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No Water Supply for Beaumont; Rescues Continue in Houston; Volunteers Deliver Supplies; Aid Package for Harvey Relief; Trump on DACA Decision. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 1, 2017 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:13] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

Beaumont is without water. Some rescue boats, short fuel. Urgent still very much an understatement a full week after Harvey first pummeled Texas.


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: We must operate with a sense of urgency. We have to have the resources in order to assist people in transitioning from a crisis state and getting them back in a much more stable situation. And we need the resources now. In fact, let me back that up. We need the resources yesterday.


KING: President Trump is crafting an emergency aid package and his team believes the long-term costs of Harvey recovery are certain to surpass Katrina's price tag.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are with you today. We will be with you tomorrow. And we will be with you every day until this great state and these great communities recover and rebuild to be even better and stronger than ever before.


KING: Raw emotion as residents finally are able to return home get hit yet again. Their homes are a mess, or worse. Many of their most cherished possessions, ruined.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, yes, it's -- I'm not an emotional guy and 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK. It's OK. It's OK. You know we always get through all -- you know we always get through this.


KING: Houston is open for business. Those optimistic words today from the mayor as he and his city look ahead to a long and difficult recovery. The mayor says most of Houston is now dry, but Hurricane Harvey and its flooding have left at least 47 people dead.

The White House estimates the storm damage destroyed 100,000 homes. Aerial footage, look here, shows the drastic change from before and after the storm. Once green, thriving areas are now washed out, covered in mud and muck.

Many people finally able to return to their houses are finding they don't have much left. Many homes still under several feet of water.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess 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 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is 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.

CAPTAIN KENNY EVANS, VOLUNTEER RESCUER: It's not even real. You see this stuff on TV. But this is total devastation in every way, physically, emotionally.


KING: Speaking of emotional, look here. Fourteen babies being airlifted from a hospital in Beaumont, Texas, that has been forced to close because the city has no clean water. Eleven of them were from the neonatal intensive care unit. Some of those babies' parents are still stranded and haven't been able to see their infants in days.

For so many people, this will be a nightmare for a long, long time to come. The Army Corps of Engineer, get this, planning controlled releases from two major reservoirs. A process the corps says could take three months.

Hurricane Harvey shaping up to be one of the most expensive natural disasters to ever hit the United States. Houston's congresswoman, Sheila Jackson-Lee, has called for a record-breaking $150 billion aid package. The president pledging to donate $1 million of his own money to help storm victims. We'll dive more into the numbers a bit later in the program.

FEMA says it has approved more than 100,000 people for emergency assistance already with tens of millions of dollars already distributed. So far, the governor of Texas, nothing but high praise for the federal government. Here he is on Fox.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: From the president to the vice president to the entire cabinet, there's been one of both compassion from their very heart by the way that they've been moved to see the devastation, but also there's been a deep commitment to ensure that they will do all they can to help rebuild Texas.


KING: Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen, leading a cabinet delegation yesterday to some of the hardest-hit areas, accompanying residents and helping in the cleanup efforts. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump promised to return to the area tomorrow.

The most dire situation right now may well be in Beaumont, Texas. People are desperate for clean drinking water after floods shut down the city's water pumps.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung joins us from a water distribution site in Beaumont.

Kaylee, give us the latest. What are you seeing?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you know, it was around 12:30 a.m. yesterday that the water stopped running here in Beaumont. That's nearly 36 hours ago with no water to drink here, no water to shower with. The people I've talked to here saying it feels like it's been so much longer.

[12:05:04] This distribution point for bottled water opened up about two hours ago. When it first began, cars were already lining up. Now they are lined up as far as I can see. They were initially servicing about five cars a minute, giving them each one case of water. Now it's running more efficiently. They're servicing 11 cars a minute. That's remarkable, really, to see how efficiently this place is running.

I want to explain where we are so people know where they should come. We're just about the 1700 block of I-10. They want people entering on the frontage road from I-10 westbound. You then circle up along Saint Helena and here into the parking lot of the Babes of Harris Memorial Stadium.

John, in talking to people here, the circumstances are so dire. To hear the stories of people fighting in the grocery store for whatever's left on the shelves. A local reporter told me that when she tweeted that there were still baby wipes and diapers available on the shelves, it was the most viral tweet she's ever had as people started making sure that others were aware of that and rushing to the store where she mentioned that was the case.

Now, officials here tell me they will be handing out water until supplies run out or dark. Whatever comes first. This is the only state-run -- I'm sorry, city-run site with state resources helping them.

There's also a distribution point at the Southeast Food Bank off of MLK here. They'll be distributing from 12:00 to 3:00. But they won't continue until their supplies run out. They want to make sure to ration as need be, John. But people here really going to every effort they can to get that water to others safely.

KING: And it's great to see people getting some help to get through the day. Kaylee Hartung for us in Beaumont. We'll keep in touch. Thank you, Kaylee.

Water rescues still underway in the Houston area.

I want to go now to our Nick Valencia in a flooded Houston neighborhood.

Nick, people still trapped there?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Barker Cypress is still under water and people are still trapped in this community behind me. This is a community that edges Katy, Texas, between Katy and Houston. And there's about two to four feet of water in some points.

You're looking at a line of people that are waiting for these personal boats, civilian boats, that have come as far away as San Antonio, as far away as Austin, to help some of these people as we work our way through the crowd.

We want to introduce you to somebody here. These folks -- hey, guys. Where -- hey, how are you? So you got -- you got your granddaughters after all. Hey, how are you? They're just coming out. Hey, how are you?


VALENCIA: Good. Are you happy to be out?


VALENCIA: Yes. You look so pretty with your floaties on. Can't be too safe.

So, tell us, what happened here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been back in the apartments. You know, they didn't get any water in their apartment, but -- you know, so they didn't -- weren't sure, should they leave, should they stay and --

VALENCIA: They've been strand this whole time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been stranded the whole time, but they had food and water.

VALENCIA: Is this your daughter here behind you right here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my daughter Jaclyn (ph).

VALENCIA: Jaclyn, hey, you're on live with CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. VALENCIA: I'm sorry to -- hey, there, how are you?


VALENCIA: We've been talking to your father here and he was telling us your story.


VALENCIA: What -- so you're just getting out now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We just got out because the power started to go out, ACs were going out. So --

VALENCIA: Do you have enough -- did you have enough food, water?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. We had a lot of people that were coming and donating stuff and dropping things off. So --

VALENCIA: You seem to be in incredibly good spirits for having spent a week stranded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it was fine. I mean we had power most of the time. Well, the whole time. And we had pizza that was delivered to us and a lot of people helped out.

VALENCIA: What's it like for -- you don't want to pick that back up. Yes.


VALENCIA: What's it -- what was it like? And tell us -- take the viewers here through what you were living through the last seven days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were actually really lucky. No water got into our complex at all.

VALENCIA: You must have been high up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we were at the highest elevation over here. So it was like an island around us. No water got in. But everywhere else there was.



VALENCIA: (INAUDIBLE). We'll pick those (INAUDIBLE) up in a little bit, sweetheart. It's OK.

You know, the mayor of Houston was on earlier saying that there are parts of Houston that are all dried up. And then you look here in Barker Cypress and this is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, my mother-in-law's house is dry. We never got any water at all. So -- and that's -- fortunately, we have -- that's where we all get to go. Our house is eight inches of water still in it. We were there this morning. So I mean we're -- we've very lucky to have our mother-in-law to rescue us all.

VALENCIA: How unreal is it? I mean you -- the storm hit -- you know, the hurricane hit on Friday of last week, and here we are still a Friday later and you're still dealing with this.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean there's just no other way to describe it, but it's crazy. It's just something -- it's surreal. You don't --

VALENCIA: This is something you don't want to get used to, though.




VALENCIA: Well, we know -- I mean thank you so much for taking the time. I mean you literally just got out of the water from these boats here. You get your toys right back. OK.

So a little bit of happy news in all of this, John. A little while ago we did see the Houston Police Department with a high water rescue vehicle enter here, coming out with a group of people, some of which, like this woman right here, hadn't seen dry land in more than a week.

These rescues continue, as does this desperate situation. Many of these neighborhoods, at least this neighborhood specifically, still very hard-hit even a week later.


KING: And remarkable that it is a week later and yet the spirit's pretty high. Good moods, good spirits among those people there.

[12:10:03] Nick Valencia on the ground for us. Nick, thank you. Keep up the good work.

I want to bring in now to the conversation, Chad Peterek. He owns an air boat company in Corpus Christi. As soon as he heard about the storm, he rounded up a crew of experienced folks and headed to Houston. In a 72-hour period, Chad estimates they rescued more than 500 people. Today, a week later, he's taking supplies, including gas and diesel, to victims in Rockport. Rockport, of course, the place where Hurricane Harvey first made landfall.

Chad joins me on the phone from there.

Chad, a, just, God bless you for all the great good Samaritan work you've been doing this past week.

Let's start with today. We're watching some video here of your boats doing some of the Lord's work earlier in the week. Tell me about today first.

CHAD PETEREK (ph), HELPING RESCUE EFFORTS (via telephone): Well, today, I'm -- we were up there in Houston for three days just because we dodged a bullet. I live in Corpus Christi and, you know, this storm came in just 16, 18 miles to the east of us. And I have a lot of friends and family that live in this area, and really wasn't a whole lot we could do while it was still raining. And the things that was going on, we saw the need to go up to Houston and actually the Katy, Fort Bend area. Fort Bend County area.

Did some crazy work there. I mean some -- we were all terrified at times. And just to see the look in the victims', you know, eyes that were sitting there, the flood victims, it was well worth our time there.

And now that we're back, we're back in this area. We made a delivery to Port Aransas yesterday, myself and my son and a friend, Mark Otto (ph). We delivered -- we hauled diesel and fuel, water and ice over there.

And really the supplies -- the people have really pulled together. There are so many heroes that have pulled together in the state of Texas in these areas. I mean we actually went into town and no one needed the water. And no one needed the fuel. They actually did need the ice. They were begging for ice. And it's the other supplies that people are needing, you know, as far as food, as far as ice, as far as cleaning supplies, gloves, mosquito spray. The mosquitoes are starting to come out in full force in our area and just -- it's those things that people are needing now, not so much the water and the fuel.

KING: Well, you make a great point as we have the conversation. On our screen is a number you can call if you want to contribute to help. I'm talking to our audience around the country here right now. And often a cash donation, you might have clothes, you might have something else, but as you listen to Chad Peterek, who's right in the middle of all of this, you give cash, let people on the scene decide what is most needed in their area.

Chad, take me back to those early hours and some of these neighborhoods. You were in there well before the government.


KING: And I'm looking at a quote (ph) from you over the last few days, going through neighborhoods and hearing people screaming for help. Take us back to those early hours.

PETEREK: Yes, we -- we came -- we actually evacuated Corpus Christi, went north of Corpus Christi about an hour and a half and stayed with a friend of mine, James Schroeder's (ph) house. And we watched the -- just, you know, all up and down the coast it was coming. And we didn't know if it was going to hit us. You know, Hurricane Harvey went left -- went east, went west, went back and forth and it finally made its path and caught the edge of Port Aransas and went in that way. And we watched the destruction, you know, being on live television, you know, and what was going on.

And we actually returned home Sunday afternoon and found minimal damage at my residence, and all the friends that were around the area. You know, there wasn't a whole lot of damage in Corpus Christi.

But just a mere 15 miles down the road, the damage is -- it's no comparison. It looks like a tornado went through instead of a hurricane, you know? And that afternoon we were getting my house put back together and moving everything back in, the things, the items that we took with us and got the inside of my home taken care of. And I started listening to the -- the Cajun Navy on my phone and started hearing about how they were getting all these calls, the 911 calls, and needing rescues and people that were in dire need of help, and they weren't getting it.

And I called the guy that we were with, James Schroeder, up in George West, Texas, and asked if he wanted to go. And we pulled a quick team together. There was six of us that loaded up. And we left here probably -- left Corpus Christi about 9:00 that evening. We got to Fort Bend County around midnight. And by 12:30 we were taking off and rescuing people off the Harlem road area.

We pulled up and there was a community fire department there. And there were -- they had plenty of people but they didn't have the equipment to get into the actual neighborhood. And we knew that we may have bit off more than we could chew at that time, but we went in there and the amount of people that needed to be rescued was -- it was overwhelming to us. It was -- there was people screaming out of the windows. There was people flashing lights, flickering flashlights on and off at us. And we did the best we could. And we -- we did it -- we were there for a good solid eight hours loading up six, eight, ten people at a time and bringing them out.

[12:15:12] And they had a dump truck backed up. Because of the high water, they couldn't just have any vehicle there. And they had a ladder. And the people were getting off the ladder and into the dump truck. And the ones that couldn't, they were holding them there, awaiting trailers to try to bring them out of there.

We stayed in that area until after daylight. And, you know, the fear of dark, being in the dark, you could tell the difference in the people. You know, it was dark that night. The looks in their eyes and them not knowing what's going on, it was -- everybody had fear. You know, even us going into there. And once daylight was there, everybody, you could tell, victims and the team that was with me, we all were a little more at ease.

We relocated, because at that time they did have more people showing up that we kind of -- some good friends of mine actually came up from Rockport, Austin and Adam Nesaloni (ph), they had air boats. They actually took off into the area and started saving people.

We then moved over to the old Katy area and helped those guys out for a while. And it wasn't probably three or four hours we there and then all of a sudden one of the guys with me heard that they needed a lot of help often of the Frye (ph) Road area, back kind of off of Frye and I think it was Mason Road. I'm not real familiar with the area, but I know it was Frye Road. And when we went in there, that was probably the -- the biggest crowd of people trying to pour out of there.

I wrote a story on my Facebook page. I have to commend, Evelyn Schroeder one of our team members who, you know, she got left in the back because we were trying to haul out as many people. She stayed back there rounding up the people while we were hauling them out and bringing them out. And she had handicapped people floating on bean bags. I mean it was -- it was something I will never forget the rest of my life, I can promise you that, John.

KING: Well, Chad Peterek, for the hundreds of people who may not get a chance to see you again and say thank you, you're a hero this past week and I know you're continuing those efforts today. You and dozens, hundreds like you, volunteers doing this in their own time with their own resources. Part of the great, dramatic story of this past week. We just want to personally thank you and thank you for sharing your time today.

I know you're in the middle of all this. And, again, there are hundreds of people you have helped who might not get the chance to say "thank you." But you can be sure you have left a long trail gratitude in your wake this past week. Thank you, Chad Peterek for sharing you time today and God bless as you continue this work.

PETEREK: Thank you. Thank you, John.

And there's many heroes out there. It's just not me. And I'd like to commend everybody, you know, for pulling together. I mean we've made a big impact along the whole state of Texas. And even people from out of Texas. I mean a big thanks from me and hopefully we can pull our coastal areas back together and everybody get back to life soon.

KING: Well, there you see, most great heroes are humble. Chad Peterek, thank you for that. At the end, your humility there and sharing the credit after an amazing week.

And for those of you watching all this play out and listening to heart-warming stories like Chad Peterek, if you're wondering how you can help people impacted by Harvey, go to

More on the aftermath of Harvey in just a moment.


[12:22:18] KING: Welcome back.

If you follow the president on Twitter, you might have noticed a misspelling this morning from the president as he again tweeted his support for Texans impacted by Harvey. Texas is heeling fast, h-e-e-l- i-n-g, the president said. Thanks to all of the great men and women who have been working so hard. But still, so much to do. We'll be back tomorrow. Now the president later cleared up the misspelling of healing.

As for the much to do part, the administration now crafting the first installment of a Harvey aid package that is likely to exceed $5 billion. We're told it could approach $6 billion. And the president wants Congress to act fast.

What are the prospects for that? A quick history lesson. After Hurricane Katrina, Congress did act. The first package passed in just 11 days. That was the first piece. Look at this, overwhelming bipartisan support. Ultimately, Katrina cost the federal government $120 billion. Not all of that in the first package.

Super Storm Sandy, a different story. It took 91 days for Congress to pass that first installment. And if you look at the numbers, there was a lot more partisanship in that debate. The total bill, in the end, $60 billion.

The vice president, Mike Pence, down in the storm-affected areas yesterday, he says money will be coming fast and he says the political debate, he hopes, will be much more like Katrina than Super Storm Sandy.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that no Texan should doubt, as they apply for available federal assistance, no small business or business that's affected should doubt that this administration, this Congress, will come together and make sure those resources are there.


KING: All public indications are, number one, the administration should have a proposal ready if not by today, the broad outlines of it at least to send it up to The Hill by early next week. Somewhere in the ballpark of $6 billion. The first installment. It will get much, much higher than that in the months and years to come.

But the mood seems to be, even among fiscal conservatives who in the past have said, sure, they deserve their money, but we've got to cut from somewhere else. The mood seems to be, let's get it done and get it done fast. Will that hold?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: I think immediate, in the short term, perhaps because, as we know, now that the president is going to seek a -- just a small installment of what they really are going to need, $6 billion is, from by all indications, just a fraction of the cost it's going to take to rebuild. Some estimates over $100 billion.

So I think right now you may see some quick action just on that first aid package. But when you get into the larger numbers, there's probably going to be some pushback. I think there will be some pushback here from some conservatives who have wanted cuts to offset spending. But it's really going to be in the small numbers of the people who are push back. The question is going to be, does the Republican leadership ultimately

decide they need to attach some of those must-pass items into this package as well, including raising the debt ceiling, as well as keeping the government open past September 30th.

[12:25:05] KING: Right. And you mentioned, if you look at the history of this, in the past, when these big packages have come up, you've heard conservatives say, of course we have compassion for these people, but we're like a family. Washington does not have money to throw around. If you're going to spend this much, we've got to find some place to cut it. Among those who said this back during the Katrina days was the now vice president.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But as we tend to the wounded, as we begin to rebuild, let us also do what every other American family would do, in like circumstances, and expects this Congress to do. Let's figure out how we're going to pay for it. Congress must ensure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren.


KING: Again, the timing is the issue. It is more than a fair question for any member of Congress to say, how are we going to pay for this in the long run. More than a fair question. The question is, what do you do in the immediate? And what's interesting to me is, people have been looking for members of the Freedom Caucus, the southern conservatives in the House of Representatives. Most of them, some of them, not all from the south, would they say, happy to give them the money but we've got to find it elsewhere. Their leader is Mark Meadow, who we've seen during the health care debate have prominence in Washington. His spokesman says it's not our position. The disaster relief funding needs to be offset elsewhere. No. So that seems to be a green light, at least for that first package.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It does. And is really is -- you know, the notion that you just heard from the then congressman, now vice president, Mike Pence, that emergency spending needs to be offset. At the time, it wasn't taken for granted at all. I mean it wasn't that long ago that Congress would pass big aid packages like this in emergency situations and there wasn't a debate about whether it would be offset. It was really just in the past, you know, I would say decade or so that even, and especially under Republican rule in government, when spending was really sky high and the Tea Party took hold that that was even part of the debate.

And even to this day I think there are many Democrats who believe that it doesn't have to be offset. That you have to -- you can figure it out later.

So the fact that you have somebody like Mark Meadows, who is one of the most conservative -- fiscally conservative, kind of the classic Freedom Caucus Tea Party guy, who does seem to give a green light, is a big deal and it shows the difference in this fight. KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think you're also going to

see a lot of, you know, geography competing with party in this one.

BASH: Yes.

DEMIRJIAN: I mean Mark Meadows is from North Carolina. That's a place that gets affected by these things. Texans, all of a sudden you have a lot of Texan Republicans. You saw this debate playing out between was it Peter King, I think, and Ted Cruz over Twitter and over the air waves that you're going to have a lot of automatic votes right now that are going to be from the GOP and the conservative part of the GOP saying, no, we have to do this without any sort of extra debate.

What's going to be the question, though, is, as this goes forward, you know, do -- does it get hamstrung with other things?

KING: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: And, also, what does it mean for the rest of the president's agenda because the next step was tax reform.

KING: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: But if there's not a lot of extra money to go around, does that change (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Right. And he also wanted -- he also wanted his wall money.

DEMIRJIAN: And the wall funding, right, which is the same --

KING: He says Mexico's going to pay for it ultimately. He wanted -- so the wall money in the next spending bill. A lot of people say that money goes to the hurricane now. We'll talk to you make in December, Mr. President, or way down the road because a lot of Republicans don't want to actually give him that money.

My question is, how does the mood change? When Congress comes back to work next week, in the wake of a national disaster like this -- yes, it's concentrated in Texas and Louisiana, but it's a national question now for the country to face. The president, as early as today, we are told, is going to do something about the dreamers. At a time when he himself is getting compliments, good reviews for the initial response to Texas. The president was down there. The vice president was down there. A unifying moment, perhaps. We'll see. Perhaps. The dreamers. And he's being urged today -- listen to House Speaker Paul Ryan. Word leaks out that the White House is about to pull back, revoke the Obama order that the dreamers can stay. Trump administration about to change that. Listen to the speaker of the House, a Republican.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I actually don't think he should do that. And I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix. Let me back up for a second. President Obama --

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now, on the Senate side, a leading Republican, Orrin Hatch, just issued a statement saying the very same thing, Mr. President, don't do this. Leave this to us. What's going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A senior administration official in the White House driveway yesterday talked to a bunch of us about this and this person casually referred to a congressional solution to the problem, which had a bunch of us sort of perked up our ears and think, wait a second, we haven't heard this much from this White House. in fact, he promised to end it via executive fiat on his first day in office.

It's clear enough that they're going to push this down the road. I don't know how they're going to manage the Texas attorney -- sorry, the state attorneys general lawsuits on this. But it seems reasonably clear from these public remarks that the White House has agreed to sort of kick this down the road a little bit, at least beyond the fights over keeping the government open, raising the debt limit and things like that.

[12:29:58] BASH: It -- there's no question. This has been a quiet conversation that's been going on. And been heating up over the past week or so with people inside the administration who don't want -- who agree with Paul Ryan, who don't want the president to have this on his hands, despite the fact that