Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 10, 2018 Guest: Rick Scott, Dick Rynearson
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: The communities in this path.
BILL KARINS, MSNBC METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It`s good to think bigger focusing kind of the eye. That`s where like a lot of the most damage is being done. But that rain now has made it all the way into North Georgia. The rain has ended on the coastal areas but it`s going to pour all night long. It`s not going to be, as Brian mentioned earlier, a good sleeping night in Columbus and Macon.
Everyone is going to be wondering if they are going to be losing their power. The lights are going to be flickering at times. You`ll hear the winds gusting, you know, most likely 60 to 80 miles per hour overnight and that will probably take you right through about two or three in the morning in Macon. Some of these communities are going to go through the eye. It`s still -- the eye is still at this hour, mostly rain-free and we saw landfall 1:30-ish to 2:00.
WILLIAMS: So well-defined.
KARINS: Four and a half hours.
WILLIAMS: So well-defined. It`s hard to believe. If you`re watching us in the Charlotte area, the rain you`ve experienced is part of the north and easternmost outer bands from this storm. I imagine Cape Henlopen, Delaware, Cape May, New Jersey are going to be feeling these effects not all that long.
KARINS: The tropical moisture is being sucked up ahead of this storm. And so, you know, we`re expecting about a one to three, maybe four-inch rainfall of it right up the eastern seaboard with this. And there are flood watches in effect as it`s been a very wet, you know, start to the fall season on the East Coast. And another two to four inches, a lot of small rivers problem.
But yes, right now, the worst destruction and damage is right there on the border of Alabama and Georgia to the Dothan and Mayhaw. And some of that mess is heading for Albany, Georgia. And I get yelled a bunch of times because I`m from Albany, New York and that`s how we pronounce. It`s supposed to be Albany.
WILLIAMS: I know, in Georgia.
KARINS: So I apologize to everyone. I`m working on it.
WILIAMS: I got it wrong too. Hey. It`s 6:01 and 30 seconds on the East Coast. We should give a top of the hour update. Have we had any changes in intensity, wind speed?
KARINS: Yes, let`s get it. Oh, yes. They`ve given us some of these hourly updates now. We were at 125. Now, we`re at 115. So this is the last hour that this will be a major hurricane. Once we get it down to 110, it drops to a Category 2.
But still at this hour, we`re mentioning -- Senator Rubio was mentioning in the Bainbridge area in Georgia, it`s 20 miles now to the west-northwest of Bainbridge. So Bainbridge is going through the windy side of it. I`m sure there`s power outages. I`m sure there`s going to be a lot of significant tree damage in that region too.
And from here, this was the 5:00 update, the forecast path. You know about every hour we`re talking about 10 miles per hour off the peak winds. We send into Central Georgia tonight. This is 2:00 a.m. close to Macon. So Macon could go through the center. And at that point, we really have a well-defined eye but there will be actually winds that will go gusty, calm, and then switch around directions regardless.
And then tomorrow morning as we wake up, the storm will be crossing to South Carolina. And at that time, we`re really done with the significant winds. And so here`s the windfall projections, the wind gust projections. This is 8:00 p.m. this evening, 69 miles per hour. So we`re still going to get some significant tree damage out of this. Albany, Georgia is one of those spots we`re going to be watching it.
Coastal areas are going to be pretty gusty too as we go throughout the night into the morning. Don`t be surprise if you get some sporadic power outages, Brunswick to Savannah, Hilton Head, even up towards Charleston. You know, it`s nothing crazy but winds in the 40 to 50 mile per hour range.
And that`s as we go through 2:00 a.m., we wake up with a storm near Augusta. That`s probably why the winds are a little lighter there on the backside of it but Columbia, South Carolina, the Greenville Spartanburg area could get a little windy on the north side of that. And there`s Charleston even at 48 miles per hour. And then during the day will bring those winds up into North Carolina.
So this is still a pretty crazy map. We still have hurricane warnings for gusty winds as we saw carried out on the coast. And now we`re all the way through Central Georgia with hurricane warnings.
And as we mentioned before, Brian, this is the first time in 120 years, one of the biggest hurricane droughts from getting hit by a major hurricane has been the State of Georgia. But we`ve mostly been thinking Savannah, Brunswick, that little section in here that would get hit. And who knew that we`d sneak a major hurricane into southwestern portions of Georgia and that`s what`s going on here right now in between Dothan and all that.
And as far as the rainfall forecast goes -- my computer sick of being here. We`ll see if that populates in a second. But for the most part, we`re looking at about two to four inches of rain coming right up the eastern seaboard.
WILLIAMS: Well, let me ask you the other question that is now like everything else in our lives charged with political sensitivity.
KARINS: You should see it already. I mean we don`t even know how many died from the storm already and people are already at it.
WILLIAMS: So the U.N. climate report came out this week.
KARINS: Totally buried by the storm and all the --
KARINS: -- and all the political news.
WILLIAMS: And what was so urgent about it was that it says like an approaching storm, the first real catastrophic effects of climate change will be felt by 2040. In other words, most of the people alive on the planet today will experience it during their lifetime. So as you mentioned, way before landfall, people were saying, "We didn`t use to get storms like this."
KARINS: There have been storms like this. Have there been storms this frequent like this? I mean we did go -- you know, this isn`t even the counterargument. We did go from Charley in 2005, we went nine years without a major hurricane landfall in this country. It was one of the longest droughts we`ve ever had.
Since then, obviously Maria, Irma, Harvey, Florence, it seems like everyone has been a pretty big deal in the last two years. It`s all about messaging. And I think to the point of if it`s outside of our lifespan, people have a hard time kind of gripping it and grasping it.
WILLIAMS: Yes. This is -- interrupt the question I asked. This is the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: We heard of significant impacts at Tyndall Air Force Base and many communities along the coast. As hurricane Michael continues its destructive path through the Panhandle and leaves our state, we`re turning 100 percent of our focus on search and rescue and recovery.
But we need every family to help with this. Listen to local officials. We could still have flash flooding and tornadoes. We heard of two devastating tornadoes in Gaston County. The weather is still extremely dangerous. Do not take a risk. Be safe.
We also need people to be very safe with generators. Do not put a running generator in your home. It is not safe. Do not get out on the roads until you`re told it`s safe. We need the roads to be open for first responders and search and rescue to do their jobs and save lives. If it`s not safe to leave your house, don`t leave it.
If you and your family made it through the storm safely, the worst thing you can do now is act foolishly and put yourself and your family in danger or keep law enforcement and rescue workers from saving lives. Our law enforcement and first responders are heroes and leaving their families to help others. We cannot thank them enough.
As I said earlier today, we are deploying a massive wave of response. We`ll be sending help from air, land, and sea. This includes thousands of responders for power restoration, medical search and rescue, law enforcement, food, and water distribution and every other critical resource. I was briefed by the U.S. Coast Guard today and they are pre- positioned and tapped at mobile with critical assets and resources.
Along with our thousands of rescue workers, local law enforcement has nearly 1,800 personnel ready the deploy. Right now, utilities are reporting more than 192,000 homes and businesses without power. We`ll have updated numbers out to you throughout the night. So let`s all stay safe, stay alert to weather updates and watch this storm closely through the night.
The entire nation and world have watched this monstrous storm has devastated our Gulf Coast and Panhandle. The love and support we`ve received from so many have been overwhelming. And we are really appreciative of all the resources and prayers that have been offered. On behalf of the Gulf Coast and the Great State of Florida, I want to thank the nation for your prayers.
Following the storm, we must all come together and work together. During disasters, Floridians take care of each other. We saw this after Matthew, Irma, and Maria. Floridians are strong. Floridians are resilient. We will recover and we`ll do it together.
Florida is unbreakable. We will get through this together. Hurricane Michael cannot break Florida. Visit floridadisaster.org for information on shelters and emergency assistance. You can visit fl511.com for current road conditions. Families can also call the state emergency information line for assistance. Follow @FLCert or FLGovScott on Twitter for live updates.
(Speaking in Spanish)
I can now answer your questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, have you heard any reports of any fatalities at this point?
SCOTT: We don`t have any confirmed reports of fatalities right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what`s the earliest search and rescue teams will be heading out?
SCOTT: We`re sending them out now. Search and rescue started out already. And we`ll have -- you know, we talked about earlier, we`ve got search and rescue that will be coming primarily from the north down towards the coast. We`ve got the Coast Guard coming from the Tampa area. I think they are in Clearwater and from Alabama and they`ll be doing our coast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so is there a specific area that they`re concentrating on right away or first off?
SCOTT: We`ve got teams. We broke it up into regions. And we have teams going down into about eight regions. It`s going to be coming down and so they`ll meet up. And we`re clearly getting information where there`s problems, big counties got problems and so we`re dealing with them as quickly as we can. But we`ve already sent -- teams already started.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About local readiness based upon what you`ve seen?
SCOTT: You know it came really fast. Everybody didn`t evacuate. So I`m still praying that we didn`t lose anybody. That was disappointing to me that everybody didn`t evacuate. I think in every storm you have to assess after you get finished. I think everybody should do it locally, federal and state, to say what can we do better. So we`ll see over time, you know if people were ready.
This is a big storm. You`ve seen a lot of -- the videos were out there. This is a big storm. And we`ve got significant damages in places. So we`ll probably find out over time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll take one more question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, there are several prison and detention facilities in this area. Some of them made arrangements beforehand. Not all of them did though. Have you heard from those facilities in DOC what`s their status now that`s it`s starting to clear out?
SCOTT: We`ve heard some different corrections and prison facilities. And we`re following up and trying to make sure everybody is safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they`re still intact and there`s no issue?
SCOTT: We have some damage at some facilities. What I`ve been told so far has been some roof damage. We`re sending teams to make sure everybody is safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But as far as inmates are concerned, they are secured?
SCOTT: I`ve not heard anything that they are not. But I have heard that there`s some damage in some roofs. And so I mean there`s -- as you can expect, there`s a lot of -- if you look at the path, there`s a lot of roof damage in that path. So the big thing right now is we`re getting feedback. But where we have problems, we are sending search and rescue teams right away. They`re very aggressive. And right now, these teams are getting out there to assess the damage and to provide any resources that anybody needs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Thanks, guys.
SCOTT: Thanks, everybody.
WILLIAMS: Briefing from Tallahassee at the State Emergency Operation Center. While the governor was talking, Bill Karins and I, along with you, we`re watching these drone pictures in the upper right-hand frame and we`re able to take them full now. I`m told this is Panama City Beach.
And you can see some single, double wide, some free-standing homes. You also see the trees snapped, Bill, all of them at approximately the same height. They`re all going to require tree surgeons now to come in and work.
KARINS: Imagine --
WILLIAMS: If you ever paid for one tree to be pruned.
KARINS: That one on that house there, it`s like an equivalent of an oak, that`s like $2, $3,000 to get that done. You can see there`s the have and the have-nots as with every storm, that second row there in the background, every single one has a tree. Looks like one is split right through. Count the yellow ones to the left, look two to the right of that, there`s a tree right through the middle of that one. It`s almost like they`re listening to us.
WILLIAMS: And there`s the standing water on the foreground.
KARINS: Yes, that doesn`t help either and then you deal with the mosquitos and the possibility of that water sitting around long enough, then there`s promise of the disease and stuff like that too. But yes, it`s interesting how a lot of these were snapped in a symbol or height. There`s not many leaves even or small branches left on some of these trees.
I guess that`s what you`d expect. I`m surprised this is Panama City Beach. When we saw Kerry, looked like they were maybe in 60 to 80, maybe 90 miles per hour winds. Panama City is about 15 miles away. It was in like 100 to 120. And I guess this area must have gusted to 100 at one point. You can see how calm it is now.
WILLIAMS: And just think as each home is a microcosm. Each of those homes you`re looking at, anything that has compromised the roof and brought in moisture. And let`s say that 80 percent of the homeowners had the good sense to get out and they`re going to come home and discover moisture.
And to Bill`s point, you`ve got standing water limiting your access to your own street, your own neighborhood. You probably have to go through the national guard. It`s going to be a good long time before you`ve got power. Power helps to dry things out. Power helps with safety, especially at night. It`s just a cascade of things that can go wrong.
KARINS: And you have people that evacuated. A lot of people on a tight budget in a hotel room, at a friend`s house. How long do you stay in those areas? How much money do you spend? When or how long will it take for any temporary housing to be set up for some of these people.
WILLIAMS: Insurance company tells you to wait until we get there and everything in you doesn`t want to wait until they get there because of mold.
KARINS: And a lot of people had a lot of problems right after Katrina with the temporary housing situation and how much money may have been, you know, potentially put on it and not used correctly, and all those arguments.
WILLIAMS: Yes. We are joined, I`m told, by Matt Bradley. He remains in Tallahassee, Florida. Matt, what are conditions like compared to the last time we spoke?
MATT BRADLEY, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Well, Brian, it`s a lot of the same but what you`re talking about here, you were talking about the really -- the regal, beautiful trees that got the landscape here. And here`s one of the minor tragedies of this hurricane. All of these beautiful trees here in Tallahassee, stately old trees that really kind of make this the southern graceful city that it is, a lot of them are falling down.
And you can see this here. This is right next to a parking lot. That could have been some unfortunate guy`s car right there. But luckily, a lot of people in the city have left. They followed the advice of the city and left. But this is emblematic of what we`re seeing here in Tallahassee, just across the street from this down tree is another one. And this is right on the edge of the campus of Florida State University.
We`re going to be talking about a big bill that a lot of these people are going to be having to take up. This is a lot of damage. This looked like it fell against this building but luckily this building seems to have not been damaged. But as you can see, that`s going to be a lot of work for a lot of people. And this is what`s happening all over the city on both sides of the street and streets throughout Tallahassee, these really beautiful, beautiful old trees.
Now, I think you`ll notice that there`s something missing here and that`s rain. And that`s because all day long, we have been seeing kind of what meteorologist would call bands of this storm. There`s been sort of whipping wind from time to time. Even 30 minutes ago, we barely felt any wind, and then there`s been driving rain and then nothing. That`s because this storm has been coming in whips and bands around and around. And so it`s been very variable. Temperatures and variable weather all day long. And we`re going to see that all throughout the night.
Now, a lot of what we`re seeing here, a lot of this rescue work. You know, when you and I talk about rescue workers and first responders, we don`t include the people are going to have to clean up all of this mess. And that`s what this city is going to have to be looking at. A lot of these first responders include the municipal workers who deal with down trees, who repair power lines.
And when we were sitting in our hotel last night, at breakfast this morning, there were cops, there were firefighters. That`s what the city was putting up. But there are also people who work for the power companies because those are the people who are also part of what the city considers to be first responders. They are ensuring the safety of the people here by trying to get the lights on as fast as they can -- Brian.
WILLIAMS: Matt Bradley, thank you very much. We were heartened to see some lights on the building behind you. And we don`t point out often enough, the very first task of every first responder is to leave their own first priority and that is their home and their family to head out and help others.
A quick break in our coverage. Bill Karins is going to walk us through the map when we come back.
WILLIAMS: Welcome back. Our live continuing coverage of Hurricane Michael.
This video just into us. Just at this moment, standing water in the streets and you see just what happens during a storm like this. Someone has made the determination that the line in the water is not live but vehicles are nonetheless plowing through standing water. Signs get blown down, poles get blown over and that`s the state of things.
Tammy Leitner standing by, whether you pronounce it Albany or Albany, Georgia, she`s there -- Tammy.
TAMMY LEITNER, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Hey, Brian. Albany is what I`ve been told. Earlier we talked about the Flint River and I wanted to give you a first-hand up-close look at it because this is what floods in this town. Right now, they are not as concerned about it because it`s lower than what it normally is. But apparently, when they get any type of rain here, any type of storm, this river rises and it comes up right here and into the main downtown area. And this is the big concern here with the Flint River.
It`s actually gotten so high at points, Brian that they`ve had to rebuild a bridge because the Flint River has done so much damage to it. So that`s been a major concern here, not so much with this hurricane coming through here, with this storm coming through here. Their big concern with this one is that people are in homes, are in mobile homes, are in homes that aren`t sturdy.
And so even though there is no mandatory evacuation in this area, they are saying, you know, "If you feel like your home isn`t safe, get out, go somewhere safe." A hundred and eight counties in Georgia under emergency watch. The State of Georgia, they are prepared. They are waiting for the hurricane to come this way. It`s already, you know, done a lot of damage as we have seen in the Panhandle. People in Georgia are just waiting -- Brian.
WILLIAMS: Well, thank you for that. We`re looking at the map and as far north as Americus, as far east as Valdosta, they are all in the watch and warning box and it remains hard to believe.
We`re joined via telephone by Mayor Dick Rynearson from Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Mr. Mayor, what`s been the damage assessment?
MAYOR DICK RYNEARSON, FORT WALTON BEACH, FLORIDA (via telephone): Well, sir, we have been very, very fortunate here in Fort Walton Beach. We`re about 75 miles west of where the eye, you know, came in near Tyndale Air Force Base. And so we`ve had our city officials out and looking.
We have two lift stations that are down. We have some minor dock damage, private citizens, as well as municipal dock damage. A few trees down but other than that, this town came through beautifully.
WILLIAMS: Can you remember a time when you had less warning, less notice that a Cat 4 storm was coming?
RYNEARSON: No, sir, I cannot. This one snuck up on us in a hurry. But hats off to my city workers, they had the city buttoned down in record time. And our citizens responded the way they should, those that needed to evacuate did or made provisions to hunker down. So we have come to it very very safely. We`re blessed.
WILLIAMS: How about vessels? I know you`ve got a lot of them docked there. Were people able to secure them enough?
RYNEARSON: Well, I think so. In fact, I`m looking at the Intracoastal Waterway right now and I see a number of boats just docked in the middle which is normally what they do. They get them away from their, you know, their land-based docks and they are better off if they can double or triple anchor them out in the channel. And those seem to have come through just fine.
Now, we did have a report earlier today of someone riding it out in their boat. They did not fair too well. The boat came ashore in one of our parks but the occupant was OK. His boat was basically destroyed but he`s fine.
WILLIAMS: Well, Mr. Mayor, we`re happy to hear some good news for a change. And I hope the recovery is quick. I hope everything goes well in your community and it`s one of the quirks of weather that you were on the good side of a bad storm in Fort Walton Beach. Really appreciate it.
Bill Karins back with us. You`ve brought with you the highest U.S. landfall in terms of miles an hour.
KARINS: I know right. I think it was at like at 4:00 a.m. this morning that I was like, "Yes, let me just Google. And just let me get the list up for the highest landfall winds that we`ve ever had in this country and a recorded hurricane history." You know, it goes back to the mid to late 1800s, the kind of the reliable, they say, record. So it`s a good period, a hundred and -- some year 140, 150 years.
So this is the list of the highest. We never want to do this. This Camille was proof that we can get catastrophic, huge storms just like Michael on the Gulf Coast. This one is mostly a Mississippi problem. Andrew, of course, South Florida, that made landfall 167 miles per hour. Now, that was adjusted by the way. It was considered a category 4, then they went post-storm analysis and then they opt out to this 167 making it a Category 5.
The Labor Day storm was in the late 1800s that went through the Keys. That was also the lowest official pressure we`ve had in this country. So that was a long, long time ago. And then we just fit in here. We can put right in here, hurricane Michael. Number four on the list and it`s going to be the number third lowest pressure on the list. Pressure is kind of our measure of intensity. The lower the pressure, usually the stronger the storm.
So here is the map that shows what we still have to go through. We`ve only done this much. We still have to go through all the hurricane warnings tonight through here. And then as we go up the map through the Carolinas, as we go throughout the day tomorrow. So, you know, we`re still under hurricane warnings, the areas that are going to hit the hardest but things have dramatically improved.
And you see where the center is here and it`s slowly drifting up to the north. We`re just about starting to lose the eye finally, about, you know, 1:30 to now 6:30. Five hours later, we still have that eye. Everything is headed for the general direction of Macon as we go throughout the overnight hours.
This is the Hurricane Center`s forecast. This won`t be updated again until 11:00. We`ll see the storm weakening considerably sometime after midnight hopefully becoming only a tropical storm. And then tomorrow, we`ll just watch the rainy and kind of a windy event through the Carolinas, down through areas around Norfolk and Virginia Beach. And then we`ll say goodbye to this.
I do want to show you this area is all clear now. That`s where our correspondents who are out there trying to gather materials, the sun is about to set. So we`re just about done getting our videos. We`re happy to -- we`ve got some of the drones up to show you what some of the tree damage looks like. And here is what`s left of the eye, some little clearing in this little ounce of it right there where it`s just about to lose our well- defined eye.
This blue box, by the way, is an extreme wind warning, very rare. It`s kind of a new thing in the last three years but that means it`s like the equivalent of a tornado going through shelter in place. And we`re waiting to see if we will get another one issued to the north of that. It hasn`t happened yet so we`ll wait and see if that`s issued for areas for the north as we go throughout the night.
So, you know, we`re continuing to make progress. It is weakening. History has been made with this storm. We just don`t know yet fatalities, injuries, and what and how bad where the eye came on shore was. That is Governor Scott was telling us. We know that the Air Force Base and we know that Mexico Beach was the area of greatest impact. We just haven`t had a lot of people in there yet.
WILLIAMS: I`ve got to raise something from the map. I am not a golfer because of my concern for the health and safety of those around me but for the golfers who are watching, I can`t help but notice your graphic goes up in over Augusta every time. Are you telling me that some of the most beautiful grounds in this country at Augusta National is going to go through anything approaching 60 mile --
KARINS: It was a couple of years ago they lost like a really valuable tree. We were told that was out of a 15 or so but uh yes, I don`t think that they`re going to lose too much up there. By the time it gets to Augusta it on 8 a.m. in the morning, max winds should only be 40 to 50 mile-per-hour range. So yes, anyone like myself it`s still hoping someday to make it on the course. The same trees will be there.
WILLIAMS: Gary Jarvis is with us. He happens to be Mayor of Destin, Florida. We were just talking about Destin, Florida one of the most beautiful locations on the Gulf Coast. And Mayor you were on the good -- I know that it`s a bad storm and it`s a big storm and you were on the good side of a bad storm, apparently. Tell us the damage estimates you`re getting.
MAYOR GARY JARVIS, DESTIN, FLORIDA: I`m currently driving around with my truck right now, now that the worst part of the storm is over with. We feel very blessed. It was storm of epic proportions. I`d seen some of the damage to the east of us and we`re just -- our thoughts and prayers are with those people. I have a lot of friends in the fishing and commercial fishing, charter fishing business that I`ve worked with over the last 40 years and great concerns about their welfare. But we fared out extremely well. We had very few power outages, some low-level flooding, a little bit of tree damage but our main focus right now is to get the city of Destin, our crew members out to do any other suspect of damages and we`re right in the middle of our fall break turf season and we hope to have this city up running and ready for business by Friday night or Saturday if it all possible.
WILLIAMS: I just saw --
JARVIS: So we`re merely -
WILLIAMS: I just saw pictures of your docks down where you can hire charters and go out on day boats and they are obviously -- the vessels were taken out to sea but I see some submerged. That may be a boat launch ramp we`re looking at now, some submerged.
KARINS: I think -- I think the water is still so high that everything is just under.
WILLIAMS: But everything looks intact, Mayor.
JARVIS: Yes, it has been. We have a predominantly northeast and north wind so we`ve had some damage on the south side of Choctawhatchee Bay, some docks, and a few boats that broke free of their moorings. But the charter fleet, the commercial fleet, most of those guys make a living other boats so they take their boats up the coastal waterway or in this case a lot of them went west when they saw the forecast all the way towards Alabama.
They anchor it up and they stay with their boats. It`s a little bit like the Forrest Gump syndrome where you know, stay with your boat and if you could survive the storm you`re still in business. So most of the fleet members are in good shape. I talked with many of them. We`re encouraged by that because not only we have beautiful natural resources but we`re also well known as the luckiest fishing village in the world and having our fleet intact is very important to our communities to say the least.
WILLIAMS: Yes, Destin, Florida is one of the great places to catch your own dinner right offshore. Mayor, thank you so much for calling in. And Bill Karins, let`s continue what he started. Mr. Gump had it right when he said life is like a box of chocolates and places like Destin, you never know what you`re going to get. But they were so fortunately to be on the west end of this.
KARINS: It was a close call. And there was a sharp cutoff on the backside. The extreme damaged you know, they say it`s been wind damage really, for the most part, looks like it ended at Panama City Beach and not even all of Panama City Beach. And if you go any further west of that -- that`s why this was like a bowling ball. If you throw the bowling ball sometimes down the middle, the end pins are fine. You know, it`s just this little narrow about 30 mile stretch from the center of the eye, so about 60 miles wide is who dealt with the worst of the damage and that`s about the same size. It still is now push them through now into central sections of Georgia.
And you know, now that the sun is setting, you know, now it gets you know, for the people that still have a lost power yet that are going to, you know, it`s not going to be a fun evening.
WILLIAMS: There`s a way that citizens get to play a role in this. And we try to say this with every storm. If you got money to spend this vacation season, take a trip to Puerto Rico. They could use the tourism dollars. If you`ve got money to spend this vacation season, go on down to Destin, Florida and hire one of those day boats, charter one of those vessels. You`ll have a great time. It means a lot to the local economy. And once they get things straightened out in Panama City, Panama City Beach, Mexico Beach, go on down there and pay them a visit. Spend some money while you`re there.
KARINS: The stuff that we build can go but the reason it got built there is going to return. The beautiful beaches, the beautiful warm water, that amazingly rebuilds itself. These beaches will replenished themselves this winter and all through next year. It`s an amazing cycle and you know, unfortunately, we have to -- were the ones that have to rebuild.
WILLIAMS: Our teams I`ve just been told have been able to make first contact with Mexico Beach. They`ve been able to reach Mexico Beach. We are working on establishing comms with them so Bill and I will take another break in our coverage. When we come back hopefully we`ll be getting first word from there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on my way back inside when this one here came through actually and fell in. One of -- one of the roommates Josie, she -- as this one fell some, of the sheetrock or debris hit her on the leg but she`s OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just bad, very bad, very, very, very bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: you know, our windows got blown out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The windows are thrown out in our house. The (INAUDIBLE) fell out. It was mounted in the wall and it fell out. The (INAUDIBLE) in the house is just messed up. It`s just gone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Devastating, you know. Going to the window every once in a while and just looking out and seeing there debris flying around and everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did it sounds like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh it sounded just like a train, like they said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And would believe the wind, and the sounds, and the (INAUDIBLE) and roof failed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were scared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was terribly scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Strikes us. Those are some of the first people we`ve been able to hear from not for lack of interviewing people on our part but because of our transmissions electronically from the storm zone. It`s been impossible to get the signals out. Also so important to remember that some people are native Floridians, born and raised there, other people have traveled to that state, set up a home there because they are searching for what Florida`s got during good times and that is a little paradise along the Gulf Coast. And certainly, that has been shaken.
We`ve been joined once again by our Friend Ken Graham, Director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Ken, we`ve been tracing the progress of this very good news to see the downgrade from four to a three. When will this cease being a major hurricane over land?
KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: I`ll tell you when you start off with one so strong, Brian, it takes a while to get these winds down so we still have a hurricane, 115 miles an hour entering Georgia. So that becomes particularly dangerous especially at nighttime where you can`t see the roadways. They could be flooded and you could have trees down. So it`s going to take a little time but eventually becoming a tropical storm and staying a tropical storm all the way out (AUDIO GAP).
WILLIAMS: 115 mile an hour winds at the core. Think of what that`s going to be like. It`s going to be such a long night for folks in the path without power and that sound, that horrible sound of snapping trees.
GRAHAM: Yes, absolutely. And that`s what we`re telling people. This isn`t over yet. I mean, a lot of people think they`re you know, well inland and safe but the reality is, I mean, look at this. I mean, look at the systems Michael is still holding that to that core winds and almost you know, still looking to have an eye well into Georgia. So it`s going to take some time. So we`re urging residents even in Georgia, you know, you`re far away from the coast. You need to be safe. You need to be in a safe place. Stay off the roads. Don`t take a chance.
WILLIAMS: With you and your peers among your group of meteorologists, one of the things that`s going to be famous about this storm for years to come is the pressure as it came on shore, as it made landfall. What`s the best way to explain that kind of thing to the folks watching?
GRAHAM: You know, that`s one of those situations. There`s several different things with Hurricane Michael. I mean, you think about it, the pressure was in the top three lowest pressures that we`ve had land -- U.S. land falls and there`s some famous storms in the past that we all can think of over the years. And the other part of it is you know, since records go back to 1851 in the vaults here at the hurricane center, you can`t find another category four that hit the Panhandle. So history-making, very devastating storm, and you know one that we`re never going to soon forget.
WILLIAMS: We will leave it at that Ken Graham. Oh Bill Karins has a question for you.
KARINS: Hi, Ken! Meteorologist Bill Karins here. And excellent job by your staff and everyone else and all the updates and the Hurricane Hunters that you work closely with, amazing job getting that information. And you know, when we look at this storm, obviously, the path was very well forecasted by the computer models, by you guys. We still have just so much work to do in forecasting the intensity. But yet we have a cone of -- we call it uncertainty for the path but we still have set numbers that we do for intensity. Is there any thought or consideration to like a confidence range or something on the forecast intensities especially when we get like storms like this over warm water in the Gulf and we`re counting on wind shear? Any thoughts?
GRAHAM: Yes. It`s something we`ve been talking about for a long time. And the start of this actually started 10 years ago. You know, if you go back ten years, I mean, we had storm surge. We had all the impacts linked up into that category. So we spent a lot of time since half the fatalities are at storm surge. We did separate that into a watch and warning and really separate that impact but we need to talk about it. There there`s so many social science aspects of getting the word out.
And the other part that`s a problem too if you have a storm coming off Africa and you can -- you can see seven days, and you can see this big storm headed your way, that`s one thing. But when they develop and the Caribbean and you literally don`t have a lot of real estate to go and you have two days` notice, that`s a whole another aspect of this whole thing where you got to shrink those timelines.
So the offseason, we have to have these conversations and I think it`s a -- we need to, to make sure we find the best ways to communicate those impacts.
WILLIAMS: Ken Graham, Head of the National Hurricane Center, again, one of the busiest people in this country over the past 24 hours. I hope you get some rest. Thank you for finding the time to join us for that update. We`re also joined tonight by Craig Fugate who`s been very patient waiting to join us, former FEMA Administrator.
And Craig, I just made a list. When you had -- when you had that job in the state of Florida, you were around for -- they must be like your children in some way, Charlie, Francis, Ivan Jean, Denis, Katrina, and Wilma. And now the history of storms in Florida has Michael and you`ve been listening to our conversation none of us have seen anything quite like this storm.
CRAIG FUGATE, FORMER DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Yes. I mean, people on that part of coast have lived there a long time so you know, I`ve lived all my life, it`s never that bad and they`ll never be able to say that again.
WILLIAMS: And in the FEMA business and the emergency preparedness, emergency management business, what bill was just talking about cones of probabilities concerning intensity of the storm. The intensity of this storm I think it`s fair to say it took everyone by surprise. So FEMA probably wasn`t thinking that at 6:44 p.m. we`ve got a 115 mile an hour hurricane over Georgia right now.
FUGATE: Well I think Brock Long and the team were prepared for this. You know, knowing that this was going to be a multi-state impact, they`ve got a lot of resources not only in Florida but surrounding states to respond to this. But I think kids right about the social sciences and we`ve been working on this. The number does not tell the story of a hurricane. We`ve got to really learn how to focus on those impacts.
We actually saw this in 1995 with hurricane Opal. It spun up very quickly and got very powerful and we lucked out. It sucked in dry air and weakened just before landfall or this would have played out in 1995. Again, short term in the Gulf, big impacts and the numbers not communicating risk well. We got to really figure out how to focus on forecasting these impacts. The storm surge warnings is one of the best steps forward in that area.
WILLIAMS: And did the storm surge predictions as far as you`ve been able to tell come true in this storm?
FUGATE: Yes, you know they`re going to survey it, but the area`s we expected and we were forecasting in that warned area, most of them did see impactful storm surge. As you point out, if you`re to the west of Panama City Beach, very little impacts. But well to the west, we saw storm surge and have gotten reports of above-average storm surges and impacts in these areas so they`ll be out surveying tomorrow. We`ll get a better sense of that.
But right along the coast, I think the big damage was going to be water. But as your drones are showing all across North Florida, those damages in Northwest and the Panhandle are going to be trees coming down on homes. What you saw Panama City Beach I`m afraid is what we`re going to see throughout the state and to Southwest Georgia as it moves through tonight.
WILLIAMS: I just wanted to ask our control room to put up on the air the live picture of the railroad crossing, apparently from one of our vehicles in Panama City. It just shows the dramatic sky and the kinds of things that have been blown around and blown down in this storm. Craig, our Meteorologist Bill Karins has a question for you.
KARINS: Craig, take us through now -- so we were just talking about the drones and we showed the pictures earlier of the trees down on someone`s house. Most people in this country have no clue what to do and how FEMA is related to it when you have a tragedy like this. So someone had their house, they`re going to come home to it. They find a tree on it. What happens next and how does FEMA help them?
FUGATE: Well, the first thing is if you have insurance, call your insurance agent. FEMA is really focused on the uninsured, people that didn`t have the resources. And again, right now for the next couple days, the primary focus going to be rescues, getting in these areas and restoring basic services. I would imagine that at some point FEMA will give the authorization for the president at the request of Governor Scott to begin the individual assistance and that`s where people can register with FEMA, get -- start getting assistance primarily for people who were underinsured or didn`t have insurance. And trust me there`s going to be a lot of folks in this part of the state.
This is a particularly fishing communities, rural, agricultural. A lot of these folks have been lifetime residents. We`re going to see a lot of need up there. FEMA will be able to support the initial help, but this also means we`re going to have to dig deep to the charitable organizations and volunteer organizations like Red Cross and Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, and a lot of other groups because they`re going to be doing a lot of heavy lifting for these communities as well.
WILLIAMS: We`re looking at Panama City, the drone video we`ve seen once before. And this tells it all. You`ve got standing water in the background, you`ve got a free-standing structure in the foreground with a tree through it, and then a lot of single and double wides, very modest homes. And Craig that`s the -- that`s the question. Folks who don`t have a tremendous amount of damage, just enough to make life miserable, just enough to compromise a roof and introduced moisture into their house. You know, it gets a little tougher for them.
FUGATE: Yes, this is going to be key to getting power back on because if we don`t get those air conditionings working and dry those homes out, as you point out mold. I mean, one of the things that we got going good in Florida is getting those tarps on these roofs. We use a lot of different groups including you know, the Corps of Engineers but also a lot of volunteer groups that can get in there and quickly get tarps over these homes.
I think what you`re going to see over the next couple of days we`re going to very quickly shift from a live rescue life-saving operation into those initial steps recovery of trying to save as many homes as we can, protect as many damaged roofs as we can, and get the power back on so we can focus on the homes that were destroyed and start trying to find housing solutions which is one of the things FEMA will do with the state, getting people resources to either get a hotel room or rent a place so they can get something going or start looking at whether or not they`re going to need any additional types of temporary housing, bringing in mobile homes.
It`s too early to say but right now the big thing is lifesaving, then saving those homes and trying to salvage as much as we can so people have a place to return to after the storm.
WILLIAMS: Craig Fugate, thank you very much for your point of view and your experience and being so patient with us in our coverage. We`re watching -- you always see this and it`s always kind of rookie and --
KARINS: He`s trying to push his car --
WILLIAMS: I know. And so that`s the lesson this. A guy had his car scuttled. He`s trying to push it out of standing water. You`d wonder why so many people in the oncoming lane figure I`ve got a 4x4, I`ve got a pickup, I can just drive through this, not always true, often a bad idea. And remember, it`s saltwater more often than not. So we`re hoping the owner of that very nice Dodge Ram entering the picture from the right does not make a foolish decision. Our coverage will continue after a quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s almost the entire size of the Gulf. When you look at it topically, it`s almost the entire size of the Gulf and they haven`t seen that. Maybe they haven`t that at all. Nobody has seen that before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The president talking about the storm that has since moved on through and continues. And because everything these days is wrapped up in politics, so is this. The President is going ahead with a rally tonight in Erie, PA while a lot of the nation`s attention is on the situation in the south. He said he didn`t want to disappoint his followers who have showed up there. So as we approach the top of the hour, just a heads up. We`re going to return to some of our usual political coverage and balance these two stories all evening long. But Chris Matthews will be with you just a few scant minutes from now at the top of the hour for "HARDBALL."
We want to welcome in the mayor of Apalachicola, Florida Van Johnson. And Mayor, we`ve been thinking of your beautiful community all day long, the beautiful downtown, the beautiful waterfront, all the vessels that call Apalachicola home, what have you been able to ascertain about damage?
MAYOR VAN JOHNSON, APALACHICOLA, FLORIDA: Well, we`re actually still in the process of doing just that. What we know at this particular time is that we have a lot of downed power lines, a lot of downed trees, and the interior streets are just about virtually unpassable. We simply can`t get to them because of all the debris. So we do know that at this particular time, we don`t know how much structural damage. Those reports are coming in.
WILLIAMS: I hate to ask about one place but it`s such a pretty place in your town. I think it`s called the River Inn. It`s down near the base of the bridge.
JOHNSON: Yes, yes, yes.
WILLIAMS: Have you heard anything about it?
JOHNSON: I haven`t heard anything about that at all.
WILLIAMS: OK, guys, just one of the most beautiful spots on the coast of Florida.
JOHNSON: And no new is yet news.
WILLIAMS: Yes. I guess that`s right. Well, we`re thinking -- we`re thinking about everybody there. Were -- we join you in praying that there`s no loss of life. There`s been enough damage to property apparently, and all those vessels that come and go every day from that port, hopefully, they were out of harm`s way and either out at sea or in the intercostal waterway. Mayor Van Johnson, Apalachicola, we`ll be checking in with you when you know more.
Bill Karins, we keep telling people while we show the imagery on the air, we have a 115 mile an hour hurricane over the state of Georgia.
KARINS: And the eye is about to maybe go right over the top of the people in Georgia in about maybe 20 minutes or so in the town of Morgan, maybe in the eye.
WILLIAMS: Which is still -- it`s still possible to have sunlight --
KARINS: There`s still a little -- a little bit of an eye left on the storm --
WILLIAMS: Just to break in the clouds.
KARINS: Look at the winds right now Albany, Georgia, 67 mile-per-hour winds. You know, you do that with trees with a ton of on them still, and there`s just a lot of tree damage, there`s a lot of power outage that`s still yet to come. Going into the storm it was estimated we`d have about2- 3 million people without power by the time we`re all said and done. And a lot of those people would be -- would be losing power through the night tonight as we head into more populated areas. You know, we`re waiting for the new update to come in any second now to see if we`re finally done with it being a major hurricane and we expect that to happen shortly.
WILLIAMS: We toss off numbers like 67 miles an hour sustained winds, you - - in my experience you can`t stand up over 60 and it`s really not advised over 50. It`s really hard to get around.
KARINS: You have to lean into it you know, if it get to that -- if it get to point. I mean, I usually do a scale of you know, most thunderstorms that you`ll get in the summertime in most poor areas of the country, you`ll get 50 to 60 mile-per-hour gusts without a lot of damage. It`s once you get over that threshold, once you get winds up into the mid to upper 60s, then you get into the 70s, that`s when you start getting healthy trees coming down and that`s when you get to power outages. But it`s a -- it`s been an incredible day.
We actually did get a couple hours of daylight which was nice for the areas hardest hit to get an initial assessment. I`m sure the police were out there going through the list of 911 calls and trying to get to the people that needed help first. We don`t have those stories yet but that`s what`s been going on right now.
WILLIAMS: Millions are still in for a rough night. Our coverage will continue to go back and forth. For now, "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews begins right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END