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Sen. Cory Booker, (D-NJ), Is Interviewed About Flooding In The Northeast.; At Least 45 Killed In Historic Floods In The Northeast; U.S. Supreme Court Formally Refuses To Block Near-Total Abortion Ban In Texas; Chief Justice Roberts Joins Liberal Dissenters In 5-4 Vote. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 02, 2021 - 17:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the death toll is rising from a historic flooding disaster in the northeast after the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped billions of gallons of water with stunning speed on communities from New York to Maryland. Rescues are still underway across the region.

Crews have been using boats to navigate streets turned into rivers as they struggled to reach residents trapped in flooded homes. New York City has been working to restore subway service after water gushed into stations stopping trains and leaving commuters stranded for hours overnight.

We're getting new information right now about this unprecedented state of emergency, the ongoing danger and the cleanup ahead.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All right, let's go straight to New York right now. Our National Correspondent Jason Carroll is on the scene for us.

Jason, the city, the entire region, I should point out, they are reeling right now from this unfolding --


BLITZER: -- flood disaster.

CARROLL: And you can see evidence of the disaster right here in the Major Deegan route (ph). If you take a look just a little while ago few hours ago, this section of the Major Deegan was filled with water.

Right now, the water has receded, but you can still see many of the cars that are out here, people abandon their cars after they got trapped in the floodwaters. These people though were lucky, Wolf, they made it out alive. But last count, some 26 people were killed in the Northeast.


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

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): 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 are 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 in Philadelphia rose more than 12 feet in eight hours.

MICHAEL NUTTER, FORMER PHILADELPHIA MAYOR: 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.

(on camera): How high was the water in here?


CARROLL (on camera): What was it?

ESTRADA: -- at least six feet. Almost, yes, almost six feet. You know where that line is, 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.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: The report was three to six inches over the course of the 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.

BEVERLY PRICE, STUCK OVERNIGHT IN SUBWAY: A lot of people are stranded down there. Yes. Oh my God, I've been done 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.

VINCENT SAPIENZA, COMMISSIONER, NYC DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Anything over two inches an hour we're going to have trouble with.

CARROLL (voice-over): In southern New Jersey, another disaster, reports of a tornado there completely leveled homes. President Biden committing his full support to the states affected by Ida and calling on Congress to invest in infrastructure.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These extreme storms and the climate crisis are here. We need to do -- we must better prepared. We need to act.


CARROLL: So you can see the tow trucks are out here. They're going to start clearing away the cars.

And Wolf, as the water starts to recede, you start to hear more and more stories about those people who did not survive, whether it be someone who drowned in their basement in Queens or someone who couldn't get out of their car alive in New Jersey. And more and more questions about why the city's infrastructure failed. Wolf.

BLITZER: And as we're speaking, we were told the death toll has now risen to 27, 27 people killed in this disaster.

Jason Carroll, thank you very, very much.

Let's go to Philadelphia right now. CNN's Pete Muntean is on the scene there for us.

Pete, one official there are estimates there have been 1000s of rescues during this emergency. How bad is the flooding? What do you see?


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of water rescues here near Philadelphia, Wolf. I want to show you what was the Vine Street Expressway, which is now merged with the Schuylkill River here. This is interstate 676, a major thoroughfare where it connects to 76.

The Schuylkill Expressway here in Philadelphia now very much underwater. You can see these rising floodwaters have come almost up there to the 22nd Street Overpass.

This is so severe and so emblematic of what we are seeing here in Philadelphia. The Schuylkill River crested almost at 17 feet earlier this morning. It is now receding a little bit but we are not out of the danger zone yet. There'll be so much damage here.

And the National Weather Service says that the water in Philadelphia will not be below flood stage until after midnight tonight. The flood warning here persists until seven tomorrow morning. More than 300 roads are closed in the state of Pennsylvania, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to Governor Tom Wolf's administration, 500 calls for water rescues in nearby Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, up in Montgomery County, 500 calls in Montgomery County just last night.

Manayunk to the north of here, also severe flooding. Very high water levels in Conshohocken. Region wide in the Philadelphia area, this is a major, major problem.

And we are not out of the woods yet. It won't be long until we get a full glimpse of how bad this damage really is. But you can see just how severe things are here at 676 and 76 in Philadelphia, this will be jam packed with cars during rush hour, now just filled with water.

BLITZER: Yes, we can see those aerial shots as well of the area. Awful situation in Philadelphia as well.

Pete Muntean, we'll get back to you. Thank you very much.

Let's discuss with Keith Truman right now. He's the Borough Manager of Bridgeport, Pennsylvania.

Thank you so much for joining us, Keith. I know you have a lot going on.

I understand, what, at least 80 people have now been rescued in your community. Are you still in the search and rescue phase in Bridgeport? Or are you moving on toward recovery efforts now?

KEITH S. TRUMAN, BOROUGH MANAGER, BRIDGEPORT, PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you for having me, Wolf, first and foremost.

Yes, we rescued at least 80 people via water rescue. That ended somewhere in the vicinity of one 1:00, 1:30 this afternoon. Waters have receded since then.

BLITZER: Earlier this afternoon, your mayor, Mark Barbee, told CNN there were no storm related deaths in Bridgeport. Is that still the case?

TRUMAN: Unfortunately, that is not the case at this point. We do have one confirmed casualty after evacuation and rescue operations have ended. We were able to ascertain that there was in fact one casualty.

BLITZER: Mayor Barbee also told us, Keith, that some homes in Bridgeport, your community, are, what, three fourths of the way underwater. Were you able to get any type of significant warning out to your residents before this water started rising?

TRUMAN: Well, Wolf, we are, for a bit of sense of scale, we are municipality of about 4,600 residents, six tenths of a square mile. We did, through our typical methods, be it social media and our website try to notify residents to, at the very least, seek high water, park their cars in higher elevations throughout the community, whatever they can do to mitigate any risks that were forthcoming. Based on a national weather service reports and county reports that we were getting, we anticipated the -- this rainfall to be -- to mirror, if not slightly exceed a size from last year. And we were using that as a bellwether. And unfortunately, as everything is played out along the eastern seaboard, it's certainly dwarfed the size.

BLITZER: It certainly did. And there's a lot of disappointment right now that there wasn't a better appreciation of what was about to happen. What are your residents need most right now, Keith? What steps are you taking to provide for those who are in desperate need?

TRUMAN: So now that we've concluded the search and rescue operations, we move on to clean up. We work in tandem with the local southeastern Pennsylvania utilities to make sure that gas and electric services are shut off to these houses in the interim until certified professionals can come in and verify that the systems are able to -- are still operable. And that residents, once remediation is taken place, can in fact move back in.


What these residents need right now is shelter. The Red Cross has set up a regional shelter in the -- in an adjacent municipality. And they're certainly going to need support from county and state and local government moving forward in terms of trying to get a semblance of their life back together.

BLITZER: Well, good luck, Keith. Keith Truman is the Borough Manager for Bridgeport, Pennsylvania. The pictures are awful. And we'll stay in close touch with you. Good luck to all the folks there. Thanks so much for joining us.

TRUMAN: Thank you, Wolf. Take care.

BLITZER: We'll show our viewers some live pictures, some pictures we're getting in from Manville, New Jersey. These are live pictures coming in right now in Somerset County in New Jersey. You can see the disaster that has unfolded there. Look at the flooding on the streets in Manville, New Jersey. And you can see all these residential areas underwater basically right now. And there's some fires that have erupted there.

Look at that house over there. That was a house. It's now on fire in this area. And unfortunately, we see so many of these incidents unfolding in these communities, this is Manville, New Jersey, Somerset County.

Keeping track of all of this for us, our Meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

Jennifer, the skies have cleared, but the disaster is still unfolding. What's the latest?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You're right, Wolf, it's far from over. The rain has ended but the water is still high and it's going to take several days for that water to recede. The water quickly filled up the roads, the creeks, the rivers, and it came up quickly. And now it all has to flow back down and that's going to take several days.

Here is all the rain that fell. We knew we were going to get flooding. There was a high risk of flooding in this area yesterday. But what was stunning was how fast the rain came down in such a short amount of time.

Ida impacted 22 states, traveled 1500 miles, there were more than 500 flood reports. Look at all these records. Daily records, more than 20 were set across the Northeast yesterday.

We had about eight and a half inches of rain across portions of New Jersey. Brooklyn, New York almost eight. Newark, New Jersey wettest day on record. New York City Central Park, top five wettest day.

But look at this, more than three inches of rain in one hour in Central Park. It doesn't matter your infrastructure. You are going to flood with rainfall rates that high. Flash flood emergencies spanned 190 miles practically from Philadelphia to New York.

And here is all the river flooding. We still have these little dots in purple. That's major flooding, Wolf, it's going to take several days for it to come down.

Good news is most of the rivers have crested. They are slowly going to recede. But I want to emphasize, it's going to happen very slowly.

BLITZER: Yes, it's going to take a lot of effort, a lot of time and a lot of money to repair what's going on.

All right, Jennifer, thank you very much. We'll stay obviously in close touch with you as well.

Coming up, we'll have an update on the search for people missing in these devastating floods. I'll speak with a New Jersey mayor who says bodies have been recovered from the waters.



BLITZER: Now in the breaking news, the historic flooding in the Northeast that's left at least 27 people dead. The remnants of Hurricane Ida bringing not only record rainfall, but also spinning off tornadoes.

CNN's Paula Newton is joining us in New Jersey right now. She's just south of Philadelphia.

What, a tornado damaged or destroyed more than 25 homes, Paula, is that right?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And the devastation here is not to be believed. You have to think in the state of New Jersey, Wolf, the devastation from one end of the state right to the other. We're a couple of hours drive from New York City and here it was the tornado, not so much the water. Look at this home, Wolf. I mean, this was a family home built not that long ago. And by the description of people, the Thomas (ph) family that were in here, they said they had just a few minutes, two young girls, a pregnant mother had to flee to their basement. They said when they emerged, they could actually continue to see debris falling into their basement.

So many of these residents here, Wolf, completely terrified. I want you to listen to Mike Cassel. Again, just making dinner he was in the shower and all of a sudden, his wife got the alert on her phone, take a listen.


MIKE CASSEL, RESIDENT, MULICA HILL, NEW JERSEY: I was up in the shower, and we got that tornado alert warning. And my wife said, you got to get out right now. It wasn't three minutes later that all of my back windows exploded and then it sounds like a freight train, ran through my living room.


NEWTON: A freight train. Can you believe it?

And so many of the kids here so lucky really in this neighborhood. Everyone thanking the fact that, look, they had minor injuries, but no one here died. All the more important, given the fact that the governor of the state of New Jersey just tweeted that there were 23 deaths now. Twenty-three deaths, Wolf, that's an update from just the state of New Jersey.

And when you take a look around here, you can definitely see what the funnel clouds, they said they could see them on the horizon. But by that time, they looked out their windows in panic and all they could do was scramble to the basement.

You know Mike Cassel, saying to me, Wolf, look, this is New Jersey. This is not Oklahoma. They have seen bad storms here before. You know you might have some roof shingles come off, the garden furniture goes flying, nothing like you see here.


I mean, the garage is completely crumbled, and they are terrified. Really, Wolf, already reconsidering whether or not they stay and rebuild or just rethink the whole situation given what happened.

BLITZER: Yes, my heart goes out to that family. Look at the destruction that erupted over there. It's awful.

All right, Paula, thank you very much.

Joining us now the mayor of Passaic, New Jersey, Hector Lora.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. I know you've had a disaster where you are. You've declared a state of emergency in your city as bodies are being recovered from the floodwaters.

Mayor, give us an update first of all on where things stand now.

MAYOR HECTOR LORA, PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY: Wolf, thank you so very much. As you stated, this storm had a devastating effect or impact on our community. Last night, we unfortunately experienced a tragic loss of senior, a 70-year-old father who stuck in his vehicle with his wife and his son.

And as a result of the heroic efforts of our firefighters, the son and the mother were able to be rescued, unfortunately, over six feet of water in our streets, completely covered the car, and it overtook it. The firefighters were literally dragged underneath the vehicle, they had to stop their efforts and we lost that individual. Our city mourns and our hearts go out not just for him in the family, but for all those that have lost lives throughout the state of New Jersey and around all of the states who were impacted by the storm.

Early this morning, efforts began to locate two young adults. We received reports last night that a young man, 18 years of age and a young woman 21 years of age or between 18 and 21, both of them have been swept away into one of our books under covert and possibly into the Passaic River.

We have been searching throughout the night. Efforts continued today throughout the Passaic River with state and federal agencies and National Guard. Came out with helicopters as well as state helicopters. Utilizing technology like sonar to try to identify or locate the bodies inside.

I have been communicating with the families of these individuals that have been unaccounted for, as well as the deceased father. And it's been overwhelming and extremely difficult.

We had abandoned vehicles throughout the city. Over 60 individuals immediately that we evacuated last night from our downtown area.

Wolf, I know you're familiar with the city of Passaic, due to the proximity of their residency to the river and the concern that we had with the river cresting, and obviously the high tide in the morning. So, we had over 200 rescues. We've been trying to match it with the abandoned vehicles with drivers and passengers to assure that every individuals accounted for. But the challenge that we face is the efforts continue to try to locate these two young individuals.

Our firefighters, our police, our emergency responders, they were out it all night, Wolf. They were responding to calls, not just the emergency calls that you expect during the storm, alarms, trees that came down, cables that came down, we had an underground fire in Main Avenue. But throughout the night, again, I reiterate they had to respond to calls for rescues of individuals stuck in their cars.

The intensity of the rain and how quickly it came down at such a short period of time really impacted our city and created conditions which ultimately and unfortunately resulted in the loss of life and what we're experiencing now trying to identify or locate these individuals. BLITZER: It's definitely flooding has been awful.

Mayor Hector Lora of Passaic, New Jersey, good luck to you. Good luck in the search for those two people. We'll stay in close touch. Thanks for joining us.

LORA: Thank you.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following right now here in the Situation Room with more on the deadly flood disaster in the Northeast. We're going to talk to the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey. The current senator, Cory Booker, he's standing by live. We'll discuss.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news, the devastating deadly floods in the Northeast caused by rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Get this, the number has just increased, at least 45 people have died across Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Let's discuss with Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. He's the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

Senator, thank you so much for joining us. Can you give us an update on where things stand tonight?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I mean, Wolf, it's tragic. We've seen as you said the floodwaters, the rain. Tornado hit our state in a way that I cannot remember happening. We set records in rainfall right here in my city in New Jersey before recorded time, never seen something like this. And the death toll has just been risen in our state alone to 23 people.

Not to mention what we imagine is going to be hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars' worth of property damage. It is a wretched moment in our state's history and my heart is hurting.

I've been on the phone all day with local leaders, mayors, as I was a mayor during Hurricane Sandy. And hearing the stories, hearing the challenges folks are going to face, and this is not something that you just cleanup over the weekend and get back to normal.


Families coming out of situations like this will take months or longer to recover, to get back on their feet, to deal with all the collateral damages that are going to result from this. This is a really sad day for our region at a time that from the Gulf Coast to the fires out west America is suffering.

BLITZER: How did this --

BOOKER: And perhaps --

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead, finish your thought.

BOOKER: I was just going to say perhaps that speaks to, I think the urgency for all of us as Americans, because I've seen the flooding in the Midwest, I've seen the hurricanes hit places like Florida, we are a nation now facing unprecedented times. And we could either sit back and deplore the reality or we can begin to take more significant action.

I know. In the Senate, I've talked to Chuck Schumer and others today of my colleagues about the urgency within this hopefully reconciliation package that we begin to invest in two strategies. One is to stop the ongoing warming of our planet by leading amongst nations.

And then number two, investing in a significant way in America to -- or in resiliency. And making sure from our power grids to our coastal lines to our farmlands, we do the things necessary to be able to withstand weather events that they still are trying to call them 500- year events, like we saw here in New Jersey, but they're just not.

I know our region saw a record rainfall just with Hurricane Henri, the storm that passed through just days ago. And now we're facing yet another record in the same way that we're dealing with every month, it seems we're setting records on heat. This is going to be something that we must begin to invest in and prepare for.

BLITZER: Yes, we clearly have to be better prepared for climate change, because it's having this dramatic impact, as all of us know. Is it too early or can you give us a sense, Senator, how did this huge storm seem to catch everyone in the entire region, whether New Jersey or New York or Pennsylvania or Delaware, completely off guard, they were expecting rains, some flooding, but nothing like this?

BOOKER: No, what I'm told is that there -- it was because of the combining of two weather events that was, forgive the way I'm saying it, but a perfect storm that was coming up from the Gulf Coast, hit some of the weather force coming from the east and really combined to make this a far wetter system than was anticipated. And then you add to that the strange occurrences like a tornado in New Jersey that did some terrible devastation to at least one neighborhood.

So, this again, is something as I've talked to the governor down to mayors from the White House, to fellow senators, we have to as a country, for all of us would -- regardless of the region you live in, begin to do the prudent and responsible thing by making the investment now because this is definitely a moment where we know that if we don't make these investments, we're going to be paying more for the damage. In other words, invest now the billions of dollars necessary in doing strategic investments in infrastructure and resiliency or we're going to be paying a lot more for the damage that climate change is going to inevitably result in.

BLITZER: Yes, these once in a lifetime storms could become once every few year storms unless certain action has been taken. Senator, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to everyone in New Jersey.

BOOKER: Thank you. I just want to say thank you to the incredible heroism of first responders, local leaders. And my condolences to all those who've lost lives in these weather patterns.

BLITZER: I'll echo that as well. Thank you once again.

BOOKER: Thank you.

BLITZER: While the Northeast is reeling from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, Louisiana is still facing devastating fallout from the exact same storm with 900,000 customers still without electricity, without power. CNN's Ed Lavandera is just west of New Orleans for us.

Ed, how bad is it where you are today?


Well, this was one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the town of LaPlace just west of New Orleans. And the pungent smell of water still standing on the streets here almost four days after the storm passed through here is still evident.

There are residents still cleaning up their belongings. Like as I said this was an incredibly hard-hit neighborhood.

And the parish president here in St. John the Baptist Parish is telling residents that it is going to take a long time to get the electrical system back up online. And this comes at a terrible time. People are starting to run out of vital supplies, food and water distribution sites set up. But the parish president here is saying that virtually every part of the electrical system here in this parish has been decimated and needs to be rebuilt.


So, it is going to take weeks to get people back online, get the power back up, get the air conditioning going. So that does not come as welcome news to the 1000s of people who are still here.

And also gas lines continue to be a major problem. Yesterday we were reporting that just over half of the gas stations in Baton Rouge in New Orleans didn't have gas. That number is now up to 65 percent. So, that is becoming a real nerve wracking and frustrating situation because so many people are depending on just generators in their driveways to kind of power up whatever little appliances they can.

So again, that's all just part of the major nightmare that the recovery of this storm is going to be for 10s of 1000s of people. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, the storm has been devastating all the way from Louisiana, all the way up to New York right now. We've seen the results. Ed, thank you very, very much. We'll stay in close touch with you. Ed Lavandera on the scene.

Still ahead, the latest other record flooding that has now killed at least, at least 45 people in the North East. That number keeps going up and up.

And up next, the U.S. Supreme Court allows the country's most restrictive abortion law to take effect in Texas, raising very serious questions about the future of Roe versus Wade.



BLITZER: We'll do some live pictures, we're going to have much more coming up on the flooding, the ongoing rescues as a result of the remnants of Hurricane Ida crossing the North East. We're going to update you on the hurricane recovery efforts in Louisiana as well.

But we're also following another very important story, a story of national importance. The U.S. Supreme Court allowing a restrictive new abortion law to go into effect in Texas.

Our Senior National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is following all the reaction. He's joining us from the White House right now.

Jeff, how's President Biden responding to this Supreme Court decision?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden is sharply responding to both the Supreme Court decision as well as the underlying Texas law. He calls it an unprecedented assault. He calls it unconstitutional.

But the question is, what can and will he do about it? Now he did say that he ordered a whole of government response from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Justice to try and study what legally can be done. But the reality is not much. This White House realizes that.

But Wolf, this is also coming as he's under pressure from Democrats and progressives to really act on a move that they've been making to expand the Supreme Court, court packing it's called. He has always been opposed to this. He's called it a terrible idea. But he did appoint a commission to study this, and they're due (ph) back with a report on this next month. But the reality is he simply cannot change the makeup of the Supreme Court.

Wolf, this raises all the questions about, you know, the retirements on the Supreme Court, of course, Ruth Bader Ginsburg chose not to retire. That created an opening, which President Trump used, which gave this current court.

So, a lot of discussion here about the makeup of the Supreme Court, but frankly, there's very little he can do about it. Of course, President Biden, a longtime Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, knows well the makeup of the court and knows that it's a separate branch of government.

So yes, he does support, you know, the -- or he's opposed to this decision. But frankly, it's a limitation of what the White House can actually do, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, good point.

All right, Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thank you very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with CNN Political Director David Chalian and CNN Legal and Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic.

Joan Biskupic, you've covered the Supreme Court for a long time is this effectively, effectively the end of Roe v Wade, which in 1973 became the law of the land and legalized abortion rights for women?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Absolutely in Texas. Right now, it is effectively the end of Roe in Texas, and consider what Roe stood for. Government cannot interfere with a woman's decision to end a pregnancy before viability. And that is before the fetus can live outside the woman, which is usually a 22 to 24 weeks.

This is a ban on abortions after six weeks, very dramatic. Most women don't even know they're pregnant after six weeks, that early. So, who would have thought that that landmark, Roe, would evaporate overnight in Texas and be threatened nationwide because of this decision? But that's what's happened there. And the Supreme Court, majority last night with two minutes before midnight, let it go into effect saying that there -- should not be -- there would not be any kind of injury to women in Texas to the clinics there who were challenging it while this has worked out legally.

BLITZER: Five to four decision.

You know, we just got a statement in, David, from a Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine calling this law in Texas "extreme and harmful." The political impact of all of this is going to be significant.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it certainly can be. I mean, we've seen in the past that Republicans have successfully used the court, the abortion issue, specifically, as a real base motivator. We've seen on the Democratic side over years past that it certainly helps raise money, it can get enthusiasm up among some of the grassroots groups. But it doesn't necessarily been like a vote deciding issue for them to win elections with.

Now, with this as a real and present danger to abortion rights, something that Democrats clearly fight for time and again, will this now become a real vote motivating issue, not just a fundraising appeal, not just whipping up the enthusiasm of the grassroots but actually persuading Americans to their side fully of abortion rights. We know a majority of Americans support Roe v Wade support abortion rights, but it is a different scenario when you look state by state and the need to win elections to get legislators in place so that your preferred policy outcomes come out, so that your preferred judges are in place. That is now the challenge for Democrats, which is why the idea of court packing, I don't think is really on the top of Joe Biden's agenda.


BLITZER: The Attorney General Merrick Garland just issued a statement saying the Justice Department is, quote, "evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to abortion." What options does he have right now?

BISKUPIC: The options are very limited in some ways, because with President Biden referred to as this bizarre scheme of outsourcing, Texas has shielded public officials from any kind of lawsuit in this era, at least attempted to do it and effectively so far has. And instead has essentially deputized private citizens to challenge women who tried to have abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. So it's a very peculiar law that the Supreme Court itself still doesn't know how to address. And I think the options for the administration are very limited.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thank you very much for staying on top of the story. Lots of impact potentially down the road.

And to our viewers, stay with us. We're going to have much more on the breaking news. We're following at least 45 people are dead amid catastrophic flooding in the northeast. I'll speak live with the governors of New York and New Jersey, two of the hardest hit states.



BLITZER: Showing you some live pictures coming in right now from Manville, New Jersey. This is Somerset County, you can see the flooding.

At least 45 people have been killed in these historic floods in the Northeast. We're going to stay on top of the story much more on the flooding in the Northeast coming up.

But right now, first on CNN, there are some new revelations that are raising troubling questions about a high profile Republican candidate in next year's U.S. Senate election in Georgia. Herschel Walker is a college football legend as well as a friend of former President Donald Trump.

Here's CNN Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is often called the greatest college football player of all time. In the state of Georgia, he is a legend.

As a University of Georgia running back, Herschel Walker won the national championship and the Heisman Trophy. Now at 59 years old, Walker is running in a whole new game.

HERSCHEL WALKER, SPEAKER AT REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: My name is Herschel Walker, and I'm running for the United States Senate.

GRIFFIN: As a Republican who is close friends with former President Donald Trump.

WALKER: I've known Donald Trump for 37 years. And I don't mean just casual ran into him from time to time. I'm talking about a deep personal friendship.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But new allegations are surfacing about Walker's troubled past. Detailed in this police report from Irving, Texas in 2002 which CNN obtained through a records request, a woman telling police she was very frightened of Walker, that he had previously been calling her, making threats to her and having her house watched. And when she saw him at a resort that day, he jumped into his vehicle and followed her all the way to her house.

The woman contacted by CNN asked not to be identified and said she never dated Walker, but is friends with his ex-wife.

It's the latest revelation of similar incidents involving Herschel Walker, though he's never been charged with a crime.

WALKER: I was very sad, I was anger and I didn't understand why.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Walker has previously linked his behavior to a mental illness called dissociative identity disorder. Telling CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta in 2008 that he has fragments of alternate personalities or alters that take over.

WALKER: You can get angry, but the anger that you can go out and really, really hurt someone. And that's when you know you got a problem.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Walker wrote a book about it in 2008, with some chilling passages, including one where he talks about thinking of murdering a man who was late delivering a car. "All I could think was how satisfying it would feel to squeeze the trigger. The visceral enjoyment I'd get from seeing the small entry wound and the spray of brain tissue and blood like a Fourth of July fireworks exploding behind him."


WALKER: I played Russian roulette before and stuff and now more than once.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): He said he was sharing his story to remove the stigma of mental health. And in a sign of support, his ex-wife joined him on media appearances for his book and confirmed she too had been a target of Walker's frightening personalities.

CINDY GROSSMAN, EX-WIFE OF HERSCHEL WALKER: He had to go into my temple and said he's going to blow my brains out.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But a few years before that interview, Walker's ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, got a protective order against him. Her sister submitted an affidavit saying, "he stated unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head."

In another incident in 2012, a police report shows a woman who was involved in an on off, on off type relationship for decades with Walker. Said "he told her that he was going to come and sit outside her apartment and blow her head off when she came outside. He then told he was going to blow his head off after he killed her."

In a statement. Walker's campaign said, "Herschel emphatically denies these false claims" about the 2012 incident. On the other reported threats, "Herschel has been very open about his mental health journey. Since getting help, Herschel has dedicated his life to helping others."


GRIFFIN: Wolf, except for some puffball interviews on Fox, Herschel Walker has been mostly inaccessible in his early campaign. It's not clear if these issues will become an issue in the Republican primary. His challenges along with him are trying to figure out how to delicately go on the attack against this beloved Georgia football star whose biggest supporter also happens to be Donald Trump. Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, Drew Griffin reporting, thank you very much for that report.

There's more breaking news we're following here in the Situation Room. The death toll in the record, northeast flooding is climbing right now with at least 45 deaths now confirmed.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, unprecedented flooding is taking a devastating toll on parts of the Northeast where homes, cars, even stadiums are underwater.