Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Emergency Declared in Louisiana as Harvey Churns; Houston Overwhelmed by Water as Harvey Hovers over Texas; Soon: Houston Mayor Gives Update on Devastating Flood. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired August 28, 2017 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS (via telephone): They may not be able to reach it. They may have moved up to the upper level. I spoke to two seniors last night. I kept trying to call them. We could not get in. I'm trying to find out what happened to them. We got two, 95 and 96 out late last night. And they get those kinds of stories.

I'm trying to go out now to what we call Northeast Houston because there is a great need there. We are so grateful to see the rescues in Maryland in Southwest. There's more need out there, but we have got a whole new -- another segment of population that I am trying to work with state and National Guard to go out. The problem is with seniors. We don't know what condition they are in. And so, we've got to get them to know their rescue is outside. Can you come to your window? This is the population that we are dealing with and that's what we are trying to do.

The other side of the coin, John, is that we are going to need enormous resources. This is the word catastrophic does not appropriately describe what we are facing. It is a one-time -- historic climate weather moment in the history, I think, of the United States because of the way hurricane Harvey has implemented itself.

And so, we get water, we stop. We get water, we stop. We just don't know when it's going to end. And I don't know what the housing stock will be once we finish. We need those federal funding as quickly as possible, which as you well know, we have to begin that work in September. I have talked to the Democratic leadership. I expect the Republican leadership to be bipartisan on those funding.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, we will let you get back out to helping your constituents right now. We do appreciate your time and we wish you and all the people of that area the best in the coming hours and days. Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much.

LEE: John, thank you so very much for caring and showing what's going on with all these great people. Thank you, again.

BERMAN: All right, CNN with much more coverage starting right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right. Welcome back, everyone, John Berman here. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

A very difficult morning in Texas. Now tropical storm Harvey not nearly done, pounding the coast of Texas.

Also now, Louisiana in its sights. Louisiana now under a federal state of emergency. This is about two and a half days after Harvey first made land fall in Southwest Texas and an enormous about of rain, more than two and a half feet in some places and two more feet could fall in that area in the next day or two.

Near Houston this morning, the Army Corps of Engineers being forced to release fast-rising water from two over burden reservoirs. That means the potential for even more flooding in some of the nearby neighborhoods. Even more people forced to get out.

FEMA estimated this morning, about 30,000 Texans will spend at least part of this week in shelters. That is a big number and so many have received helped already. So far, more than 1,000 flood victims, thousands have been flocked out of their homes by helicopters, row boats, anything and anyone that can get out and help.

Now, we are expecting an update from the mayor of Houston very, very shortly. In the meantime, we are covering this from all angles. I want to begin with CNN's Polo Sandoval. He is watching the Brazos River rising, southwest of Houston. Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is expected to reach record levels, too, John, in the next few hours. This is the Brazos River right behind us. We are a fairly short drive from Houston, Texas. All of Harvey's rain, all of that ends up in some of the rivers and streams.

You mentioned also some of those reservoirs and those rivers. This itself here, already approaching minor flood stage that is going to change extremely quickly according to the latest river forecast. It shows that it will reach 57 feet. That is a record high. It will be broken, actually reached 54 feet last summer.

So, the folks here in Richmond, Texas, again, just outside of Houston, know very well the real flooding threat. So, as a result, that this recommended evacuation is now a mandatory evacuation for some of the communities along the river.

I spoke to one gentleman who lost his home last summer. He had just repaired it, lost it then. He's repaired it again. And now, he fears that later this afternoon, when this river reaches those record levels, he could lose it again. John?

BERMAN: All right, Polo Sandoval. And you can see, it is still raining in Houston. Another two inches could fall there. It might not sound like much, but that is a lot of rain on top of an area that's already been pounded.

We did just get some breaking news, this time, from the White House. We just learned the first lady Melania Trump will accompany the president when he goes to Texas tomorrow. They will not visit the hardest hit areas, but they will go down there and talk to people who have responded so far, help coordinate that effort.

In the meantime, I want to go back to Houston right now. Up to 30,000 evacuees may be sheltered by the time this week is over. The Houston convention center is one of those sights. Rosa Flores is there. Rosa, what are you seeing?

[10:05:10] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know we are hearing the intense and traumatic stories of rescues happening with high-water vehicles, by air, by boat, from the people who were evacuated by first responders.

I'm in the convention center. I want to show you around. Because this is where people are arriving in high-water vehicles and they're being dropped off right here. This is the area where police conduct a security check before anyone is allowed in the building. Once that happens, then folks register right back here. They register. They give their information to the American Red Cross. And then they go beyond these doors into the vast convention center.

Now, we don't go in there at the moment because this is now their home. There are about 2500 evacuees who are here and we are respecting their privacy. A lot of these people, let's remember, they were in their pajamas when they were rescued. They were in their pajamas and with their children in their pajamas when they were rescued.

We have heard from multiple people in this convention center, some of them describing the rescue - their rescue as apocalyptic. They said that the water started rising very quickly. Some are saying that they took their children to the attic. Others saying that they lifted their children above the high-water to make sure that their children were safe and then walked for 15, 20 minutes to dry land to make sure that they could get to first responders.

So, John, a lot of the stories that we're hearing here in the convention center, really resonating with the heroic efforts of first responders as well, first responders in both by air and high-water vehicles trying to get to all these people to take them to safety. John?

BERMAN: And again, Rosa Flores, thank you so much, at the Houston convention center where people are trying to find safety right now.

We did just speak to Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of Congress from the Houston area who does note, there are neighborhoods that have not been reached yet. So we do not know the full scope really of the need for those who are suffering and may still need to be rescued.

We've looking at live pictures all morning of boats out, rescue teams out, citizens out trying to help. Tropical storm Harvey is still hovering over Texas. It could bring feet of additional rain.

Chad Myers, CNN's chief meteorologist at the Weather Center to give us a sense of what is coming. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: More rain to come as Harvey moves offshore gathers some strength and some moisture and then comes back on shore near Houston. Look at League City. This is just the southeast of Houston proper, 34 inches. That is a yardstick worth of rain.

And here is where it's rained all - did 72 hours now worth of rainfall. Everywhere that you see white, that's 20 inches of rain as predicted by the models days ago. And it really came true. So many people have been tweeting me and said, you know, how come people didn't leave? I think these numbers were truly unbelievable. Not that it wouldn't come true, but no one has ever seen anything like this before.

Yes, it's still raining. The heaviest rain though has moved into Louisiana. Some benefit for that water release that they are going to do from those reservoirs. They are not going to get additional rainfall today. Then those are putting some of that water to make sure that those reservoirs don't overflow.

Here comes the storm, as I said, back into the Gulf of Mexico, not long enough to get a hurricane again. But long enough to get more moisture, long enough to get more humidity and power from the Gulf of Mexico, because it's still warm, about 86 degrees there. We are still going to see that rainfall forecast especially north of the city, another foot or more.

Here is what the Buffalo Bayou is going to do, 70 feet right now, 69.92. I know that's hard to read. But that is well above the record stage and it's going to maybe 73 feet, five feet higher than what it is right now. So, floods, houses that are getting wet already, maybe five feet deeper by tomorrow morning.

BERMAN: That's a horrible thing to imagine, Chad, what is being dealt with up and down the coast. Chad Myers, thank you so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Our next guest tells us his home flooded in a matter of just hours. Rey Guatzin joins us now from Houston. You know, you have lived in Houston for some time, right? You say you have never seen anything like this?

REY GUATZIN, HARVEY VICTIM (via telephone): That's correct. You know, I actually survived Ike and Rita. And this is unimaginable. It happened in just a matter of hours. I can't even explain how this feels because it's unbelievable. I have never seen this before. To tell you the truth right now, we are actually trapped in our street. We cannot leave. We cannot move.

[10:10:03] Our streets have been flooded since it started raining. It's just a lot of chaos, actually. It is something that I cannot explain to you. It's huge, man. It's actually something that I have never seen in my life. I cannot really find the words to tell you how actually this is affecting everybody because right now the whole city is paralyzed.

BERMAN: We understand. The one thing you do need to know is that the whole nation is with you. Rey, hang on. We are looking at live pictures right now of rescues, of boats going around in different cities. This is Fort Bend, Texas. And if I'm not mistaken, this is one of the areas that have been affected by the release from these reservoirs that are overflowing. But you can see the floodwaters in Fort Bend and children being saved, elderly being saved.

Obviously, these are state and local officials out there trying to help best they can. There's a lawn, we're looking at right now, no telling when that lawn itself will be covered. All of these people are going to have to find somewhere to go in the near future as you see that water creeping up by the second.

Rey, tell us where you were as the floodwaters were rising. What did you see and what did you do?

GUATZIN: Well, the first thing that I started noticing is that there was a lot of wind and the roof -- from the roof, it started moving and so one of the bedrooms - we've started noticing like cracks were opening and whenever that we heard that, we went to the room and that's when the water started coming in. And I believe that was the foundation of the house because the rain is so, so heavy here that it has penetrated way underneath the dirt and the soil. And that's when the water started coming into the room. And the only thing we could think of, OK, we just have to move to higher ground.

BERMAN: Rey, where are you right now? And as you are hearing these forecast that more rain could be coming, do you feel safe?

GUATZIN: That's actually a question that I cannot answer you right now, to tell the truth because, I mean, I don't think -- we never thought about this, that it was going to be this big and not a lot of people actually thought that this is going to get as bad. Right now, I'm actually still at my house with water still inside my house. We are still here, man.

BERMAN: You are still there. Any thoughts about how you will be living? What impact this will have in the days and weeks and frankly, months, maybe years ahead?

GUATZIN: Well, that, only god knows. Right now, the only time that we have is if this continues, we have to leave. We just can't be here because -- as I am speaking to you, it is pouring outside and water still coming in and the thing is, we live a family of five and have small children.

I don't think we want to start panicking and give them that, you know, that we are panicking and we don't know what to do. The thing is, we want to take it as calm as possible. And I know that things are bad outside but, you know, we want to maintain -- we just want to maintain our faith here and I know this is bad, but you know, things can get better.

BERMAN: Rey Guatzin, obviously living through, right now, the devastation from Harvey, first hurricane now tropical storm with so much rain already, having fallen, so much more to come. Rey Guatzin, know, you are not alone, that we are thinking of you. We are here for you. Whatever we can do, please let us know. Rey Guatzin for us down --

GUATZIN: Thank you. Thank you so much. And just keep us in your prayers. Thank you everyone for doing everything. Honestly, we have seen the love that everybody is sending us. That's great. We need as much help here. Houston does really need everyone now.

BERMAN: It's coming. It is coming. All right, Rey Guatzin for us. Thank you so much.

You are looking at live pictures right now. Again, as the rain just falling so hard in and around Texas still. So much need. So many people still need to be rescued. Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of Congress, told us there are still neighborhoods that have not yet been reached.

We are expecting an update from the mayor of Houston, along with the police chief officials. Will very shortly tell us the area of highest need give us a new sense of the damage done, the lives and the property.

[10:15:00] Also, not far from Houston, in Rockport, Texas, that town trying to recover after it took a direct hit from a Category 4 hurricane. Nick Valencia is there for us now. Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And this is what a community does look like after it takes a direct hit from a Category 4 hurricane, John. I'm Nick Valencia in Rockport, Texas. Hundreds of people are still here. There's no food. There's no power. There's no water and they need help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing I thought is we would have died in here if it would have stayed. We left. We are alive. I just wish this wouldn't have happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, John Berman here. We are getting some new video in from our affiliate KTRK in Houston. Look at this. Look at that truck. A semi just covered with water right now.

[10:21:00] You have to hope that the driver of that got out in time and to safety in time.

You are looking again at these live pictures as boats travel through that city right now, passing on what were roads a few days ago, now are these, well, traffic water ways, another SUV there. Again, going out to drive in this situation, the worst thing you can do.

We are expecting a news conference from Houston very, very shortly. The picture you are looking at right now from Rockport, Texas. Rockport was the town that took a direct hit from Harvey when it was a Category 4 hurricane, Friday night into Saturday morning. It seems like a lifetime ago after all the rain that has fallen since then. Again, these pictures just coming in.

Our CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Rockport, getting a sense of that community as it tries to recover. Nick?

VALENCIA: We mentioned 60 percent of this community decided to stay while that hurricane touched down. This is a community that took a direct hit. Aransas County deeply affected by hurricane Harvey. I have been talking to residents all morning long. I'm joined by one of them. Joe Kirchens, how are you doing?

JOE KIRCHENS, ROCKPORT RESIDENT: I'm good. Like I said, I mean, I didn't care to be on TV. I just want to tell all you all reporters and the people here, when you here, act like this is your home. Have the respect to report like this is your all. This place is gone.

VALENCIA: What do you think? What do you guys need for help? What do you guys need?

KIRCHENS: Well, we need a community. We need the other community, San Antonio, Dallas, other States, you know. I see all these little fund- raisers for all these other places. We need it here.

VALENCIA: What made you want to stay to the storm? I mean --

KIRCHENS: I didn't have much time. I just came from Maryland on a trip. When I got in, I had enough time to board up. I knew if I didn't board up right, I would lose it all.

VALENCIA: And you said it was way worse than 120-130 miles per hour.

KIRCHENS: I was outside about 8:00. I went outside. We had a guy with a flashlight. I had two families come to my house to seek shelter. I had a guy or somebody was out there with flashlights. We did a quick in and out check and try to get them. I don't know if they went back to where they were. We couldn't find them. We got back in before it got really bad. It was probably 100-mile-an-hour winds at that time.

KIRCHENS: Your house is OK?

KIRCHENS: When I say OK, you have to realize, it's not OK. It's a disaster zone. My house is still there, it's still there. It's not OK. There's stuff destroyed everywhere. My building is OK, but just all I have to say is, you all guys treat this like this is your all's place. -

VALENCIA: We respect this community.

KIRCHENS: I have seen the reporting of some of these guys, have the respect. Act like it is your place.

VALENCIA: Did you think it was going to be this bad, Joe?

KIRCHENS: No. I mean, you can't -- nobody is God. God was on our side, for sure, because we are still here. But, nobody could imagine it could have done this. The weather guys, you can't predict this stuff, no matter how good you are, you can't predict it. I was hoping it wouldn't get like this but it did. It did all the way up to what we didn't want.

VALENCIA: Tell us about Rockport. Tell us about this place, what it was before.

KIRCHENS: Beautiful. I mean, it's a wonderful place. We are going to rebuild it. We need help. We need financial support from the senators, representatives and our leaders. We need to get it here quick. We don't need a Katrina. We need the people here are ready. We are cutting wood. We are putting stuff together. Get the support here fast.

VALENCIA: We are getting the message out.

KIRCHENS: You got here quick, you know. Don't worry about the little things like names of people that deceased and stuff. That's personal stuff, leave that stuff alone. We'll get all that out. Get out there and show everybody what's going on.

VALENCIA: Yes, sir.

KIRCHENS: Get some support.

VALENCIA: We will.

KIRCHENS: Let's get this back together. We can do it.

VALENCIA: We will continue to report from here as long as it takes. Joe, thank you so much for stopping by.

Residents here are - John. You know, they are coming up to us here, people like Aaron Mitchell in the last hour, people like Joe. This community is hurting, but it is a resilient one, that is very evident to our news crew. John?

BERMAN: All right, Nick Valencia for us in Rockport. Joe Kirchens there, had an important message as you look at these live pictures right now from Houston. Imagine if this was your home. Treat this. Treat this event as if it were happening to you. You are looking out your window and seeing the streets around you inundated with water. As Joe Kirchens says, this place is gone.

This is an important moment for this country as it comes together to help the community there move past this. President Trump will head to Texas tomorrow. We just learned the first lady, Melania Trump will accompany him. We'll have much more, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:29:39] BERMAN: All right, live pictures right now on your left and right from Houston, Texas. On the left, that is where we are expecting to hear any minute from the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner. He is going to give an update on the conditions in and around his city, which has just been devastated by the flooding from first hurricane, now tropical storm Harvey.

In the right side of your screen, you can see the impact. It is still having with the rain, still falling. Those are vehicles. Frankly, there should be no vehicles out on the roads right now, only boats should be traveling on these roadways - with left of the roadways covered by feet of water right now. As you could see, again, we'll get an update from the Mayor.