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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Trump: Raids On Undocumented Migrants Start Tomorrow; Tropical Storm Barry Expected To Be A Hurricane At Landfall; Trump Scores Court Victory On Sanctuary Cities; Plants That Could Help You Sleep. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired July 13, 2019 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge, in for Victor Blackwell. Delta Airlines has canceled all their flights in the New Orleans airport as tropical storm, Barry, moves closer to the Gulf Coast. The storm could come ashore as a hurricane within the next few hours, but the rain is already coming down; over a foot could fall in some areas with storm surge rising as high as 60 feet, and the winds holding at 65 miles per hour. Some highways are already swamped, and nearly 50,000 customers have already lost power -- expect that number to rise.

PAUL: Louisiana -- is Louis getting ready here. They're closing all of their floodgates as the mayor of New Orleans calls for voluntary evacuations, federal emergency preparedness officials warning of possible tornadoes as the storm passes.

Mississippi's governor has joined Louisiana in declaring a state of emergency. Now, we want to begin our coverage; we got live coverage all over that area. But we want to begin with CNN Anchor and National Correspondent Erica Hill, who is live in Lafayette, Louisiana. And Erica, I understand the trajectory of this puts it just south of where you are, is that right now?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it could be, and that's one of the things that we're really watching in this area because depending on the way this storm tracks, we are almost in looking at it, I'm going to bring in Allison Chinchar a minute to explain this better from her view. But we are in an area that could go either way. And so, you're watching that carefully not just because of what that could mean for rain, and even at some point winds, but also what it means for this area, because this is a staging area for the rescues that are expected to be needed.

There are boats and high-water vehicles here. There are a number of buses to bring people to safer areas, to reunite them with friends and family if needed. So, when those calls come in, they will launch the rescues from here.

Of course, depending on what we get in terms of weather, we'll see if that impacts, in fact, those abilities. A lot of that a long way off, but it's the preparation that is so important as we look at this. We know do know at this hour that nearly 50,000 people in the region without power. Delta Airlines just tweeting out that they have now stopped service out of New Orleans airport. So, that is done.

I can tell you that our producer who flew in last night by Lafayette was told by the pilot on his Delta flight that they were going to bring the plane back to Atlanta to get it out of this area ahead of the storm. So, a number of preparations being made. Where do we stand now, what is this storm looking like? For a better explainer of that, let's go straight to CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar who joins us now from the weather center. Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. So, the latest update we are looking at -- winds are still holding at 65 miles per hour. Keep in mind, that's less than ten miles per hour off from a Category 1 hurricane. So, we're close; we're just not quite there from a technical standpoint.

Winds are moving west/northwest at only five miles per hour. That is incredibly slow for a tropical system. But that is the reason why flooding is going to be such a big concern because as this moves ever so slowly across Louisiana and other states, it has a lot more time to dump a tremendous amount of rain.

The track still is expected to make landfall in just the next couple of hours here over Louisiana. The National Hurricane Center saying it is still strengthening. So, it still has that potential to become a Category 1 hurricane right before it makes landfall. And it may literally be less than an hour in which that -- it gets bumped up to hurricane status before it makes landfall. So, there may not be much in the way of advanced warning, per se, in terms of whether or not this is a hurricane at landfall versus a tropical storm.

But this key thing is, you're talking less than a ten mile-per-hour difference in terms of wind speed when the main concern with this storm is really going to be the water. Both the water coming from the sky in the storm of rain and the water coming at you from below in the form of storm surge. Here's a look at the radar. You can already see some of these heavier rain bands, really now starting to pick back up, not just in Louisiana, but also states like Mississippi and Alabama.

And that's going to be the case as this thing finally does make landfall. But notice one thing, the majority of the convection or the really heavy thunderstorms are actually on the southern side of the storm. So, for a lot of folks saying it's about to make landfall, I've hardly had any rain, I've survived the worst of it, that's not the case with this particular storm. This individual tropical storm actually has the bulk of its moisture on the south side.

So, once the center of circulation passes, which is what many people often refer to as the eye, then you actually have the bulk of the heavy rain to worry about. That's when your flooding problems will really start to begin. Widespread amounts around five to ten inches of rain are expected. But it's not out of the question for some of these locations to pick up over a foot. That's the pink color you see here. And notice, that even extends into Tennessee.

So, other states still also looking at the potential for flooding. Around Baton Rouge, there are multiple rivers there around that particular city. This one, in particular, is expected to get to 34.5 feet. The previous record just about a half a foot shy of that. So, not only do we have ten river gauges in Louisiana that are expected to get to major flood stage, some of them even expected to surpass previous records.

Also, as that rain begins to push in once the center of circulation crosses in, you also have the potential for severe storms. This is also going to be a big danger. Because again, people haven't really experienced this yet with the storm because the bulk of it is on the southern side. Erica, I want people to understand the threat for tornadoes, the threat for damaging winds, that is still yet to come. So, please don't let your guard down in terms of that, as well as the flooding potential.

[07:05:30] HILL: Such an important point, Allison Chinchar. Thank you. We do have team coverage here on the storm. Our Natasha Chen is in Morgan City. Gary Tuchman is in New Orleans.

Natasha, I want to begin with you, not too far away from where I am -- about 60-70 miles, St. Mary Parish area, and there's a major concern for the flooding that could come in that area. Natasha?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely. And we are definitely getting blown around right now. So, people here are probably thankful for the short break that we've in the rain just at this moment because the flooding was going to be a real concern if those to 20 expected inches of rain here came all at once. The city's pumps cannot handle all of that happening at once, and so they were hoping for the rain to come in waves with at least 45-minute breaks in between so their pumps could handle this.

I want to show you what this problem looks like on top of the already swollen Mississippi River. We're on top of the sea wall here. You can see those bottom steps of the stairwell completely covered. And now that we've got some more light here, I can show this trash can completely submerged in water. So, you see that, that trash can as well as the bollards out there, people are typically able to walk out to that distance. And so, right now the river has come all the way to the seawall.

And so, when you add a tropical storm, a hurricane on top of that, plus this rainfall that we're expecting, there are serious problems. Now, we did hear from the national weather service like Charles area, briefing yesterday, that we're expecting 16 to 20 hours here in Morgan City of tropical storm-force winds, and we're definitely feeling some of that now. So, the folks here are just, again, leaving their homes potentially because curfew has just been lifted and we'll tracking how much worse this gets as the day goes on.

HILL: All right. Natasha, thank you. And Gary Tuchman, as I mentioned, is in New Orleans. Gary, always so much focus on New Orleans, but there is -- we can really see what's been done over the last 14 years or so since Katrina, in terms of this levee system that is in the city, that is in use right now.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN REPORTER: Huge difference, Erica. It's a multi- billion-dollar levee system that surrounds the New Orleans area and surrounding parishes, and it's made everyone a bit more relieved even before the brunt of the storm arrives. Behind me, the tourist paddle boats that people take on the Mississippi River here in the French quarter of New Orleans. It isn't going anywhere today and maybe not tomorrow either.

And this, the Mississippi River. This path that I'm on right now along the Mississippi River, in the French quarter, usually this time, the sun just rose, people are out here jogging, walking, skipping stones on the river. Well, right now it is closed to the public. No one is allowed here for their own safety because this is the main concern -- the river. Because of heavy rains over the last several weeks and months, the river level has been very high.

This levee system surrounding Mississippi River here in New Orleans is 20 feet. There was grave concern that this storm, with the amount of rain that's going to be dumped -- we had rain, but it stopped now. As we heard, the brunt of it is going to come the rest of the day today and tomorrow. There was grave concern that it would go over the banks here and then over there -- that's the levee wall right there, 20 feet above the level of Mississippi River.

There was concern that the waters could go over there. And that's what makes this different than Katrina. The disaster during Katrina was levees that split open and water just came plummeting out of it -- killing hundreds of people in the city. This is a totally different storm. Obviously, not as strong with the winds, but the concern was that the river would cause immense flooding.

But the forecast, the revised forecast over the last several hours is instead of being concerned about getting to 20 feet, the thought was it would be 19 feet yesterday. Now, they're thinking it won't go above 17.1 feet, right now, it's 16.7. So, the feel is it won't go much higher than this and that is very reassuring news in this city that has suffered so much for generations but mostly, as you said, nothing as bad as 14 years ago this summer when Hurricane Katrina came through.

One more thing, Erica, some disappointing news for music fans here in New Orleans: The Rolling Stones -- haven't been here in 25 years, it's supposed to put on a show at the Superdome Sunday night. They canceled the show. But alas, they have rescheduled for the next night, Monday. And hopefully, it will be a celebration when Mick Jagger and the boys come here to New Orleans and the Stones play the Superdome. Back to you, Erica.

[07:10:00] HILL: Absolutely. We'll be looking for that one, Gary. Thank you. To get a better sense of just what this storm looks like, I want to bring in Major Christopher Dike with U.S. Air Force Base Reserve. He is one of the people who actually goes and flies into these storms because while the buoys can tell a certain amount, being in that storm gives us information we can't get any other way. Major, we appreciate you taking the time to be with us this morning. You flew for nine hours yesterday in this storm. What did you see?

CHRISTOPHER DIKE, U.S. AIR FORCE RESERVE (via Telephone): Hi, good morning. Yesterday, it was kind of mixed bag, right. All -- a mixed bag, right? So, all of the shear and dry air was really impacting the north side of the storm. But the south side was certainly where a lot of the threat was and what we were seeing, (INAUDIBLE). And one of the more unique things that we experience, so we started flying at 5,000 feet, and we saw many circulations -- we refer to as Mesovortices with then the larger circulation of the storm.

So, it was pretty common among disorganized storms like this one. But as we were flying around, those little Mesovortices create their own little mini-environments where the wind whips up. And then as we continued flying, we climbed to 10,000 feet, and were able to get about those vortices to see the larger level picture. But yes, it's definitely a storm that is just now starting to make its way on shore. And Louisiana's starting to feel the impacts, really.

HILL: In terms of looking at it from above, if we look at it, maybe the satellite pictures, and it's very clear that there's a lot happening on the south side of the storm. What did you see in terms of that south side?

DIKE: So, on the south side, you know, clearly a lot of the rain. Heavy rain in a broad area. We were actually having to pick our way through what we identify on the radar screen, we had a navigator on board who -- Julie (INAUDIBLE) -- she did an excellent job in helping us get through these hook echoes and what we call D-notches. These are radar signatures that are indicative of water spouts or tornadoes or things like that. So, the south side is definitely the more dangerous of the sides for the storm. And even though it makes landfall, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's all over.

HILL: And as it moves inland, too, as we're looking at this, we talk a lot about when it comes on shore. But the fact is, this is going to continue to move. What specifically should people be looking at and following in terms of that movement for the storm?

DIKE: Well, you know, you really -- I wouldn't focus in on so much on the little pinpoint that the hurricane center puts on for the center. You know, this is a broad area of precipitation that's moving on shore. And high winds, heavy rain, everything else. So, you know, people need to be watching the overall flooding and the radar of the precipitation moving towards them. The best bet is to stay close to the T.V. or radio and listen to the weather warnings from your local weather service office and things like that as this stuff moves on shore. Those guys and gals are watching it pretty closely.

HILL: And when you're -- when you're up there, you're doing your job, it's one thing. I'm just curious, as you watch all of this, you know, as you're watching coverage, as you're in between flights, what are things that you look for that influence your next flight?

DIKE: So, the things that influence our flights are, you know, the threat to human life, number one. And then number two, you know, we're watching for the storm that make landfall or not. So, we kind of -- we stopped flying once the storm makes landfall for the safety of our crews. So, you know, those are the things we are really keying in on at this point in time with this storm. HILL: Major Christopher Dike, really appreciate your perspective.

Thank you for joining us this morning.

DIKE: Yes, thank you.

HILL: Christi, our team coverage will continue from here on the ground across the region. For now, I'll send it back to you. I know there's a lot of other news to get to on this Saturday morning.

[07:14:34] PAUL: There is definitely, but we're just glad that everybody's hunkering down and OK right now. Thank you, Erica. We'll be going to Erica throughout the morning, as well as our other reporters who are there in that area, but we are less now than 24 hours from President Trump's migrant raids in nine cities across the country. And thousands are preparing to protest again today. There's one mother who's opening up to CNN about how she's planning to stay hidden.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: Overnight across the country, there were demonstrators that took to the streets protesting upcoming U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on migrant families.

PAUL: Those are just pictures of some of those protests. Thousands of families, though, are really on edge this morning because those raids are set to begin tomorrow. Targeting nine cities across the country. And a U.S. official says they're focusing on families who already have court orders to be removed.

So, an ICE spokesman said this: "ICE prioritizes it the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security." We know thousands of Central American migrants -- they're stuck. They're waiting in these crowded shelters in Mexican borders towns for their turn to be processed into the U.S.

SAVIDGE: It is all part of President Trump's remain in Mexico policy. And as CNN's Ed Lavandera shows us, some just can't wait any longer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For three months, little Marvin has spent most of his days in Juarez, Mexico in this make-shift classroom. Volunteers created this school to give migrant children a sense of normalcy. But today, is Marvin's last day.

LUCERO DE ALVA: Today, they're leaving to Guatemala.

LAVANDERA: Lucero De Alva is a children's book author and has spent most of the last year volunteering to help thousands of migrants who've shown up in this border town. She says Marvin's family has been waiting for three months to request asylum in the United States, but his mother is giving up and returning to Guatemala.

And that's because the wait is very long. It takes a long time. DE ALVA: But she's almost there, but she doesn't want to risk it.

LAVANDERA: In January, the Trump administration rolled out the migrant protection protocols, often called the Remain in Mexico Policy. It forces migrants to wait in Mexican border towns until their number is called to cross the border and request asylum.

Juarez government officials say right now, more than 5,500 people in the border city are on the wait list to simply request asylum. The wait time is about four months. They have to wait even longer to get a court date in the U.S. As they wait, De Alva says, thousands of people are crammed into the 14 migrant shelters that have opened along the U.S.-Mexico border since February and they're feeling the stress.

[07:20:22] Like 20-year-old, (INAUDIBLE) Ramirez, who came from Honduras and has been waiting four months to request asylum. He says, he rarely leaves the walls of the shelter because he fears the city around him.

LAVANDERA: He says right now he's getting his strength from his family that sent him messages to keep waiting, to keep waiting, but he's not sure how much longer that will last and how much more patience he will have.

Have you heard of people saying I don't want to wait in line anymore? I'm going to sneak in early and try to avoid being caught?

DE ALVA: A lot of them.

LAVANDERA: A lot of them?

DE ALVA: Yes, they just get desperate.

LAVANDERA: Many migrants facing months and months of waiting here Juarez say they're taking matters in their own hands, are too desperate so they'll come to this part of the border, they'll jump over and dart across to the U.S. side, turning themselves in to immigration officials. Because of that, the Mexican government has deployed army soldiers along this stretch of the border and in other places to deter those migrants from doing just that. U.S. immigration officials say the Trump administration's strategy is slowing the flow of migrants. Border Patrol says apprehensions dropped 28 percent from May to June.

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Our strategy is working. The president's engagement with Mexico, the deal to enforce immigration and security on their southern border, to partner with us on tackling transnational criminal organizations, that's clearly having an impact on the flow.

LAVANDERA: But critics say, forcing migrants to wait in dangerous Mexican border towns is inhumane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're seeing upticks in the cases of kidnapping, of assaults. These are people that are easily targeted, especially Central American migrants. It's very difficult, and we're putting them at risk knowingly.

LAVANDERA: The Trump administration is expanding this remain in Mexico policy. It has started forcing migrants to wait in the border city of Nuevo Loretto, which is considered one of the most violent cities in the world because of drug cartel violence. But the Trump administration insists that all of this is being done for humanitarian reasons and to help ease the burden of processing migrants arriving at the U.S. Southern border. Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Ed, thank you so much. And we are getting a word now that Delta Airlines is canceling all of its flights in and out of New Orleans International Airport. This as of the rain band from tropical storm, Barry, are making themselves know in that region. We're take you live to the area in just a moment. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:26:29] PAUL: Well, tropical storm, Barry, barreling now toward the Gulf Coast. Maximum sustained winds: 65 miles per hour. It is expected to be a hurricane when it makes landfall in the next few hours. Dangerous storm surge, heavy rains, wind conditions, those are the biggest threats this morning.

SAVIDGE: Officials in St. Mary Parish say they're expecting 10 to 20 inches of rain over the next three days. Already, they've got more than 48,000 customers who are without power across the state. Let's go straight now to CNN's Eric Hill, who in Lafayette, Louisiana, this morning for us. Erica?

HILL: Yes, guys. Good morning. And we are here, for folks just joining us, one of the reasons that we are here is because this is a major staging area for the rescues that are expected to come. With all of this rain, some areas, as Martin just pointed out, not too far from St. Mary Parish could see 10 to 20 inches. There are some areas that could, perhaps, even more than 25 inches. When we're talking about low-lying areas that are already dealing with saturated ground and swollen rivers, there will be rescue calls coming in.

So here in Lafayette is where we have staged. They have boats staged, they have high-water vehicles, as well as a number of buses for folks who may come to the area. They can put them on those buses and then reunite them with friends and families in areas where it on higher ground and where they will be safer.

As we talk about St. Mary Parish, I do want to focus on Morgan City and that's where find CNN's Natasha Chen. Because there is a big focus on that area and the flooding that could come because of this intense, this large amount of rain that's expected in the area, and also because of how long we're going to see this rain event, Natasha.

CHEN: Yes, well, Erica, we are definitely hearing from city officials like the mayor saying that if they do get that 10 to 20 inches in a concentrated fashion, he says, all the streets here will be flooded. But they are trying very desperate to avoid that, especially considering as you just said, this is on top of flooding that's already happened here in this area. We are at the sea wall right now, and the river is typically not this far out.

And the distance, you might be able to see some benches there. That's where people can walk out and sit to look at the river typically, but you know, as you've mentioned, we're dealing with more than 250 days at this point of consecutive days, of the river being at flood stage. So, add a tropical storm, a hurricane on top of that, and you're dealing with a lot of flooding. Right now, what we're feeling is primarily the wind really picking up and blowing us around.

Curfew has been lifted about 25 minutes ago. And right now, the tropical storm-force winds are making their presence known. We're supposed to expect about 16 to 20 hours of this. And again, the rainfall is what we are bracing ourselves for. This city, Morgan City, St. Mary Parish, really hoping for these kinds of breaks in the rain. They're not as concerned about the wind. But that rain, they really hope that it comes in waves with breaks like this in between, Erica.

HILL: All right, Natasha, thank you. And Natasha makes a great point about rain versus wind. Oftentimes, if we're talking about a tropical storm, and again, this is expected to become a hurricane. The category one hurricane oftentimes we're talking about hurricanes, and that increased intensity of the wind which moves it up the ladder there in terms of what category a storm is. We talk about the wind damage. But it's not always that there is this sustained rain and water event for hours and, in this case, days in some areas on end.

[07:30:00] But that is the focus this time around, it is the water. It is the water that will come in, it is the water that will linger, and it is also the water that will come back downstream down the Mississippi from flooding far, far inland.

To get a better sense of how that flooding works, what it looks like, and how these levees are key to minimizing the damage, I want to bring back CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar, who has a closer look for us. Allison?

CHINCHAR: Yes, it's the levees, it's the flood gates, it's the pumps. All of that factors into helping protect New Orleans in this type of event. So, here is how it works if you're unfamiliar with the layout.

You've got New Orleans, the city here, but surrounding, you've got the Mississippi River, and you also have Lake Pontchartrain as well. Here is how it works. Normally, the city of New Orleans acts like a colander. When rain begins to come down, it has exit points for that water to go out. The problem is, we are now seeing that we are going to be experiencing an intense amount of rain.

Look at this. When that water comes out, it goes out through the pumps, it also can exit out the flood gates. The floodgates, however, are now closed and the pumps are limited. They can only pump out one inch an hour for the first hour and up to a half of an inch an hour of rain every hour after that. The problem is with this particular storm, Barry, we are expecting rainfall rates of two to three inches an hour, sometimes even higher than that. That is too much rain for those pumps to be able to pump out.

And since there is no more flood gates that are open and allowing that water to exit, New Orleans no longer acts like a colander, but now acts like a bowl. Allowing all of that water to just sit there and have no real way of exiting out. That's going to be a problem not to mention you've got the Mississippi River that's going to continue to rise as well as that rainwater continues to fall from the sky.

And here is the thing. It may be two to three inches per hour, but what is the total? How much rain are we really expecting once this storm is finally said and done? Because we're not just going to get two to three inches. In fact, widespread amounts of around five to 10 inches of rain are expected, but the closer you get to the coast, you could be talking 12, 15, Erica. Maybe even as much as 20 inches of rain.

And that's why it's such a concern not just for New Orleans, but a lot of the other low-lying areas of Louisiana as well.

HILL: And that is what we will be watching. Allison, appreciate it as always. Thank you. Our team coverage, of course, across the region will continue, Christi, though, for now, I send it back to you.

PAUL: All right. Erica, thank you so much.

SAVIDGE: Well, it's a win for President Trump. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in his favor. How that decision may impact some sanctuary cities? We'll talk about it coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:36:25] PAUL: Thirty-six minutes past the hour right now. So glad to have you here. You know, President Trump scored a victory in the courts yesterday. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Department of Justice can give preference to certain U.S. cities that would use grant money on illegal immigration.

Now, a panel of judges argued that the DOJ didn't pressure an applicant to cooperate on immigration matters, rather, they only encouraged participation.

SAVIDGE: It all stems from a lawsuit the city of Los Angeles -- from the city of Los Angeles. He claimed that the city did not receive funding from a grant program after it chose to focus on building trust between communities and law enforcement agencies with no mention of illegal immigration, because of its policy as a sanctuary city.

I want to get to CNN White House Reporter, Sarah Westwood. And Sarah, this is a big win for the president. He hasn't had a lot of wins in the court, but this one is a win for him. How's the White House reacting? SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Martin. And the Trump administration is touting this legal win a rare victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that specifically is the court that President Trump has complained about that hasn't exactly been friendly to Trump administration policies.

But the Department of Justice is taking a victory lap on this ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that basically says, the Justice Department is within its rights to withhold money from this discretionary grant -- this community policing grant if cities are not meeting all of its requirements, it has a scoring system for dispersing this money.

So, essentially it can weigh different things that police jurisdictions are doing, score them and those cities that score the highest can have access to those funds. Some of the scoring criteria are things like hiring veterans, one of the scoring criteria is cooperation with federal immigration authorities. That's something that the city of Los Angeles as a sanctuary city refuses to do.

Local law enforcement will not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. And so, the Trump administration withheld money from that community policing grant. The city of Los Angeles wanted that $3 million suit the Trump administration arguing that those kinds of policies violated its autonomy, its independence and ability to make its own laws.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling 2-1 that the Trump administration was in its rights in this instance. And this is all taking place against the backdrop of these upcoming raids set to take place by Trump's ICE. It's creating fear in the nine cities that these are expected to take place, sparking protests around the country, Martin and Christi.

PAUL: All right, Sarah Westwood, we appreciate the update. Thank you, ma'am.

So, our top story this hour, Tropical Storm Barry now just off Gulf Coast. Threatening to pack hurricane-force winds when it makes landfall and upload or unload, I should say, up to two feet of rain on this area.

Look at this thing. We're going to talk about where it's going, what's ahead, and we have people all in that region. All of our reporters bringing that to you, next. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:43:34] PAUL: So, Tropical Storm Barry has not made landfall yet. This is a slow mover. It is already hitting Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, with some powerful winds, some heavy rains. These are, of course, the outer bands of this storm that is inching its way closer to the coast there.

SAVIDGE: Yes, this storm is crawling. And I mean, crawling toward land and could become a Category 1 hurricane before hitting the Gulf Coast. The big threat is the water. Both the storm surge and the heavy rain. Our Allison Chinchart tells us the slow-moving nature of Barry is incredibly concerning. Because it means that the storm has even more time to dump several inches of rain as it inches along and raises the risk of dangerous flooding.

Let's go back to Erica Hill in Lafayette, Louisiana. Erica?

HILL: Hi, guys. Yes, it is that slow-moving nature of it, it almost has you just waiting. So many people anticipating in this region when that storm is going to come. But, of course, as you point out, once it comes, it will be here for some time.

For a closer look at that, I want to bring in now Ben Schott, he's a meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

You too, I know are really trying to stress the folks that this is a slow-moving storm. It's going to be with us for some time. You know, and as Martin just pointed out, it has not made landfall, yet.

[07:44:56] BEN SCHOTT, METEOROLOGIST-IN-CHARGE, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, NEW ORLEANS (via skype): No, it's a painstakingly slow. It's getting people, I think, maybe a false impression that things aren't going as forecast. But, we knew it was going to be a slow- moving system and it is doing exactly as build, and that will be a difficult thing as we move through the day because as the rainfall comes onshore, people will start to see the full effects of Barry.

HILL: And this is oftentimes when we cover storms, we talk so much about the wind, and we talk about the power of these winds. I don't want to downplay the fact that there are powerful winds will -- that will be coming onshore as well. But this is the primary concern is the water here. It is the rain, it's the sustained rain, it's the flooding, it's the potential storm surge.

As you're looking at all of that, what are you seeing in your modeling at this hour? And where is your main concern within the region?

SCHOTT: Well, a lot of the coastal flooding has been going on since yesterday. With the southerly winds pushing onshore, into Lake Pontchartrain, as well. We're seeing coastal flooding occurring all across, you know, Louisiana. If you are next to water, you're probably seeing water pushing up on ashore.

When it comes for the rivers, you know, the rainfall is just now starting to push in, and we're starting to get some of the first bands set up. And so, as that goes on through the course of the morning, then, we'll start moving into a transition where we're going to start being worried for flash flooding, as well as river rises as we move into tomorrow.

HILL: Time of day can depend a lot on how people respond to the storm just on a personal level what they see. The fact that this is going to last for so long, that there is so much on the south side of that storm, what's your message to people about that timing because it's going to sit for a while? SCHOTT: I think the biggest concern for us is as the heavier rain moves in today and lasts into the afternoon and evening, and the sun goes down tonight, the heavy rain and those bands are going to be continuing.

People won't be able to see the depth of the water. They won't have a full feel of what they may be driving into. And I would hope that folks would actually just stay home and not be out and about in these conditions.

Unfortunately, people make those decisions at times for various reasons. And I would really implore folks, if you don't have to go anywhere, stay home, monitor what's going on, do not put yourself at risk because when the sun goes down, your -- not have any idea if that road is still there or if things have been washed away, or how deep the water is.

HILL: Or what could be in that water. We talk so much about what you can't see in the water that could include down power lines. As we know, safety first is always that message we can't hammer at home enough.

Ben Schott, appreciate you taking the time for us, we know you're a busy man this morning. Thank you.

SCHOTT: Appreciate, thank you.

HILL: Martin?

SAVIDGE: All right, Erica, thanks very much. Well, you'll have to wait a little bit longer to hear from special counsel Robert Mueller. Coming up, why Democrats have agreed to delay, is long the way to testimony

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[07:52:11] PAUL: Lavender, jasmine, aloe vera -- and what are these plants have in common? They might just help you catch some Z's. In this week's "STAYING WELL", we take a look at how plants can help you sleep better.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me, putting plants in my bedroom is so that I could relax and just fall asleep with no worries. I have certain plants like the snake plant or the ZZ plant. And with those cleaning the air, it helps me sleep better.

DR. WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER WINTER, SLEEP MEDICINE SPECIALISTS, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: The presence of plants in an individual's bedroom could facilitate positive sleep because the plant is going to take up carbon dioxide that's in the room and give off more oxygen. We do know that sleeping in a more oxygen enriched environment can certainly be helpful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hear that lavender and other plants have that scent that calm you enough to put you to sleep.

WINTER: They actually studied it. They found that the people who were being exposed to the lavender actually slept better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That makes me happy just seeing it come alive.

WINTER: A big part of what plants can do for our sleep is really helping to create the environment that an individual likes and that's a big part of sleep right there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: Some of the other news we're following. A violent clash between protesters and a Hong Kong police as another out of demonstrations sweep across the Chinese territory. This video was taken moments ago as protesters neared Hong Kong's border with China. You see police using pepper spray on the demonstrators.

PAUL: And the protests began last month over a controversial bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China to face trial. Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam, said this week, the bill is dead but protesters are concerned that it could be, be brought back for consideration.

Federal prosecutors, say, Jeffrey Epstein, the multi-millionaire charged with sex trafficking paid $350,000 to two people who could potentially testify against him in a trial.

SAVIDGE: The hedge fund manager is accused of operating a sex trafficking ring involving underage girls between the years of 2002 and 2005. This week, Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to court documents, though he began making the payments in November of last year. That was after the Miami Herald published an article on him and the 2008 non-prosecution agreement that he reached in Florida. Both the individuals were named as possible co- conspirators in the non-prosecution agreement.

Meanwhile, sources tell CNN that President Trump is once again considering removing Dan Coates as director of the National Intelligence.

[07:55:04] PAUL: Yes, Trump as the president, rather has expressed frustration with Coates in the past and has periodically considered replacing him.

Now, back in February, during a congressional hearing, Coates publicly contradicted the president's optimistic forecasts about the chances that North Korea would agree to give up its nuclear weapons. Coates has dismissed those rumors calling them, "frustrating".

And lawmakers are going to get more time to question Robert Mueller after agreeing to delay the former special counsel's public testimony.

SAVIDGE: Mueller was scheduled to appear in back-to-back sessions before the House Judiciary and the House Intelligence Committee. That was set for July 17th, but some lawmakers complained about the limited time of testimony which would have shut out half of the panel from asking questions of Mueller. Both sessions are now scheduled for Wednesday, July 24th.

PAUL: So, we know that Delta has canceled all of their flights in and out of New Orleans International Airport. We know that rain bands are moving onshore now as our team coverage in Tropical Storm Barry is continuing this morning.

SAVIDGE: Stay with us we'll have much more after the break.

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[08:00:04] PAUL: "BREAKING NEWS" here as we edge toward the 8:00 hour on this Saturday morning. So grateful to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.