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Harvey Maintains Strength, Set to Make Landfall Again; 9K Find Shelter in Houston Convention Center; Interview with Gov. Greg Abbott; Thousands Stranded As Texas Waters Keep Rising; Harvey Maintains Strength, Set To Make Landfall Again; Harvey Could Cost Tens Of Billions In Damage; North Korea Launches Missile Over Japan. Aired 9- 9:30a ET
Aired August 29, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- meanwhile. CNN's breaking news coverage continues right now on NEWSROOM with John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
One of the most devastating storms in Texas history is making more history this morning. Harvey is due to make landfall again and drop even more rain. This could bring the total in some areas around Houston to a staggering 50 inches, as much rain as they normally see in a year, and it has nowhere to go. At least one reservoir is expected to overflow any time now.
The Houston Convention Center near overflow as well, 9,000 evacuees in counties. This is a look of inside that convention center at capacity, yet the Red Cross promises no one will be turned away.
Moments ago, the President and first lady boarded Air Force One. You're looking at live pictures from Joint Base Andrews right now. Air Force One getting ready to depart on the way to Texas. The President will see some of the damage firsthand.
The President also faces two other crises this morning -- one political, new developments in the Russia investigation, and one international, new North Korea missile launch, with the White House promising all options are on the table.
We want to begin, though, in Texas, with lives at stakes this morning. CNN's Scott McClean is in Houston right now. Wiping down that camera, Scott, because it is still raining.
SCOTT MCCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, John. The rain continues to come down and then there's these bursts of wind that come by as well that really swirl things around.
This area that we're in, northeast Houston, has gotten nearly two feet of rain in just the last two days alone. Other parts of the city have gotten more than 2-1/2 feet of rain.
You mentioned the President's coming to Texas. He will not be coming to Houston because this is still very much an active situation including where we are.
Now, I'll just show you what we're looking at right now. As you can see those folks out there in the street there, they're trying to get out to a neighborhood that you can see in the distance there. There's a lot of houses there. This has been a very active area for the last 12 hours, beyond that as well.
People trying to get boats in there and get them out. It's relied heavily on people with private boats, private high water vehicles, pulling people out one by one. But there are still plenty of people back there who either didn't want to leave or haven't been able to leave.
I spoke to one gentleman not long ago. His name is Rudy Gil. He says he has a neighbor who is in a wheelchair. His house is almost underwater, almost seeing flooding. And then he also has a friend who has a family that's at the very back of that subdivision, which is a mile-plus back, and he said they just have not been able to get out.
Now, listen how you heard that he actually got here because there are limited the options. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIL, NEIGHBOR HELPING NEIGHBOR: I swam across. I swam to the feeder. And luckily, a police gave me a ride over here. Because I knew over here, there's -- they got a lot of people here rescuing, and I just came to volunteer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCCLEAN: So Rudy said that he had $100 in his pocket. He wanted to give it to the first person with a boat who would take him out there to try to get that family out. He's concerned that there are kids. And just not long ago, he was actually able to do that.
I spoke to a couple other guys out there who are still trying to locate a boat to get to the back of this to get them -- his mother out. They don't have water in their house yet, but they may very well soon. He said his kids are actually staying with his mother because he thought that it would be better for them. Meanwhile, his house doesn't have any water at all.
The trouble, though, John, is that that area may in fact not be accessible via boat because there's a drainage ditch there that the current is just too fast. So he's either hoping there's some other option, some sort of boat that can get in there. Otherwise, they're just going to have to wait for the water to recede, and it does not look like that's happening any time soon.
BERMAN: Scott, I got to say that the scene behind you is remarkable, the type of thing we're seeing all over Houston right now. It looks like some many kind of a dock at a lake, but it's not. It's a neighborhood with boats being loaded in, and we can see that 18- wheeler submerged past its wheels. An unbelievable sight around that city. Scott McClean, thanks so much.
I want to go to Rosa Flores now who is inside the Houston Convention Center. Some 9,000 people, Rosa, inside there behind you?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there's about 9,000 people who are in pain, overwhelmed, and stressed, trying to figure out what is next.
I just talked to one woman, John, who said that she was rescued on a jet ski, and she's in a wheelchair, so imagine the stress. She was crying. She was saying that she was trying to get a pillow and blankets for several hours. But as you might imagine, this situation here, overwhelmed by the amount of people who arrived overnight.
Last night, there was about 5,000 people. When we woke up this morning, we learned from the American Red Cross that 9,000 people were taking shelter here. And you can see the activity behind me.
[09:05:08] People are getting food this morning, blankets, pillows, toiletries. There's an area for children so they can watch cartoons. And pets are an important part of the family of course, John. And the good news, for families with pets this morning, they're able to take their pets with them. And so they're inside the shelter at the moment, John.
BERMAN: And if you are in Houston right now, you will not be turned away from this shelter, even though it is essentially at capacity. Rosa Flores, inside the Houston Convention Center. Thank you so much.
Joining us now, the Governor of the Texas, Greg Abbott.
Governor, thank you so much for being with us. We were just looking at pictures outside of the rain. Still falling, several more inches potentially expected in Houston. What's your area of biggest concern this morning?
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Well, obviously, it's continuing the process of rescuing as many people as we can. It's just unbelievable that the rain continues to come down. The flooding continues. And even after the rain stops, perhaps later on today or tomorrow, the flooding will continue for a while because of all the water coming down.
That's why we've added hundreds of more boats, hundreds of more of these high water vehicles, as well as we unleashed 12,000 National Guard troops to make sure that we're going to be able to continue to deal with these challenges. But first and foremost, always, is protecting and saving as many lives as we can.
BERMAN: Do you have a sense of how many people are stranded right now, hoping to get out of their homes? We heard from Congressman Al Green overnight, Sheila Jackson Lee, who say they fear, in some neighborhoods, there could be thousands or tens of thousands of people. Do you think that's an accurate assessment? ABBOTT: Yes. You have to imagine, when you see everything that's
taking place, my estimate would be over a thousand. And that's why we just simply need more people in these boats, in these vehicles, going door-to-door.
This is a door-by-door process to make sure we get every home evacuated, that we make sure that everyone is safe, throughout these multiple square miles across Harris County.
BERMAN: Governor, it is remarkable that the number of casualties is as low as it is, at least known casualties. We're killing at the number of kill, you know, not more than -- much more than a dozen right now.
Are you concerned, though, that as we get a chance in saving lives, it becomes less of a priority that you're going to learn that far more many people have been affected?
ABBOTT: Yes, we are very concerned about the number of lives that may have been lost. But, as you point out, the loss of life has been minimized in part because of the massive rescue mission.
I got to hand it to the -- both the first responders as well as our fellow citizens who have stepped up and literally saved lives. But remember this, some lives have been lost by people in vehicles who were trying to escape the water, which is really one of the most common ways that people lose their lives in flooding.
So we continue to urge people to stay off of the roads. Please do not drive around any water in the Harris County area because you're putting your life in danger, and you're getting in the way of first responders. But we will continue to -- the process to make sure we both save lives and recover as many people we can.
BERMAN: Governor, can you give us an update on the state of that reservoir, the two sort of dams that had been released intermittently over the last 24 hours? There is some concern it could overflow.
ABBOTT: Yes, I got an update on that 10 minutes ago. And my updated information from our emergency operations center is that the dams right now look like they are still in good shape. The water that you see coming out is a controlled release to make sure that the dams do not break.
Now, that obviously is not a guarantee. I'm just telling you the information that I have. But what you are witnessing is a controlled release to make sure that the dams do not break.
BERMAN: A controlled released. That is good information to get, Governor. As you said, we won't get ahead of ourselves, but it's good to know that is what we are seeing. Do you have a sense of how much more rain Houston can take right now, Governor?
ABBOTT: I don't know if we can take anymore. We need it to stop. But we are prepared to continue to deal with this and, around the clock, to respond to the needs of the people in Harris County. But also, as you see on your weather map, this is expanding to east
Texas, to the Beaumont area, and so we have to expand our efforts to make sure that we save and protect all Texas.
BERMAN: And they could see up to 10 inches of rain today. That is in Beaumont. Governor Greg Abbott, we will let you get back to work. We know you're going to see the President, we expect later today, in Austin. Thanks so much for your time, sir.
ABBOTT: Right. Thank you.
BERMAN: All right. Let's get a sense of where this storm is headed and how much more rain will fall. I want to get to Chad Myers in the weather center. Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, John, really, Beaumont, Port Arthur is the bogey for today. It's the area that may pick up 10 inches of rain.
[09:10:00] Behind me is a map here that shows what fell since about midnight last night, about two to three in Houston. But you get back out toward Port Arthur and Beaumont, they're already over that six- inch mark just in the past 12 hours.
Adding them all up here, south Houston at 43 inches of rain since this started and it's still raining. And the forecast for south Houston could be six to 10 more. That would take us over that magic number, whatever magic means, of 50, a number that I showed on my map on Friday that was so unbelievable, you had to think to yourself, that must be a computer glitch.
There's no possible way anybody could get 50 inches of rain in a week. Well, it's about to happen. The computers were not wrong on this one.
There's the rain right now into Galveston all the way over toward Port Arthur, but also as far east as Louisiana. Even into Mobile later on today.
Here comes the storm making landfall tomorrow morning sometime, not too far from about Lake Charles, Lafayette, Louisiana, somewhere right around there. Not making landfall as a hurricane. It's still 45 miles per hour.
Now, that's enough wind. You don't want to wind. What it's picking up is humidity. It's picking up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.
This is what the computer model thinks the radar will look like later today. Still raining in Houston and Galveston but a big band of weather getting all the way over to Pensacola by later on tonight.
Forecast rainfall totals for the next 18 hours. Look at that purple right there around Houston. That's 10-plus. And now 48 hours, to push you ahead, take a look at this. Beaumont, Port Arthur, that white. That's 20-plus still to come, John.
BERMAN: So, Chad, just to be clear because we're looking at our screen right now with pictures from Houston where it looks gray and very rainy.
BERMAN: It could get 10 more inches in the next 24 hours?
MYERS: I would say south Houston where they have already seen 43. But if you get west of Houston, like where those reservoirs are, I'm saying probably four to six there. Now, that's four to six more than you can handle, but it's not the 10 which will be southeast of the city.
BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers for us. Chad, as you said, you've been since Friday, 50 inches of rain. And it sounded unbelievable then, but the unbelievable has happened. Thanks, Chad.
MYERS: Right. You're welcome.
BERMAN: All right. We have more breaking news this morning. The White House says all options are on the table after North Korea fires a missile over Japan. We are live inside North Korea.
And the former head of FEMA says that Harvey, he thinks, is worse than Katrina. We're on top of all the developments this morning. Stay with us.
BERMAN,: I want you to take a look at Houston right now on the left- hand side of your screen, live pictures, you can see how gray it is. You can see that truck submerged past its wheels.
We just saw boats launching from this location moments ago to head out on the rest. You know, on the right, moments ago, trucks being loaded up with supplies and people out there to rescue as many folks as possible.
This is the official mission. The government, local, city, federal government mission for rescuing. You're looking at on the right-hand side, but as much a part of that is the neighbor helping neighbor element of this.
Joining me now is Andrew White, who has been volunteering with his boat since Sunday and has rescued so far dozens and dozens of people, Andrew. I understand you were out on the water just yesterday preparing to go today. Tell us what you see.
ANDREW WHITE, VOLUNTEER HELPING TO RESCUE HARVEY FLOOD VICTIMS: Well, Sunday morning woke up at 9:30, got a phone call from the police. They needed the boat and so I jumped out and put the boat in the water. It was about two minutes away from where I was living, and Sunday morning was crazy.
People woke up and there were rivers in their dining rooms, and so we worked the River Oaks area first. We pulled probably 10 people out in the first area. We moved to another area are where we pulled another maybe 20 people out.
There were some very difficult water. I'm fortunate that the boat I have is the perfect size boat for what we're dealing with right now. And one message I would want to get out there is just because you have a boat doesn't mean it's going to work. It needs to be the right size.
If your boat is over 17 feet, it's too big for this water, because the water is shallow and it's deep and then shallow again. So, if your boat is below 17 feet, and you have a good motor, 25 horse power or above that's a good boat.
But if you have a small boat and not a big enough motor you're going to float down the stream. So, it's some very, very tough water back in these spots because the currents are cross currents. And you've got all sorts of material coming across and you've got vehicles and trees and had snakes running past me. It's wild.
BERMAN: Luckily you have a great both us pulled estimated 80 people out of the water over the last 48 hours. Give me a sense of what condition they're in when you are finding these people.
WHITE: You know, honestly, it depends on their age. If they're older, they're not total shock and they are saying things that doesn't make any sense at all. We pulled a 92-year-old man and a 90-year-old -- his wife a 90-year-old woman out and they didn't know where they were.
The children are very scared typically. Their eyes are big and they're quiet. The adults are extremely thankful. One of the great privileges of doing this is seeing the faces of the moms and the dads when you show up in a boat on a river into their front porch and they didn't think anybody was coming.
And to see their expressions is priceless and that's the first great expression and then you get them on the boat and it becomes scary because we're back in these channels where the water is moving really fast and it's changing.
[09:20:07] Yesterday, we goth into a tight spot. We had to pass ten times a garden hose that was across the whole length of where we were going and with propeller, you can't just run across a garden hose.
It was in the toughest tightest spot with the water moving the fastest in shallow water so I had to pull the engine up, which reduced my power. It got hairy and the kids were nervous. We did it. It was fine. It was safe. So, dropping them off is also nice.
BERMAN: My concern is this. If you have single handedly pulled 80 people out of the water, you alone, it seems like the need here is so far beyond what we could ever imagine. I worry that there are still potentially thousands of people who need to be rescued. What's your sense of the situation?
WHITE: My phone's going crazy. The text messages are going wild. Couple thoughts, the need has changed. Sunday, the need was Braise bayou and Buffalo bayou, sort Central Houston near NRG Stadium. That need is longer there.
We were all over that spot Sunday. We crossed the main channel of Braise bayou for an MD Anderson patient, who was having a severe reaction. That area is no longer a problem. Yesterday, the problem was West Houston, far northwest Houston and also northeast Houston.
We were in both those spots. Northwest Houston, in my opinion is a much more difficult problematic spot. The other answer to your question is I didn't do it by myself. I have a boat partner in the front of the boat with me.
I've got a team of guys from my neighborhood who are checking text messages, checking the maps. We've got three or four cars that when I bring people in from the boat, they off-load them at that site, put them in the car, take them away.
There's another team that watches my trailer and the car because the waters will shift when you're out there and you have to be able to get out. And so, we had some close calls yesterday where we couldn't -- didn't think we were going to be able to get out.
You have to have a team back there who can help you get out. That's another message to everybody who's thinking about doing this. It's not --
BERMAN: Andrew White, we know you want to get back out there and help even more people. We also do know you lost your father, former Governor Mark White, earlier this month and all we can say is we know he would be very proud of the work you're doing right now. So, Andrew White, thank you so much for being with us.
WHITE: Thank you very much.
BERMAN: All right. Harvey, this storm is not over yet and already seeing damage in the billions of dollars. CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, joins us right now to give us a sense of what the financial costs could be.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a number that pales in importance to what the people are doing out there right now and the human cost of what's happening here, and what you're seeing. So many people are doing out there.
When you look at the cost of this storm, early estimate is there $40 billion. See how that would rank, it would rank just behind Andrew, but ahead of Hurricane Ike. These are the costs of the hurricanes in the U.S.
Usually it is wind damage that is so devastating in these storms. This is the water damage and you know, insult to injury, that's what is happening right now. Two land falls right here. It's a unique kind of experience. There will be a lot of water damage here.
We do know that there are 232,721 homes in the path of this storm and about 15 percent have flood insurance. So, this is going to be a financial headache for years and years to come for so many families who are getting away with their lives, but they will have financial calamity in the path here.
I want to look at the oil industry because it is ideal -- 2.2 million barrels a day of oil that is not reaching the market so this is a big economic part of the story. You can see there what the oil industry looks like.
In some cases, they can't get to these refineries. In other cases, there's infrastructure damage to these refineries. There are people idle and not working because of these closed down refineries. These companies know how to safely shut down. Now the question is getting back into flood waters -- John.
BERMAN: We spoke to the governor. FEMA officials note that this will take years to recover from. Christine Romans, what are the markets saying this morning?
BERMAN: So the markets are lower this morning not because of the storm but North Korea. That missile over Japan was a real problem for investors, who are very concerned about North Korea creating some sort of x-factor for global stability. So, with futures down here right now, you'll see a lower open.
BERMAN: All right. Christine Romans, thanks so much. Along those lines, breaking this morning, all options on the table. The White House responding after North Korea launches a missile over Japan. We have a live report from inside North Korea next.
BERMAN: All right. New this morning, President Trump is warning North Korea that all options are on the table after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan. In a statement this morning, the president says that North Korea has signaled its contempt for its neighbors.
I want to discuss this with Will Ripley. He is the only western journalist in Pyongyang. Also, with me, Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and former Army commanding general for Europe in the Seventh Army.
Will, first to you, inside Pyongyang, the message of this missile launch.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the message is fury with the United States over the ongoing joint military exercises between South Korean forces and U.S. troops, and you'll have to pardon me, this is now going to be playing for several minutes.
This is the music that blares hourly loud speakers here in Pyongyang, it's a song to remind the North Koreans of the sacrifices of their late leaders. Just to give you the sense of the mood of what it's like to be in the city. Listen for a moment.
And imagine that playing every hour over every day all around the city.