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Harvey Pummels Texas, Brings Catastrophic Flood; Family Saved from Their Flooded Home in Texas; Floodwaters Force TV Station to Evacuate. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired August 28, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:12] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Midnight here on the U.S. East Coast. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world.
We're following the breaking news this hour here on CNN -- a desperate situation playing out in the U.S. state of Texas.
I'm George Howell.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rosemary Church.
Tropical storm Harvey is slamming the state with catastrophic flooding as torrential rain continues to barrel along down the coast.
HOWELL: Just consider what the U.S. National Weather Service is saying about this storm. Look at these images. You get a sense they say it is beyond anything experienced before. That's their quote. And they warn that the worst that may be yet to come.
At this point more than 300,000 people are without power and outages are expected for several days.
Now, to the city of Rockport, Texas. Look at this video. You get a sense of exactly what happened when this storm barreled through the destruction where Harvey struck as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday night and we understand that one person was killed in that town.
CHURCH: And another person was killed in the city of Houston after being swept away by floodwaters. Cars can be seen submerged in many roads simply impassable at this point. Commercial flights in and out of Houston's two main airports have been halted.
Now meanwhile, frantic search and rescue operations are under way as the deadly floodwaters continue to rise. Around 3,000 national guard members have been activated to help with the rescue efforts.
And CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now from Houston, Texas where it is just after 11:00 p.m. Central time. Derek -- you've had to move to higher ground as you've been reporting on the flooding and the search and rescue efforts under way. More than a thousand rescues carried out in Houston so far and they continue into the night as this rain keeps falling. How difficult has it been for authorities to perform rescues in the dark?
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Rosemary -- we actually joined the Precinct One officers on a search and rescue mission about three hours ago. And that was right at some of the height of some of the most extreme rain that Tropical Storm Harvey has produced. And it was very challenging.
We had to dodge obstacles, full size SUVs. We have water actually over those vehicles and when we are on the search and rescue boat we had to navigate around that. We had to navigate around trees, road signs, traffic lights.
That just gives you a sense on how flooded this Brays bayou is in the southwestern corridor of the Houston's city proper. And this area had an extensive amount of rain as we all know but these feeder bands that have come through have made conditions that much more challenging.
Rescue operations tonight are going to be very difficult and they, speaking to some of the constables there they are in it for the long haul. They have already done over 100 rescues today alone. You are probably watching some of the video that we shot earlier.
Those are the gentlemen that are so courageous and so brave going door-to-door, in fact receiving text messages from individuals saying, please, we are desperate. We need your help. We've got children. We've got medical conditions. We cannot leave our house. The water is rising quickly. Please come and rescue us.
And that was really what this evening is all about trying to get to those people who are still left stranded within their houses -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Derek Van Dam, thank you so much. Those rescues, of course, the heroes of the hour and the day and probably in the days ahead.
Many thinks to you for your reporting on the ground.
HOWELL: And when you think about it, there are so many people that were in the path of this storm, so many rescues, Rosie, that are happening as we speak. Hundreds of people hoping to get help, many stranded in their homes.
And in parts of Houston, flooding was so bad. Workers used boats to get residents to safety. And look, there are even residents of those communities who use their own boats to help other residents to get those who needed help.
CHURCH: Yes. And the Red Cross estimates that 1,800 people stayed in shelters across Texas on Saturday night. A number of rescue teams have been flown in to help with the disaster and helicopters have been rescuing stranded people around the clock.
HOWELL: So when you consider the fact that there are millions of people affected, some in dire need, officials say many of the emergency calls they are receiving, those calls are going unanswered. Operators are forced to prioritize life-threatening calls and they are struggling to keep up with those.
One reporter is describing the situation earlier when he saw people on a rooftop who needed help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
As the sun goes down, of course the need just becomes even more because these people don't have any electricity right now. They are in the dark. When it gets pitch black inside -- outside, it's going to be pitch black inside.
[00:05:03] And I don't know what other medical situations that they have but look -- they are flashing the light. I think they probably want us to maybe get one of those people that's up there.
We can take you guys if you need. An elderly sick person? Yes, bring -- two handicaps. Two sick and disabled and two in wheelchairs right now on the top of that roof. I have no idea how they got them on top of that roof.
Yes, we're going to try to get closer. She wants us to get closer right now. Yes, we will get closer. You guys can bring them down to the boat.
We are moving them slowly. And obviously very -- yes, very difficult because he said he has a pacemaker on his left-hand side near his heart. So we're going to have to steer clear of that, obviously. And I'm going to try to get him on the ledge here so we can have him sit down. And then we're going to take him off.
This just shows you how critical these patients are. How critical these people are. They need the help right now. There's just not enough boats. There's not enough helicopters. There's not enough -- not enough first responders, obviously, to get every single person, as you heard.
There are 300 people in this apartment complex. A lot of them -- a lot of them need the help because they are -- they are elderly. Some of them obviously have medical conditions that they need to be on dry land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Extraordinarily risky situation there, unbelievable.
And our CNN teams have been on the ground all over southern Texas covering search and rescue missions and speaking to residents while maneuvering through a flooded neighborhood.
Our Ed Lavandera became part of a dramatic rescue after finding a family trapped inside their home.
HOWELL: The video there just tells you the story. Just look. Ed did what you would expect anyone to do -- stepping in to help even while he was on live TV. And at one point he even asked the camera person just to turn away for a moment out of respect for the family that they were helping at the time.
Everyone got on board. Everyone was safe. And Ed interviewed one of the women rescued. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were about to leave the neighborhood. We heard your voice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Thank God because we've been waiting on the Coast Guard. Been waiting on somebody else and (inaudible) calling -- anyway.
LAVANDERA: How long have you guys been trapped in there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All night.
LAVANDERA: All night?
You've been with your parents?
How are they holding up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty good. Pretty good. I think pretty good for the circumstances. (inaudible)
LAVANDERA: You guys have been stuck upstairs all day?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And all night, yes.
LAVANDERA: We did a couple of passes down the street here. We didn't even know you were in the house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, I heard the boat but I thought the Coast Guard or someone would rescue us. But then we found out that my sons were coming on a jet ski. Then they had -- they got stopped -- so by a bridge. Anyway, they got stopped. So I figured --
LAVANDERA: What was it like in this neighborhood through the night?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just -- it just creeped out, really -- it was shocking, you know. It came in through the garage and that's it. And I was shocked.
LAVANDERA: What time is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think around 1:00 or 2:00. 2:30 -- it was really torn in. And I think it's three feet or more inside the house.
LAVANDERA: I've heard from a lot of people here and said that they didn't expect this neighborhood to flood. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. My parents were in the hundred year flood and I can't remember what year that was. But no, we didn't think it was going to flood. I had friends -- we would have went to my house. We didn't know it was going to flood. And they plus they did road work.
LAVANDERA: And you've been trying to get people to pull you out all day long?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. My daughters have been calling. And of course, my cell phone --
LAVANDERA: Where are your daughters?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big city.
LAVANDERA: Hopefully they're able to watch this and they know you're --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
LAVANDERA: -- you guys are safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, I'm going to call one of them to pick me up -- us up.
LAVANDERA: What was it like in the dark last night --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No. We had lights all the time. Dad's got a generator.
LAVANDERA: You never lost power?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had the air conditioner all night. They have a generator. I guess that's what it was.
LAVANDERA: Were you worried that you -- we're getting pretty close to night fall here, were you worried that you weren't going to be able to be pulled out in time before dark?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We were just starting to because we found out there wasn't a rescue. And then we heard the Coast Guard could take a couple days. We didn't know.
LAVANDERA: How are you feeling now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy. Very happy. Very happy. Very blessed.
LAVANDERA: Sorry you got stuck on the boat with the CNN crew here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm glad. Shoot. We're glad. We're very happy. LAVANDERA: What do you do now? Where are you going to be able to
[00:10:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're going to my house in Friends Wood (ph), hopefully.
LAVANDERA: You have someone picking you up when you get back out to the highway?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, one of my daughters.
LAVANDERA: Have you heard -- what has it been like in this neighborhood throughout the day? I mean I can see boats crisscrossing all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just boats and jet skis. I don't know of anything else really. I've been up there helping my parents.
LAVANDERA: Has to be surreal to see your neighborhood like this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. It is shocking. But it is surreal. Yes.
LAVANDERA: Have you been able to talk to any of your neighbors at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No -- helping mom and dad.
LAVANDERA: So they're going to be ok?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I think so. Dad -- yes.
LAVANDERA: They did a great job jumping into the boat, especially your mom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's good.
LAVANDERA: She did great. Good for her.
HOWELL: Just thankful that they are safe. But there are so many more who need help.
CHURCH: Yes, incredible. We're watching all of these rescue efforts play out.
I want to bring in CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis for more on what we can expect from the storm. So Karen -- the big concern right now of course is that the rain keeps coming. And that's going to make rescue efforts even more difficult than they already are as well as, of course, adding to the damage on the ground. So when might this rain end, do you think?
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, our worst fears are coming true -- Rosemary and George -- because it looks like our tropical system is going to now move back out over the Gulf of Mexico. So we've got days more worth of rain fall and people who are looking at this report right now, watching us here, on CNN, and CNN International are hoping that the rain will end sooner than later unfortunately, at least until the middle of the work week and maybe not until the end of the work week.
All right. Here is Google Earth -- want to show you this. This is the coastline of Texas. Right here is Houston. Right up here is Dallas.
All those blue areas -- those are the bayous, those are the streams, those are the rivers and creeks. And running right through downtown Houston is Buffalo Bayou. South of that is Briars Bayou.
A little bit closer view -- there you can see, here is the problem. We've got all these rivers and streams. They've filled up with 10, 20, 25 inches of rainfall so far with rain continuing and there's no place for it to go.
But not just in Houston. We go all the way down towards Trinity Bay and numbers of areas, of neighborhoods there have been inundated; but not just there -- Katy, Pasadena, Sugarland.
Speaking of -- take a look at this video -- it's in black and white. We were watching this as it was taking place live. There was a man -- not sure exactly where he was but it was in and around Houston. His car was stuck in floodwaters, and not just floodwaters up to the top of the tire. But it was up to the windshield.
And this man was standing behind his vehicle, waiting. He was not moving. The water is rushing. We forget about that. This isn't just standing water with no motion. There has a current to it.
Then this little rescue boat came through and rescued that gentleman. I just saw one gentleman. Like I said, I'm not exactly sure where that took place. But it was nonetheless illustrative of what has been taking place across Houston and all of the suburbs surrounding Houston.
All right. What is Tropical Storm Harvey doing right now? Hanging in there -- doesn't look all that good. But that is very deceptive. The southern edge of this system, really kind of washed out but all of that deep tropical moisture is further to the north.
And Harvey is going to move out in the gulf. Start to make its way back more towards the north and -- George and Rosemary, now it looks like it shifts a lot of that moisture, a little bit further over to Louisiana. So that's the next spot that we watch. But we're not finished with Houston yet.
CHURCH: That is a big concern. Karen Maginnis -- thank you so much for keeping an eye on that. Rain until midweek possibly to the end of the week.
HOWELL: I know a lot of people are not happy to hear that but that is the case. And obviously officials will have to do their best given the situation.
Look, there are all kinds of groups that are on the ground. They're doing their best to get to people who need help. One of those groups is called Team Rubicon. It's a group of military veterans who step up to help during emergency efforts.
And Dennis Clancey is the deputy director of field operations. Dennis, live on the phone with us this hour from Dallas, Texas. Dennis -- it's good to have you with us.
First of all, let's talk about, you know, what are you hearing from your teams there in Houston? Their work trying to rescue people given the fact that the rain has not stopped -- you just heard from our meteorologist just a moments ago about the situation at hand. And in some places there, Dennis, the water is still rising.
DENNIS CLANCEY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF FIELD OPERATIONS, TEAM RUBICON: No, in fact it is. It is expected to still through tomorrow continue to rise. So yes, we have to be, one, very careful with our own volunteers to make sure we don't become victims of the disaster itself. So we have to make sure we are plugging in, in a way that does not exhaust the system.
[00:15:09] CHURCH: And Dennis -- talk to us about just how dangerous these waters are. Because of course, we look at this it is difficult for people to wade through it. What are the problems that people are confronting there?
CLANCEY: Yes. I think you know for so many people the uncertainty with regard to how big this can potentially get. And so now that is why the focus in the area is around getting boats in to rescue people.
We are deploying boats in the morning to the Houston area. There was a request that came out from two counties in Texas because they are a bit overwhelmed with requests to get people out of those areas.
HOWELL: Dennis -- talk to us about what you're doing with the people that you rescue. Your teams when they get to them. Where are they being taken for shelter? We know for instance there where you are, in Dallas, that city has opened its mega shelter there at the convention center downtown for evacuees. But in the Houston area, the metro sections of that region -- what are people doing once they get out of their homes and they walk safely now?
Yes. It really has to remain a fluid operation. So as shelters go up, we will obviously continue to move further and further from Houston. The ideal case is to make sure people are far enough away that they aren't secondarily affected but, yes, just it continues to move through the rest of Texas where we have to open shelters just to make sure we have capacity for everyone.
HOWELL: You know, this is affecting a lot of people. Texas is my home so I have a lot of friends and family that are there. And everyone in some form or fashion that I know has been affected by this flooding. And here's the thing, we look at these images -- Dennis. There are so many people who are still trapped in their homes. And that's the terrifying thing about this right now.
CHURCH: The difficult part of all of this.
HOWELL: Dennis, thank you so much for being with us.
Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, much more on the catastrophic flooding taking place in Texas. We will speak with the man stuck in his neighborhood -- a person who took a lot of images as well.
CHURCH: Plus a heartbreaking image of some of the most vulnerable people affected by this devastating storm -- the story behind these senior citizens waiting to be rescued in waist-deep water there.
We're back in just a moment.
HOWELL: And one football player raised more than $200,000 in two hours for flood victims. We will hear him describe how people are responding to the devastation.
Stay with us.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. We do want you to look at this video. A TV station in Houston, KHOU had to be evacuated because of the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey. Take a look that.
HOWELL: Wow. The station says that one of its anchors was live on the air when the puddle of water started creeping toward the anchor desk there. This happened despite the fact that the station has flood gates around that building.
CHURCH: And here is a look from the air at just how extensive the flooding is in Houston. From late Saturday night through Sunday morning, the city received more than 56,000 911 emergency phone calls. That's seven times what they usually get in an average day.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn are expected to tour the region to survey storm damage later Monday.
HOWELL: That's right. And earlier, the governor spoke with our Ana Cabrera about the rescue efforts there. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: 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'm so proud of my fellow Texans and the way they are responding. So thankful for our first responders and the terrific work they've been doing.
We've 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 is 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 and what they are doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And Rosemary -- you pointed this out, you know. More than a thousand people so far have been rescued from floodwaters. But many people are still trapped.
Take a look here at this drone video. And it gives you a sense of the devastation that people are dealing with as they wait out the storm. The streets in this neighborhood in Cypress, Texas covered with water.
That video taken by Joe Mertz who is on the phone with us this hour in Cypress, Texas just outside of Houston. And Joe -- let's first talk about your situation there, are you still trapped there in the home? You're unable to leave. Are you holding out ok at the moment?
JOE MERTZ, CYPRESS, TEXAS RESIDENT: Yes, that's correct. We are holding out ok. We have a two-story home. And we have moved everything all day we have been spending time moving everything upstairs and preparing the house. We know the water's going to come in eventually and it is right to the doorstep right now.
HOWELL: Ok. All right.
I want to talk about the video you took because what we see here gives our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, gives them a sense of exactly what you are dealing with. Have you ever seen anything like this before?
MERTZ: We have had it come up pretty close to this in the past. We had a couple of 500-year flood events back around April and May of 2016. And you know, those were supposedly extraordinary events. And this one has surpassed it.
[00:25:04] HOWELL: Joe, how are you doing? How is the family doing with food? How are you doing with water? And you know, infrastructure -- just running water? I would imagine you don't have that right now.
MERTZ: Actually we have running water. The problem here that we're starting to realize is that our sewer is starting to back up. And that's going to be a major issue.
We still have power at the moment. Our air conditioners -- the outside units are going under water. So we're not going to have that for very long.
HOWELL: Ok. And give us a sense of, you know, there was no mandatory evacuation. So how did you -- how did your family make that decision that, you know, we're going to ride this out. We're going to wait it out, you know, to make sure that, just see how things play out. How did you reach that decision? MERTZ: That's a good question. About 3:30 last night -- or in the
morning, we were questioning it ourselves. We decided to ride it out because we were -- I guess we weren't receiving a lot of rain. And the winds and everything were mostly centered towards Corpus Christi. So we wanted to see what we were in for.
I know we had lot of predictions for heavy rain and so forth. But we just weren't seeing it. And so we decided to wait it out. We have -- I have family members here staying with us, my son and a couple of his friends. And so we are -- we didn't really have a chance to evacuate right away this morning when we -- you know when the water started rising. And so we decided to ride it out.
HOLMES: As many people did. Again these storms can be very deceptive, you know. First they blow in. There is a great deal of force, wind. And then many of them stick around and that's what we are seeing here with Harvey. Just sticking, around the remnants are dropping a lot of water there in the Houston metro area.
Joe Mertz on the phone with us who took, again, this drone video showing us the situation in his neighborhood. Joe-- thank you so much for your time. We wish you safety, your family's safety. And we will stay in touch with you as, you know, you ride the storm out.
CHURCH: Incredible images there.
Another dramatic rescue -- this one at a nursing home in Dickinson, Texas just south of Houston. About two dozen residents were airlifted to safety by helicopter Sunday. The senior citizens were up to their waists in water waiting for help to arrive. Some were in wheel chairs and on oxygen.
CNN spoke to the daughter of the woman who owned that facility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMBERLY MCINTOSH, MOTHER OWNS FLOODED NURSING HOME: It was a quick text just to her in the morning, just (inaudible). Just thinking everything she was going to tell me maybe the power was out or something like that. And then to get those pictures in response and she's very brief in what she was saying but that she needed help.
And at that point we just had to take it upon ourselves to try to do whatever to save them because she said the water was rising. That was the last thing I heard.
So my thought at that point was, I mean, they are going to be dead within hours. So at that point we tried calling, you know, emergency management. We tried -- we tried everything.
We were really grateful because the Galveston County emergency management office took our calls and we told them we couldn't call 911. We were in Tampa. We needed them to help, that they were in imminent danger.
And they were very good. We were able to call them back. We finally got through and they gave an update at that point. So we are very grateful to the National Guard and to Galveston Office of Emergency Management for helping us out because we were totally stressed out trying to make sure they got help.
Because there were reports on Twitter that they had gotten help but we did not confirm that until, you know, hours later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: That image just really tells the story there. Many families escaping Harvey have turned to emergency shelters throughout the state. And Bill Spencer, a reporter with affiliate KPRC has that story.
BILL SPENCER, KPRC REPORTER: I've got some heart warming pictures to show you -- the people that are so glad that they have got to a shelter and food and they are dry right now.
Look at this family. They just laid down to go to sleep here -- a mother and father and their two children.
We have a father over here with his two beautiful daughters right here.
People here at W High School are sprawled out all over -- every square inch of floor that you can find.
[00:30:03] And that's where they are making their home tonight. This is all they have to go to. But they seem to be in pretty good spirits.
Look at this family over here, if you take a walk with me. They've got a playset set up for the child, for the baby. All the kids are together. They've made their own makeshift bedding.
And they were, a little while ago, telling stories, bedtime stories, with puppets. I don't know if you can see that family over there. But it is kind of heartwarming to see something soft and warm on what has been such a horrible few days here.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Amazing. They are safe in that shelter. But, of course, for some of those people, they don't have a home to go back to.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
CHURCH: That's the hard part of the story.
HOWELL: What do they do next?
How long are they in limbo?
That's the bit question they we'll be talking about for several days, weeks and even months.
CHURCH: And what sort of help they will get going forward.
Let's take a short break. When we come back, much more on Tropical Storm Harvey. Hundreds of people still stranded. Floodwaters continuing to rise. We will look at why Houston, Texas, didn't enforce a mandatory evacuation before the storm hit.
CHURCH: A warm welcome back to our viewers in the United States and, of course, those of you joining us from all around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell.
As we continue following the breaking news this hour, the catastrophic flooding playing out in the U.S. state of Texas. The U.S. National Weather Service says the flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey is unprecedented. They say it is beyond anything experienced before.
And here's the thing to take heed of. Officials say the worst, that may be yet to come. A record breaking 50 inches of rainfall, more than 120 centimeters, could fall over the next few days.
CHURCH: Unbelievable amount. And, of course, the storm, which first hit the state as a major hurricane on Friday, has killed at least two people. Thousands have been rescued from the high waters. U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to tour the devastation on Tuesday.
HOWELL: The mayor of Houston, Texas, says more than a thousand people have been rescued across that metro area. And at least 1,500 have been evacuated to shelters.
Still, though, with so much destruction, many people are asking the question, why was there no mandatory evacuation ordered before this storm?
On Sunday, the mayor defended his decision. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER TURNER, MAYOR OF HOUSTON: 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 interests of the city of Houston and Houstonians first. That's 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 have laid out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Joining me now on the line is Houston resident Rick Campbell.
Rick, thank you so much for talking with us under such difficult circumstances. Of course, your home was flooded. Talk us to about how you and your family were affected by Hurricane Harvey as it hit and the catastrophic flooding that followed.
RICK CAMPBELL, HOUSTON RESIDENT: Well, essentially we took in a little water starting about 5:30 this morning and pretty soon it started just flowing right on in.
We were prepared for it (INAUDIBLE) all day Friday, moving furniture up, getting papers and boxes and putting them up, getting anything we needed to save in a safe storage place so we wouldn't be looking and finding things later on that had been destroyed.
So we were able to cope with the flooding as it came in. All we could do for the longest time was just sit and watch as water came in. But it never got high enough in our house, fortunately, to threaten our electricity.
So we were able to keep our TV on, our lights on and the air conditioner running. So it wasn't as bad for us as it was for a lot of people.
CHURCH: Yes, certainly a better outcome for you than others.
How difficult, though, was it for you and your family to make the decision that you were going to hunker down and sit it out in your home throughout this whole event?
CAMPBELL: Well, there comes a point where if you don't leave, you can't leave. By the time we had pretty much decided to stick around, looking back on the evacuation for Rita and other evacuations were just disasters. We were going to take our chances.
We did not think that the water would get deep enough to threaten our lives. Basically we were just expecting a lot of inconvenience in our house. And I have three children but they are away in various places right now. So it is just my wife, myself and our cat here.
Our cat was not very happy about the whole situation because she doesn't like water. But we just, my wife and I worked together on it and worked as a team and we sat around, just kind of discussing what our options were. And for the longest time there were no options. All we could do was watch the water come up and hope that it wasn't just going to come up too much.
CHURCH: Right. And of course the problem for you and for your neighbors and people in that whole area is that now we are hearing from the forecast that it is more than likely this rain will continue into the midweek, if not to the end of the week.
So talk to us about how that's affecting your neighborhood and what sort of cleanup you think will be required where you are?
CAMPBELL: The hardest thing, I think, cleanup wise, is going to be getting people in --
CAMPBELL: -- to look at the damage and getting people in to haul off trash. The last flood on tax day last year, stuff sat on the curbs for like a month because they didn't have the personnel to pick all the trash up that was thrown out. So that will be a big factor once the water goes down.
As far as the water goes, I'm really thinking that, I mean, the future goes, next couple of days, I'm thinking we may be out of trouble here from the storms moving and what the forecasters are saying. It looks like the really bad stuff will be further over in East Texas.
And I hate to wish bad on anybody but, for us in Houston, that's the best case scenario.
CAMPBELL: Unfortunately, I have a grown daughter who lives in the next county and her house has flooded for the third time in about 15 years last night. And she had a lot more water than we had. And she will be in the epicenter even of the next band that's supposed to come through.
So I think we're very blessed right now. I'm really worried about people I know out in the rural areas.
CHURCH: Understandably, yes. You have -- you and your family are very lucky. Given the circumstances and, yes, Houston cannot really take any more rain because the problem is this water has got to go somewhere. It has got to drain out somewhere.
CHURCH: But Rick Campbell, thank you so much for talking to us. We do wish you and your family and, of course, all your neighbors the very best under these very, very, very difficult circumstances.
HOWELL: Rick really points out that the stronger rains, that bands will move further east. But at the same time you know, that storm is still going to stick around the Houston area. People will be waiting for several days.
HOWELL: Still ahead here, on this show, so many people in desperate need. We will hear from one football player, who is raising thousands of dollars to help victims.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [00:45:00]
HOWELL: Recapping our top story, the breaking news we're following this hour out of the U.S. state of Texas. Rescuers there scrambling to save people's lives, people caught in the middle of this Tropical Storm Harvey. The storm has brought catastrophic flooding to the state.
And here's the thing. More rain is expected in the forecast.
CHURCH: Authorities in Houston say they have responded to more than 2,000 calls for help. They are stretched very thin, as you can imagine, and have asked anyone with a boat to aid with rescues and people are stepping up.
HOWELL: That's right. Other news, though, that we're following around the world this day, North Korea not happy that the U.S. and South Korea have started conducting joint military exercises, now in their second week.
CHURCH: United Nations' representative from North Korea sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council, saying, in part, "Waging such provocative and aggressive joint military exercises in the Korean Peninsula, which has already turned into a tinderbox, is nothing short of hysteric conduct to add fuel to the raging flames."
HOWELL: This news of North Korea's protest comes after it fired three more missiles over the weekend. It also days before the U.S. is set it bar most of its citizens from traveling to that country.
CHURCH: Our Will Ripley is the only Western TV correspondent to go to North Korea since the most recent tensions. And he reports some Americans are rushing to beat the band.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In their letter to the U.N. Security Council, the North Koreans are trying to make clear that they are watching every move of the United States. They say they have their finger on the trigger as those joint military drills continue, drills that always enrage the regime here in Pyongyang.
And yet in the middle of all of this, there is a group of Americans who are inside this country, American tourists, who pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars to go on private excursions, undeterred by the fiery rhetoric, even the threats of a looming nuclear war.
RIPLEY (voice-over): In a quiet corner of the Beijing airport, check- in time for the day's only flight to Pyongyang, it's the usual crowd, a handful of North Koreans and dozens of foreigners, mainly tourists. Tour companies estimate around 5,000 Western tourists come to North Korea each year, including about 1,000 Americans.
RIPLEY: What is this here that we are seeing? NICHOLAS BURKHEAD, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: That's the choice in visa booklets.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Nicholas Burkhead is a U.S. Army veteran from Virginia, he's making this trip much sooner than expected.
BURKHEAD: Originally I was planning to read the language books first and go a couple years from now. But I heard it would be banned next month so I thought I'd have to get while I still could.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Beginning September 1st, Americans will no longer be able to visit North Korea as tourists. The U.S. State Department announced a travel ban after the death of Otto Warmbier. Authorities sentenced Warmbier to 15 years hard labor for taking a propaganda banner off the wall of the hotel.
Warmbier suffered a brain injury in North Korean custody and died six days after coming home. He was 22.
SIMON COCKERELL, KORYO TOURS: You are fine as a tourist until you the break the law. And if you break the law, that country is cruel and it is merciless.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Tour operator Simon Cockerell has made more than 160 trips to North Korea. One of his American clients, Jeffrey Fowle, was detained in 2014 for leaving behind a Bible. North Korea released him months later.
RIPLEY: What is your biggest fear about going in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, obviously if they hold people.
Ali Kareen quit his job as a doctor in Washington, D.C., to travel the world. He said he wanted to visit North Korea before it is too late.
RIPLEY: Have you told your family that you're going in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, dude. They know about everything.
RIPLEY: What did they say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "You're crazy."
RIPLEY (voice-over): This is the final group of Americans Koryo Tours will bring to North Korea before the travel ban takes effect. Cockerell expects to lose up to 20 percent of his tour business but he says the American tourists and North Korean locals lose much more.
COCKERELL: For anyone curious, who wants to see what it's like or a bit of what it's like, that opportunity is now gone. And for any North Koreans who are interested --
COCKERELL: -- in having a more rounded portrayal of Americans than that which their government provides them, that opportunity is now gone, too.
RIPLEY (voice-over): North Korea insists it's a safe place for anyone willing to come, even Americans, as long as they respect local laws. Meanwhile, the slow stream of tourists continues -- at least for now.
RIPLEY: North Korea is trying to expand its tourism industry, trying to attract new visitors from places like Russia. As ever increasing sanctions continue to choke off the regime's revenue streams as a result of their nuclear and missile programs, including the attempted launch of three ballistic missiles over the weekend -- Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.
CHURCH: And for more on life inside North Korea and more of Will's reporting, follow his Twitter page @WillRipleyCNN and on Instagram, where he posts frequent updates from inside Pyongyang.
President Trump returned to his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border Sunday and again suggested Mexico will pay for it somehow.
He tweeted this, "With Mexico being one of the highest crime nations in the world, we must have the wall. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other."
HOWELL: Mexico's foreign ministry issued a statement, insisting it will not pay for a wall or physical barrier under any circumstance. It's important also to point out the president has threatened to shut down the government if he doesn't get funding from U.S. taxpayers to pay for the wall.
CHURCH: Meanwhile, President Trump is preparing to visit Texas on Tuesday. No details on the timing or exact location of his trip were given. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration is coordinating with state and local officials.
HOWELL: Sources say he is expected to stay away from the Houston area. Mr. Trump tweeted this, "Historic rainfall in Houston and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible," says the president.
CHURCH: A local football star is stepping up to help flood victims in the Houston area. JJ Watt of the Houston Texans is launching a fundraising effort. He announced it on his Twitter feed and he's already raised nearly $200,000.
JJ Watt joins me now to talk more about this.
Thanks so much for being with us. You're actually not in Houston right now; you and your teammates are stuck in Dallas because of the circumstances there on the ground in Houston.
How difficult is it for you to watch what's happening there, to your community? JJ WATT, HOUSTON TEXANS, NFL: Thank you for having me. It is. It's very difficult. We have a lot of guys on this team who have family back there, who have wives and kids, young kids. And obviously everybody wants to be home with their family to make sure they're safe and then we all want to be back in Houston so that we can help in any way possible.
It's very tough to watch your city go through something like this and be away from it and not be there to help.
CHURCH: It is. And the images are just horrifying, when you see the water and the number of people that have had to be rescued, of people being rescued from their rooftops. And you have raised all this money but now you've actually increased your goal. Talk to us about that and what you're hoping to do with this money.
WATT: Yes. We wanted to get out ahead of it. You know, in a situation like this we already know that there's going to be a lot of damage incurred. There's going to be a lot of cost to replace all that damage and to rebuild people's lives.
So what we want to do is get out ahead of it, start raising money now. Our fans are unbelievable. People from all over the world donating. We reached the $200,000 goal in less than two hours. They crashed the website so we're working to get the website back up.
We raised the goal that we were trying to raise. Basically what we're trying to do is raise as much as we can so that once this storm is over, we can begin the rebuilding process right away and get these people back up on their feet.
CHURCH: And clearly, if you can raise $200,000 in just two hours, you're going to raise a lot of money here going forward. But a lot of money is going to be needed because people's homes are going to be destroyed. The water damage is just extraordinary throughout Houston and beyond.
WATT: Yes, there's no question about it. And I think that why we're trying to use our platform to the best of our ability. We know that the NFL has a wide reaching arm and we're going to try and use that to the best of our ability to help raise this money so that we can get all that money that we need.
And it's going to take a lot. So it's not just a one-day thing; it's not just a one-week thing. It's going to be a long-term effect and we need to do everything that we can to help these people out.
CHURCH: And for you and all your teammates, clearly you've all been in communication with your families there in Houston.
What are some of the stories they're telling you about the circumstances that confront them?
WATT: Just, you know, waterways look like rivers. A lot of guys' houses are pretty safe but it's just -- it's more so; some guys have a wife at home alone or a wife and child at home alone. And it's those situations where you'd really like to be there with your family to comfort them and go through this with them.
And it's very difficult not to be there in these times. So we're all here making those phone calls --
WATT: -- and trying to do the best we can to keep them calm and then at the same time trying to get back there as quickly as we can so that we can partake in helping these recovery efforts.
CHURCH: And the problem, of course, is that this rain is going to keep coming, isn't it?
There's going to be more water and that's going to increase more problems there for the people on the ground.
WATT: There's no question about that. This storm doesn't seem to be stopping anytime here in the near future. The people of Houston are obviously taking cover and, hopefully, staying safe and not going out on the roads and things like that.
We're thinking about them and we're hoping that we can get back as soon as we can. But I know Houston's a very resilient city. It's a very strong city. The people there are very -- they overcome anything. So we're going to come out of this even stronger on the other side.
CHURCH: JJ Watt, we thank you so much for joining us and, of course, for your efforts there, raising so much money for the people in Houston and beyond. Many thanks.
WATT: Thank you.
CHURCH: And to help JJ's cause, follow his foundation on Twitter @JJWFoundation. And you can donate there, a very worthy cause indeed.
Thank you so much for your company this hour on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Our breaking news coverage continues on this devastating flood in Texas. Stay with us.