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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Flood Emergency Now Hitting East Texas; U.S. Military Sends Warships, Aircrafts, To Texas; Beaumont, Port Arthur Get 26 Inches Of Rain In 24 Hours. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired August 30, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: Certainly does, there is obviously a curfew again in place tonight here in Houston. But we have been seeing search and rescue operations even now going on. We'll tell you about that a little bit. Good evening from Texas, we're in the memorial section of Houston today. Much of it still covered in water, even though the skies above thankfully have been clear today in Houston. This would remain very much for many people of crisis. We have been watching rescue crew go out from here throughout the day and in to the evening, the military has ramped up rescue operation, we should tell you about that, we have watching them all day, in addition to two U.S. Navy warships, the USS (inaudible) and USS Oak Hill are being deployed to the area along the 690 marines to the east. We're the remains of Hurricane Harvey made second landfall. Talking about Beaumont and Port Arthur hit be more than two feet of rain. Martin Savidge has been out and airborne over east Texas throughout the day today. He is been capturing remarkable images. He is back on ground now and he joins me now. You just got off that chopper and came back from a rescue mission. Talk about what you saw out there today.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a four-hour flight, it is the U.S navy they are flying the Seahawks and Blackhawk, we down in the Port Arthur and Beaumont area. The water down there is just incredible. And the desperate need of people is equally as striking as well. For three and half to four hours I watched as the search and rescue team operating from the air with lower baskets into the ground. Send a rescue swimmer and go in the water that is usually chest high and they're going to the families, many of whom have been trapped for days. And the water continues to rise. You can see the panic in their faces. They're hoisted on board the aircraft. And they are flying in this incredible tight circumstance where any slip could be disaster for those on board and those on the ground. And yet they were able to pull 25 people, just one helicopter, 25 people, most of them young children out of a horrific situation.
And you just saw their faces dissolve from panic in to relief as they got on board, they knew that they were in good hands. And just a remarkable operations. And they're just about anybody who has anything that fly there and that is another problem, trying to coordinate all that airspace, which they are doing with other aircraft and the crews are allowed to spot people on the ground and swoop in. I will point out there are women in all parts of the military and other aircraft wouldn't go into a very tight space. This crew said there were people that needed to be saved. They flew right in and they got them.
COOPER: How many people can they have on board the chopper and then you said they drop them off, where did you drop them off? And you know what happens then - from there?
SAVIDGE: Well, what they were usually doing is picking up in groups of seven. So you'd have seven people on board. There's five-member crew already and two of us. A photographer and a reporter. What they would have done is basically land the helicopter, kick us out and continue to make the rescues. Most of the time they're hoisting people up and having to only fly a short distance, maybe a half mile to a dedicated landing area and there were other people standing by to get them off to shelter or get them where they needed to go. What you did see is the remarkable part and that is just people being saved and seeing the heroes that carried it out.
COOPER: And just in terms of what you saw in terms of flooding in the areas you were flying over, what was it like?
SAVIDGE: Well, first of all I'd say that a lot of Port Arthur is under water. Not all of it, but large sections, huge neighborhoods, much like you're seeing in the Houston area and on top of that there's one area, a massive refinery down there and the incredible amount of water that is gone over the property. That whole area is flooded and when you fly back there are literally times when you look at southeast Texas from the air and you see nothing but water of modern day water world. It's quite setting.
COOPER: Martin Savidge, thanks so much. A reminder it's not over yet. I want to go to Ryan Nobles in Orange, Texas not far from the Louisiana border, Ryan what is happening there now?
RYAN NOBLES, WASHINGON CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Anderson, just in the last hour we've seen a pretty remarkable rescue effort here in Orange Texas and we told you before about the shopping center that is here behind me. This is a staging area where they've been taking many of the volunteer boat crews filled with people that need to be evacuated and bringing them to that closed supermarket. From there, that is a little bit of high ground. It is dry there.
[23:05:13] Then they've brought a whole armada of buses from Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is another 45 minutes to the east and one by one those buses loaded up hundreds of people. They came right by where we are now, headed back up on I-10 and they're going to safety and a dry shelter in Lake Charles. There were at least 10 buses that we saw leave here and go back to the Lake Charles. There are still at least a couple hundred people up at that supermarket right now in need of rescue. So we expect another run of these buses to come back through. But that is the situation in Orange, Anderson. This was a community that didn't expect to see this level of flooding. This came after the second wave of Harvey after it kicked out into the Gulf of Mexico and came back into the Texas/Louisiana border.
And what is interesting here, I talked to folks that have lived here for more than 20 years, they've never seen this type of flooding before and when it started to seep in to their homes about 1:00 this morning, they had to quickly make plans to get their families to safe and dry ground and that process continues now as we're into the 10:00 hour into this part of the country.
This is going to be a long recovery for many people in this area just like in Houston and other parts. I'm sure you've seen this as well where you are. The remarkable resolve of the people in Orange Texas has impressed me all day today. I saw smiles on people's faces, despite the fact they were drenched from head to toe after being stuck in four feet of water for several hours. They have a long recovery ahead of them, but their attitude at this point has been pretty remarkable, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. It's incredible what we're seeing so many places. Ryan I appreciate that, be careful. I want to get the latest from the meteorologist, Tom Sater. Tom, the rain over Houston has subsided. He shows the scale of the storm and how much rain actually came down on this part of Texas.
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLIGIST: It's quite amazing. Almost biblical, really. We started talking about Hurricane Harvey on the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. And let's not forget about Rock Port. We knew it would stall and it did, moving in at 1 to 2 miles per hour. Coming off shore again for about 70 miles from its original land fall and coming back out, regenerating a little bit. Just a couple hours ago it became a tropical depression. From Friday's land fall to a couple of hours ago is 117 hours as a main storm. The previous record is 54 hours in Texas. I mean we never see anything like this, even covering typhoons in the Pacific or cyclone in the Indian Ocean. But the amount of water. A few days ago a company called weather belt. Someone told us that $11 billion had fallen. Well, we're in 25 trillion, one trillion in Harris County alone.
To give you an idea how much one trillion gallons is, that is the amount of water that falls over Niagara Falls for 15 straight days. And that is in one county. Our fear was Beaumont overnight. 26 inches in 24 hours topping off 45.73 the next sphere is the heat. The next four day is in the 90s. I know our medical reporters will be doing stories in the coming days on the mold and the water borne illnesses, but my fear is all of those families have decided to hang in there, hunkered down in their home, maybe without power. Maybe what's unbearable is going to become so oppressive that we may have a second wave of 911 calls. The last band around Harvey is very light but leaving Beaumont and it's picking up in speed. No longer one, two, three miles per hour. Still more rain in eastern Texas but the rate has dropped. Dryer air has moved in to the system. Maybe isolated seven or eight inches into Arkansas and Kentucky and further northward. Anderson.
COOPER: So, for you the heat is in the next couple days. That is one of the biggest concerns.
SATER: Well, personally, Anderson, until the water's dropped in the attics, this is a big concern I mean this where built 70 years ago. They are earthen levees they are not made of concrete and right now the northern area we're seeing the over topping, it's 108 feet and over topped by a foot. That is why we have a problem of the flooding there. But the pressure's got to be so intense. Let me show you a picture back in 1953. It was all ranchland. So they developed the levies to help protect the flow in the buffalo bayou and for the most what they've done is try to protect Houston, but all the rivers flow into this area so you have a buildup of water that they have never seen before and you have all of this sprawl. 100 subdivisions have been evacuated and now the number of homes with three to five feet and climbing is over 4,000. So until the water goes down, we still could have a breach. The core of engineer says the barker is not over topping and they think it's going to hold. Let's hope. 65 billion gallons alone in the attics.
[23:10:44] COOPER: All right. Tom Sater I appreciate it. One of the benefits being where we are when we are is we get to see the best moments in an otherwise impossible time. He told us he was worried for his uncle. They called Frankie, said they thought they could ride out the storm but the water in this area started rising faster. Frankie drove over here. He thought he could drive to their homes, so he asked both crews that are still here and packing up, they'd already stopped for the night. He asked if they could rescue his aunts and uncle. They went out right before we came on air. The boat came back. There they were. Safe and sound. Glad to see Frankie and you can bet he was glad to see them. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How are you? How are you doing?
HAYAM ASHOO, RESCUED TONIGHT: I'm doing good. Thank you. I'm fine.
COOPER: We were worried about you.
H. ASHOO: We were worried too. But I'm fine. We've done good, thank you.
COOPER: You thought you could ride it out.
H. ASHOO: We thought. Yes. But then the water started coming up to the driveway and we were worried about the sewer system too. Electricity and everything but until we left everything was okay.
COOPER: And the water just coming up today?
H. ASHOO: Yesterday and today.
COOPER: You're pretty tough if you thought you could ride it out.
AL ASHOO, RESCUED TONIGHT: It telephone went out. We use our cell phones.
COOPER: Thank god for cell phones.
A. ASHOO: Oh, yeah.
H. ASHOO: We couldn't do without them.
COOPER: So you called Frankie first. H. ASHOO: Oh, yes, he is my nephew.
COOPER: I know. We talked to him earlier.
FRANKIE AZIZ, RELATIVES STRANDED: It's amazing I see them back over here. For a second I was thinking I see the water and the level and I was like how are they going to make it out of there?
A. ASHOO: Oh, we made it.
AZIZ: Thanks for all you guys, the media, the coast guard, they've done an amazing job.
COOPER: What was it like to see your neighborhood like that?
H. ASHOO: Every street we went into is the street we drive on, I'm still living there for 37 years we lived in that house. Never, never. And we've gone through Hurricanes and tornados but water was never in our street and never like that.
COOPER: So what happens now? Where do you go?
AZIZ: Go to my parents' house or my house. They're more than welcome. We're one family.
H. ASHOO: Your mom's waiting.
AZIZ: And thanks to the community. I was part of helping neighbors, friends. We've done a lot of donations for the past couple days and it's amazing how we're all working together, putting all the effort and the help, neighbors and friends.
COOPER: You got a good nephew here.
AZIZ: And I'll keep going as long as there's no curfew. I'll come back and help some more. All the guys that work for me, we're getting together, helping out.
COOPER: I'm so happy you're safe. So happy. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And I can tell you when they came back, there were probably 20 or 30 people here assembled and they broke out into applause. They're happy to see them all reunited. Coming up, closer look at all the professionals who have been working so hard going well beyond the call of duty and putting themselves in danger to lend a hand.
[23:18:24] COOPER: Well, local authorities say they've received as many as 70,000 calls for help over the last several days and one veteran police sergeant, Steve Paris gave his life. Work is dangerous and at times can seem endless, even to professionals who train for these kind of moments which makes all the work of volunteers and professionals, we met and recognizing them tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO)
COOPER: For volunteers and law enforcement exhausted after days of rescues, there is still no relief. The rain may have stopped in Houston but streets remain flooded and the grim work of recovery has just begun.
STODDARD: To this point, what are you looking for?
ED GONZALES, SHERIFF, HARRIS COUNTY TEXAS: We're still trying to find potential survivors, people who may have survived the storm and any bodies as well.
COOPER: At this point it's really impossible to tell what the final death toll would be because the waters are still high.
GONZALES: The medical examiner got calls from people tied to a tree to hold them there.
COOPER: Ed Gonzales is the Sheriff of Harris County. Once the water has really gone down, do you enter each house? Do you know what's in houses?
GONZALES: We don't know at this point. We don't know who evacuated, who remained inside and there could potentially be dead bodies inside from medical issues and things like that.
COOPER: Harris county deputies have been looking for six members of one family missing Sunday when their van was swept away. An elderly couple with dementia were in the front seat. Four of their great grandchildren were in the back. The couple's son escaped and said he couldn't rescue any of the family.
[23:20:15] And this neighborhood rescues have already slowed. Houses have already been checked. Marks on trees indicate how many people are living inside. In many parts of Houston, the flood waters have begun to reseed but there are still neighborhoods like this where it's really deceptive. Some streets the water's only a foot or two deep in others it can be as deep as six feet.
Hour after hour, neighbors help neighbors move through the water. In some streets it is easy, others the water tops parked cars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volunteers on rescue boats. We lost volunteers that were out front. So it just really touches in your heart and we have to stay focused to complete the mission.
COOPER: By midday it was announced the six members of the Salvador family were found. The white van was in a ditch and the family trapped inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The van was found earlier submerged in water since Sunday about 10:00 a.m. We located the van and our worst fears were realized. We were able to recover two adult individuals and four children.
COOPER: They were 16 years old to 6 years old.
It was a terrible scene to watch. I've seen a lot but -- it's heart breaking.
COOPER: And sadly we just got an update from the Harris County corner, the storm related death toll in that county has risen by seven. The total stands at 25. Which make as story like this next one an especially welcome contrast. With me Chris and this truck belongs to his brother. Chris joins us along with Robert McGuire, one of the people that he helped rescue. Thanks for being with us. That is a big freaking truck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is.
COOPER: So you borrowed that from your brother?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we initially rescued my best friend and he got brought out by boat and that is why it's like oh, my gosh it's my brother's and it make as great rescue vehicle. He actually drove her over to us and on his way over here, picked up someone in a wheelchair that they couldn't get out otherwise.
COOPER: When did Chris come for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually Sunday afternoon almost 1:00.
COOPER: In what conditions where you were?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water is coming in the house, an older neighbor who had a dog as well. We had two dogs. Grabbed her, grabbed our backpacks. And we walked out until we saw the boat.
COOPER: So you've been riding around with Chris ever since?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Him and his neighbor and three dogs plus two other people.
COOPER: What is the response when you roll up in this massive truck? Or when you drive by folks in little boats?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been good. Going by little boats you got to go slow because everyone's working together and you don't want to make a wake and all that.
COOPER: I mean are people surprised to see this huge truck driving up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess so and it's really surprised because you're going through the water and its waist deep. So it rises out of the water.
COOPER: And how do you get people into your truck? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One ladder and someone donated a second ladder and
that is where it takes two people to be quick and efficient.
COOPER: How many people do you think you've been helping get out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots every day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over three days.
COOPER: And we're rolling video of some of what you've done. How long do you plan to continue doing it? How do you figure out where you're going to go?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in his neighborhood. I lived one street over but I can't pass through here. So I'm one street over and we started on three streets that way. Major streets. Yesterday we were worked yesterday and today we started from my neighborhood flooding and 10 percent of houses two feet away and 10 percent already have water inside.
COOPER: Do have plenty of gas, because all the gas stations are closed down, I imagine that takes plenty of gas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean this morning to maybe 40 minutes.
[23:25:00] COOPER: I appreciate what you're doing. It's amazing. When we come back we're going to hear -- I'll speak with a dad who escaped these rising flood waters with his five kids, including 1- year-old triplets. I'll be right back.
COOPER: We've seen so many incredible rescues all over southeast Texas the last couple of days. But for so many families the rescue hasn't come yet. They're left to their own devices. That was certainly the case for the Johnson family who obeyed orders to shelter in place until they realized if they stayed they might not make it out. Joining me now from Dallas Jeremiah Johnston who escaped Harvey's rising flood waters with his wife and five kids includes 1- year-old triplets. I'm so glad your whole family is ok. At what point did with you realize you all needed to evacuate?
JEREMIAH JOHNSTON, ESCAPED RISING FLOOD WATERS WITH FAMILY: First Anderson, thank you so much for being in Houston tonight. Our hearts are breaking and the fact you would take time to be in our City means the world to us. Tragedy can make you feel isolated.
COOPER: It's an honor.
JOHNSTON: They issued a mandatory evacuation for Port Bend County for almost all of the levy districts and I know you're in and Paris County. Fort Bend is the second most populous county in Houston and that is where our family of seven lives and we were watching Sunday night stun because it escalated so quickly from shelter in place to police literally, Anderson, if you can imagine going door to door in Fort Bend county telling people at first light you need to leave. Now for the audience who's outside of Texas who experienced a Hurricane, it's not very easy to evacuate. My wife, Audrey, we saw there were six different possibilities to get out of Fort Bend county where we lived in Richmond and that is where it got very harrowing and honestly just reliving that experience is an emotional thing for my wife and I because we've had six different routes. Five of the six were flooded and unpassable. The fifth route was getting on interstate 99, state highway 99 where we normally drive to Costco, Anderson, six miles up the highway. We get north and it is totally shut down and in a split second and you can imagine in the suburban, we all have our pajamas on and I'm driving southbound on the northbound speed lane with my hazards on.
ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: You're going against traffic.
JOHNSTON: Right against traffic flashing my bright. It's pouring down rain because that is the only way out. The people don't realize it's shut down. We come up to 1093 and Houstonians are watching they know what I'm talking about. Huge over pass. We said god send your angels to protect us because we knew if the car was coming, we would get hit head on. One of those very fast prayers, Jesus help us and we drove across the bridge. It was had the most frightening experience of my life. We were able to exit out of 59, our sixth Evac route. And honestly getting out of Houston was the most difficult part and it goes on from there. Getting to Waco, Texas was like driving through a scene of the walking dead. There were national guardsman, they were shutting down roads. So evacuation is not that easy to answer your question.
COOPER: It just sounds terrifying. Your kids during this. Obviously the triplets are one years old. Obviously wouldn't have known what was happening. But how are the kids through all of this?
JOHNSTON: They were terrified, Anderson. Our daughter is 8 years old, going on 21 and she had two bottles keeping them in their mouths and she said mommy, I'm getting sick, why are we driving against traffic and Justin is saying are we going to die, daddy? Extremely challenging but god protected us and I think about our own situation but that segment you just gave about the Salvador family that could have been us or many other people. If you're alive tonight, we should be really thanking god but we're still under mandatory evacuation. They just tweeted out ford bend office of emergency management. This is an ongoing emergency and that is why I'm so grateful you're there asking people to support and pray.
COOPER: Jeremiah Johnston, I'm so glad you and your family are safe and I know you're thinking about all your neighbors and all your neighbors in the larger Houston area and all across Texas to Louisiana. Thank you so much for talking to us and appreciate it. Thank you.
JOHNSTON: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: That question of whether or not to evacuate couldn't be more crucial. Want to get perspective from Bill King, the former Houston mayor candidate. General Russell Honore lead the military disaster response operation from Hurricane Katrina, General, it's such a confusing situation for people to try to figure out what to do in a face of a storm like this.
RUSSEL HONORE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not really confusing. We're committed to a doctrine. That says we were a threat. We evacuate. In a flood, we evacuate people in known flood areas. Areas that normally flood and then we offer people voluntary evacuation and then we do a mandatory evacuation. That is our doctrine. But to not execute that based on a fact of 6 million people all leaving at once, yeah, that would be a bad doctrine.
COOPER: Hurricane Rita you had millions trying to get out all at once, more than 100 people dying in the evacuation.
[23:35:00] HONORE: They didn't execute it according to the plan. They didn't do contraflow right, they didn't have gas stations set up. The complex operation and you have to have the logistics set up before you do it, Anderson. They did not have that for Rita.
COOPER: Want to get your perspective in terms of your City the lasts couple days and in terms of Rita.
BILL KING, FORMER HOUSTON MAYORAL CANDIDATE: And we made a number of recommendations and the evacuations in place are based on that study. And it's impossible to evacuate a City of 6 million people. The only evacuation plans really in place are to evacuate the storm surges and that worked pretty well in Hurricane Ike. The problem is evacuating the low lying areas with the exception of specific areas, you don't know what areas are going to flow. There's only about 50 and everyone has its own dynamic and it's virtually impossible to predict and the problem is what they're calling mandatory evacuations. Many people just don't need to be evacuated and what most people don't understand is evacuations themselves are very, very dangerous. What happened, there were literally 130 people who died in the Rita evacuation for a storm that never hit.
COOPER: Yeah. I think a lot of people don't realize so many people died during the evacuations. In terms of what you're seeing on the ground and the coming days, how do you assess things?
HONORE: This is a big infrastructure problem. Some people in this area, the newer part of town have electricity. When you get into rural areas where the grid went down and now the irrigation system is clogged with debris from this flood, the county officials are going to have their hands full, Anderson. To bring the grid back up because when you lose power and we've been very lucky here. I've never seen the City with such resilient power as Dallas. And the part that doesn't have rural electricity, it can take weeks and you cannot start rehabilitation until you get the grid up. We have a lot of places don't have gasoline in town. So it's going to take a lot of people a lot of troops to get these communities back on their feet so they can start rebuilding and get people back in their homes and debris removal is a big issue.
COOPER: Mr. King, after the water is gone, what's the priority? KING: We have to figure out how to do flood control better in Harris
County. We have been skating on this issue for a long time. We're going to need to shore up the reservoir. We have a bunch of infrastructures we got to do.
COOPER: I appreciate your time tonight. Coming up, I'm going to speak with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
[23:42:44] COOPER: Well, between the volunteer voters, monster truckers and members of the navy, this part of Texas is not lacking for good friends and good neighbors, like these folks coming together rescue an elderly man trapped in his car. They quickly formed a human chain. Moments like these, this moment is what we've been seeing and just before air time I spoke with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
You've been out and about. What are you seeing tonight?
REP SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) TEXAS: I'm seeing hope. Really I'm seeing people seeing loved ones be rescued, safe alive to live another day. This has been so overwhelming for so many people. Some are still missing, some are still needing to be rescued and each glimmer gives us the sense we have hope.
COOPER: Whether it's at shelters or these incredible volunteers and folks in law enforcement who have been out in boats?
JACKSON LEE: There's always criticism or the opportunity for such when you have such a massive effort but I just came from the convention center and what I saw was an orderliness of 8,000 people. Some getting medical attention and I think there has been this whole effort to get it together. We have about three large shelters. We know people can still come and when I left, people were still walking in. They'd been coming in all day long. So I believe they think that these places are a place of refuge but we've got a long journey and a long journey and recovery. And that is what people will be looking at but right now today, they were so grateful to the Texas National Guard. They're so grateful to the coastguard and the marines and the navy in Beaumont. Got a lot of friends out there. I want to give people a sense or to tell you that people are working. And local and state government are working. It doesn't mean we're perfect.
COOPER: Do you worry it didn't rain today that maybe some folks who aren't here or are from here thought the rain is done, the worst is over?
[23:40:09] JACKSON LEE: Absolutely it's not. I lived through Hurricane Ike, an extended manner through Rita and Katrina. Katrina because so many of those survivors, those guests, we call them guests now, they were in my district. I spent days, hours forever in the Astrodome. So I want to say to people hold on, it is not over. The recovery is going to be so challenging. We've got 30 to 40,000 homes that may have gone over or be damaged. 10s of thousands of cars. But the human -- what I want to say to people is Texas, they're resilient, strong. I saw a sign that said Houston strong but the emotional challenge I think will be great. I know the story of the two little boys looking for their dad. I had a senior citizen fall in my arms last night thinking of her house and the papers of her deceased daughter. It over takes you. So I'm looking for that strong federal government to be there to give those resources to the local community.
COOPER: Congresswoman, I appreciate your time.
JACKSON LEE: My pleasure. Let me thank all of the first responders, volunteers and everyone and looking to the faith community, thank you so much to all of them. Thank you for letting me say that.
COOPER: Welcome the two children congresswoman Jackson Lee mentioned. They've been reunited with their dad. So that is good news. Coming up I am going to take you out in a humane society, they tend to some smallest storm survivors.
[23:50:42] COOPER: Well, in the wake of this disaster, there are many reports of reunions, reports that are sure to continue in the coming days as family members find each other again after being separated. Some of those family members have four legs. Gary Tuckman tonight reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If these pets could talk, there will be scary stories to tell about the flooding caused by Harvey. Because these dogs and cats were left behind as floodwaters inundated neighborhoods in and around Dickinson, Texas. Owners either unable to take them, or assuming the flooding wouldn't be serious. I joined Chris Schindler and Rowdy Shaw from the humane society of the United States after they received phone calls from evacuated pet owners, asking for their pets to be rescued. They go to a house where floodwaters went almost as high as the roof. They make sure no humans have come back, and then look for one dog and one cat left behind. The lower level of the house is destroyed. Empty pet crates are toppled. Flooding still remains. We see a stuffed animal which we feared for a split second was a deceased pet. Chris and rowdy thoroughly searched the house. No pets are found. It's not known what happened to them. A short time later, a happier outcome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, baby. Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two dogs located in a backyard of a nearby home, Snoopy a poodle and Abi and English bulldog are rescued.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A woman found the dogs running loose, she was able to contain them and put them in her backyard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snoopy and Abi joined the 300 dogs and cats at the public works building in Dickinson. The owners identified and contacted. But some of these pets are strays, k-nine and feline victims of the storm. Identities unknown. This guy was found on a flooded street corner here in Dickinson. Let's call him patches. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then there are other kinds of pets, like these
two rabbits and a guinea pig. Elizabeth is their owner. She couldn't retrieve them before the storm came, and thought they might have died.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was having nightmares. I was having a hard time sleeping and, you know, now I can finally rescue them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so can the people who love snoopy and Abi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys ready to go home?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The poodle and English bulldog are owned by Ryan Johnson's father-in-law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father-in-law can sleep tonight. He'll be happy. Thank you guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many pets remain missing. But thanks to these people who love animals, there have been some happy reunions and more to come.
COOPER: Gary joins us now. How do they take care of all the pets until they can be reunited?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The people who work for this organization in Dickinson, Texas, are part of bayou animal services. They have a vet coming in to check the pets. And lots of enthusiastic volunteers are coming in now, making sure the pets are walked and going to the bathroom at appropriate times.
COOPER: And where do they get their money from? Donations?
TUCHMAN: From the county and they're getting donations also. They're making sure the animals have the proper food, water. Even the one goat that has been brought in.
COOPER: A goal really?
TUCHMAN: They found a goat on a flooded corner and he is getting the attention he needs. Nothing wrong with goats.
COOPER: No. It still reminds me, we were together during Hurricane Katrina, 12 years ago, I remember going out with humane society members then. 12 years later, here we are and it's the same problem. So many people are facing.
TUCHMAN: We know the number one priority of our reporting is to report the people who perish, the people who are hurt, the people who are homeless, but thousands of pets go missing and die in these storms.
COOPER: And they're like a family member.
TUCHMAN: Exactly right. COOPER: Does Katrina seem like 12 years ago?
TUCHMAN: We were talking about it during the commercial break. Just incredible, the similarities. Yes, 12 years ago, we're here in the gulf again. And we're here dealing with people going through so much heartache and we know what will happen to a lot of them, they won't be able to go back to their homes. They have to move to other cities and other states.
COOPER: We worked in Port Arthur 12 years ago during Rita which I hadn't remembered.
[23:55:04] TUCHMAN: And Hurricane Rita was so scary, it happened in the middle of the night and so many people were panicked and so many people were left homeless. I've still to this day talked to people who lost their homes, moved to other states, to Georgia, to California. They couldn't afford to stay in their homes, couldn't afford to build news homes, moved in with relatives. Unbelievable it's been 12 years. Katrina and Rita, both the same year, 2005.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman I appreciate your reporting. Great reporting. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We've seen a lot of loss, a lot of destruction around us, but we've seen a lot of hope. When you look at all the people who have been helping friends and neighbors and strangers, in their honor, we want to take a moment to listen to some gospel singers lifting their voices last night and lifting people's spirits at a shelter north of here.
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COOPER: For ways you can help, go to CNN.com/impact. CNN's coverage continues.