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Hurricane Beryl Makes Landfall in Texas Causing Millions to be Put on High Alert for Flooding; Calls Growing within Democratic Party Ranks for President Biden to Step Down as Presidential Nominee; Holiday Weekend Violence Hits Chicago and Detroit; Millions on Alert as Hurricane Beryl Slams Texas. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 08:00   ET



EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE, AND EURASIA: Challenging the United States and our democratic allies, and, I should note, including our Asian allies, because we have the members, so we have our east Asian allies and Australia, another ally, joining the NATO summit. They've been doing this now for a couple of years, and that's significant. So we have the democracies getting together collectively on the world stage, though Putin and Xi want to have sort of competitive programming in the world of media, a split-screen.

So that is what they're trying to do here. They're trying to show that they're strong, that they can stand up to the democracies. There's a real struggle going on. You mentioned the far right. Yes, they've made some advances in certain places, but they've also had to retreat in places like Poland. We forget that Poland is now governed by a centrist government, and that has been a change. And the latest developments in France also should be reassuring to some extent. But there's a real struggle here.

So I think that those countries, China and Russia are watching closely, and they're trying to vie for influence with the United States.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Evelyn Farkas, great to see you. Thank you.

A new hour of CNN NEWS CENTRAL starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning, hurricane Beryl tearing through Texas, hundreds of thousands of people without power as millions more on high alert for flooding and life-threatening storm surges.

Anxiety and unease at the White House, we have new reporting on the somber mood there as calls grow louder for President Biden to end his campaign.

And multiple shootings in major American cities. We have the latest from the ground.

Sara is out today. I'm John Berman with Kate Bolduan, and this is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

BOLDUAN: The breaking news this hour, an extremely dangerous situation is happening in Texas at the moment. hurricane Beryl has made landfall, is lashing the coast, and moving inland. Flash flood warnings are in place, impacting millions of people this morning. As many as 100,000 people are waking up without power, and you know these numbers are fluid and fluctuating throughout the morning because it's happening as we speak.

Overnight, Beryl gained strength just before officially making landfall as a category one storm. This is the first U.S. landfall of the 2024 hurricane season, the earliest landfall in Texas in 40 years. Along with the flood threat, the other major concern is storm surge and the possibility the backside of the storm could spin up tornadoes in its wake.

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is in Texas, is in Port Lavaca, Texas, watching in all four us. Derek, what's the very latest?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, southeast Texas now feeling the brunt of the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, and it's packing quite the punch as well. This thing has been on our radar for nearly two weeks. It's made three separate landfalls now, including here in the U.S.

Where were standing in Port Lavaca, Texas, we received hurricane force gusts, tropical force sustained winds, and also a storm surge that there's quite a difference in what we experienced this time yesterday when we were on the ground. I just want to give you a little bit of a show and tell. This is the Lavaca Bay causeway directly behind me, and I want you to see this exposed around here. We're now on the backside of hurricane Beryl, and we're kind of getting that reverse flow. Of course, were moving away from low tide. But yesterday at this time, there were waves lapping up to the edge of this seawall. So quite a difference in the wind direction, but also the tide and the surge component to the storm on the back inside of it.

Now, there has been so much of the storm that has brought threats to the eastern parts of Texas, including 90-mile per hour wind gusts near the Matagorda Bay region. There has also been storm surge values two to five feet above normal high tide levels. And in Houston, we are starting to experience extremely heavy rain and localized flash flooding as well.

Let's get to the impacts, show you the graphics, because this speaks 1,000 words. We have still a hurricane, category one, 75 miles per hour, but it's this shading of red over Harris County all the way to the coastline of southeast Texas, that is a flash flood warning valid through 8:00 a.m. this morning, impacting hundreds of thousands of people, including the Houston metropolitan region. There have been rainfall totals here that have exceeded a half-a-foot in some locations, and there is more rain to come. That's the concern that the rivers, creeks, and bayous here could rapidly rise. So we're going to be on the lookout for flash flooding. There have been reports of water rescues in some locations across the most impacted areas. And I want you to see the current threats now in terms of tornadoes,

because we talk about that eastern quadrant of a hurricane, they spin up tornadoes at a moment's notice.


About an hour-and-a-half ago, there was a tornado warning in Houston metropolitan. It didn't last long, but nonetheless, that's the threats that we are facing. And a tornado watch exists through 10:00 a.m. On top of that the storm surge component, which again, we are on the backside of the storm, so winds are coming offshore. But Galveston Bay earlier this morning was exceeding four feet above their normal tide values. And that's expected to continue as the waters from the warm Gulf of Mexico, which is directly behind me, continue to surge and get pushed up thanks to the strong winds associated with this rapid strengthening storm that, of course, now has moved inland.

This storm is going to move away quickly. That's the only saving grace here. It's not another Harvey. Kate, the storm will not linger, it will move on, potentially limiting the heavy rainfall factor here. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: People will be very happy to hear that while they're still in the middle of it in many places. It's great see you, Derek. Thank you for being there. John?

BERMAN: We have new CNN reporting this morning, a somber mood inside the White House as aides are anxious about President Biden's political future. He has vowed to stay in the presidential race, but this morning there is increasing pressure on him to drop out. Sources say half a dozen top House Democrats told Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies in a private phone call that it was time for President Biden to go. One senior Democratic aide described the call as brutal.

This comes as lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill, the full Democratic caucus meets tomorrow. CNN's Kayla Tausche is at the White House this morning. Lauren Fox is with this as well. Kayla, let's start with you and the mood of that building behind you. What are you hearing?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mood, John, is somber, anxious, despondent -- adjectives that were used to describe the mood here a little over a week ago. And even in the week since that disastrous debate performance, despite tens of millions of dollars in new ads and aggressive campaign strategy and the president's attempt to hold interviews, take more questions from reporters to quiet some of those concerns, that strategy has done little to assuage not only how voters feel in the wake of that debate performance, with questions about his acuity and ability to serve, but also new concerns from those on Capitol Hill.

This week, the president faces a critical time asked for his candidacy. He'll be hosting more than 30 world leaders from NATO allies here in Washington, D.C., against the backdrop of this cloud hanging over his case candidacy which will need to be decided at some point in the next few weeks. He has dug is heels in. He has said he's not going anywhere. But even so, top donors, top Democrats on Capitol Hill are all continuing to raise questions about whether there needs to be a more coordinated effort, either a letter sent to President Biden or a meeting called at the White House to discuss these concerns in a more formalized fashion.

I'm told by a campaign official that President Biden is doing outreach of his own, that he's calling many Democratic lawmakers to try to assure them that their concerns are being heard. This on the back of speaking with more than 20 House Democrats last week on this same topic. But with House Democrats set to convene in full on Tuesday after holding that private call, he is really racing the clock here to try to get members of his own party board with him. And that outreach is going to continue in an aggressive fashion this week, John.

BERMAN: Yes, on that point that Kayla was just making there, Lauren Fox, the landscape changes very quickly in Washington starting today as members start coming back after being gone here. What's that going to look like with all these Democratic members around? They're going to have a full caucus meeting. You know they're going to be talking about this.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the momentum is going to be key here. And whether or not Biden is able to continue having support among Democrats in the House and in the Senate, we're going to get a good glimpse of where that support lies by the end of this week.

It's important to remember that lawmakers were only in town for just a few hours on Friday before departing right after that debate performance that was worrying to so many Democrats. And you're hearing from people across the spectrum of the party privately and now publicly. There are five Democrats calling for Biden to get out of this race. It's going to be really interesting to see when they get back tonight whether or not that momentum starts to shift for Biden, whether that momentum starts to build for him to get out of this race.

You heard over the weekend some of those concerns. Here's one Democrat, Gerry Connolly.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, (D-VA): Invoking God on almighty as the only intervention that is going to dissuade him from going forward, I hope Joe Biden didn't really mean that.


Look, this is a very human process, not a divine process. While we all hope for the blessings of God, politics is a very human business. And we have to make some very hard decisions going forward. And so does he.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOX: And lets just lay out the political framework here for a lot of Democrats. They are going to be watching polling very closely in the next couple of days, because what they want to understand is whether or not Biden's debate performance and questions about his mental acuity going forward are going to potentially hurt them in their own races. Democrats are hoping to take back the House. They're hoping to keep the Senate. If they start to see polling suggesting that Biden on the top of the ticket could be a problem for them going forward, that certainly will shift things.

We're going to be keeping a close eye also on Senator Mark Warner. There had been some reporting that he was going to try and convene some kind of meeting to discuss this issue with Democrats. That's no longer happening, we're told. But we're going to keep a close eye on some of those key voices. And again, we're going to know a lot more by the end of the week. John?

BERMAN: Really, honestly, there are changes almost every hour. Lauren Fox, Kayla Tausche, our thanks to both of you. Kate?

BOLDUAN: So a deadly combination of extremes happening out west. All- time record-breaking heat and wildfires making the landscape look like erupting volcanoes, this is how it's being described now.

Plus, families in Gaza evacuating their homes as Israeli forces begin new counterterrorism operation against Hamas.

And multiple shootings injured dozens of people during holiday celebrations. We have the latest and what became a very deadly weekend.



BOLDUAN: It was a deadly holiday in two major American cities. In Chicago, at least 100 people were shot over the long weekend. Police say 17 people died from their wounds, including an eight-year-old boy. And in Detroit, police say a shooting at a block party early Sunday morning killed two people and injured 19 others.

CNN's Whitney Wild is tracking all of this for us from Chicago.

Whitney, what are you learning?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well Kate, police here in Chicago had tried to step up enforcement. They canceled days off to try to increase presence as well as make response times to critical incidents as fast as possible. And even with those efforts, the numbers here are just staggering and they bear repeating as you said, 102 people shot in the city of Chicago over this Fourth of July weekend, 17 people killed, which includes as you had mentioned, an eight-year-old boy who was shot alongside a five-year-old boy, as well as an eight-year-old boy.

There were several children who were victims of this violence spread across the city, many children between the ages of 15 and 16, accounting for some of the victims here in these critical incidents, Kate, as you mentioned, the violence, certainly not limited to the city of Chicago.

Four hours away in Detroit, 19 people were injured, two people were killed at a shooting that unfolded at a block party around 2:30 in the morning over this holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, in Florence, Kentucky, this is a town of around 31,000 people, it is 15 minutes southwest of Cincinnati, four people were killed, three people were shot at a 21st birthday party. That suspect later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Back here in Chicago, there are many questions for Superintendent Larry Snelling, as well as Chicago's Mayor Brandon Johnson. We expect to hear from them at a press conference addressing public safety at 9:00 AM Central, Kate, we will bring you the very latest from that.

BOLDUAN: Whitney, thank you very much for the update.

Still ahead for us, almost a million people without power in the nation's fourth biggest city, Houston, Texas, starting to feel the force of Hurricane Beryl right now. We have new updates coming in on the impacts.

Plus, what happens after you lose all the weight from the new and popular weight loss drugs? We have new reporting on the struggle that some people are now facing to keep that weight off afterward.


[08:23:00 ]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right happening now, we are seeing reports of a million customers without power in Texas. That number seems to be growing as Hurricane Beryl has made landfall and is now tearing through the state. It is still a hurricane.

With us now on the phone is Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta.

Judge, thank you so much for being with us. I hope you can hear me.

Your county has seen the storm come through. It is still bearing down. Give us a sense of what's happening outside.

MATT SEBESTA, BRAZORIA COUNTY JUDGE: Thank you, John. Well, I am looking out the window right now, it is still driving rain and blowing really hard. So we've got tropical storm winds on most of the county, probably west into the county. We've still got gusts that are probably 90 to 100 miles an hour to the west side of the county.

So we've still got some pretty rough conditions going on.

BERMAN: If I am not mistaken, your county includes Surfside Beach. What's the situation been with storm surge there? SEBESTA: Storm surge, they were predicting initially four to six feet.

We're on a high side, right now. I haven't been able to talk to Mayor Bisso yet. I am going to call him shortly.

We saw some reports that we had tides of about eight foot, eight to eight-and-a-half feet above the ground. So we are going to probably have water just about over everything in Surfside Beach.

Fortunately, the homes there are all elevated, so we hopefully don't have anything in any structures, but I'll be talking to the mayor a little bit later this morning.

BERMAN: Actually, we have a live picture right now up from Surfside Beach. I see a lot of water. I see an awful lot of water there.

SEBESTA: There is an awful lot of water down there, yes, sir.

BERMAN: Yes, and if it is not covered in water, the water has been there and left a muddy mess behind. So that's going to be something that's going to need to be cleaned up for some time.

Any reports of people stranded? Needing help? What are you hearing on that front?


SEBESTA: Yes, we've had a couple of reports of trees on homes. We had a report of a tree on a trailer in the Alvin area and that person was rescued and I am sure we have a lot of trees down through Alto County, but that is the one that I have heard of.

So, I am sure were going to, as the sun is coming up, I am sure that we are going to have a lot of trees down and a lot of power lines out and down.

BERMAN: What's your biggest concern right now, Judge?

SEBESTA: The biggest concern is people staying put until the storm conditions subside. They need to continue to be hunkered down, let the storm, let the winds pass and then pretty much stay put, take care of things on their own property.

We don't need a lot of lookie-loos just running around looking at things, but take care of your business. And of course, if you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911, but the biggest issue is going to be Center Point in Texas, New Mexico assessing how many homes and businesses are without power and then our favorite people over the coming few days will be the linemen as they get out and bust their butts on getting power back, back to everyone.

BERMAN: It is one of the most amazing things to see after a hurricane, the lines of cars of more crews moving in to fix the power being applauded by people who live there.

Look, we are seeing these pictures now from Surfside Beach, as I said, a lot of water. I hope people can hear your warning. Stay inside until this is done.

Please be safe, Judge. Let us know how we can help. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

SEBESTA: Hey thank you for helping get the word out. Appreciate you.

BERMAN: All right, lawmakers are heading back to Washington this morning amid new calls for President Biden to step aside, Senate Democrats now meet tomorrow. We are standing by to hear what they have to say now about the president's political future.

And this morning, a team of astronauts just finished a year year-long visit to Mars without ever leaving Earth. Oh, I love a riddle.