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Trump Says All Options are On the Table After North Korea Missile Launch; Rescue Underway in Houston; Levees Breached in Brazoria County, Texas. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired August 29, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Most serious and grave threat. And just moments ago a new strong message from U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who said something serious needs to happen with regards to North Korea, but what?
I want to bring in CNN international correspondent Paula Hancocks. She is in Seoul in South Korea. And CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins me now.
Paula, I want to start with you. First the international reaction.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, there's certainly been strong condemnation in this neck of the woods. We've had fury from the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying that this is the most serious and grave threat ever to his country. Residents of the Hokkaido, that island in Japan, just after 6:00 in the morning local time were woken up by sirens, by alerts telling them to take cover, take shelter because of this North Korean missile.
Now we've also seen a rather unusual response here in South Korea as well. We actually saw a bombing drill from the Air Force. Remember, there's a fairly liberal president in power at this point, Moon Jae- in, who wants dialogue in North Korea, but he called for a very strong response to this missile launch.
So we saw four F-15 fighter jets dropping eight bombs onto a shooting range. And the dialogue that went with that was that they are showing their capability of destroying the enemies' leaderships. So a very clear message to the North Korea leader, Kim Jong-un, that South Korea can respond in kind, if need be.
And we also know that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to the South Korean Foreign minister and Tillerson did say that he was disappointed that this has happened, considering there was an option to talk.
BERMAN: Barbara Starr, the president says all options are on the table, which is of course different than his former chief strategist said a couple of weeks ago, Steve Bannon, when he said there is no military option. But realistically what new option, Barbara, is there for the U.S. to respond to this?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Realistically no new military options. I mean, this has been going on for years, right? So the Pentagon top commanders, they have laid out all the potential military options for the president. I think the question always remains the same, and to some extent, it is what Steve Bannon was referring to. How much risk are you willing to take? Is there a realistic military option, if you attack North Korea? Very well understood that North Korea would have retaliate. Tens of millions in Seoul could die very quickly in a North Korean counter attack.
If you launch a preemptive strike, are you willing to risk U.S. assets getting into North Korean air space? Do you even know where all the targets are? What would you strike? Would you strike missile launchers? Would you strike production facilities? Would you strike nuclear facilities?
All of this remains the key essential problem. And I think it is fair to say, it is why you continue to see the messaging, all options on the table, at least for now, that's a message. What Paula is talking about the South Koreans doing, that's a message. It's a show of force. It's a message about the capability of the United States and the allies if it were to come to that -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Barbara Starr for us in the Pentagon. Paula Hancocks in Seoul, in South Korea. Thank you very much.
I want to get back to Houston right now. You're seeing what looks like a major rescue operation unfolding on -- I want to say the ground there, but it's in the water before our very eyes.
Scott McLean joins us now by phone.
Scott, what are we seeing? I see dozens of people now either going out or being led out of the water.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. It is a hive of activity around here. I'm going to get out of the way and show you what we're looking at. You can see there's a bit of a raft there, sort of a flotilla of people and volunteers all getting out of this neighborhood. And you can also hear a helicopter overhead that's hovering quite low. I'm not sure who that helicopter belongs to, though. But this is really the first major wave of people being taken out of this neighborhood in northeast Houston where the rain continues to fall.
And you can see from these pictures just how far it is from where we're standing to where the houses actually begin and from my understanding, this is one of very few entry ways and exits to this neighborhood. The Coast Guard is also on scene to help the half dozen or so private boats that we've seen get into the water and actually pull people out.
They say that there's actually a mobile home park that's back there that they have not been able to get to. They were hoping to get to today. We have not seen them come back just yet. And this is sort of the first wave of people that we're seeing. And I can try to talk to them, if you want.
Hey, guys. We're live on CNN. You just came out of this neighborhood? What is your house look like? How are you feeling?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still good, but my mom, she said like a dam, something happened with the dam, so she wanted us to get out in case something -- like the water get higher.
MCLEAN: So you guys are sort of trapped on a bit of an island?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, sir.
MCLEAN: How are you feeling right now?
[10:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just overwhelmed.
MCLEAN: Have you been trying to get out for a few days?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom, she says, she's like, I don't know how to put it, but she'd been trying to leave but I didn't want to leave honestly because it's not that bad in my opinion.
MCLEAN: But you just really have no way to get in or get out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
MCLEAN: Gotcha. What were you able to bring with you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a bag, a backpack and like two pair of clothes. That's about it.
MCLEAN: And when did you make the decision that you guys were going to leave?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom made us this morning.
MCLEAN: And there was never discussion about leaving earlier?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Last night it was. Last night it was a discussion.
MCLEAN: Did you guys sleep well last night?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, sir.
MCLEAN: All right. Well, I am glad you guys are safe. And thanks for chatting with me.
So, John, you know, this is one of many people who are just coming out of here. They are soaked because they have to jump into those boats. But what we're hearing is a lot of these people, their homes may actually be dry, the problem is there's just no way to get in to them or get out of them without getting wet.
And so many people fully expect, John, that at some point that they fully expect that at some point that -- they fully expect that at some point they may actually be under water. And we'll take a look over here as well. This is some of the belongings that have come in. You can see there, there's a cat there that the people were able to rescue. I can talk to these folks there as well.
Hey there. We are live on CNN. You guys were able to get -- you guys just came out of the neighborhood, is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we just got out.
MCLEAN: How are you feeling right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cold. I'm just cold.
MCLEAN: Do you have water in your house?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's gone. Everything is gone.
MCLEAN: In your house it's gone. How much water?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We haven't checked but when we left it was like up to our knees basically. Yes. And that was like in the morning.
MCLEAN: Why didn't you leave?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, because it wasn't -- the water didn't go there. We were fine until, I don't know, all the water just came in. And that moment, we were like, no, we've got to leave. And then yes, we went some other people that we know that stayed. Yes. They stayed there. But now we have family from San Antonio that come, said no, you should leave. So --
MCLEAN: So when did you guys make the decision to get out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday. But it was hard because there was hardly anyone, you know, to bring us here. So --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I mean, there was a couple that -- with the boats that came in front of the house. And we're just like hey, come on, take us. And we just grab whatever we can and then a family gave us -- you know, they lost their home, food, water. We brought our own supplies so we started sharing. And yes, like my sister said, like there are some brothers from San Antonio, from the Church of the Light of the World that came. And they're -- you know, give us everything that we need.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That's what we are doing right now. Like they're actually from church and we're rescuing like other civilians as well. So --
MCLEAN: I was actually talking to some folks from your church earlier. You guys were calling them for, you know, a couple hours, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you heard? MCLEAN: Yes. So they told me that, you know, a lot of people from
the congregation are calling, trying to get help. And that was you guys?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. There's still family over there. We're trying to convince them to leave, but they kind of don't want to. So we're like, no, it's just going to get worse. Leave while you can.
MCLEAN: And they have water in their homes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, the lights just went out, though. So, you know, it's kind of hard to cook and it's hot in there and everything. So --
MCLEAN: Are they just hanging out on the second floor?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It's not flooded there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The condition is fine. That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take precautions and just leave, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water is going there already. And I'm -- we told them, like just leave, but they were like no, we're good right now. I'm like it's better to leave now. It's better to be, you know, safe than sorry.
MCLEAN: How are you guys feeling at this moment?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better than how we were just a while ago. Like we're just happy that we have so much support.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can feel the love from everybody, like not only from my church, but the community itself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes .
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like everybody is responding fast.
MCLEAN: Was it a private citizen that pulled you out or is it the Coast Guard?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A private citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's just somebody doing the goodness of their heart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what's so amazing. Like forget about the
world problems, like right now we need to get things done. We've got to save ourselves.
MCLEAN: This is a moment of unity for the city of Houston?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely, yes. You know like a lot of -- there's a lot of division, like, you know, everybody like, color and, you know, the black here and the Hispanic, but right now, it doesn't matter. Everybody is helping one another. It's amazing to see that, honestly. You know, it kind of makes me want to cry in a way. It really does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's amazing to see that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Community is amazing, Everybody just forget about the problems and everybody just come together. That's just wonderful. It's beautiful.
MCLEAN: That is so great, guys. And we are glad you're safe. And I know -- I see you shivering so I'll let you get warm here but thank you so much for chatting with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, thank you.
MCLEAN: What are your names, sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tessa Cruz (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Naomi Cruz (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
MCLEAN: And so, John, you know, you are going to be seeing a lot more people like this that are, you know, getting pulled out of this area and just thankful to be on dry land.
BERMAN: Scott McLean, stand by, if you would. And we are glad they are OK. But there is a new area of concern, some breaking news I want to tell you right now.
[10:40:06] An alert just went out from Brazoria County. It says, "The levees at Columbia Lakes in Brazoria County has been breached. Get out now."
Brazoria County is due south of Houston. Portions of that town have been under mandatory evacuation for a couple of days now. Hopefully most of those people in that area have left already, but, again, this notice just went out, fairly alarming. A levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached. We'll try to get more information on that as soon as we can.
Meanwhile, we heard from Chad Myers a little while ago that those reservoirs on the other side of Houston, the Addicks and Barker reservoirs beginning to overflow a bit. There is new concern there.
Scott McLean was just talking to people in the neighborhood he was in. I think they are hearing that news and it is causing some concern around Houston, maybe even in some areas that might not be hit directly from that reservoir.
But again, there is new concern about reservoirs and levees in and around the Houston area. We are waiting for an update very shortly from the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner. We want to know how those reservoirs are doing. We want to know how many people might be in harm's way.
We'll have much more for you right after the break. Stay with us.
[10:45:30] BERMAN: The breaking news, an alert just went out moments ago from Brazoria County. Let me read it to you. It says, "The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached. Get out now."
Now there was a mandatory evacuation for some parts of that county up for two days. But this notice fairly alarming.
Chad Myers is with us hopefully to shed some light on what this all means.
Chad, what have you learned?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's the Brazos River and it's been out of its banks on and off for now, what, my guess 48 hours, just depending on where you are. We've been showing you flooding around Rosenberg, in and around Richmond. That's the same river.
Let me zoom in now to the Columbia Lakes area right along the Brazos River right through here. Columbia Lakes, West Columbia. Kind of a -- kind of a retirement kind of area. Very popular with people because there's water all around it. And it's fresh water.
You can see the trees and also the little lake that people fish in. The barrier, the levee from the lake now back over to this area has been breached. This is probably not truly a surprise to the people that live there because they were told to evacuate 48 hours ago because this was known to be a possibility. So hopefully they are all out of there and there's not much emergency action going on right now because I have seen signs posted over the entire neighborhood, evacuate now. This place is in danger as the Brazos River comes up.
And I'll tell you, the Brazos is as high as I have ever seen it. I was in Richmond back in June of 2016 for the big flood there. And it was a tremendously damaging flood. And the water will be, John, six feet higher than when I saw it, when I thought was devastating. So six feet plus devastating is I don't have words for. BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers, for us, sharing some light on that.
Hopefully those folks heeded those warnings and got out of that community days ago because the levee on Columbia Lakes has been breached. People are being warned if they're still there to get out.
Chad Myers, thank you so much.
Another area of concern, the reservoirs, those two reservoirs on the other side of Houston, in Harris County, the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. We're getting word that at least one of them maybe beginning to overflow.
I'm joined now on the phone by Francisco Sanchez, the spokesman for Harris County, Texas, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Francisco, thank you so much for being with us. What can you tell us right now about the status of the reservoirs?
FRANCISCO SANCHEZ, SPOKESMAN, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: I can tell you that we're monitoring the reservoirs very closely. It is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' facility and they're in charge of determining whether the water is released or not. And they have begun to release water.
We're working with the Harris County Flood Control District very closely so we can estimate how much water is being released, what those impacts are going to be downstream between west Harris County all the way into downtown Houston. So obviously concerned about what that could do. We have been letting residents along that area know that the potential for water to rise is very real.
Right now we have recommended that if they see higher ground, based on some maps we've given them where they are. But it's important for those folks to understand that they could be trapped even if their home is not flooded, that will impact roadways. So that's something to consider.
I will just for a moment turn away from Harris County while I speak for Harris County because people are listening, it's important to know as well just mentioned in Brazoria County, the levee at Columbia Lakes has breached. That county is asking people in that area to evacuate and to evacuate now so people need to take that very seriously.
You know, when we deal with hurricane evacuations, people think they have some time. This is not a moment you have time. If you are near the levee at Columbia Lakes, get yourself and your family out of harm's way. Your life is more important than any property you might be trying to save.
BERMAN: All right. Francisco Sanchez for us from Harris County talking about not just the reservoirs in your county but also that alert that went out moments ago from Brazoria County. The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached, get out if you're in that area. There's been a mandatory evacuation for days. But there is no time to wait, you need to get to safety. That's the message being sent from Texas officials right now.
I want to go now to CNN's Ed Lavandera. He joins us live I believe from Galveston. It's just pouring, Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, it has been like this, raining like this for several hours here this morning and even over the course of the last 15 hours.
[10:50:03] These are floodwaters that have essentially emerged here within the last couple of hours, and just to show you how quickly the situation is deteriorating here on Galveston Island. This is one of the main thoroughfares that takes you through. This is Broadway Avenue that takes you all the way from the mainland, Interstate 45 from south of the mainland here on the Galveston Island.
And this is one of the main thoroughfares that takes you into the downtown area and the east side of the island. This street here has become impassable here just in the last couple of hours. And if you look here toward the south, some of these trucks coming through these neighborhoods, these are now residential neighborhoods back this way and you can see how much water has filled up here.
Galveston Island is just east of Brazoria County where you're reporting about the levee breach there and the dangerous situation. Several towns downstream from there, Lake Jackson, cleared a couple of other cities as well. A very dangerous situation. You can see here just how much water as these trucks move through the area. Moving around. These are the kinds of trucks that will be used to move people and evacuate people out of various neighborhoods, but these floodwaters have really risen quickly here.
Can't stress enough, John, just how quickly things have changed in the last couple of hours as torrential downpours have continued to fall here since throughout the day yesterday and really started picking up overnight and into this morning.
Again, we're on Broadway Avenue and you can see just how much of the streets here are flooded. Emergency officials started to become very concerned about whether or not the island will eventually be cut off from the mainland at some point.
We are at -- let me see here, I think we're at 51st Street, if you are familiar with the island at all. And we're told by the sheriff here and various officials that all the way down to about -- all the way down to about Eighth Street is almost essentially been cut off for traffic. So the water rising very quickly and obviously something that people need to be very careful and take very -- a lot of precautions about if they try to move to safety.
But as you -- excuse me, John. You can get a sense here just how strong the -- even the winds have picked up over the course of the last hour as well. So the situation here deteriorating quickly -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Ed Lavandera, please do what you need to do to stay safe on Galveston Island. I think running out of safe space on that island as we speak. As the floodwaters rise in an alarming and somewhat unexpected rate.
Ed Lavandera there, thank you so much.
And again, the breaking news we just heard from Brazoria County, an alert went out that the levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached. People in that county being told get out. Get to safety immediately. We'll be right back.
[10:57:21] BERMAN: I want to show you some pictures that we just got in moments ago. This is from Katy, Texas, right now, outside a supermarket. You can see the line outside. People are being let in only at 10 at a time. Why? There's only one cashier working inside right now. So many people have to deal with their own situations, own families. Not enough people to work there. There is still clearly so much need for the people who have been stuck in their homes and continue to be. They need supplies and fast.
That is in Katy, Texas. I want to go to Richmond right now. That is where we find CNN's Polo Sandoval standing in the water there -- Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Obviously officials are closely monitoring the Brazos River which is slowly reaching 54.7 feet, which is a record that was set last year. When Neighbors tell me the water reached a little higher than this mailbox it is expected to keep going another five feet or so. So as a result, many of the neighborhood along the Brazos River are empty right now, under a mandatory evacuation.
This river continues to rise slowly, but steadily right now. Officials here in Fort Ben County are very well aware of what took place in Brazoria County here just a little while ago. They told me yesterday they are also worried that some of the levees here could be, quote, "overpowered." So as a result officials have already recommended that they vacate all those areas along the river bank as we get news of what's happening just down river from where we are here in Richmond, Texas -- John.
BERMAN: Yes, Polo, we just spoke to Ed Lavandera out in Galveston Island where it's pouring rain right now. Nice to see not raining where you are right now but the concern that Ed has was a situation was changing so fast, the water was rising so fast. It can be so unpredictable. What are officials saying where you are?
SANDOVAL: They do know that this water is going to continue to rise. And that's why they've asked people to simply pack up and leave. Yes, you bring up a great point. The rain has at least lightened up a little bit. It still comes in waves, but nothing compared to what we saw yesterday. That is offering some hope for folks at least that come back down here and maybe try to grab some more belongings before they are asked to leave the area again. But the real concern, which you mentioned there is this unpredictability of the water.
The good thing, though, people have already had days expecting this event. So many of them, many of the houses here, especially in this mobile home are completely empty right now -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Polo Sandoval, in Richmond, thank you so much.
We do want to leave you with one bit of good news today. There were some folks in an assisted living facility photographed on the left there sitting in floodwaters. That image did go viral because obviously the distress that they were in. Luckily, they were all rescued and on the right you can see a new photo. Every single one of them now safe, at a different nursing community.
All right. Thank you all so much for being with us. Let's now go to Pamela Brown who continues our live coverage of Harvey.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Pamela Brown, in for Kate Bolduan --