Return to Transcripts main page


Mandatory Evacuation Issued For Coastal Area: Drivers Panicking Across Texas As Stations Run Out Of Gas; CNN Crew Aboard Helicopter For Dramatic Rescues; EPA: Toxic Water "The Biggest Threat To Public Health"; TX Man Goes Home For First Time: It's "Been Too Much For Me". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 31, 2017 - 19:00   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Daunting to watch another storm on the way. I'm Jim Sciutto. Thanks very much for watching. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, the breaking news, a major evacuation ordered just moments ago, feared tonight, the two major rivers in overflowing. We have the very latest. And 27 trillion gallons of water, that is what we're talking about in Texas.

Officials warning that the tilt in that water could be the biggest risk. We'll going to show exactly what's in that water tonight. And another of hurricane now lurking in the Atlantic could earn (ph) be heading for the Gulf Coast. Let's go OutFront.

And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett, OutFront tonight, breaking news emergency evacuations. A mandatory evacuation just ordered for Orange County, Texas. This is 130 miles to the east of Houston. Thousands threatened as officials fear two nearby rivers could overflow.

This is coming and target Beaumont, Texas, as without clean water today, the town's pumps broke. There is no timeline for that water to come back. Beaumont residents stood in long lines overnight hours before stores even opened with little more than the hope that there would still be some bottled water to drink.

The Baptist Beaumont hospital forced to evacuate almost all or all of its patients and an almost four-hour drive away north of the devastation, drivers in Dallas panicking at the pumps, long lines of cars willing to pay as much $4.50 a gallon. The Governor of North Carolina declaring a state of emergency, anticipating gas shortages across the southeast.

Newly release before and after satellite photo show, what is now an incredible scale of devastation. I want to show you this, this is Simonton, Texas, 40 miles east of Houston. There, as you see, unbelievable flooding, a couple drown there after accidentally driving into that flood water, 30 miles -- 35 miles west of Houston. This is Brookshire, Texas, this area especially hard hit by Harvey. You see that incredible overflow.

Once again, our reporters are covering the story from every angle all across the zone. We begin with Miguel Marquez, OutFront tonight outside the Baptist Beaumont hospital where patients are being evacuated.

Miguel, this evacuation obviously terrifying for those involved and it has been going on all day. They just don't have water.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this is like a military operation here. The good thing here is that the evacuation here was not in anger, was not in haste. This was not a situation where the flood waters were rising up on the hospital.

The city ran out of water and they had to move people out. They had been doing that all day long. You have helicopter after helicopter moving patients to Jasper Galveston. Typically they would move them to Houston, but they can't do that because Houston is so inundated right now.

The situation here is unclear when it will be rectified. Keep in mind, this is the city of 120,000 people. The county around it also many more thousands of people, they found out on very short notice that their water was going away. They found out overnight as well.

One of the pump stations failed on the Neches this river as it went up and up and up. A second one failed just north in here in Hardin County where they get about 30 percent of their water. And then that was it. The water literally ran out across the city of Beaumont.

This river is not meant to crest until tomorrow at this point, which means they can't even get to the place they need to get to. Those pumps where it draws water up to Neches to figure out what they need to do to fix the system. It is a major emergency here. And keep in mind, all of this on top of the massive, massive rain that they have had in this area, 300 water rescues today, alone, in the city alone of Beaumont, a thousand overall.

I can tell you, I just flew from north Houston to here in Beaumont. Areas along the way, like along the Trinity River out along the middle of nowhere in Texas, it is under water. These little tiny towns, how long it will take for them to get help and get back to normal, it is impossible to even say, Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Miguel, thank you very much. And then you talk about that fear for not having clean water. It is a race against time to rescue many families who are still trapped in the deadly flood waters which of course are rising, and still rising, and perhaps not even going to crest until tomorrow in some cases.

Anderson Cooper is OutFront live in Houston. And Anderson, I know you went on board U.S. coast guard helicopter. You helped to rescue people. I wanted to show everyone a look at one of those rescues.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's Eric Bearer (ph) of U.S. Coast, the flight mechanic.

BURNETT: Anderson, what was it like up there today? COOPER: You know, it is interesting because the crew when they started out early this morning, they didn't think there was going to be a lot happening. They kind of thought today, given the weather, given the length of time that has passed that there wouldn't really be much need for rescues.

[19:05:05] By the end of the day, they had gotten 15 people, helped them get to safety throughout the course of several hours. So to watch them work, though, is really extraordinary.

First of all, even though the skies are clear, the weather is good, rain is not an issue for them, it is very dangerous flying up there. There are a lot of choppers in the air, from a lot of different agencies, from the military, from the coast guard and others. They have to keep a constant watch, turning their heads all the time, left and right, up and down to make sure they know where the choppers are in their area.

And as you said, you talked about all this boat rescues a short time ago. They really try to focus on areas they don't see a lot of boats. They basically scan the ground. Yes, they get some 911 calls there, they responded direct (INAUDIBLE). But for the most part it is all just visual. People on rooftops asking for help, and they go to areas where they think boats can't get. They go to areas that aren't near main roads.

So they figure, that's the area that a lot of boat aren't going to get or people near a highway are going to hear people yelling. So that's what they focus on. But it's really like finding a tons like a needle in a haystack. There's a lot of tree cover. They have to fly very low. It is very dangerous for them.

But their precision is extraordinary. When they see somebody they swoop in. They have their about 150 feet over that person. They lower a rescue swimmer who goes down, who assesses the situation and they lower a basket and bring people up, often go with their pets and they bring them to safety.

It is extraordinary watch. They plan that they thought today wouldn't be busy, it was. They're going to be out there again tomorrow. The coast guard says, they have rescued or aided as many as 9000 people so far in Texas and Louisiana.

BURNETT: Oh incredible numbers. All right, Anderson, thank you very much. And I want to remind everybody that tonight, Anderson has NFL Star, J.J. Watt with him who has helped raise more than $12 million for victims of the storm. That's coming up with Anderson.

Now I want to go to Ryan Nobles who is OutFront live in Orange, Texas. The situation there growing more serious at this hour, you got mandatory evacuations Ryan where you at this moment. Pretty much everyone, most people at least in that town and county, what are you seeing happen?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You can tell, Erin, this is a normally pretty busy part of Orange, Texas right now. And it is pretty much deserted, and that's because we are standing in about two and a half feet of water and the water does not appear to be receding in any way share or form. And that is a big concern right now for the emergency management officials in this eastern part of Texas.

They are worried that the flooding is not over yet. And it's more a combination of reasons. One being the fact that the Sabine River, which is just about two miles from where we're standing has yet to crest. When that does, that could lead to even more flooding.

There is also a dam on the other side of the river in Louisiana which they are periodically releasing water from to allow some of the pressure to be taken off some of the bodies of water in this community. That also could lead to flooding in this community. So while they felt as though they had gotten through the worst of the storm, the second round of flooding potential has encouraged the emergency management officials to emergency mandatory evacuations for certain parts of Orange County, Texas.

Now, it's not the entire county, but there are specific targeted areas, those low lying areas, closed to the Sabine and Neches River where they have decided just to get people out. And from what we can tell and we have talked to quite a few people, you know, everyone is heeding these warnings, primarily because they don't want to mess with this because they are not accustomed to this type of flooding.

This is a community that in more than 20 years has never seen this level of flooding, so they do not want to mess with it. But, Erin, in the next 24 or 48 hours, they're going to be very important for this community to see if the flooding is going to get any worse. And it is only then they could begin the process of rebuilding and recovering from hurricane Harvey, Erin.

BURNETT: All right Ryan, thank you very much. And I want to go now to Judge Jeff Branick. He is a top official in Jefferson County that includes Beaumont. It includes Port Arthur, with their two of the hardest hit towns in the pass couple of days.

Judge, I appreciate your time. We just were talking to our reporter in Beaumont, of course which lost its clean water supply. People don't have clean drinking water. It seems unclear at this time when that is going to change. Obviously, this could be life or death. How soon do you think the water will be working?

JUDGE JEFF BRANICK, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON COUNTY: Well, the forecast is for the river to peak tomorrow at about 1:00 p.m.. Once it's peaked, it will be a several day period there in which we'll see some recession of the water. Once the water goes down, then the city crews will be able to get in and try to determine what happened. Although, we think this water inundate engulf these historic (ph) that killed the pump.

[19:10:02] So they should be able to get after that pretty quickly and we're hopeful that we'll get water restored at the beginning of the week. BURNETT: Are you going to be able to get water to your citizens in the meantime, obviously if that's, you know, within a few days? I mean if people don't have water, don't have bottled water, that is life or death. Are they going to be able to get the water they need to drink?

BRANICK: Drinking water shouldn't be a problem. It's sanitary water that's going to be difficult for the citizenry. They're going to have Walmart and H-E-B local grocery in Texas is distributing water as we speak.

There are state assets that are coming in. The problem is, is that the water inundation has blocked all of our major thoroughfares for transportation (INAUDIBLE), U.S. 69, that's how we managing all of those have been underwater, so state and federal resources is normally assisted after natural disasters like hurricane Katrina.

And I haven't been able to push in here and deliver them. They're just slowly starting to trickle in this evening as one of the highways, 90, was able to be opened up. But maybe, almost immediately after it opened, there was a refinery closure in over Houston that closed the western regions of it. So that's further compounded the delivery of goods that could be pushed to points of distribution in the citizens.

BURNETT: So I know in Port Arthur, you have people in shelters. They're desperate for supplies, 1500 people, as we know at least, right, have sought refuge in schools or churches, even a bowling alley. And many of these place as we understand have been, you know, quickly running out of crucial things, food, toiletries, bedding. When will these people get food and relief? Are you able to get that into them?

BRANICK: That should be starting to be distributed this evening. And there fan, several 18-wheelers have been able to enter the county through the western portion or northern eastern and southern areas. There is still no traffic coming in.

We've gotten a couple 18-wheelers of clothes, blankets and pillows, several 18-wheelers of MREs. So those will be starting to be pushed to the shelters. We've got over 1000 people at our airports, special needs that are being triaged. There'll be ferry, via air to Galveston. From there, they will be put on army busses or busses for delivery to other parts of the state for short term care.

BURNETT: All right, well Judge Jeff Branick, I appreciate your time. Thank you and of course our thoughts are with you. Good luck on that, some crucial moments here ahead for the county.

And next, health crisis. There is a new threat, growing fear tonight over the toxic stew and what it could bring in terms of sickness and disease. What's going home? Flood victims getting their first look going back home. And it is too much for some to bear.


BILL WOLF, HURRICANE HAVEY VICTIM, TEXAS: And, you know, to be honest, I don't know if I want to be here very long.


BURNETT: And now all eyes on this, a category three hurricane forming incredibly early over the Atlantic.


[19:17:09] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight, a serious and potentially deadly disaster emerging across the Texas coast. Homes businesses and streets are flooded and it's not just water. It's a toxic stew of chemicals, sewage, debris essentially so hazardous.

The EPA and Texas officials are warning the water could be the single biggest threat to public health at this time. Tonight, we're going to go to the center of it all to show you exactly what people in Texas are dealing with tonight. Elizabeth Cohen is OutFront.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Countless people have waded through these flood waters, some for hours. Now the question is what's in it? Alligators, hordes of fire ants and many things you can't see.

Let's start sampling. We asked, Lane Voorhies, Senior Scientist at a Houston Water testing lab to investigate.

What do you think is in this water?

LANE VOORHIES, SENIOR SCIENTIST, HOUSTON WATER TESTING LAB: Based on sampling that we've done during previous flooding events, scoring with that, we are pretty sure that it will be various bacteria, which is sewage related, things like a coliform, fecal strep.

COHEN: And that's not all. So now we're testing for chemicals.

VOORHIES: Yes. This bottle will be for the various heavy metals. The regulated metals that are immediate fell hazards.

COHEN: So like arsenic, lead.

VOORHIES: Yes, arsenic, lead, the cadmium.

COHEN: This water is everywhere.


COHEN: So that means that the contamination is --

VOORHIES: The potential for contamination is everywhere.

COHEN: But what is this mean for the people who are in the water? We asked Dr. Brent Kaziny, an emergency medicine specialist. So if you're walking through this water, you cannot see what you're stepping on it, very easy to get caught.

BRENT KAZINY, EMERGENCY MEDICINE SPECIALIST: Right. COHEN: What would you worry about next?

KAZINY: There's obviously a lot of, you know, fecal material and sewage and things like that in this water.

COHEN: What worries you the most about what's in this water? There's a lot of people kind of lot chiming (ph) in.

KAZINY: And the most concerning thing that you could see, everything like they debris (INAUDIBLE) which mean here can cause things like (INAUDIBLE). This seems has really scares me, I'm note sure.

COHEN: Flushing in bacteria.

KAZINY:Yes, exactly.

COHEN: The first wave of the disaster flooding and rescues. The second wave the health concerns that come in the aftermath.

Erin, I want to show you what this water looks like. Take a look. It is a yellowish brownish color. And those tests that we did to see what's in here, to see what people have been wading through, we will get those results back in the next day or two and Erin we'll share them with you.

BURNETT: All right, we're going to have that OutFront. Thank you very much Elizabeth. I want to go now to Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, of course, commanded the military response during hurricane Katrina.

General, this may not surprise you obviously. I know it's not been. But when you see this, this toxic stew that they say could be single the biggest threat to pubic health right now, sewage, deadly fire ants, all kinds of deadly wildlife, chemicals, toxic chemicals, oil, gas, it is vetted (ph). How big of a fear is this?

[19:20:02] LT. GENERAL RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), COMMANDED MILITARY RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA: It is a fear and we need to do another risk assessment. Right now, if you lose power --

BURNETT: Fire ant.

HONORE: -- in many of these communities, people are still living in their homes.

BURNETT: I just want to interrupt you for a second.

HONORE: We were on a street light here --

BURNETT: So people can see there, they're looking at right now. I'm sorry, we're showing pictures of fire ants so people can see this post. These are the kind of massive things that are floating around in the water. I'm sorry to interrupt you, general. Go ahead.

HONORE: -- water, right. Yes, and a lot of people are still in their homes with water in the street. They're able to do that because the power grid is still up. The power grid goes down like it did in Beaumont today, and we will go to a mega disaster here in Dallas.

Because the stuck is still water, if they can't get water through the water system and if you lose power and it is 93 degrees today, I think a quick assessment that you could make based on that what's in the water, that the flood water is to start looking at a selected evacuation of high risk people that are currently in the city, that's in the flood zone.

If there are nursing homes and hospitals, they're at risk. It is a function of time before more of the grid go down and I think that should be highest priority of all of government, to figure those out, Erin, and start doing the high risk evacuation now, because you can still get around this city, but you need to take the risks assessment and move them because if the grid go down, we will have a mess.

BURNETT: Well, I mean it's -- that's a terrifying thing to think about. And obviously the grid holding up is one of the incredible things thus far in this disaster. You point out Katrina, they called it a toxic soup and everything was in there and, of course, as we all know, horrifically even decomposing human bodies in that water. What can Texas do right now to stop it? Or at this point, it just seems like it is what it is.

HONORE: Thanks for that focus. What we had every soldier, sailor, army and marine that walked in that water we did a hot soak wash down. Number one, try to avoid contact to your skin, if it does get on your skin, you wash it with hot soap, when you go into it and you come back out with your clothes, you wash them off and we go to spray points.

So to people who are still walking in that water, you could do it, but you should be now protect your clothing on. And if you do get it on your skin, you need to wash it off immediately and make sure any cuts, you might have that you got a current tetanus shot. It's very significant to have a current tetanus shot. If you don't know, find out. If not, go get one.

BURNETT: So, you know, you told me last night General when we were speaking, the response to the crisis, you know, your words were very powerful. You called it amateur hour. Today, the Texas governor, local officials, they came out to praise the response and here is some of what they said.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: I have never seen a president, a vice president or a cabinet who have responded as swiftly and as effectively to people in need like the people of Texas overcoming the tragedy of hurricane Harvey.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: I think the response has been adequate throughout the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the present time we think we do have enough boots on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: General, we also spoke to the former FEMA Director David Paulison. He told OutFront, he thinks the response in his words is going well. Are they all wrong? Do you see something different still today?

HONORE: Well, I see if we don't get more deployment of troops in, we've got to get it in every town, every community. We got to push the national guard out to the rural areas and get the big troops in to help fix the infrastructure and to continue to search and rescue.

I do think we need to scale up. We don't have enough troops here and they don't have enough on the way. I beg to be wrong and let the politicians be right. But after this search and rescue effort, if they do it to stand it and they do it right, unless we got a different way of doing it in Texas, this is going to take 30 to 40,000 people to search all of these homes twice, include go into them.

And on top of that, the possibility of the grid starting to fail based on the flood waters as they continue to go through the city of Houston. But I hoped I'm wrong and I hope they are right. But I don't see the world the way they see it. I see it through riding around this state 18 hours a day for the last three days and I'm telling you the thing that's holding up is because this grid holds up. If the lights go out, this is going to be a government changing event here.

[19:25:07] BURNETT: Certainly, well General Honore, thank you.

And next live pictures of Dallas, gas station there running out because of Harvey. And North Carolina just declaring a state of emergency because of anticipated gas shortages as it spreads across the country, plus storm victims going inside their homes for the first time to see what, if anything, is left. We're with a family.


BURNETT: Breaking news, 100,000 homes affected by hurricane Harvey. That is the number tonight from the white house. For some families, their worst fears are being realized. Homes they may frankly never be able to call a home again.

Alex Marquardt is OutFront. And Alex, you went with families as they tried to go home for the first time. What did they find?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Well, now that the rain has stopped and these waters are starting to recede, many people are going home for the first time, assessing the incredible damage in their homes, grabbing whatever valuable as they can.

It has been absolutely heart-breaking to see people realize the full extent of this damage as I mentioned many for the first time. These waters are expected to stay here for around five to six weeks, but it is unclear how many of these homes are still livable.

WOLF: Keep going, keep going. (INAUDIBLE) and the mailbox is here. MARQUARDT: This the first time that Bill Wolf (ph) has been able to get back to his house since being evacuated.

WOLF: Surreal is probably the understatement of the century here. You know, watching a 30 foot fishing boat drive down your street is like something you've just never seen before. This is my intersection here and kind of, man, I don't know, this is crazy.

[19:30:09] MARQUARDT: We'll see how high the water is, Bill.

WOLF: Yes, I mean we'll see if I can get in there now.

MARQUARDT: Captain Kenny Evans is taking Wolfe back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One minute, you are stressed about your gutters and the next minute, everything you have is ruined.

MARQUARDT: It was Evans who rescued the Wolfe family, along with their cat and dog, in the middle of the storm on Monday.


MARQUARDT: After navigating the boat to the door, we went into the living room. Furniture now floating through passed the pictures of his sons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really proud of them. I'm really proud of them, my wife, my family. And they're tough little kids.

MARQUARDT (on camera): They're holding up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. I'm not an emotional guy. I'm pretty calm and this has been too much for me. To be honest, I don't know if I want to be here very long.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Back in the office, the real loss becomes clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a 150-year-old family bible in this water.

MARQUARDT: Stacks of photo albums, baby books, and other sentimental items.

(on camera): Is this the worst part, is the personal stuff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I mean, this is the stuff that you can't replace, right? I mean, this is -- these are my son's birth announcements, right? I mean --

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Upstairs where it is dry, Wolf throws his sons toys and sheets into garbage backs.

(on camera): So, you think there is a possibility you may never live in this house again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. Yes, I mean, it's going to sit here for a month or two in six feet of water. So --

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Up and down this neighborhood today, people taking stock of their belongings and their lives.

Eighty-six-old Ed Windler (ph) is also back for the first time. With Captain Evans, we found him on Monday in his dark bedroom alone with no power. He needs his medicine. So, Evans heads inside past countless positions now suspended in the dark flood waters.

(on camera): This was Ed's office, all these papers piled high on his desk. The water in here is so high back there in the kitchen, the fridge is now floating on its side.

(voice-over): On the boat, Windler (ph) tries to take it all in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just very confusing. Can't get it wrapped up in my mind what's going to be next and what I'm going to need to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab it. Grab it.

MARQUARDT: Windler and Wolfe are just two of the countless people who Captain Evan has helped this week, and his work is far from over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not even real. You see this stuff on TV, but this is total devastation in every way, physically, emotionally.


MARQUARDT: Erin, this is the tireless Captain Kenny Evans right here, just a fantastic embodiment of the spirit of Houston, and all the people who have come out to help over the past few weeks.

Back to you.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you. Of course, thanks to him and I know that those families going home are so grateful. No matter what devastation they found to be able to get any of those pictures, they owe it to you, sir. So, thank you.

And as families across Texas are dealing with this tragedy, this devastation, this emotional and physical devastation, Vice President Pence was on the ground today. Pence helping to clean up the debris in a badly damaged neighborhood in Rockport. He went and cleared tree branches from the home, did it in a 90-plus degree heat.

Pence also displayed empathy, which is something a White House official told our Jim Acosta the president had failed to do.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To see the outpours of compassion and concern was deeply inspiring to us. We stood in a yard. We watched total strangers helping to remove debris, helping people put their families and their lives back together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: This is the White House says: President Trump will return to the region on Saturday.

OUTFRONT now, our presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who lived through Hurricane Katrina. He's author of "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast", which, of course, changed forever as this coast now is.

All right. Doug, thank you very much.

Look, the president was criticized when he was there for not meeting with storm victims and that there was no hugging victims or helping out as we saw from the vice president today. It was a very different set of images. He was actually cleaning up debris. He was hugging people, comforting people who, of course, were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

What do you make of the contrast?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think Vice President Pence got it right. You have to show the heart. You've got to hug people, be on the ground, touch people.

I think President Trump got off to a bad start. He was doing one of his Twitter things when the storm was starting to hit the Gulf. And we all know what all those were.

But then he did the right thing by going in state. And he had good meetings in Austin. He got to Corpus Christi, but then suddenly stood against the wall with the crowd a half a football field away and gave a speech, but there was never a moment where he seemed to be touching the victims of the storm and talking to them.


BRINKLEY: So, there's an empathy deficit going on.

[19:35:02] And I think the president is going back on Saturday to try to fill that.

BURNETT: To try to correct that.

So, let me just give everyone a sense. Here is a little bit of what the president said when he went down on his first visit and what Vice President Pence said today. Just to get a sense of President Trump, he said: we love you, you're special. We're here to take care and he continued to say, thank you, everybody. What a crowd, what a turnout.

And Vice President Pence, of course, as you saw, was more along the lines of you have inspired the nation with your resilience and your courage. Those are the words he used.

Will we see a changed Trump when he goes to Houston on Saturday?

BRINKLEY: He's a germaphobe. I'm not saying that with any derision. He just is. And he may want to touch that water you have just been showing me, may not want to be hands on with people. He may not want to go into a shelter because many people in an unhinged kind of environment might boo and hiss him.

So, he's probably going to try to meet with some selective people and try to do a little bit more and the empathy thing. But I don't think we're going to see him doing what Pence did today.

BURNETT: Now, he did, though, say he's going to donate $1 million to the Harvey recovery efforts. Obviously, that is a lot of money and that is an important thing to do. Is it possible that that's just sort of who he is and the way he's going to do it and that significant contribution, but he's not going to be able to be the emphatic, touchy, feely person?

BRINKLEY: I agree. And I think thumb's up, he gave $1 million. It was the right thing to do. So, we have to give him credit for that.

But history is not going to look well on what's going on. Many people are saying this is a climate event. We've had unbelievable monsoons in India and Nepal, you know, and now we're having, perhaps, Irma coming.

People have to talk about climate change. He has pulled out of Paris, doesn't want to talk about it, and is going to find himself saying Texas is going to be bigger and better. Governor Abbott today said we need $100 billion probably and that's going to be hard to get Congress to do that. So, he's going to have to show some great leadership, get in the money in the next week.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Doug.

And next, two brothers drive seven hours to help with rescues, carrying people to safety. Their story next. They're our guests.

And a dangerous storm gaining strength in the Atlantic. This one's forming well before storm normally does. It's already a category three. The storm track is next.


[19:41:04] BURNETT: Breaking news, our cameras capturing a daring helicopter rescue late today near Beaumont. In that area, of course, where the mandatory evacuation order is in effect, a rescuer lowered from a helicopter into rapidly moving flood water as you can see there trying to rescue a man who was clinging to a tree as you can see back there where there is the water rushing by.

It is one of the amazing rescue missions we have seen this week from the devastating flood waters in Texas.

There are so many people rescuing their own lives to try to help. Two of them are brothers Joshua and Jonathan Evola. You're looking at them here. They saw the destruction on television. They got in their truck and decided to go and help. It was a 200 mile trip from Joshua's home near Dallas, and it took nearly seven hours as you guys braved the storm and the floods. I know you've aided in about 200 rescues, along with your friends and

thank both of you for, you know, coming on with us.

This is one of your rescues. Jonathan on the right helping the group lift an elderly woman in a wheelchair to safety. And then they helped another elderly woman as you can see here on Jonathan's back. I know you rescued her husband, their bedridden son, their two grandchildren, all of them out thanks to you.

The water inside that home was rising quickly. Already on seat level for their couch and chairs.

Joshua and Jonathan Evola, you saw there, are here with me. And thanks to both of you.

Jonathan, let me start with you. I know you helped in dozens of rescues here over the last couple days. You know, that video of you carrying Mrs. Gonzalez on your back is very touching. Tell us what happened with her and her family.

JONATHAN EVOLA, HELPED RESCUE ABOUT 200 VICTIMS FROM FLOODWATERS: Well, we responded to a distress call that was sent in that night. It was Sunday night. We were headed from the Dallas area to Houston and our friends, they were contacted saying that this family was left behind and they couldn't get out.

It was a complicated situation because of the son that was bedridden. He just had major surgery and he couldn't walk or sit up on his own. And they were afraid if they weren't taken out that night they might not make it through the night.

So, Joshua, he obviously spearheaded this, this whole us coming out here, and we got there at about midnight Sunday night, and we were able to dock off of a highway ramp and make it there by boat. It took us about an hour to get through there with the boat. Once we got into the house, we were able to help them get to safety.

It was dark. It was cold. And they were all really scared. But thankfully we were able to get them to the boat.

BURNETT: I mean, I'm sure they were because, Joshua, I know the neighbor that you went into and this rescue had already been cleared out. I mean, so theoretically, everybody was out. But, of course, they weren't. And you went back in and you found this family.

I mean, look, you are here by choice. You're here to try to do good things. Were you -- were you scared?

JOSHUA EVOLA, HELPED RESCUE ABOUT 200 VICTIMS FROM FLOODWATERS: Well, of course. You know, I was watching the news on my couch in the comfort of my own home with my children Sunday and it just didn't feel right laying on the couch and watching Houston suffer. It almost felt like a sin.

And so, I felt that God put on my heart to call my brother and say we're going to Houston. And, of course, it was scary. When you are going off of faith and you're going off of adrenaline and you're going off of basically selflessness, which I think I'm not the only one. I think everyone out there just completely stops thinking about themselves for once and started thinking about humanity, started thinking about safety and love, and it is very touching. It is moving. It chocks me. I'm trying to hold it together.

But I just can't believe how many people came together in the middle of all these politics, trash, and I'm sorry to call it that, but, you know, the racism and all this bad news that we have been hearing, even though this is bad news, of course, it's heart-breaking, it is a beautiful thing to see everybody come together.

[19:45:16] And I could almost see the joy in everybody's hearts and in their faces just because of the unity that was coming together.

So, yes, it was very scary. We went to that neighborhood. It was eerie. It was dark. The water was almost black just from the sewage and contamination. You can see from the picture how dark the water is. Almost up to the mailbox.

We made it to these folks' home. I can't believe we made it there and connected to where they opened the door and this elderly gentleman let us in. We go into the room, you can look back there, we're shining the light. The room was just ahead.

And the gentleman just recently (ph) having surgery, he was laying in bed, water inches away from his wounds, which could have gone septic, a little girl sitting on a couch probably 6 or 7 years old on the backseat of the couch, just shivering and scared to death, that broke my heart. I had to turn away a few times and, you know, somebody has to -- you know how it is. Somebody has to be the camera man. The camera man doesn't get to be in the picture, but that's OK because my brother has the brawn and I have the brains. So it worked out anyway.

Anyway, so we carried those guys out of there. We got them on the boat, got them out of the septic water, the trash water and carried them to safety.

And I just want to say something. I want to thank the people that are behind the scenes, like the Prietos (ph), like Tracy and Michael Prieto (ph), who were our connections to here. I think there are thousands of people that were first responders that have people in the background scene that have been spearheading, have been giving shelter, food. If it wasn't for those folks, we would not have been able to be so successful.

And so, very touching, very moving. I love seeing Texas come together. We love seeing the red necks and the city folks come together as one and unity. Nobody criticizing about camouflage or hunting.


JOSHUA EVOLA: And it just shows that us -- and I'm a hunter myself. And it shows that whenever it comes down to people uniting for one cause and one purpose, you know, we were almost -- we were actually almost conditioned for this, if you think about it. A lot of the hunters and fishermen were almost conditioned for this. Isn't it nice to know we have so many boats out there?

BURNETT: That's incredible, the boats. That so many -- and that everyone is willing to do this. I mean, Jonathan, I know you were visiting your brother in Texas. You obviously did the drive together, but you live in California. You had a flight to go home. You let it go. You decided to stay. You decided to help. That's got to be now one of the most important decisions you have ever made.

JONATHAN EVOLA: Yes. It's not easy. I'm seeing all these kids that we're helping out and the families and I'm thinking about mine in the background. My wife Amy and my two boys are in San Diego now. They left Monday morning first thing. I was supposed to be on the flight with them and, I -- you know, they were willing to make the sacrifice and let me go with Joshua to help these people in Houston and, you know, that's -- it's a big sacrifice they made and I miss them very much.

I have been gone since -- I haven't seen them since Sunday and hopefully I can see them soon, but right now there is a huge need here and we're doing what we can to help.


BURNETT: Sorry. A quick final word. Go ahead.

JOSHUA EVOLA: Yes, no. I was just going to say speaking of that, we do need to thank our wives back at home for taking care of the children and being so understanding and selfless to lend their husbands, thousands and thousands of husbands. And I'm not saying just husbands. I'm sure wives and women came out to help, of course. But we want to thank our wives for that.

And before you let us go, I do want to mention just a few names of some folks want to thank because it is important that we weren't -- us two here, yes, we might be in front of the camera, but we had a whole team from Ellis County. We call them Ellis County crew. You know, we had Matt Heeber (ph) and Bradley Tiner (ph) and Eric Myer (ph), Matt Bolling (ph), Pastor Buck (ph), we just had Pastor Tuckray (ph).

So many people that responded and dropped everything. I mean, from business owners to people working for corporations and pastors. So, it is wonderful. It's really moving.

BURNETT: And I know they have all done so much, as have you both. And I thank you very much for your time tonight.

Next, the category three hurricane churning in the Atlantic could be heading towards the United States. It is forming incredibly early and incredibly strong. We have that track.

[19:50:01] And more breaking news, with stations running out of gas in Texas and a state of emergency in North Carolina, all because of Harvey. We're going to show you what's happening to gas.


BURNETT: Breaking news: growing concern across the nation about gas shortages because of Hurricane Harvey, as far as way as North Carolina, where the governor declared a state of emergency already today. This is video from Dallas, massive lines at the pump.

Alison Kosik is OUTFRONT live in Dallas.

And, Alison, how bad is the situation there?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's definitely not looking good, Erin. If you're looking to fill up your tank with gas in the Dallas, you're either going to find one of two things. You'll either find gas stations fresh out of supply. No gas there. That's Texaco.

Or you're going to will find huge lines at gas stations all over Dallas. I know our crew, our crew car ran out of gas. We were on empty. It took us four stations to find that had gas and we had to wait a good 45 minutes to get up to the pump.

I talked with one guy who had to drive 35 miles to find gas and he ran out of gas in the process and had to push his car to the pump.

So, why is this happening? A couple of reasons. For one, it's a distribution issue. It's a supply issue. Refineries in Port Arthur and in Houston are shut down. Those are the refineries that service this area of Dallas, that service Dallas entirely.

[19:55:05] And when they are shut down, it means the supply of gasoline can't get here.

Secondly, there was a frantic call on social media, on Facebook, and on Twitter, showing pictures like this of long lines, long gas lines.

Also, the higher price is not helping either. We are seeing the price of gas up at least 10 cents a gallon over the past week, and we're prices very different all over Dallas. I saw one gas station for a gallon of regular, 4.49 a gallon. Some would call that price gouging. That takes an investigation.

But we are definitely seeing a situation where you see a rush of everybody sort of depleting the source of gas -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Pretty stunning to see that.

And also tonight, as we are dealing with that, fears are growing along the gulf about another powerful and dangerous hurricane. All eyes now shifting to what's called Hurricane Irma, already a category three.

Tom Sater is OUTFRONT in the weather center.

And, Tom, where is Irma headed and will it get much stronger? Already a category and still so far away.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's unbelievable, Erin. I mean, just yesterday, it was named a tropical storm and now it went to category one, two, three. That's a major hurricane.

We're not following it because of the damage in Harvey, but you see where Miami is, 3,000 miles, here is Irma. We watched these tropical waves come off the coast of Africa, but this one caught our eye because it's such extreme growth and its early birth. But again, this system is making its way towards the Caribbean and it looks like it's got eyes on the southeastern U.S.

So, the National Hurricane Center carries it up to a category four before the Leeward Island. The computer models, Erin, are in great agreement, like they were with Harvey.

But where does it go after this, because the further out in time you go, it starts to spread.

Let me show the European Model. This one handled Harvey very well. Got to put it into motion for you. This tropical wave with one following off the coast of Africa behind it makes its way as category four and goes towards Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Hispaniola. We'll have to watch interaction with land.

But on Saturday night, in between Florida and Cuba, it's a major category four. It could make its way toward the Carolinas, could impact Florida, or slide and bypass Florida into the Gulf. The U.S. model, the GFS, has it about 1,000 miles away. Now, this is just to the west of Bermuda towards Cape Cod.

But to tell you, I mean, we're really watching the southern track because if we have a landfall, Erin, believe it or not, that could be 9/11, between September 11th and maybe the 12th or 13th. So, a variable, we need four or five days, Erin, really to keep an eye on this.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.

SATER: Sure.

BURNETT: Frightening to imagine, to hear this next one coming.

I want to turn to another story breaking, though, right now, and that's the Russia investigation. President Trump's lawyers have met with special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump's team meeting with Mueller more than once to argue the president did not obstruct justice in firing the former FBI Director Jim Comey.

Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.

Manu, significant reporting here that there have been meetings between Trump's legal team and Bob Mueller. What more do you know?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, meetings and memos provided to Trump's -- to the special counsel from Trump's legal team, saying that the president did not obstruct justice in his handling of the James Comey situation in his firing of the FBI director, in fact saying that it was well within his constitutional authority to do so, even raising questions about Comey's credibility. But Erin, we know that the president when we did fire James Comey, he

later said publicly that the Russia investigation was on his mind. But still, they are trying to content in private discussions that there was nothing illegal, nothing wrong, and it was constitutional. As we know, Bob Mueller is looking into the issue of obstruction. We'll see if it carries any mass (ph) then.

BURNETT: We know obviously that's a big issue and you also have more news on the Jim Comey front tonight.

RAJU: Yes, that's right. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham, the Republican on that committee as well, announcing they received transcripts from the FBI -- from FBI officials saying that James Comey essentially reached a conclusion about the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation in April or in May of 2016. That was before even interviewing Hillary Clinton according to these transcripts that they have released. They were heavily redacted transcripts.

They're saying this is not the way to run an investigation and shows that Comey, they believe, reached a conclusion about the Hillary Clinton e-mail matter before actually interviewing her, before interviewing some key witnesses. Now, Comey -- a source close to Comey pushing back on that assessment, saying that he had not reached a conclusion and actually was just looking at this as a possibility that she would not be charged with anything criminally.

But clearly here, possibly more fodder for the White House. Sarah Huckabee Sanders jumping on this report earlier today. Clearly, the White House sees this as well to give them some cover in their firing of James Comey -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much with those breaking developments at this hour.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. Our breaking news coverage continues with "AC360."