Transcript

Gov. Scott to south Fla. residents: Evacuate before midnight

Florida governor shares a warning on 'The Story'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," September 8, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Well, so often, we see storms that ramp up and then spin out, and we have, in many ways, become cynical about the hype that comes surround this. But tonight, we have to go with what the experts are telling us in their own words: a hurricane catastrophe has become unavoidable. Irma is strong as Hurricane Andrew but much larger. And few people alive today have experienced a storm like this. You are about to hear a brand-new update from the National Hurricane Center that's just moments away. But first, here's the FEMA administrator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROCK LONG, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Unbelievable. The language around this thing. It's good to have you with us tonight to watch this unfold together. I'm Martha MacCallum and the best preview of what we have to come and what we expect is by looking at the past 24 hours in the islands in the Caribbean. A combination out there of posh resorts and deep poverty. They have been pummeled so hard that it is hard to know when some of them, like Barbuda, will ever be able to recover. And we're still just getting pictures in there because there's just not a lot of infrastructure in some of these places.

So far, 24 people are dead on those islands, but it is still early on that number. Turks and Caicos, hit very hard as it went through there last night, and they are just getting out now to get a look around. Florida Governor, Rick Scott, no doubt looks at it and doubles his resolve to keep pushing people to get out of his state and to move to higher ground in the north. By midnight tonight, if you don't -- he warns -- at that point, you're basically going to be on your own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-FLORIDA: This is a life-threatening situation. This storm will rush in and could kill you. If you're in those counties, if you're planning to and you'll not leave by midnight tonight, you'll have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: And here's President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're very prepared. We're prepared at the highest level. It's a really bad one but we're still prepared to the highest level. Hopefully, everything will go well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: We are prepared to the absolute max. Hopefully, it's going to go well. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So, we've got you covered tonight on everything -- Hurricane Irma and live report throughout Florida. Florida Governor Rick Scott will join me in just a moment, and Brian Llenas is live in Miami, where people are struggling to find gas in some cases to get out. We have good news in some ways on that front. But we begin tonight with Fox News Meteorologist, Adam Klotz is tracking this hurricane. So, where is it looking like it's going to go now, Brian?

ADAM KLOTZ, FOX NEWS CHANNEL METEOROLOGIST: Hi there, Martha. Yes, we continue to track this one and beginning to see some motion towards Cuba. There is your eye of the storm moving off to the west at 12 miles an hour now. Still, a very powerful storm, as you're looking at winds at 155 miles an hour taking in on this. And you can really see the general movement, moving there right towards the north coast of Cuba. It's around that time that makes contacts or gets very close that we're going to see thing turn and then begin its moves slowly towards Florida here. This is the setup for; that's going to happen. Still, a category four hurricane. You see it brushing there right up against the coastline.

And then by Sunday morning, we're running back out over, over open water between Cuba and Florida. You know what, we could pick up a little bit more heat; there's a lot of warm water there that's going to allow this thing to fuel back up, perhaps, back up to a category five before eventually making landfall. And all the timing right now, that's indicating a landfall coming Sunday morning, 8, 9, 10:00, and then slowly working its way, and for now, up the West Coast of Florida. Here's what that motion looks like again, and you can pay attention to your time. There's that center of circulation moving right along the coast of Cuba, making that turn over that very warm water. And what happens when it runs over the warm water? This is the forecast of winds.

So, you start to see these white, and it just explodes there. Back over warm water means that it intensifies, the winds pick up even stronger. Obviously, that is bad news for folks in South Florida, because, then some of those very intense winds run up on the shore -- that's going to cause several problems, obviously. All the wind damage you incur, it's going to raise the tides; it's going to be a tough one. And that's why we're looking at hurricane watches and warnings there across South Florida. Currently, the watches are a little bit further up the coast but as we track this thing working in that direction, no doubt that those warnings will eventually extend farther up as well.

Especially, if we begin to see if this going to be running up the west side-- which all of our current models are indicating at this point. But what is going to do besides that initial wind damage? Well, all of that wind, it also pushes water towards the coast and that's when we're going to start to worry about the storm surge. This is the storm surge forecast, especially there on the western side of the tip of Southern Florida, perhaps, 5 to 10 feet of standing water rolling up on the shore. That is going to be a huge system, Martha, one we're paying very close attention to. And then, look at this -- here, you see this line right there? That is the path that Irma took.

But this back here, is no longer Irma, that is Jose. Now, a category storm right on that exact same path. And in your open, you were mentioning some of the islands in the Lesser Antilles that it ran over. Well, take a look at this, Jose is going to run back over those as a category four storm. For now, this eventually takes a little bit sharper turn to the north. So, it does not have the U.S. in, it's eye sights for the time being. But this is obviously one we're going to continue to watch really closely, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Just brutal for those islands, unbelievable. Adam, thank you so much. We'll talk to you in a bit. So, here now is Governor of Florida, Rick Scott. And I just want to tell everybody, we've got a bit of a delay in our audio signal which is the least of the problems that Florida is facing right now, but we'll deal with that. Governor, good evening to you. Your thoughts as we listen to this forecast and it looks like it's going to slam into the Keys. Looks like they are really going to get hit hard. Let's start there.

SCOTT: Yes. I mean, Martha it's -- this is a devastating storm, I'm so concerned. We've got this unbelievable storm surge. It's going to really pound at the Keys to start with, and then, now you see as it tracks a little bit west. The storm surge on the west coast is going to be, you know, 5 to 10 feet. And you think that's your entire first floor of your house. And this is a rolling water coming in, it flushes in and it flushes out. You can't survive this.

I tell everybody: if you're in the evacuation zone anywhere in our state, you've got to get out now. And if you're in the southern part of our state, don't get on the highway after midnight, you will never make it to where you want to. We're opening up shelters. We'll do everything we can to keep yourself safe. We're not going to spare any expense. But you've got be prepared and evacuate.

MACCALLUM: Yes. We are hearing some mixed stories about whether or not that's happening. You know, some of the folks that I spoke with today, talked about there are still a lot of people on the beaches and different places around. But I got the impression from you when you were talking earlier, that you feel like that people are getting out, they are evacuating. How is it?

SCOTT: Well, you can see our highways. I mean, if you go highways, all our evacuation routes all the way up to north -- there, we have a lot of the cars on there. The traffic is flowing. Our big issue has been to keep fuel on our roads, so our cars can keep moving. So, that's positive. But you know, especially -- remember, this track was an East Coast track, not it looks like a West Coast track. So, I think some people might have been complacent, so I'm -- I travel to three cities today.

I just left Fort Meyers about three hours ago, and my message is: if you're in the evacuation zone, you've got to get out, we're opening up shelters all across the state. We're going to continue to open up shelters all across the state. We're going to continue to open up shelters. We're going to do everything we can to keep you safe. Just think about it, you can rebuild your house, you can get your possessions. I can't rebuild your life, I can't rebuild your family. So, think about everybody in your family.

MACCALLUM: I heard you today saying that you're a dad and you're a grandfather and you're concerned about your family. You wanted to convey to everybody that they need to look at it in that kind of personal way. How would they feel if they didn't do what they needed to do right now? And we want to encourage everybody to listen to you. You've unequivocal in your explanation and your determination that they absolutely need to go. In terms of gasoline and fuel, there has been a lifting of some restrictions to allow more to go your way, right?

SCOTT: Absolutely. I want to thank the White House. I want to thank FEMA, EPA, Department of Energy, they've all lifted restrictions. Other states have helped us get more fuel in here by also lifting restrictions. But we've struggled all week to get enough fuel into the state. As you know, Harvey didn't help. The issue that went there, and so we're working hard to get fuel in. And I'm doing law enforcement escorts to get the fuel from the depots to the gas stations. But our ports are starting to close and so we won't be getting more fuel in until after the storm.

MACCALLUM: How do you -- you know, it looked like an eastern track, now they're saying a western track up this side of Florida. Do you move resources from one side to the other? I mean, that must be pretty tough.

SCOTT: You know, here's what's really hard, Martha. Typically, a storm will come from one part, one way or the other. So, then, even in the state, you can share resources. This one, it's engulfing our entire state. It's wider than our entire state. So, we're prepositioning utility assets, prepositioning law enforcement. I've called up 7000 members of the National Guard, but it's always harder when this keeps changing. Because this is an emergency and you're responding every day and second; we do calls with all of our county emergency management teams twice a day, and we just solve the problems as they happen. And we try to do it in advance, but this one is a tough one.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, there's the struggle that you're going through right now. The before, and then as we all know, there's going to be the after -- where you're just going to be putting out fires, so to speak, in all of these areas. Governor, thank you very much for getting your message out with us here tonight. And we continue to tell people the message that you're giving them and that is if you're watching this, we hope that you are not in Southern Florida and that you've moved your way north. And if you haven't, you need to do that now. Governor, thank you so much, best of luck to you. We'll speak with you, soon.

So, there are mass evacuations as the governor was just saying across Florida. And as you heard him talking about that, we have been watching all of these developments. He said after midnight, those who are still there are basically going to be on their own. So, the evacuation of more than a million people from Miami Dade County alone -- that's one of the largest evacuations in American history. And of course, you're going to get traffic jams and gas shortages, which we just spoke about up and down that coastline. Brian Llenas is live in Miami shores with the look at that situation tonight. Hi, Brian.

BRIAN LLENAS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. Well, we are at a Publix in Miami Shores. This actually an evacuation zone. And this Publix, like all the Publix in Miami, the main supermarket down here will be closed at 8:00 p.m. What you're seeing right now is the last dash of purchases that people are making before the storm. This is it. The pizzas, the (INAUDIBLE), we have some paper towels, chips, and apparently, they're out of Oreos. These are the very last purchase that people can make. Because after this, that is it, and they have to have food. You can take a look at here, one of the big popular things and items is ice.

Actually, the only thing that's it left is actually dry ice. If you take a look, it's not the regular ice. But people are still taking it because that's all they've got. We continue down here, another big thing, obviously, is water. The Publix general manager here is saying, that 30 pallets of water are gone, they went through all of it. Ten pallets, they went through just in an hour. And people have been limited to four gallons per person. That's it the water aisle right there. You see, there only -- there's actually a few bottles left that are new, and that's it. The other popular thing is, obviously, bread. Bread is now gone as well.

And when you talk to the people here, it is it a mixed bag as to who's here. And so, there are some people that live here in the evacuation zone that is actually staying put. And there are other people that are -- I'm sorry -- there are other people that getting food, and actually going outside of the evacuation zone, and that -- it's really a mixed bag. One person, I spoke to said, I'm from Miami Dade, I'm not leaving, I was here Wilma, I was here for Andrew, I'm getting my food, and I'm going to hunker down. Another person said, I'm getting out, but everybody, obviously, needs food -- and that's the important thing no matter where you are.

The state is telling people: even if you go to a shelter, you're going to need food, you're going to need bedding because sometimes they just don't have it. So, it's important that you get all of those supplies. And really, Martha, you have 45 minutes and that's it. The only people that you see on the streets here in Miami are people at gas stations, Miami-Dade downtown, and the city of Miami completely, really empty. And so, that is what you're seeing here. There is milk here and some people are making some last efforts. But yes, you know, I got to tell you, though, Martha, really quick.

The tension that some of these places have been high, and we've seen some altercation -- well, we've heard, we've heard of altercations, but there have been police at these Publix's to make sure that people e sure people are doing it right. But kudos to the Publix staff; many of the people that work here, putting in 74 hours this week despite having to be in the evacuation zone. Though, general manager of the store saved a pallet of water and food for them, so that they -- after they get out of this shift, they can take that food and go where ever they need to go. Because come Saturday, there's not going to be any food.

MACCALLUM: Yes. It's no surprise. There's so much anxiety around this storm, and you know, people do get panicked about getting what they need and clearing out those shelves, and they're trying to leave enough for everybody else. And there's no more Oreos, Brian. So, I mean, what are you going to do? That's an emergency. Thank you so much, Brian. Great stuff. We'll see you soon.

All right. So, we're just hours away now from the first impact of Hurricane Irma. And one storm chaser said, he is a storm chaser and he's pretty afraid of what's headed his way. So, he's trying to tell the people that he sees on the beach. If he's worried, they really need to get out. We are live in Key Largo, coming up. Plus, the most devastating hurricane to ever hit Florida was Hurricane Andrew. Look at this pictures from 1992; look at the comparison here on the right is the hurricane -- on the right is Hurricane Irma and on the left is Hurricane Andrew. Karl Rove and Mike Huckabee are here to talk to us about all of this and a bright spot during challenging times is five -- all five living former presidents coming together for this cause. We will be right back with more on "The Story."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LONG: It's not a question of if Florida's going to be impacted. It's a question of how bad Florida is going to be impacted, and where the storms end up over the next four to five days as it passes inland.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMAN GASTESI, ADMINISTRATOR, MONROE COUNTY, FLORIDA: I'm not going to risk the safety of our first responders for anybody's irresponsibility for not leaving. Again, if you stay down here if you're listening, you're on your own. Don't even dial 911, because nobody's even going to answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Wow. All right. That's Monroe County, Florida Administrator, Roman Gastesi, in a blunt warning to the Florida Key. Fox News' Adam Housley is in the Keys right now, in Key Largo, with that part of the story for us. Hi, Adam.

ADAM HOUSLEY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. Yes, you know, the keys to the first place to get evacuation orders. So, people here had a couple of days to get out. There are a few cars if people going -- may be waiting the last possible minute. The roads are still open. But the last bus has left. And we are bracing for those first bands to come through here. This place is called Tower of Pizza in Key Largo, it's literally the last place we found open anywhere in the Keys. You got to believe there's some place else open somewhere, but this place is the last place open. And Anastacia Ageus, I know your family has been here for 30 years, you guys decided to stay open, and obviously, you've been packed. Why did you guys decide to stay up this late under this threat?

ANASTACIA AGIUS, OWNER TOWER OF PIZZA RESTUARANT: This is something my father has been doing for the past 30 years. He has never shut down, so he's in Greece right now, on vacation, and we're here just doing what he did for the past 30 years.

HOUSLEY: And you guys rode out Andrew, 25 years ago. Upstairs, you got a cat-five, you know, place to stay. But as you see these images come in, and you see others who decided to stay, I mean, what are you guys talking about? Are you guys worried about what's coming this way? Are people changing their minds and getting out?

AGIUS: Of course, we worry. But yes, a lot of people left already and still they're thinking about leaving and we're going to just stick together as a family and see how it goes.

HOUSLEY: And you took the reason why? One of the locals told me: where do I go? The whole state of Florida is under evacuation, I can't drive to Georgia. The lines of traffic to the north are pretty tough right now. Down here they're wide open, but as you get further north in the state, they're bad. I mean, what -- is this the safest place for you guys to stay?

AGIUS: I think so. Because here, we know we have food, we have water, electricity, we're going to have everything. We have everything set up. So, this is the probably the safest way to do this.

HOUSLEY: All right. Well, good luck with everything. And of course, we'll keep an eye on you guys much over the weekend. I will tell you that, what they have done, and what this community is on, Martha, have you seen small communities across the county in situations like this, they all know each other. So, the locals are coming here, they're keeping track of where everybody is going to be, they're writing down addresses and phone number if the phone is still up or if the cell towers are still up, so people can check on each other. They're talking about sharing different water -- someone came in behind us, as you can tell. So, it's a little festive for people here as they prepare for the storm, but as you can tell there is a worry on everybody's mind, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, it's festive in the Florida Keys. You said that she has a cat-five spot in the building, what do you mean by that?

HOUSLEY: OK. So, for people at home who don't know. There is a lot of buildings who require -- the new building coats of Florida be cat-five that could withstand a cat-five hurricane. So, when you say cat-five, the building here is cat-five rated. Where we're staying is as well. That means that a category five storm was to come ashore here, that building would still stand. So, basically, the way it was re-enforced, Masonite block, usually, storm shutters that are metal, and that kind of thing. So, they have a cat-five location to stay in here.

MACCALLUM: All right. Well, we hope they're good and safe. Thank you so much, Adam, good to see you. So, let's go now to Miami Shores, Florida -- that is where storm chaser, Ben McMillan, is watching and waiting for Irma's impact. He's also a Correspondent for Weather Nation T.V. Ben, good to see you tonight. You talked to our producer earlier today and I think of everybody that I have heard from, your predictions might be the most dire. In fact, you said that parts of Florida are going to look like a third world country? Do you really believe that's true?

BEN MCMILLAN, STORM CHASER AND CORRESPONDENT FOR WEATHER NATION T.V.: Martha, if you look at downtown Miami, you see large skyscrapers with glass windows and tremendous amounts of infrastructure which under the winds of category four or a category five hurricane will fail. The city of Miami putting out a statement, saying if a construction crane gets winds of over 135 miles an hour, which is well-below this current hurricane's levels, those will begin the topple. Those were at tops of skyscrapers throughout the Miami area. So, if you can imagine, large cranes, tons of metals coming, piling down to the ground, and striking anything in their way. That's just one the predictions that we're looking at here tonight in Florida.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I know they, really, in some cases, were not able to take those cranes down, so they're just going to have to take their chances with those. And there's 25 or something of them in the Miami -- in the Downtown Miami area, where they do a lot of building. In terms of the people that you've spoken to there today, I know that you are also encouraging them -- it's the big theme tonight. You know, look, do not try to ride this out. You said you're a little bit afraid to be there yourself.

MCMILLAN: Yes, Martha, even experienced storm chaser, some of the best in the world who are on location or are here in Florida are having to think about contingency plans, places they can go to keep themselves safe. And these are the professionals that do this day in and day out. We're looking at having to go on the extremely strong structures like parking garages and get up off the ground level because of that devastating storm surge which is forecasted, which is lots of water coming in off the ocean and flooding everything in its path.

MACCALLUM: I mean, it really is and you can -- the wind is whipping up where you are right now. You know, what's your sense of when you're going to start to really see some of those bands whipping towards -- over the keys. I think it looks like where it's going to start, right?

MCMILLAN: Yes. Well, Hurricane Irma is only about 300 miles off to the Florida Peninsula, and it's slowly drifting this way. So, you're going to see conditions continue to deteriorate throughout the evening. This is Biscayne Bay. Behind me, you can already see some of the waves in the bay here starting to have some of those white caps on top of them. So, we're only going to see conditions go downhill here as the evening goes on.

MACCALLUM: So, tell me what your plan is. You said that storm chasers are coming up with a plan, where are you going to go if it gets too rough?

MCMILLAN: Well, Martha, again, we don't advise anyone to do what we do.
We're professionals, we do this all the time, and we go through extensive training to this job. But our plan, again, is to go to the strongest structures possible, concrete garages where they're going to withstand those winds no matter how strong it gets, we'll be safe.

MACCALLUM: All right. Best of luck to you, Ben. Good analysis of all of this, and we'll be watching throughout. So, we want to go now to the National Hurricane Center where Ed XXX is standing by with the latest look at what he's expecting. This is where they watch all of it and where they give us the latest track. What is the latest track, Ed?

ED RAPPAPORT, ACTING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: The latest track for out hurricane is to continue to move towards the west, very near the north coast of Cuba. And then, tomorrow, make a turn to the north. And where that turn occurs is going to be critical for the impacts in South Florida. I would appear that regardless of where the turn occurs, however, the Florida Keys are at great risk -- in particular for the storm surge which is the rising of water, and that's going to be on the order of five to 10 feet with damaging waves on top. What kind of conditions we have on Florida Peninsula, still to be determined. It does appear though that given the size of the hurricane, it's likely that almost all of the Southern -- two-thirds of the Peninsula, has a high chance of getting hurricane force winds.

MACCALLUM: So, do you have any idea -- when you look at it now -- at what time it's going to likely hit the wall where it makes the turn?

RAPPAPORT: Well, we're forecasting that turn to occur. If you take a look at this, there are a lot of colors here but boiling it all down, it turns forecast to occur during the day tomorrow, perhaps, tomorrow evening. The further west it goes -- and here's Florida -- the chances for severe impacts decrease, and in the eastern part of the state. But if the turn comes a little earlier, then, the risk is very high for the eastern part of the state. We just don't know exactly, yet, where that's going to be. The hurricane force would extend out 50 miles on the either side, so we'll watch and see where that detail occurs in terms of the tractor.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I think people -- you know, you sort of getting used to whatever numbers you've been hearing, right? So, we were hearing 185 miles an hour yesterday. Now, we're hearing 140 miles an hour, and should we caution people against thinking that that is an improving situation or one that's going to be any easier to weather?

RAPPAPORT: At this stage, we're at the borderline of category four or five, and we don't think there'll be much change. There'll be some fluctuations over the next day or so, but still a threat as a category four, at least at landfall. And what that brings with it is that storm surge we talked about, and here's some example of what storm surge looks like and what it can do. We have our hurricane warning in effect. And for the first time, this year, National Services is issuing storm surge warnings, they're in effect for South Florida coast and the Florida Keys, and the definition is life-threatening storm surge, life-threatening inundation within the next 36 hours.

MACCALLUM: And we're in Houston this week. And you can see, you know, just the impact of the water is just so incredible on all of these homes. I have to ask you about Jose, which is also churning out there, what's your prediction there?

RAPPAPORT: You know, the forecast for Jose is for it to remain off of the continental United States. There is some risk for a second hit to northeastern most Leeward Islands, but it's a long way off. And at this point, we're not expecting it to be a problem for the U.S.

MACCALLUM: The pictures that I'm looking at next to you are extraordinary. I mean, when you look at that storm surge and the winds that whipping in, and cars being, you know, completely covered on some of these roads. It is just -- it's really incredible to watch this thing play out. You know, when you guys are watching it at the National Hurricane Center, you know, you're comparing it, obviously, to all of the ones that have come before, trying to get a handle on it, right?

RAPPAPORT: That's right. But of course, what occurs on any particular occasion is also slightly dependent on the kind of area that we're talking about -- is there elevation, what's the coastline look like. In this case, we're heading for one of the most vulnerable spots in the U.S. -- the Florida Keys and the Florida Peninsula.

MACCALLUM: Ed, thank you for much. Ed Rappaport from the National Hurricane Center -- the folks who watch it all for us. So, thanks to him. So, more Hurricane Irma coverage after the break. It looks pretty nice there right now, right? That is South Beach, Florida as they wait for this. Still, obviously, people on the beach despite the governor's pleas for everybody to start evacuating these areas. They want close to six million people to leave Florida.

Governor Huckabee and Karl Rove are here to talk about what's going on tonight, and also their personal stories of working through administrations covering storms like this. And also, this evening, a man who did helicopter rescues during Katrina will be here on the challenges that are still lying ahead for what happens after Irma.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's scary being here and not knowing what you're going to have when we come back.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you choose to remain in your home, please rush your preparations to completion today. Conditions on Friday evening will deteriorate rapidly. Resident should be taking all appropriate precautionary measures now. Don't delay in this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So that is the familiar message tonight, and that one was coming from the Broward County mayor. The county is just north of Miami, second most populist county in Florida, almost 2 million people live there. So did they listen to Mayor Barbara Sharief? She joins me now by phone. Mayor, good to have you with us tonight, I know it's a busy time, obviously. How convinced are you that people heeding these warnings?

BARBARA SHARIEF, BROWARD COUNTY MAYOR: Well, right now shelter capacity has doubled over the past hour and they're tripling, and so, I think that people are evacuating. We are -- occupancy is going up very quickly. So our capacity is increasing. We have capacity for up to 33,000. We have opened up enough shelters to hold 18,500 and we'll keep coming up -- it keeps going up confident. So we're very confident that people are listening and we're hoping that everyone in the evacuation zones have moved out.

MACCALLUM: What's your personal feeling about what's coming in? And when you hear these dire predictions, you know, you obviously, probably, been through hurricanes before, but the way they talk about this one and you look at it on that screen, it's kind of like nobody knows really what this is going to be like?

SHARIEF: So, basically, this is a bigger storm than what we're used to. You know, it's bigger than Andrew, bigger than Wilma, and we've seen the type of damage that occurred from those two storms. And right now, we're just hoping that our early preparation will pay off in terms of saving live and keeping people safe.

MACCALLUM: So what do you do as mayor? Are you staying in your home or you evacuate?

SHARIEF: Right now I'm working at the EOC until they kick me out.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARIEF: Once the EOC is closed down, I'll go home with my kids and, you know, we've already hurricane-proof our house and I've got my supplies since last week, so I'm ready. Ready to weather the storm.

MACCALLUM: I hope they have a lot of cots at the EOC, and I know that people in your area are going to want to hear from you as this moves forward. In terms of the federal response, you know, we heard from the president today, he said that they're as well prepared as they can possibly be and they feel ready. Do you feel that around you, that support?

SHARIEF: Yes. I feel that we are absolutely ready for this. Broward County has prepared for this a very long time. Our staff, our first responders, our emergency operation crew, they are ready. And I think Broward County is ready. We're ready to weather the storm.

MACCALLUM: So we're looking at pictures of shelter right now, and people setting up beds. Tell me about the shelter facilities that you have, are people in school, or are they in gyms, are they in churches, where are they?

SHARIEF: Schools. Our shelters are schools right now. But we do have capacity to go over that if we have to. But right now, we're using our schools and we're not yet reaching that.

MACCALLUM: And so, people are being -- they're sort of in a central room. We're hearing about windows being blown out. Obviously, you know, in the center of those buildings in the safest possible place, right?

SHARIEF: We don't have any of that right now. None of our windows are being blow out. We have very safe and hardened school. We used these schools previously in other hurricane and these schools can withstand this. And, you know, they're build to withstand hurricanes. So I think we're fine in Broward.

MACCALLUM: You know hospitals were one of the scariest things that we've watched, because anyone in a hospital -- they're people in nursing homes in Houston, and they were up to their waist in water in wheelchairs in some of these situations. Do you have facilities like that that you're concern about, people who are infirm or sick in the hospital?

SHARIEF: We've given ample opportunity for any of the facilities that felt like they needed to evacuate, to evacuate. We've taken on the special needs population early. We have transported, you know, hundreds of special need adults to our special need shelter, and as well as kids to hospitals. So I think we're good there. We're going to be OK.

MACCALLUM: Good for you, mayor. Nice to talk you, Barbara Sharief. Thank you very much. We're just watching so many of these officials up and down the state of the Florida, and they all have had these experiences before many of them, and they've certainly watched what happened with Harvey in Texas. So they're getting ready. And they're pretty nice right now in Deerfield Beach, Florida. But the next 24 to 36 hours are going to get pretty ugly in Florida by all estimations as we watch for the second time in two weeks, a major hurricane, back-to-back hitting the United States. Our nation's leaders are coming together in this time. Watch this.

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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

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MACCALLUM: That's good, right? Governor Mike Huckabee and Karl Rove here on that, and some personal storm stories that they will share with us when we come back. Stay with us.

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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very scary. It's a giant storm and it's mother nature, and nobody knows what's going to happen. So, yeah, I've had some sleepless nights.

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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I've stayed there through five hurricanes and did very well. The house is built like a fortress.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're ready.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I'm ready.

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MACCALLUM: Good for him. He's got a house like a fortress. That is just one of the many Florida residents who are refusing to leave despite the dire warnings about Irma's magnitude. And there is also another concern tonight, Miami's many construction cranes. More than two dozen remain in place due to Miami's booming real estate market, and there are real fears that the heavy pieces of metal could go flying through the air, and that is not going to be a pretty picture. Fox News, Steve Harrigan, live in Miami Shores, Florida, with the back story on all of these tonight. Hi, Steve.

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS: Martha, the winds just beginning to pick up right now with Biscayne Bay behind me. A few dozen people have to see those whitecaps -- deciding to ride this storm out. There is real concern about those giant construction cranes, there're good sign for Miami real estate that it is back and strong, but there're 20 to 25 of them and they each weigh about 30,000 pounds. The concern is that they could topple. They are built to spin and built to survive a 145-mile per hour winds, but that's not a category 5. So people who live near those giants cranes have been told to seek shelter in the interior of their high-rise buildings. That means the hideout in the stairwells of those buildings. There're real concerns about a possible toppling of giants cranes.

Well, that might seem dramatic. The real present danger in Miami Beach is much more mundane that comes from storm surge, it could be several feet and that's what city officials are really worried about. Ninety thousand people live in Miami Beach. They're under evacuation orders. Many of them are elderly. And for those who haven't evacuated, the concern is storm surge. The mayor saying, if you haven't left, during the storm we can't save you. So some dire warnings from that potential storm surge along the low-lying Miami Beach. Martha, back to you.

MACCALLUM: You know, Steve, we've seen so many people, sort of, dealing with car situations in Houston where they tried to get away, too late, and were swept away in their cars. And I sincerely hope that we're not going to see that again in Miami. Thank you, Steve. We'll check back with you later. So officials now say that 5.6 million people have been asked to evacuate Florida. That's one quarter of the state's population. And as we saw in the Caribbean for those who cannot get out, the results can be catastrophic, with Hurricane Irma already claiming more than 20 lives in the island. Joining me now by phone is lieutenant commander, John Mixon, he's a retired coast guard pilot who made rescues during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. John, good to see you tonight -- good to hear you, I guess I should say tonight, and thanks for being with us. What goes through your mind as you listen to the prediction here, and what do you think is going to be the biggest need?

JOHN NIXON, FORMER COAST GUARD PILOT: Hi, good evening. It's good to be with you. Well, the biggest issue with this one is going to be following the track at it moves, whether it goes to the east coast or the west coast.
And as it follows up along the track depending on the strength that it loses, and then it goes up the state. A lot of these initial impact from other hurricanes that I've seen, the initial impact is pretty much devastation. The storm surge that you saw reeling in your broadcast is pretty much just washes everything away. So if you're right on the immediate coast of the immediate impact it -- what you're looking at now will be washed away completely. You'll see nothing but sand and foundations.

Following that, typically, what we've seen when we come in to areas that have been washed out like that. That goes on for a few miles, and then you begin to see something that's not really talked about a lot -- which is all the tornados. There's a substantial amount of tornados that spin off especially the northwest quadrant. You can typically see it from the air where the tornados come in and they're numerous and sporadic. There're no steps in the past, of course, I'm not a meteorologist, but as someone who sees it, you don't see a specific pattern to it other than you can, kind of, track where the path was because they were in the, kind of, northwest quadrant as the storms progress inland.

MACCALLUM: That's fascinating. I mean, it's something that you don't think as much about. I remember with Houston, the talk about tornados that were spinning off. And when you look at the damage to some of these homes, that's exactly what it looks like. It looks like a tornado plowed right through them. And that's going to be something that people will have to endure, who are, sort of, the second stage hit from this process from what you're telling me. John, thank you very much. John Mixon who saved people's lives during Katrina, and we're going to need some more of that as this thing zeroes in on Florida, tonight. There's also a historic political effort taking place ahead of this, all five living former presidents come together to launch a hurricane relief effort ahead of time. Governor Mike Huckabee and Karl Rove here on that and a few other things tonight. Plus, they share their own perspective on handling natural disasters as the governor of Arkansas, and the man who was in the White House when we come back.

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MACCALLUM: Florida bracing for Irma's impact. In Texas, works to recover on Harvey, many out there wondering what they could do to help. And a move that received a tweet of support from the current commander-in-chief, the five living former presidents had teamed up for hurricane relief. Watch this.

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BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Hurricane Harvey brought terrible destruction, and it also brought out the best in humanity.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: As former presidents, we want to help our fellow Americans begin to recover.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Our friends in Texas, including President Bush 41 and 43, are doing just that.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: People are hurting down here. But as one Texan put it, we've got more love in Texas than water.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We love you, Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Nice, right? Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a Fox News contributor, and Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, and a Fox News political contributor. Gentlemen, welcome. Good to have you both here tonight. Always nice to see that, Governor Huckabee.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS: It is nice to see it, especially in a time when things are so polarized politically. These five gentlemen showed that there are some things that Americans can rise above when there's a time of crisis, and I think it's refreshing. I hope congress all watches this and realizes now is the time to put small things aside and do something really big for every Americans.

MACCALLUM: Karl, your thoughts, you know, as you watch this. We were in Houston together the other day and, obviously, there's the concern that all of the attention turns to Florida, but they're going to need a lot of help, too.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, both Florida and Texas are going to need America's help. And I thought it was terrific that former presidents did this. President Bush 41, arranged for a special account so that 100 percent of the contribution made to this effort go directly in the relief. They've covered the overhead, and I think that's a magnificent way to guarantee that if Americans wants to help somebody in need this is the way to get it done, 100 percent goes directly to help.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. And, you know, and what happens after this, and Harvey is sort of in that stage right now, is that some people seems to get the money they need, other people don't get the money they need. There's three churches in Houston, governor, let me start with you on this, that are suing FEMA because they want to know why as a church, which serves the public, and anybody who wants to walk in these doors, and in times like these, a lot of people walks in those doors, they're not allowed to get any money from FEMA. But a club, like even the stamp club, or a bicycle club can apply money from FEMA, but a church can't. Do you think that case is going to hold up for them?

HUCKABEE: I think it will, because separation of church and state is not a constitutional phrase, and it means that the government cannot invoke itself into the church. It doesn't mean that the church is prohibited from being a part of the public square. What this really does say is, is that if you're religious, you don't belong in any type of public forum, and that's absurd. It's the religious people who are basically on the front lines of recovery and rescue out there. So I hope that this get resolved. We've taken this way too far and made it where that you can just believe about anything, except you really can't believe in God or the government is going to punish you for it.

MACCALLUM: They'll turn their backs on you when the money is concern. Karl, quick thought on that before we go?

ROVE: Yeah, look, there's a court case involving religious institutions in Missouri, in which the Supreme Court, by 7 to 2, held the exactly this kind of application of federal law to discriminate against faith-based institutions was unconstitutional. And the FEMA has not updated. This happen a couple of years ago. FEMA is not updated its rules. I hope they quickly do so. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who's the head of a -- before going to senate, was the head of a Lutheran College, has written a FEMA administrator, laying out the case. I agree with Governor Huckabee. The law has been changed by the Supreme Court. And the rule and regulations of federal agencies ought to be changed as well.

MACCALLUM: It's really something to think about, especially in times like this. Thank you, guys. Good to see you. Have a good weekend.

ROVE: You bet.

MACCALLUM: We'll be right back with more on "The Story."

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MACCALLUM: We'll be continuing with our complete coverage of Hurricane Irma. Keep it right here on Fox News Channel tonight and throughout the weekend. We're going to be live, 24-7, here and online as this historic storm makes landfall. Our thoughts are with our friends in Florida and Texas this evening. That's "The Story." Tucker is next.

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