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Hurricane Harvey Latest; Trump Responds to Harvey Situation on Twitter; Houston Mayor Gives Press Update. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 27, 2017 - 10:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN: So grateful to have your company here. The Coast Guard is warning people still stranded by this catastrophic flooding in Houston we've been watching all morning, warning them to get to higher ground.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN: Look at just how much water is in this area, waist high. It's shoulder-high in some areas. Tropical Storm Harvey is drenching this city. Roads are covered. Houses are nearly submerged; the flooding, just catastrophic.

Some people are standing at gas stations. Officials say the only way they can get to anyone trapped by the flooding is if they climb to the rooftops, wave sheets and flags, anything to get their attention. And they want them to stay put.


GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT, R-TEXAS: Do not get out onto the road. Make a plan where you can elevate in your own home or find a place of safety.


PAUL: Now, I want to let you know what we know right now. And take a look at this, a dog being rescued there. But the FEMA administrator is warning his agency is going to be there for years -- not weeks, not months, but for years, helping the state recover.

So far, 250,000 people don't have power across the state. More than 1,800 are in shelters at this hour.

BLACKWELL: Now, despite the governor's call for people to stay put, all morning people have been walking in the water. Right now, live from our affiliate K-PRC, a woman carrying just a box or a bag there of her belongings, and you see behind her just a steady stream of people walking through this water with rafts or boats, whatever they can find. It's waist high in some areas. You see people on the sidewalk there up to their hips. people trying to get to higher ground.

Because this water is moving so quickly, in some areas falling at up to six inches per hour. And it's expected to go on for days. Again, to our affiliate K-TRK, they say one family has two children who are in need of medication. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(UNKNOWN): Her name's Ashley. She's got two kids and her family's there. They're on insulin pumps, the babies are. They're nine and 11.

(UNKNOWN): Nine and 11 years old -- the two children are in that house right now?

(UNKNOWN): Nine and 11.

(UNKNOWN): How far did you all walk to get over here for help?

(UNKNOWN): I mean, originally we came to get some bulldogs.

(UNKNOWN): But we got turned around.

(UNKNOWN): Yeah, got turned around and we saw this lady and she told us her situation and we tried our best to flag down some help, but...

(UNKNOWN): We've come...

(UNKNOWN): ... these jerks -- these jerks wouldn't stop.

(UNKNOWN): We've been out here since 4:00 in the morning.

(UNKNOWN): So you've been walking literally from Scarsdale at 45 (ph), all the way over here?

(UNKNOWN): Yeah, no boats or no cars tried stopping or nothing. Nobody stopped. And we yelled for 'em.

(UNKNOWN): Well, we've got HPD and boats right over here.

(UNKNOWN): They're on their way.


(UNKNOWN): As long as they can get to that lady.

(UNKNOWN): Can you just tell us, how far away is she? Like, we can just see how high the water is. How far away away is that person?

(UNKNOWN): She's all the way down there.

(UNKNOWN): She's on Sagehurst. I'd say it's, like, eight streets down. If you're coming from Hughes, it's -- it's five yellow street lamps.

(UNKNOWN): And how -- have you talked to her, like, how is she doing right now? I mean, is she -- is she terrified?

(UNKNOWN): She seems pretty calm, actually. She's got what I think is her husband and her parents in there. The babies are asleep. They went to sleep around 3:00.

(UNKNOWN): And the water is in their house? (UNKNOWN): It's not all the way in their house. It's up to the


(UNKNOWN): It's getting there.


PAUL: President Trump is responding via Twitter to the crisis. Moments ago, he says, "I will be going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety."

The president is going to be briefed at Camp David shortly about -- in about 25 minutes. At the same time, the mayor of Houston is holding a news conference as well.

BLACKWELL: Also, we've got this video in from Rockport. Business owners -- this is a mattress and bed company -- they come out and they proclaim that they will respond, that they will recover, waving the Texas flag here. And in just a moment, another person comes out with the American flag and hangs it there outside of that business.

PAUL: There is resilience, no doubt about it. And that's what will get people through.


PAUL: I want to get back to Rosa Flores, who is in Houston. She's got some live pictures for us.

We understand the Coast Guard's working, more than 300 search-and- rescue requests in the area right now?

FLORES: You know, Houston is getting pummeled by water right now. And take a look behind me. This is the area where we were doing live shots with you guys earlier this morning. We were actually live at that intersection where you see that traffic light. Now it is completely submerged in water. That railing that you see right next to the Spaghetti Warehouse building -- that's where we were standing. That's where our vehicles were parked earlier this morning.

Now, here's the other concern right now. If we pan over to our right, you can see that the building appears to be buckling. We've been monitoring that crack as we have been here this morning. And you can see that it is widening. We've been seeing that this morning. And there appears to be just a fish a few feet from where I'm at.

But this is the story right here, the fact that there is so much water accumulated in these bayous that meander through the city of Houston and they are overcome by water. It is testing the infrastructure. It is testing everything around these bayous.

And, you know, yesterday we were doing live shots at the bottom of these trees. Now all I'm able to show you are the treetops. That is how much water has accumulated in about 24 hours. And you can see that what used to be a parking lot is now a raging river. What used to be a bayou, you can't see it anymore. All you see are the treetops. You know, ramps onto the interstate are no longer there, just the signs. It has been overwhelming, the amount of rain that has accumulated in the past 24 hours.

And, Victor and Christi, you can see that it is still coming down at this hour. It has not stopped.


FLORES: Now, a quick note about evacuations. People were asked not to...

BLACKWELL: Rosa, hold on for a second. Rosa, let me jump in here for just a second. We want to come right back to you, but we want to get to someone who is actually inside their home, Jay Reese (ph). He lives in Houston, a former FEMA operations manager in disaster recovery.

And we understand, Jay, that your -- your home is flooded. Let us know what's happening where you are.

JAY REESE (ph), FORMER FEMA OPERATIONS MANAGER: Yeah, hey, guys. So the water has receded just a tad bit. When I woke up this morning, there was about two inches of water inside the house. That water has since receded back out. But, as Rosa mentioned, the sky has opened up once again and it's just going to be a matter of minutes before the water is back in the house and flooding.

Right now, it's -- it's a bit nerve-wracking. Don't know quite what to do yet, if we're going to try to make an escape here or just try to hang tight. But, you know, I'm trying to keep my spirits up and monitoring the weather and getting updates from friends on various outlets.

PAUL: As a former FEMA operations manager, Jay, how confident are you that you are going to get a response? Do you need help right now? Or do you feel like you can manage this?

REESE (ph): Yeah, I think for now I can manage it. So in my operations with FEMA, we did disaster recovery cleanup. So after, you know, the president assesses what monies are going to be distributed into the cleanup, FEMA would then hire subcontractors to then clean up all the left-behind vegetation and/or white (ph) product, which is refrigerators and such. And that's what I managed.

But as far as first responders, I'm confident that we'll be -- we'll be well taken care of. I'm hoping this won't be a repeat of Katrina or the like...

PAUL: Let me ask you...

REESE (ph): But, you know, I've got my spirits up.

PAUL: Since you were with cleanup, I just want to ask you a quick question.

REESE (ph): Sure. PAUL: We know that flooding and water are just evil to homes, when we talk about the possibility of what's left over, of mold that can accumulate. Do you anticipate that most of these homes will have to be leveled all together?

REESE (ph): I wouldn't know about leveled. In my area -- I live just outside the Galleria, or just inside the Galleria -- I can definitely tell you that the sheet-rock is going to need to be replaced here. As far as leveling, I couldn't say for sure. We'll know the extent of the damage when this is all said and done. But it's definitely a possibility. I wouldn't rule it out.

PAUL: OK. Jay Reese (ph) there. We appreciate your help and hope that you can indeed manage things where you are and that your home will be OK>

BLACKWELL: So we had to interrupt Rosa Flores. Unfortunately, we can't go right back to her because the water is moving so quickly and rising so quickly where she is, she now has to relocate. But we'll take a quick break and try to get her back at least on the phone, hopefully in front of a camera.

Stay with us, more coverage of Tropical Storm Harvey and the flooding in Houston, in a moment.


PAUL: Rescues are continuing in Houston. We want to show you some of the latest pictures of what's just coming into us from that area. It looks like some people had been on rafts. They're trying to cover up as best they can. There are umbrellas, you can see there. They've got their raincoats on. But they finally, it looks like, got to dry enough land where they can put their feet down and hopefully get to some place else.

Take a look at the sweet little woman there. Somebody's going to come and just help her up. She's going to get some help, finally. But, you know what? These people are resilient and they're tough, because that is not an easy trip to make.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, this coming in from our affiliate, K-PRC. You see that woman being helped up. This man in the foreground appears to be on a walker, who -- you know, you have to remember that the most vulnerable among us need special help right now. We have talked a lot this morning about wind speed and measured this in inches and hours. But this is about people, people who need help right now. And we see that at least these people have gathered, and it looks like they're starting to get some of the help, at least that's our hope.

Let's go about 200 miles down the coast to Rockport, that suffered, really, the worst of the wind. And we saw this just a few moments ago. And our Nick Valencia now has the man who mounted that flag.

Nick, tell us what's happening there.

VALENCIA: Wasn't that just a beautiful moment to watch? That was probably the most tender moment that we've seen in the middle

of all of this ugliness. You know, we're watching it here, my cameraman, Steve Soerg (ph) and I, we're looking at it and we started to tear up, brother. What -- tell us -- take us through that. You're coming back to your girlfriend's business for the first time.

(UNKNOWN): Well, it was -- it was quite disastrous to see your town in ruins. But you've got to pick up the pieces and go along with it, and I thought the first thing I could do is put up the flag.

VALENCIA: That was a -- a symbol of hope, a symbol of...

(UNKNOWN): A symbol of hope, yeah, for everybody to see.

VALENCIA: Yeah, we saw it, all right. And we felt it, too.

(UNKNOWN): Thank you very much. It felt good to me.

VALENCIA: Roland, come on in here, too, because you also rode out the storm. You guys, did you ride it out together?


VALENCIA: (inaudible) both here (inaudible)?

(UNKNOWN): That's a lot of people. I didn't realize that. But me and my buddy over here, his business (inaudible), because we figured there would be a lot of damage so he wanted to come down here. But we couldn't come down here at first because all the telephone poles back there on 881 were all clipped down, all across the highway, and we couldn't get out.

But we went out there trying to get 'em out of the way with one of these kegs (ph) and a backhoe and all that. But you can only do so much work, you know.

VALENCIA: Yeah, there's a lot of work to be done here. When you guys look at this street, look at this main drag and you see that telephone pole bent, you see mattresses from your girlfriend's factory everywhere...

(UNKNOWN): Everywhere.

VALENCIA: ... I mean, what...

(UNKNOWN): (inaudible) with you, I don't see it yet. I still see the beautiful town it was.


(UNKNOWN): I still see the beautiful...


VALENCIA: ... the pain in your eyes, though, brother.

(UNKNOWN): Yeah, it's sad. This was -- this was our beautiful town and it has been just destroyed, all of it.

VALENCIA: Roland, what -- can you describe the place to us? You know, a lot of people are learning about this community for the very first time.

(UNKNOWN): I've always loved Rockport, man. It's always...

BLACKWELL: All right. We're having some audio problems. I'm sure you heard the mike go in and out there. Wind and water are not friends of technology, especially in situations like this. But I think you got the gist there, a symbol of hope there in the town of Rockport that will have a lot of rebuilding to do.

PAUL: Do stay close. We're going to be back in just a moment.


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER, D-HOUSTON: Well, good morning. Let me give you an update as to where we are. Again, I don't think I need to tell anyone at this point that this is a very, very serious and unprecedented storm. And this is pretty much like the second day. We anticipate that there will be several other days. There may be a lull for a little bit some time this morning, early noon -- afternoon. But then we're expecting even more rain later on.

Let me just say that, up to this point, public works has indicated to me that there have been 60 barricaded locations as of midnight. There have been numerous reports of streets and highway flooding. We all know that. And most major thoroughfares and their feeder roads are impassable.

Several hundred structural flooding reports, and we expect that number to continue to rise pretty dramatically. Between HPD and the Houston Fire Department, we have received more than 2,000 calls for rescues on 911. I know people are trying to reach 911, may not be getting a response. I understand that. The system -- there are a lot of people who are calling.

But let me ask for -- let's give preference to the life-threatening calls, OK? If, for example -- if you are stranded in your vehicle but you are in a safe place or a dry place, let's give preference to those who are in a situation at their home where water is rising very quickly and they need our assistance, a life-threatening call. So let's give preference to that.

I understand people are calling 911. It is working. I would ask for you to continue to call, OK, continue to call. And we are manning a 911, especially from this particular location. But it has been a lot of calls have come in.

As of 6:00 a.m. this morning, two apartment evacuations remain in progress in the Greenspoint area, 802 Seminar and 400 Greens road. Metro has taken them to the Red Cross Shelter at M.O. Campbell (ph). And there are -- right now, there are about 197. It has capacity for 500. We will be opening the Chinese Community Center. The one issue that we

had is that it was very difficult to access the Chinese Community Center. We're working through those difficulties, but we do intend to open the Chinese Community Center today. That will hold about 200 individuals.

I have directed my people, the directors of GSD, General Services, to open up several of the local multi-service centers. And this is why we are doing it. The roads are impassable. But some of these neighborhood multi-service centers, people may be able to walk to, OK, or they may be able to drive to. And so we're going to -- I'm asking and I've authorized them for those that are not flooded to open up the local multi-service center and in some cases some of the local libraries.

Again, this is the -- intended to be like -- what do you call it?

(UNKNOWN): A lily pad.

TURNER: A lily pad, as a safe haven for people who are in the neighborhoods, water is rising, abandoned their homes. They are very much concerned and they just need a safe place to be, OK? It doesn't matter whether there is food or not. I simply want the facilities open so people can either walk to access them, and I'm especially sensitive to senior citizens, people who are disabled, low-income individuals. So we're going to do that.

I've also authorized for the George R. Brown to be opened up as a shelter. So we're opening up the George R. Brown as of today. And, for example, people who -- their homes have taken in water, they need a place to be, can access or get to the George R. Brown. And in some cases, for example, Clayton Homes and the Irvington Village, they are taking on water. And we are sending the Metro buses to them as closely as we can, and then we'll have them transported to the George R. Brown as of today.

But the George R. Brown as of today will be open to anyone who needs shelter. And the Red Cross is joining with us in that effort.

With regards to fatalities, it appears at this time a woman drove into some high water at Warrenton and South Gessner in southwest Houston and then drowned while trying to escape. She was discovered by residents about 9:15 P.M. and pronounced dead at the scene. We are awaiting the official medical ruling on the cause of death.

I've talked to you about the shelters. And there will be more shelters that will be opening as we go through this situation. We anticipate, again -- this is just day two. We anticipate day three, day four. And so the number of shelters will dramatically increase.

The bus service for Metro has been suspended. But Metro is working with us to help transport people from either their homes or from the multi-service centers or from the libraries either to the shelters at M.O. Campbell (ph) or the Chinese Community Center or to the George R. Brown.

Centerpoint is telling us, at least in this area, that 98 percent of their customers have power as of 2:00 a.m.

With regards to resources -- and let me tell you, the flooding has occurred all over. It has occurred all over, and so we have reached out. With regards, for example, the city of Houston, we're operating with 39 dump trucks, high water vehicles. There are -- this is from -- who is this from?

(UNKNOWN): One Houston fire department, four from HPD high-water vehicles.

TURNER: Four from HPD, high-water vehicles. There are 11 boats. And then the Texas Task Force One has already provided an additional 20 high-water vehicles. And those vehicles have already been deployed.

For example, 10 of them have been deployed at I-45 and Edgebrook. Five have been deployed at Station 34. That's off -- in the (inaudible) northeast area. And five have been deployed at Station 21, which is off of South Main. That's 20 that have already come, been deployed, high-water rescue vehicles. We're expecting at least another -- five additional ones from the Texas military force. We're expecting an additional 40 boats to be coming in today to assist and to help reach as many people as we can in an expeditious fashion. And we're expecting another 10 today to come in from Tex-DOT (ph).

So we are augmenting what we need here. Because, you know, rescues, that's what we're hearing a lot of, and so we are certainly increasing our assets. And I appreciate the state and others for providing additional resources to us.

But let me just say this. If water is in your home, let me encourage you not to go up into the attic. Let me encourage you not to do that. Do not go up into the attic unless you know there's an exit out, OK? Because that's just not -- that's not a recommended course of action. So don't -- don't do that.

What happened last night -- and I was out there and saw quite a number of vehicles that were on the road. Again, let me remind people between now and until this storm has clearly passed, please do not get on the road. Do not get on the road.