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U.S. Struggles To Contain Coronavirus As Kids Go Back To School; White House Vows To Stick To The Science On Booster Shots; More Than 600,000 Customers Still Without Power In Louisiana; President Biden Set To Visit Storm-Hit Areas Of NY And NJ This Week; New Texas Law Restricts Abortion To First Six Weeks Of Pregnancy; Interview With Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA); Critical Funds Stall As Renters Face Evictions. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 05, 2021 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this holiday weekend.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

And we begin this weekend with a new chapter in the fight against coronavirus. Cases are up more than 300 percent since last Labor Day weekend. Hospitals are at capacity. There is high community transmission, and fears are growing about children who cannot yet be vaccinated.

Also confusion about when booster shots will be available. The White House playing defense this morning after its announcement on a planned booster rollout for September 20th came before the green light from the FDA.

And then today on CNN, the White House chief of staff tried to clarify.


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Did he get ahead of the science by setting that specific date for boosters before all the data was in?

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, Dana. I think what we said was that we would be ready as of the 20th which was the projection we were given from the senior science team as to when the FDA would clear the boosters.

I want to be absolutely clear. No one is going to get boosters until the FDA says they're approved, until the CDC advisory committee makes a recommendation.


WHITFIELD: All this as the virus spreads rapidly. Virtually all Americans live in areas with high levels of community transmission.

Florida is seeing its deadliest days of this pandemic. The average number of daily deaths reported in Florida has broken records for three straight weeks in a row.

Across the country hospitalizations nearly tripled in July. Then doubled in August. And now concerns are growing about the new mu coronavirus variant beginning to circulate.

Let's begin with that confusion over the booster shots.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is in Wilmington, Delaware where President Biden is spending the holiday weekend.

So Arlette, you know, what is the plan about getting booster shots into American arms?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House insists that no booster shots will be administered without that FDA and CDC approval.

But they had set that initial September 20th target date for rolling out these booster shots. But for the time being, it appears that that plan may need to be limited. They had hoped that both Pfizer and Moderna would be ready by that time. And officials have said that the Pfizer process is still appearing to be on track.

But it's Moderna that might take a bit longer. Officials say that they simply need more time to review data after that initial submission they received from Moderna they said it was inadequate and needed strengthened data.

But officials have also said that it might only be a matter of weeks between the Pfizer and Moderna approval coming.

Take a listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci a bit earlier today.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The FDA will examine it and then make a determination whether from a regulatory standpoint it's ok to go ahead.

So it looks good. I mean, I think it's going to be at the most a couple of week, a few week delay if any.


SAENZ: And Fauci also said that they are also conducting studies to see whether if you can mix and match these booster shots. Whether a Pfizer recipient could then receive Moderna or vice versa. He said that those studies would likely be completed within the next few weeks.

But this really comes as there's a real growing sense of urgency within the White House about COVID-19 pandemic as we still are seeing high transmission rates across the country, and also concerns over possible new variants.

President Biden is also set to discuss his COVID response at some point later in the week from the White House as they are trying to get a handle around how to contain this virus and also how to protect Americans with those further boosters.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz, thank you so much in Delaware.

All right. Meanwhile, COVID cases are still rising in most of the country and that's putting an incredible strain on hospitals as we face a critical moment in this pandemic.

CNN's Natasha Chen is here with more on this. So Natasha, how are hospitals handling this right now?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, hospitals everywhere are seeing this influx that they haven't seen since the last surge during the pandemic. Let's look at some of the graphs to give you context of this.

The daily -- seven-day moving average of deaths in this country has been moving upward. You can see that it is clearly higher than the average last summer during that summer surge.

Now, if you take a look at the graph for hospitalizations across the country, we are topping 100,000 people in hospitals every day because of COVID-19. As you mentioned, that had tripled in July. Doubled again in August.


CHEN: A little bit of good news is that the weekly national numbers showed a 2 percent increase on Thursday. So maybe there's easing on the horizon but still, ICU beds are filling up.

Let's zone in specifically on Kentucky now and look at their hospitalizations which are topping 2,500 people each day. The governor, Andy Beshear has called a special session of the state legislature to meet on Tuesday to address these issues.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Well, our situation is dire. We are setting case records. We have a record number of Kentuckians in the hospital battling COVID. In the ICU battling for their lives.

We have a record number of families that are praying for their loved one who is on a ventilator and needing that assistance to breathe.

I've sent the National Guard to our hardest hit hospitals. We brought in FEMA who have sent some strike teams and now we've deployed nursing students all over Kentucky.


CHEN: Let's go back to California where I am right now where the hospitalizations have seen a huge increase since late June. And I want to especially mention the San Joaquin Valley because that's an area of about 12 counties in the central part of the state.

They have seen fewer than ten percent of staffed ICU beds left available for three consecutive days. And this is an area that is less vaccinated than some of the urban parts of the state. In particular one county, Kings County for example, has fewer than one-third of adults fully vaccinated, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then Natasha, there's a new poll out about how scared Americans are about getting sick. What does it say?

CHEN: Yes. So the Washington Post/ABC poll shows that the level of concern among adults about whether they feel a risk of getting sick is much higher than it was in late June, specifically we're talking about 47 percent of adults responded saying that they feel there's a moderate or high risk of becoming sick with COVID compared to a lower percentage of adults in late June.

And we can tell that that concern is coming from the spread of the delta variant and obviously a lot of the numbers we just showed you indicate that a lot more people are ending up in the hospital right now.

So what's interesting, too, is that when you break down that poll number, specifically between vaccinated adults versus unvaccinated, it turns out that vaccinated adults, a higher percentage of them are feeling concerned versus the unvaccinated adults. They're showing a lower level of percentage of them feeling concerns, at least the way they responded to the survey, Fred.

WHITFIELD: That is fascinating.

All right. Natasha Chen, thanks so much.

So we heard White House chief of staff saying the Biden administration will stick to the science and wait for full regulatory approval before making booster shots available to the public.

The White House is still expected to roll out at least part of its plan to make third shots available the week of September 20th which was announced before securing approval from the FDA and CDC. But one expert says the public messaging around boosters is, indeed, confusing.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: I think that there's enormous frustration that the administration basically just pronounced that we are going to have a vaccine as a three-dose vaccine for the general public by September 20th without doing it the right way.

This is what we didn't like about the last administration when they would just proclaim things like Hydroxychloroquine, or convalescent plasma or Clorox Chewables or whatever they were doing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining me right now to discuss, Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in west Michigan. Dr. Davidson, so good to see you.

So does this extra layer of confusion impact people like you on the front lines?

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Well, no. I'm still dealing with a county with about a 42 percent vaccination rate, so I'm just hoping that I can get more people in the area that I serve just to get their first shot. I think that is the most critical piece of all this.

But as far as the rollout, listen, people would be frustrated if the FDA met on September 17th and then they said go ahead and they weren't quite ready to roll it out and then it was a rush job rolling it out.

Did the president get ahead of his skis a bit? Sure, I think that they have all acknowledged that. but I think they have also very clearly said they will not roll anything out until the FDA gives them the greenlight and tells them that the science is there.

I trust that will happen. And like Dr. Fauci said, that's going to happen in the very near future.

WHITFIELD: So then there are the issues of which vaccine. You know, Pfizer is more likely to get approval of that third booster than anyone else. But then those hose got Moderna vaccine, they're now wondering well, if a third shot is going to be required or encouraged, I should say, can they mix and match?

DR. DAVIDSON: Listen, this affects my house. I'm a house divided. My wife got Pfizer she's a physician. I got Moderna. We got them around the same time in January we're both going to be eligible that week if they get rolled out. And I certainly think that there is going to be safety in mixing and matching.


DR. DAVIDSON: Pfizer is fully approved. It can be used off label. So, you know, that can be given as an extra dose to anyone who got any of the other vaccines under the regulatory framework.

And I think, you know, the safety data that exists in the U.K. and in Israel would tell us that, yes, the safety will be there. I think there won't be a problem.

WHITFIELD: Here's Dr. Fauci on that issue.


DR. FAUCI: Right now we are suggesting and hopefully it will work out that way, that if you got Pfizer, you will then boost with Pfizer. If you get Moderna, you'll be boosting with Moderna. But we are doing the studies to determine if we can do just that, switch one with the other.


WHITFIELD: All right. So that's a perspective from a variation of folks on the medical front.

Dr. Rob Davidson, hopefully he can join us again. We lost the signal so he can't return to our conversation. But thank you Dr. Davidson. If you can hear us, thanks for joining us.

All right. Coming up, frustrated and waiting for help. More than a half a million power customers in the dark after Hurricane Ida, and they may have to wait weeks for relief.

Plus a 16-year-old trapped in a truck after a highway collapses. And now the teenager is opening up about the terror that she experienced during the height of the storm.



WHITFIELD: All right. One full week after Hurricane Ida slammed Louisiana and millions of Americans are still dealing with the aftermath. More than 600,000 customers in the state are still in the dark. Some of the hardest hit areas could be without electricity until the end of the month. And people are still waiting in long lines to get gas when they can find it. Some residents have expressed frustration at the pace of the federal response.

And this morning a former Louisiana lawmaker who is now heading up the White House response to Ida insisted the administration is all hands on deck.


CEDRIC RICHMOND, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: One of the reasons why the president wanted to come down and come down so early is because he wanted to see things on the ground.

And we know what the problems are and we're actually helping to resolve them. And that is getting power back on in homes. That's getting gas to fuel stations. That's getting tarps out there so people can start to mitigate their damages.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Nadia Romero is in Kenner, Louisiana just outside of New Orleans.

So Nadia, people are also facing very hot temperatures. What are they saying about how they're handling all of this?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka, it's interesting when you talk to people, they're trying to find new ways to describe the heat. It's a scorching heat, it's a boiling heat. It's really an issue for a lot of people who are just trying to live.

You think about not having electricity, no a/c now in September a hot month here in Louisiana anyway. But the humidity is so high as well. We are under yet another heat advisory.

And people are expecting to have their power back on, on September 8th for the city of Kenner. But people in this particular neighborhood where I am say that they're hopeful but they're not really optimistic.

So take a look behind me. I mean, this power pole came down during the storm and it's been down ever since -- seven days ago. And we're going to take look from our mask cam, the overhead shot of all of the other power poles that are in the middle of the street all the way down the street, because the electricity has been down for such a really long time.

And people are just dying here. There's a man in the background who is screaming that they need food, they need water. They need resources. They need all of the above.

Listen to why one woman says that she's so frustrated with Entergy, the power company.


EMILY ENCALARDE, KENNER RESIDENT WITHOUT POWER:I saw them walking around and tapping on poles and that's about it. I haven't seen anything else. They haven't moved anything that was down. They haven't given us any information as far as the people who are out here.

They gave us no information about anything. They didn't try to even tell us when it was going to happen.


ROMERO: So that was her frustration, saying that we've seen them come out two or three times now, but nothing has changed in the neighborhood. And some people are trapped in their homes.

On this side of the street, people here can't even leave their homes. They're barricaded inside because of the power lines, because of the power poles. We've seen cars, Fredricka, trying to weave in and out. They're driving on their neighbor's front lawns just to get out of the neighborhood to go and try to find supplies and resources, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's unbelievably dangerous.

So what's the latest now also on the nursing home situation where there were deaths, residents who were, you know, of the nursing homes who were evacuated but to conditions that just simply were not healthy and safe?

ROMERO: Yes. Fredricka, we see a lot of people who are able-bodied, right. So even though they're barricaded in their homes here, they can get up and leave if they have to. They can walk to the store, the gas station if they need to. But when you think about someone in a nursing home and assisted-living

facility, they don't have that option. They may need to be changed. They may need to be wearing a diaper. They may need extreme medical support.

And so seven facilities were shut down just last night by the Louisiana Department of Health. Those facilities shipped people to a warehouse in Independence, Louisiana. And that place had horrible conditions.

Just horrible for anyone to try to ride out a storm. They were left without having bathroom facilities. We were told that people were laying on the ground. They weren't being supported at all. So those facilities have all now been shut down as the investigation continues.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So many vulnerable. So many who were vulnerable before the storm left even situations even more perilous.

All right. Nadia Romero in New Orleans, thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: So President Biden this week is planning to visit storm-hit areas in New York and New Jersey. It's the second time in a week Biden is visiting areas recovering from Hurricane Ida's impact. At least 50 people died in the northeast in the storm's aftermath.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is joining us now from New York. So tell us what people are telling you about how they are recovering now a week after the storm.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, as the region prepares for a presidential visit in the coming days, we are now getting a fresh look or at least a new look at the sense of urgency that first responders were working with during the height of the storm on Wednesday as they tried to rescue several people.

In fact, some fresh video that was just released by the New York Police Department shows some of their officers desperately but sadly unsuccessfully trying to rescue three people that were stranded in an apartment here in Queens, not far from where we are at this hour.

And in that video you can see those officers trying their hardest to actually rescue those people. But as the police department points out, because of doors being locked, rising water, and also even live electricity, they were forced to call on their colleagues over at the fire department to actually come in and when everything was said and done, they found those three people who sadly died. They are just one of about 13 individuals in the city that -- whose lives were lost after the storm here.

And then you also have those who obviously made it through, but now are facing uncertainty in this sort of limbo that comes with the bureaucracies of trying to secure some kind of financial assistance to build back what they lost. In fact, just a little while ago we spent some time at a local storm service assistance center. One of about five that have been set up throughout the city that are meant to provide some services to those who have nowhere else to go.

We heard from one woman who lives not far from here, Barbara Martinez. She told us exactly what she's trying to do as she picks up the pieces and rebuild part of her basement that she lost during that storm.


BARBARA MARTINEZ, NEW YORK CITY RESIDENT: If you drive around queens, it looks like a bomb went off. Everybody's personal belongings are out on the street. And we have seen what looks like down south after a hurricane, this is what Queens looks like today.


SANDOVAL: Now, the reason why we don't see a whole lot of that anymore is because city crews have been out in full force basically picking up some of those damaged goods that have been left on curbs. So now it's about just trying to see how those damaged homes can be repaired.

Just a little while ago actually, Governor Kathy Hochul addressing these kinds of concerns, saying that she is asking the federal government to step in to help provide some kind of financial assistance for many of these individuals.

She basically said this is sort of two sides to it, you have the human side when it comes to individual assistance and the infrastructure side to try to address the drainage, to try to address some of those cellar and basement apartments that were basically death traps for so many New Yorkers during the height of the storm.

So those are the two different sort of faces of the recovery process. And she certainly is looking forward to trying to work with the Biden administration in the coming days as the Commander-In-Chief prepares to visit here to try to expedite the process on both fronts.

Get the infrastructure the help it needs and most importantly, people like Barbara the help they need as well.

WHITFIELD: And Polo, one can't help be struck by that video that's just now coming in showing NYPD in their rescue attempts whether it appears to be, you know, diving in deep water to try to get doors open to rescue people in those lower level units or even the images of them appearing to be perhaps maybe even in a subway tunnel.

I mean, it's extraordinary. The attempts to try to rescue people when this water came with such veracity (ph). Eight inches of water in some places in a matter of minutes.

SANDOVAL: It speaks to the stories that are just now getting out, Fred, just days later. And, of course, the stories when you pair them with these kinds of powerful visuals, it's a very strong reminder of what so many people experienced. I heard something interesting today from a local New Yorker who, in his eyes, felt that this was their Superstorm Sandy here in Queens, that they experienced obviously that high concentration of damage in certain pockets.

So yes absolutely. I think that now -- now that sort of the dust is settling here and now many families are getting a chance to sort of look back at what happened just days ago, there is that sort of reality check of just how bad it was for so many, and needless to say, for the families of about 13 people here in New York. They will never get their loved ones back.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much in New York. We'll check back with you for another update.

All right. Still to come, a near total ban -- abortion ban in Texas sending shockwaves across the country. And now Congress is responding. I'll talk live with the sponsor of a new bill that protects abortion access.



WHITFIELD: All right.

Just days after the Supreme Court let stand a strict new anti-abortion law in Texas. Now the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the legality of that Texas abortion ban.

The law bans abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. That's before many women even know that they're pregnant. The law also allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the law.

Congresswoman Judy Chu is a Democratic representative from California. She is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, and is the author of a new bill in the House aimed at guaranteeing abortion access.

Congresswoman, so good to see you.


REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): Thank you for having me.


WHITFIELD: So with the Senate scheduling to hold this hearing and you introducing this bill in the House, what you hope these two steps just might accomplish?

CHU: Well, the Woman's Health Protection Act, or what we call WHPA, would enshrine the protections of "Roe v. Wade" into law by establishing a federal statute that gives the right for patients to receive and providers to provide abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion and impede access. So what this means is that if WHPA were to pass, abortion access would

be protected everywhere regardless of the types of laws that states may pass whose only purpose is to impede abortion like dictating the width of clinic doors or forcing the doctors to have unnecessary admitting privileges in some hospital, or requiring an ultrasound.

All those provisions would be prohibited and a woman would have the freedom of choice to make a decision that would impact her future, a choice that is -- should be a private one between her and her doctor.

WHITFIELD: This morning on CNN, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar called the decision by the Supreme Court to not intervene in the Texas case an assault on women and jeopardizes "Roe v. Wade," and she's now calling for an end to the filibuster to protect abortion rights. Listen.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I believe we should abolish the filibuster. I do not believe an archaic rule should be used to allow us to put our heads in the sand -- to use Justice Sotomayor's words, to put our heads in the sand and not take action on the important issues, the challenges that are facing our country right now. Now and over the next years. We just will get nowhere if we keep this filibuster in place.


WHITFIELD: So ending the filibuster didn't help to help protect voting rights, and it certainly didn't happen while trying to get infrastructure, you know, across the finish line. So do you believe it has a better chance of ending the filibuster for the protection of abortion rights?

CHU: Well, I thank Senator Klobuchar for saying that. Yes, we should end the filibuster, or at the very least have an exception for certain very critical issues such as voting rights and such as access to abortion. Now the Woman's Health Protection Act actually can pass the House, in fact, in the last Congress we had 216 co-sponsors, and I'm so grateful that Pelosi has said that she will put this on the floor when we return.

But what many people don't realize is that in the Senate we have 48 co-sponsors. And we also have two Republicans that are pro-choice. So we actually have a majority there in the Senate that could pass this bill if it were not for the filibuster. So, yes, being able to have an exception for the filibuster is very key and critical for this.

WHITFIELD: And speaking of the infrastructure again, you know, this week the Biden agenda took a setback from a member of your own party, when Democratic Senator Joe Manchin wrote an op-ed threatening to pull his support for that agenda. The headline reading, "Why I Won't Support Spending Another $3.5 Trillion Amid Inflation, Debt and the Inevitability of Future Crises. Congress Needs to Take a Strategic Pause." So he at first did seem to support the infrastructure bill. Congresswoman, a key part of that spending bill is aimed at dealing

with climate change. Your state is in the midst of historic wildfires burning out of control. Louisiana and the northeast just devastated by catastrophic flooding and wind damage from Ida. So what is your message to your Senate colleague Manchin?

CHU: Well, there is a bipartisan infrastructure bill, but it does not do enough to address the effects of climate change. We need this $3.5 trillion Build Back Better human infrastructure bill, because it does include all of that. You know, these past 30 years have been the hottest in history, and I urge all those on this Labor Day to take care if you're having outdoor activities, because it's going to be record-breaking heat.

And it is a reflection of the fact that climate change is causing great disaster potentially for this planet if we don't do something about it. Now, this climate change can be addressed, though, through this infrastructure bill which has so many things. For one thing, to manage wildfires, it has $900 billion to manage these wildfires but also has numerous incentives to deal with carbon and to be able to get to renewable emergency, and to stop the negative effects of climate change very effectively.


So we really and truly need this if we're going to make a difference for Americans across this country.

WHITFIELD: All right. Congresswoman Judy Chu, thanks so much for being with us today.

CHU: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Stay well.

All right, straight ahead, more trouble for struggling Americans. Renters facing evictions say they are not getting the assistance they need fast enough.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Millions of Americans are struggling as rent bills pile up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and still all these months later, some are not getting the help that they need fast enough. State and local agencies are having a hard time distributing the funds. And that's leaving desperate tenants with an uncertain future.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more.


KRISTINA TOSCANO, FACING EVICTION: We're just like in limbo. We don't know what's going to happen. VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a race against

time for Kristina Toscano. She's being evicted while desperately waiting for rental relief funds that would save her from that fate.

TOSCANO: I was up at 7:00 in the morning, putting in my application.

YURKEVICH: Toscano, a receptionist out of a job for over a year, applied to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program three months ago.

TOSCANO: It's just taking so long.

YURKEVICH: New York state received $1.3 billion. So far it's only paid out about $300 million. In fact, state and local governments have distributed just 11 percent of the $46 billion in federal funds.

DANE YENTEL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL LOW INCOME HOUSING COALITION: The money is getting out much too slowly, and it may not reach many of these families in time.

YURKEVICH: Camden County, New Jersey, has $15 million for renters. But it took six months to even begin accepting applications.

LOUIS CAPPELLI JR. (D), COMMISSIONER DIRECTOR, CAMDEN COUNTY: It is a long time. Unfortunately, it wasn't something we as a county were prepared to implement.

YURKEVICH (on-camera): How much money have you guys been able to give out to residents so far?

CAPPELLI: We will be distributing nearly $6 million come this Friday.

YURKEVICH: But to date?

CAPPELLI: To date, zero. Right.

YURKEVICH: To date, zero.

CAPPELLI: Yes, it's been -- it's been a long process.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Without available staff the county outsourced the work to a third-party processer. Thirty people are now reviewing applications.

CAPPELLI: It really has been a frustrating process because we would have liked to have these funds on the street a lot more quickly.

YURKEVICH: New York and New Jersey are two of just six states in D.C. with some statewide eviction protections. But those expire in a few months. Pennsylvania like most states lost all eviction protections when the Supreme Court struck down the nationwide CDC moratorium late last month.


YURKEVICH: Philadelphia County has distributed nearly 79 percent of its rental relief. Last year it started its own program giving the county a leg up when the emergency funding became available this year.

(On-camera): Do you think you would be processing as quickly?

HELLER: It would have been a lot tougher. Definitely the infrastructure that we had and the experience was invaluable. The challenge is just that we're running out of money very quickly.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The county has received 53,000 applications, but says more than half won't get funded.

HELLER: We're hoping that there's a way we'll be able to get additional funds from the federal government.

YURKEVICH: Whether it's time or money running out, there's no freedom from anxiety for Toscano, especially when thinking about the future for her 9-year-old son.

(On-camera): What is the worst scenario for you?

TOSCANO: Being evicted with my child, and not having anywhere to go. I just think about my son like, you know, what am I going to tell him?

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: And still to come, a dangerous drive during Hurricane Ida. A teenager reveals what happened after this highway collapsed.



WHITFIELD: All right. New today the U.S. Navy is identifying five sailors killed when their helicopter crashed off the California coast. Their names, Lieutenant Bradley Foster of California. Lieutenant Paul Fridley of Virginia, Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James Buriak of Virginia, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sara Burns of Maryland, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey Tucker of Missouri. Officials say they were conducting routine flight operations about 60 miles off the coast of San Diego Tuesday. One crew member was rescued.

Afghanistan's national airline has started resuming domestic flights. The schedule is limited but it does include Kandahar, the site of the former U.S. base. Today the White House chief of staff said the U.S. is urgently working to evacuate remaining Americans from Afghanistan.


RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We're going to find ways to get them. The ones that want to leave to get them out of Afghanistan. We know many of them have family members. Many of them want to stay. But the ones that want to leave we're going to get them out.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: CNN's Nic Robertson is monitoring developments from nearby Islamabad, Pakistan. So, Nic, what do we know about the situation at the airports in Kabul?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. The Taliban still appear to be standing by, at least when talking to diplomats about their commitment to allow those to get out. Those Americans and other citizens to get out. We know here in Islamabad a couple of days ago the British Foreign secretary was here on Friday, talking to Pakistani officials about what they can do to make sure these American and British citizens can get out and Afghans who'd worked with them.

The Pakistanis said they would endeavor to help with that. Pakistanis sent their intelligence chief to Kabul to meet with the Taliban on Saturday.


And the readout we got from Pakistani officials here was that was a point of discussion. The Pakistanis also talking about the possibility of a road move from Kabul to a border with Pakistan. It's a long drive. It's through the mountains, but that was part of the discussion.

I think a lot of questions focusing on the airport right now, why the airport isn't an active route to get these people out if the Taliban's commitment still stand? And that's a major test of the international community. We've seen, as you say, those internal domestic flights. Flights at Kandahar in the south. Mazar in the north, Mazar-i-Sharif in the north. We've seen two aid flights land today with 50,000 of humanitarian aid coming from Bahrain and Qatar.

We know Qatari officials are on the ground there in Kabul as well working with the Taliban to help get their -- you know, the flight control systems and flight monitoring systems to bring aircraft in. We understand at the moment that that is not fully up to spec. That the Taliban still not do have their checks and controls in place to put people, allow people on international aircraft. But of course that pressure grows.

If the airport is working for domestic aircraft, what step up do you need to make to make it able to carry and take those international travel passengers that apparently the Taliban say can go to get them out, and the longer it goes, the deeper concern. The technical work is being done. That's what we understand -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nic Robertson, keep us posted from Islamabad. Thanks so much.

All right, and this programming note. 20 years after the September 11th attacks, we remember the heroes, victims, survivors. CNN Films presents "9/11" airing tonight at 8:00 on CNN. We'll be right back.


[14:56:26] WHITFIELD: A teenager in Mississippi is counting her blessings today after surviving a major wreck that left two people dead and 10 others hurt. It happened after the road collapsed due to flash flooding during Hurricane Ida.

Alison Spann from our affiliate WLOX in Mississippi has the details.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The road has collapsed. Multiple cars are in there. They advise.

ALISON SPANN, WLOX REPORTER: Messages heard over the police scanner, images taken by onlookers and frames of video shot by reporters show the scene out on Highway 26 that fateful night when part of it washed away. However, no one can tell the story of what happened quite like 16-year-old Emily Williams who is in this truck, trapped after she and her mother Amanda plummeted into the 50-foot-wide ravine.

EMILY WILLIAMS, SURVIVED DEADLY CAR ACCIDENT: I saw a big hole and then I blacked out. And it was -- and my mom was slang over toward me. And she was choking on her blood. She couldn't breathe or anything.

SPANN: As Emily worked to sit her mother upright and stopped her from choking, she could still hear the terrifying chaos happening outside her family's truck.

WILLIAMS: I remember hearing a car coming and then I heard a crash, and I heard an engine going from the car because it was on top of us. And it didn't really move us real much, but then I heard the screeching of another car's tires. And I heard people screaming and then it crashed.

SPANN: George County High senior Layla Jamison was in the car that landed on the Williams truck. Emily's aunt Shanna says Layla's car miraculously landed without crushing the cab Emily and Amanda were sitting in.

SHANNA BORDELON, LAYLA'S AUNT: If you look at the picture of that pile-up, specifically where Emily and Amanda -- where their truck landed, something as simple as the speed of the car behind them or had they not stopped, it really could have changed their fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulance from Stone County just crossed the bridge.

SPANN: Helped arrived on the scene and Emily's mom Amanda was rescued first. Emily says waiting in the collapse zone for help was terrifying.

WILLIAMS: Honestly, I was ready to give up. I was like we're not going to make it out here. Nobody is going to find us. Everybody is just going to keep piling in. I was ready to give up.

SPANN: But when Emily heard her dad's voice booming down from above, she knew she was safe. He would make sure of it. The 16-year-old is in the hospital now having undergone treatment for a broken leg, wrist and a torn colon from her seat belt. But still she says she feels lucky.

WILLIAMS: I do. I feel so lucky. I'm feeling so much better. I progressed a lot in physical therapy. I've been walking up and down the halls.


WHITFIELD: Wow. What an incredible story of survival.

Alison Spann from our affiliate WLOX in Biloxi, Mississippi, thank you so much for that.

And this reminder, there are plenty of ways that you can help the victims of Hurricane Ida. For more information, go to

Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour on the Gulf Coast where a week after Hurricane Ida slammed into Louisiana, millions of Americans are still desperately trying to get power, clean water and other basic necessities. More than 600,000 customers in the state are still in the dark.