Return to Transcripts main page


National Alliance for Law Enforcement Support Representative Sarah Stephenson Asks for Socks for Officers; Flooding Brings Gators into Yards; U.S. Agrees to Boost South Korea's Missile Power; North Korea Tensions Escalate; Author Bruce Beditol Weighs In on the Korean Discourse; Andy Scholes Has a Look at the Big Game in Atlanta; The First Big Weekend for College Football; Houston Sports Teams Rally to Raise Money For Hurricane Victims; Serena Williams Gives Birth To Baby Girl. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 2, 2017 - 6:30   ET



STEPHANIE ELAM, REPORTER: You've got the public library inside with computers there so people can start looking up how they even attack what's going on as far as their paperwork and what steps are next. There's a kid zone. There's also a pet area as well. They are really working to try to keep families together until they are able to get on their feet and make the next steps as they move on into a new normal for them Christi.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: That's a good picture you are giving us because I often wonder with these people sitting there, what do they do if they can't get out and see what they have to deal with yet? Do we know how long though the shelter is planning on staying open and available to these folks?

STEPHANIE ELAM, REPORTER: Right, I mean it's overwhelming. How do you, where do you go or how do you decide if your house was everything to you and has everything in it, where do you go? What are your next steps. So there are people here who have worked with other disasters to help people to make those decisions and figure out how they are going to proceed. But they're saying they will keep this shelter open as long as they need to, but once they start working with the folks that are here. They start working with them early to start figuring out that path forward, start looking at that paperwork and helping them so there isn't a day that they are just left from here and they are out on the street. They do not want to happen. And they say from each hurricane or natural disaster they learn something and they incorporate new lessons into the next one. So they have benefitted from Katrina and Rita and they are able to take those lessons and help the people here in the Houston area.

PAUL: Yes and we're thinking about those people every day. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Now let me bring in Sarah Stephenson from the National Alliance for Law Enforcement Support. Her organization is collecting some necessities for law enforcement officers who are working. And we've seen them on all week working tirelessly in Texas. Sarah, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Certainly. I want to talk about the collection in just a moment but first, I want to just make sure that people remember, I'm sure they understand it, but remember that not all of the law enforcement that is helping in Texas and Louisiana right now is coming from somewhere else. These officers, these state troopers are dealing with many of the same challenges of having to recover their items and find their loved ones as everyone else. And after 12-24 hour shift, help us appreciate the psychological challenges, the difficulties, when these officers finally make it home.

STEPHENSON: Yes, actually, excuse me, right now when we are talking to the agencies around the Houston area, a lot of the officers don't have a home to go back to. Their families evacuated, so they are with extend family in the area. And a lot of the officers, after their shift, are going back to the police department and either sleeping there or at a jail cell. So it's really a heart breaking thing to see right now.

BLACKWELL: You know there was the report earlier in the week of Officer Steve Perez who died while working for two hours to try to get to work. His family told him that he shouldn't. And he was a traffic enforcement officer, but still found a way to try to get to work. Unfortunately he died trying to get there. As the spouse, the families of these officers watch their loved ones go out, from your perspective as law enforcement support, what does that feel like as you watch them walk out that door?

STEPHENSON: It's mentally and emotionally just draining. I mean sometimes you don't even want them to actually leave. But it is our job as their spouse to support them. Of course, it is always in the back of our mind that something might happen but it has to stay in the back of our mind. We can't let it cloud our judgment or tell them no, stay home today. Stay home here, it's safe. This is their job. They made an oath to protect and serve and we support them in that. But it's definitely emotionally and mentally draining for any spouse or family member that has someone in law enforcement.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about this collection here. You're taking up donations of specific items that I guess some people wouldn't remember, wouldn't think about. Tell us about it.

STEPHENSON: Right. NALES is actually collecting socks for our law enforcement officers in Houston. This idea came about when one of our volunteers came to our CEO and stated we, they really need some socks in Texas. And her thought process behind it was back in the day in WWI, Viet Nam era, a lot of soldiers lost their feet, their legs to what they call Trench Foot. And that's when the foot in the boot is submerged in muddy water for a long period of time and there's actually bacteria that grows, infection that can come from that, and then even gangrene where the foot actually eventually has to be taken off. So she thought of the idea, brought it to our attention, that was earlier this week. Now, it has boots(ph) and we even have people in Canada, Florida, all over the United States, other countries sending us socks to send down to specifically the Houston area.


BLACKWELL: Yes, we've talked about the contamination in the water. We're going to talk a little bit more about how people can stay safe there. But the other element you talked about is that even if there are dry socks somewhere doesn't mean that the officers can always get to them. So it's important you bring it to them.


BLACKWELL: How can people if they want to support support and offer up some donations?

STEPHENSON: Absolutely. So you can go to our website at to donate. You can email If you prefer to donate money, on our website is a mailing address that you can mail the items to. We will ship them out to the departments. We are actually in contact with about 10 that are in need of socks.

BLACKWELL: All right.

STEPHENSON: Some are only need about eight. Some need over 300. So there is definitely a need there and we also are getting more inquiries about other items. So you will see a list on our Facebook page, on our website of other items they are in need of as well. You can also email me with any questions.



BLACKWELL: All right. Always important after these segments, people wonder. Now how do I do it? We've just given them several ways to get involved. Sarah Stephenson with National Alliance for Law Enforcement Support. Good to have you on.

STEPHENSON: Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: All right. Well thousands of people are going back to their homes to clean up after the storm. You would expect mold and mud, but what about this? A gator in the house. Teas wildlife officials captured and removed this one. The homeowner found it in his dining room. Others have apparently shown up in back yards. Game wardens say look gators and other wildlife, they're being displaced by this storm as well. They are going to try to make sure that they are making their way home, thought, as the water recedes there.

BLACKWELL: We are hearing from Russian officials who say there is nothing to see here except black smoke rising from their consulate house before they are kicked out.


PAUL: Well it's certainly unusual, a smoky sendoff as the United States forces Russia to vacate its consulate in San Francisco. Take a look at this. Black smoke there coming out of the building's chimney yesterday. The thing is firefighters showed up to investigate this but look at what they were greeted by. A man seeming to assure the fighters, listen nothing to see here.

BLACKWELL: Just thick black smoke. The incident here happened just hours before the Russians were forced to leave the building. The New York Times reports that American security forces are going to search the building later today. Now this is the latest tat in the tit for tat between the U.S. and Russia started last year when the U.S. seized two Russian compounds in retaliation for election meddling.

The United States and South Korea are increasing pressure on Kim Jong- Un as he is again threatening nuclear war.

PAUL: Yes President Trump agreed in principal to sell South Korean President Moon Jae-In billions of dollars in American military equipment. This just days after claiming on twitter that talking to North Korea, that's no longer an answer. Let's talk about it with Bruce Beditol. He's a political science professor and author of "North Korea and Regional Security in the Kim Jon-Un Era." Thank you so much for being with us. First of all, Professor Beditol, what do you make of this agreement between South Korea and the U.S? It's certainly going to aggravate Kim Jong-Un.

BRUCE BEDITOL, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR: Good morning and thank you for having me this morning. I think the agreement is very important because President Trump will be working with President Moon Jae-In on getting them more modern systems that they actually need and included in those systems will obviously be upgraded ballistic missile defense because South Korea falls far behind Japan in fielded systems right now and you're talking ballistic missile defense and the North Korean threat to South Korea is far more compelling than it is to Japan. So I think that's a good thing. There will probably be other systems such as conventional systems to counter North Korea's artillery which s a big threat to Seoul. Armor and infantry improvements, things like that. So I think this is a good thing and it sends a message to North Korea that they can't push around their neighbor to the south.

PAUL: I want to read you what President Trump tweeted on Wednesday, "The U.S. has been talking to North Korea and paying them exportation money for 25 years. Talking is not the answer." There are a lot of people who may agree with this saying. Diplomacy does not work, it only aggravates Kim Jong-Un and it seems to inspire him to threaten the U.S. What can the U.S. and its allies do in this regard?

BEDITOL: Well, there a couple of things. First of all, I concur that diplomacy has not worked with Kim Jong-Un. It didn't work with his father either. That's been diplomacy from the Obama administration and the Trump Administration. Two very important things that we can do is get our ballistic missile defense up to snuff. Right now, the effectiveness of our THAAD for example is 65 to 85 percent. That's just not good enough. We need to get our ballistic missile defense more effective. That's a tactical move that we can make to defend ourselves and our allies but that is going to take a year or two. Another thing we can and should do and I see small things on this already is put economic pressure on North Korea's elicit financial activities.

They raise money to keep building modernized systems, by their standards. We need to go after banks in places not just in China but Africa and Angola where they are friendly to us, Malaysia and Singapore and places like Vietnam as well.

PAUL: All right. Professor thank you so for your insight today. Thank you for being with us.

BECHTOL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The first big Saturday for college football. Andy Scholes has a look at a big game in Atlanta.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR, ATLANTA: Hey Victor. They are calling it the biggest opener in college football history. Number one Alabama taking on three Florida State at the Brand new Mercedes Benz stadium. We'll have more in the bleacher report.



BLACKWELL: The Houston Sports teams have been chipping in to try and raise money. For the first time since Hurricane Harvey hit, sports will be played in Houston. Astros take the field this morning.

PAUL: We have more on the bleacher report. Good morning.

SCHOLES: Houston's made it back after Thursday night after being away a week. They postponed their opener with the Mets for a day to have a day to recover. Many players spent the day off visiting those that have been displayed by hurricane Harvey.

Many managers heading over to the George R. Brown convention center being used as a shelter. The team playing games with kids, signing autographs, taking plenty of pictures. They are doing everything they can to raise the spirits of the city.

JOSE ALTUVE, BASEBALL PLAYER, HOUSTON ASTROS: To try to steal a smile, participate. We are having a rough time right now, but you know, we are trying to do everything we can to help them.

A.J HINCH, Baseball Manger, Houston Astros: We need to make sure we are there for them and not just an off day in September that they really start the rebuild process.

SCHOLES: The Astros play a doubleheader with the Mets today. The first game is this afternoon at 2:10 eastern. Texas Star J. Watts released funds soared past the $16 million mark. Today, the money is going to work.

The first load of supplies had landed. The rest is on the road headed to Houston. Watts says he has about nine Semi trucks filled with food, water and clothing. He had his teammates are going to distribute that this weekend. He say's this is just a phase to one recovery plan.


SCHOLES: Congratulations to Serena Williams and her finance. She gave birth to a girl yesterday. No pictures are out there yet. Also no word on a name.

Today is the first big Saturday for college football. The game taking place behind me at the Mercedes Benz stadium is called the biggest college football opener to ever take place. You have number one Alabama taking on number three Florida State.

This is a game between two old friends. Seminole head coach Jim Bo Fisher was the offensive coordinator at LSU when they won the National Championship in 2003. This is the first time they have squared you have as head coaches.

Speaking to Jumbo he said how great it is.

JIMBO FISHER, HEAD COACH, FLORIDA STATE: They have a great program. We have a great program.

SCHOLES: Called the greatest opener of all time. Is this the direction you see college football going, having huge, big games the very first week of the season?

FISHER: I think it is at times, but determines how the playoff committee rewards the games, when you play and lose. What it becomes has an impact on the future.

ANDY: Speaking of the playoffs, the National Championship game is going to be at the brand-new Mercedes stadium January 8th. They are starting the year with the biggest opener and end it here with the National Championship game, Alabama and Florida State hoping, no matter who wins today, they could have a rematch of the same game come January.

PAUL: Andy had to travel a long way today.

ANDY: To the 14th floor.

PAUL: It is a beautiful stadium. Every day I come in, I think they have done a great job. Thanks so much.

The best way for us to understand what's happening with Hurricane Harvey and everything they are going through today, is through pictures and video and stories coming in.

We have pictures you may not have seen yet, captured by a photographer on CNN digital. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Moving on from Texas now. The region is trying to get a true understanding of the level of devastation.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: If you look back at the picture, we have seen people look at this. This is just one of the many shelters. We see people carrying items, carrying children.

PAUL: Standing in front of these images is Tim, a photographer on assignment for CNN digital covering the aftermath of Harvey and he's covered Hurricane Katrina and an Earthquake in Haiti. To all of you standing in these pictures, we are thinking of you and fighting for you.