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Texas Gov. Deploys 12,000 State & National Guard Troops; Bushes Release Statement On Hurricane Harvey; 2,000 Water Rescues In Houston, Hundreds More Need Help; Epic Storm In Texas May Leave 30,000 In Shelters; 450,000 Expected To Seek Disaster Assistance; Interview with Rep. Pete Olson. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 28, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:01] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: But the President is doing his communicating on Twitter. Every president is different. We know how much he loves the social media.

Is it a surprise or is it what to expect from this President that we haven't seen more of him front and center? Just trying to reassure people. Just trying to reassure people we're on top of it here in Washington, the governor is on top, that your mayor is on top of it.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I actually asked him about this on Friday before the President left for Camp David, whether she he should be the one sitting in front of the cameras offering reassurance and then telling the American public, he need listen to your state and local officials when they are telling you to evacuate, or whatever you need to do. And Tom Bossert basically said, you know, look, the President will address the American people when it's time. When you guys need to hear from him, he will be there.

So, that's -- it's a little surprising, I think, that we've only heard from him via Twitter, but on the other hand, you know, I think there are some nerves within this White House about what happens when you put the President in front of a camera. Even when you guys have already agreed on what the script is going to be and on what you're going to say. They've been burned on this before recently.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And then you have tomorrow which is planned, you know. It's unclear if it's actually going to, you know, fully go through for the President to go down to Texas. Not to the flood area, but to Corpus Christi where the hurricane first touched down. Which is always, no matter what the party, no matter who is in the White House, a very delicate line.

Do you send the President which, inevitably, pulls some resources away to, you know, from the recovery and so forth. Even if it isn't in Houston, it's still in the state of Texas. But at the same time, a president, part of the job, is to be the commander in chief, the consoler in chief, the person who stands up and just gives the rhetoric which is not just rhetoric, it's leadership at a time like this. To say we're with you, and there's a lot to be said for that.

KING: And we'll watch, you know, we'll hear from the President this afternoon we expect and we talk about this. We'll see the President on the ground tomorrow. We'll bring you live coverage with that as best weekend.

And before we go to break, two of Houston's most famous residents have a message for the neighbors. Former President George W.H. Bush and the former First Lady Barbara Bush releasing a statement this morning saying, "We are in Maine, but our hearts are in Houston. We are praying for all fellow Houstonians and Texans affected by Harvey and truly inspired by the flotilla of volunteers, Points of Light All, who are answering the call to help their neighbors. This we know, Houston and Texas will come together and rebuild." That from George H.W. and Barbara Bush a bit earlier today. Our continuing coverage of Harvey and its impact continues in just a moment.


[12:36:35] KING: Welcome back. Continuing our breaking news coverage of Harvey, the floodwaters in Houston and suburbs continue to rise. The rain not relenting.

The circumstances on the ground arch (ph) to make a massive understatement more than dire. The crisis has produced countless instances of courage and catastrophe. What seems like a near constant string of water rescues, but there are still many people out there stranded in their homes who need help and who need it now.

Joining us from the phone is Javier Garcia. Mr. Garcia's father has diabetes and dementia, needs treatment. He can't walk. They're stuck in their home in Harris County. He says he's been trying to call 911 but not having any much luck getting help right now.

Mr. Garcia, thank you for joining us in this difficult time. In case somebody in Harris County is watching us right now, can you just tell me exactly where you are and what you most urgently need?

JAVIER GARCIA, STRANDED WITH FATHER (via telephone): Yes. So, I just simply live here on 27 walk by in Mesa (ph) Street just on the Harris County. I live in, down to the Dignity, the cemetery. And I just called yesterday twice. They say they are on their way, and, well, they are really, really busy that day. But after eight hours, I called it again and they say you have to stay, you know, patient (ph) and then I don't see any response until about 2:00, right.

And I see the water is coming, you know, inside of my house. And then I put some blocks on my father's bed, because -- I was scared. And I see, I told my sister, they tell me to put some blocks, you know, under the bed and then he was a little bit higher. But the problem is we have not had electricity since the last -- yesterday about 4:00 p.m. And then he needs some treatment for breathing. And --

KING: Tell me more about your father, sir, and what specific treatment he needs. And does he have the medications he needs in the house? Or is that something you need as much as you need a ride out of there?

GARCIA: Yes. The most thing we need is treatment for the, you know, the breathing. Because, you know, he can't breathe right, because he got problems before and then we got to put something -- it's a little machine, you know, that puts some like, a little thing -- from smoking and something, you know, it's like a -- how you call that? Bipolar or something?

And it helps him to breathe all right. And then he got to take some medicine for dimen (ph) and (INAUDIBLE) to him. And then he needs to eat everything we need to blend because he can't eat like a regular people do, you know? And really, our -- I really feel so sad, because I can't understand why the help don't coming in. This is my first time this happened here in America, but I see 911 all the time respond. But now, the thing is everybody needs more helps.

KING: And, sir, how high is the water in your home?

GARCIA: Well, now it's -- it go out. But it was about 12 inches, in the room of my dad, it was about 12 inches.

[12:40:08] But he can't stay, you know, under water. Now the bed is under water, it's about the living room. The living room it's a little bit lower. So he is -- on that side of the house, but got some water, and then I don't like that, you know, he can't walk, and if he can walk, I can take him, you know, out of here, but now he can't because it's too high outside. Probably it's about five feet, you know, deep, the water, and then I'm afraid to come -- the water inside of my house again.

KING: Mr. Garcia, we have your address as you stated at the top of this conversation. We will try to get at the Harris County officials and we hope they were listening as well and we'll try to keep in touch in the hours ahead to make sure you get that assistance. Our best to you and, of course, to your father as well and we wish you good luck, sir.

GARCIA: Yes, yes, thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

KING: OK, will do. It's one of the many, many heartbreaking stories as authorities, obviously, overwhelmed but people waiting for help. But in his saying, after a couple of calls, he still can't get the help.

Up next, 2,000 rescues so far. Many, many, many more to come. More on the heroic life-saving efforts, just ahead.


[12:45:38] KING: Rain still pounding southeast Texas. Right now, the most urgent priority, getting people out of their flooded homes.

Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera. He's seen one rescue after another from his vantage point now in the town of Dickinson, southeast of Houston. Ed, you were with the National Guard convoy headed into League City, I understand, of that south side of Houston. Tell us more about what you've seen.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are in this convoy with National Guard's soldiers. This is a unit deployed out of Dallas known as the wolf pack. And we're in a convoy of four of these military-style trucks.

We are just standing along interstate 45 right now. This is in the town of Dickinson that has been, this area, several towns, Dickinson, League City, Friendswood, communities and subdivisions that have been devastated by flooding here. This is a unit that is about to deploy. We're going to start making the drive here shortly from Dickinson into League City into some neighborhoods that have been flooded out.

And talking to the soldiers here just little while ago, they're not sure if this is a rescue mission or just moving residents that have already been evacuated from their homes to higher ground. But they are waiting to start moving this convoy in to the neighborhood here in League City. You can kind of get a sense of -- how all of this will work and some of the trucks that will be used. These covered trucks.

We're in an open-air truck but this one over here we've seen over the last couple of days that the soldiers who have been transporting evacuees have been putting them in these types of vehicles, getting them to higher ground here along interstate 45. And generally, there have been either a number of buses that have been moving evacuees to shelters or to higher ground and then they kind of keep going back for more. So we've seen that process. But the other process we see through the day today, John, as well is once again that navy of volunteers essentially continuing to flow down into these neighborhoods, launching off the surface road here along interstate 45 once again on another dreadfully rainy day here in Houston. John?

KING: Ed Lavandera. Ed, thank you. Keep in touch.

A reminder there, you see the National Guard troops, you also just see individual citizens volunteered helping into this urgent effort underway. We'll keep in touch within his crew (ph) throughout the day.

And right now rescuing people before they drown is the immediate number one priority in Texas. The long-term recovery could be just as overwhelming. We'll ask a Texas congressman about what he thinks the area needs. That's next.


[12:52:21] KING: Welcome back. If you live in Harris County, Texas and you're trapped and you need help, the Harris County Sheriff's Office just issuing some potentially life-saving advice. It says, "It's important if you're awaiting a rescue hang a towel or a sheet prominently from your home so we can find you. Addresses are hard to spot." That because of the floodwaters, because of the rainy conditions. Important advice to follow as we look at the search and rescue efforts underway now and try to look of it beyond today the recovery effort.

Let's check in with a Republican Congressman Pete Olson. He represents some of Houston's southern suburbs and he's on the phone with us from Sugar Land, Texas. Congressman, we just put up that advice up there from the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Obviously, priority one at this moment is to continue to find people. What is your sense from talking to local officials on the ground of how that effort's going and what is the biggest complication or need right now?

REP. PETE OLSON (R), TEXAS (via telephone): Well, thank you, John, for having me. That effort is going very well. I have some good news to report from Houston, Texas. For the first time since Harvey made landfall Friday night, the new track came out and that's going to take the most powerful part of Harvey away from Houston. That means, we can move quickly from rescue to recovery. That's a great progress come up here, John.

KING: We certainly hope that remains the case, sir. Appreciate that. When you think about it, your job back in Washington and keeping in touch with your governor, your county officials, your sheriff, any guesstimate as yet to how big this is going to be in terms of the economic impact and the damage to your community.

OLSON: No idea, John, about the damage. But, as you know, this is the third flood we've had, the 100-year flood in the last 18 months. My Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert called it an 800-year flood. This flood, we deal with this a long, long, long time. But again, it looks like, great news it will leave us pretty quickly and not hurt us as it leaves anymore.

KING: Is it, sir, just a part of life or is this something that government officials -- I don't want to get into the politics of climate change debate right now, but just if you live in these communities, is it something that state, local, government need to have a bigger conversation about or is this just a fact of life?

OLSON: It's a fact of life. We've had great conversations, John. I called all of my local mayors this week right before in a conference call with FEMA, and the response was great about how D.C. has helped out Texas and Houston.

For example, a small town in my district had a real problem as Harvey came ashore. They did not have fuel for their emergency vehicles, because Governor Abbott, the governor had requested federal assistance early and President Trump approved that, as Harvey hit, came ashore, they got that fuel in time of crisis. That's good news coming out of D.C. We should -- more is coming but, again, we're very happy the administration then so far, to helped us recovery.

[12:55:10] KING: Now, we certainly hope that continues. Congressman Pete Olson joining us from Sugar Land, Texas. Congressman, keep in touch as you learn things in the district. If there's anything we can do from a communication standpoint to help people get information they need, please let us know.

And again, just as we start the conversation, the Harris County Sheriff's Office saying if you're in a home and need you help, hang a towel or sheet, something in the window, so they can find you, because The Harris County Sheriff Office is saying it's hard to find the addresses. Some of them blocked by water. The officers trying to reach you dealing with driving rain and the like. Again, do whatever you can to help bring attention to you, if you need help there.

Thanks for joining us today on INSIDE POLITICS. Our breaking news coverage picks up after a break with Jim Acosta.