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INSIDE POLITICS

Texas Rescues Still Underway; Coast Guard Continues Rescuing Victims; Beaumont Hospital Evacuated. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 31, 2017 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:11] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

A chemical plant fire stirs new evacuations and adds to the public safety and public health questions in Harvey's aftermath.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB ROYALL, HARRIS COUNTY ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF: What I know from doing research is these things are going to catch on fire. They're going to burn with intensity. What does it mean for people's health? You don't want to stand in smoke, do you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Those who can return home take count of the destruction, but also of their blessings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SALDIVAR, LOST SIX FAMILY MEMBERS IN HARVEY FLOODING: Yes, my neighbors came over and gave me a hug and said they were so sorry. Whatever you need, you know? Everybody is, whatever you need, you know? I guess they can't imagine going through something like this, you know? And like I told them sheriffs, I said, I'm just so glad you saved my brother. I just -- I didn't want to lose my brother.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: One of the many emotional stories. The vice president also on the ground in Texas this hour. He's there to comfort the victims and to help sort out how much recovery money the president needs to request from Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He will do what is needed, whether it's to put upon before Congress next week to come up with the funding for those who are affected.

He wants to make sure people know that he is there -- that we are all there for them and put politics aside.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: There's urgency on the ground and in the skies in Texas. Our Anderson Cooper, take a look here, sitting shotgun as emergency crews repel down from a helicopter to pull people off rooftops. Keeping an eye on that.

Relief mixing with fresh pain today in the Houston area. Yes, the sun is out. Take a look at this. Forecasters say the rain is done and the worst of the weather is over. But the worst of this ordeal for many really just beginning.

The water sitting on streets and in houses. Lowering enough to trigger a block-by-block search that's ongoing as we speak. Fire and rescue officials want to make sure no one was left behind, but they're also starting the grim task of finding those who could not, did not, make it out. At least 37 now have died in this storm. That number likely to rise, perhaps dramatically.

As crisis unfold across Texas, Beaumont now cut off from its water supply. People are stuck waiting in block long lines to buy bottled water. The city forced now to evacuate its hospital.

A chemical plant in Crosby burnt overnight and may burn again. Already spewed big black rings of smoke into the night sky, sending 15 sheriff deputies to the hospital.

A 30-minute drive west of Houston, the water is rising and more homes are at risk of being ruined by flooding.

There are signs of normalcy in these very abnormal days. Houston's two major airports, operating again. Plus its trains. Trash pickup as well. Still, the stark reality is this, uncertainty for millions, finality for others.

That van we've been talking about all week from which one man escaped before the rest of his family was swept into bayou, you see it right there, it was finally found yesterday. Inside, sadly, six bodies, four of them children.

CNN's reporters are spread out across Texas and Louisiana, embedded with search and rescue teams, as this behemoth recovery effort is just getting started.

Let's begin with a bird's-eye view of the disaster zone. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in a helicopter above Houston.

Miguel, what are you seeing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we are looking at the -- or what you are looking at is the Addicks Reservoir area just west of Houston -- (INAUDIBLE) -- completely different thing. If you look down you can see --

KING: All right, we'll get -- we'll fix our communications with Miguel Marquez, but our Anderson Cooper also is in the sky. He's with the Coast Guard searching I believe in the Beaumont area, looking down on rooftops. Anderson, what are you seeing?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So -- all right. So if you're just joining us, basically, we are now -- the crew is -- the flight mechanic is lowering a cable. Is lowering a rope down to the diver, the safety swimmer, who is on a rooftop. We believe he's going to be bringing up a woman, we're not sure of her age, and some of her pets. They're going to be lowering this basket. Sometimes they can just bring an individual up without the basket, but because they have some possessions with them, they're going to lower the basket as well.

[12:05:28] KING: The scene you're watching here, if you just joined us, the Coast Guard rescue effort. Anderson Cooper of CNN is on that helicopter. Lowering a basket now down to the roof. A rescue diver went down moments ago to make contact.

Anderson says he believes there's a woman and perhaps a pet -- a pet to come up in this basket, as we watch this dramatic rescue effort take place.

You see the water around the homes throughout the neighborhood.

COOPER: I'm told that the basket has -- is now on the rooftop. So Evan Galant (ph) is the rescue swimmer. He is on the rooftop. He was lowered probably about ten minutes ago.

We're told the person is now getting -- the person is now getting into the basket. There's a dog as well.

Eric, the flight mechanic, who's in the door, is relaying to the pilot exactly what's happening, explaining that the woman is in the basket, even telling them the size of the dog. Obviously space is a concern on a chopper like this. They can fit as many as six to eight people. So there's certainly enough space for whoever they bring up from this house.

The basket is now clear of the roof. They're bringing it up slowly. It is -- they're slowly bringing it up. Again, Eric, the flight mechanic, who's in the doorway, he has the visual on this, and he's giving information to Dan Miller (ph) and Matt Mayer (ph), the pilots.

They are hovering directly above this and obviously can't see what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: That's Eric Verivescos (ph), the flight mechanic.

KING: Anderson, I'm not sure if you can hear me. It's John King in Washington.

COOPER: I'm sorry?

KING: I'm not sure you can hear me. It's John King in Washington. We're wondering, do you know, is the basket going now down for the swimmer or do they have more people down there to rescue? COOPER: So as you can see now they're sending the basket back down. I

assume to bring one more person up.

KING: As we watch this scene play out, you see those two dogs, obviously unnerved by the noise of the helicopter, but happy -- happy to be in safety. Their owner, the woman there as well. That's a remarkable scene after so many days of struggle, it's good to see some happy faces, including her beautiful pets.

They'll continue. The rescue basket has been lowered down again, as Anderson just told us. We're waiting to find out --

COOPER: So the basket -- the basket is now back on the roof. Now a second person is getting in the basket.

Eric Perivesko (ph) is telling the pilots of a second survivor, in his words, is in the basket. And Eric is also giving a word to the pilot to move a little bit to the right in order to hold position directly above where the basket is.

[12:10:11] Eric has said the basket cleared the roof. They're still not clear of the trees. They have to be very careful that the basket, try to stay steady. So, obviously, the basket doesn't hit any of the trees. And now a second person is coming back up.

KING: Just remarkable work there by the United States Coast Guard. You see now a second woman brought into the helicopter. Two dogs and a woman brought up in the earlier drop. The engineer now bring the basket.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is right there watching this operation play out. This is just over Beaumont, Texas.

Yet another remarkable scene we have seen in the past several days. Several days these rescue operations playing out in so many different ways.

Anderson, I believe the rescue swimmer is still down there. Any word -- any word from the -- whether there are additional or whether it's time to bring him up?

COOPER: Now the -- now Eric, the rescue swimmer, is going to be coming back up himself in order to get back on. And then we'll -- then they'll try to drop off these two people relatively nearby as long as they don't have any medical needs.

KING: And how long do you expect -- Anderson, how long is this crew expect to be in the air continuing to look for more example of this heroism we've just seen?

It's obviously difficult to communicate. The noise on the helicopter plus Anderson monitoring the radio communications between the crew as well. So he can't hear us all the time. He's --

COOPER: Right now they're trying to decide where they're going to drop off these two people. There's a shelter nearby that they think that that's probably where they'll drop them off.

KING: Again, these the skies over a neighborhood in Beaumont, Texas. Just remarkable work by the United States Coast Guard.

You can see the engineer there reaching down, pulling up the cable. We expect any second now to see the rescue swimmer who was sent down to coordinate all of this, dropped a few moments ago at the end of the last hour into this neighborhood in Beaumont as this Coast Guard team flies throughout the neighborhood, looking down, looking for people to signal that they need help.

COOPER: I'm sorry? I'm sorry, repeat that.

So they're still -- they still haven't brought back the rescue swimmer, Eric Galant. They're asking the second person they brought up to get out of the basket to sit here in order to move the basket, make sure there's enough room. They'll put the basket up on the side.

Now it's a question of getting Eric back up onboard the chopper and then taking these two, as well as their pets. I've got to say, these dogs are incredibly mellow given what they've just been through.

So Evan -- So Evan Galant, the rescue swimmer, is -- Evan Galant, the rescue swimmer, is still on the roof. He's obviously -- they have lowered the cable now to reattach -- for him to reattach to the cable. They'll bring him up. And then these -- this crew will bring these two survivors to a nearby shelter, we believe, as well, of course, their pets.

[12:15:08] So Eric Veravescos (ph), the flight mechanic, is, again, just trying to tell the pilots, giving the pilots a little bit of direction in order -- exactly the right spot to hover so it's a direct line up so that Evan Galant, the rescue swimmer, has a straight line to come back up. No chance of him, you know, hitting any trees or anything on the way -- on the way up.

This crew has plenty of fuel. So at this point, fuel is not an issue. They're able to stay in the air about three hours. We've probably been in the air already for about an hour and a half. So they're fine on fuel. That's obviously a concern for some of the other crews in the area that came out earlier and have been rescuing people earlier today.

Told that Evan's now clear. Clear of the roof. Not clear of the trees. But he's on his way up.

KING: As you watch this heroism unfold, you also get a glimpse at these neighborhoods down below. Yes, the rain has stopped, but look at all that standing water.

COOPER: It's hard to tell. I would say, you know, maybe 500 feet or so. I can't tell exactly. I'd say about 500 feet.

So we're -- we're -- OK. So I've just been told we're going to go to a nearby field where a number of other people have been dropped off. Another chopper wasn't able to take some other people to a shelter. So I believe we're going to go to a field, touch down, and get some more people on this chopper, and then take them to a shelter. That's what the pilot just said.

Again, these things can change very quickly depending on what other air assets are in the area. And -- and if there are any other rescues needed.

KING: A well-deserved pat on the back there to the rescue swimmers from the flight mechanic who deserves one as well. The complexity of this is hard to overstate.

Anderson Cooper in the helicopter narrating for us.

COOPER: How was that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was good. It felt good. It was a -- it was a pretty high hoist, you know. I mean it was at least 150 feet. As you can see, the flight mech had to doubling up on the trail line and it was kind of a lot to keep up with that. Once I was on the roof of the house because, you know, the down -- the (INAUDIBLE) wash from the helicopter is quite significant, as you can see.

But other than that, I thought everything went very smoothly. You know, we worked effectively together as a crew. (INAUDIBLE) I feel like the pilots did a good job of relaying information when needed. Overall, I think it was a really successful hoist.

COOPER: So what's the plan now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm actually not sure. I'm about to hop on the ICS (ph) here and talk to the pilots. When I was down on the roof, I was talking to them and they said that in the next hour or so that they're going to have some boats come through this channel. There's a drop-off point not far from here. So I think we might drop them off there so they can get on a boat and maybe go back and salvage some more of their property.

COOPER: That was amazing to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.

COOPER: That was amazing to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's a whole lot of fun. It's kind of surreal once you're doing it.

KING: A whole lot of fun. Kind of surreal when you're doing it. That from the rescue swimmer you just heard there. Anderson Cooper aboard a United States Coast Guard helicopter.

You just watched here on live television a quite dramatic rescue. Two women, two dogs, pulled from the roof of a house near Beaumont, Texas. They will now take them to a drop point, get them to a shelter, we presume, get them any care and attention they need.

As a matter of fact, a matter of fact, that was fun, from the rescue swimmer, but applause, applause to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard now part of the continuing -- continuing search and rescue operations all around the Houston area.

You see a second helicopter there on the ground. Also looks like a Coast Guard helicopter from my perspective here. And we'll watch this --

COOPER: That's another Coast Guard helicopter that just landed in a field. I believe they have some people that they had picked up earlier. I think we're going to be landing in that field as well in order to pick up some of the people that they had rescued. And then we'll take them -- because we have more fuel, we'll take them on.

[12:19:58] So the -- for the two people we just picked up, they're not wet. They're not cold. So they don't have medical needs that need to be attended to immediately. So they've been asked to go to -- they've asked to go to a local shelter. So that's the plan right now for these two people, and perhaps the other people (INAUDIBLE) dropped off in this field that we're going to land in.

OK.

KING: All right, you're watching one Coast Guard helicopter on the ground. The helicopter that has -- you've been watching the last 20 minutes plus conduct a dramatic rescue over the sky -- over Beaumont, Texas, about to land to drop those citizens off, along with their two pets.

We're going to take a quick break on INSIDE POLITICS. When we come back, more on the search and rescue efforts, more on the vice president being in the region to assess the need aids.

Stay with us. We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:25:07] KING: Welcome back.

Live pictures here. This is Southern Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, Texas. They are evacuating the patients because the hospital no longer has running water. You see military personnel on the scene there. Helicopters parked off in the grass. Medical personnel bringing out -- you see the patients, wheelchairs, gurneys, otherwise here.

Again, this hospital forced to evacuate when they lost running water a bit earlier today. And you see -- you'll see the cameras. We're watching these pictures, seeing them just as you are. But you see gurneys, medical personnel there, military personnel and a medical personnel assisting a patient.

Just watch this play out. Again, a reminder, you just saw Anderson Cooper with a Coast Guard crew. And these look like Army or National Guard helicopters on the ground here. The military now part of the remarkable heroism playing out across the Houston area in Texas.

Five days after Harvey made landfall, the aftermath still being felt despite the rain stopping.

Beaumont, Southern Baptist Hospital, again, forced to evacuate its patients because it lost running water.

You see the military personnel coming in, preparing these people for the chopper ride. Get them to safety.

One of the things we've seen throughout, as we just saw it again, the Coast Guard rescue swimmer coming up, talking about it was fun, the calm, the poise everybody is showing throughout this. The military personnel, the medical personnel here getting the patients to safety has been remarkable amid all the hardship to see poise and the dignity and the calm of the people who are helping those who most need help at this critical moment.

Again, this is Beaumont, Texas, outside of Southern Baptist Hospital. Those helicopter being used to evacuate patients, because the hospital lost its running water.

It's a reminder of the scope of the logistical challenge here. Who needs help? Where are they? In this case, obviously, everyone at a hospital accounted for. The city of Beaumont without water. A hospital can't function in those circumstances.

This is one of the challenges, a big challenge, a known challenge to authorities. Hospital loses water, a city loses water, get these patients to safety.

Part of the day in which you just saw another end of it from the Coast Guard in the sky perspective hovering over neighborhoods looking for people waving for help. People on rooftops. People who still need help on the ground. This playing out again today and will play out several more days to come according to local officials. Just in many place the water, all the rain has stopped. The water is only slowly beginning to recede.

Again, we just watch this scene play out. Patient after patient being brought out as close as they can to the helicopter in the wheelchairs or the gurneys and then being assisted on to these choppers.

Again, you just have to applaud as you watch this play out. I'm guessing none of these medical personnel have had to do this before, but they seem completely at ease in keeping their patients at ease as they wait.

You see a gurney coming out here from the helicopter, stretcher, to help this patient.

Just remarkable cooperation at every level.

In a moment, the stretcher comes out. You see additional help coming over to help this one patient make her way on to a stretcher and then on to that helicopter.

[12:30:01] You see the helping hands there again when -- as scenes like this play out, military personnel, law enforcement personnel, medical personnel from the hospital, it seems every time they need an extra set of hands, somebody steps forward to help out.