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Erin Burnett Outfront

Death Toll Rises to 45 After Historic Flooding Pounds Northeast; At Least 45 Killed in Northeast Flooding; Biden Rips SCOTUS for allowing Texas Abortion Law to Take Effect; Interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Judge Rules Against Florida Governor's Ban on Mask Mandates in School. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 02, 2021 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: For next, the death toll rising. At least 45 people now killed in the historic flooding across the Northeast, water rescues underway as homes and roads remain underwater.

Plus, President Biden slams the Supreme Court's decision not to block the Texas new abortion law calling it an unprecedented assault. But what can the President do about it?

And tonight, we take you inside the final flight out of Afghanistan. It's a story you'll only see on CNN. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, Ida's devastating and deadly Aftermath. Tonight, the death toll has risen significantly, at least 45 people killed across the East Coast as remnants of Ida leave breathtaking destruction.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): This is the first time we've had a flash flood event of this proportion.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): An extraordinary, sadly, tragic, historic 24 hours in New Jersey. There's no other way to put it.


BOLDUAN: Tonight in the northeast, more than a hundred thousand people are in the dark and the threat is not over yet. New Jersey appearing to be the hardest-hit state with 23 people dead and officials say many more are still missing at this hour. This video we're going to show you is Bound Brook, New Jersey. Floodwaters turning entire neighborhoods into islands, a baseball field flooded. The outfield and lower stands completely submerged.

And to give you an idea of how widespread the damage is, this is what that area normally looks like. For many people, the only way out is by boat. We have seen people being rescued by the water all day long. There are also record-breaking flooding in New York where 15 people died.

The rain falling so hard and so fast, it's smashed New York City's previous record set just last month, more than three inches in one hour. That has never happened before. And it was more than the city streets could handle. This highway still underwater, cars and trucks abandoned as people fled for higher ground.

And we were also just getting in new video of a water rescue in New York Central Park. Police waiting through floodwaters to rescue a stranded driver. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I mean, that's how you make your money, man. That's important. Get your stuff. I'm here. I'll hold you.

Yes, just like that. I got (inaudible) time, man.


BOLDUAN: That water really is unbelievable. New York's subways now back up and running after being knocked offline. Water was seen just gushing onto the tracks overnight. Basement apartments also flooding so fast that some New Yorkers, including a two-year-old boy sadly did not make it out in time.

And in addition to the flooding, people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are also cleaning up after tornadoes. Miraculously, truly, no one was killed after a twister tore through this neighborhood. Look at that.

And tonight, President Biden who will be heading to Louisiana tomorrow is promising help is on the way for everyone affected by the storm.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a lot of damage and I made clear to the governors that my team at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA is underground and ready to provide all the assistance that's needed.


BOLDUAN: We have reporters on the ground from Louisiana to New York. I want to start with Jason Carroll. He's OUTFRONT now live in New York. Jason, how are things looking on the ground there tonight?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, New York's Governor said it best. She called it a catastrophic event and they're really feeling the weight of that in this neighborhood here in Queens. Behind me, you can see these people gathered at that home. That is the place where two people lost their lives. They were in the

basement when the water rushed in. They could not make it out in time. Their names will be added to the names of all of those who perished during the storm.


CARROLL(voice-over): Tonight, historic flooding pummeling the northeast and the race now to rescue people from their homes.


HOCHUL: We're still uncovering the true depth of the loss. The human loss which is hard to imagine.


CARROLL(voice-over): Officials say they have responded to at least 500 emergency calls in just one Philadelphia County.


RANDY PADFIELD, PENNSYLVANIA EMA DIRECTOR: We're still seeing ongoing flooding in the southeast portion of the state, some of which is surpassing record flood levels and there are rescues ongoing.


CARROLL(voice-over): Flood gauges show the Schuylkill River rose more than 12 feet in eight hours.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because the rain has stopped, doesn't mean the water stops flowing.



CARROLL(voice-over): At Bound Brook, New Jersey waters are still high enough to completely cover train tracks and to flood this stadium. Parts of New York are still underwater. A major highway in the Bronx now a parking lot.

And here in Mamaroneck, New York, the cleanup is just getting underway. These bakery owners lost everything.


CARROLL(on camera): How high was the water in here, do you have any ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say at least six feet, almost six feet.

CARROLL(off-camera): Up to the wall. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see the line where that line is?

CARROLL(off-camera): Oh, the line right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where - yes, that's where the water went up to.



CARROLL(voice-over): It all started Wednesday night, the National Weather Service issuing a flash flood emergency in New York City for the first time ever.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The report was three to six inches over the course of a whole day, which was not a particularly problematic amount. That turned into the biggest single hour of rainfall in New York City history with almost no warning.


CARROLL(voice-over): But its intensity took many by surprise. The city's infrastructure was unprepared, dozens of people were stuck on city buses and in subway stations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people stranded down here, yes. Oh, my god, I've been down here from 11:20 something.


CARROLL(voice-over): The MTA reporting 46 stations were inundated with water. Officials admitting the system was not designed for this type of record rainfall.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything over two inches an hour we're going to have trouble with.



CARROLL(on camera): And Kate, the folks here in this neighborhood Tell me they've actually seen these streets flood before, but nothing like what they saw last night and that's what we're hearing from all over the city. They've seen the subways flood before. They've seen the streets flood before. But again, nothing like this, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jason, thank you so much. I want to go down to Mullica Hill, New Jersey where a tornado

touchdown, destroying at least 25 homes. More people there are still, many people there are still without power tonight as well. Paula Newton is on the ground. She's joining me now.

Paula, how bad is the damage that you're seeing there?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, as sobering as it is and I want to show you the damage here. I mean, look at this, homes completely destroyed by a tornado, at least eight tornadoes touching down in the Northeast. What is so miraculous at this point is that people here know they're lucky despite this destruction. There have been no severe injuries, no deaths and yet the ferocity of the wind, the stories that we heard was that, look, you had hardly any time at all. They could see the funnel clouds through their windows as they got the notice on their mobile phones to take shelter in their basements. And within a few minutes, it was all done.

I want you now to hear from Mike Castle (ph). You have to think he knew his wife was right. His wife said we have to get into the basement. They took their three-year-old girl into that basement and they are sure that is what saved their lives. Take a listen.


MIKE CASTLE (PH): It looks a little more like Oklahoma today, but it's South Jersey farm town. Never would have thought.

NEWTON(off-camera): People keep saying three minutes. How desperate do you think it would have been had you not heeded the warning?

CASTLE (PH): I think it would have been dire for a lot of people. I mean, you see over there, the house has completely flattened, unfortunately. They did the same. Everyone was in the basement. I just think something about this felt different and everybody did the right thing fortunately.


NEWTON: It certainly was different. It is the Governor of New Jersey who's confirmed that now at least 23 deaths in this state and none of them happen here in this neighborhood. But I want you to see what's going on now with all this destruction. People's dream homes really, Kate, have turned into complete rubble.

And the next question is do you rebuild. I mean, you just heard Mike Castle (ph) there say, this is New Jersey, not Oklahoma. And they don't know what the insurance will cover and quite frankly, Kate, they're not sure they want to go and relive the terrifying moments that they had in this neighborhood last night, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It looks like a beautiful neighborhood just torn to bits. Paula, thank you so much for your reporting.

OUTFRONT now is Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng. She represents part of Queens, New York where several of the deaths in New York occurred. Congresswoman, thank you for being here. I know that you've been traveling throughout the community today, seeing the damage and destruction, and talking to the residents who live through this. What are they telling you?

REP. GRACE MENG (D-NY): So I think they've gone through a range of emotions in the last 12 hours or so. Last night was just lots of fear. People didn't know what to do. They were literally watching what seemed like an ocean or a wave pool right in front of their homes from their stoops.

And today when we went around, we're mostly seeing recovery and cleanup. Most people have unloaded either their basement apartments or their garages, their belongings from clothing and shoes to refrigerators and washer dryers are lining the sidewalks here in Queens.


And a lot of them are emotional because these are their lifetime belongings and they have to get rid of them. And some of them, a lot of them have lost their cars. Many of these families only have one car and for some of them, it's their means of making a living in some cases.

BOLDUAN: You're describing it so well. But, I mean, how extensive do you think the damage is going to be for so many people in your district?

MENG: I think these are everyday hard working families, I don't know how much savings they have. And remember, people here in Queens and throughout the country have just gone through COVID. A lot of people have lost jobs and loved ones and even their homes and so they have already been devastated.

A lot of them, I'm meeting for the first time and they have tears in their eyes because they just feel like they can't go through life anymore and they don't know - they haven't yet gotten to that point, but they don't know how they are going to pay for all that or replace some of the belongings. And worst case is the cases where lives were lost.

I was in one apartment where within minutes, a family of three could not make it out in time. The water rose above their head level within minutes and they never made it out alive.

BOLDUAN: I want to play something that one Queens resident whose home was flooded told CNN. Let me play this for you.


AMRITA BHAGWANDIN, QUEENS RESIDENT, HOME FLOODED: I can't think anymore about how I feel at this point because of the chaos outside. My neighbors, there's a loss of life. I've lost everything in here and mostly the lives out there. I just don't know. We need some support. This is too much for us and there's no end in sight.


BOLDUAN: There's no end in sight. I was really struck by - it's getting to what you're saying. It's like tragedy and compounding tragedy that people have been through. And she says she doesn't even know where to begin. I mean, what are people asking for in terms of help? What do they need?

MENG: I think at this point in the last few hours when I've talked to people, they are physically and emotionally worn out. They've spent all night moving their belongings out. You can literally see their eyes and foreheads clouded by their fears and their sweat. And we went around to give out some information, but I don't know if they're ready for that point in the process today, maybe in the next few days.

But they are really emotionally tapped out and we just want them to know that we stand ready to help them whenever they're ready.

BOLDUAN: Emotionally exhausted and physically spent from what they've been through. And that's something you could say for like the last 18 months of this pandemic and then this. Congressman, thanks for your time.

MENG: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, more of our breaking news. Historic flooding also trapping hundreds across Pennsylvania. We're going to take you to one of the hardest-hit areas next where crews have already responded to 450 calls for water rescues.

Plus, the Supreme Court refuses to stop the Texas law banning nearly all abortions. The President is weighing in, but is this the beginning of the end for Roe vs. Wade?

And from brawls to death threats, the war over school mask requirements is getting worse.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police officers that kicked us out for our First Amendment right we'll also be going down with them.




BOLDUAN: Breaking news, rescues underway at this hour in the Philadelphia area after some communities were hit with more than eight inches of water, more than a hundred people in Philadelphia needed to be rescued from floodwaters today so far. And parts of the city are still underwater after seeing historic rainfall. The massive amount of water and how fast it fell forcing the Schuylkill River to rise 12 feet in just eight hours.

Pete Muntean is OUTFRONT from Philadelphia for us tonight. Pete, the city is seeing this historic flooding that still isn't receding in some parts. What's the latest there?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a really serious situation, Kate. And I just want to set the scene for you here, this is the Vine Street Expressway behind me, Interstate 676. It connects 76 on the west to the Ben Franklin Bridge on the east and Camden, New Jersey. It is filled with water right now, typically around this time it will be filled with cars. This is such a big problem here and it really shows the impact of how bad this area flooded today.

Just to give you an idea water is receding a little bit. You can see the mud line here of where the water was, but that bottom of that overpass there, 21st Street, the water was much higher earlier. It's coming down a little bit, but that is about the clearance about halfway from the water to the bottom of the overpass of what the water would not be like typically. It would be filled with nothing. It would just be filled with cars.

This is a really serious problem here in Philadelphia and region-wide. The Schuylkill River overflowed its banks early this morning, crested at about 17 feet, a number not seen since 1869. Now it's down to about 11 feet according to the National Weather Service and will not be below flood stage until sometime after midnight. That's why the flood emergency here remains in place in Philadelphia until seven tomorrow morning. And we're only just now getting a glimpse of how bad the damage will be here.

I talked to you earlier today, Kate, over the banks of the Schuylkill and that area is filled up with a bunch of trash from towns upstream, flowing downstream here into Philadelphia. It is a really big issue and we know that there have been many, many water rescues, 500 calls alone just last night according to Gov. Tom Wolf in Montgomery County to the north and we know that several people have died in the State of Pennsylvania as well.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And I'll tell you where you are, at Vine Street Expressway, the former Mayor, the former Governor of Pennsylvania said they could not believe that scene. That does not flood. That is a major thoroughfare. It's crazy.

MUNTEAN: And there was a pumping station here, Kate. I mean, this sort of was the headline when you think about of the 300 roads closed here in Pennsylvania earlier today. This got top billing because a pumping station here was also underwater.


So this is a spot that would typically be joked with traffic, now it's just filled with water.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Pete, thank you very much.

And just as Pete was saying, one of the hardest-hit areas is suburban Montgomery County where three people have died, two believe to have drowned and around 500 calls for water rescues.

OUTFRONT now is Val Arkoosh. She's the Chair of Montgomery County's Board of Commissioners. She's also running for the Democratic nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania. Thank you for being here, Commissioner.

What are you seeing and hearing from residents today, tonight?

VALERIE ARKOOSH, CHAIR, MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: Well, it's been a busy 24 hours in. The situation is by no means over yet. It did start last night with very heavy rains. On average, we had about eight and a half inches of rain in our county in a relatively short period of time.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that we had an EF2 tornado that touched down in Upper Dublin and Horsham townships in our county. That tornado caused a significant amount of destruction. There were winds of up to 130 miles an hour. So you can imagine the havoc that that brought and then the flooding started.

And as you just heard, the Schuylkill River is still, in our county, at major flood stage. And so I don't think we know yet the entirety of the damage from this storm.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, it's amazing what's happening with the Schuylkill. All day, we were watching and during my show earlier today for the entire two hours we're watching these water rescues taking place really throughout your county. We mentioned 450 rescues. I mean, it's getting dark, getting towards dark now. Is that still going on?

ARKOOSH: I think we're up to 452 officially and I just want to put that in context for your listeners, because the most water rescues that my county has ever had in conjunction with the storm was last summer when Isaias (ph) came through and we had, I believe, 135. So just to put into context what we've seen in this last 24 hours, it is my understanding there is still one high water, water rescue going on. But I believe that that will be about it.

I think they're starting to wind down, thankfully. But I just have to give a huge shout out to our first responders, firefighters, EMS, police, our water rescue teams, they have been working nonstop since yesterday evening.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's truly amazing. And as we mentioned, tragically, you have at least three confirmed deaths. Do you believe that is the extent of it?

ARKOOSH: Well, actually, sadly we are now up to four and I'm sorry to have to report that and obviously send our condolences to those families. There appear to be three individuals that did drown and one individual that was involved in structural damage related to that tornado. So it's just heartbreaking and we certainly hope that that is the final count, but we will see.

BOLDUAN: Commissioner, thank you very much.

ARKOOSH: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Let's turn to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana now where the storm first hit. Tonight we're learning four nursing home residents died after more than 800 of them were evacuated to a warehouse to ride out the storm, 12 others needed to be hospitalized because of that. Tonight, the Department of Health calls this now a 'serious and active investigation'.

More than 900,000 people are still without power and President Biden is scheduled to visit the area tomorrow.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT for us in LaPlace tonight. Ed, there's a lot of critical infrastructure that is still down tonight, making it difficult for people to even really think about recovering.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And psychologically I think people are really beginning to come to terms with the fact that this recovery process is not going to be rapid. And all of the flashbacks, the storylines you mentioned there, just this eerie flashbacks to what happened here during Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago. Even the pungent smell that is emanating from the floodwaters that are still standing here harkens back to those horrible days 16 years ago.

The gas lines, again, continue to be an issue as the number of gas stations in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans area, 65 percent of them now without gasoline. That number was just over 50 percent yesterday.

And Parish officials, we're in St. John the Baptist Parish just west of New Orleans, and the Parish president really described a disturbing scene and the level of work that needs to be done to get this community back online. Listen to what she was telling people earlier today.


JACLYN HOTARD, PRESIDENT, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARIS, LA: But I want to be very honest and frank about this, electricity, every substation, every transmission unit, every piece of critical infrastructure as it relates to electricity has been damaged in St. John.


And so it will be a lengthy amount of time before we can get that restored.


LAVANDERA: Kate, this was one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods here in the community of LaPlace. All the homes around me took on several feet of water. You see residents beginning that awful process of taking out all of the debris from their homes and that is the work that is going on in the midst of doing this as other crews are working to set up power lines, get the gas pumps up and working again. So a great deal of work and really not a whole lot of good news on the timeline that so many of these people here are facing, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It sure doesn't look like it. Thank you, Ed.

OUTFRONT for us next, Democrats promising to fight the Texas law that effectively has a ban on all abortions there. But what can they really do?

And Dr. Fauci revealing promising news on the booster shot and just how big of a difference a third shot could make?



BOLDUAN: New tonight, an unprecedented assault. President Biden slamming the Supreme Court after its 5-4 decision to reject the request to freeze a strict new abortion law in Texas that bars the procedures after six weeks effectively, before most women even know they're pregnant. Biden saying in part this, quote, the Supreme Court's ruling overnight is an unprecedented assault on women's constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for almost 50 years. Going on to say, the impact of last night's decision will be immediate and requires an immediate response.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic senator from Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar. She sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator, thanks for coming in.

You agree with President Biden on this. What do you think, though, when he says immediate response? What do you think the immediate response is or should be?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, the president gets this. This is a medical crisis for women in Texas. 85 percent of them that seek abortion services will not be able to exercise their constitutional rights as Justice Sotomayor so well-pointed out.

Even Justice Roberts, who is far from a liberal, who's very conservative, sided with the three liberal judges, sided with them and basically said that this was unprecedented, that it was unusual, and that the state wouldn't even own the law. They basically created bounty hunters. They put it on individual citizens to report these cases if after basically six weeks a woman seeks an abortion. Not even as the law requires, not even an exemption if it affects a woman's health, if it affects a woman's life. It is an outrageous decision, which is why you saw these strong reactions in the dissent.

And so the focus now is one calling attention to this. Two, I'm sure that there are legal battles that are left to be fought, but I think the final thing is in my mind we should pass a law in Congress, and Speaker Pelosi has already committed to moving forward on this to basically what we call codify, to put into law Roe v. Wade.

Those protections have been on the books for nearly 50 years. That's why I consider them super precedent, strong precedent. But clearly, these three Trump appointed justices plus two conservatives that were already on the court had their own agenda, and that's why it is on Congress to put this into law.

BOLDUAN: You're cosponsor of this law that would codify this into law, make it an act of Congress. If you need ten Republicans in the Senate to do this, is it really going to happen?

KLOBUCHAR: First of all, you know there are pro-choice Republicans, specifically Senator Collins is pro-choice and Senator Murkowski has voted pro-choice. But what I think we need to do and I've always believed this is for a number of months now I have been asking for this and that is to abolish the filibuster.

Our country's basically on fire. There's floods that have wiped out major portions of the South that don't have a power grid in New Orleans right now. What we're seeing on the East Coast and the deaths due to the flooding, climate change is here. You've been covering it on your show. My heart goes out to those that have been hurt or lost family members with Hurricane Ida.

But the point is we need to get action going in the U.S. Senate, and we continue use this archaic rule anymore called the filibuster to block action when it comes to women's rights, when it comes to doing something to put in greenhouse gas standards into place. I just think that otherwise we're going to just be sitting here admiring these problems and sending out tweets and not getting anything done.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned super precedent, and there's a reason I want to bring that back. You had a memorable back-and-forth during questions of Justice Amy Coney Barrett about Roe v. Wade during her confirmation hearing last fall. I want to play for everybody just a part of it.


JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT, U.S. SUPREME COURT: As Richard Fallen from Harvard said, Roe is not a super precedent because calls for its overruling have never ceased. But that doesn't mean the Roe should be overruled. It just means that it doesn't fall on a small handful of cases like Marbury versus Madison and Brown versus the Board that no one questions anymore.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I am then left with looking at the tracks of your record and where it leads the American people, and I think it leads us to a place that's going to have severe repercussions for them.


BOLDUAN: What happened overnight, is that exactly what you're talking about?

KLOBUCHAR: The midnight decision you mean where Justice Kagan pointed out in 72 hours, they basically put into operation a patently unconstitutional law?

And Kate, I want your viewers to know even as recently as 2019, this court has stayed laws involved abortion.


In June, medical services, they basically stayed the implementation of state law that would have -- physicians have to have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles. BOLDUAN: And they were about to consider another really big one out of

Mississippi, that's kind of why this is so surprising, which, I have to say --

KLOBUCHAR: Go ahead.

BOLDUAN: No. I was just going to say, this leads to another important question that there are now growing calls on the left with this all in mind that for liberal Justice Stephen Breyer to retire, to ensure that a Democratic president gets to pick his replacement. Breyer is 83 years old.

You previously said, and the way I think you put it, if he's going to retire, it should be sooner rather than later, but saying, it's up to him. After this ruling, after what happened overnight, do you want to say that differently now?

KLOBUCHAR: I'm one of the few people that have spoken out on this in the U.S. Senate, and that is because I believe that he gets that decisions by justices to retire in his own words based on someone's health -- he seems to be healthy. He's older, but healthy. The second is the court and how the court will look to the future.

You have justices on that court right now who are basically in the words of the dissent are basically allowing a patently unconstitutional law that's going to affect thousands of women in one of the biggest states of the country, and who knows the precedent. We can imagine other states will be rushing now to do the same thing. They're allowing this to stay in place and not stay it on an emergency basis.

So, I think, yes, as I said from the beginning, he should make his decision sooner than later. If he's going to retire, he should retire sooner rather than later. But, as you know, Kate, the way we fix this, given the fact that the court is not going to magically change its opinion when someone as conservative as Justice Roberts is in the dissent, to me, the answer is the Congress must act.

BOLDUAN: I'm also hearing you say, the message might be from you tonight, it should be sooner and sooner for further justice, but, again, I understand. That is me extrapolating. That is me extrapolating from what you said.

Thank you, Senator. I appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: It's with Congress. But thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

OUTFRONT next, a Florida judge officially striking down a move by Governor Ron DeSantis to ban school mask mandates, as the anger over telling students to mask up is a dangerous level.

And some of the bigger names in the party making their way to California in the hopes of preventing a Republican from becoming governor. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BOLDUAN: Tonight, a Florida judge signing the order officially striking down the move by Governor Ron DeSantis to ban school mask requirements, DeSantis promising to fight it and appeal, which is adding even more uncertainty as the school year is already under way. It's just the latest development in a fight that just won't end over wearing masks in schools. Heated arguments are now turning into all out brawls.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back to school has become a battle cry in the COVID wars everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one is ever going to be allowed in the public again!

FOREMAN: With the school board in Oregon firing the local superintendent amid anger and tears. Officials aren't saying why, but it came shortly after he said schools would comply with this order from the governor.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D), OREGON: Moving forward for the immediate future, masks will be required in all indoor public settings.

FOREMAN: School board meetings coast to coast are erupting.

CROWD: We want freedom!

FOREMAN: Some are already in uproars over critical race theory and transgender rights.

DICK BLACK (R), FORMER VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR: I am disgusted by your bigotry and your depravity.

FOREMAN: But now, the fight is over vaccinations and masks. Never mind that polls show most Americans broadly support the idea of masking in schools, teachers and health officials are being attacked for even trying to enforce such safety measures.

In Florida, a man opposed to masking was arrested after he physically clashed with a student. Public meetings there have filled with rage.

"MELISSA", LEE COUNTY, FL PARENT: These are demonic entities in the school boards of America, and all of us Christians will be sticking together to take them all out. All the police officers that kick us out for our First Amendment right will also be going down with them. Do you understand?

FOREMAN: In Pennsylvania, a school board member resigned saying he had received death threats from the warring factions. While in Wisconsin, three board members stepped down, saying the job

of tending to serious school matters was becoming toxic and impossible to do.

RICK GROTHAUS, FORMER WISCONSIN SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT: We didn't get to the point of fisticuffs, but was there lots of vitriol and lot of shouting and a lot of disruptive, disrespectful behavior? Yes, that did occur.

FOREMAN: And on it goes from Maine to Michigan, Kansas to California, Arizona to Alaska. Kids are getting an up close lesson in anti-social studies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I already told the schools my children wouldn't be wearing masks.

FOREMAN: Amid wildly different views of what it means to be a good American.


FOREMAN (on camera): We had a headline there from Kansas City. That was actually from the Missouri side, but there have been fights like this on the Kansas side and in Kentucky and in Iowa and in Nevada, just about everywhere, where, again, Kate, it's a minority driving forward with this idea that their sense of freedom is more important than a proven measure to protect all the public, including their own kids -- Kate.


BOLDUAN: Tom, thank you for that. Unbelievable still.

I want to bring in right now Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

I mean, Dr. Reiner, Tom put it together, I think, very well. It's like a summary of 18 months into this pandemic, we're averaging 170,000 new infections per day, 14,000 deaths still, and people are still arguing over masks. What do you even say to this now?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It was fatally politicized early on in the pandemic when at that time the president of the United States refused to wear a mask in public for months.

BOLDUAN: I'm waiting for people to move past that point, right? It's as if no one could take in new information once Trump said he didn't like a mask.

REINER: Exactly. So, look, I'm looking for a return to common sense in the United States. And these are the facts: we're fighting a respiratory pathogen. Kids can get this virus as avidly as adults. In fact, almost a quarter of all new infections now are in children because many adults are vaccinated.

Kids can spread this virus as avidly as adults. We know that clearly. We also know that masks will prevent or dramatically reduce both the acquisition of this virus by the wearer and the transmission, and the better the mask you wear, the better the reduction is.

It's not that complicated. It's not a, you know, demonic tool to somehow control our children. It's a way to try to keep them safe. There are almost 200, 250 kids being hospitalized every single day with this virus. We're just trying to protect them. We just need to return to some level-headed common sense in this country.

BOLDUAN: I still hope that someday that will happen.

Some interesting news, though, on booster shots, Doctor, I want to ask you about like today. Dr. Anthony Fauci revealing a huge benefit of a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, pointing to new data from Israel that suggests the booster means a ten-fold decrease in the risk of severe illness from COVID. Listen to this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There's no doubt from the dramatic data from the Israeli study that the boosts that are being done now and contemplated here support very strongly the rationale for such an approach.


BOLDUAN: The FDA still needs to sign off on boosters, but what do you think?

REINER: Well, the data is really strong. So, for the first basically 45 days of the delta surge in Israel, every ten days, the number of hospitalized -- seriously ill hospitalized patients in Israel doubled, doubled every ten days until Israel started their third dose campaign.

And then two weeks after initiating their third dose campaign, that exponential growth stopped, and it stops because people who get the third dose have, as you just said, a ten-fold increase in the level of neutralizing antibodies, so it works. This is why the CDC and the FDA will approve a booster campaign in the United States later this month.

We'll have to see whether they keep their originally described eight months from the last dose or whether they move it to what the Israelis are doing, which is six months from the last dose. We need to start this, and as soon as we do start this, we'll start to see a significant drop in both cases and in hospitalized patients in the United States.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. Good to see you, Doctor. Thank you.

REINER: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Democrats turning to big names as California's Governor Gavin Newsom fights to keep his job.

Plus, CNN takes you inside of the five flights out of Afghanistan.



BOLDUAN: Tonight a new poll showing strong enthusiasm in California among voters in favor of recalling Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. This as top Democrats like Elizabeth Warren are rushing to the state to help the governor keep his job.

Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With less than two weeks to go in the California recall race, Governor Gavin Newsom and his supporters are flooding the airwaves with fear and urgency.

AD NARRATOR: It's a matter of life and death. Voting yes elects an anti-vaccine Trump Republican.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: This is an all mail-in ballot. Every day between now and election day on September 14th is an opportunity.

JOHNS: Newsom's getting help from friends in high places, including Senator Bernie Sanders. He's from Vermont but he's also the last person to win a Democratic presidential primary in California.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: The last thing we need is to have some right-wing Republican governor in California.

JOHNS: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is weighing in too.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Vote no to protect California and our democracy.

JOHNS: Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in California. A recurring theme for recall opponents, the election is a power grab and is an attack on democracy.

AD ANNOUNCER: Right-wing Republicans won't stop their election rejections. So in California we've got to stop them.

DAVE JACOBSON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: They've basically branded the recall as a function of QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, extremists who are trying to undermine the will of the people.

JOHNS: All told, Democrats have spent over $30 million on advertising. More than twice as much as Republicans.

LARRY ELDER, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is a fight for the soul of California.

JOHNS: Larry Elder is the leading Republican.

AD ANNOUNCER: Elect elder. JOHNS: In his ads, Elder is pushing back against charges that he's too

extreme to lead the state.

ELDER: Do I look like a white supremacist? I walked those hard streets.

JOHNS: Elder's ads also play on voter anger over Newsom's handling of COVID, the economy, housing, homelessness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's appealing to what would be just fundamental Republican anger because that gets him the votes.

JOHNS: Among other challengers, John Cox, the last Republican Newsom beat in a statewide race, is campaigning with a huge bear.

AD ANNOUNCER: This beauty has proven he can't do it. This beast can.

JOHNS: And a former Republican mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, asking voters to reject both Newsom and Elder.

AD ANNOUNCER: We shouldn't just replace one dysfunctional governor with another.

JOHNS: Online, it's a different game.

JACOBSON: You can target people. You can actually see who has not turned in their ballot and then target them online with digital ads or direct mail.

JOHNS: And then there's social media. Newsom has been getting free buzz from celebrities like comedian Sarah Silverman.

SARAH SILVERMAN, COMEDIAN: Vote no. Leave the rest blank. And mail it in.

JOHNS: And musician John Legend, who tweeted this to his nearly 14 million followers.

JOHN LEGEND, MUSICIAN: I will be voting no on recalling our governor.



JOHNS: More than 5 million mail-in ballots have been returned in this race in California so far. Democrats have mailed in more than Republicans, 53 percent to 25 percent -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Joe, thanks so much.

OUTFRONT for us next, CNN speaks to the commander of the final flights out of Afghanistan. What that dangerous mission was like for him.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, one week after the deadly Kabul attack, we are learning 15 marines wounded in that attack are still being treated with one still in critical condition, at Walter Reed Medical Center. This comes as we are also getting an inside look at the final flights out of Afghanistan.

Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The approach into and out of Kabul allowed little margin for error. Mountains surround Hamid Karzai airport and the valley is prone to bad weather, thousands of Afghans on the field, thousands more desperately trying to get in.

Nearby, a terror threat from ISIS-K.

In this environment, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Pelbath on a mission, the end of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

LT. COL. ALEX PELBATH, AIRBORNE MISSION COMMANDER: Instead of focusing on the danger you focus on the mission at hand. You focus on individual tasks. You focus on success, and you focus on doing your part of the mission as well as you possibly can.

LIEBERMANN: Pelbath was the commission commander on final flights out of Kabul. He snapped this picture of another C-17 taking on Afghan evacuees.

In the background, the cars and baggage and hangars about to be left behind.

PELBATH: I graduated from Air Force Academy in 2001, and a couple months later, September 11th happened. So my entire career has been spent with the conflict in Afghanistan, and to see it come to an end -- that does make a mark, I think.

LIEBERMANN: Pelbath knew time was precious. Every second on the tarmac was added risks and with the final troops loading up, the danger was its peak.

Major General Chris Donahue, the commander of the 82nd Airborne, was the last soldier to step off Afghan soil, the military says.

Pelbath later snapped this photo of his own flight, and Pelbath gave the order, clam shell, close the cargo doors. Minutes later, flush the force, the order to take off.

PELBATH: I was able to see in front of me, the first aircraft just made their left turn. The second aircraft right behind. The third just lifted off, the fourth on the runway. I had the entire picture of the C-17 force in front of me. For sure, an image that I will never forget.

LIEBERMANN: The five C-17s had been on the ground a total of three hours, he says. The end of a 20-year war was his final flight.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.


BOLDUAN: Truly unbelievable. It's really awesome to hear from him.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan.

"AC360" starts now.