Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Parts of Louisiana Unreachable, Extent of Ida's Damage Unclear; Tropical Storm Ida to Bring Flooding to Eastern U.S. as it Moves Inland; January 6 Committee to Ask Companies to Preserve Phone Records of Congressional Members, Trump Family. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 30, 2021 - 11:30   ET



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That man told me he lost part of his roof, part of his carport. He rode out the storm with his wife. He said it was so bad at one point, Kate, he said him and his wife got down on their hands and knees and started praying that they would survive.

Just a few blocks away from that, I ran into another man, talked to him about what happened to his home. His home also damaged. He said he heard a loud noise, woke up and said that is got to be it. He thought it was maybe the tree that had fallen on his house. He went out outside, Kate, it was a roof. It wasn't his roof. It was someone else's roof. He's still trying to figure out what's happening there, whose roof it was.

But, again, it is every direction that you look at, if you turn around and look in this direction here, more destruction. It is very clear now, although it was evident as we were standing out here experiencing Ida yesterday that this was for Houma a wind event, a severe, damaging wind event. There was some thought that it would be a water event.

But now, as we're out here seeing the light of day taking a walk around Houma, this direction as well, again, it is nearly every direction that you look at when you're in Downtown Houma. You see some form of destruction. You just see how badly Houma took a beating from Hurricane Ida. Back to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, Jason. I mean, you really -- you were in it for hours yesterday and now seeing what it looks like as the winds have started to die down. It is going to be a pretty devastating picture that is going to emerge. Thank you, Jason Carroll, he's in Houma, Louisiana for us.

Let's go to CNN's Nadia Romero. She's live in New Orleans for us this hour, where the city is, I believe, still completely without power. Nadia, what is the latest?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, completely without power. You heard Jason talk about that wind event. Look at these trees that came down during the storm and what did they come down on, these power lines. So this is why the city is without power part of the reason --

BOLDUAN: It looks like we lost the connection. As Nadia was saying, part of the -- a very big part of the problem in New Orleans and, really, across many cities in the state right now, is the power situation, communications down.

I believe we've reconnected with Nadia. Nadia, can you hear me?

All right, I think we're going to have to continue to try to reconnect with her. I will say, communications in this type of connection has been hard for everyone, police departments saying that they're without -- completely without communication. You can see the challenge of even connecting with our reporters on the ground. This is going to be very major significant issue as they try to get rescue and recovery efforts underway in many parts of the state.

Joining me right now is New Orleans City Council Member Joe Giarrusso. Councilman, thank you for -- I'm really happy we can even connect. It is been so hard with so many people to be able to connect because of the power situation. What is the latest that you know, that what is the damage that you are seeing in first light?

JOE GIARRUSSO, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, I heard Jason say in the segment before that in Houma, it is a wind event. The same thing is true here. Nadia was saying that there are lines that have been knocked down. She's absolutely right about that. The biggest issue for us is there are about eight transmission lines that feed into the city of New Orleans and also Jefferson Parish, all eight of those have been knocked out. It happened bit by bit during the day and apparently a cluster were knocked out late yesterday afternoon. And once that happened, we lost power completely.

So now, the biggest question we have is how is that being surveyed, how bad is the damage and, of course, how quickly will it get back up.

BOLDUAN: Look, I mean, in the way that the power company described it was a catastrophic transmission damage that led to it. I think that is exactly what you're describing. What is the best you're hearing, Councilman, on when they think power will be back, will be restored?

GIARRUSSO: The best they're saying is days, but I think that is optimistic at this point. What I'm hoping for is remember that it took all eight to lose all of the power, that potentially a couple of the major transmission lines can be fix in shorter order and that maybe we'll be up and running more quickly. But I think we have to be realistic at the same time and prepare people for a worst case scenario, just like Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, where it took weeks.

So, one of things that we're going to do is continue to press and make sure that power is restored as quickly as possible. We have a call at the energy company in 25 minutes and we know that nearly 20 percent of all Louisianans right now are without power and we want to make sure it is getting restored as quickly as possible.

BOLDUAN: You can see them, Councilman, but we are just showing you some of the first pictures we've gotten from the United States Coast Guard, who have been conducting overflights with just some of the damage and destruction you can see. And, I mean, you see debris everywhere. I'm trying to -- I have these pictures on my phone as well.


You can see near -- this is actually near Grand Isle, which has been a huge concern because I think communications have been completely knocked out. They've been out of contact with folks in Grand Isle since yesterday afternoon. You see water everywhere. You see roofs, structures completely destroyed. Of course, you see the trees stripped of their leaves, kind of hallmarks of a major wind event that we often see after hurricanes. But it is not a good picture from what we're seeing from some of the damage from these first pictures coming from the U.S. Coast Guard.

But back to New Orleans and the power situation, what does it mean, Councilman, for residents, the residents of New Orleans to be out of power for weeks? I mean, what is this -- it is not just the hit of the storm, it is the -- what happens afterward that could be just as dangerous for people.

GIARRUSSO: Yes, you're 100 percent right. It is the aftermath in a couple of different areas. We heard the governor's office say yesterday that, typically, more people perish after the storm than in the storm itself for a variety of different reasons. And then, remember, we are right in the middle of summer and even though the storm cooled things off to 86 or 87 degrees, still 100 percent humidity. So, it is hot inside at city hall, most of the places we don't have power either. So I can attest to how hot it is.

And on top of that, remember all of the things that you want to be able to do, you can't. So you need to clean out your refrigerator. You can't go to the grocery store to replenish those things that you have. You can't just go get a cup of coffee.

And so one of the things we're going to have to think there, and I'm sure the city is working on right now, is for people who may not have the means with how could we get them to where they need to be so they are safe. But being without power is not just a slight inconvenience, it is going to be a major fact and making sure that people's quality of life is affected and how we deal with it to try and improve it as quickly as possible.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It can become a life-threatening inconvenience if it drags out depending on where it is. Councilman, thank you very much for your time. Good luck. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, Louisiana hospitals are already, of course, have been pushed to the limits with COVID patients. They are now facing even more challenges from the hurricane. I'm going to speak with a doctor at a New Orleans hospital next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BOLDUAN: We are continuing to follow the breaking news of Hurricane Ida has ravaging the state of Louisiana. It is now a tropical storm though pummeling Mississippi and Alabama with heavy rains at this hour. CNN has also just learned that President Biden will be speaking this afternoon about the relief efforts that are really now getting underway.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has been -- he is tracking the storm where it is been and where it is headed right now for us. Chad, what are you seeing?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Kate, the 11:00 advisory kept it as a tropical storm. I was hoping they would drop it to a tropical depression and saying winds of 35. I've seen a couple of gusts to almost 40 but, really, this is winding down, and that's the good news.

It is not winding down when it comes to rainfall. Tropical like rains where you walk outside and you can be wet in a minute, that is how hard these areas are seeing the rainfall. We've had a couple of tornado warnings earlier today but the tornado watch has been posted until 4:00, not seeing anything rotating at this hour.

There goes the storm offshore by Thursday and to Friday and long, long gone. But we're still going to see areas with four to six inches of rain far from where this thing made landfall. So we could see some flash flooding; We have now an 80 percent of something coming off the African coast, a 20 percent chance of something in the Caribbean. We've Julian dying a cold death in the North Atlantic and, Kate, here is Kate, for you.

BOLDUAN: That is not a title I would ever like to be. I don't ever want to be a tropical depression. Don't even ask. But it is something that you can track. Thanks, Chad. I really appreciate.

MYERS: You bet.

BOLDUAN: All right. So, we are following breaking news out of Louisiana, which includes hospital roofs peeling off, generators failing, medical staff having to manually ventilate patients because back-up generators are failing as well. These are some of the truly scary stories of Hurricane Ida's catastrophic impact on Louisiana's hospitals.

Joining me now is Dr. Mark Kline. He is the chief physician and -- he is the physician-in-chief at Children's Hospital New Orleans with an update there.

Power is a huge problem, Doctor, all throughout New Orleans. We were just talking to a councilman about it. What is the power situation at your hospital?

DR. MARK KLINE, PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NEW ORLEANS: Thanks for having me, Kate. We've been on back- up power for about 12 hours now, and that provides adequate power to all of the patient care areas, the nonessential areas of the hospital are dark.

BOLDUAN: What kind of damage has the building sustained overnight?

KLINE: We had some water intrusion on the ground floor, including in our -- into brand-new $300 million edition that opened literally two days before the hurricane hit.


We also had water coming in through the roof in several locations. We lost some flashing off of the roof. We didn't suffer any major structural damage at all so we've got some repairs to make. But the good news is that all of the children were safe and sound inside the hospital through the hurricane. We had a team of professionals locked in the building with them taking care of them and everyone came through in good shape.

BOLDUAN: Yes. That is what I was going to ask you. I have seen that you called this storm a gut-punch for everyone at your hospital. Tell me more about how the children are doing and how the staff are doing. How are your employees describing it?

KLINE: Well, thanks for asking about that. We've had a tough stretch here. We've had a summer of virus infections. First, RSV and then COVID-19, and our nurse and doctors are exhausted, frankly. July was the busiest month in the history of the hospital. 66 years in terms of the number of parents admitted to the hospital and to our intensive care units and through our emergency department. And so everyone already was -- had been really tested physically and emotionally. And the last thing in the world that we needed was a category four hurricane, but here it is. And I think we have dealt with it pretty well. We've got a little bit more work to do over the coming days.

We are concerned about the city of New Orleans' power situation. We have fuel for back-up generators for the next few days and we think we will be able to get more fuel here at the hospital. But that probably is the number one concern for us at this moment.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I was just thinking about the employees of the hospital, but also just thinking not only do the families of these children in your care have their child in the hospital, then they're also, I'm sure many of them at least, separated from their child in a category four storm is crushing through the city. I can't think of -- I can't think of much worse as a parent, quite honestly, Doctor.

KLINE: Absolutely. This is so tough emotionally on so many people. And for those of us who are part of the New Orleans community, it is incredibly sad to see what has happened to our community, the damage that it has suffered. And we've got to pull together and get through it the best way we know how.

But we are quite concerned about our staff. As I said they've been very busy for a long time now and are going to be even busier over the days to come. And many of them have lost their homes or their homes have been damaged substantially, and the same with the children and the families that we serve. We're taking care of their health care needs here but we know that they have other enormous needs at this point in time.

So, we're just hoping and praying that everyone comes through this in good shape in the end. New Orleans is a very resilient place, incredible people. And in the end, we're going to pull through this.

BOLDUAN: Well, we're very thankful for everything that you do and for every single employee in your hospital and what they're doing for all of your young patients and all of those kids in your care. Thank you so much, Doctor.

KLINE: Thanks for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. For more information on how to help the victims of Hurricane Ida, go to You can have an impact yourself. You could help.

Coming up for us, the congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has taken a big new step in its probe. CNN has learned exclusive details on what they're looking, what direction they're going, who their targeting, next.



BOLDUAN: Now, to a CNN exclusive. The congressional committee investigating the January 6th insurrection is set to ask telecommunications companies to preserve phone records of some members of Congress, former President Trump and members of his family. Specifically, they are looking for people who played a role in the so- called the Stop the Steal rally, which was the prelude to the violent attack on the Capitol.

CNN's Ryan Nobles, he is live on Capitol Hill with these exclusive details. Ryan, what more are you learning?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. This is a list that the members of the committee do not want to make public but CNN was able to obtain this information. This is a group of members of Congress, all Republicans, all fierce defenders of the former president, Donald Trump, who played some role in that Stop the Steal rally that served as a prelude to the insurrection and riots here at the Capitol. We're talking about members like Representative Lauren Boebert, Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Scott Perry and others.

Now, in addition to these members of Congress, the committee also is interested in the phone records of members of the Trump family, including the former president himself, three of his children, Eric Trump's spouse, Laura Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was a member of the campaign and also the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.


Now, at this point, this is just a request to preserve these records. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to actually collect those records. But it gives us an indication as to which direction this investigation is going.

One other note, Kate, there is a name noticeably absent from the list, and that's the current house minority leader, Kevin McCarthy. We know the committee is very interested in his conversation with the former president, Donald Trump. We're told he could be at it at some point, but this is where the committee is starting. Kate?

BOLDUAN: That is interesting. Great reporting, Ryan, thank you very much for that.

Ahead for us still, rescues are underway at this hour after Hurricane Ida ripped through Louisiana, huge wind damage, life-threatening flooding and still more than a million customers without power. We're going to head back to Louisiana, next.