Return to Transcripts main page
Texas Gripped By Flooding Disaster; Texas Governor: More Help Needed In Flood-Ravaged Areas; Houston Officials Give Update On Harvey Rescue Efforts; New Evacuations In Houston As Flood Water Rise; President Trump, First Lady Arrive In Texas. Aired 12:00-12:30p ET
Aired August 29, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That uncontrolled release rate will continue through probably September 20th to some level -- degree of level, peaking out at some time during August 31st, in about two days. We are in close contact with the Corps of Engineers as well as with Harris County Flood Control District to get a better understanding of where that overflow is going to meander through, what neighborhoods. We anticipate it will be confined within the areas just west of Beltway 8 between the reservoir and Beltway 8 and the north side of the 10 and the south side of the I-10. So we'll have a better handle as we move forward. We just want to make sure that we put the communities on notice to be mindful of what's going on in that area. And so, again, we're in close contact with Flood Control, and also we've been advised also that Barker Reservoir will have some overflow as well to a much lesser degree. But both remind -- reminding everybody that both reservoirs flow into Buffalo Bayou. And what Flood Control said to us is if you're looking at a flood plain map of Buffalo Bayou, the flooding that's been occurring is right around the 500-year flood plain level and they anticipate that that's about what it's going to be as we move forward even with these overflows in the future. So if you have any other questions related to that I'd be happy to answer them later on and --
SYLVESTER TURNER, HOUSTON MAYOR: And just speak to the water level in the Kingwood areas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. So we had another discussion with Flood Control about what's going on at the west part of the San Jacinto River. We were advised by the San Jacinto River authority that they have started to decrease their discharges out of the Lake Conroe. They have leveled off. The flooding on the San Jacinto -- the west part of the San Jacinto which is the south part of Kingwood has not yet peaked and it's about a half a foot above the 500-year flood plain. And so we're just trying to make sure that we monitor that as we move forward. Flood Control is again monitoring those and we anticipate getting some additional information on that as we move forward in the next couple of days.
TURNER: OK. So we are monitoring very carefully those two areas from Kingwood into the areas that will be impacted by the release of water from the ADDICKs and Barker Dam. And as a precaution, we are looking out at setting up an additional shelter in the west in -- on the west side of Houston. And I'll make that announcement sometime today as well, as a necessary precaution. What I will say to people throughout the City of Houston is that, please, please, be alert. Please be on notice. Situation still remains dynamic and will be dynamic throughout the, throughout the next 24 hours. But we are monitoring the situation carefully. If -- based on the modeling and things that we see, if we think there's going to be additional flooding, for example, in these areas, we will quickly advise you and then I'll recommend a course of action. So just be on notice things are dynamic. We're trying to get more specific detailed information as for example, what the release mean from -- coming from these -- from ADDICKS and Barker and so -- but we want to stay on top of that and we'll advise you accordingly. I think those are all the things I intended to cover. The outages remain (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
TURNER: But you want to just cover that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, mayor. CenterPoint Energy continues to have about 100,000 customers without electric service. The flood is a challenge in terms of getting crews to where repairs are needed. Over the last 24 hours our crews restored service to 240,000 customers, yet we still have 100,000 customers without service. As fast as we can get them on we're losing additional customers. Since Harvey hit on Friday, 580,000 customers have been restored. At this point, 96 percent of the customers have electric service but the ones who don't, we want you to know you're a priority for us and as conditions allow we would be getting that service back on. And one final point, families help families and neighbors help neighbors. If you've been without service and you know people who have electric service and you need access to that, please help each other. Thank you.
TURNER: I want to underscore that this is a storm of historic proportions not just to the City of Houston and not just to Harris County but to the entire region. The City of Houston is serving as a hub center, if I could -- if I can use that, not just for the people of Houston but the people that are in the area. And so, for example the George R. Brown did not turn anyone away. And the -- on -- many people of the George R. Brown that are coming from outside of the City of Houston. The point is there an -- a point of need and we will be there for them. That is also one of the reasons why we are going to be opening two, possibly three, additional shelters to accommodate the need, because of certain areas, for example, are ordered to evacuate --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TURNER: -- outside of the City of Houston. They have to go somewhere. OK? And so we're making ourselves available to address those concerns. We want to make sure that we're not overlooking or missing anybody in the city. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TURNER: Especially people who are seniors, people who are disabled, people who are in low-income communities. If you know of individuals, if you know of individuals, or if you think individuals may -- especially when it comes to seniors and other disabled, that may be living in neighborhoods that have flooded and they are there by themselves or they're needing to be rescued, please, continue to let us know. Any life-threatening situations, please, let us know and continue to use 911. I'm going to ask you again for this day to stay off the roads, because there are many roads that are still not passable. My hope once is that once we get past the next, let's say, 24 hours, that the situation in the City of Houston weather-wise will start to significantly improve. But, you know, until then, let's just continue to be, to be very careful in terms of our mobility in the City of Houston and let's continue to meet the needs of Houstonians that find themselves in a very stressful crisis situation. Any questions?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, mayor, I have a question about reports of a Houston police officer succumbing -- drowning at the vehicles in high water?
TURNER: I've heard those reports and we are taking a look at it and I don't have anything to tell you at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, can you -- do you --
ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON CHIEF OF POLICE: I don't have, I don't have anything to add.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, can you, can you expound on your tweets (INAUDIBLE) is there a chance -- you're tweeting about the water supplies from earlier -- sent out a tweet a case of destruction of water supplies (INAUDIBLE) water here?
ACEVEDO: That -- like we said, the water's in good shape, we don't anticipate to go down, but always hope for the best and prepare for any disruptions, that's all that is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, anything in the implementation of curfews at this point?
ACEVEDO: Not at this time but as soon as we go into recovery phase or we see a need for that, we will assess at that time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well (INAUDIBLE) know -- well, some of the things that we have are hearing from families at the George R. Brown and they haven't turned anyone away. Thousands of people at this point, they're hearing homeless and other sorts of people are mixed in with family members. Some of those families are now concerned about their safety. When you're dealing with mass amounts of people at these shelters, Mayor, can you speak a little bit about how you're keeping everyone safe?
TURNER: Well, the job that is to keep everyone safe. Every human being safe. The doors have been opened to anybody that has been out into the elements. But what I will say to you is that we are opening the doors, and opening these shelters, to get people out of inclement conditions, but we expect everyone to be orderly and well-behaved. We are -- we do not -- and we are not going to tolerate any activity that's criminal in nature or that is disruptive. OK? So the shelters are put for to assist people in coming out of the elements, coming out of a crisis state, stabilizing their situation. But if there's anybody that's engaging in any activity that works against that, then those individuals will be ejected. So you recognize the importance and the reason they're there, but if there's anything that makes it even uncomfortable in terms of any sort of criminal activity or bad behavior, those people will not be welcome at the shelters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor, well, talking about your -- the--
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TURNER: It has.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At what point would you have to turn away people?
TURNER: Let's put it this way. We are not going to turn anyway -- anybody away from shelters. We are going to make alternative, we are going to make, provide, additional options available.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, how close are you at the convention center to saying there's no more room here?
TURNER: Well, let's put it this way, everybody that -- the doors of the George R. Brown will not close. OK? But we will provide additional mega shelters today, within a matter of hours, for other people to go to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, (INAUDIBLE) we've talked to --
TURNER: Relief is coming, I --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relief is coming?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us. You've been listening there to the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, police and fire officials describing the toll on the heroes, the first responders in this past few days dealing with hurricane, now tropical storm Harvey. Overwhelm shelters, search and rescue operations still underway. Firefighters needing desperately to get some rest as reinforcements come in from other communities around the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:10:00] KING: The mayor saying they'll keep up as the shelter remain open, but talking about the logistical, the emotional, the physical challenge of this right now, still search and rescue effort moving on then to recovery effort. As we speak -- as the mayor speaks this hour, President Trump also on his way to Texas --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: -- staying clear of the worst flooding but the president there to make a show of support as he promises Washington will be a quick and a full partner in the recovery from the wet wrath of Harvey. That main shelter in Houston packed beyond capacity and, sadly, Harvey is coming back with more rain adding more urgency, more difficulty to the overwhelmed search and rescue teams.
GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS GOVERNOR: 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. 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.
KING: The scope of this is staggering by any measure. We should make clear, we are nowhere near understanding the full impact because the storm continues. But let's take a look at just some of what we know. Fifty-eight counties in the State of Texas. Look at that giant land mass there under disaster declaration. Four hundred and fifty thousand people, it is estimated, this is still an estimate as they try to get a hold of the scope here, PEOPLE who ask for disaster assistance. That's just one way to look at it. Thirteen million people under flood watch or warnings at the peak of this. That's more than the population of the State of Pennsylvania. Just consider the numbers here, the challenge for officials, not just today and tomorrow but for weeks and months to come. The situation better in Houston at the moment, we were just told. But at the peak, sometimes in a ballpark of 265,000 homes without power. Thirty thousand people, at least, they believe, will need some form of temporary shelter, 3,500 water rescues in Houston alone. That the mayor just updated that number just moments ago. Also take a look at these dramatic images this morning as emergency responders continue to pull people from homes and from cars. Anyplace in between where they've taken to shelter. Look at this. The pictures out of Houston, it's a tapestry of loss of hope and of nervous waiting. Tradea Harrison (ph) here, happy to escape on a fan boat with her three-week-old baby. This Houston family standing arms folded in their garage waiting on rescuers to find them. Other families dealing with the emotional toll of losing everything.
ISAAC SANDOVAL: We're trying to save children and women first, so that we had to be separate and that's where -- really, that's what the stressful part (INAUDIBLE) on my heart because to see my kids and my wife going and not be sure what -- if they were going to be safe, but after that, we have to wait eight more hours to be rescued. My heart broken because, you know, when your love is far away from you, it's pretty hard. To think that you cannot do anything for them, it is hard. It is hard.
KING: That's just one of the hundreds and hundreds of stories our reporters on the ground are getting. You saw the crowd in the convention center behind that gentleman there. Seeing that Scott McLean one of our many reporters out on the ground dealing with the elements joins us now from Houston. Scott, give us the latest.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Well, the rain has thankfully started to taper off a little bit, at least, for the moment here in Houston. But as you can see, there's still a whole heck of a lot of water to deal with. You can see here behind me, some people are trying to walk out of this neighborhood in the northeast part of the city. There's other folks here with boats trying to get the boats in so that they can take people out. And you can see there's a constant stream. And what's amazing here, John, is that most of these boats belong to private citizens. A couple of them belong to the coast guards or other first responders. But the vast majority, are just average Joe who wanted to do something to help. You can see a lot of these people are walking out from this area. The problem with this neighborhood is that it's far from the main road. There's really only one or two points of entry and exit and we're about a mile and a half from that right now. So you've got to traverse through a mile and a half of water in order to get out of here. The other problem is that the boats, it's often too shallow for the boats or it's too deep for some of these high-water vehicles and that's presenting some other unique challenges. I want to introduce you to Marlene Robinson, she just left her home. Marlene, what does it look like at your house right now?
MARLENE ROBINSON: Everything's under water. The water looks nasty. It's horrible.
MCLEAN: When did it first come in?
ROBINSON: It started coming in, what? Yesterday? Day before yesterday?
MCLEAN: And why didn't you leave then?
ROBINSON: It wasn't that bad. We still had electricity, we had food, so we were fine. Once the electricity went out then that's when we started to get worried.
MCLEAN: Things started to get uncomfortable in your house?
MCLEAN: And at what point were you able to get out today and who took you out?
ROBINSON: They came -- we put "help" on the door and --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBINSON: -- someone knocked on the door and we just started loaded everything in the boat, dogs, packages, and everything that we could carry.
[12:15:09] MCLEAN: I wonder how it felt at that moment to finally see help arrive.
ROBINSON: It felt good. We got to see our neighbors for the first time. And we've been here for, like, over a year and a half, so it felt --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBINSON: -- good.
MCLEAN: You're bonding with the neighborhood?
ROBINSON: Yes. Totally.
MCLEAN: And so you're waiting for a high-water vehicle to take you all the way out --
MCLEAN: -- at this moment. Where are you going to go from here?
ROBINSON: We don't know. We don't know yet.
MCLEAN: Did you have a place to stay or are you going to stay in the shelter?
ROBINSON: I don't know. We have some family that lives out of, you know, Houston. But exactly, I don't know where we're going to go.
MCLEAN: All right. Well, Marlene, we are thinking of you and your family and everyone affected by this. Thank you so much for talking to us and good luck.
ROBINSON: OK. So, everybody, please pray for Houston.
MCLEAN: Absolutely. Marlene says everyone should be praying for Houston and that's a pretty good message. I heard one man, John, just to wrap up here, tell one of the guys who had taken him over to this area on the route said, "You're an angel," and he replies back, "Nope, I'm just a guy." And he insisted, "No. You're an angel." So there's a lot of good Samaritans out here helping, John.
KING: We are learning, Scott, you're seeing it firsthand, a lot of "just a guy" or a lot of average Americans who are heroes helping their neighbors. Scott McLean on the ground for us there. And those words "I don't know" from that woman about what comes next tells you just about everything you need to know about the scope of this storm. This catastrophe in Texas, uncharted territory for President Trump. Just minutes from now he's due to land in Corpus Christi, not far from where hurricane Harvey made landfall back on Friday. The (INAUDIBLE) landing Houston's paper, newspaper making a plea. He'd never hesitated before to use the power of your bully pulpit to rally for your cause. The "Houston Chronicles" editorial board writes an open letter to President Trump. "Now you can harness that passion to fight for Houston." CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Austin, our White House correspondent is there. The president will visit there after he visits first the storm-battered Texas Coast. And, Jeff, from your reporting, do they understand inside the White House, number one, the empathy, compassion, support challenge from the president today, but two, those longer-term questions raised by the Houston Chronicle, raised by residents asking, "Where do I go? Who's going to help me? Where I support?" We have no idea of the scope of this yet. I'm sure the White House has better information, but even they can't answer many of the questions. Do they understand the challenge ahead of us as we speak, we show you pictures of Air Force One landing in Corpus Christi. Jeff?
JEFF ZELENY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, good afternoon. As you said, President Trump is landing, starting his trip there in Corpus Christi. The White House is intent on keeping him out of the worst areas. Particularly out of Houston. That's one of the reasons I am here in Austin, about 140 miles or so west of where Scott was broadcasting from. They're in Houston. But as the president lands in Corpus Christi, John, that is something that his advisers want him to see firsthand, up close. The stories of the lost. The massive devastation. The truth is, the White House does not have a full picture, a full handle. No one has a full picture and handle on how bad this disaster actually will be when those waters recede in Houston. How many lives will be lost? Officials know there will be so many more, but the president wants to, in his words, lay the foundation for this long recovery effort. On his flight here to Texas, his -- the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters he indeed wants to, you know, get a firsthand look at this to lay the foundation for this long recovery effort. He has cabinet secretaries onboard with him. John, he also has Mark Short, he's the director of legislative affairs at the White House. You asked, why would he be traveling here? Because this is going to be a massive legislative effort as well. The president is going to ask for a, a huge, a multibillion dollar emergency effort from congress. Likely to get some of that, but this is always a big fight as we know. And, John, still poignant on the 12th anniversary of when hurricane Katrina came on the shores of Louisiana there. We all remember the recovery of President Bush. I remember being in Crawford, Texas, covering President Bush as he was flying back. And, of course, did not stop. And this is one thing that President Trump wants to avoid that he's indifferent to this. It's why he's coming here today, John, with the first lady as well. He is scheduled to come back, perhaps, at the end of the week to get a firsthand look at this. John, this is the biggest test of his presidency yet. Also, a sign that he will need government to help all of these residents of Texas. John?
KING: Major test. Jeff Zeleny in Austin where the president will visit later today. Just hit the ground in Corpus Christi. Jeff, thank you. We'll keep an eye on the president. The first lady traveling with him as well. Jeff noted other members of the White House team will keep an eye on them as they deplane, that's in Corpus Christi. Back in the Houston area, meanwhile, authorities have another -- yet another emergency on their hands. Meteorologist Chad Myers with us now from the CNN Weather Center, with details. Chad, a levee, is just been breached?
CHAD MYERS, METEOROLOGIST: Yes. This morning, levee down river in the Brazos River did a breach itself. We knew this had no chance, and the authorities knew it had no chance, and they put out the evacuation order 48 hours ago. So --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MYERS: -- let's get to a few things that the mayor talked about.
[12:20:00] We'll go through them. Houston right here. Galveston right here. The Brazos River right here, all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Going to crest that 59 feet in Richmond. I was there a year and a half ago. It was 54. That was a --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MYERS: -- devastating flood. This is five feet above what I'd consider devastating. So let's zoom you in to the area right into here. Here is the Brazos River as it comes down, I guess, down to the Gulf of Mexico. This is kind of a semiretirement area. An area where you have the lake around you and all of these -- the Columbia Lakes area as the Brazos River, the levee here broke earlier today. Now let's get you back out to the big picture. I'm going to take you to the reservoirs. You've been hearing all about these reservoirs. The mayor went on and on about them and how it was the right thing to let the water out. Well, in fact, now we know that it was, because the reservoir called ADDICKS is already to the top of the overspill, anyway, and is just running over the top. So had they not let it out anyway, it'd be going over without any resistance whatsoever. Let's get you here. This, John, is ADDICKS Reservoir. About 20 square miles, 65 billion gallons, and it's green right here because it's a park. There's never water in here. It's not really a reservoir. It is a catchment for flood. Well, all of these rivers have come down and flooded it. So it's coming --
KING: Chad, I didn't mean to, I need to interrupt you. I'm sorry about this but the governor, Greg Abbott --
MYERS: OK. Go ahead.
KING: -- is speaking right now. We need to get straight to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what do you want to tell everybody watching who has relatives in Houston right now? I know that it is one of the most devastating floods of all-time in American history. What do you want to tell them right now to people who are listening?
ABBOTT: Everyone in the State of Texas is focused first on saving every life that we can. Then we want to help in the evacuation and transition process in typical Texas fashion, we will rebuild and make it better than ever.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about an aid package plan, is that in the works and what -- what's the status of that right now?
ABBOTT: The president and his team have been talking to us about providing tremendous aid. It'd be one of the things that we talk in more detail about today. It'll be something that the president is able to provide from his resources, but also a part will be an appropriation from the United States Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What else in the way of FEMA, can FEMA do? I know they've done a lot so far.
ABBOTT: There are a whole lot of different tools that the FEMA has available and that'll be one of the things that we talk about. Let me go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, what do you hope the president takes away from what he sees our here today?
ABBOTT: We want him to see and understand the enormous challenges that Texans have faced and the need for the aid that he's providing. He's a champion of Texans and a champion of helping us rebuild, and I think we will hear that commitment. Thank you. I got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, governor.
KING: We're listening to Governor Greg Abbott, Republican of Texas. He's walking away from reporters there because he's going to greet the president of the United States. The president, the first lady, members of the White House team right there aboard Air Force One just landed moments ago in Corpus Christi, Texas. The president is avoiding the deepest areas of concern right now. He won't go to the Houston area, for example, where the most major flooding is, but he does want to get a briefing A of -- he's near where Harvey made landfall Friday night. He wants to hear from the governor about the challenges and more -- most importantly, he wants to deliver promises to the people of Texas that help will be coming from Washington. That will be a big challenge when the president gets back. Number one, no one has any idea just yet how big of an aid packages needed.
Number two, every time there is this debate, there are fights about whether any emergency spending should be offset by budget cut (INAUDIBLE) where that's the politics that might not seem appropriate at the moment, but that's the politics that will happen when this spending proposes are debated back in Washington. But most importantly, the president on the ground in Texas. You see him right there pulling in in Corpus Christi to offer some help and assistance to the people of Texas. Again, the first lady along for the trip, along with other key members of the White House, leads this team here as you watch the president's plane approach.
Again, it's tough to bring politics into the conversation at this moment, but his presidency has been embattled. His poll numbers are down. He has been criticized for his handling of other big challenges, most recently the white supremacy Neo-Nazi marches in Charlottesville. This is an opportunity for the president, number one, to address this crisis, hurricane now tropical storm Harvey. Number two, to perhaps help regain his footing from a national political standpoint there. You're watching Air Force One pull up here.
And again, you might be asking, why Corpus Christi? Not Houston? This is a smart call, a welcome call, the right call by the White House. What you do not want to do in this situation is go into a place where you take attention, vital resources, vital time, away from the first responders. Away from the police, the fire, the other emergency responds personnel. Their number one priority is to help --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: -- the people of Houston in the Houston area still stuck in their homes. Still desperately looking for rescue boats. So the president smartly going to an area where it is safer to be on the ground, where he is less of a tax, if you will, on the law enforcement and other security resources. And the governor --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: -- on hand to brief him on what he knows so far, but I think it's very important, very important that we make clear as the president goes for this initial show of support in Texas, nobody can fully understand the scope of this yet, because Harvey continues to rain on Houston. You see those nice, clear skies in Corpus Christi. Not far from there, though, the storm did make impact. Communities there have been devastated by a hurricane. Communities in the Houston area now dealing not only with the hurricane and tropical storm but more significantly the resulting flooding of that. So many challenges for the president, first and foremost, just to offer words of support and comfort to the people of Texas.
With us here to share the reporting and their insights, Abby Phillips of the "Washington Post", Julie Hirschfeld Davis of "The New York Times", "Bloomberg's" Sahil Kapur, and Mary Katharine Ham of The Federalist. The president arriving a few minutes early. Again, there will be, there will be people who say, why isn't he hugging flooding victims? This is a smart call by the president. You do not want to get in the way and distract from the search and rescue efforts. But it's also a smart call for the president because he is going to Texas to say I'm here in the early days to support you. What do we expect on this day when they just simply don't know how much federal resources this is going to take? How tough it would be to get those through congress, even though you have a republican president and republican congress? These things tend to turn into fights.
ABBY PHILLIPS, WASHINTON POST REPORTER: Well, I think that the main thing about this visit is that a lot of this is about optics. A lot of the role of the president in a situation like this is about projecting a sense of security, a sense of competence around the response from the federal government, from the state and local governments, and to just offer support. It's also helpful to the president that the Governor of Texas is a supporter, a republican, who is backing him up on this. Who's not going to create any problems. Who's going to try to make this visit as smooth as possible. I think both of those combined will hopefully, things will go well and there won't be any snafus or any emergencies at the last minute. But it is a risk to go when things are still very, very active. Not that far away. But I think for Trump, he's probably in the best position that he can be at this moment. Not too many political risks and really all he has to do is just be there, shake hands, offer a couple of words of empathy and support. And this visit ought to be a fairly smooth- sailing success. JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, THE NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT: And I think, I think the main thing that the president is trying to avoid, obviously, is, you know, what happened with George W. Bush in Katrina and sort of this sense that, you know, the White House is not engaged, that the president is not engaged, that he's not, that he's not sort of appreciating the horrible situation that's happening down there. But like you said, John, by going now, he really does have to be careful where he goes. He criticized Barack Obama during the campaign for not going early enough to Louisiana. So he's obviously made the call that he needs to be there as soon as possible. But that does when his sense of movement. And there is a risk here that by projecting, as we heard from him yesterday, that the sense of we're going to be there for you, it's all signed, sealed, delivered. The aid is coming. That he's going to sort of get out ahead of where things actually are because it's not necessarily a no-brainer that congress is just going as really quickly and easily agree to this without crossing other debates on other matters.
SAHIL KAPUR, BLOOMBERG REPORTER: The engagement aspect is coming somewhat naturally to the president. He's been tweeting a lot about this. About how dangerous and unprecedented this is. And, you know, he's promising that there will be relief. He said some of the right things yesterday about neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend. As for congress, though, I do think it's a difficult bet to assume congress is going to do this quickly. They don't do anything quickly and they have a lot of deadlines coming up just in the next few weeks. It's plausible this gets tacked on to government funding. They also have to extend the children's health insurance program. Flood insurance is expiring at the end of the month. Hell of a time for that to happen and they have to raise the debt limit as well. So there's just -- and this is going to be probably the toughest stretch for the president. The biggest tests I think he's ever faced. And he has been a little distracted, let's not forget that. He's been tweeting about -- been talking about potentially incriminating NAFTA, his re-upped his demand for a wall on the southern border, re-upped his threat for the government shutdown yesterday. He's tweeting about his political ally's book. Tweeting an attack on his political opponent Claire McCaskill in Missouri when he's traveling there on Wednesday. This is not helpful to him.
KING: Focus and discipline have been a question about this president. I almost feel like I need to apologize -- you see the president of the United States there waving as he comes down the stairs, getting into the SUV. Other members of the White House team with him. I feel like I have to apologize to the people of Texas that we're adding any politics to this conversation because many of them are trying to figure out, is my family safe? Is my home destroyed? Will I ever see my precious belongings, family documents, pets, and the likes? So I feel like in every other breath we need to apologize for the people of Texas. However, it's just a fact of life that the money and the help they need will get caught up in these Washington conversations. Will get caught up in the effectiveness of this president. I don't say that critically. It's just a question. He's never had to deal with one of these things where he will have to get an emergency funding bill now. There will be more next year, more the year after. If you look at this flooding and if you look at the map of the -- [12:30:00]