). The winds are blowing strongly, not as strong as they were when the eyewall certainly hit us but they're coming from the opposite direction. The good news is at least we're not getting hammered with --
HOLMES: I had that happen to myself as well. That's that connection there. We'll get that sorted out. It is wet, it is windy. Martin's been reporting on the storm surge there in Biloxi. We'll get back to him once we've sorted that out.
Meanwhile, New Orleans residents breathing really a sigh of relief once Hurricane Nate made landfall in Southeast Louisiana. The hurricane warning was downgraded to a tropical storm warning and the city's curfew was lifted. CNN's Rosa Flores has the latest for us from New Orleans.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The city of New Orleans prepared for a major category 1 hurricane. The mayor of this city asking people not to panic, but to prepare, saying that this city could see high winds that could cripple the power grid, and also strong storm surge.
Even a curfew was issued at about 7:00 pm. Well, a few hours later, the hurricane warning was downgraded to a tropical storm warning and then that curfew was lifted.
As you take a look around, we had some light rain, there were a few bands that went through the city of New Orleans but overall the situation faring very well. Now there is one other potential concern in this area and that is storm surge around Lake Pontchartrain in the North Shore. That will become clear at daybreak -- Rosa Flores, CNN, New Orleans.
HOLMES: All right. Martin Savidge is in the middle of a blow there in Biloxi, Mississippi. I think we might have sorted it out.
Martin, pick up where you were. The eye has gone past you, the winds have picked up and coming from the other direction.
SAVIDGE: Right, but no rain or very little rain, which is very different from when the eyewall was coming ashore. The good news also is that the storm surge is receding. U.S. Highway 90 is still covered by water but nowhere near as much.
It looks as if the water has withdrawn maybe about 15 feet or so. That would be a good sign. Part of that could have been due to the fact that there was a lull. The wind driving up from the southwest may change things a bit. We'll keep an eye on it.
But for the most part, it's pretty evident they've gone past the worst of the storm. They've weathered it fairly well but of course daylight will be the real tell on that. The other thing we have to watch out for: tornadoes. They still spin off from a storm like this. That's going to be a concern as long as this weather is with us. But the winds are picking up. So clearly our moment in the eye is over -- Michael.
HOLMES: Exactly. Hopefully, the back end of that storm is not going to be as bad as the leading edge was for you there in Biloxi. It was interesting with that storm surge, the video we've been showing and maybe we can show it again, of the water at the Golden Nugget there, which is just extraordinary.
How bad was the storm surge at its worst?
SAVIDGE: Well, I mean, it looked like it came up -- I mean, I've got to gauge here, maybe about six feet or so, although it could depend on where you are geographically. It could come on higher in other places.
A lot of these casinos went through Hurricane Katrina. And this surge was nothing like that. So they have rebuilt and planned and restructured so that they weren't intending to take on water again.
So even though we haven't seen the Golden Nugget ourselves, the likelihood that it got into any really sensitive areas or any areas where the people would play would seem unlikely because, when they rebuilt down here, they rebuilt with the idea that they were not going to go through another Katrina and they made sure of that.
So that's the way it is. We'll have to see in daylight.
HOLMES: Good point. All right, Marty. Thanks so much. Martin Savidge there now on the back end of the storm, blowing a little bit but not as bad as it was on the leading edge.
We'll check in with you later, Martin, thanks so much.
Well, storm chaser Mike Theiss is in Biloxi, Mississippi, as well, joining us now on the phone.
What was your take, Mike?
You've seen plenty of storms. What was your take on Nate?
MIKE THEISS, STORM CHASER: Well, we did have a couple feet of storm surge come through. And I can actually speak on behalf of the last report because I am at the Golden Nugget and he's exactly right, all the sensitive stuff is fine. A lot of that storm surge (INAUDIBLE) saw me posting was on the very low levels of the entrances, stairway to the garage.
The actual building itself and main lobby is fully intact. Everything's completely fine. This place was rebuilt after Katrina and they rebuilt with that in mind with storm surge happening again, with putting it on stilts. So I can report here at the Golden Nugget that it's very minimal damage.
HOLMES: That is good to know. The video showing the water halfway up the door there but now we know.
Mike, you cover these things for a living, pretty much.
How did this rate in terms of storms you've seen of late?
THEISS: It's a mild storm, a low-end storm, especially with the storm surge being a category 1 and such. But the fact that I was able to document it at night in an area where there's light was very different.
Normally I'm sitting in the pitch-dark if I don't see what's going on. So this is a unique experience. Also we were inside the eye and I have (INAUDIBLE) birds flying around inside the eye as it made landfall.
So chances are some of these birds have been stuck within the eye for a while now, trapped within that ring called the eyewall.
HOLMES: Wow, that is fascinating. We often ask you guys why you do what you do but you do get some information that is pretty valuable going forward and learning about these storms.
THEISS: Yes, I believe documenting history is very important. Just like a war photographer will document a war or other things that aren't necessarily happy times for people. But it is part of history. And I believe documenting hurricanes and passing it to with future generations with awareness helps save lives in the future.
HOLMES: What was your sense in this one?
There were plenty of warnings given out.
Do you think people heeded those warnings this time?
I suppose everybody there along the Gulf Coast has seen what Irma and Maria did.
THEISS: Oh, yes. These guys here did a fantastic job. They went through Katrina and they weren't going to let their guards down this time. Luckily it was nothing like Katrina. But they were very prepared here. And I'm just happy to say that I think everybody did take this seriously. And hopefully everybody is going to be OK.
HOLMES: All right. Mike, always good to speak with you, Mike Theiss, storm chaser there in Biloxi, Mississippi. Appreciate it.
THEISS: Thank you.
HOLMES: New clues about the Las Vegas shooter. Coming up, what investigators are learning from a handwritten note found in his hotel room. Also, reporters ask President Trump to clarify his mysterious tweets
about North Korea but his response still leaves everyone guessing.
HOLMES: Hurricane Nate stoking the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida, the category 1 storm making a second landfall in Biloxi, Mississippi, with wind speeds of 85 miles or 137 kilometers an hour.
On Saturday, Nate made its first U.S. landfall in Southeast Louisiana. As the storm moves north, some areas could get up to 10 inches or 25 centimeters of rain. Officials expect dangerous storm surges to continue, also fallen trees and, of course, downed power lines.
More than 15,000 households across Florida, Alabama and Mississippi are already without power.
Well, "Saturday Night Live" paid tribute tonight to the victims of the Las Vegas massacre. The show opened with the singer, Jason Aldean, who was the artist who was on stage when a gunman opened fire on those 22,000 concert-goers, who had come to see him and others perform. The singer opening with a message to the victims and their families. Here's part of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON ALDEAN, COUNTRY MUSIC PERFORMER: This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history. Like everyone, I'm struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal.
You can be sure that we're going to walk through these tough times together, every step of the way because, when America is at its best, our bond and our spirit, it's unbreakable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And Aldean went on after that to pay tribute by playing, "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty.
HOLMES: While the nation tries to heal, investigators at the crime scene have made a significant discovery. They now know the meaning of numbers written on a piece of paper found in the shooter's hotel room. Police say the note indicates he was trying to shoot as many people as possible. Stephanie Elam with more.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Calculations, that's what investigators now believe that the numbers written on the note pad found in the shooter's suite were. This was first reported by CBS News, but what they believe is there were calculations related to distance and trajectory from the window of the shooter's suite on the 32nd floor down to the venue.
Of course, having this one piece of information doesn't help at all with the motive, which is the one thing that is still very much frustrating investigators, they still say it's unclear why this 64- year-old man would do such a heinous crime, they do not know why he would do that.
But we do have a little bit more information about the man who may have really helped stop this from being a much more tragic event. It's hard to believe that we could even think of that. But here's what they're saying Jesus Campo did. He was responding to an open door alarm on the 32nd floor. Several doors down from where the shooter was staying. It had nothing to do with the shooter.
But when he came upon that floor, remember, the shooter had cameras out in the hall, they believe the shooter saw him on the camera and then started to engage with him, shot through the door, hitting Campos in the leg. But because of Campos' quick reaction, he radioed down to security, they were able to tell police where this shooter was on the 32nd floor, if it hadn't been for him showing up on the floor and then also making that call, it could have taken first responders much longer to figure out which floor the shooter was using to rain down bullets on the concert venue.
So, wrinkle, huge detail there, this could have been a much worse situation had it not been for Jesus Campos -- Stephanie Elam, CNN, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The U.S. President Donald Trump back in Washington after traveling to Greensboro, North Carolina, on Saturday night for a fund-raiser, it was his first trip back to that state since becoming president. You can see he arrived in a steady rain. Before leaving the White House, he did take a few questions from reporters about his latest flurry of sometimes mysterious tweets. Here's CNN's Kaitlan Collins.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president continues to fuel a series of questions and raise a lot of eyebrows after he's made a string of cryptic remarks lately. After he lamented on Twitter that he thought negotiations with North Korea had failed for the last 25 years, he said that he believed there was only one option left there.
The catch, he didn't tell us what that one option is. The president was asked about this on the South Lawn of the White House as he departed for a fundraiser in North Carolina. But his answer just left reporters guessing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clarify your "calm before the storm" comment. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing, nothing to clarify.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the one thing that'll work with North Korea?
TRUMP: Well, you'll figure that out pretty soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: When reached for comment, press secretary Sarah Sanders did not add to the president's remarks but did maintain that for right now all options remain on the table regarding North Korea.
The president was also asked about another ominous remark he made at the White House this week, as he met with senior military leaders, which he said could be "the calm before the storm." The president did not clarify which storm he was talking about.
And when he was asked to do so at the White House, he said he had nothing to clarify. He did comment on the relationship between him and the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, after tensions were at an all-time high between the two men this week, after it was reported that Tillerson had referred to the president as "a moron" over the summer.
The president said he has a good relationship with the secretary of state but acknowledged that they disagree on a few things and that he wishes he would be tougher in some areas.
We've seen one of those disagreements play out in the public eye lately, after Tillerson told reporters that he had an open line of communication to North Korea. The president swiftly got on Twitter and said that Tillerson should stop wasting his time trying to negotiate with them.
But for right now, at least publicly, the president maintaining that things between him and the secretary of state are all good -- back to you.
HOLMES: Our thanks to Kaitlan Collins there.
Exactly five weeks ago, North Korea detonated its largest nuclear device to date. People in one city in Eastern China felt the underground blast as a frightening earthquake. Many of them have been worried ever since about their unpredictable neighbor to the south. CNN's Matt Rivers with the report.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The nuclear test on September 3rd was North Korea`s largest to date that triggered an earthquake and international reaction was swift. The U.N. Security Council passed new sanctions, Donald Trump threatened to completely destroy North Korea and Kim Jong-un warned his next test would be over the Pacific Ocean.
But at the exact moment of this latest test, the people in the Chinese city of Yangzi (ph), just 120 miles from the test site, didn`t know about the nuclear blast or the international outcry that would follow. All they knew was that the earth was shaking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Is this an earthquake in my apartment?
RIVERS: Hundreds of thousands of people felt the physical repercussions of a nuclear test without knowing at first what it was. Many rushed outside to safety.
(on camera): This is where you were when the earthquake happened.
(voice-over): This man, a butcher, was asleep in his bed.
(on camera): So, were you scared?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All of a sudden, everything began shaking back and forth. So, I ran outside and everyone was saying it was an earthquake. I had no idea what was going on.
RIVERS (voice-over): An entire city thinking the same thing, though collectively about to connect the nuclear dots.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Everybody came in and said it was an earthquake. A bit later, we realized it was from the North Koreans.
RIVERS: Wang Zhou Zhion (ph) runs a restaurant in town, where conversations have lately focused on Kim Jong-un`s nuclear program and what it could mean for them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I`m worried about the radiation. It could really hurt us.
RIVERS: Concerns over radiation escaping from the test site have increased with each explosion. Some experts have suggested that the mountain at the site had even collapsed, spewing deadly radiation into the air and quickly across the Chinese border. China says it has not detected anything of the sort and that its military keeps a vigilant watch over air quality levels. But in Yangzi (ph), for some parents, it`s of little comfort.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have a 4-year-old daughter. These tests could make buildings collapse. There could be radiation. I`d like to move to Beijing or Shanghai, but I don`t have the money.
RIVERS: So, it`s fair to say that people are more nervous about the constant nuclear activity going on not that far away from here. But there is also this kind of pervasive sense that, well, there is not much that we can do about it and we still got to pay the bills and we still got to take the kids to school, so life goes on, right? (voice-over): So, the restaurants are still open. There is still
outdoor recess and new buildings are going up, even if they might be shaken by another nuclear test soon -- a concerted effort to look past a problem that`s becoming increasingly hard to ignore -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Yangzi (ph), China.
HOLMES: When we come back here on the program, much more on Hurricane Nate as it lashes the U.S. Gulf Coast. We'll get the latest on the storm's location and where it's headed.
Also, in Puerto Rico, people are still desperately waiting for help, two long weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
HOLMES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, everyone. Let's have a look at the headlines this hour.
HOLMES: Let's get an update now on Nate's status. Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joining us now with that.
HOLMES: Let's get a view from the ground now. Ed Lavandera joining us now from Mobile, Alabama, been up all night, been through it all.
What's the latest there? It looks like you're getting blown around a bit.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the winds have picked up a little bit here and it's really kind of whipping the rainfall and the steadiest we've seen here throughout the evening.
And whipping it through here, the city of Mobile, rather well. But this is not to say that doesn't seem like the kind of storm, rain and wind, that will cause any kind of serious structural damage. We haven't heard of any major problems out there in the area around Mobile, throughout the evening. So that is the bit of good news.
Storm surge continues to be a concern and we're here on the edge of Mobile Bay and the water moving rapidly toward the north as this storm continues to push and the brunt of it gets closer and closer to the Mobile area after it is passing through Biloxi.
So that will continue here over the course of the next hour or so as this storm continues to push its way north. It's rather impressive. It's hard to make out here in the cameras in the darkness. But as we stand here on the edge of the bay, you watch that water move and, Michael, it is moving at a rather impressive clip.
And obviously if this was happening during the day, I'd be perhaps concerned, people more likely to be out and about. But emergency officials had been very worried that there had been a complacent, laid-back attitude as people prepared for Hurricane Nate, to make its way on shore.
Obviously that has created a little bit of anxiety among emergency management officials in these types of coastal areas where they worry that people might be more willing to take some chances, gamble, get out there and explore a little bit in the middle of these storms and in the darkness here, that can put you in a dangerous situation.
But what we've been able to pick up on so far, not a lot of major problems. People are urged to be vigilant about what is going on. Some 7,000 people here in the Alabama area, we're told, have lost power and it seems like a number that will be rather manageable if it can stay around that area here.
It seems like that would be something that people would be able to get that power turned back on quickly. It's obviously a discomforting situation to be in, as many as people who have gone through these hurricanes over the course of the last month and a half understand full well.
So this is the wind and rain whipping through here in Mobile, Alabama. And we have seen reports of severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, tornado watches have been kind of popping up regionally throughout the day. That's another concern because that doesn't really matter that you're close to the coastal areas.
That can happen even more inland. That can be something that people need to be aware and pay very close attention to as well -- Michael.
HOLMES: Exactly. Ed, great reporting as always. Thanks so much, my friend. Ed Lavandera there in Mobile.
LAVANDERA: Thank you.
As the U.S. deals with Hurricane Nate, millions of people across Central America are only just beginning the recovery process from that tropical storm. It killed at least 28 people in the region.
Reuters reporting more than half a million people don't have clean water to drink right now, 18,000 don't have electricity and landslides and flooding damaged hundreds of roads and bridges. The president of Costa Rica calling for help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have serious damage to roads. Some of the bridges and culverts were completely destroyed. This is a call, it's a call to the whole country. We will also call other communities to offer help. We will ask them to help us to clean the roads and places if it is possible and will not cause risk to these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And in Nicaragua, the storm has damaged vital infrastructure and killed thousands of people.
We'll take a short break here on the program. When we come back, Turkey announcing a military operation in Northern Syria. We'll go live to Istanbul for the latest.
Also check this out, a massive fireball in Ghana's night sky sending people running for their lives. We'll have the latest for you on that as well. We'll be right back.
HOLMES: We continue, of course, to follow Hurricane Nate but want to update you on some other stories now.
In Catalonia, protests on the streets Saturday but these demonstrators were calling for dialogue. You can see white balloons there. There were also signs saying, "Let's talk." This follows last weekend's vote for independence. It's not known if the Catalan president will actually declare independence next week.
On the 65th birthday of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, activists are demanding this be his last birthday in office. A key opposition figure behind bars called for these nationwide rallies. Monitors say more than 200 protesters were detained. CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance with more now from St. Petersburg.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Kremlin dismisses him as a fringe political figure but the truth is, Alexei Navalny, Russia's main opposition figure, has become a painful thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin.
But this opposition rally in St. Petersburg timed to coincide with President Putin's 65th birthday is meant to show just how painful.
What do you think are the chances of President Putin leaving and Alexei Navalny taking his place?
What's the possibility?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very low possibility, sir. Yes, but there is the chance to change everything in Russian political life.
CHANCE (voice-over): And across Russia, similar protests unsanctioned by the Kremlin were held. Alexei Navalny himself was unable to attend. He was jailed for 20 days earlier this month. But from Moscow to Vladivostok in Russia's far east, Navalny supporters have come out to demand political competition in Russia and for their leader to be allowed to stand in presidential elections here next year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm not satisfied with the current situation in the country. I'm not happy with the authorities. We practically don't have freedom of speech. We have strict censorship on television and the only contender opposed to Putin isn't allowed in any way to take part in the elections.
CHANCE: It would be a massive climbdown to allow Navalny a presidential bid. He's been convicted in a criminal case, excluding him formally from office. But his popular online campaign against official corruption has struck a chord among many Russians.
He may not be poised to topple President Putin but Alexei Navalny is now a real force in Russian politics -- Matthew Chance, CNN, St. Petersburg.
HOLMES: Authorities in Ghana's capital are investigating a natural gas explosion that sent this massive fireball into the sky on Saturday night. Incredible video there. One government official told a local radio station that a number of people had been killed or injured in that blast. They're still working to determine how many.
The explosion happened in a populated area known as Atomic Junction, near a transit hub and a university and sent understandably terrified eyewitnesses running for their lives.
And in Saudi Arabia, an attack on the royal palace in Jeddah. State media say two security guards have been killed, three others wounded after a gunman opened fire outside the palace gates.
The gunman was a 28-year-old Saudi national and reportedly armed with a Kalashnikov and Molotov cocktails. He was killed in the exchange. His motive not yet known. Saudi officials are still investigating. The Saudi King Salman was not in the kingdom at the time of the attack.
All right. Still to come on the program --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit, life here comprises of (sic) waiting in line for one service or another.
HOLMES (voice-over): Puerto Ricans are still going without critical supplies. They are begging for help. That story when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOLMES: Welcome back.
Hurricane Nate lashing the U.S. Gulf Coast with heavy rain and strong gusts. The category 1 storm making a second landfall at Biloxi, Mississippi. Nate made its first U.S. landfall Saturday night near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The storm's effects will be felt all the way from Louisiana to Florida. Officials expect dangerous storm surges. We've seen some of that. Also fallen trees and downed power lines. More than 15,000 households across Florida, Alabama and Mississippi without power.
Nate has already carved a path of destruction in Central America, killing at least 28 people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and Honduras.
Now earlier I spoke with Michael Beyerstadt. He is the fire chief of Gulfport, Mississippi. And I asked him how the situation was there.
MICHAEL BEYERSTADT, GULFPORT FIRE CHIEF: Well, we had storm surge and the wind gusts. We have reports of one gust up around 70 mile an hour. So it's not quite as bad as we feared, but our motto is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And at this point, it seems like in Gulfport here, for the most part, we have gotten that.
HOLMES: Right, what have been your concerns and what remain your concerns?
BEYERSTADT: You know, we had a structure fire that we had to go out and fight right in the height of the storm, when we were seeing some very -- there's a lot of 45, 40, 50 mile-an-hour gusts. That's a very dangerous situation to have wind-driven fire like that.
We do have flooding here in Gulfport Highway 90, which is impassible for several areas, we're getting reports some of the other roads that are prone to flooding that are impassible at this time.
HOLMES: When you compare it to the possibilities, I suppose if this storm had hung around in the Gulf and picked up some more activity from the warm waters, are you feeling something of a sense of relief at the moment?
BEYERSTADT: Oh, definitely. We feel blessed that it looks like at this point it hasn't been near as bad as what it definitely could have been. So we're definitely feeling blessed this time.
HOLMES: What's your message to people in your area who might be listening right now?
BEYERSTADT: One, I'm very proud of them. The people that were in low-lying areas appear to have largely gotten out and people have obeyed the curfew and we haven't had to go out and rescue people who've gotten themselves in bad situations during the height of the storm too much.
So very happy with them and just be careful. We are getting a lot of reports of wires down. And so electricity is a very dangerous thing for people to be delaying with as they go out and start looking around in the morning.
HOLMES: And as we keep our eye on Hurricane Nate, we have not, of course, forgotten the plight of Puerto Rico, pummeled by the monster Hurricane Maria two weeks ago. Millions of people in the U.S. territory are still without electricity, water and other basic necessities. As our Nick Valencia reports, hope is another commodity in short supply.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day starts early if you want to get basic goods in Arecibo. More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit, life here comprises of (sic) waiting in line for one service or another. By 8:00 am, the line for ice is more than two blocks long.
(On camera): I've been talking to this family and they've been telling me that they've been here since 1:00 in the morning. We're coming up on 9:00 am The local plant officials are supposed to open at 7:00 am, but that has yet to happen.
Also what we're told from these residents who have been standing in line for hours upon hours, that there's been a 20 percent increase in the price for the bags of ice.
(Voice-over): Kelly Lopez came to get some extra bags for her epileptic sister, who is bedridden. She's already been turned away once because her sister wasn't with her. Today, she's back to try again.
(On camera): It's very difficult for everyone here in Puerto Rico.
(Voice-over): And then just minutes after our cameras arrived, the doors open. We asked a local plant official why cost for ice have gone up. She says because prices for plastic and diesel have increased.
(On camera): And so the government or nobody is helping you supplement that? She says no, not at all. They're having to come totally out of pocket for it.
(Voice-over): While in Arecibo, locals beg us to check out the regional hospital. There are rumors of people dying in horrible conditions. This is what we arrived to. The hospital, back on normal power ahead of schedule. Those critical patients being housed outside in a temporary ward are now being moved back inside.
A hospital official tells us there haven't been any storm-related deaths. Mark Thorpe is the commander of a federal disaster relief team assisting the hospital.
MARK THORPE, TEAM COMMANDER, U.S. FEDERAL DISASTER RELIEF: When we have these in the continental United States, we can get help there quicker. The challenge here is getting everything here.
VALENCIA: Thorpe knows there are rumors about a lack of urgency in the relief efforts and it's taken a toll on him.
THORPE: When the hurricane came over, we were here.
VALENCIA (on camera): I know it's hard.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Across the street from the hospital, there is a different problem, another long line. This time at a local bank.
(On camera): Just before we got here, we're told the bank system collapsed and now those who have been staying in line there is no guarantee that they're going to get any money. (Voice-over): Arizayin Medina (ph) drove 30 minutes from a neighboring town just to stand in line five hours. He says he has no other choice.
(On camera): Everything is money here. Everything is money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Everything is money here.
VALENCIA (voice-over): In Arecibo, locals say they're living each day as if it's the first day after the storm. Desperate for help, but now they have lost hope -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
HOLMES: If you'd like to learn how to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and around the Caribbean, go to cnn.com/impact.
Thanks very much for watching CNN NEWSROOM and being with me these last couple of hours. I'm Michael Holmes. Our coverage of Hurricane Nate continues next with Natalie Allen and George Howell.