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Don Lemon Tonight
U.S. Military Departs Afghanistan, Ending Longest U.S. War; American Stuck In Afghanistan Speaks Out After U.S. Forces Leave; Catastrophic One-Two Punch In Louisiana; Fight Breaks Out In Florida Over School Mask Mandate; Chef Joe Andres Is On The Ground Feeding Hurricane Evacuees; Monster Hurricane Ida Slams Louisiana. Aired 11p- 12a ET
Aired August 30, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): We are following two major breaking stories tonight. First, all U.S. service members are out of Afghanistan, officially ending our country's longest war, but up to 200 Americans and countless Afghans who helped U.S. troops have been left behind.
Plus, a desperate search underway tonight after Hurricane Ida ripped through Louisiana. Homes are demolished, entire neighborhoods now covered in water, and more than a million people are without power. Two people have died from the storm and the governor is warning that he expects the number to rise considerably. This disaster hitting as Louisiana hospitals are already stretched thin by the COVID-19 crisis.
I want to get straight to CNN's Alex Marquardt with the very latest on the final U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just as the day of August 31st, the deadline to leave, began in Afghanistan, the announcement was made.
FRANK MCKENZIE, U.S. CENTCOM COMMANDER: I'm here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans. The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30th, this afternoon, at 3:29 p.m. East Coast time and the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Central Command's General Frank McKenzie said the diplomatic sequel now begins, led by Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who insists the commitment to Afghanistan remains despite no diplomatic presence.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, U.S. military flights have ended, and our troops have departed Afghanistan. A new chapter of America's engagement with Afghanistan has begun.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): The final hours have been, U.S. officials say, the most dangerous, after a massive suicide bombing last week by ISIS-K that left scores dead, including 13 service members.
Early Monday morning, five rockets were fired at the Kabul airport. ISIS claimed responsibility. The Pentagon says its anti-rocket defense system engaged and no casualties were reported. The vehicle used to launch the rockets turned to ash.
It came just hours after U.S. Central Command said a drone targeted an ISIS vehicle with a large amount of explosives. The airstrike was in a residential Kabul neighborhood and CENTCOM said stopped an imminent threat on the airport.
HANK TAYLOR, JOINT STAFF DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR REGIONAL OPERATIONS: There was a secondary explosion that assessed that what was there was going to be used in a high-profile attack.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): But the multiple explosions also killed civilians. A relative told CNN at least 10 were killed from a single family. Seven were children under 10 years old. Neighbors described a massive bang to CNN then everything was engulfed in smoke. They tried to put out the fires with water and took the dead and wounded to the hospital.
The Pentagon says it's investigating.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Nobody wants to see that happen. But you know what else we didn't want to see happen. We didn't want to see happen what we believed to be a very real, a very specific, and a very imminent threat to the Hamid Karzai International Airport and to our troops operating at that airport.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Until the final moments, the evacuation flights continued but slowed down.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): In the end, more than 123,000 people were evacuated and among them are 6,000 Americans. But some U.S. citizens are left behind, around one to 200, according to the State Department.
(On camera) Those Americans who wanted to leave were not able to reach the airport. The military says that they were ready to evacuate them until the last minute when, in the words of General Frank McKenzie, we did not get everyone out we wanted.
It has been an extremely dangerous situation over the past few days around the airport. On top of those Americans are thousands of Afghan citizens who are also desperate to get out of the country. This is now a top priority for Secretary of State Tony Blinken who says the U.S. has gotten assurances from the Taliban that people will be able to leave the country. Don?
(END VIDEO TAPE) LEMON (on camera): Thank you very much for that, Alex. I appreciate it. Joining me now is CNN White House correspondent John Harwood and military analyst retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate you being here.
General, I just want to tell you, I appreciate your remarks and the way you handled the coverage of the remains of the service members returning here.
MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER ARMY COMMANDING GENERAL: Thanks, Don. That's kind.
LEMON: Thank you very much for that. It riveted and it just -- it was just a way you paid tribute to those service members.
So, John, I'm going to start with you, though. The U.S. is officially out of Afghanistan but we're told that there are still between 100 and 200 Americans who needed to be evacuated. What are you hearing from the White House? Is there a plan to get all of these people out of the country?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, it mostly involves exerting diplomatic pressure by the United States and its allies on the Taliban to live up to the commitments that Alex mentioned in that piece, to allow safe passage for people with proper documentation to leave the country through the Kabul airport.
The United States is going to reengage with the Afghanistan from Qatar. The embassies are closed within Afghanistan but they're going to operate from Qatar.
And for those 100 to 200 people, I think one of the things that we have to recognize is these are complicated decisions. There's a reason why many of these people did not leave for months when the U.S. government was directing people to leave. It's because they have deep ties to Afghanistan. Many of them are dual nationals with families in the country. Not an easy decision. Many of those waited until the last minute.
There's another 280 or so, according to the State Department, who are Americans who don't want to leave.
In both cases, they could change their minds. Secretary of State Blinken indicated that if somebody has said they want to stay but changed their mind, the United States is going to try to go to bat to help them get out as well.
And some of this is going to depend on the behavior of the Taliban. If the Taliban because they want to loosen some of the international aid (INAUDIBLE) and govern in a way that is recognized by the international community and be successful where they haven't been in the past as a governing force, they may moderate their behavior and fulfil those promises.
If they don't, if they refer to the medieval brutality that they have been known for decades, then some of the people who said they want to say may change their mind and want to leave.
And the one thing I don't know in that instance, because then diplomacy would not be particularly effective, General McKenzie indicated today that more than a thousand Americans had been rescued and taken to the airport by Special Forces. I don't know, and I am sure that General Hertling can educate both of us, on whether those kinds of operations could be possible if we don't have military footprint in the country.
LEMON: Will that --
HARWOOD: I don't know the answer to that. But I think if it is possible, I think that they would keep that option on the table.
LEMON: That was my next question, so thank you for that. The question is, General, without U.S. forces on the ground, as John mentioned, do you think that the U.S. can still fulfil their promise to get all of these people evacuated?
HERTLING: I do, Don, because, you know, the military has the capability to do an awful lot of things, many of which the American public don't realize. There are areas around Afghanistan that can be used to launch operations. That's the so-called over-the-horizon capability. It's not just striking at terrorists.
There are some other capabilities that, you know, could be carried out, extractions and the like, but what I'm most concerned about is the capability of re-establishing air links within Afghanistan.
It's going to take the Taliban, if they do become the government of Afghanistan, a long time to get flight links out, to have the kinds of certification they need for international travel, for even national travel within Afghanistan, to get certified.
So that's going to be challenging. But again, I would just say simply that the U.S. Military has the capability to do quite a few things.
LEMON: General, I want to put this video up. I want you to check out this video. It's from "L.A. Times" correspondent, showing the Taliban entering a hangar at the Kabul airport, examining helicopters. General McKenzie said today the U.S. removed or they demilitarized weapons and equipment that were at the airport.
But officials have admitted that some weapons fell into the Taliban's hands. Are you worried that we've strengthened the Taliban by leaving all of these weapons behind? And by the way, some of the -- remember the controlled explosions at the beginning. I understand that they were to get rid of some equipment as well. But are you worried about this, that they've strengthened them by leaving some of these weapons and equipment behind?
HERTLING: Well, I would only state, Don, that that might be the wrong term to use. The military didn't leave a lot of weapons behind. Remember, there were foreign military sales to the Afghan national army and the Afghan security forces.
And unfortunately, many of the bases throughout Afghanistan, those weapons were locked up for the use by the Afghan military. So, did we leave them for the Taliban? No, we did not. We either sold or gave them to our Afghan partners throughout the last couple of years.
I'm very concerned not so much about the aircraft because the Taliban won't be flying those aircraft that you saw in that propaganda video they've already posted. As General McKenzie said, they have decommissioned them.
I am worried more about the 300,000 plus M-4s, M-16s, the tens of thousands of machine guns, night vision goggles. We have just upped the capability of the Taliban with some of the most technically advanced weapons in the world.
There's also trucks, humvees, those kinds of things that aren't as susceptible to giving them advancement on the battlefield but it certainly would give them the capability to do things that they're not having right now, as we've seen from all the humvees driving around Kabul in the films lately. Those are all former Afghan national army Humvees.
So, yeah, am I concerned about it? Yeah, because I've seen lists of the kinds of things that we've given to the Afghan national army and the security forces and there's a bunch of stuff. And it's unfortunate that it's now all fallen into the hands of the Taliban.
LEMON: So John, more than 123,000 people were evacuated in 18 days. Look, that's quite a feat. But most of these people are refugees. So, where are they heading?
HARWOOD: Well, they're heading multiple places. Something like more than 90 countries indicated that they will take at least some. I think the United States will clearly take the greatest number. You know, Canada has pledged to take 20,000 or so. I think the U.K. over a number of years has pledged to take 20,000 or so.
But many of these are going to be held at interim locations while the vetting is taking place to make sure that they can come to the United States. Obviously, it gets very complicated if people don't pass the vet. What do you do with those people who don't pass the vet?
And we also have a domestic political issue coming because many Trump- style Republicans want to make the argument that it's bad to let Afghan refugees come into the United States because they don't like immigration, they think it's changing the face of the country, and limiting the control of people who thought they had control of the country.
So, this is going to be a very complicated situation. You know, you have on the one hand the laudable desire of the American military and the American government to say we're going to live up to our pledges and help people who helped us, and there's going to be political attacks from the other side saying, why are you letting all these people in? That's going to be one of the big challenges in the post- evacuation phase of this situation.
LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Again, thank you, general, for your service and for --
LEMON: -- the way you handled this weekend. Really appreciate it.
HERTLING: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you.
HERTLING: Thank you, Don.
LEMON (on camera): I want to turn to the Americans who are still in Afghanistan tonight, still desperate to be evacuated. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says that there are less than 200 people and likely closer to 100. Well, here's what else he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLINKEN: Our commitment to them and to all Americans in Afghanistan and everywhere in the world continues. The protection and welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department's most vital and enduring mission. If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now, and then in a week or a month or a year, they reach out and say, I've changed my mind, we will help them leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Joining me now by phone is Yasmeen. She is one of the American citizens still stuck in Afghanistan. Yasmeen, I appreciate you doing this. You've been trying to leave Afghanistan for days.
LEMON: You were repeatedly directed to different gates at the airport. Tell me how difficult it has been for you.
YASMEEN, AMERICAN CITIZEN IN AFGHANISTAN (via telephone): Unbelievable. Unbelievable. I don't have words for that to use. My mom and my son, 11-year-old son and my mom, she already have difficulty to walk that much. With my two brothers and their wives and little kids, we've been directed -- we arrived there on Monday, Monday morning.
YASMEEN (via telephone): And nighttime. When we arrived, it was already 1:00 a.m. at night. So after that, we were -- we've been told like on the ground and someone told us from the embassy that we have to go directly to the airport. And at the time, we could not make it and couldn't go.
We went to relative's house and then tomorrow, in the morning, we tried to step out. And it wasn't possible at the time when we went there due to the crowd. It was unbelievable crowd. So we came back and then we went back around 7:00.
LEMON: I understand it was incredibly hot when you -- during your journey. You went 20 hours without eating, drinking or even using the bathroom?
YASMEEN (via telephone): That's correct. And people on the ground, been contacting them every minute, every minute that we are here. They were saying, like, we are sending someone. So that was, like, Thursday evening. So they asked us to come to a specific gate. They gave us a code and number and send us a picture. If you see someone, you can show that as well or someone will call your name.
So we went to the gate. It was the Santa Cruz gate. So we went there. We were -- somehow, I just like (INAUDIBLE) into the crowd and like tried to call, you know, all the security guards that was there. They were not listening at all to anyone.
You know, I heard if you're a citizen, you just show them your passport, they will let you through. But that was not true at all. I was screaming at them and showing my passport and holding it high. I am a citizen. I just want to get through, waiting for more than two hours and just the same thing repeating over and over.
And I could not step further because they had guns and they were shooting at everyone. They were pointing, you know, on their feet and shooting at everyone's feet and shooting on the sky as well. So I was so scared. I could not step further to show to them closely. But none of them was willing to listen.
LEMON: What are you going to do now, Yasmeen?
YASMEEN (via telephone): I have no idea. I mean tried my best. I tried my best. We were there for six days. Six days, day and night. We were circling around. We were told to go to this gate and that gate.
The other day, the explosion happened, you know, at the time, we were there. That was the gate that -- I was being directed to go there and that someone will assist me. So when we arrived there, during the first checkpoint, the explosion happened, the bombing.
LEMON: Real quick, I understand that you've heard from Secretary Blinken, you heard him say that the State Department is getting ready to help Americans in Afghanistan even after this. So, do you have any idea how that's going to happen? Do you feel confident that it will happen?
YASMEEN (via telephone): I have no idea, to be honest with you, because I also asked the people on the ground the same thing. They were telling me the same thing. They didn't even have any idea when they're leaving and what's going to happen next and who's going to, you know, receive help from them. No one knows anything.
LEMON: Yasmeen, I want to thank you for joining us. We're sorry that you're in this predicament. Will you please keep in touch with us? Be safe. Thank you so much.
YASMEEN (via telephone): Of course. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it.
LEMON: Hospitals in Louisiana hit with a catastrophic one-two punch, the pandemic and now the aftermath of one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the United States. Can hospitals keep up and what happens if they can't?
LEMON: Louisiana hospitals are already overwhelmed with COVID patients before Hurricane Ida slammed into the state this weekend. Now, health care workers are scrambling amid flooding and power outages, making access to critical resources and personnel harder than ever.
Joining me now to discuss is Dr. Mark Laperouse. He is the emergency room medical director at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in my hometown of Baton Rouge. Thank you for joining us, doctor. I know you're busy but we're so glad that you're here to give the information and tell the story. It is still a search and rescue operation with an unknown number of injured. Are you seeing patients arrive at your hospital yet?
MARK LAPEROUSE, ER MEDICAL DOCTOR, OUR LADY OF THE LAKE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: We are. It seemed like the floodgates opened today. All the campuses in our network, just a lot of patients come by ambulance, come by private vehicle for typical complaints but then also for complaints probably related to the hurricane.
LEMON: Yeah. State health officials are saying that some smaller hospitals had to evacuate tonight after being damaged in the storm. Beds were already in short supply. How much of a strain is this on the system?
LAPEROUSE: It's going to be a strain on the system. Fortunately, we didn't suffer any catastrophic damage at Our lady of the Lake or any of our hospitals in the Baton Rouge region.
LAPEROUSE: We had a little bit of damage here and there but, you know, structurally, everything is fine and we're fully functioning. We have a task force that's figuring out how we can see more patients in the same number of rooms, same space, with the same providers. And so we're working on that game plan now to flex. So, as these hospitals are starting to transfer patients, you know, we can be elastic.
LEMON: So I visited down there before Ida hit. Your hospital is Baton Rouge General, because I was born there, so, you know. But listen, there were more than two -- I think 2,000 COVID patients in Louisiana hospitals before Ida hit. How much does a catastrophic storm like this add to an already desperate situation? How much does this taxed you, the hospital, the personnel, the system?
LAPEROUSE: It's tough, because we still are seeing new COVID patients that are coming in. That's not changing. The patients that were already here in the hospital, they're still here for the most part.
The thing that we're noticing today that we were expecting was that patients that had been home on oxygen with COVID, as their power is out, they run out of oxygen, because one of the ways they get oxygen is through something called a concentrator that requires electricity. As the electricity is out, they start to run out of their oxygen supply. So they come here because they don't have power and they're looking for oxygen.
There are shelters. There's one at Southern University that -- they can call 211 and they can see if they have availability there so they can go and plug in their own concentrator so they can have oxygen. They don't to actually come into the hospital.
LEMON: Okay. Look, you know, speaking of that, Louisiana has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, only 41 percent of people vaccinated. Look, I know you've got to be worried about the displacement caused by Ida. But how it can help, you know, spread this virus, from people being in close quarters or just not being able to social distance or wear masks in the way they would before because they're dealing with some extraordinary circumstances?
LAPEROUSE: Sure. Well, I've told people since March of 2020 that you can social distance in your house. So even if you have to get multiple people in a family together, neighbors together because of loss of property, try to stay six feet away from each other. It's not perfect, but it's better than piling up on a couch. Stay six feet away from other, wash your hands, try to stay in the same spot in the house, clean surfaces, and wear your masks.
Very soon, we will be -- we got some of our COVID testing sites back up today. Hopefully, we'll get some of our vaccination centers up and running so that we can get people vaccinated, especially now that this puts a little bit more pressure on people.
We were making some headway since you and I last spoke. People were changing their opinions on the vaccine and getting vaccinated. And I think we need to continue to build on that momentum even though we were kind of set back a little bit.
LEMON: Are you worried about the numbers going up after this? Because it seems like it is -- no pun intended, the perfect storm.
LAPEROUSE: Yeah, I think it's inevitable when you have a very contagious virus and then people are getting together, not intentionally at this point but by necessity. Absolutely, I think it's going to -- the numbers are going to go up.
LEMON: Doctor, appreciate your work. Be safe, be well. Thank you so much.
LAPEROUSE: Absolutely. Appreciate it, Don. LEMON: Thank you. Forty-five thousand students and staff quarantined because of COVID in Florida. So why are parents there still arguing over masks?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: As you can see, fists are now flying. All of these on live television. Fists are flying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): The coronavirus is still surging in the U.S. New cases at levels not seen since January, averaging more than 155,000 cases per day with 80 million eligible Americans still not vaccinated. Experts are warning COVID deaths could continue to rise.
And as kids head back to school, fights over mask mandates are becoming more heated. Joining me now to discuss is Dr. William Haseltine. He is a professor, a former professor at Harvard Medical School and the author of "My Lifelong Fight Against Disease and Variants."
Hello professor. Here we go. Thank you, sir. It's good to see you. I just want you to watch this. A fight breaks out after a Lee County school district in Florida decided to require masks for teachers and students for 30 days starting on September 1st with no opt out option. This was live coverage from our affiliate. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Are you shocked at what this has become?
UNKNOWN: Not at all. I've been watching it on social media for weeks and months and months. I'm not at all --
UNKNOWN: Okay. Right here, look right here. So, as you can see, fists are now flying. All of this on live television. Fists are flying.
UNKNOWN: Unbelievable, what we are seeing here today unfold live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Ah. It is breaking out. I mean over having to wear masks to prevent the spread of disease. This is ridiculous. This is where we are now.
WILLIAM HASELTINE, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, you know, it's just some basic facts. A hundred and eighty thousand children were infected last week. Our hospitals around the country and particularly with low vaccination rates are filling up with children. The highest number, the highest group infected now are teenagers.
We know that children give it to each other. They give it to their families. Infected teachers give it to their classrooms if they're not wearing masks. This is really serious business. Particularly, Labor Day is approaching quickly in schools. Not just the select schools, all over the country are going to be opening up in the midst of a pandemic which specifically targets young people. This is really serious now.
LEMON (on camera): I want you to listen to Dr. Fauci reacting to the model predicting another 100,000 Americans will die from COVID by December. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR, DIRECTOR OF THE U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You know, what is going on now is both entirely predictable, but entirely preventable. And we know we have the wherewithal with vaccines to turn this around.
And the reason you see the numbers that are so alarming that you just gave is that we have about 80 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated, who are not yet vaccinated. We could turn this around and we can do it efficiently and quickly if we just get those people vaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, when you hear predictable but entirely preventable, can we still turn around? I mean, it's crazy that we have to say that, right? It is preventable but -- yeah. Anyway, go on.
HASELTINE: It breaks your heart because we now have more vaccines than we need. We can go to any pharmacy and get the vaccine for free. It is heartbreaking, not only to see people who are dying who don't need to die, but to see our children suffer.
And you know, the other problem with this is this isn't gonna be over once there's no more COVID because there is something called long COVID. And increasingly, we are understanding that a very large fraction of adults and children who contract the virus, even though they may not be sick or very sick, may suffer these long effects which have mental effects, cardiac affects, effects on many things you want your children to be able to do.
So, this is extremely serious, not to mention what Tony just said, that about -- Dr. Fauci just said, that about 100,000 more people may die. We want the world to see that where people are vaccinated, they don't go to the hospital. There's a huge difference between being vaccinated and not being vaccinated, and how likely you are to be hospitalized, even if you catch the virus. There is an enormous difference, a 90 percent difference. We don't need to go through this again.
LEMON: Louisiana is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. The ICUs there are 88 percent full, nearly half are COVID patients. We also know hospitals in Kentucky are overwhelmed by new all-time high COVID hospitalizations. How worried are you about this, about the strain on our hospitals? I mean, I just had a physician from Our Lady of the Lake in Louisiana talking about the strain on staff and the system.
HASELTINE: Well, it's a tremendous strain, without the hurricane. With the hurricane, it's a double strain because some facilities have been shut down and people are being forced to congregate in a time when the virus is rampant. There will be more infections. But even without the hurricane, you go to those states with low vaccination rates and they are just like we were this time last year.
Remember what it was like last year with the extra hospitals, the extra beds in the parking lots? That's happening again and it doesn't need to happen now. Last year, we could do very little. But this year, we could do a lot. And we're not even doing the very best, the bare minimum for our children, which is having them to have masks. People are, as you saw, going into brutal fights over the issue. It makes you sad to see that.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, professor. I appreciate it.
HASELTINE: My pleasure. It's a pleasure always to be with you.
LEMON: Thank you. So, there in Louisiana, there in D.C., there in Haiti, well, Chef Jose Andres feeding flooding evacuees, Afghan refugees and earthquake victims.
LEMON: He is all over the place. He is a good man and he is here to talk about it right after this.
LEMON: Okay. So, more than a million Louisiana residents are without power tonight following the destruction left by Hurricane Ida. Almost the entire city of New Orleans is in the dark. Some officials in the city are worried that it could be weeks before it is restored.
LEMON: My next guest is Chef Jose Andreas. He is there. He is feeding hurricane victims with his group, World Central Kitchen. We are so happy that he is there.
Look, I know that you are on the ground. I know you're seeing a lot. But as I understand, you got people even where you are who are in need. What is going on, chef?
JOSE ANDRES, FOUNDER, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Well, it's been a long day for everybody. I began my day searching for the companies that had food. We already had many in refrigerators but we were looking for more. It was a very successful day. We were able to get tens of thousands of pieces of fruit, cheese, bread, and chicken. So that was good.
But then once we got foot, what we like to do at World Central Kitchen is go to look for the people that need us. Obviously, in New Orleans and surrounding areas, but then we began driving away. We are in places like Houma that we know has been one of the hardest-hit areas. So we arrived there.
Remember, it's very difficult to speak to anybody. It's not like you can get a cell signal. We began feeding one of the shelters with almost hundred people in downtown Houma. We began feeding some of the firefighters, some of the police, some of the sheriff offices.
This is the way we do it. We scout. We stop here to speak with you. It's a hotel called Evergreen Plaza. No light. All of a sudden, they saw that we had World Central Kitchen. People figured out. Some people know us. All of a sudden, we got a hundred people coming out from the dark rooms of this hotel.
LEMON: Chef, show me. Show me.
ANDRES: We've been feeding them already for the last half hour. That's the hotel in the back. These people back there saying hi, people going back to their dark rooms. Every room you see there, every dark room, is a family with children, elderly. And they are in the middle of nowhere.
And even this gas station where we are, this gas station very much, like many, they have electricity like this one --
ANDRES: They have a generator but they don't have gas or they have gas but they don't have a generator. This is very much the situation 24 hours after this hurricane.
LEMON: How many people, do you think, you've been feeding? You said you went to a shelter. There were a hundred people there. And now you're out here just where you are -- you're just driving by, finding people in need, right?
ANDRES: Yeah, I think today was not a huge day in terms of food. We need to remember that in the first 24 hours, people have food at home. There is still a need. But the situation is, all the restaurants very much are shut down.
ANDRES: Obviously the supermarkets and obviously the refrigeration, whatever people had in their freezers, may be still okay, but we are on the edge of people having to throw all that food away. Many restaurants, owners know World Central Kitchen was in downtown New Orleans. That's the Louisiana way. They began bringing the food to our centralized kitchen. So this is what is going on. Starting tomorrow, I believe, the next
one, two, three days, is when there is going to be a real need. A lot of people need the food because there is not going to be many places to buy it yet or there is no restaurant to order it from. So, it is when I see the need. The number of meals is going to be increasing dramatically.
LEMON: I'm glad you showed us what's happening. Before I let you go, I just want to tell people this. That Chef Andres's organization is providing -- has been feeding families arriving from D.C., we have some video of that, arriving in D.C. from Afghanistan, and then, if we have a video of that, so that's folks arriving in D.C. from Afghanistan and that's him getting ready to do that.
I also understand that he just got back from Haiti, feeding victims of the horrible earthquake there. So, you're doing what folks should be doing. I got to run. Take us out.
ANDRES: Thank you. I'm not doing it. It's many, many people doing it in Haiti. We've been doing a great job in the south. USAID has been doing great work, the Department of Defense. America is around the world. When people need us, Americans are there to help.
LEMON: Very simply, I'm just going to say thank you, thank you, thank you, especially as a resident of Baton Rouge. I grew up there. That's my hometown. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you, chef.
LEMON: I appreciate it. For more information on how you can help all the communities who we have spoken about, please go to cnn.com/impact.
LEMON: Hurricane Ida is threatening more flooding. We're going to bring you the very latest on where it's heading and how bad it will get after this.
LEMON: So here is our breaking news. At least two people are dead and more than a million are without power tonight after Hurricane Ida tore through Louisiana as a Category 4 storm.
Meanwhile, Pedram Javaheri is tracking Ida for us. Good evening, sir. Thank you so much. What's the latest?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Don, the latest coming in from the National Hurricane Center, putting the final advisory finally on this particular storm coming in at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time, puts it about 100 miles northeast of Jackson. So, right around, say, Tupelo, Mississippi, that's where the center of the storm is. Unfortunately, impacts are far from over because we know the amount of rainfall forecast even as far away as the northeast is pretty impressive, maybe upwards of a foot of rainfall possible into portions of Pennsylvania. And notice, as much as 18-plus inches has come down in and around areas around New Orleans. Mandeville points just to the west.
Don, much of New Orleans is experiencing its wettest year on record, leading up to this particular storm making landfall. So the soil already fully saturated. So any additional rainfall leads to surface flooding. That's why we have seen so much flooding reports across portions of Louisiana.
And the concern is, again, as the system migrates off towards the north and east, remember those pink contours that we saw down in Louisiana that were showing 10 to 12 inches? They are right here across portions of Pennsylvania and even into areas of the metro northeast.
The concern there is when you look at rainfalls in some of these areas and the expansive nature of this, Don, 1,200 mile coverage between Louisiana to Cape Cod where flood watchers are in place, but in portions of the Ohio and Tennessee valley (INAUDIBLE) about 90 percent of it is absorbed into the soil.
Put that into some of these major metro cities of the northeast, falls out of the sky, about 55 percent of it hits the concrete and becomes runoff, so flooding becoming a major story now as we move forward with this storm.
LEMON: Absolutely. Thank you, Pedram. I appreciate that. Be safe.
And thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.