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Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall; Trump Pardons Arpaio, Gorka Is Out; North Korea Launches Ballistic Missiles. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired August 26, 2017 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Thanks for joining us, everyone. Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM from Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. A lot of breaking news this hour with a major storm, Hurricane Harvey, bearing down on the Texas Gulf Coast.

VANIER: It made landfall as a category 4 storm, now downgraded to 3. But it's still very dangerous and it could remain so for several days. Officials warn it could be the worst storm to hit the country since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

ALLEN: We all remember that one. President Trump has approved his disaster declaration for the state of Texas. But not before making a series of political moves. Friday night the big one, pardoning Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio refused to obey a court order to stop routinely illegally detaining Latinos on suspicion of being undocumented immigrants and that got him convicted for contempt of court. Critics accused him of unabashed racial profiling.

VANIER: And on top of that another White House official is out the door. Counterterrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka has left his position. But there have been mixed messages on whether he was fired or whether he resigned.

ALLEN: So we'll continue to look at these stories, the next hour. But we'll turn to the storm in Texas. Our reporters are on the ground in the thick of it. And tracking the storm is Martin Savidge in Corpus Christi for us and Derek Van Dam, normally with us this hour, in San Antonio.

Martin, let's start with you. The hurricane is now a category 3 but it is still quite dangerous.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, yes, a category 3 is still considered to be a major hurricane. Remember, Harvey was actually predicted to come ashore as a category 3 but it actually jumped up to a category 4, which is a monster of a storm. The wind speeds here were projected to get as high possibly as 145

miles an hour. It did not reach that, we don't believe.

But still, you had some intense gusts and we are still feeling the brunt of those winds. That's the thing, this storm has been so slow to move. It is pushing away from here but that only means it's pushing somewhere else. And it's remained remarkably organized. It's been onshore for a while. And if it's still a category 3 that tells you a lot about its size and about its power.

And also about the problem of the next 24-36-72 hours, because it will transition from being a major hurricane to being one huge rainmaker. And that is the real serious problem they see with this storm. It blossomed out of the Gulf of Mexico about 72 hours ago.

Originally, this was not a storm considered to be too severe. But it exploded with intensity. That didn't give people a lot of warning. They were able to evacuate large numbers of people, say, to San Antonio. But, tonight, it's going to be daylight that reveals what has really happened here in South Texas, the damage.

And then on top of that, what will the floodwaters bring?

So we're not really getting out of any storm. We're just transitioning into a different phase of what could still be a great catastrophe here -- Natalie.

VANIER: As to the extent of the damage, it's still nighttime for the moment. Very difficult to parse from the shots that we're getting.

Let's go to San Antonio, that's where Martin was just telling us that's where some people have left the coastal areas of Texas to go to. And Derek Van Dam is there.

What's the situation in San Antonio right now?

And what's it likely to be like later?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Cyril and Natalie. We are the largest city just outside of the mandatory and voluntary evacuations along the southeast coast of Texas. Now winds have been blustery all evening, some of the strongest gusts here just under tropical storm force.

But still enough to take down a few tree limbs that we've seen walking along that Riverwalk, which is that quintessential backdrop that you'd expect to see in San Antonio.

San Antonio has been recognized as the federal and state governments as an area of refuge for people during a natural disaster like this. They actually can come here to seek shelter.

In fact, FEMA has done tremendous work trying to set up shelters. In fact, they said they've had the ability to house up to 26,000 people. They've had 96,000 liters of water shipped into the city. This is a staging area for search and rescue operations for FEMA. So you can imagine, this is ground zero for all of the operation, once

we get that first glimmer of light early on the morning on Saturday, once that storm begins to slowly turn inland. It's all about the movement of the storm.

It's moving slow, Natalie, Cyril, the rainfall, the flooding and the winds still a --

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VAN DAM: -- threat for the days ahead something we'll be monitoring very closely.

ALLEN: Derek, we thank you.

And, Martin, thank you.

We've just been told in the past five seconds this is now a category 2 storm. So, hopefully, that means these winds will continue to slowly, slowly settle down. But we do know, as you say, this is going to be a major rain event. And it's going to be with the state of Texas for quite some time. Thank you.

You're looking at video here from near Rockport, Texas. We have somebody who is in Rockport right now, has been riding this out, Karl Hattman. He joins us by phone with his thoughts on the storm.

And what's it's been like for you, Karl?

I know you just moved recently to Texas. And this is the first time you've been in something like this.

KARL HATTMAN, ROCKPORT RESIDENT: Yes, yes, we moved to Texas two years ago from Minnesota. And it's our family's first time dealing with one of these. We thought we'd (INAUDIBLE) and just get like a tropical storm or a small hurricane. And then it pretty rapidly evolved into this. So definitely, been some sleepless nights.

ALLEN: And where are you staying in your home?

How are you able to make sure you're protected?

HATTMAN: Well, we're in a home that -- we're actually staying with my folks, who live off about five minutes from our house. Hopefully, our house is OK. And the home is built to withstand up to (INAUDIBLE). So we're all hunkered down.

We do have power because we have a backup generator. And we have the kids and the dogs and the cats. And everyone in an office room, that's kind of an inside room that only has one window, that was pretty well protected.

And, you know, we've just been kind of eating snacks and telling stories and trying to ride the storm out, keeping the kids entertained so they don't listen to the noise.

ALLEN: Right, yes. I was going to ask you. There's really nothing like the noise of a hurricane.

What has that been like for you?

HATTMAN: It has been real intense. Living in Minnesota, you know, we definitely dealt with some extreme weather and big thunderstorms. But it doesn't compare to this.

This is the biggest thunderstorm I've ever seen but going on from, I guess, somewhere around 6 o'clock this evening, until -- still going on now, I mean, there's still winds blowing and pelting the windows. That's why I'm operating on -- I'm kind of keeping watch while everyone else gets some rest.

ALLEN: Yes, I understand that. Karl stay safe. We're glad your family's safe. Yes, a hurricane is nothing ever to take likely, that's for sure. And moving from Minnesota, that's a rude awakening, Karl Hattman there from Rockport, Texas.

VANIER: Just trying to figure out where the storm is headed and if it's going to get much worse and if so, how much worse, like it's going to get marginally better with Karen Maginnis, who's at the CNN Weather Center, tracking Harvey.

Karen, where is the storm headed right now?

We know a lot of people have fled the coastal areas, going more inland.

Where is the storm itself going?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's trekking along to the northwest at about 6 miles an hour. Six miles an hour, that's slower than what it had been moving yesterday. It was moving about 9-10 miles an hour to the northwest. Yes, it's now a category 2, oh, we can breathe a sigh of relief.

No, we can't. Not for days. We cannot underestimate this because the computer models, no matter which one you look at -- the American one, the European one -- it is all significant rainfall. Where they talk about it being catastrophic, historic, life-threatening, they don't use those words lightly at all.

All right. It is moving toward the northwest. I want to point out a couple things. Interstate 35, it moves from San Antonio to Austin. And we've got this great basin here. That is going to fill up. You will see Hurricane Harvey, category 2, had been category 4, the fourth category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since the 1970s. So a lot of years, 47 years.

So now we have our fourth category 4 hurricane making landfall. And this is what it's going to do. It's going to trek toward the northwest. And computer models are now sort of in agreement that this is going to make a loop. Not a complete agreement, because there's no real steering current here. Nothing in the atmosphere that's going to sweep it through.

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MAGINNIS: Not a cold front to sweep it through. Nothing else. It is over land. It's going to weaken. We may even see it weaken to tropical storm intensity.

So all of these little curlicues that you're seeing here ,moving around there. There are some outliers, to the south, to the north, more toward the west. If you're in San Antonio, you need to worry about it. You could see significant rainfall. But in this basin, Cyril and Natalie, some computer models are saying 10-20 inches of rain, maybe 30 inches of rain; outliers, 40-50 inches of rain by next Wednesday.

ALLEN: Absolutely. That's really terrifying there to think about. Those curlicues aren't happy curlicues, are they?

Not at all. All right, Karen, thank you.

VANIER: And it's important to remind the viewers, even though the hurricane has been downgraded from 4 to 3, now to 2, it still remains very dangerous. We'll have more on that later on in the show.

Also after the break, another shake-up at the Trump White House with a controversial adviser suddenly out of a job be and a strong Trump supporter convicted of criminal contempt who won't be punished thanks to a presidential pardon.

ALLEN: Also ahead here, heavy rain and winds beating down coastal Texas as the hurricane continues to sweep across the state. We'll continue to stay on top of it for you. You're watching CNN breaking news.

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ALLEN: We're back live in Atlanta. We continue to take you through this hurricane moving in along the --

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ALLEN: -- the Texas coast. It is a powerful one. It made landfall with wind speeds up to 125 miles an hour just about four or five hours ago. It's 200 kilometers per hour.

If you're joining us from another place outside of the U.S. it has been downgraded in the past 10 minutes to a category 2. But people have lost power. Hundreds of thousands have lost power. Extensive damage has already been reported so this storm is still very powerful and continues to move very slowly.

VANIER: And rain is a major factor where officials say the slow moving storm could drop as much as 40 inches. That's a little more than a meter of rain in some places. That is a huge amount. President Trump issued a disaster declaration on Friday. That means that aid and federal funds will be available for Texas and for the victims in Texas. And the National Weather Service in Houston says the combination of wind and water could leave parts of the state uninhabitable for weeks or even months.

It was a busy Friday night for the Trump administration, even discounting the storm. For starters, the president issued a pardon to one of his biggest supporters. He broke the news on Twitter.

He said this. "I am pleased to inform you that I've just granted a full pardon to 85-year-old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe."

ALLEN: Now Arpaio was awaiting sentencing after being convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a court order to stop racial profiling. Mr. Trump strongly hinted he would pardon Arpaio at a rally earlier in the week in Phoenix. But Arpaio wasn't the only headline from this day.

VANIER: Controversial presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka, that's him right there, is out of a job at the White House. And the president took further action, also keeping transgender people out of the U.S. military. We get the latest from CNN's Alexander Marquardt.

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ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is no coincidence that the Trump administration decided to drop not one, not two but three major stories as Texas braced for a massive hurricane and a disaster to follow. White Houses have long been known for dumping stories negative for them on Friday nights.

But the Trump administration has become notorious for it in the past few weeks.

Now first, a presidential pardon for the highly controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to stop racially profiling Latinos. The president had hinted strongly that he would do it.

Now the Justice Department making clear they had no role and a source telling CNN, this is the president's pardon. Arpaio thanked Trump on Twitter. Trump called him "a worthy candidate" for a pardon after a, quote, "life's work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration."

Then another bombshell: senior White House counterterror aide, Sebastian Gorka, out. He was a vocal and high-profile spokesman for the president, firmly in the camp of Steve Bannon at the White House and with Bannon out, it was believed it would just be a matter of time before Gorka was as well. Part of the house cleaning that chief of staff John Kelly has undertaken since he took the job.

And with no fanfare, a third major piece of news, a signed memorandum by President Trump, blocking transgenders from joining the military. It's a reversal from an order from President Barack Obama. President Trump ordered a six-month study of transgenders in the military to be carried out by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

In the meantime, it is unclear what that means for transgender troops currently serving. Much of it will be up to the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. So while many questions still loom, it is little mystery why these three stories broke tonight -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

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ALLEN: Thanks, Alex. Joe Arpaio has been a controversial and divisive figure in Arizona politics for decades, known for taking a hard line against undocumented immigrants.

VANIER: And CNN's Sara Sidner has a closer look at Arpaio's legacy and his relationship with President Donald Trump.

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SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The case against Arpaio and his department's behavior began in 2007. A class action lawsuit accused him of implementing a policy of racial profiling and unlawful traffic stops of Latinos.

Arpaio was sued, accused of encouraging his deputies to detain people for no other reason that they were suspected of being in the country illegally. Known for his tough speak, his department's workplace raids, the tent city where inmates were housed and the pink underwear he made inmates wear, Arpaio argued his department was simply enforcing the law.

JOE ARPAIO, FORMER ARIZONA SHERIFF: I'm the elected sheriff, I report directly to the people and I'm not going to be subservient to the federal government when they have come up with no proof.

SIDNER (voice-over): But Arpaio lost his argument in a civil lawsuit. In 2013, a federal judge put an injunction in place, ordering the department to halt unconstitutional policing practices.

According to --

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SIDNER: -- prosecutors and a federal judge, Arpaio and his deputies defied the order. Arpaio claimed the order wasn't clear and he didn't mean to violate it. But a federal judge found Arpaio showed a flagrant disregard for the court's order. His critics cheered the decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racism in any form is wrong and Joe Arpaio, again, has been the center of racist policies and racist attitudes and he has been criminally convicted.

SIDNER (voice-over): From the start in 1999, when Sheriff Joe Arpaio was elected to office, he began an crusade against undocumented immigrants. His deputies' actions terrified not only the undocumented but anyone who looked like they could be.

ARPAIO: Donald Trump will build a wall.

SIDNER (voice-over): Arpaio's fiery speech and immigration policies gave him a kind of celebrity status in conservative circles and a kinship with the man who would become the 45th president -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.

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VANIER: And a few more things about the man who calls himself the toughest sheriff in America, Arpaio was also a prominent voice in the so-called birther movement. It sought to delegitimize Barack Obama's presidency by claiming falsely that Mr. Obama was not born in the U.S.

President Trump also found a kindred spirit in Arpaio's hard line against undocumented immigrants.

Joining us now to discuss this is David Swerdlick, a CNN political commentator and "The Washington Post" assistant editor.

First off, David, let's talk about a sheriff, Sheriff Arpaio.

What is the message that the White House is sending here when the president decides to pardon someone who is held in contempt of court, who has been voted out of offices -- not that that's a crime -- but who is extremely controversial around the country, what's the message when you pardon him?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, Cyril, I think they're sending several messages.

First, the fact that they've announced this on what you would typically call a Friday news dump, even without a hurricane. And then on a night when there is a major hurricane, bearing down on the United States, suggests that for part of the American public, they want this message to get buried in the news cycle with everything else that's going on.

On the other hand --

VANIER: Wait, hold on, let me stop you there.

Really, though?

Do you believe that?

Does anything that this administration do get buried?

It's always front page news.

SWERDLICK: Well, clearly, it's not buried. We're talking about it. There are lots of folks talking about it throughout the media right now.

I guess what I'm saying, Cyril, is that they had a choice to announce this. It seemed like they hinted at it on President Trump's speech in Phoenix on Tuesday night. But he hesitated.

They could have waited until after the weekend to announce it next week. There's certainly no rush. Sheriff Arpaio was not going to jail or something like that.

So they chose a Friday night, late in the day, even though we know, from an interview earlier, that Sheriff Arpaio and his lawyer knew about this order earlier in the day. And then you have the fact that there is this major weather event going on.

But I do take your point; we're clearly covering it. I think what else it's signaling is that, for President Trump's base, he wants to let people to know he still is going to be an immigration hawk. Even though he's gotten some pushback on his immigration policy.

Before that, he also is signaling that he's willing to use the pardon power. Not at the end of a term or the end of a presidency, as is traditional or not as President Obama did, to do more clemency, where he -- for a lot of felons. He commuted sentences, even though he didn't pardon them for their crimes.

This is a pardon, albeit for a minor crime, for a law enforcement official, contempt of court, defying a federal judge. But that President Trump said, look, he's not going to hesitate to use his power that he clearly has.

VANIER: But this looks political. Several questions here, is there a precedent for this?

You started touching on this.

And what does that tell us about Donald Trump's relation to and respect for the rule of law?

SWERDLICK: Well, again, he does have this constitutional power to pardon. That being said, you know, this was a situation where the Justice Department had signaled to Sheriff Arpaio that what his departmental policy was racial profiling. And they, you know, issued him an order to stop the policy.

Sheriff Arpaio continued to do that. And, eventually, a United States district court judge held him in contempt for not following the directive of the Justice Department. And the contempt is the underlying crime here.

It doesn't carry jail time typically. It usually carries, you know, just -- it's more of a slap on the wrist. But the point is, is that President Trump is saying essentially that Sheriff Arpaio does not have to follow the rule of law or the rule of a judge, at least, in this case.

VANIER: David, you look at this, do you wonder whether there are more pardons to come, whether this is a sign of things to come in the --

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VANIER: -- Trump administration?

SWERDLICK: I think, it, at least, again, sends the message that President Trump wants to sort of take the wrap off of this power that he has and take it out for a spin, if you pardon the analogy, and see how it works.

And he didn't hesitate. It's not unusual for presidents to pardon. It is more unusual for them to pardon someone for a crime for which they're almost certainly not going to experience any jail time and also to pardon someone this early in a presidential term.

VANIER: CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, thank you very much.

SWERDLICK: Thank you.

VANIER: And President Trump's pardon of Arpaio isn't going over well everywhere in Arizona. The mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, said It's not a proud day for the city.

He wrote this, "Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face of the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights.

"Donald Trump can ignore the rule of law but it was our voters who removed Joe Arpaio from power."

And the new sheriff, who now leads Maricopa County, has also been speaking out.

He says, "The court made its decision. The president made his. But the people had the final say in November. We're dedicated to earning trust and confidence from the community, while ensuring the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office delivers exceptional law enforcement services."

ALLEN: And here's what Arizona senator Jeff Flake tweeted.

He says, "Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the president honor the judicial process and let it take its course."

And Arizona senator John McCain had a lot of criticism for the pardon, saying, "No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold.

"The president has the authority to make this pardon but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law, as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions."

Continuing on here, we're following the storm, incidents of damage already being reported in parts of Texas as Hurricane Harvey hammers the coast. We'll have the latest for you, coming up here.

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VANIER (voice-over): Welcome back. We continue our breaking news coverage here at CNN. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. Plenty of breaking news this hour. We want to start with the hurricane.

VANIER: Yes, we'll go back to that top story.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category 4 hurricane just hours ago, packing winds of more than 130 miles per hour. That's a little more than 200 kilometers per hour. It's been downgraded since then to category 2, with top winds at about 110 miles per hour or 180 kilometers per hour.

Even so, it's one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Charlie back in 2004. Martin Savidge is right in the middle of this, Corpus Christi, Texas. He joins us now live.

Martin, I'd like to address that with you.

The fact that this storm has been downgraded and some people might be waking up or tuning in, saying, oh well, it was a 4; now it's a 2, no longer in this category of major hurricanes.

How significant is that?

Does that actually change how dangerous that is on the ground?

SAVIDGE: It's still considered to be a dangerous storm, there's no doubt about that, Cyril. We've said that category 4 is a monster of a storm. Category 3 is a major storm. So 2 takes it out of the major category as far as measurement.

But it's a storm you have to respect at this point. And the thing is, it's still blasting, even here in Corpus Christi, and it's been doing that now for almost, I would say, about 10 hours.

It may be a bit deceptive if you look at me here but that's because we have a very large building in front of me and that's acting as a giant wind block. But on either side it's still howling and still very dangerous to be on the streets.

The storm is moving away from Corpus Christi but that only means it's moving toward other high-population areas. And that's going to be the story not only for the next few hours but for the next few days.

And it's the next phase that we run into the rain. And the rain is continuing to fall from the sky here pretty heavily. And, at least in the forecast, the numbers or the amount of rain is almost hard to believe. More rain than San Antonio usually gets in a year could fall in the next six or seven days. That's the kind of outlook that they're talking about here. Then you

move into Houston, which is one of the largest in the state. In fact, it had devastating consequences for flooding.

That's what may play out over the next couple of days. But over the next few hours as we're waiting for sunlight. That will bring out the emergency response teams as they try to assess the damage. Corpus Christi, hopefully, not that bad.

We know Rockport, that's 60 kilometers to the north of here. They're already talking about extensive damage. The police here already out on the streets. You can tell they're trying to assess what damage has been done.

But daylight is going to be the real teller on this one, Cyril and Natalie. And I think that, unfortunately, it is not going to be good news. It may not be that bad here but, elsewhere, we're hearing it is really.

VANIER: And, Martin, you've been updating us throughout the night. Of course, we'll want your assessment when daylight breaks. And you're reminding us that the rain and the flooding could be the biggest danger in this particular situation. Martin Savidge, thank you very much.

ALLEN: Let's talk more about that now with Stefanie Arcangelo of the American Red Cross, she is on the phone with us from Houston, Texas.

And Stefanie, this storm has gone from category 4 from 3 to 2.

But what are you hearing, as far as the damage that's been done and what are you prepared for?

STEFANIE ARCANGELO, AMERICAN RED CROSS: You know, the Red Cross has been on the ground preparing for this storm over the last several, couple of days. We're going to continue to be here. We have shelters in place.

As the storm moves on, we have shelters on standby ready to open. Our number one priority is making sure that the people have a safe place to stay.

ALLEN: And what are you hearing as far as anything about anything about power outages, where tens of thousands could be out of power?

And the fact that this is --

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ALLEN: -- a slow moving storm and it's the flooding that could really have an impact?

ARCANGELO: As you said, it's a slow-moving storm. And the flooding, that could be a huge impact. So that's why the Red Cross is prepared with shelters all across Texas, to make sure we have safe, dry places for people to stay. We're staying in contact with local emergency management officials, who are prepared to open shelters as need.

Again, that number one priority right now is making sure people have a safe place to stay and something to eat.

ALLEN: Go ahead.

VANIER: Yes, Stefanie, just to be clear, people in the area, the coastal areas of Texas or even farther inland and are listening to this, listening to you, in what way can they use your help?

ARCANGELO: We have the shelters open. The best thing to do is heed the evacuation warnings; if you're told to evacuate, you should evacuate, mandatory or voluntary. That's the best way to stay safe.

They can visit redcross.org to get up-to-date information and also our Red Cross emergency apps, we'll have all of the preparedness information that people need, as well as a list of shelters that they can go to that are open.

ALLEN: You're in Houston.

What do we know about what Houston could be in store for, as far as the rain situation goes?

ARCANGELO: Yes, the rain situation, it's looking as though we're going to get a lot of rain here in Houston. And we know from past experience that flooding is going to be a major issue.

All we can do is prepare. We can hunker down. And we just want to make sure that everyone is safe. So we have our resources in place. And we're watching everything. And we'll be able to open more shelters as we did.

And then when the flooding clears and the storm clears, we'll have more people come in from across the country to help everyone recover from his disaster.

VANIER: Stefanie, you're talking about people coming to you for help and shelter. Are you at all in a position to reach those people who can't reach you?

ARCANGELO: The Red Cross positions themselves in advance the storm, we have shelters as far out as San Antonio, Austin, Texas, out that way, so we move our resources in to help us.

We work with community volunteers and community partners to help set up those shelters that we have and get everybody ready to go and,, again, be flexible as needed because storms can change, conditions can change. Flooding can be very unpredictable.

And so that's why those evacuation warnings are so important that people heed those early and go to a safe place to stay.

VANIER: All right, Stefanie Arcangelo from the American Red Cross, thank you very much. And as you heard, they're preparing to provide assistance not just

over the coming hours but over the coming days because that's how long it might take for people and that's how long people might be needing help for.

All right. Stay with us, when we come back after the break, much more on Hurricane Harvey. The eye of the storm is inland right now over the Gulf Coast of Texas right now. And we're tracking its path.

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ALLEN: And we continue to track Hurricane Harvey, as it moves along and into the Texas coast, up and down that coast, moving very slowly. It made landfall a few hours ago as a category 4 storm. It is now a category 2. Still a very potent major storm. Its winds now 110 miles an hour or about 180 kilometers per hour.

VANIER: And right now, the storm is hitting the coastline with those winds and torrential rains. Harvey marks the first category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Charlie back in 2004.

ALLEN: Our meteorologist, Karen Maginnis, is tracking the storm for us.

You've been emphasizing, Karen, how slow this storm is.

Category 2, it's still very dangerous?

MAGINNIS: You took the words right out of my mouth, Natalie. This is the big problem. We were all anticipating landfall. Made landfall around 10:00 pm local time in Texas, to the north about 30 miles from Corpus Christi, the Corpus Christi airport is closed. The Victoria, Texas, airport is closed. Still has a clearly defined eye. Still a broad shield of rainfall.

But it's just not going to be moving very far or very fast. And I have made this point before, can't emphasize it enough. We go from Laredo to San Antonio to Austin. Pretty much that rain shield is going to be to the east of that interstate, not exclusively. But this is where we're looking at the greatest impact.

Now this made landfall during the nighttime hours. And there were lots of reports on the Internet as to what happened when this made landfall. We're still waiting for the official reports to come out because somebody might look at something, maybe some -- a roof torn off or maybe some bricks falling off. And you think that's major damage.

Well, there are different assessments as to what that is. But even though we have a category 2, it's trekking toward the northwest around 6 miles an hour. This still is deep tropical moisture. We may see this go down to tropical storm force.

And already, in that upper right quadrant, that's where we've seen some of the heaviest rainfall totals and some of the highest room reports: Oswald, Texas, over 9.5 inches of rainfall; Victoria, Texas, 9 inches of rainfall. And we've got days and days to go.

Here then we go into Sunday with category 1. But, Cyril and Natalie, this looks to be, according to our computer models, going into middle of next week. It is still going to pump tremendous amounts of moisture across this region. And severe catastrophic flooding like we've never seen in a lifetime could occur across this region.

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ALLEN: All right. Thanks, Karen, so much.

VANIER: We'll continue covering events in Texas, of course but, for now, we want to turn to North Korea. The U.S. says that Pyongyang has conducted three more missile tests. One of them exploded after launch but two were able to fly around 250 kilometers.

[04:45:00]

VANIER: That's about 150 miles. For more, let's bring in CNN's Andrew Stevens, he joins us live from Tokyo.

Andrew, each North Korean missile test is an opportunity to gauge where their military technology stands and what threat Pyongyang represents.

What are we learning this time?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, the real focus of the threat, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned, obviously, is the longer range missiles, Cyril, the intercontinental ballistic missiles the ICBMs, which have the capacity, most experts now agree, to reach the mainland of the U.S.

As you said, these missiles, they are short-range missiles. And there's also confusion actually to begin with. First of all Pacific Command, the U.S. Pacific Command is saying two of those three missiles actually failed in flight. The third one blew out very soon after launch. That was later revised to say that two missiles actually traveled about 250 kilometers.

Now at this stage, we don't know exactly what type of missiles they were, what North Korea was trying to achieve because they landed so close to the Korean Peninsula. It was not seen as a major issue for Japan, for example, where I am. It was because it's too far away.

There will be investigation into what was being launched and how it was launched.

But at the moment, as I say, the focus really is on the ICBM and we know that North Korea has launched two ICBM missiles back in July. That brought further sanctions from the United Nations. And, interestingly, this was the first actually seen by North Korea

since those sanctions were imposed. In fact, the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was saying just a few days ago that he was pleased with the restraint that North Korea had been showing in response to those sanctions.

But now obviously, that restraint has been blown away.

VANIER: All right. Andrew Stevens, reporting live from Tokyo, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

ALLEN: London's counterterrorism police are now investigating an incident outside Buckingham Palace. Two officers were injured when they tried to detain a man Friday night local time after spotting a large knife in his car. The suspect has been arrested. He's being held under a U.K. antiterrorism law.

VANIER: In Brussels, Belgium, a man who attacked two soldiers with a knife was shot and killed on Friday. The incident is being treated as a terror attack. Authorities say the assailant yelled, "Allahu Akbar," while pulling out the knife.

He was known to police for petty crimes but not for having any links to terrorism. The two soldiers were slightly wounded.

ALLEN: When we come back here, we'll continue to track Hurricane Harvey, the storm hammering the Texas coast right now.

VANIER: Plus, the White House using the storm could bury a controversial pardon. We'll have more on that as well after the break.

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[04:50:00]

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VANIER: Welcome back. A category 2 storm is hammering the U.S. state of Texas right now. Hurricane Harvey made landfall actually as a category 4 initially. It's been downgraded since then. But it still poses a major threat in the coming hours, maybe even days or weeks.

We won't know the extent of the damage until the storm passes. And some models are predicting it will stay put until next week.

ALLEN: In the meantime, the strong winds and heavy rains are going full tilt. That all adds up to what many think is the worst storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. President Trump has already approved a disaster declaration. Let's get to our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam. He is live in San Antonio, Texas, for us.

Many people have evacuated to San Antonio and, Derek, you earlier, kind of broke it down to explain in real terms how dangerous this amount of rain could be.

VAN DAM: Yes, it's an incredible, catastrophic amount of rain that's being forecast here. And I hear Karen talking about it all night as well.

We're, you know, we're not going to be anywhere shy of 30-40 inches of rain, 500 to 750 millimeters for our international viewers. That is a substantial amount of rain in a five- to seven-day period.

You can imagine what that does in terms of flooding. So right now, just to set the scene a little bit, I'm in San Antonio at the Riverwalk, this is kind of the quintessential backdrop to the city of about 1.5 million people.

And this city is no stranger to flooding. You talk to some of the locals here, they always talk about 1998, how bad it was, the flooding in the suburbs and even around the city areas. But they have put in some extreme measures to combat flooding, including a series dams, underground tunnels, all kinds of levees to divert the water from the city's businesses and houses here.

So San Antonio has to take a lot of rain to actually see this catastrophic flooding. It's really to the south and east where Harvey is expected to meander. And you don't want to hear the word "meander" or "hover" anytime when you're talking about a hurricane because that means it will sit for a long period of time.

That's exactly what we're expecting and that's why we'll see a significant amount of rain in a short period of time. And another key message I want to get out to people listening right now or watching is that now that we've seen the storm downgraded from a category 4 to a category 2, we're really splitting hairs here.

We're just talking about 10-20 kph difference. This is significant in terms of the wind field. But don't forget about the rain event that we have ongoing. So this is really a one-two punch. It's not just the wind that we've seen tonight but we're going to wake up and see several days flooding over the next couple of days. So that's the big story going forward for sure.

VANIER: Yes, Derek, I want to follow up on the rain. I think for people who haven't gone through a major flooding event, they may not know just how dangerous water, even stagnant water can be when you get to the level that you were mentioning, several inches, going up to those 30-40 inches.

Can you sort of explain that for us?

VAN DAM: Well, Cyril, if you have a flash flooding event. Let's say the water rises by six inches in a matter of 15 minutes. That can actually knock --

[04:55:00]

VAN DAM: -- you or me or a grown adult right off their feet. If you've got a foot of water, 12 inches of water, you can actually lift and float a small vehicle and wash it downstream. The car is actually the most unsafe place you can be in a flooding situation.

Definitely want to seek higher ground anytime flash flooding is imminent, as in this particular case. All the low-lying areas there that are susceptible to flooding that we're all too familiar with -- Cyril.

VANIER: All right, Derek making it very clear how dangerous it can be. That's important for our viewers to know right now. This is to be taken very seriously especially in those coastal areas of Texas and even moving farther inland, as Derek was telling us.

All right, Derek Van Dam in San Antonio. Thank you for all your updates throughout the night.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM with our ongoing coverage. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen, it's just about 4:00 am in Texas, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Our coverage of the storm, much more continues with NEW DAY right after the break. Keep it here on CNN.