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tv   CNN Newsroom With Jim Acosta  CNN  August 29, 2021 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

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we're live in the cnn news room. i'm jim acosta, we're following breaking news on a storm of historic proportions. hurricane ida made land fall in louisiana at near category 5 strength. we're talking winds of 150 miles per hour among the strongest. louisiana has seen in the history. add torrential rains, the chance of tornadoes and a storm surge. you can understand why the national weather service is warning parts of the louisiana coastline could be uninhabitable for weeks, if not months. the timing is erie. 16 years to the day that hurricane katrina forever changed the state and made land fall. president biden is getting a briefing on the storm at fema and we have a team of
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life-supporters standing -- team of reporters standing by. we are in houma not far from where the starm made land fall. it is getting serious where you are, jason. what can you tell us? >> reporter: yes. the conditions, we've seen them getting progressively worse with each passing hour as we've been standing out here. it's the severe wind. it's the severe rain that's been coming down steadily. and we're not even really in the thick of it yet. as bad as some of the conditions are now, if you look, i don't know how much of this reads on camera as you see the wind gusts come through here. but the eye wall still two hours away from where we are at this point, jim. and houma at this point is still in the direct path of the eye wall of hurricane ida. so what we're being told is conditions here are just going to be steadily getting worse
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over the next few hours. so what we're going to be doing is bringing you updates, obviously, as we're out here. i've reached out to emergency officials to gauge what they've been seeing so far. we were able to do a short tour in the immediate area, and have already seen power lines that have arced power. power is out in the area. we've seen debris in the roadways. and, again, that's already the worst of what is expected here in houma hasn't happened yet. the city is bracing for what is to come. many of the people are residents who live here have evacuated. the city's chair tells me anywhere between 60 to 80% of those who live here in the area and in the surrounding area took the warnings and got out. but still, there are a number of people who are still here in houma. this emergency official says at this point, they have to hunker down in place. his concern are for those who are still here.
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jim? >> jason, you and your crew are doing a terrific job out there. and we can see things are deteriorating just as you're speaking to us right now. stay safe. we'll talk to you soon. jason carroll with the update. now to new orleans, the city enduring what is already a second wettest year on record. let's turn if we have brian todd with us right now? let's go to brian todd right now. actually, we're going to go to governor edwards holding a press conference. let's do that first. sorry, brian, let's go to the governor. >> we don't have the audio there of the governor. let's go to brian todd in new orleans. brian, if you're still there, we were just going to the governor's press conference. let's get an update from where brian todd is. sorry to pull you back and forth. i know it's tough enough where you are.
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how are they coping in new orleans? >> reporter: well, jim, the storm is violent in new orleans. we're at in the french quarter about a block away from the mississippi river. a couple things i can show you and tell you about how violent the storm is getting in new orleans. the flow of the mississippi river, just about a block away from where we are. it's basically the flow has reversed. the storm surge is so strong. now, take a look at what happened here in new orleans here in the french quarter. this canopy is part of a roof that collapsed across the intersection here. i'm not sure where this was or where it came from, but you can see the violence brought down the roof. it's got debris from the insulation over here. it's been flying all around here. down decatur street. you can see the wind gusts really, streaming toward us here. and some of the rain getting more violent as well. so we've got that to contend
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with. authorities here have said they have shut down emergency services. people call 9-1-1 now, they are not going to be able to get to you. our photo journalist and i can walk you over here to see more of the damage. getting pelted around violently here. jake, if you come over here, we can go around this side and you can see more of the damage. pan down. you can see some of the debris that came off of this collapsed roof. emergency services have been suspended for you. they cannot get to people who are going to call 9-1-1. they have said, though, that we've talked to officials from the southeast louisiana flood protection authority a short time ago. they're very confident the levies and the flood gates here are going to hold. this is a much, much different, much more fortified system than existed right before hurricane katrina. a storm surge they believe they can handle. again, the rainfall, it's getting very heavy down here. it could get 15 to 20 inches of
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rain. new orleans averages 62 inches of rain a year. they've already had 65 inches and we're not through august. can they take 15 to 20 inches of rain and can they withstand the flooding that is almost certainly going to occur in the streets? we're just getting to the heavy part of this. again, some areas in downtown new orleans heavily damaged already. >> it looks bad where you are. thank you for the report and thank you for the great work. we'll get back to you as soon as we can. let's go live to baton rouge with a briefing on the storm. >> you should know the entirety of the louisiana national guard has been activated and currently more than 4,900 guardsmen are out in support of current operations. just on the search and rescue assets of the national guard, they're staged across 14 perishes and have 195 high water
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vehicles, 75 votes and 34 helicopters ready to support and assist the citizens of louisiana. there remain 169 wildlife and fishery agents with trucks and boats in the same number in order to do search and rescue. and the most robust search and rescue effort that we have consists of more than 900 individuals making up 21 teams that are represented by 16 different states. and the numbers that i just gave you include the louisiana state fire marshall's office and their boats. the department of transportation has assembled 164 coaches and 20 para transit vehicles. 180 coaches will be available by tomorrow morning. the department of corrections, produced more than 34,000 sandbags for communities across
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louisiana. they've also completed the evacuation of 25 00 inmates from seven local jails. those being acadia, st. mary, st. bernard, vermilion. the cpr rate continues to monitor rates across the coastal zone. as of earlier today a total of 459 gates out of 692 are closed. that's up 246 since the briefing yesterday. all of our hurricane protection systems have been fully -- i'm sorry, have been completely closed and all structures are fully operational at this time. as late as this morning additional protection measures were being undertaken by levy districts such as the south lapouce. they addressed low areas ahead of the storm.
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based on the hurricane prak and the wind rain and surge forecast for the remainder of the hurricane, the cpra is anticipating some over topping of the southeast portions of the la rose to golden meadow levy system. nonfederal backed and alliance and nonfederal levies in lower st. bernard perish as well. obviously overtopping is concerning but i want to make sure that everybody understands, overtopping and levy failure are not the same thing. a levy failure can be more catastrophic. they're not the same thing. obviously we're going to continue to monitor the flood protection system. i can tell you right now we do not anticipate any overtopping of the mississippi river levies or overtopping of the levies in the hurricane risk reduction
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system around the greater new orleans area. clearly you've seen the reports and up until a short while ago, i was able to look at live video feeds. there are significant storm surge storm surges around port fourchon and grand isle. cpra is prestaged pumps across louisiana and will deploy flood fighting in need of dewatering as soon as it is safe to do so. this is obviously a very fluid situation. it is rapidly changing. that's why everyone needs to stay abreast by listening to news and following the guidance from your local officials. really, nobody in southeast louisiana should be out on the roads. but if travel becomes absolutely necessary after the storm, please proceed with extreme
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caution. there will be 45hazards out the you may experience before any law enforcement or personnel or anybody else may be able to get to you first, and warn you about it. this is especially true of debris, downed power lines and standing water. please check 5-1-1, for road closures and please don't drive through standing water. that's how we lose an awful lot of people after storms. many perishes are announcing curfews as we speak. all louisianians should follow the directives of local leaders which are designed to keep us all safe. and the conditions vary by pep perish and have different needs in mind.
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please, again, keep streets clear for emergency responders. if you have evacuated, don't be attempting tomorrow to return before you know that it is okay for you to do so. please contact your office of emergency preparedness. monitor any announcements that they have as to whether it is the right time for you to return. the last count that i had shortly before coming over here is 15,042 individuals being sheltered across the state in at least 23 different shelters. the vs. majority are operated by perishes. obviously we expect this number to increase throughout the day and potentially in the days to come as people discover their homes are no longer habitable. >> for the latest shelter information, next la shelter.
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2898211. >> or you can call 2 -1-1. heed the guidance of local officials, local officials will have the most up to date shelter information for a specific area or parish. as we have mentioned several times before, if you lose electricity, and you decide to use a generator, it is imperative that you follow the instructions from the manufacturer. please make sure that generator is well away from your home in a well ventilated area. it should not be inside. it shouldn't be in a garage or crawl space, under a window, or a vent. and on occasion, you'll need to refuel the generator. please make sure that you allow it to cool off 20 minutes before doing so. in closing, there is no doubt the coming days and weeks are going to be extremely difficult for our state.
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and many, many people are going to be tested in ways we can only imagine today. but i can also tell you as a state we've never been more prepared. all the models we've seen from our cpra show the hurricane risk reduction system will perform as intended. will it be tested? yes. but it was built for this moment. i have a tremendous amount of confidence in the team we've assembled at the state level. all the local officials and first responders, and our federal partners, and by the way, i want to thank fema, the administrator for coming out of texas to embed with us here. i can tell you a short while ago i had a call with the administrator from fema in washington who is closely watching what's happening here. coordinating with us and already
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has various things in route so we can employ them as soon as possible. things like generators and so forth. i have a tremendous amount of confidence in our team. all the state and local officials in our local partners. i also have confidence in the people of louisiana. they always continue to inspire me. with their goodness and decency and generosity. i know they're going to do e everything they can to protect their friends and family and neighbors. please make sure that you check on them and stay safe. and i know it may not seem this way right now for many people out there across our state, but there is always light after darkness, and i can assure you we're going to get through this. and i do invite everyone to offer up a prayer for our state, for the people of our state.
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that we get through this as soon as possible, and in the best possible shape with the least loss of life. you know, property is replaceable. lives are not. so that is obviously our first order of priority. i'm going to stop there, and take a few questions. feel free to direct your questions to anyone we have assem asemied here. >> reporter: [ inaudible". >> it's weather dependent and quite frankly, before the weather gets good enough for us to respond, it's going to be dark. i can tell you the expectation is that we will be ready at first light tomorrow morning to go out to those areas that we
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know already have received the most damaging impact from the storm. principally wind and storm surge. you mentioned grand isle. i can tell you that the video that i have seen and reports i've received are just tremendous amounts of storm surge there and wind damage. the good news is i hesitate to give you -- something like 98% of grand isle evacuated. and the people who were there, i believe, stayed back in structures specifically designed and built to withstand these types of forces. but i have no doubt we're going to see extreme devastation. grand isle and elsewhere, but we will likely be sometime after first light tomorrow morning before we can get up in the air and get vehicles down there. and, of course, you know, you got to travel la one. i don't know if you saw the video, but it was not in good
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shape earlier. we will be working that just as quickly as we possibly can. and in all likelihood, traveling to grand isle and elsewhere in that vicinity via helicopter. >> reporter: do you have any information about hospitals? [ inaudible ] s. >> no tier one hospitals have been evacuated. tier one is what we commonly think of as a hospital. we have rehab and behavioral health hospitals. they are smaller. we have evacuated four such hospitals. and since i'm on it, i'll tell you we've evacuated 22 nursing homes, 18 assisted living facilities and 61 intermediate care facilities as well. no hospitals have been evacuated
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tier one, because there's nowhere to bring the individuals. they're in a hospital because they need that setting, and we don't have the capacity elsewhere. i mentioned yesterday that over the previous 11 days or so, we've been able to achieve a 20% reduction in our covid in-patient census across the state of louisiana. the good news is almost all of it happened in southeast louisiana. but there's still 2,450 covid patients in our hospitals across the state in addition to all the other patients that remain in our hospitals. and that is a much higher number than we ever experienced in the first three surges. and so it's still a very daunting situation. and quite frankly, we're concerned as we have been for a long time about staffing, but you know, these storms have an impact on staffing, too. in terms of do they have to
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evacuate with their family for some reason? does their home remain habitable so they can live at home and go to work? so we've got an awful lot of work to do, but we'll have no higher priority than making sure the hospitals can remain in operation and functional, and that's going to be a challenge, because we expect widespread power outage for some time. but we know that they have generators. we know that they have stocked up on fuel and water and food. and on pharmaceuticals. things like oxygen and so forth. but quite frankly, we know that the longer the power stays out, the more challenging this is going to be, and the more devastation in an area, the harder it's going to be for them to have the staffing they need, and, you know, one of the challenges that we're having is we actually had staff, additional staff, coming in from out of state yesterday pursuant to contracts we have executed. and the staff wasn't able to get
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in, and because they didn't have any place to stay. there wasn't a hotel room open anywhere. that was a real challenge, and so i guess i say those things just to point out that challenges are going to manifest themselves in ways we can't even imagine now. but we have a great team here, and across the state locally, and we're going to do everything we can to prepare for every contingency that we can come up with right now. but this is going to be a very, very challenging situation. >> the hospitals, are the hospitals in new orleans impacted at all by the pump that went down today? >> we want to break away from the press conference being held by the governor of louisiana. we're going to go straight now to the national response coordination center at fema head quarters. president biden is going to be
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making some remarks about how the federal government is responding to hurricane ida as it's raging across louisiana and that part of the country. let's go to the president here in just a few moments. he's being introduced now by the administrator of fema. and we'll hear from the president in just a few moments. we do know from just a few moments ago, reporters with the president were told about some of the supplies, federal supplies being sent down to the hurricane zone. i imagine the president will talk about that and here's president biden. >> got your hands full. you've done an incredible job so far in prep for this. jill and i are just getting back from dover air force base in my home state where we met with the families of 13 fallen heros in afghanistan. they lost their lives in service to our country, and while we're praying for the best in
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louisiana, let's keep them in our prayers as well. i've just been briefed by fema leadership, and we have real leadership on hurricane ida and the preparations for rescue and response. and the storm is made as you know, better than anyone, but i'm speaking to the public at large here. the storm made land fall a few hours ago. and it continues to rage and ravage everything it comes in contact with. the storm is a life-threatening storm. governor edwards, an old friend is character rising it as one of the strongest hurricanes, strongest in louisiana history since 1850. and the devastation is likely to be immense. we shouldn't kid ourselves. and so the most important thing i can say right now is that everyone, everyone should listen to the instructions from local and state officials. just how dangerous this is. and take it seriously. it's not just the coasts.
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it's not just new orleans. it's north as well. the rainfall is expected to be exceedingly high. and to the people of the gulf coast, i want you to know that we're praying for the best, and planning, prepared for the worst. as soon as the storm passes, we're going to put this -- put the country's full might behind the rescue and recovery. and i mean that. i've been around for a lot of hurricanes. i'm no expert, but i've been around for a lot of hurricanes, and i don't think we've ever had as much preparation, long-term preparation with the levy system. and preparation here. thanks to the administrator, leadership, and the hard work of the fema team, all of whom are gathered behind me, many of whom. we've prepositioned resources we know are going to be needed, and
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equipment and response teams in the region. this includes 2.5 million meals. 3 million liters of water. we've got generators in place, and we're in close touch with the power providers to get and restore power as soon as possible because a lot of it, a lot of it is going to go out, and we should be prepared that it can take a long time no matter how much we've prepositioned, which we have, that is going to take a long time for a lot of them to get back up. it could take a matter of weeks for some places. we've got 13 urban search and rescue teams for those of you who aren't familiar with that. these teams make up about 70 people. and experts. each of the teams can do real serious recovery work. more than 100 ambulances and emergency medical teams have been act vatded. and we're working with the red cross and local partners to open dozens and dozens of shelters
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with cots and blankets and meals to support these who need to evacuate. that will happen mostly in the northern part of the state and maybe in parts of mississippi. and i've already signed an emergency declaration for both louisiana as well as mississippi. and i want to make sure that we're ready to surge all the response capacity capability that we have to deal with whatever comes next. and a lot is going to be coming. i've been in touch with the governors of alabama, mississippi, and louisiana. my team at the white house has been in touch with other state, local, and federal officials in the region. and they know, they know there will be the full resources and support of the federal government. so i want to emphasize, again, this is going to be a devastating, a devastating hurricane. a life-threatening storm. so please, all you folks in mississippi and louisiana,
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mississippi and god knows, maybe even further east, take precautions. listen. take it seriously. really, very seriously. and you know, the whole of government effort is ready to get to work. i can't think of any time where the federal, state, and local folks have worked together more closely, and in advance of an obvious significant natural disaster. folks, we're -- we're going to be here. we're going to be here to help the gulf region get back on its feet as quickly as possible as long as it takes. as long as it takes. thank you. and may god protect those in the path of the storm and god willing, we'll get through this sooner than later. don't kid yourself. this is going to take a lot of resources, a little bit of luck, and my grandfather would say, the grace of god and the good will of the neighbors. and by the way, look out for your neighbors if you're in the region. thank you very much, and thank
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you, commissioner. i really -- i'm not supposed to take any questions, but go ahead. >> mr. president, on afghanistan -- >> i'm not going to answer afghanistan now. it looks like president biden may be making a couple more remarks? >> thank you you've done everything you can to help prepare these folks, but i tell you what, i think we're going to be -- they're going to be taking a look at additional levy systems. >> that was president biden at the fema head quarters. it's always good to listen to
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the president of the united states as long as the cameras are rolling when he's in the room. the president pledging the federal government's full support to louisiana, mississippi, the gulf region as it grapples with hurricane ida and the aftermath. you heard the president warning people in that area to take cover and take the storm seriously. just before we had president biden's remarks, we were hearing from governor edwards in louisiana who had the same message. but before we get back to the situation in louisiana, i want to turn to jeremy diamond, our white house correspondent. give us any thoughts you might have on what we heard from the president a few moments ago. what stood out to you, jeremy? >> reporter: well, i think it was clear the president wanted to send a message to the people in the path of the storm saying this is a life-threatening storm. he urged people to listen to instructions from state and local officials. and he also talked about the recovery process. even as the storm is beginning to make land fall, the president saying that the federal government is mobilized and is
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going to help to try and get this region back on it feet as quickly as possible. he also urged people to look out or their neighbors and we heard him speaking to staff j encouraging fema staff on what is going to be a grueling couple of days for the staff. the president at the end there, decided to take some questions. but once the questions were on the subject of afghanistan, the president decided he did not want to engage with those questions. so clearly the president trying to shift the focus away from that and show he's focussed on the storm at the moment. of course, earlier today the president did attend the dignified transfer of the 13 service members who died in that terrorist attack in kabul. so afghanistan certainly part of the president's scheduling on his mind but not something he wanted to discuss further while he was at fema head quarters moments ago. >> all right. jeremy, thank you. we should know a fema spokesperson before the president was speaking did say that fema is sending 200
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ambulances, 139,000 tarps, 3.5 million meals and 2.5 million liters of water to the gulf region for people who are dealing with the aftermath of hurricane ida. of course, it's still wreaking havoc across the area. we're going to take a break and come back and see how things are developing with the storm after a quick break. we'll be right back. or bring a friend and you both get a month for $5. so the more people you roll with, the more you save. visible. unlimited data as low as $25 a month. or bring a friend and you both get a month for $5. [whispered] air wick. do you want more control of your fragrance? the air wick scented oil warmer has five settings, not three, for better frangrance control than febreze plug. take control of your fragrance with air wick.
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hurricane ida making land fall as around extremely dangerous category 4 storm with winds of 150 miles per hour. this is only the third time a hurricane of this magnitude has hit louisiana. nadia is in new orleans. the very city devastated by hurricane katrina 16 years ago to the day. nadia, the mayor is urging
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residents to stay inside, hunker down for the remainder of the day. we heard the governor saying if you're hunkering down, you may have to be prepared to wait it out 72 hours before rescuers could get to you? what are the conditions like and are you anticipating a situation where things are going to get worse? >> yeah. jim, i can see exactly why the governor says it's going to take at least 72 hours. we're waiting for hurricane ida to show up. now she's here and creating havoc. we know we have the downed power lines. more than 2000 customers without power. this is canal street. this is a major thoroughfare through the city of new orleans. look at the damage the storm has done. the bus stops have had the glass blown out of them from the wind. the palm trees are barely hanging on. but there is a good sight here. we're seeing some emergency crew workers that are out here that are with the electric company.
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they're waiting for their orders and they're really waiting for the storm to end to wrap up. these guys are coming from all different states to the city of new orleans. their trucks are lined up all along canal street. they're get in the cars and try to get the power back on. it's going to take time. first they have to wait for the storm to be done. then you have to go out and do damage assessments. after that, they get their marching orders to try to help to get the power restored. jim, you talked about the conditions this. we just learned over in the mississippi river, not far from here, the flow has partially been reversed because of the fury of hurricane ida. that's what we're experiencing. i want you to look at why it's so dangerous out here right now. we're waiting for this light fixture to finish toppling over. different pieces have been broken off because of the wind and hurricane ida. we've got an lot of questions, especially on social media if
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we're staying safe. we're switched over to more appropriate gear for safety. we're wearing goggles. we switched over to ball caps that have a hard hat on the inside in case there's debris that may come our way. we're being as safe as possible as we're out in the streets. so we're seeing folks who have come in to help clean up after the storm. we're not seeing a lot of residents. most of them are inside their houses hunkering down. they have to have enough water and supplies for two weeks. that was the warning before the storm. in case they have to be in their house without power. jim? >> all right. nadia, great reporting there as the winds are picking up in new orleans. we'll get back to you. thank you so much. take cover and stay safe. let's get to fema head quarters in washington where we saw the president moments ago. we have the acting associate administrator for response and recovery. david, thank you for talking to us. from where you are at the command center, what's your
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primary concern at this point? what are the areas you're focussed on? we saw nadia in new orleans. you could really tell the winds are picking up there. as she was saying, they're still waiting on the full brunt of the storm to blow through. >> well, that's right. our primary concern right now is life safety. hurricane ida made land fall a couple hours ago as a ferocious category 4 storm. 150 miles per hour winds. and it is proceeding into south eastern louisiana. folks throughout south eastern louisiana and south western mississippi need to take this storm seriously. they need to be in their safe place now. hunkered down. if they still have power, we want them to plug in their devices to get a full charge in case they lose power. fill up the tub with water and make sure you're in a safe place. this is a very dangerous storm. and we want to reinforce what the mayor and governor and the entire team down there have been
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saying. get to your safe place now. >> and we just heard from president biden at fema head quarters a short time ago. what was his message to all of you when the cameras were not rolling there? they were rolling just for a brief moment and then the pool of reporters was ushered out. it sounded like he was really trying to rally the troops there at fema head quarters for a few moments. >> yeah. the president's message was clear as a bell to the fema team. lean forward and do everything you can to support the people of louisiana, mississippi, and anyone else affected by the hurricane. we've been positioning for days throughout the projected area of impact. we hwere able to position west and east of the track with meals, water, tarps, personnel like incident management assistance teams and search and rescue teams from around the country. state and local firefighters. ems and rescue personnel. they deploy when their country
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needs them. we've got coast guard from california, from the great lakes, and all the way to cape cod that are prestaged and ready to support life-saving, life sustaining missions as soon as the storm passes and it's safe to do so. >> and 24 00 fema personnel have been deployed. give us a a breakdown of what the workers are doing. if the number could go up. i suppose you have the capacity to ramp up even more depending on what the storm does. >> well, that's right. and you see the folks seated behind me in the national response coordination center. we're getting resource requests and making sure we can get resources prepositioned. there are folks like those you see behind me. there are folks who will be the first out on the ground to get information out to disaster survivors about how they can get assistance. make sure they can get the set of meals and water tarps, cots, deployed to where they need to go from the staging bases to the points of distribution that will support the state of louisiana and the state of mississippi
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within the days ahead. our job is to get into position as best we can, and be ready to support those requests. right now really, really important that folks in south eastern louisiana and inland and inland, this is a storm that is going to have effects far inland. it's not just the wind. it's not just the storm surge on the coast. 10 to 5 inches of rainfall. isolated areas of 20 inches. that means flash flooding. and that can come on out of nowhere. it's critical folks download the fema app and put in the zip code to get realtime alerts. this storm is far from over and folks need to take warnings from state and local officials very seriously. >> that's interesting that you can just get onto an app and get that kind of information. as you know the states in the hurricane's path were experiencing a shortage of icu beds due to covid. how is fema grappling with that,
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handling that situation? you could -- we heard from the governor yesterday, saying they maybe have 450 hospital beds in the whole state because of the situation with covid right now. those numbers may be a little different today. obviously that is something you may have to deal with. how is fema looking at that right now. >> so a couple things. first, covid makes everything more difficult. in the context of disasters. that's why we're encouraging people to get one of the safe and effective covid vaccines that's available. and also encouraging people to think about their family preparedness kit. if you have young kids like i do, make sure you have masks ready to go in case you have to go to a shelter and get yourself ready. the response, we've been supporting the state of louisiana to help decompress and support the hospital workers who have been heros on the frontlines. for the past several weeks we've done that and we'll continue to provide that support in the days ahead as louisiana deals with
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the confluence of covid and the effects from hurricane ida. >> okay. some great information there. fema acting associate administrator. thank you for your time. we appreciate it. you have long hours ahead for you an your team. we appreciate your hard work. we'll be right back in a few moments. stay with us. millions of vulnerable americans struggle to get reliable transportation to their medical appointments. that's why i started medhaul. citi launched the impact fund to invest in both women and entrepreneurs of color like me, so i can realize my vision and give everything i've got to my company, and my community. i got you. for the love of people. for the love of community. for the love of progress. citi. ♪
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hurricane ida is battering louisiana right now. you're looking at the latest pictures from grand isle, louisiana. across the state more than 285,000 customers are without
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power and in some areas emergency services have been completely suspended. it's too dangerous for many even trained emergency crews to venture out. derek van dam is on the scene in houma, louisiana. derek, you can tell. that situation is deteriorating where you are. what can you tell us right now? >> reporter: jim, these winds are he lashs. this is what a monster category 4 hurricane feels like. it's pins and needles on every exposed part of your body. it feels like a jet engine spraying at you at 100 miles per hour. if i stepped 20 feet backwards, i would not be able to stand. we are approaching the inner eye wall of major hurricane ida. this is a significant storm.
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and the national weather service verifies that. they've issued what is called an extreme wind warning. our phones have been lighting up, left, right, and center with the alerts. and it's reserved for only the most dangerous of situations. sustained 115-mile-per-hour winds. there goes the camera lens from our particular camera equipment. you'll have to bear with us. we're in the middle of a hurricane. clearly. and conditions change very rapidly. i want our viewers at home to understand we have the ability to duck into cover. i'm in as safe of a position as i can potentially be in with a building that was built post-katrina. we have had reinforced concrete walls. windows here that can withstand category 3 and category 4 hurricane winds. this storm is an absolute monster. and every time we hear that all
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too familiar sound of the train whistle, of the winds whipping in this area. it reminds me of hurricanes in the past and sends shivers down my back. jim? >> derek, i can tell you right now, i know you're just hanging on the best you can. everything you guys are doing is perfect. the shot looks -- it's rough, but those are the conditions you're in right now. but you're holding up just fine. let me ask you, though, based on what you can see right now, can you give us any sense of the damage in the area you are now? are you expecting more damage as the hours go on? >> so i have just done a bit of reconnaissance around the hotel. there are trees that have toppled over onto vehicles in the parking lots here. and there are trees bending over literally. behind us you can see a small window of what we're
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experiencing. from my balcony, you get a 360-degree perspective of what's unfolding here in houma, louisiana. it's going to be a very rough next few hours as the eye approaches this particular region. we know that the inner eye wall, we keep talking about it. that is the area where the winds will be strongest and then what will happen, winds are calm in this area. the sun may come out. birds will fly around and the destruction unfolding behind me will lay flat on the ground but then be picked right back up again on the back side of the hurricane. and what makes it particularly dangerous, jim is that people come outdoors because they think the storm has ended. that is not the time you want to be outdoors. the back side of the storm could not be more dangerous. it will take that shrapnel, debris and projectile it across
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the air and make it very difficult and it will come from a different direction as well. have to be prepared for that. >> all right. that's a very good point you're making that you're on the front side of this eye wall and thing maze calm down where you're at. people may be tempted to go outside. if anybody is watching or listening, do not go outside when things are clear in the middle of that eye because the other side of that eye wall is going to slam into the area where you are and send things flying. derek, hang on. we'll go to another expert and get back to you shortly. thanks. get back inside. appreciate that report. hurricane ida is hitting louisiana as it deals with a surge in covid infections and hospitalizations. dr. mark klein is from children's hospital, new orleans, in the thick of things right now. doctor, we just learned your hospital lost power. maybe it's back on. you look okay from our vantage point. how are things where you are?
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tell us how things are going where you are. >> conditions outside are pretty rough. i'm sitting here talking to you just with natural light. we are on emergency generators, city power has been lost, but all of the patient care areas have power through emergency generation. the conditions outside are rough. and to my eye looking out the window are getting rougher. but inside we have got everything under control. we have a ride out team of health professionals that have been here locked down in the building since before 7:00 this morning and we are here for the duration and we plan to take good care of all the patients and the families here in the hospital and make sure that everyone comes through this in good shape. >> and before hurricane ida, this is so important, your children's hospital was already facing the devastating impact of the pandemic. your icus treating so many children and this month the federal surge team of emergency
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responders was called in to help. that was before ida. are you ready for this? if you have to have more patients coming in, more children coming in who need treatment at this point? >> we're ready. we do have bed capacity. we have the staff that we need to take care of additional children and so we'll do what we have to do. our commitment is never to turn a child away and to take care of any child or family that needs us. and about the last thing in the world we wanted at this point in time was a category 4 hurricane. but here it is. and we just have to deal with it. >> and how maxed out is the hospital right now? can you handle another surge of patients? it sounds like from what you're saying, you know, you'll just have to do. you'll make do. you'll make room for patients who come in. but give the viewers a sense of how maxed out things are right now and what covid has done.
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we've seen so many heartbreaking stories in the news in recent days. "the new york times" had one this morning of children suffering from this delta variant. what has that been like on your end of things? >> jim, it's hit us really hard. it's been a gut punch to be honest with you. we had not seen anything like this in the earlier surges of covid-19. and the delta is just a whole other animal. when it comes to children. a lot of them getting really sick. we've had some desperately ill children across the age range from early infancy to teenagers in our icu, and the remarkable thing is that the nurses and doctors who have been taking care of those patients and really literally working themselves to exhaustion doing so are the very same people who are locked down in the building right now taking care of patients over the course of this hurricane. it's just been an extraordinary
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and frankly an inspiring thing for me as an older physician. to see these young physicians who are just working so hard and giving it all they've got every single day. and it gives me confidence that if another surge comes, we'll manage through it. but we're beginning to see -- >> the kids are doing okay? dr. mark klein, at least that is of some comfort to us. we appreciate it. we'll check back with you and try to see how things are going, but let us know if things start heading downhill there on your end. we appreciate your time. thanks so much. >> thank you. again, the storm surge alone from hurricane ida is expected to be impossible to survive in some places. our special coverage continues, next. you're live in the cnn newsroom. and just started digging y
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you are live in the cnn newsroom.osta in washington. we're following breaking news. hurricane ida is pummeling louisiana today after making landfall near port fourchon a short time ago. now officially tied for the strongest storm ever to hit the state with 115-mile-per-hour winds. the extremely dangerous category 4 storm is thrashing the air. it's so strong, ida overpowered the mighty mississippi river, partially reversing the flow of the river near new orleans. officials across louisiana are warning if you are near the eye of the storm, help is not on the way. one new orleans official saying if you call 911 because you want someone to get to you, quote, i'm sorry. we're passed that point. and the worst could


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