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Tropical Storm Nate Lashes the Gulf Coast; Trump Speaks Out on Tillerson, Kelly; Source: Las Vegas Gunman Left Behind Calculations for Targeting Crowd; Jason Aldean Pays Tribute to Shooting Victims. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired October 8, 2017 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:00:28] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Parts of the Gulf Coast are under water this morning. Hurricane Nate slammed into the mainland overnight as a category 1.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at the cars in this parking garage there, that's at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and, of course, these firefighters and some of the first responders trying to get through it in Biloxi, Mississippi, there.
That's one of the hardest hit areas. This flooding put the first floor of the casino under water, as you see there. The Biloxi Fire Department took this video as the firefighters were wading through it.
BLACKWELL: Now, just minutes ago, Nate was downgraded to a tropical storm. So far, it's knocked out power to nearly 73,000 customers in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. We, of course, are tracking the impact of the storm with a team of meteorologists here in Atlanta and reporters in Mississippi and Alabama.
Let's begin with meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. He's got the newest information from the National Hurricane Center.
Ivan, what are you learning about the strength of this storm?
IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Victor. A 5:00 advisory, the good news is no longer tracking a hurricane here. It is now a tropical storm with winds of 70 miles an hour, although as I'll show you in the current wind gusts, not finding anywhere near that strength. So this is good news. The center of the storm or the eye, not really an eye at this point, if you will, but between Mississippi and Alabama, as the winds will continue to be rather strong, probably 40, 50-mile-an-hour winds, but not so much in the center. When these things make landfall, the field spreads out. So, really, my concern would be this area here, this little band that's about to move through Montgomery. So, you'll be seeing that coming through. Not only with heavy rain, but also some gusty winds, perhaps to tropical storm force.
But it did make a second landfall or if you're keeping count, actually a third, first one was Nicaragua, but for U.S. landfall, it was the second one. First, the Plaquemines Parish, and then the second one near Biloxi, Mississippi, interestingly enough, right over where the hurricane hunters take off where they have been investigating this for the last couple of days.
So, there it is, the official landfall, winds right now fascinating to see Martin Savidge right in the center of the storm, the eye went right over him. They had 70-mile-an-hour winds, then almost down to calm, and then on the back side, we're still looking at gusts anywhere from 25 to 30. But the worst of it as far as the wind field, I think we're pretty much done.
The winds at their peak, 70 miles an hour, there is that wind speed at Keesler Air Force Base and in Louisiana, the highest wind gust, I could find, 89 miles an hour. Cat 2 would be 96. Of course, these are guts, not sustained winds. That would have been a whole different story.
And the water did come in. Gulf of Mexico did take over in Biloxi for quite some time. And along I-90, we'll be showing some pictures of some of the damage there. Look at Ocean Springs, upwards of 10 feet, six feet there at the Pascagoula, Mississippi.
So, this was a cat 1. Imagine if this had been a cat 2 or cat 3, the potential was there for that to happen yesterday as the gulf waters are very warm. What was against this system was the forward speed. It was marching and booking through the Gulf. Thankfully, that allowed this to stay a category 1 and not intensify more so. By the way, still the threat of a tornado or two in the next few hours here.
These bands tend to have spin in them. So, it could spawn a quick tornado, and that is why we still have tornado watch from Pensacola out towards Panama City. That threat will continue over the next several hours. But at this point here, we're going to start transitioning from a wind event to a rain event that will encompass the eastern U.S., upwards of two, perhaps half a foot of rainfall in the next couple of days with flood watches in effect because of that -- guys.
PAUL: All right.
BLACKWELL: Ivan, thank you very much. We'll check back with you throughout the show.
PAUL: So, we talked about what happened in Mississippi, how it's been lingering just a little bit. There are flooding, there are power outages and he mentioned Martin.
BLACKWELL: Yes, Martin Savidge is standing by in Biloxi.
Tell us what you're seeing. How have conditions changed over the last hour?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Victor. Hello, Christi. Good morning to you. It's improved, no doubt about it. You know, believe it or not, this
was actually the worst hurricane since Hurricane Katrina at least in this part of Mississippi. I should straighten that out. And it wasn't as bad as many had feared, because there were times they were talking about this could be a category 2 coming ashore. In the end, it turned out to be a category one.
Still, if you were here four hours ago, you were rocking and rolling as we were, because it was not just the way the water was falling out of the sky and the wind was blowing, but also the way that the Gulf of Mexico decided to take up residency on the shoreline here, especially on U.S. Highway 90.
[05:05:02] And that is one of the great concerns they have had because they knew that that highway, such a thoroughfare, east and west, and it would cut off a major route for any of the first responders.
There was also flooding in some of the casinos here in Biloxi, three in particular. The Hard Rock, the Imperial, and -- I'm going to lose my thought on the other one. But the Golden Nugget, thanks very much.
So, the good news is that it looks like the water got primarily into the parking garages and into what we call the public spaces. So, that's the entryway areas, the ones closer to the ground. However, we're being told there was no flooding in the gaming area. So, that's good there as well.
There was one dynamic rescue here in Harrison County. In other words, there was a family in a car that turned in some water, they used a high profile truck, got everybody out, they're OK. And on top of it, there was a fire they had to deal with.
But, again, no injuries here and back side of the storm is already starting to push away. So, it's going to improve, daylight will tell us the real story here. Ninety has drained away, but there is a lot of debris on it. So, they're going to have to send trucks down there first before the public starts driving on it. And again, we'll see what the morning brings.
PAUL: Martin, you hold up so well through all of this.
PAUL: Thank you so much. We're glad everybody is OK.
But Alabama -- good morning, Martin -- Alabama is feeling Nate now. Ivan was talking about Mobile. And wind and the rain that they're getting.
And guess who's there?
BLACKWELL: Yes, we've got Ed Lavandera there in Mobile.
What are things look like where you are?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Well, you know, that wind and rain is already started dying down as
the center or what used to be the eye of the storm has passed to the west of where we are, a little bit north now. So, we're starting to see the back side of the storm and that will bring the rain and windfall significantly down.
Really, the story we have seen throughout the night here is the story of the storm surge. We're on the edge of Mobile Bay. Behind me you can see the water still pushing north in the storm surge is really going to be something to kind of -- as the daylight takes over here in the next couple of hours, to be able to get a better sense of just how significant the damage is from our vantage point over here, storm surge has pushed water out over the roadways here, just to the -- just to the west of where we are, the storm surge has pushed water out over the roadways here, just to the west of where we are, so that would be like on the eastern edge of downtown Mobile. So, it's hard to get a sense right now, our mobility is a little limited into what we can see and just how widespread that will be.
But I don't think there's any question that there is water on roadways, and low lying areas. The question is just, you know, how many homes have taken on water, how many businesses have taken on water. A lot of that is assessment just can't take place until the brunt of the storm has fully passed and then daylight kicks in, and that will give teams the ability to go out there and assess some of that situation and just to see how widespread the flooding situation and where the storm surge pushed water into, once we get that daylight, I think we'll be able to better assess that, guys.
BLACKWELL: So, we heard from Martin in Biloxi, that there was just one rescue, no reports of injuries. What are you hearing from officials there in Mobile?
LAVANDERA: Haven't heard anything like that. We saw, you know, very few people out and about. So, you know, in the Mobile area, we haven't heard any of these major reports. You never know in some of the outlying areas if there were people who trapped in homes, maybe wanted to try to get away in some kind of way. I haven't heard anything major like that over the overnight hours.
BLACKWELL: All right. Ed Lavandera for us there in Mobile, Alabama. Thank you so much. And as we said, we will learn more about the impact as the sun comes up and officials get out to fan out across some of the communities there. Thank you so much, Ed.
PAUL: Thanks, Ed.
BLACKWELL: Now, we are going to talk more about the coverage of now Tropical Storm Nate and the impact all morning long. But let's turn to the president. President Trump talked about -- well, he's talked about a lot with reporters last evening, including his relationship with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his chief of staff, General John Kelly, and what he plans to do about North Korea. We'll talk about that.
PAUL: Also, the Las Vegas gunman left behind key calculations pertaining to his massacre. What these numbers authorities now believe mean as new details emerge.
[05:13:40] BLACKWELL: President Trump attended an RNC fund-raiser in North Carolina last night. But before he left the White House, he talked about a couple of topics, including North Korea, and the scandal with Harvey Weinstein, even talked about growing rift, at least the reports of that growing rift between himself and the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
That was after the secretary reportedly called him a moron and he talked about the future of White House chief of staff, General John Kelly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Kelly is one of the best people I've ever worked with. He's doing an incredible job. And he told me for the last two months, he loves it more than anything he's ever done. He's a military man. But he loves doing this, which is chief of staff, more than anything he's ever done.
He's doing a great job. He will be here in my opinion for the entire seven remaining years.
No, no, he likes -- he likes Secretary Tillerson. So do I. We have a very good relationship. We disagree on a couple of things. Sometimes I'd like him to be a little bit tougher, but other than that, we have a very good relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Now, the president reiterated his wish to strike a temporary deal with Democrat on Obamacare that he says is exploding.
[05:15:01] He wouldn't clarify, though, his calm before the storm comment and what that meant, nor would he explain his tweets regarding North Korea when he said only one thing will work. And although he criticized Harvey Weinstein with the sexual allegation claims against him, he dismissed his own remarks about women leaked in an "Access Hollywood" audio recording last year as locker room talk.
BLACKWELL: Also, take a look at this, this new "A.P."/University of Chicago poll, finds the president, we don't have it on the screen yet, but President Trump's approval rating is now at 32 percent.
Back to the breaking news this morning, what is now tropical storm Nate over the Gulf Coast, causing some serious flooding you see here.
PAUL: Martin Savidge is watching from the storm from Biloxi, Mississippi, where some of the pictures were taken. How are you doing, Martin?
SAVIDGE: We're doing better. There was a storm surge and that was a big fear they had in this area. Anywhere from maybe seven to 11 feet, whether it lived up to that, still remains to be seen. But no question the water just came surging right out of the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, there was a time we were set up across the street to show you some images there, and it just got too bad.
We'll be back with more in a minute.
PAUL: Also, key information revealed on a note the Las Vegas gunman left behind. Yes, you see that in the circle there. What his handwritten calculations tell investigators about his plot to massacre innocent people.
[05:20:59] PAUL: So good to have you on board with us this morning, early. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.
The breaking news this hour, Nate is now a tropical storm. It made landfall twice overnight. First in Louisiana, then Mississippi, each time, as a category 1 hurricane. Now, this is the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina. That was in 2005.
PAUL: And this storm is bringing strong winds and heavy rains. Look at this. There is some major flooding in some areas. This was taken inside the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, there. Yes, I would not want to be stuck in that. Kudos who got a shot of that.
Right now, more than 72,000 customers, though, do not have power, not just in Alabama, but the Florida panhandle, Mississippi as well. As storms expected to weaken as it continues to move further inland, which, of course, it's doing right now.
BLACKWELL: We're seeing more of a problem that Nate is causing since landfall. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You can see the surge is halfway up inside this entrance. And there are some escalators straight ahead. There is the surge halfway out the door.
MIKE THEISS: Storm surge is no joke. This is what they always warned about.
PATRICK CLAY, BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI: I'm only about maybe six or seven steps in. It's already up to my ankles. It goes further back, the road dips further back.
SAVIDGE: Really, really rolling now. And an indication clearly that Nate if not right on shore, right up against shore here in Biloxi.
CABRERA: There was Martin Savidge. This is the bay of Biloxi. What you see here, this big gap, that's the eye of the hurricane. That's the center of the storm. CHIEF JOE BONEY, BILOXI FIRE DEPARTMENT: The highway 90 will be --
will have to be cleaned before we can access it again. We have a lot of power outages around here. But that's to be expected, I guess.
MAYOR BILL HEWES, GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI: We have been watching this storm, it's, you know, one of the quickest moving storms on record, maybe the fastest. You know, by the time the sun breaks, it ought to be pretty day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera tracking Tropical Storm Nate, as it is now.
So, Ivan, we are seeing some images of what happened as it hit. How much life does this thing have in it and what is it going to do as it moves up the coast?
CABRERA: Yes, Christi. Good morning.
At this point, I think it's going to be just a big rain event, right, for the Southeast and eventually, this is going all the way up to Boston, of course, by the time it reaches there, it will just be rain, not so much wind. Fascinating storm and, in fact, we do have it official now, this is the fastest moving forward speed storm in the Gulf of Mexico, and anywhere from 25 to 30 miles an hour. The reason for that, we had an area of low pressure to the west, a big high to the east, and it basically just push this thing very quickly and thankfully quickly to the north because if it had meandered here for a while, conditions were really favorable for this to intensify, which is what we were worried about.
But at this point, we're on the other side now. This is now is a tropical storm, so the wind field has diminished. We're still going to have some gusty winds, especially the outer bands here that continue to move to Montgomery.
In fact, I'll switch over to the radar, and be able to see that more clearly and the center of the storm was the eye is now bisecting the boundary there from Mississippi, into Alabama, crossing the state border. But interestingly enough, no longer that as we're find the strongest winds, are going to be with this band that's moving through Montgomery and look at the feeder bands just continuing to pull that tropical moisture up. That's why the storm on the eastern half is certainly healthier now than on the western side with the dry air getting pulled in on the other side here.
Still a problem with the tornado watch, we're still going to watch this closely, when you get these feeder bands rolling in, there's a lot of difference in wind speeds at the surface and up above as it begins to fuel that friction, kind of have some rotating thunderstorms. So, we'll watch for that, numerous tornado warnings. We'll see if any of these materialize, as it actually touched ground.
But that threat remains here. And now, we're going to go, again, transition into a big rain event, as this front continues to push to the north and the east, and, in fact, we'll take a look at some -- the official track for the National Hurricane Center as this thing is going to really get going to the north and east and move rather quickly as well as it gains wind speed here.
[05:25:06] So, the track at this point is basically where the rain is going to be. You don't have to worry about winds at this point. I don't think that's going to be an issue for you. We'll have some gusty winds, but it's going to be the accumulating rainfall here, which, by the way, a lot of folks in the southeast are saying bring it on, because we had some significant issues, lack of rainfall. In fact, we hadn't rain since the last storm system.
So, some areas, this is going to be beneficial, I think that will also allow for this, not to be a huge flood event, still have some flood watches in effect, but if we had been raining here for you, a couple of weeks at a time, then this would be a bigger factor. Look at that wind chill into the Northeast. But as it does so, it is going to do that rather quickly, so that by Monday, this thing -- Monday into Tuesday, completely out of our hair -- guys.
BLACKWELL: All right. So, Ivan, we're not done with Nate yet. Still, some big cities that could be impacted today and you say the beginning of the week. But I wonder, I've learned from weather that there is another disturbance out there. What is the concern for another U.S. landfall? Any?
CABRERA: None at this point here. So, you don't have to worry about that. One at a time, please, right?
Ophelia would be the next one. The disturbance is out in the middle of the Atlantic. It's going to spin there for a few days. We'll watch it, but I'm really not worried about it at this point here. So, hopefully, Nate will be it. But, you know, hurricane season continues through the end of November, although with each passing week, chances for that continue to diminish. So, hopefully, N will be it for 2017, which is already just a horrific year.
PAUL: It has. We hope so. That N is it. You're right.
PAUL: Ivan Cabrera, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Let's go back to Mississippi. Still feeling Nate, seeing the storm surge there.
CNN's Martin Savidge is standing by in Biloxi. Biloxi got the worst of it a few hours ago, maybe in the clear now. Tell us what is happening there and officials had to get out and really find out more about the impact overnight.
SAVIDGE: Yes. Well, let me just start off by saying, yes, I hope Nate is the last of it, because I've had enough of these hurricanes and I'm sure many people have as well.
They're doing better here. Storm surge was the real concern. Remember, this was a storm they feared might come across as a Cat 2. But in the end, because of that speed across the Gulf, it came in as a category 1. Four or five hours ago, it was really, really blowing and you saw how the water just came up. It surged out of the Gulf of Mexico, across U.S. Highway 90 here, which is the one that runs right along the coastline here, and then it got into some of the casino areas.
You know, Biloxi is very big on that. And it looks like the water got heavily into some of the parking decks, also in some of the public spaces. But we're told it did not get into any of the gaming areas.
These casinos were devastated by Katrina in 2005. They learned a lot of lessons and they made a lot of changes. So right now, they're going to look and see what daylight brings. We got tens of thousands of people without power along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We know that.
There was at least one high water rescue that had to be made. It was a family in the car, turned down the wrong road that had a lot of water. They were picked up by one of those high profile vehicles. And also, in Harrison County, they had to deal with a fire at the height of the storm. They did that.
There are no reports of any injuries. But 90, as we say, was flooded. It's drained off now. But they're going to have to inspect that whole highway and get trucks to clear debris, because there is a lot of debris out there, including one port-a-potty we saw go floating by.
So, all in all, I think they are going to say that it was not as bad as they feared, but they'll just wait until daylight to make the final call.
BLACKWELL: All right. Martin Savidge for us there in Biloxi -- Martin, thank you so much.
PAUL: Though storm chaser Reed Timmer talked to CNN last hour about the damage that he saw in Mississippi. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REED TIMMER, STORM CHASER: The main issue this storm was that storm surge. The water was several feet deep, just in front of some areas of Biloxi, especially the eastern side of the island. Just before the eyewall came in, we saw a wall of water, waves on top of it, come over this wall of bushes, and then just inundate the eastern side of the island.
The winds were gusting to about 75 miles an hour, maybe a little stronger than that. So, thankfully, the winds weren't as strong. The surge wasn't as high as it could have been. But still, as a category 1 hurricane, it shows you how storm surge prone this part of the central Gulf Coast region is, even with the category 1 hurricane, you still had waters that were several feet deep. You had vehicles that were floating by, some areas, and there's definitely very high level of storm surge with this storm. NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, one of the officials did say that
they would be worried about what kind of debris and what kind of mess they would see along the beach at daylight. Of course, it's always the concern as well of downed trees and we did mention some power outages. Have you seen any damage to structures or anything like that?
TIMMER: We did see some minor damage. There were some signs that were damaged, trees that were down, didn't see power flashes off in the distance as well.
[05:30:01] But the main damage was mainly that storm surge, the water levels are still too high for us to leave this area as well. So, we're inside the hotel.
Right now, our vehicles are up to the second floor of the parking garage, those vehicles are parked on first level were floating away. We did see some boats too that came apart, were floating by as well. So, there was some damage, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So, that was the view from Mississippi. But we want to check in on how Louisiana is faring because they were the ones that were on alert as well.
BLACKWELL: Yes, let's bring in Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. He's on the phone with us from New Orleans.
Mr. Lieutenant Governor, thanks for being with us again this morning.
What's your headline for Louisiana?
BILLY NUNGESSER (R), LOUISIANA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR (via telephone): Well, we dodged a bullet on this one. I'm down at Plaquemines Parish, and, you know, that's the point of the finger of Louisiana that sticks out in the gulf, that kind of got nipped by the storm.
But we saw very little damage. The levees weren't topped, a little water in the boat harbors, but we dodged a bullet on this one.
PAUL: Lieutenant Governor, are you having any issues with power outages for the folks in Louisiana?
NUNGESSER: We actually have had none down here in the parish, which usually loses power first, because we're sticking out in the gulf. You know, the mayor lifted the curfew in the French Quarter. People were back in the streets late last night.
So, we really feel for our people on the Gulf Coast, but we in Louisiana really dodged a bullet here and so little to no damage.
BLACKWELL: So we have this report from Biloxi of one family that was rescued, still waiting for reports from Mobile, our reporter there. But for Louisiana, any reports of injuries or rescues necessarily? NUNGESSSER: No, we had buses and National Guard standing by and
participated. We anticipated some of these brand-new federal levees in South Plaquemines that don't have grass on them yet, raw dirt, possibly losing those levees, but they all held up. And no rescues. We really made out good in this storm.
PAUL: So, just for, you know, people who may be watching and wondering, I know that late last night there -- the mayor was saying there was still a threat of a storm surge for areas outside of the levee protection. Has that diminished for you as well? You're not concerned about any sort of surge at all?
NUNGESSER: Not anymore.
NUNGESSER: It's passed since that storm has gone ashore. You know, if that storm had jockeyed more to the west, it would have been a whole different picture here in Louisiana. And it shows you how little movement can really mean a lot for a city, a town and especially the coast of Louisiana.
BLACKWELL: All right.
PAUL: We're so glad everybody there is safe.
BLACKWELL: Yes, good news all around for Louisiana.
BLACKWELL: Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, thanks so much for checking in with us.
NUNGESSER: Thank you so much. You all have a good day.
BLACKWELL: You too.
PAUL: You too. Take good care.
BLACKWELL: All right.
So, let's talk about the new clues about this Las Vegas shooter. What investigators now are learning from this handwritten note. Remember, we discussed the numbers that were on that pad that's highlighted on your screen. Well, now they think they know what those numbers mean.
[05:37:13] BLACKWELL: Well, there's a new clue that has come out of the investigation into that Las Vegas massacre. A source tells CNN that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, left behind this note in his room. Remember, we said there was numbers on that pad.
Well, that source says the numbers were calculations, for targeting the crowd at the country music festival. PAUL: Yes, it gives insight into how meticulously Paddock mapped out
this mass shooting from his 32nd floor window. Remember, he was just spraying the crowd below with bullets. But investigators are trying to piece together a motive. That is still the mystery one week later now .
BLACKWELL: Now, Paddock killed himself after killing 58 people who were at that festival, 500 nearly were injured. He had an arsenal of rifle and 50 pounds of explosives there in his car.
Vice President Pence spoke to survivors and the loved ones of people who were killed. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In America, we mourn with those who mourn. We grieve with those who grieve. And I stand before you today on behalf of my family, and every family in America, to say we are with you. Today, we are all Vegas strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Our Stephanie Elam is in Las Vegas with more as we get back to the investigation portion of this and what those calculations really mean in trying to establish a motive here.
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 that 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 the 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 we could think of that. But here is what they're saying Jesus Campos did. He was responding, because he works for Mandalay security, 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.
[05:40:04] 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, a wrinkle, huge detail there that this could have been a much worse situation had it not been for Jesus Campos.
Stephanie Elam, CNN, Las Vegas, Nevada.
PAUL: All right. Thank you so much, Stephanie.
Now, want to tell you about some white nationalists that went back to Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend.
BLACKWELL: Yes, there was a torch light rally in the same park where those violent protests happened back in August. We've got some video here. According to CNN affiliate WVIR, this was a much smaller group than the one that was there in August. Lasted for a few minutes, there was no violence. They stood in front of the Robert E. Lee statue that first started the trouble, the protests a few months ago and now has a shroud covering it.
Now, government officials reacted pretty quickly. The Charlottesville mayor tweeted this, another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards, you're not welcome here, go home. Meantime, we're looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.
This from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. He tweeted, we are monitoring the situation as we continue to oppose these racists and their message of hate.
CNN's Brooke Baldwin spoke about this group this gathering, with professor Marc Lamont Hill. He said the rally was notably different from August's rally there in several ways. Watch.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Reading about this, you know, 20 minutes, much smaller crowd, seemed like not violent, but still they were back.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, they were back. They are very committed to the idea of saying that this statue removal is a problem. But they also decry the loss of white rights. The Republican politicians are defending white rights, white interests, this is a white nation, and it needs to be protected.
I mean, typical white nationalist rant you heard there, but the crowd was much smaller, the response was a little bit different, the mayor said all the right things. I mean, this is different from a few weeks ago. We don't want to also diminish how significant it is particularly when they scream we'll be back.
That's a terror -- I mean, when you talk about terrorism, this is domestic terrorism, that's a kind of threat, when the Klan says we're coming back, that's always been a threat, historically, and this is no different. BALDWIN: They had said that they would be back the last time, when we
covered in August. We remember the way President Trump responded and responded again and then he was, you know, extraordinarily criticized of this whole "on both sides" comments.
Do you hope that he weighs in? Do you hope his response is different this time?
HILL: Yes. I actually do hope that he responds. And I hope he gives the ideal response, right?
The ideal response is, similar to the mayor, this was despicable, there's no place for this kind of ideology in our nation. Although it exists, we hate it. And that's all we have to say about it. We don't have to give this more oxygen than it needs.
That's what the White House should say. What Trump will say, who knows?
HILL: Right? He can say, yes, they're fine people. He could say, I really like the Tiki torches, I really -- you know, who knows what he'll say. But I'd like to see leadership here.
I think one thing the White House learned from the last time, they couldn't ignore this. Many times Trump says things that people find offensive, and he just rushes back --
BALDWIN: Well, they couldn't ignore it the last night. I mean, Heather Heyer was killed. All the violence, he had to say something.
HILL: Right, he had --
BALDWIN: He said the wrong thing.
HILL: Right, and then he doubled down on the wrong thing. And then tried to come back and just last night, Donald Trump Jr. comes back and tries to defend those comments again. So, it's an interesting moment in time for this to happen. So, this time around, I think the White House will be much more measured, much more careful, and hopefully give a better response.
BALDWIN: What is your -- I mean, it's a huge weekend in Charlottesville. It's a bicentennial at UVA, tons and tons of people are in town. Obviously, they were marching across, I think on ground, around grounds, hoping to call attention to themselves.
BALDWIN: I hear you and saying, you know, don't downplay it, it is horrendous that the people showed back up, but do you see it a positive they came through with their Tiki torches and that was that?
HILL: Yes. I mean, look, the worst case scenario was much worse than this. We could see violence. We don't want to see another death. I mean, the tragic death of Heather Heyer is still lingering in our minds, as it should be. So, I'm happy they came, they marched, and no one said much about it.
The fact they didn't have a huge crowd was also significant. The fact there wasn't a big uproar is significant. I'm happy about that stuff.
At the same time, we have to remind ourselves that this is a sector of the American public. Many people didn't believe this number of people would have come out. It's certainly not the number of people who came out last time. So, it's important that we cover it, it's important that we talk about it, and it's important that we know this is an artifact of a much bigger cultural moment in the United States.
HILL: And so, I hope we keep talking about it, we don't give it too much oxygen. I think we're doing a good balance of it right now. Hopefully the White House follows that lead.
BALDWIN: We'll see if they do. Stay tuned to the Twitter page of the president.
HILL: Eyes glued.
BALDWIN: Marc Lamont Hill, thank you so much.
HILL: My pleasure.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: There was also a statement from the Charlottesville Police Department, they said that city officials, state officials are going to be working with them to see if any legal action can be taken in response to the event.
[04:45:10] PAUL: Well, "Saturday Night Live" got real serious, paying tribute to the victims of that Las Vegas massacre and they did so with the man who was on stage as the gunshots started. Country music star Jason Aldean.
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PAUL: Well, Nate is now a tropical storm this hour after it made landfall and did so twice overnight. First in Louisiana, and then Mississippi. And it did so as a category 1 hurricane.
BLACKWELL: On the phone with us now, Lee Smithson, executive director for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
[05:50:04] He's in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Good morning to you. LEE SMITHSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MISSISSIPPI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
AGENCY (via telephone): Good morning.
BLACKWELL: So, give us the larger picture here. The headline there is storm surge. What damage has been done by that storm surge? What are you seeing?
SMITHSON: Well, we'll start our thorough damage assessments when the sun comes up this morning. But I think that the overall damage is going to be negligible, just because of the very good rebuilding efforts with the building codes that we had after Hurricane Katrina. So primary focus this morning on doing damage assessments with respect to the storm surge will be over in Jackson County, which got the brunt of surge.
We had reports throughout the night of some damage, but, again, with 70-mile-an-hour winds and darkness, it is difficult to tell the extent of the damage. So, that's our number one priority as the sun comes up this morning.
PAUL: What about rescues? Were there any calls for people who were in need?
SMITHSON: We had two high water rescues throughout the night, one in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which is Jackson County, and then one in Gulfport, Mississippi. People who did not adhere to the curfew that was out, they were successfully rescued. So, other than that, we have no reports of any injuries, certainly no deaths. And for the most part people did adhere to our 7:00 p.m. curfew.
BLACKWELL: How about power outages?
SMITHSON: Right now, we've got tentative reports of 40,000 Mississippi Power and Light customers without power. We have not gotten a good look from our cooperative power association right now.
We did have, Mississippi Power had 800 line men on stand by last night. They have started moving into the impacted areas now. So, we don't expect widespread power outages throughout the day today. I think they have got very good crews and they're starting to work now.
So, we should see the number of customers without power drastically dropping off as the morning goes on.
PAUL: Mr. Smithson, you talked about how you haven't had a lot of problems because you think people really took precautions, they heeded the warnings that were coming in. I don't know if we can pull that video up, guys, of the casino that did flood. And it had some -- there were a couple of cars sitting in this parking garage. And we couldn't help but wonder, who would leave their car, there is a truck, looks like lights are blinking because it may be going off, but the -- at alarm, another car was sitting there. We know that these have been rebuilt, another car, but at least on an upper level.
Why would somebody leave a car on a lower level of a parking garage? SMITHSON: I have absolutely no idea. These garages were designed to
accommodate storm surge, so that's why there is nothing but parking spaces on the lower levels of those casinos. It is unrestricted parking there. So people could have parked on the upper deck. So, my staff and I continue to wonder that. We saw that. There is absolutely no reason.
The only thing we can think of is those people simply weren't around, maybe parked their cars and went out of town, we just don't know. But it's inexcusable, and, again, that's why when we move the gambling casinos inland after Hurricane Katrina, one of the things they had to build to was 15 feet of base load elevation, because you could have any working structure, so parking below 15 feet of sea level. So there should have been no vehicles left there unattended.
I do have an update on the power outages that I just now got in. It's 80,000 in our electric power associations without power. And right now, we got a good look at 187,000 without power in the southern part of Mississippi.
BLACKWELL: One hundred eighty-seven thousand across southern Mississippi. And that's in addition to the other 80,000 --
SMITHSON: That was Mississippi Power and Light. And then we have private electric power cooperatives and they're reporting 80,000.
Again, we do have very robust crew of lines men, so we expect that the power outages to be greatly reduced now that the winds have died down and the sun is coming up.
BLACKWELL: All right. That's a significant increase, more than a quarter million in Mississippi alone. Of course, as you say, there are linemen who are out trying to get those folks back online.
Lee Smithson, executive director for Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, thank you very much for that update.
All right. We've got this now in from Dauphin Island, Alabama. The mayor there tells CNN that there is significant flooding, homes and cars are flooded throughout the island, and the causeway leading to Dauphin Island is now closed. The west end of the island is inaccessible because of the depths of water, four to six feet, he's saying.
This is Mayor Jeff Collier who is checking in, also saying that the water is starting to recede, that's happened in the past hour or so.
PAUL: Well, "Saturday Night Live" honors the victims of the Las Vegas massacre with the very man who was on stage when it all started, Jason Aldean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[05:55:07] JASON ALDEAN, COUNTRY MUSIC STAR: You can be sure that we're going to walk through these tough times together every step of the way. (END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Well, "Saturday Night Live", they got serious. They paid tribute to the victims of the Las Vegas massacre and they did so and I think it's really important to point out that they did it with country singer Jason Aldean. He was their special guest and he was the one last Sunday night who was standing on stage when that gunman opened fire on the 22,000 people who were there to see him perform.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BLACKWELL: Well, "SNL" opened their show with Aldean delivering a message to the victims and their families and then he performed a tribute to Tom Petty who died Monday by playing "I Won't Back Down".