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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
President Trump Visits Storm-Ravaged Texas; Harvey Sets New Continental U.S. Rainfall Records Of 124 Centimeters; Red Cross: More Than 17,000 Evacuees At Texas Shelters; Salvation Army Helping With Harvey Disaster Relief; Officials: 30,000 People Expected In Shelters; Houston Businessman Turns Stores Into Storm Shelters; Dallas Mayor 6,000 Beds Will Be Available In City; Dallas Schools Expecting Students From Houston. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired August 29, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. We continue our breaking news coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The
American president, Donald Trump, is now in Texas as that catastrophic flooding caused by the hurricane shows no sign of receding.
Officials in one county are telling residents to "get out now" that's a quote, "get out now" because a levee breach south of Houston is flooding
all the evacuation routes in that area.
So, get out while you still can essentially and this video shows us just how desperate that situation is, take a look.
GORANI: Well, the Coast Guard and other first responders have rescued thousands of people from flooded homes and cars and private citizens as
well have taken it upon themselves if they have boats to rescue people if they can.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, are getting briefed by the state's governor and disaster officials. This happened minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And it's really my honor (inaudible) very special place and a special state and I can tell
you that my folks is telling how great your representatives have been in working together. It's a real team and we want to do better (inaudible).
We want to be looked at in five years, 10 years from now is this is the way to do it.
BROCK LONG, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY ADMINISTRATION: The event unfortunately to the north of us is not over. We are still in a
lifesaving, life sustaining mission. We are very aware of the issues at the convention center, but let me be clear, this is not the Superdome.
The convention center, we are sustaining food and for the security, I have an incident management team inside the city of Houston as we speak and more
and more people are being moved to shelters to stabilize the situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So the president is getting everything there. You heard from one FEMA official this is not the Superdome that was a reference to Hurricane
Katrina in Louisiana in 2005 where evacuees -- where there were reports of violence of looting, of terrible things happening in the Superdome. He is
saying the convention center here is not at all that situation.
Now the impact of the storm is tremendous. We are tracking the rescue and recovery effort on the one hand as well as the Trump administration's
Scott McLean joins me live from Houston. Jeremy diamond is in Washington. First, Scott, tell us about the water levels. Are they still rising in
Houston? What is the situation?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it really depends on what part of the city that you are in. I can tell you in this part of Northeast Houston
where I'm standing as of this morning, they had already gotten about 2 feet of rain.
Other parts of the city have gotten more than 2-1/2 and a whole heck of a lot more has fallen today and it just simply will not stop. I think for a
couple of minutes the rain stopped briefly, but it has just continuing to come straight down again.
And it is not helping the situation here. There are every single National Guardsmen or woman in Texas has been activated to try to help with the
relief efforts, but as you mention really it is the effort of private citizens that is driving the rescue efforts here.
Let me show you the scene behind me. You can see a whole bunch of people in yellow and red here, some of them are Coast Guard, but a lot of them are
private citizens as well. You can see a boat and then a whole bunch of high water vehicles.
The problem in this neighborhood in particular, Hala, is that it's about a mile back and there is only one way in and one way out, and you're looking
at it. It's right here.
And so even though parts of this neighborhood still remain dry, it is impossible to get out unless you trudge through about a mile of water
anywhere from shin deep to almost waist deep at least on me because we've been in that water.
And so, a lot of people with boats even kayaks, paddle boards. We spoke to one gentleman, they are helping people get out, but a lot of people simply
do not want to leave. They are staying in their homes.
What's making it uncomfortable for them at this point is that they've lost power. A lot of people, though, they simply have no choice. They are
running out of food. They are running out of resources. They are coming here.
Let me just flip you around quickly, Hala, and show you the rest of the scene here. You can see a lot more of these high-water vehicles. The Fire
Department is on scene here as well and then once people get to dry land, they end up here.
Sort of staging until they can get to a shelter and a lot of these cases of water, food, things like that, this is simply volunteers who have showed up
to do what they can to feed people until they can get more help.
[15:05:07] And I've spoken to a lot of people who don't know where they're going to go and so they're going to likely end up in those city-run
shelters until they can figure out another plan.
GORANI: You really see the best of humanity in situations like this and the people of Texas have really proven just how the kindness of strangers
can help change lives and rescue as well people who are in need.
And my question is how many people are officials estimating still need rescuing? How many people are still stranded? Do we have a number? Do we
have an idea?
MCLEAN: Yes. It is really hard to pin down that number, Hala, some estimates by officials that we heard yesterday or maybe 10,000, maybe tens
of thousands across the city, but from what I've gathered, there's just so many people who maybe they may need rescuing down the line.
But at this moment, they are literally waiting until the water is at their door before getting out of there, and so that's complicating things. You
might go through a neighborhood. You might have half the residents say nope, I'm going to stay here.
I'm going to tough it out and see what happens and then a day later things change, the water rises, and then all of a sudden, they changed their
minds. The amazing thing about this neighborhood, Hala, is at one from what I've been told the water actually receded slightly today.
But it is still quite high and causing mega problems for first responders and again these volunteers who were just there to help people.
GORANI: Yes. It's understandable not wanting to leave your home and to go where, I mean, especially if you have small kids, if you have mobility
Jeremy Diamond, Donald Trump was in Corpus Christi. He's headed to Austin, Texas now. He should be landing there in about 20 minutes or so. We'll
take that live when it happens. What have we heard from the president today?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. Well, the president made his first stop in Texas since the storm swept through the
city, through the state and he visited Corpus Christi, Texas, which was one of the cities that was affected, of course, by this hurricane but was not
among the worst hit.
Part of the reason for that was that the president and the White House are trying to avoid drawing away the resources needed for search and rescue
efforts in harder hit parts of the state.
But what we did hear from the president today as he received a briefing from local, state, and federal officials was that the president believes
that so far there's been some really good coordination between all those different entities.
He said that he hoped that these disaster relief efforts so far can eventually down the line five, 10 years from now, be a sort of model for
how to respond to these really terrible natural disasters.
The president also received some praise from the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, who said that what he learns during this terrible time was that he
can count on the president of the United States and his staff to help in these kinds of situations.
Greg Abbott praising the coordination between federal state and local officials, but clearly the emphasis from all of these officials including
from the president was that this is going to be something that the state of Texas and the surrounding areas are going to be recovering from for months
and perhaps even years to come.
There was also, of course, in all of this a true effort from this president to make clear that he is on top of the situation. We know from Hurricane
Katrina how sometimes the federal response can be lacking and how that can turn into a problem for the president.
So clearly, the president of the United States trying to show that he is on top of the situation and that the federal government is appropriately
handling this response.
GORANI: All right. Thanks to both of you. Scott McLean there in Houston. Jeremy Diamond in Washington D.C.
And just to reiterate the president of the United States is on his way to Austin Texas. He's enroute to Austin with Senators Ted Cruz and John
Cornyn. Ted Cruz, of course, we ran against during the Republican primaries last year. He routinely called Lion Ted. They are together on
that flight to Austin.
Several rain gauges near Houston are reporting more than a meter of rain, a meter, that's 124 centimeters, if you want to be exact. That would be
essentially the most rain ever recorded in the continental United States from a tropical cyclone that made landfall.
Pedram Javaheri, the meteorologist -- Pedram Javaheri joins me now live from the National Weather Center. Nice talking to you, Pedram. First of
all, so many people are wondering when will this rain subside. I mean, they need a break in Houston and in Texas in general. When will the rain
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We are almost there, Hala, almost there. Give it another say six, maybe eight hours that anything left of
the storm system be too far to the east, but of course, the damage is already done, Hala.
Just said it best here, the wettest single tropical storm across the continental United States in recorded history. We know it's in the top
four right now. If at all verified as far as damage left behind so it's safe to say among the costliest national disasters in U.S. history.
[15:10:05] In fact, we looked at those graphics of white here, literally the top of the charts as far as what our estimations are as far as rainfall
on this particular graphic. In fact, the National Weather Service said they has to enhance and modify their legend for the colors on the maps to
be able to accommodate the amount of water that fell from the sky.
So here is what we are looking at as far as the official storm totals upwards of 1200 millimeters, again, highest we've ever seen. And then you
look at this and you say how does that relate to say if you like one that will take London two years to accumulate this much rainfall they've seen in
four days across parts of Texas.
That kind of gives you a perspective of what we are talking about as far as the volume of water is concerned. So, there is the storm system. It is
still raining very heavily but on the immediate coasts.
Houston beginning to see things taper off. I don't want to say things are improving, though, because we know the way water works especially after
it's on the ground is going to take many days, many weeks before it exits the area, makes it's way all the back where it began in the Gulf of Mexico.
So, the storm system itself filing moves overland for a third time here making landfall across portions of Louisiana, losses its tropical
characteristics for the first time in some 140 hours and after that we'll begin to see it move over portions of the Ohio Valley rain itself out.
So, overlooking at here still tremendous rainfall for extreme Eastern Texas, but also extreme Western Louisiana. Lake Charles, Beaumont, Texas,
these are the areas we think we could get another 150 to 200 millimeters out of this.
But, of course, it is all beginning right now with what is in store across this region, and of course, Hala, there are other elements underlying
hidden risks here as well because we know contaminants, sewage waste, chemicals, they are all within these waters.
Aggressive insects are in here just like anyone who's been displaced. They have been displaced as well. So, this is the dangerous goal for the next
foreseeable future really.
GORANI: You know, let's hope the waters recede quickly as well once the rain stops. Thanks very much, Pedram Javaheri.
Now in terms of the death toll, we can confirm -- CNN can confirm that at least five people have died, but several more deaths could be related to
the storm and that toll could go up considering the scope of the devastation.
Rising waters have for some survivors to wait on their roofs for rescuers. You see an image there of a rescue happening. Others were pulled from
their nearly submerged homes to board volunteer boats just ordinary private citizens helping out.
Houston police said Monday they've already perform 3,500 rescues of their own. Federal officials predict 30,000 people will have to use shelters,
450,000 will have to seek some kind of assistance.
My next guest is helping coordinate that assistance. Kevin Smith is the emergency disaster services director for the Salvation Army. He joins me
on the line from Houston.
Mr. Smith, thanks for being with us. How is the Salvation Army helping the survivors in Houston and the wider area in Texas that's been affected?
KEVIN SMITH, EMERGENCY DISASTER SERVICES DIRECTOR, THE SALVATION ARMY (via telephone): Well, right now. we are mobilizing resources from all over the
country. We've got our mobile feeding units that come in and prepare hot meals on the site and we are providing water and basic hygiene supplies at
the areas that you just heard about.
Where people are being brought from their homes to different locations just being brought to safety and what we are trying to do is just bring some
kind of comfort in the time of this absolute chaos.
I just want to tell you, we have 30 units that are going to be coming in today and tomorrow, additional units with a cooking capacity of about
45,000 meals and that along with all those partners we've been talking about on how great of collaboration this is.
We'll be producing 130,000 meals over the next few days for folks who have been displaced, and that's really our focus is give those life-sustaining
meals to people who need it the most right now, and that's really what we are focusing on.
We have spent a lot of money and resources to get the supplies here and now that there's a road that were able to access and get to those points of
need, that's where we need people's help the most is to be able to help to contribute.
They can go at helpsalvationarmy.org to really help us to get those resources where they are needed and those numbers you heard 10,000 people
at one of the shelters and we are working to get those resources that we just discussed right to their point of need.
And then we are going to find out where they are going to go from here, but our job is to help provide those life-sustaining needs that we come to take
for granted every day.
GORANI: And we are putting, by the way, on our screen the helpsalvationarmy.org link for people to ask us if they like to make a
donation. Do you have everything you need? I mean, is the Salvation Army still in need of anything in particular whether it's food or hygiene kits
or is there anything missing there in the response for the Salvation Army as far as you are concern?
SMITH: We are. You know, we are procuring -- purchasing the items that we need by the truckload. This is happening as we speak. I've just gotten
off a phone call where we are bringing in over 40,000 meals in trucks and getting those logistics takes a lot of resources to make it happen.
They are not here yet. Some of the things that we've got and we are handing out they'll go by the truckloads. So, tomorrow, I'll need 10 more
truckloads of supply.
[15:15:07] So, there's always -- there's going to be a lot of need here and that need is going to on and that's why we are asking people to help us
whether their text to storm to 51555 or they can even just pick up the phone and call 1-800-sal-army.
We've had eight locations in the city of Houston before all this stuff came in five days they've been serving people that have been coming to the
places that they know and trust at the Salvation Army for resources.
And we we're only now getting in and seen how much services have been provided over these few days where they were stranded and just providing
his people came up. So, we're counting on people to really help us out in this.
We can't do it without everybody and it really is an amazing effort to see Texans and to see the world coming together supporting Texas right now.
GORANI: We really seen it as well and around the world as you mentioned there. I think the texting might only work in the U.S. So, for our
international viewers best to go online with the helpsalvationarmy.org link there. Thanks very much, Kevin Smith, for joining us from Houston. Best
of luck to you and your team of -- your teams there deployed across the city. We appreciate it.
Now a group of older people from a care home in Galveston County have been rescued after photo of their plight in social media. You may have seen
this picture, but every time I see it, actually -- I find it even more shocking than the time before.
The residents of La Vita Bella had been told that emergency services couldn't reach them. That was before hundreds of people shared this photo
online. It shows some of the residents sitting in water up to their waists.
Some of them by the way in them wheelchairs. They were rescued on Sunday and as you can see here, I'm happy to report they are now safe and dry in
temporary lodgings. That's a relief.
Still to come this evening, shocking images show exactly how Harvey has transformed Houston neighborhoods, turned into lakes, highways into
waterways. We'll have.
And also, ahead, we'll find out why a Houston businessman decided to turn his furniture store into a shelter. We'll be right back.
GORANI: While the storm is historic, 49 inches of rain have fallen well over a meter, a meter being 100 centimeters, but it's really reached almost
a meter and a quarter to be exact. It set a record for the Continental United States.
It's left parts of Houston completely unrecognizable. In fact, here's video to prove that entire neighborhoods are underwater. Google Maps shows
us what this portion of Houston looked like before the storm compare that to the scene on the right, the tree trunk on the first floors of the houses
Harvey has turned highways into waterways. You could see a huge truck in the middle of this flooded scene. Normal cars like the one on the left
would be completely unable to drive in that much standing water.
[15:20:09] Take a look at this as you can see on the left of your screen this is actually an on-ramp to a multilane interstate. Now you can't see
the road at all. It could be anywhere really. A river even and there's enough water for rescuers to float a boat.
With Harvey forcing thousands of Texans out of their homes, temporary housing is obviously at a premium. So, why not setup a shelter in a place
where you already have furniture as what one Houston businessman has done.
Joining me by phone is Gallery Furniture owner, Jim McIngvale also known as "Mattress Mack." Thanks very much, Mr. McIngvale for joining us. Tell me
what you've done with your furniture store and how many people are seeking shelter there?
JIM MCINGVALE, OWNER, GALLERY FURNITURE (via telephone): We have 200,000 square-foot furniture stores, one in North Houston, one in Fort Bend
County, which is west of Houston and Sunday when the rain and hurricane got really bad, we decided to go pick up much of the folks that needed help
running into the store.
We have about 300 to 400 people at the North Freeway store and 400 plus and 75 National Guardsmen at the Fort Bend store so we turned these two stores
and furniture stores and also shelters for these great, great people whose lives been ruined by this terrible flooding.
GORANI: And it's -- so basically, you have opened your stores, your furniture stores where there's obviously bedding and mattresses and sofas
and the rest of it, and you are letting people sleep there.
But there are also other needs, I mean, there is -- they need food. They need facilities. Are you still with us, Jim?
MCINGVALE: Yes. We have lots -- we have two big restaurants in the stores so the food is taken care of. We have showers at the North Freeway store.
We just brought in six portable showers here in the store. So, we got television so they can watch CNN and we got all sorts of good stuff.
GORANI: That's -- well, thanks for putting CNN on as well as we keep people --
MCINGVALE: Informed, yes.
GORANI: Yes, there you go. As we keep people informed about what's going on. How long -- I mean, because this could be a long-term thing, right? I
mean, how long do you expect -- that you'll continue to provide this shelter for them?
MCINGVALE: Well, you know, somebody asked me was it either or because you have a furniture store and a shelter. I don't know why they can't have
both so that's what we are going to do. Some people are staying two or three days. Some may stay four or five.
Some may stay a week or two, but we are here to help these people, these citizens and their lives have been devastated. They are totally stressed
out as anybody would be and so our job is keep them safe, warm and fed not hungry so that's what we are doing.
GORANI: Yes. I understand you also allow them because for so many people pets are -- their pets are like family members and you allow them to bring
MCINGVALE: Yes. They brought their pets in there and we got lots of kennels here for them so that's working out as well and you know, it's all
about helping the community and being part of the community of Texans.
(Inaudible) to raise a child, we have a lot of children here, some are incredible Houstonian (inaudible) a while ago dressed up in a clown
(inaudible) given the children free toys, which a little bit of liberty in all this stress, I thought that was great.
GORANI: Well, really great job, well done. Thank you so much for doing this and we are really happy to share your story. Jim McIngvale, the
Gallery Furniture owner, thank you very much for being on the line with us and sharing that story.
While Southeast Texas is suffering, other parts of the state are stepping in to help. This is Love Field Airport in Dallas where more than hundred
evacuees were flown in and are using temporary accommodations there.
Earlier the mayor of Dallas told reporters that the city is set up to help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE RAWLINGS, DALLAS, TEXAS MAYOR: We are going to have, you know, over 6,000 beds available for people. Hopefully, that will be enough and we
will take care of those individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: There you have it. Dallas schools are preparing for some new students. Michael Hinojosa is superintendent of the Dallas Independent
School District and he joins me by phone.
Mr. Hinojosa, I understand you've opened up several schools to accommodate children who have been affected by the floods, correct? What exactly --
how exactly are you trying to help?
MICHAEL HINOJOSA, SUPERINTENDENT, DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT (via telephone): Absolutely. We have three schools that are identified very
close to downtown. The proximity very close to where the convention center is.
We also have some recreation centers where we have other high schools that are available, other schools available for students, and so we are putting
out instructions that whatever it takes that we are not going to ask for any documentation that these kids need to be in the classroom and learning
and also being fed.
And so, it's better than sitting in the convention center so we are geared up all over town and especially in strategic locations to accommodate these
students and their families.
GORANI: So, basically, these are kind of like pop-up classrooms, right, for students who are affected by the floods?
[15:25:02] HINOJOSA: Absolutely. I was superintendent of Dallas when we had Katrina, and we had people coming all the way from New Orleans after
they went to Houston and it was closed. So, we learned from that experience to be ready and we do have teachers on board already and we have
plenty of room and we'll welcome them immediately.
GORANI: Because you need extra teachers obviously, right? I mean, are they volunteering or where are you finding the extra staff?
HINOJOSA: Well, this is going to be our first week of school anyway and we don't have all of our students or our classrooms are not in capacity, but
they will be overtime. But one thing that we have to take into consideration, this is not going to be a short-term venture.
What we learned the last time is that they won't even know what they don't know back in Houston yet and it's going to take a while to remediate those
homes and schools and so we need to be geared to help these families for a while.
GORANI: Yes. And so, you are prepared to do this for the long haul. I mean, not just the next week, but potentially several weeks and maybe
months, would you be able to do that?
HINOJOSA: Yes, we can do that. We have to be very careful about the obligations that we enter into for the long haul, but yes, we anticipate we
need help for several months and possibly a year.
What we learned from Katrina a lot of families relocated here, and they said I want to go back and deal with this again in the future and they end
up staying here. So, we are prepared whichever way it has to go.
GORANI: And you're saying you're not asking for documentation, why is that?
HINOJOSA: Because first of all, we've been given clearance from state that these students need to be in school right away. We don't care where they
live. Right now, this a special situation so they need to be in school. They need to be learning.
And also, we can ask about immigration status anyway that's against the law so we are not required -- we are not allowed to ask for that information,
but we are not even asking for shot records or anything else at this point.
It's in their best interest to be in a school right away and we will get that handled later with a different protocol.
GORANI: Right. It's in everyone's best interest. Thanks so much, Michael Hinojosa, the Dallas Independent School District superintendent for joining
us on the line. We appreciate your time.
CNN correspondents are fanned out across the hard-hit region. Our Ed Lavandera filed this report from Galveston Island. Take a look.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There has been so much rainfall here this morning on Galveston Island that there are number of neighborhoods, not all
of the island by any means, but there are a number of neighborhoods that are looking like this.
These floodwaters are rising very quickly. Spoke with a couple of people who have been trying to manage their way and get through these areas here
in the last couple of hours.
They say in many places the water is chest high and that many homes here in this area are taking on water as well. So there has been so much rainfall
since noon yesterday throughout this region that it just keeps coming and coming and that's what why we are seeing these floodwaters.
In fact, on that main thoroughfare that takes you through part of the island here that connects into Interstate 45 and takes you back on to the
mainland, a lot of that road has been underwater.
And in the Stram (ph) District, which is the entertainment district here on Galveston Island as well, we are hearing reports -- they haven't been to
make it over there ourselves, but we are hearing from various people here on the island that there is a great deal of water in that area as well.
So, this is what we are seeing, chest-high water again here -- actually this is really the most serious flooding we've seen so far on Galveston
Island since this storm made its way from Corpus Christi and Rockport and started moving eastward toward where we are.
So, hopefully, a start of harbinger of things to come here in the coming hours, but the intensity of the rainfall and the relentless of it over the
last couple of hours has really been dramatic here.
We've seen these floodwaters in a number of emergency vehicles we've seen repeatedly making their way through the streets of Galveston Island.
GORANI: Ed Lavandera there at Galveston Island. You may have seen some of Ed's reporting over the weekend as well and some of our other reporters who
have been able to film these live rescues, dramatic live rescues of people stranded in their homes.
We have new pictures coming into us now. The American president, Donald Trump, has arrived in Austin, Texas from Corpus Christi. He's there to
meet with emergency officials and to tour an emergency operation center. He is there with his wife, the first lady, Melania Trump as well as
Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. They are both as well on the plane with him.
Earlier in the day, the president as I mentioned was in Corpus Christi, received a briefing on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts with FEMA officials
as well as local leadership and relief organizations.
He said that the response to Hurricane Harvey should be seen as potentially a model for future disaster response efforts in the United States. As you
can see there, the door has opened of Air Force One. And these are live images coming to us from Austin.
Just to also recap, the confirmed death toll from Hurricane Harvey and the aftermath stands at five. It's possible, though, that this will go up
because there are other deaths that haven't been necessarily connected to the hurricane or to the flooding, and this is something that will emerge
and become clearer in the coming days and possibly weeks.
We've been speaking all hour with ordinary people who stepped in to help, whether it's the superintendent of the Dallas independent school district,
whether it's just a furniture store owner, whether it's just ordinary people with boats who are going house to house in the flooded areas trying
We will continue to wait for the president to make an appearance. In the meantime, Polo Sandoval, tell us where you are and what's going on at your
position there, Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we're in Richmond Texas. It's a fairly short drive west of the city of Houston, which, obviously, is in the
middle of a crisis mode right now and dealing with flooding.
But here, a smaller community, dealing with some massive flooding of its own, way behind me, is what should be the Brazos River, which runs through
this part of Texas. Well, in the last few days, it has essentially swollen up, spilled over its banks and invaded communities just like this one along
the banks of the river here.
What is of positive note here is that authorities have seen this coming. In fact, they experienced this last May in 2016 when the river rose as well
because of some nearby rains. So, they're very much used to it.
However, later today, into tomorrow, this river is expected to reach record levels, which means it will flood even more homes. However, authorities
have been able to implement a strict evacuation order here.
And so, this is, Hala, a virtual ghost town right now. The people who live in these communities, you do not have to tell them twice to pack up and
So, again, this is what we're seeing in the communities outside of Houston, while America's fourth-largest city, not far from here, is really trying to
shift into full recovery mode.
GORANI: Are they expecting more rain or the water levels to recede any time soon or more pain over the coming days? What's the expectation?
SANDOVAL: Certainly - absolutely. There certainly will be pain in the coming days whenever the waters still recede and people go into see what,
if anything, is still left.
As for the rain, it's interesting. For the first time, Hala, in about four days, I was able to finally take off this rain jacket because it's, believe
or not, the sun actually broke through -
GORANI: All right. Polo, we'll get back to you in a moment. The president and his wife, Melania, are now - yes, have now landed in Austin,
Texas. They're on their way to Austin with, as I mentioned, Senator Ted Cruz, was also on that flight.
And they're going to be participating in a tour of the emergency operations center. There they are. President with a baseball cap with the letters
USA and the First Lady Melania Trump with a baseball cap of her own, Aviator sunglasses with the letters FLOTUS etched on the top of that cap.
President Trump and First Lady Melania, as I mentioned, are in Texas right now in Austin, getting a firsthand look at the disaster response. Not at
the disaster itself. They didn't go to those affected areas.
Donald Trump was briefed by federal officials and said the storm is of epic proportions. The reason they didn't go, of course, closer to the disaster
areas is that now is not the time to mobilize security personnel and everything that is involved in a presidential trip when there is a disaster
Our political analyst Josh Rogin joins me from Washington with more. So, let's compare Donald Trump's response to Barack Obama's response to
previous disasters, George W. Bush. What's the word in Washington?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the comparison that's most often made here in Washington is when George W. Bush flew over the Katrina
President Bush admitted later that he didn't realize that by not stopping on the ground and looking out of - being captured in a photograph looking
out the window of the airplane, he would be seen as not caring enough.
So, that was a mistake that he made. And that's a mistake that the Trump administration has been sure not to repeat.
I think while the president is receiving high marks for his actions today, including not going to the exact scene of the worst part of the disaster,
saying the right things and basically doing the right things, that's a short-lived period of praise.
And what we're anticipating in the days, weeks and months ahead is a politicization of this issue based around how the funding will be
appropriated, both for the short-term and the long-term recovery efforts.
[15:35:12] GORANI: Right. And also, there are major posts that haven't been filled. They're all acting officials at the head of FEMA, the
National Hurricane Center and others. Is that affecting the response?
ROGIN: Well, according to the White House, it's not. According to most people in those agencies, it is.
What we saw this morning was an unusual amount of criticism from even Trump supporters, including Laura Ingraham on "Fox News" this morning who
criticized the vacancies.
President Trump responded to Laura Ingraham directly and said that he might not fill all of his positions because he's trying to shrink the size of the
federal government. That would seem to be the wrong tone for the moment to say the least. There's a broad amount of vacancies across the federal
government. It's a problem for all federal agencies.
Right now, there's not a ton of evidence that is impacting the immediate response, but it has drawn attention to those problems throughout the
federal government, for sure.
GORANI: And his Twitter response has been interesting as well and raised a few eyebrows. Little empathy for ordinary people and victims, a lot of
exclamation marks and superlatives about the size of the storm and the magnitude of the response.
ROGIN: Well, Trump's personality on Twitter is consistent. It's bombastic. It's always about himself and not about the issues necessarily.
And that hasn't changed. So, this is a long-standing criticism of Trump style.
Again, you could take issue with that. I think what most people in Washington, most people on the ground frankly are looking for are the
actions. And the actions, so far the recovery have not received widespread criticism. Again, that is a temporary situation.
In addition to the vacancies in key agencies, the Trump administration in its budget proposed cutting a lot of the funding for these first
responders. That's now going to come under increased criticism and increased scrutiny.
And then, there is going to be a battle over whether or not to offset the huge cost of this response and recovery by cutting lots of other things in
the domestic program. That's what Republicans proposed around the time of superstorm Sandy and now that's going to definitely come up again, and
that's going to be big fight.
GORANI: And lastly, in the middle of all this, North Korea launches another missile.
GORANI: And as though we didn't have enough news lines, that happened. What was the response from the president?
ROGIN: The president just reaffirmed that all options are on the table without giving any real specifics to how the US might respond. US
ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called for some dramatic action to respond to North Korea, but didn't specify what she wanted that
dramatic action to be.
The administration is in a tough spot. They've set a number of redlines. It's arguable whether or not Kim Jong-un has crossed those redlines. He's
certainly upping the ante. He's challenging the Trump administration to do something. But the Trump administration doesn't have any good options and
they know it.
So, they're forced to continue on with their slow, but steady strategy of increasing diplomatic, economic and financial pressure on the Kim Jong-un
regime. That hasn't worked yet, but they don't really have a plan B, and that's a huge problem.
GORANI: Right. It's continuing a strategy that so far hasn't produced the desired results. Thanks very much, Josh Rogin.
GORANI: Yes, thank you. Tropical Storm Harvey is not done yet as we've been saying. There is little relief in sight for Houston, the fourth-
largest city in the United States, and one of the country's most important energy hubs.
This is the headline on the front page of the "Houston Chronicle" today. Uncertainty engulfs region. Dianna Hunt is the paper's metro editor. And
she joins me now from Houston.
So, Dianna, tell us about the expectation over the next several days in terms of when can we start seeing some improvement in the conditions on the
DIANNA HUNT, METRO EDITOR, HOUSTON CHRONICLE: Well, it just depends on which way you're looking. We have - we've not had as much rain today,
which is allowing the floodwaters to recede off the streets.
So, Houston has become more passable today. You can actually get through most of the streets in town - in certain areas, accepted, of course.
But in that sense, things have improved. The new threat, the real threat now posed at Houston is from the waterways, which have already been flooded
and it's continuing to pile on.
We have dams overflowing into Buffalo Bayou. A bayou is a little bigger than a creek and smaller than a river, but there's very hardy network of
bayous through the heart of Houston. And those are all very full as these dams are overflowing. They're calling it uncontrolled release of water
into the bayous. We're watching that very closely.
We have, on the west side, the Brazos River. And the previous reporters talked about - and it is continuing to rise. It has already breached a
levee in Brazoria County, which is a little farther south from here, but the river is continuing to rise and threaten homes.
[15:40:02] We've had subdivisions evacuated and we have other creeks that are just filled to capacity and can't really handle any more. So, that's
the new threat that's being posed here.
If Harvey takes a veer toward Louisiana, as it appears to be, then we could be spared from some of the worst of that rain and that could help ease
things up a little bit.
But, right now, we're all watching the waterways and the dams and the levees.
GORANI: All right. Let's hope those hold. Why was the flooding so historic? Is it just the quantity of water that was dumped by Hurricane
Harvey or is there another reason?
HUNT: That's essentially it. Tropical Storm Allison, which actually never reached hurricane status, dumped twenty-I-believe-four-inches over two
In some areas of Houston, we've had 47 inches of rain over several days. At one point, we had four inches an hour coming down. And it just can't
run off that fast.
Once the ground got saturated, then there's no place for it to go. So, that's why we got such a buildup and so quickly. It is starting to recede
from the streets. They're all covered with mud, but that's an improvement.
But it's just the volume of water so fast, the storm system stalled over us and just had left torrential rains coming down for a long time. We're
hoping we don't get another one of those, but this surpasses Allison.
This is what we're told. It's not a storm of the century, but a storm of the millennium. It's a 1,000-year flood.
GORANI: Lastly, I understand you became metro editor a couple weeks ago, I understand. What is the biggest - talking about the new job, sort of
baptism of fire. But has been the biggest challenge covering this for you at the "Houston Chronicle"?
HUNT: I think the biggest challenge - I started this job two weeks ago. I was an already an editor here and I had worked in Houston before. I'm very
familiar with Houston.
I think challenge is trying to anticipate where the problems are going to be and get people embedded in those areas first. Once the flooding starts,
you can't get anybody in or out. So, we've had to just place people all over the region.
Houston alone, I believe, is 600 square miles. So, it's a very large area. Trying to get people out there, so that we can be in place when these
things start to happen, I think, has been the biggest logistical problem.
GORANI: All right. Dianna Hunt, thanks so much. We're grateful you joined us this evening. Metro editor at the "Houston Chronicle". Thanks
so much for your time and good luck for the future.
GORANI: I want to share the touching and dramatic story of a father and his son that were caught up in this storm. Aaron Mitchell tried to wait
out the hurricane as it made landfall, but he had to leave his home.
A CNN crew caught him after a devastating night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON MITCHELL, ARANSAS PASS RESIDENT: I just lost everything I worked for. Everything. The only thing I got is the clothes on my back and
hopefully my dad got out somewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Aaron, went on to say that cell service had been down for days and that he couldn't reach his father.
CNN's Nick Valencia who had been interviewing him offered a satellite phone. Here's one end of a cheerful conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: Dad, I love. OK, all right. I'm going to get off here. I'm going to just - I'll be right there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Aaron did find his father eventually and they both joined CNN's New Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCHELL: My dad is my hero. (INAUDIBLE) quite a bit that he was so concerned. You wonder about your kids sometimes and we all have our little
differences as we grow older and our relationships become strained and changed. It's just so much - it's overwhelming sometimes to think about
the love between a father and a son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. There you have it. Happy reunion in the end. You can check out our latest news interviews and analysis on our Facebook page,
After a quick break, the devastation in Texas is not the only crisis President Trump is facing. More on North Korea's newest missile launch,
which has ramped up an already tense situation. We're going live to Tokyo.
[15:46:44] GORANI: Well, President Trump is in Texas surveying the horror of Hurricane Harvey. Halfway across the world, another crisis has reached
a new and dangerous level.
North Korea has fired another missile, but this one flew right over Japan. The first time the North has flown a missile that may be able to carry a
weapon over a US ally.
This is how residents in the north of the country heard about it.
GORANI: Sirens rang out as the North Korean missile approached. President Trump had strong words in response saying, "all options are on the table."
The UN ambassador - the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was not mincing her words either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, US AMBASSADOR TO THE UN: Well, first of all, what happened yesterday is absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible. The United States,
along with Japan and South Korea, have called for an emergency Security Council meeting this afternoon. We're going to talk about what else is
left to do.
No country should have missiles flying over them, like those 130 million people in Japan. It's unacceptable. They have violated every single UN
Security Council resolution that we've had. And so, something serious has to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Something serious. We don't know what. Let's go to Tokyo. Alexandra Fields is there with the latest reaction.
How did Japanese officials react to this?
ALEXANDRA FIELDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been strong reactions from the regional, Hala. In South Korea, you had a flexing of
military muscle with a bombing drill.
But, in Japan, where this certainly felt most pressing, it's being called a grave and a serious threat, imagine waking up in the northern part of Japan
and not just hearing those alarms, not just hearing the sirens, but actually getting a message that said missile launched, missile launched, it
seems that a missile has been launched from North Korea.
Officials here in Japan say that they were closely tracking the trajectory of that missile, which flew for about 15 minutes before breaking up into
three pieces, about 700 miles east of Japan.
This action from Pyongyang triggered an emergency phone call that lasted 40 minutes between US President Donald Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister
Here's what he had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN (through translator): The missile which passed over our nation represents the greatest and gravest threat to
our nation ever. It also is an egregious threat to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELDS: OK. So, why this kind of launch and why now, Hala? Obviously, that's the question that's being asked here.
We can remind our viewers, of course, that this is the time of year when you've got those United States-South Korean military exercises that are
happening in the region.
We know that Pyongyang strongly protested those. Certainly, this is a signal to the region that Pyongyang is not backing off of its position.
This would also, to some extent, throw some cold water on the theory proffered by the Trump administration and by President Trump himself just
last week that North Korea seemed to be showing signs of respect toward the US after the president had had very fiery words toward North Korea and
after the UN Security Council launched its toughest round of sanctions yet against North Korea.
The Japanese foreign minister has also been speaking out. He says that this launch, as serious as it is, as grave a threat as it poses, does
suggest perhaps that North Korea backing down a bit from its earlier stated threat to possibly attack the US territory of Guam.
[15:50:15] That's, of course, because they launched this projectile eastward over Japan, a very serious consequence, of course. But he says
that perhaps a launch directed more to the south, the more typical trajectory could have elicited a more firm response from the US, which
could have been interpreted as some kind of reference toward that threat on Guam. So, perhaps, he says, this may have been a sign of backing down.
But, Hala, when you're talking about launching missiles without warning, it doesn't matter to the Japanese that they're launching south or east. They
say this is an incredibly grave threat. They're warning about the possible dangers to ships in the area, also to airplanes. That's a threat they
constantly warn the public about, and they're saying that this merits the firmest response ever, Hala.
GORANI: Right. Well, if you're waking up to sirens, with missiles flying overhead, it is a bit unnerving. It's understandable. Thanks so much,
Alexandra Fields in Tokyo.
While the world is condemning North Korea's actions, in the country itself, the public hasn't been told that the missile launch happened. CNN's Will
Ripley is the only Western TV journalist in Pyongyang. Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than eight hours after the missile launch, we're told we cannot tell North Koreans
about the launch itself because it hasn't been announced yet on state media.
North Koreans pretty much always get the government-approved version of news far later than everyone else. Until then, in a country cut off from
the outside world, people go about their day unaware, unaware millions of Japanese woke up to air raid sirens, unaware South Korea was conducting its
own bombing drills.
Some may have heard the early morning missile, the launch site remarkably close to the Pyongyang airport. It's rare for North Korea to launch a
missile near a highly populated area, perhaps sending a message to the US, any preemptive strike could have devastating humanitarian consequences.
What North Koreans do know is what their government has been telling them all their lives. America is the enemy, a bully, a nation they must hate.
(on-camera): Here in Pyongyang, people are surrounded by anti-American propaganda. You see a lot of images like this. A mobile missile launcher,
missiles pointed towards the US, which is up in flames, and the words all of the mainland United States is within our striking range.
(voice-over): The regime's long-standing narrative, the US could attack at any time and their supreme leader Kim Jong-un has no choice, but to
continue his unprecedented barrage of missile testing.
I think we've done enough talking, says Ri Hyon Il, what we want now is real action.
What does that mean? What kind of action?
You can imagine what kind of action, he says. All we need is the order from our supreme commander.
Kim Jong-un commands absolute power over the North Korean people. Some 25 million lives, 25 million futures rest in his hands.
But they don't blame him for the hardships they endure. They blame America and their hatred is palpable.
You can clearly see how strongly this man feels.
Does North Korea really want war with the US?
We value peace. We love peace, says, Jong Hak. We have our future, our children's. If another war happens, Koreans and Americans will suffer, but
we will never beg for peace.
He says something that stands out. He tells me America is a big country, a bold country. Act big, act bold, don't be a bully, he says, because North
Korea will fight back will.
Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang.
GORANI: Coming up, alligators floating in the backyard. We'll find out how the Texas floods have affected some of the region's more dangerous
animals. We'll be right back.
[15:55:49] GORANI: Well, Harvey is not just affecting humans. You saw it. There were all these pet rescue images. It's also affecting animals, but
sometimes scary ones, which are also fleeing the rising water.
At one actuary in Texas, the flooding is creating an alligator problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're actually kind of a refuge for alligators that are called nuisance alligators. And we've kind of given them a refuge here.
We let them live here. We've still got some alligators that are in new fences. These fences were about to go underwater. We've got regulation
size fences and they're over the top of them. Some of these alligators, there is no question some of them are going to get out. The good news is,
here in Southeast Texas, everybody is used to living with alligators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, here is proof. A woman filmed two alligators in the water outside her Texas home. Officials say the reptiles are searching for
higher ground during the storm, but alligators are not the only danger lurking in the water.
Islands of fire ants have been spotted floating in South Texas. The ant colonies form a protective ball to float to safety.
So, one piece of advice, don't touch them.
Recap of what we know, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, American President Donald Trump is meeting with disaster officials in Austin, along
with his wife Melania. A record amount of rainfall has fallen on the Houston area.
And we spoke earlier this hour to a reporter with the "Houston Chronicle" who says the continued rainfall has caused levees and dams to breach.
That, of course, threatened even more harm. Look at this, just all the way up to the rooftop almost.
Red Cross officials say some 17,000 people are staying in temporary shelters and more and more boats are joining the rescue effort to save
Texans stranded in their homes.
A Houston police sergeant is now confirmed among the dead sadly from this terrible storm. He lost his life on the way to work and trying to help.
I'm Hala Gorani. A lot more coverage after a quick break. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper is up next.