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CNN NEWSROOM

Coverage of tropical storm, Harvey; Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 27, 2017 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Around 3,000 National Guard members have been activated as water fills home and streets. Some families desperate to get to higher ground for forced to use axes to chop their way out of their attics and on to the roofs of their homes. Pets are pulled through window, even carried in coolers as people are forced to wade through waist high water trying to get to safety.

The two major airports at Houston are closed. Every single freeway in the city is under water. And the national weather service warns that it is only going to get worse saying that the breadth and the intensity of the rainfall is beyond anything ever experienced before.

Just a short time ago, CNN was there when a dramatic rescue took place in a town of Dickinson. That is southeast of Houston.

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us live now.

Ed, what is the latest that you're seeing? Actually we are going to show you the video of the moment when it happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Try to get them in the boat so we can get them out of here. So I'm going to put the microphone down while we help them get into the boat. How are you doing sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Might be better to get in on that side there. Let me see if I can get something for you to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to give me your hand, sir and I can try to pull you up. How are your arms feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jason, you want to come up here and help?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can help lift you if that's OK. You ready? One, two, three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Get that foot in there. It's not too bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sit wherever you feel like, you know, is the most comfortable for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sit right there on the edge and we'll take care of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are we taking on water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's all of the rain we had earlier today and I never bailed it out. It's not a problem, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You doing all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Long day?

LAVANDERA: All right. Hey, Ana, we have got this gentleman's wife and their daughter that still need to be pulled out of here, so Austin Seth, who is the volunteer --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: And I want to bring in Ed now live for us.

Ed, you're off of the boat. What is the latest? What has happened since that moment that you brought us that rescue live here on CNN?

LAVANDERA: Well we are out here on interstate 45 now. Pam Jones and their mother being treated now. And they are waiting for a vehicle that can drive them off and get them to safer ground. So we are out of the neighborhood. She's finally being treated here. And so everything is going to work out just fine.

But just to give you a sense, the rescues continue. It just isn't the boat that we were on. There are hundreds of volunteers fanning out in just this one particular area of Dickinson, Texas, south of downtown Houston, the city of Houston where up high I think we are 25, 30 miles south of downtown, Houston. And this is essentially, this interstate, as I mentioned, they are bunch and several times throughout the day. Interstate 45 essentially, instead of having car traffic on today, it essentially become a boat launch for volunteer rescuers taking flat boats out into the neighborhoods, fanning out into these areas and rescue many people.

Let's talk real quick.

Hey, Austin. This is Austin Seth who was manning the boat. Heck of a day for you?

AUSTIN SETH, VOLUNTEER: It was definitely an interesting one. Wasn't what I was planning on doing when I woke up this morning.

LAVANDERA: Sir, you pulled about 15 people probably total out of these neighborhoods today.

SETH: Yes. I think that's what it ended. Being, about 15.

LAVANDERA: Your emotions after finishing up a day like that?

SETH: There's not words, man, like this. Seeing it is sad but I can't imagine living it, you know. It's unreal.

LAVANDERA: Many, many people are grateful to people like Austin Seth who lives an hour away, came down here, and brought his boat and pulled people out.

So this has been going on throughout most of the day. Kind of a little bit of a race against the clock too because as you might remember from Pam Jones, the woman we were in her house, she was starting to get worried that many boats were passing by and that she wasn't going to get on a boat before nightfall and having to spend the night in the house.

Oddly enough, that neighborhood, Ana, remember Pam talking about actually had some power. So, they actually had some air conditioning. So as devastated as that neighborhood look, oddly somehow the power stayed on, you know, perhaps making it slightly more comfortable for them while they waited. But the good news is that Pam Jones, who you see standing there, her mother and father out of the neighborhood. They will be loaded on to a bus or some other vehicle here to take them -- I think they were trying to get so some relatives' homes tonight. So good news for them. But that work continues to intensify here in Houston -- Ana.

[19:05:30] CABRERA: Yes. One part of their journey has a happy ending but really it's all just beginning for a lot of the people there.

Ed Lavandera, reporting for us in Dickenson, Texas. Thank you.

And moments ago, President Trump tweeted about the storm recovery saying quote "historic rainfall in Houston and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible. Thanks."

CNN's Brian Todd is in Houston. He is joining us now.

And Brian, you are with more rescues under way.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. We hitched a ride with two of the private rescuers. We have been pulling people out of the Omni hotel here.

Take a look at his. This is the entrance of the lobby. And you are witnessing a rescue life. We just went over here by boat. They are pulling people out of the Omni hotel. Look at how deep the water is. It is people's thighs. And here is a group of people being pulled onto the boat right now.

This is Brian Meadows, one of rescuers. His partner, Seth Roberts, is here in the green shirt. They are helping people get onto the boat. Maybe we will be able to talk to them.

Now, listen, guys. We have been at the staging area where they have launched these boats for the last hour and a half to two hours. And there have been several people pulled out and taken to those areas and then shuttled to safety in other hotels. These people here have elected to come. We are told that some people

are electing to stay at the Omni hotel even though the water, as you can see, is past people's knees. And it's - we are told that it's rising. You can see in the lobby, there. I can see a staircase with the water going up the staircase a little bit. The water is rising.

We are getting a bit of a break in the rainfall right now. It has not rained for I would say at least 45 minutes. And so but they continue to pull people out. We are told that between 60 and 80 people were stranded inside here. The hotel staff has kept everyone calm. They said the people can stay for as long as they want. Again, some people have elected to stay and some people not.

Ma'am, hi. Can you tell us what your name is, please?

MARION WASHINGTON, RESCUED FROM OMNI HOTEL: Marion Washington.

TODD: Marion, describe what the conditions are like in there.

WASHINGTON: They are bad. The whole lobby is flooded and you know, so. But we are associates.

TODD: You work here?

WASHINGTON: Yes.

TODD: OK. What's the hotel doing to, I guess, make people comfortable? And some people are actually staying, correct?

WASHINGTON: I'm not sure. All I know is they are trying to make us comfortable. It is rescue enough they're taking us to the hotel.

TODD: Good luck.

And Seth Roberts is here. Seth, he is one of the rescuer rescuers.

Seth, tell me what are some of the logistical problems that you are running into trying to get as many people out here as possible.

SETH ROBERTS, RESCUER: Well, there is water in some places and there is not -- water in other places. It makes it a little tricky. We have got a lot of calls coming in on Facebook right now. We are trying to get to people and we are just trying to get everybody out of here safely right now so we can get other people that are families and kids and elder folks that need to get out of the house. So we're just doing our best to get everybody safe right now.

TODD: OK. Seth, thanks for talking to us. I know he has got to do his work and climb back into the boat. We are going to try to steady ourselves here.

OK. So we are told about 60 to 80 people have been stranded in here. And Seth told me, one of the rescuers here we just spoke to, told me a minute ago that they want to get as many people out of here as they can because there are other people in residential areas around here behind this hotel who need rescuing from their homes. Of course it's been a recurrent theme all day here in Houston. People

needing to be pulled out of their homes. Officials telling them don't go to your attics. If you see the water rise then try to get to your roof top. If you have to go to the attic, bring an ax or another piece of heavy equipment so that you can punch a hole through. That's how dramatic the situation is for so many people here in the Houston area, Ana. And you just saw that they are pulling out there. There are some other boats that have just come to pull some others out of here, Ana.

CABRERA: Incredible. Brian Todd in Houston during more rescues taking place at this hour. Thank you.

Joining u now, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott.

And governor, thank you so much for taking a moment to be with us.

Seeing those rescues taking place, you must be proud of the citizens of your state right now.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Texans are the best. I am so proud of my fellow Texans and the way they are responding. So thankful for the first responders and the terrific work they have been doing. We have been working to aid them by deploying about 3,000 National Guard members as well as providing about 200 or so boats and helicopters for emergency rescues. But it's these first responders who are making life and death decisions, who are helping so many people live and rescue these people. I'm so very proud of them in what they are doing. And I want our Houstonians and fellow Texans to know that will continue that effort until we get to every single person.

[19:10:16] CABRERA: Governor, Downtown Houston is obviously under water. People are having to use axes to chop their way out of their attics onto their roofs. I'm not sure if you saw some of the people rescued live here on our air. But I'm wondering why there wasn't a mandatory evacuation issued for the Houston area. Can you tell us about that?

ABBOTT: Well, of course those decisions are made at the local level by law here in Texas. But listen, now is not the time to do any second-guessing. Now is the time for all of us to come together and work to save lives. This is a matter of moments and we need to use every moment we have to rescue innocent lives, to get them to a safe place and then to begin the rebuilding process.

CABRERA: We have seen private citizens using boats to rescue people. Do you think there were enough resources in place ahead of the storm?

ABBOTT: Well, again, those are decisions made at the local level. We have a raid put together, about 250 boats, and sent them to Houston, Texas to make sure they will have all of the boats that they should be able to need. But it's great when we see so many Texans -- this is really typical of what we see of our fellow neighbors. They are going to come out and help others. There are so many people in Texas, they are not going to wait for some government official to come by. They are just going to take matters into their own hands and do what they can to help their neighbor.

CABRERA: Do you know how many people have rescued so far today or within the last 24 hours?

ABBOTT: Yes. I have not seen a count. Of course, it is occurring by the minute. But I want you to know and I want Houstonians to know that we are going to continue this effort around the clock until we get to everybody.

CABRERA: Do you know how many people have died? Because the last number we had were at least two people who were confirmed dead due to the storm. Do you have an update there?

ABBOTT: Well, there are some reports of deaths but we have confirmation if they were as a result of the storm. And so, we need to wait confirmation of that. But we want to confirm those as well thrive to do all we can to save those who still need to be rescued.

CABRERA: And what do you say to somebody who may be trapped in their home right now watching the water level inside their home slowly creep up?

ABBOTT: They need to take every action they can to preserve their own life. Part of that means getting in higher in the house, part of it could mean signaling outside so that rescuers will know that they are in there because there will be different types of rescuers constantly working, some by boat, some in the air, some trying any way they can to get to every home. And so if you're inside a home, try to make it visual on the outside to let someone know that you are in there.

CABRERA: We are hearing from meteorologists there could be an additional 20, 25, 30 inches of rain that falls in this area that's already flooded out. What's happening right now in terms of coordinating with the emergency responders in your state to prepare for the additional rainfall that's still coming?

ABBOTT: Right. We have the state emergency responders coordinating with the county and local emergency responders. And understand withe only part of this involves Houston. If you look at where the rain is falling, a lot of it also is falling in more rural areas where there's still a whole lot of population that we are involved in trying to protect and save. So this is a really massive effort responding to a very massive storm.

CABRERA: And do you feel prepared?

ABBOTT: We have so many assets that we were able to provide to this. And because we have gotten the approval of the Presidential declaration, we now have this work and aid of FEMA in this process. So we are going to be adding even more personnel and assets on top of the 3,000 National Guard there will be many more coming in to aid in this process.

CABRERA: Governor Greg Abbott, thank you again for spending time with us. Best of luck to you and your state.

ABBOTT: Thank you so much.

CABRERA: I want to go now to a press conference being held by the mayor of Houston. Let's listen.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON, TEXAS: Let me talk about the assets that we are working with. There are 22 aircrafts that are working with us in terms of identifying people who are stranded maybe on their roofs. Sixteen of the 22 are from the coast guard, they have been flying about. And in many cases actually taking people off of the roof, taking them to (INAUDIBLE) and some other location. Certainly want to thank the coast guard for its work.

The FEMA task team force is now on the ground as of today. FEMA has 16 assisting in search and rescue. Four of the teams consist of 80 members and two of the teams consist of 60 members. So they are assisting.

With regards to additional assets, we are operating with 35 boats, high water rescue boats and then 93 dump trucks, high water rescued vehicles, 49 of that 93 came in today, 20 from the Texas military and then another 29 later on today as well. So we recognize that we have a number of needs exist across the city, across the city, so I'm very grateful to that.

And then I certainly want to acknowledge calls and support that we have received from mayors across the country. The Dallas mayor, San Antonio, Columbus, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Boston, Los Angeles. And I especially want to thank all of the mayors, New York. And then I just got off of the phone with mayor Watch out of Boston who will be sending, you know, clothes for adults as well as children. He just wants no know what ages are most in need. He is also would be sending some high water rescue vehicles as well, as well as cots for those in our shelters.

So I want to thank all of the other mayors, San Antonio, L.A., Dallas, all of them have indicated that they will join in and assist. And I certainly appreciate their support on multiple levels.

Now, let me call on the chief for comments that he might have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. So again, I want to echo the mayor's sentiment that we really appreciate everybody that's stepping up to help us today and throughout this event that we are trying to manage here at the city.

We have, as of right now, we have imagined to cut most of our calls for service holding in half. I think we are down just over 400, last check through our cad system and verified 105 calls for water rescue. So we are steadily working and whittling away. And all of those people, all of you all who have been calling for our assistance, we have more resources out in the field now than we did earlier as we get more partners join in to help us manage the situation.

So again, I want to echo to please, if you do not have to leave your home, if you do not have to get out on the roadway, please do not do so. Call us. We will be there. We are working to get more -- we have more boats in the water. We have more high water rescue vehicles now. We have almost doubled our ability to respond and we will get to you.

And again I want to also emphasize, please do not go up in your attics if you are trying to escape water because that could be a trap for you where you may not be able to get out. So attics are not the place to retreat to if you are in your home and your home is taking on water. You need to get out where you can be seen and we can respond and find you.

As far as our sister cities, we are leaning forward in terms of reaching out and developing (INAUDIBLE). We will be bringing in more officers to help manage this response. Our officers are leaning forward. They are doing a fantastic job. We had everybody is here, almost every officer is here and accessible and able to go out to do their job and protect the city, even in the face of their own families being home and some of them having the challenges that they are having to manage, but we're out there. But realizing over several days, this is going to become very toxin so we will be leaning on other - our sister's city for additional help in managing and assuring that the public is safe. That no one is missed and that we are also sure that people's property is safe when they do leave their homes. We'll lean as far forward on that as we can.

It's an ongoing project, challenge that we're going to face here. But we have the people committed to do it and we will continue to do so. So thank you.

TURNER: And I certainly would be remiss without acknowledging and thanking all of our first responders, Houston police officers, Houston fire department who have been out on the front line and have just done a yeoman's job. They've demonstrated their commitment and love for the city. They've been out there in the water. I certainly want to thank them as well. Chief Pena with the fire department.

[19:20:06] CHIEF SAMUEL PENA, HOUSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: Thank you were mayor. I want to first thank certainly the office of emergency management for really the hospitality they provide us for the last three days here and will continue to host us for the foreseeable future here as we are still not out of the woods. We expect heavy downpours at certain times. And so we want to encourage the public to please be mindful that standing water is extremely dangerous, OK. It's extremely dangerous. You can't tell what you are stepping into. So please, if you don't have to be in the streets, don't be out in the streets. And please, please don't drive.

We, the Houston fire department has been working tirelessly, as has the Houston police department to try to effect rescues and keep the public straight. We are working again to switch personnel, keep them fresh. Keep their head in the same, so to speak. And keep their situational awareness where it should be.

We are going to work with our partners. We do have state assets now in place. We are more efficiently being able to affect the rescues and the demand for service here in the city of Houston and we are going to continue to really provide a presence out there and ensure that we're doing the right thing for this community. Thank you.

TURNER: Thank you, chief. Dennis, the rescues of homeland security. Of course, we have been housed here for the next several days and we will be housed here for several days to come. So Dennis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, mayor. So the city's emergency operation center is operating at a level one which essentially means that all city departments are represented here, along with our partners both at the state and federal level. We have got resources from all of these different agencies. It's unbelievable about the cooperation that's going on among the vary agencies.

The bottom line is we are not out of the woods yet. We saw the weather deteriorate a little bit yesterday. And so I think we will see us here for several more days probably as we continue to work with our partners and more assistance comes in from other departments. So a big thank you to all of our partner agencies both at the federal, state and local level. We will continue to work with thing. Thank you.

TURNER: Thanks, Dennis. (INAUDIBLE) leadership to the mayor's homeless programs, homeless initiatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Working with the coalition for the homeless we have been coordinating with our agencies that have been working with the homeless outreach teams and shelters. The majority of the homeless are off of the streets and are in area shelters. We have worked closely with Star Hope as well as with salvation army who have around 500 more homeless individuals than normal in their shelters. Additionally, homeless individuals have been going to their regular shelters, including the George R. Brown.

Starting four days ago, outreach teams with the HPD homeless outreach team, the sheriff's department homeless outreach team as well as outreach teams from area -- partner agencies have been out working to get the homeless into shelters. They have done an amazing job. And that is why the vast majority of the homeless are off of the streets. Those remaining have gone in today. There are still a couple cases. And our first responders are still working with to convince them to come off of the streets. But the homeless are safe and sound. And our prayers and thoughts are with the entire Houston area community.

TURNER: We have a number of partners that are working with the city. I certainly want to thank all of them. I do want to highlight the Red Cross. They have been very supportive from the front end.

Three phases to this. There is the pre-preparation to the storm. The second is what are we doing during the storm and the third will be the aftermath. So I want to thank the Red Cross for stepping in early, even in the pre-preparation phase. We had already identified two shelters, one of course, was (INAUDIBLE) that we can remember from the last major storm back in April of last year. We know what happened when the waters came in and the apartment complexes were flooded and all of the pandemonium that occurred.

We were able to have bought that, get in early, open up those shelter staff, supply them, talk to the residents and those from the complex before the deluge of water came in. And that was a pretty good transition. So I want to thank the Red Cross for their participation.

And then second, I want to thank the members of the Faith-based community, even prior to the rainfall. More than 25 churches for stepping up making their facilities, indicating that they would make their facilities available. So I want to thank the members of the faith-based community.

And then, certainly, I want to thank members of the business community and other nonprofits for being supportive. This is not going to be a one-two-three day deal. This is going -- even when the rain - when the storm is no longer a storm. We know that the aftermath is going to require a lot of attention, a lot of focus to get people back into a sense of normalcy. But I do want to thank everyone for just working with us. And I want to thank Houstonians for just doing their part and helping us get through this situation.

Having said that we will take whatever questions you may have.

[19:25:46] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You commented just then on the community and what all they've done. Consider the likely event in advance - (INAUDIBLE)

TURNER: No. Absolutely not. You know, county Judge Emmett and I have talked and we both wholeheartedly agree that the best course of action for the people in the city of Houston and for Harris County were for people to stay in place.

Number one, in you can recall, there was a lot of conversation about the direction in which hurricane Harvey was going to go. No one knew which direction it was going to go. It's difficult to send people away from danger when you don't know where the danger is. Number two, to try to put forth some sort of evacuation in a couple of days was a little -- I mean the logistics would have been crazy. OK? Because if we can remember the last time we evacuated, there was a great deal of confusion, a great deal of chaos. There were people that literally going to Austin that was on the road 10 to 12 hours, if not longer. There were people who ran out gas on their way. A great deal of confusion. It takes a lot of preparation. You have to have an evacuation plan. And then in the city of Houston there are 2.3 million people. When you combine that with Harris County you are talking about 6.5 million people. Where are they going?

And then once they are away from the city of Houston, they are away from our assets and our ability to help them. And they are not leaving the city and staying away. At some point in time they are coming back. And when they come back, how do you handle that type of a traffic coming back into the city? And when you have many roads that are impassable as they are today, can you imagine the nightmare it would be with millions of people coming back into the city where many of the communities are under water, streets are not passable. No.

I have -- the decision that we made was a smart one. It was in the best interest of Houstonians. It was the right decision in terms of their safety. And always we must put the interest of the city of Houston and Houstonians first. That's exactly what we did. Absolutely no regrets. We did what was the right thing to do and we are acting according to the plan that we laid out. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION).

TURNER: That does not concern at all. Last year, in April 2016 when we faced the flood, we had a number of people at the (INAUDIBLE) Campbell center that went quite smoothly. And we transitioned them from the shelter and put them into temporary housing and eventually into permanent housing.

The reality is that because of the wide spread flooding that has taken place, the last day or so. There are a number of people that don't have a place to go. And many of the people, for example, that went to the George R. Brown today, they came to George R. Brown today in wet clothes. They don't have a place to go. And the stress level for them is great. Many people were in homes with water. OK. Some of them were senior citizens. Some of them have families. Some of them have pets.

So this was -- this was part of the plan, to help provide stability and security in their lives, to put them in a better place, albeit temporarily as we transition them and get them back on their feet. And I think, I think in this city we know how to do it in such a way that is not chaotic. But it's respectful. It's dignified. You don't rob them further of what they have lost. But you recognize that at any point in time, when people are in crisis, you do your very best to provide them with some degree of normalcy. And that's what's occurring here.

And I want to thank all of the partners for just being exceptional. Look. These people are part of our family. And what happens when a family member is in need? We wrap our arms around our brothers and sisters and we give them the help that they need. Help put them back on their feet.

[19:30:48] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TURNER: Absolutely. Many of the 49 that we are talking about high water rescue vehicles are boats. We had a number that existed in our own inventory, fire has some already, police has some, public works had some, FBI in the area had assets. But the flooding that is taking place is unprecedented, historic. And was all over the city and all over the county, in fact all over the region. And it's not unlike what took place, they are saying 2016, when you may have had one or two areas that needed high water rescue vehicles.

In this particular instance high water rescue vehicles have need all over the city and all over the county. And quite frankly we simply did not have enough assets within their existing inventory to meet those immediate demands. I am very thankful that we were able to obtain additional high water vehicles today and boats today. And then just like mayor Wash from Boston indicated he will be sending additional support as well as others that will be doing the same.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TURNER: Look. We asked everybody, you know. If you got a high water vehicle or high water boat, look, we'll be very appreciative and we certainly will thank you. We want to get to those who are in distress. Those who are on the roofs, those in the attics, those who are in their homes, we want to get to them as quickly as possible. Because can you imagine the worst thing is to be out of your home on the roof, in the attic, in a house in water? I mean you want out of that situation as quickly as possible. So we want to get to people as quickly as possible. So in order to do that you can have the personnel but they also need to equipment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

TURNER: The goal is to stabilize their lives and to transition them out of the shelters as soon as possible. Again, like last year we put them in shelters, for example, on I want to say like a Monday -- no, I think it was like on a Friday, they went in to the shelter on a Friday and by that following week we were transitioning them out to either some other form of housing. So you don't want to keep people in a shelter too long. Many people have their families, they have their pets. So you know, the goal is to provide them with the assistance that they need and to stabilize their situation and then transition them to a better, a better place in their lives as quickly as possible.

CABRERA: We have been listening to the Houston mayor there, Sylvester Turner, addressing residents in Houston as they experience an unprecedented and catastrophic flooding event due to hurricane Harvey. It's now a tropical storm continuing to batter that area with a torrential amount of rain.

They have already received more than 24 inches in Houston alone. And meteorologists are forecasting at least double that before this event is over. He talked about some of the resources they have right now deployed to help make water rescues which have been going on throughout the day. We know the Galveston County alone they have made more than 1200 rescues. They have 22 aircraft, 35 boats and 93 high water rescue vehicles in Houston continuing to work. And they are urging people who need help to get in a place where rescuers can see them and find them and get to them as quickly as possible.

I want to bring in now a tweet from the former President, Barack Obama who just sent out this message. Thank you to all of the first responders and people helping each other out. That's what we do as Americans. Here's one way you can help now. And he retweeted a link to the American Red Cross. So many have lost so much already in this storm.

For more information on how you can help the victims of Harvey, just log on to CNN.com/impact.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:39:41] CABRERA: There are still many people trapped in Houston as the flood waters rise. We have pictures from an apartment building in Houston where the water is flooding the entire first floor right now. And Louise Vaughn Walker is joining us. She took these pictures and is still at the apartment.

Louise, first, how are you doing?

[19:40:00] LOUISE VAUGHN WALKER, APARTMENT IS FLOODED, CANNOT EVACUATE (on the phone): We are fine. So far, we are out of the water that was in my apartment. We have managed to go upstairs to a neighbor's apartment.

CABRERA: So what is the situation where you are now?

WALKER: Where I am now, bottom level is waist deep in water. We have helicopters that are flying over us rescuing people. We have people that have -- who are living in these first floor apartments like I have. They have been breaking into empty second level apartments just to have somewhere to go because we can't get out - we are completely surrounded with water. We can't get out of our apartment complex. No one can come in. And we are just stuck here.

CABRERA: That sounds quite scary. What's going through your mind?

WALKER: Like when does it end? And then, it's going to keep pouring down rain until Wednesday. What do we do until Wednesday? What do we do? How do we get out of here? And you know, the helicopter and any type of emergency assistance is not coming this way unless we are in immediate danger, like if we are stuck in our vehicle or if we have to climb on to the roof. But other than that, then no one is coming.

CABRERA: What is your plan at this point?

WALKER: My only plan at this point is to stay out of the water. And I have been keeping in contact with family and friends. But other than that, we can't do anything. It's just like we are literally stuck here.

CABRERA: You went up to your neighbor's house on the second floor. Were you and that neighbor close before or did you just go up out of the emergency that it was and introduce yourself? Walk me through how that happened.

WALKER: Fortunately for me, I do speak with my neighbor and I called her and told her that, you know, the water was starting to come into the house and she gradually invited us up there. But like I said, there are a lot of these people who don't know their neighbors or interact with their neighbors and they are breaking into the empty second story apartments just to get to safety.

CABRERA: Oh my goodness. Were you able to take any of your possessions with you when you went upstairs?

WALKER: Last night the water got to where it was just at the door but not come into the house and they gave me an opportunity then to pack some clothes. But just what I could fit in the suitcase. And just important paperwork. But things like the furniture and your equipment, things like that, you know, they don't, they don't come. You just grab what you can fit.

CABRERA: I'm so sorry for what you are going through. I understand you recently moved to Texas from Louisiana and you lived through hurricane Katrina. Is this taking you back a little bit?

WALKER: We just moved here last August. Moving from a 2016 flood in Baton Rouge. And here it is August 2017 and I'm in a whole different state and yet we experience this once again.

CABRERA: Unbelievable. You are so resilient. Louise, thank you so much for you time. Best of luck to you.

WALKER: Thank you.

CABRERA: A massive search and rescue operation is under way right now in Rockport, Texas and the surrounding (INAUDIBLE) county. We have some drone video to show you some of the damage from hurricane Harvey that took a direct hit in that area. About 400 people are now searching homes for any sign of life in a coastal community that took a devastating hit.

To add insult to injury, Rockport has also had tornado warnings, torrential downpours and unprecedented flooding as well.

Our Martin Savidge is joining us now from Rockport.

I understand the water has receded from that area, Martin, but what's left behind?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's left behind is a massive mess of devastation. We were just sort of walking along here as you look at one store front and you get a sense that this is going to be multiplied block after block and street after street. So the store fronts here completely caved in. The billing that makes up the entire strip mall is demolished. It's not going to be rebuilt. You would have to start all over.

Store fronts, glass doors all pushed in. The roof completely ripped off. All of this an indication of what a category four hurricane can and will do, especially with the incredibly strong winds. Some say the winds got up to about 130, maybe 140 miles an hour.

We also got some pictures from in some of the residential areas. I don't know if you can show that. But I just want you to realize it is not just businesses that have been severely impacted here. It is also people's homes.

And the amazing thing is, there again, street after street and block after block, the houses -- and these are brick and mortar houses have been pulverized. And then there are the apartment complexes. And after the apartment complexes you run into things like the hotels.

So this is an entire town that has been just devastated by the result of this category four hurricane. So as they deal with the tremendous water that they are fighting with there in Houston, here they have got a total different thing.

There's no electricity. There is no water that you can either drink for sewage. Communications, cell phone, all of that is almost nonexistent. So the infrastructure of this community has been wiped out. And there is no place to go that you cannot see it. I mean, we struggled to try to give you the sense of scale to all of this. You just can't. I mean, it goes on and on and on and on.

And they are trying to go through all of this debris to see if there are survivors or if there are any more fatalities, but they are up against so much.

I will just show you this because this is such an ironic scene. You come into this bookstore and the books are all on the shelves here despite the mayhem and yet of course there's absolutely no roof left here of this place.

CABRERA: Wow.

SAVIDGE: It's just one example.

Let me show one last thing before we believe here and that is across the street because this is where you got to see the reference of hope. These are the first responders. They have been pouring in. You have got the state police here. You got the National Guard that's here. You have got the task one emergency search and rescue teams that are here. Heavy earth moving equipment is in here to try to clear the streets and make the path open. You have got buses that are taking people away because essentially the mayor and everyone else has said this community is not livable at this point.

So if you rode it out, you got to get out now because you just can't exist without electricity and clean water. Otherwise, if you are out of town, don't come back. We are weeks away from electricity here -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Martin Savidge in Rockport, Texas. Thank you.

And as we go to break real quick, I want to show you some pictures of a flooding rescue that just happened in Houston. A helicopter at work in the flood zone.

We are back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:51:58] CABRERA: It wasn't just water that swept into this Texas home. Look closely there. A man was able to catch a fish in the middle of what appears to be his living room. And by the time this storm is done, parts of Texas could see up to 50 inches of rain.

I want to go to our Tom Sater monitoring tropical storm Harvey in the CNN weather center.

And Tom, you have called this a one in a thousand year flooding event. What are your models telling you?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, let's explain that because I'm sure many people are like how do you know that? What happened 1,000 years ago?

A one in 100 year event or one in 400-year event, we have had and flooding around the country in the past couple of years. One in 1,000-year event does not mean that the next time this happens, will be in 1,000 years. It's a percentage of the chance on any given day or days that this amount of rain could fall.

National weather service already using words like unprecedented. We have never seen a system really even in recent American history that has been so challenging, but yet when you look to the computer models, have been so accurate. It is really something. In fact, even tracking storms around the world and typhoons, we have never seen one without a steering current that has just been meandering for days.

This is still a tropical storm. It's feeding off the rainfall. It has already dropped on land. It is called the brown ocean effect. And no we are starting to see that colors of purple and red slight eastward which means some severe weather. In fact, when you look at the bands of rain that move in to Houston, let's see if there is any more on the way like there was last night.

There was another band getting to ready to move through in about an hour half to two hours, already we are seeing the rain and severe weather with a few tornado warnings coming out of Lake Charles, Louisiana. They have already issued about 12 warnings. The Houston office issued 132 tornado warnings and that watch is still in effect. So these feeder bands continue to feed the storm.

But really what's next is pretty important because it's still a tropical storm as it moves over the water on Monday afternoon, it's like a refueling stop. It's going to start to feed on this warm water. Could generate a little bit more strength.

Secondary land fall then, where will it go? Let's look at the computer models. Pretty good agreement. They all bring in offshore. In fact, by tomorrow morning, it is going to close to where it may landfall. So more rain for Rockport, unfortunately.

They slide to the north most. And we concur coming back over Galveston and into Houston. This will double the amount of rain that has already fallen in this area. Can you imagine? I mean, some areas just to the south, 30 inches now. Could we double that? If it stays on the eastern track, it could strengthen even more longer time in the water than move up into Louisiana.

This is still most likely in the state of Texas come late Thursday into Friday. So again, this is one of those events that just doesn't happen. We just don't see this.

Now the problem is ten inch plus, that said purple and white extends from the Houston area north and east. That means for emergency services and getting aid, they have now have got to expand their coverage and their calls for help have been still coming in.

The other day, Ana, I was on with Jake Tapper and we were talking about images of Katrina. And we were talking about the fears of getting thousands of 911 calls. Now coming out of the Houston office, the emergency management office, they are saying they have now received 56,000 911 calls for assistance.

Really quickly for you, we have got a tropical storm developing off the coast of Jacksonville, warnings, and watches getting ready to go into effect on the Carolina coast. Its name will be Irma. But let's concentrate on this one right now.

[19:55:33] CABRERA: Unbelievable. Tom Sater, thank you so much.

Our coverage of the devastating effect of tropical storm Harvey continues in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:59:51] CABRERA: Top of the hour, 7:00 in Houston, Texas. 8:00 here in New York. I'm Ana Cabrera. And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We have breaking news coverage of the catastrophic floods in Texas which continue at this hour. Darkness is about to fall across the disaster zone and the sobering message, the worst is yet to come.

Residents in and around Houston, the nation's fourth largest city are bracing for more rain tonight.