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At Least 50 Killed In Catastrophic Flooding In Northeast; U.S. Adds 235,000 Jobs In august, Far Fewer Than Expected; Source: Biden Admin's September 20 Booster Rollout May Be Scaled Back To Just Pfizer Vaccine At First; Biden Visiting Storm-Ravaged Louisiana As 800,000 Plus Still Without Power Amid Scorching Heat. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 03, 2021 - 17:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us today. I'm Kaitlan Collins in for Jake Tapper here on The Lead. Our coverage continues right now, though, with Wolf Blitzer in the "Situation Room."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, President Biden is getting an up-close look at the hurricane damage in Louisiana. Says he knows people are so, so frustrated. Many are pleading for help as they struggle with a lack of power and fuel during sweltering heat.

Also, tonight, more suffering and flooded parts of the Northeast. The death toll climbing to 50 as the damage from a multiple tornado is revealed.

And America's jobs recovery hits a roadblock. The President says the Delta variant is to blame for the very disappointing numbers. I'll ask the Labor Secretary Marty Walsh how the administration hopes to turn things around.

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, first, let's get the latest on President Biden's tour of hurricane ravaged Louisiana. Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is joining us right now.

Phil, we just heard from the President, as our viewers know, just a few moments ago, he was very specific in what he says the federal government could do to help.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With purpose, Wolf. I think when you talk to White House officials, they acknowledge that in moments like this in the wake of a disaster, it is the federal government that has the resources, the capability, the bandwidth to address communities that are severely hurt. And that is without question the case down in Louisiana. The President has spent multiple hours already on the ground touring disaster areas, meeting with state and local officials and making clear pledges that the federal government will be there. And this has been something we've seen, Wolf, over the course of the last several days, President Biden making clear agency by agency it is an all hands-on deck response. FEMA, obviously in the lead, but dealing with the FCC trying to ensure cell phone lines are open, dealing with the Department of Transportation, and also the Department of Energy related to gas availability, calling personally utility companies, electric company CEOs trying to work on one of the biggest issues right now in the Gulf Coast. And that is the failure of electricity for hundreds of 1000s of individuals are recognition that in moments like this, the federal government is perhaps the best suited to come in and help and the President making a clear pledge that he is going to maintain that assistance through the weeks ahead and a recovery that is very clearly going to take some time.

But it's also worth noting, Wolf, the President, as he's done a few times over the course of the last several days, making clear that while the federal government will be there now in an emergency, there's also need for more help in the future, more help in the frame of his legislative agenda, talking about the storms we've seen. Obviously, the fires out west as well, all kind of leading into this idea that the climate provisions and some of his legislation, both the infrastructure piece and a second $3.5 trillion piece of legislation that the House and Senate are likely to consider in the weeks ahead are critical in terms of resiliency, in terms of shifting the infrastructure and communities that have been so hard hit by weather events that have been more acute, more disastrous than we've seen at any point in recent history.

So, the President talking about the near term, making clear the federal government will be there for communities, but also pushing forward trying to sell and make the case for his legislative agenda and an effort to try and address what we've seen over the course of the last several weeks and months, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do we know, Phil, if the President is already planning on a trip to the northeast to Pennsylvania, New York, for example, given what's been going on over there?

MATTINGLY: Wolf, nothing is scheduled yet. White House officials aren't giving firm guidance one way or the other. But if there's one thing you've seen from the President, when there's been a disaster, when there's been any type of national tragedy, he tends to end up in the area once White House officials know that he isn't going to get in the way or disturb relief efforts. So, it's a possibility. Nothing is set yet.

But when you talk to White House officials, they don't view this as just a Louisiana issue or just a gulf issue. They understand and they've got resources very much on the ground in the northeast. A recognition that this hurricane which turned into a tropical storm and hit many urban areas at a level between rain and wind, and just overall that they simply have never seen before that the federal assistance is needed there as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is. All right, Phil Mattingly at the White House for us. Thank you. Also, tonight, the human toll from Hurricane Ida's aftermath is climbing in the Northeast where remnants of the storm are now blamed for at least 50 deaths. CNN's Pete Muntean is working the story for us.

Pete, the scope of the damage where you are just north of Philadelphia is clearly stunning.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, until now, flooding has been the big concern but now we're getting a fuller picture of the damage caused by this massive storm. One of eight tornadoes associated with a touchdown here.

That is the upper double township building. And this was the roof peeled off like a tuna can.



MUNTEAN (voice-over): Tonight, the cleanup is only just beginning here in Pennsylvania and the neighboring New York and New Jersey. In Center City Philadelphia, around the clock pumping operation is racing to clear the Vine Street Expressway. Standing water is being diverted into the now receiving Schuylkill River, which swelled Thursday to levels not seen in two centuries.

COMMISSIONER ADAM THIEL, PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT: The recovery process for this is going to take months.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): The EF-2 tornado that swirled through Fort Washington, Pennsylvania killed one woman when a tree fell on her house. The twister then targeted the high school, township building, police department and Ron Copelin's neighborhood.

RON COPELIN, RESIDENT: It's devastating. It really is devastating to see all this. You never think it can happen to you. You never think it's going to happen in your neighborhood. But unfortunately, there's the proof it did.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): So far, the most deaths from the storm are in New Jersey with authorities still searching for the missing.

MAYOR SEAN SPILLER, MONTCLAIR TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY: These are people's lives. These are people's homes. These are people's vehicles. These are people who've been traumatized with car rescues. And we're literally getting people out of their homes and apartments.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf tour the damage in the Philadelphia suburbs of Montgomery County where officials counted 467 calls for water rescues on Wednesday night alone. More than twice the previous countywide record.

(on camera): How much of this damage do you attribute to climate change? GOV. TOM WOLF (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Most of it. I think fewer and fewer people are climate deniers these days. I think the more you see this kind of thing, the indiscriminate and intense nature of the storms, I'm not sure how you can sit on the sidelines and say, you know, we don't need to do anything.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Fort Washington Fire Chief Andy Rathfon says his childhood neighborhood was crushed by this storm of unprecedented power. Now leaving an unimaginable toll.

CHIEF ANDREW RATHFON, FORT WASHINGTON FIRE COMPANY: Just be patient. And you know, check on your neighbors. And you know, we're going to get through this. We're going to clean it up. We're going to rebuild. And we're going to be stronger than we were before as a result of this.


MUNTEAN: Beyond the mortal cost of the 50 deaths associated with the storm, there will be a massive monetary cost. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania told me live earlier it is just too soon to make any sort of official estimate, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Pete, thank you very much. Pete Muntean on the scene for us.

Let's discuss what's going on. The Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel is joining us right now.

Commissioner Thiel, thank you so much for joining us. If you could give us an update on the damage you're seeing in your city of Philadelphia today, what's the latest?

THIEL: Well, Wolf, we're thankful that the flood waters have receded now below flood stage, we almost hit that 17 foot record from 1896. Thankfully, we did not but still widespread damage across the city.

Many of our neighborhoods are still recovering. We are not doing rescues anymore, thankfully. So we're transitioning out of the rescue phase into what promises to be a very long and challenging recovery.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers some live aerial shots over an area you know well, the Vine Street Expressway still flooded with standing water. Does the city, does Philadelphia have enough resources right now to clear this vital roadway?

THIEL: No, not by ourselves. You know, we're working very closely with our state and federal partners as we've been doing really since the rain started to fall. I mean, we had firefighters, medics, dispatchers, all of our different partners working together in the water making rescues overnight. And the first night of the storm all the way through yesterday, we've been evacuating buildings that have damaged their electrical infrastructure from flooding.

And we're going to continue in that vein, this really is about teamwork and partnership. We're going to keep doing that going forward. Thankfully it's a resilient city. We have a lot of work yet to do.

BLITZER: I know you've been pumping for hours a couple of days now, how much water is there?

THIEL: Well, Wolf, that's -- it's a great question. We were standing there today trying to think about it. And obviously that highway was not built with this ever even being a possibility. It was 17 feet, it was way outside of anything anybody had ever experienced here going back for more than a century. So it really is almost incalculable. I'm confident, though, that we'll get it pumped out and we'll keep moving forward.

BLITZER: Yes, let's hope. Can you describe, Commissioner, the recovery effort? So your teams have been involved in since the floodwaters started to rise so dramatically.

THIEL: Well, we had a lot of rescues overnight the first night. We did warn people ahead of time that this would be an unprecedented storm. And you know, folks get used to hearing that and they don't necessarily heed the guidance.

As we got through the night though, we had a lot of cars driving through the water. We always remind people turn around don't drown. Our firefighters and medics, police officers were in there making rescues all night.

We evacuated a number of buildings along the Schuylkill River where the first and second floors had become flooded. And all the way through yesterday, we were still making rescues from various buildings, really from center city to Manayunk, all across the city. And even today, again, we've been evacuating buildings that have had infrastructure challenges. So I'm really so proud of our folks.


And as far as we know, despite the magnitude of this historic storm, we haven't had any report of deaths and injuries. So we're hopeful that we'll continue.

BLITZER: Let's hope. What do you think your city needs most right now, Commissioner?

THIEL: Look, we know a lot of people are hurting. Really just kind of starting to understand the damage. We drove through some of these areas. It was really interesting to see them in daylight now with the cleanup underway.

We see a lot of people pitching in. And that's really what this is going to require. Private sector, public sector, not for profits, everybody kind of pitching it together, neighbors helping neighbors to get us cleaned up and kind of mucked out, and then we'll move forward. Again, we're working very closely with PEMA and FEMA and we'll be out doing damage assessment.

Even though it's Labor Day weekend, we'll be starting our damage assessment this weekend, and really relying on our citizens to provide information. I'm confident that in partnership, we'll be able to make this happen.

As you heard from one of my colleagues, we do need folks to be patient. This is going to be a very long and challenging recovery process.

BLITZER: Well, good luck, Commissioner. We're with you. If there's anything we can do to help just let us know.

The Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, thanks so much for joining us.

THIEL: Thanks, Wolf. Stay safe.

BLITZER: You too.

Coming up, a deeply disappointing jobs report and new worries the coronavirus Delta variant is choking the U.S. economy at least right now. The Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, there you see him, he's here with me in the Situation Room. We'll discuss when we come back.



BLITZER: Today's latest jobs report turned out to be a shocking disappointment even though the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent. The U.S. economy added only 235,000 jobs in August. Economists had predicted a gain of some 728,000 jobs or more about three times what we actually saw.

Before he left for Louisiana, President Biden tried to put the best face he could on these rather disappointing numbers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While I know some wanted to see a larger number today, and so today (ph), what we've seen this year is a continued growth month after month in job creation.

Today's report shows that the steps we've taken passing the rescue plan and vaccinating 175 million people make our economy capable of growing and adding jobs even in the face of this continuing Delta surge.

There's no question that Delta variant is why today's job report isn't stronger. I know people were looking and I was hoping for a higher number.


BLITZER: Everyone was hoping for a higher number. Joining us now the Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh, the former mayor of Boston.

Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for coming in to the Situation Room.

MARTY WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: And thanks for having me. Exiting to be in here.

BLITZER: Well, you picked a good day to come in. These jobs numbers --


BLITZER: -- a very disappointing. Why do you think it happened? Because everybody was expecting 700,000, 750,000, and it came into 235,000.

WALSH: Well, I think a lot of economists was saying the numbers going to be high. They did the same thing last month, and we over perform they guess feel good that way. But I think when you look at the numbers today, you can't look at the recovery in one month, you have to look it over a period of time. And you know, the President just said about the Delta variant.

In the last three months, the largest area of job gain we had in the United States was in hospitality, leisure and restaurants. In this month, we had zero gain there. So, you can see a direct correlation between the Delta variant and what's going on with --

BLITZER: Well, the Delta variant is not going away so quickly, the numbers keep getting worse, hospitalizations, cases, deaths here in the United States, what are you bracing for?

WALSH: Well, I think we have to be very cognizant of that. And I think we have to continue to push our program on vaccinations and getting people vaccinated. It's the bottom line.

If you look at the areas where the Delta variant is high, you have very low vaccination rates. When you look at the area where the vaccination rates are higher, is very low Delta. So we have to continue to push people to get vaccinated.

But also, you know, the investments that we're making and getting our economy running, we have to keep that going. We can't just stop because of a one month number.

There was some positive signs here, 203 jobs -- 203,000 jobs in the private sector. We saw some gains in manufacturing. But we still have a ways to go. We knew that from the beginning.

BLITZER: We did some checking. And last month, 5.6 million Americans said they weren't able to work or they had to work reduced hours because their employer was affected by the pandemic. That's not going to change either, is it?

WALSH: No, it's not going to change. I mean, let's -- for the last 19 months we've been dealing with the pandemic in the United States of America. Businesses are different, they've changed their style, they changed the way they operate. Workers are afraid in some cases to go back to work because of the variance and because of coronavirus, and also childcare.

And I think that one of the things that kind of looking at in the month of September to see how it works is as kids go back to school this week, next weekend and beyond, we're going to start seeing more and more people active in the process.

BLITZER: Well, besides trying to convince people to get the shots, to get vaccinated, what else can the federal government do right now to help out?

WALSH: Honestly we have to continue to support businesses and continue to support job training and reentry work as far as educating people and getting them there. And the Department of Labor, we have what's called the American Job Center. So people that are looking for work should contact the American Job Center, we have 2400 around the country. We're going to help people build resumes, help people with training and connect people to jobs.

BLITZER: The President made a point today say what really needs to happen is Congress, the House and the Senate needs to pass these two bills, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is about $1.2 trillion, but the other three and a half trillion dollar package and you're getting resistance from Democrats on the left and the right. How are you going to fix that?

WALSH: Well, I'll tell you, I think the -- we have to look at that bill and see what the investments are. One area that we saw underperformance as well today was in the home care industry as far as taking care of people in homes and in nursing homes. We lost some jobs in that sector this month. We lost some jobs in that sector last month.


Our population is getting older. We need to -- it's rather than losing workers in that area. We need to increase workers in that area.

In the cares economy, there's an investment in that particular economy. Also, we have a major investment in the infrastructure bill for job training, workforce development, apprenticeship. So that's about the future.

I think right now, though, when we think about the recovery here, if you look at since President Biden's been in office, we've added four and a half million jobs in the economy. We're getting the economy up and running. Yes, this month wasn't exactly what everyone thought it would be. But if you look at them, if you take a projection across the board, we are still ahead of what -- where we would be

BLITZER: Senator Manchin of West Virginia says he wants a pause as far as the three and a half trillion dollar package which only Democrats support. Republicans don't support it. Would you be -- would it be acceptable to you take the $1.2 trillion bipartisan package, which has a lot of money for roads and bridges, and airports, all the traditional infrastructure, get that done, and worry about the bigger picture later?

WALSH: Yes, sure that's fine, as long as we know we're not going to invest in workforce development. We're not going to invest in apprenticeship programs. We're not going to invest in child's care. We're not going to invest in universal pre-K. BLITZER: But can you hold off on those things?

WALSH: I think --

BLITZER: But just get the infrastructure stuff done? Where you have bipartisan support?

WALSH: I think we need those investments now. This is about --

BLITZER: So you want it at the same time?

WALSH: This is about the American future. This is about the public. This is about the people of America. This is an investment that they've never seen before.

It's an investment the President's committed to. It's an investment a lot of people in Congress committed to. It's about -- it's just as important as building a new bridge. It's about laying down the foundation so we can train the workers. As the President says, we can win the future.

BLITZER: The Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, you have a tough job.

WALSH: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.

WALSH: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very much. Good luck.

WALSH: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, confusion surrounding COVID booster vaccine set to begin in just a matter of weeks. Tonight, we're learning new information about why the Pfizer shot may be the only one available at least at first.



BLITZER: Tonight, CNN has learned that the Biden administration's rollout of COVID booster vaccines, this month may only include the Pfizer vaccine, at least at first and not the Moderna vaccine received by millions and millions of Americans. Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is working the story for us.

Elizabeth, so what's behind this possible, shall I say possible stumbling block?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So Wolf, what we were told several weeks ago is that there would be boosters offered to people starting the week of September 20. As you said, it turns out this might only be true for folks who received Pfizer. And that's because, to put it simply, the Moderna data, at least at this point does not look ready for there to be a booster roll out the week of September 20.

So for Pfizer folks, there is a meeting of FDA advisors September 17, to go over the data that Pfizer submitted to the FDA. So it's very possible that people who took Pfizer will be offered boosters, not everyone, of course, but sort of in sections and in groups starting the week of September 20.

Now let's take a look at how many people have gotten Pfizer versus Moderna versus Johnson & Johnson. As you can see, the majority of vaccinated Americans have received Pfizer, that's 54 percent, 38 percent of people have received Madonna, and 8 percent have received Johnson & Johnson.

So because there's been so much back and forth, Wolf, I want to put this in simple terms, if you've been vaccinated, it is very likely that you will be offered a booster in the coming weeks or months. Might not happen the week of September 20, but no matter what vaccine you got, it is very likely that one will be coming your way in the coming weeks or months.

You know, according to experts who I've been talking to, they think that the real damage here actually is for folks who are unvaccinated completely. These folks don't trust the government. They don't trust what they say. And now they can point to this whole booster kerfuffle and say, see, look, I told you what the government -- that the government doesn't know what it's doing.

Let's take a look at what this number is, because it is sobering. All this time, all these many months into the vaccine rollout, still, more than one out of four eligible Americans has not gotten a COVID-19 booster. And again, the worry here is that this booster back and forth is going to maybe this group. And this is the group we're worried about, this group say no to the vaccine altogether. Wolf.

BLITZER: They should take a look at the numbers because most of the people who have COVID in our hospitals right now, and God forbid, who have died from COVID, they are the unvaccinated, not the vaccinated.

Elizabeth Cohen --

COHEN: Exactly.

BLITZER: -- thank you very, very much.

Let's get some more in all of this --

COHEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: -- CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen is joining us. She's also the author of the brand new very important, very timely new book entitled "Lifelines." There's the book cover.

Dr. Wen, thanks so much for joining us.

So, as you just heard, Moderna did submit some data to the FDA for approval of a third booster dose of their vaccine. They did that today. Do you think this will affect the White House's deadline of September 20 to approve an additional vaccine dose for all Americans? We got word that it may be scaled back, as you just heard only to Pfizer.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Look, I think that there is a lot of confusion right now. But actually there really shouldn't be because I think the White House did exactly the right thing in announcing that boosters are going to be needed.

Maybe September 20th setting a date certain may have been a bit premature. And it might be that people who got Moderna and therefore might be to get the Moderna booster, maybe that will need to be postponed a little bit.


But I also think that at this point we really should be empowering patients to be making the best decision together with their physicians about when a booster shot is most appropriate for them. Right now, we do have data that the -- where we now know that the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved. And that means that it really should be able to be used off label, meaning, ideally, even for patients who got Johnson & Johnson or Moderna, they should be able to get a Pfizer booster. I want for the FDA and CDC to be making that kind of recommendation so that we are allowing individuals to make the right decision based on their own risk and their own medical issues.

BLITZER: So when I hear you saying is that if you did get the two doses of the Moderna, and the Moderna is not yet approved for a booster, go ahead and get the Pfizer? Is that what you're saying?

WEN: Well, here's the issue, our federal regulators are only going to be issuing the recommendations based on the data that they have. And the Pfizer is not going to be studying, getting two doses of Pfizer and then a maternal booster, or vice versa. And so, all that the federal regulators are going to be able to say is if you got two doses of Pfizer, you can get a third dose of Pfizer. Eventually, they'll be able to say, if you got two doses of Moderna, you could get a third dose of Moderna.

But I think we need to allow for much more discretion than that. Why should people who got Moderna or Johnson & Johnson have to wait months potentially for those data to come in? I really think that we should be -- you know, maybe the federal health officials don't have to recommend that individuals are able to get this mix and match approach, but at least they could allow it.

BLITZER: That's a good point. Do you think all this confusion, the confusing messaging around booster shots will affect people's willingness, those who are refusing to get a shot, affect their willingness to either go ahead and get vaccinated or those who are fully vaccinated right now to go ahead and get an additional shot?

WEN: Yes, I don't think that it's going to affect those people who are unvaccinated. I don't think that that is a driving cause right now is that they somehow are confused about boosters. I do think that the public health focus absolutely needs to be on getting those individuals unvaccinated to get their initial doses, because that's what's going to stop the pandemic. But I also think we have to recognize that there are a lot of Americans who are eager to get a booster.

In fact, we know that over a million Americans have already received an unauthorized third booster. I don't want to scare these individuals, I would much rather that we have these people legally obtain their boosters. And then we track them so that we have data on safety and effectiveness of that third booster shot.

That's what Israel has done. They have allowed people to get the booster. They have, in real time, immediate data on the effectiveness of the booster shot. And they found that the third booster dose substantially reduces infection rates and reduces severe illness. We should be allowing Americans to make that decision who wants to make that decision and then tracking those results accordingly.

BLITZER: In Israel, everyone is eligible for a booster after six months, after receiving their second dose, after six months, not the eight months being recommended, at least so far here in the U.S., although I suspect that eventually will go down. Dr. Leana Wen, thank you so much for joining us.

WEN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Breaking news coming up next, more on President Biden's tour of the hurricane devastation in Louisiana. That's continuing tonight. Plus, the investigation into the deaths of four nursing home residents who were evacuated to a temporary facility. We're learning new information, standby.



BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, President Biden getting a first- hand look this hour at the widespread hurricane damage in Louisiana. The President vowing federal health telling residents, and I'm quoting him now, I promise to have your backs until this gets done.

Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera, he's joining us now right now. He's just west of New Orleans. Ed, still, still hundreds of thousands of people are without power, electricity, without gas, what's it like there on the ground?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I think it's becoming rather miserable for tens of thousands of people across the region. And it's been like that. And the worst part is, is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of light at the end of this tunnel quite yet. So a great deal of concern about how long it's going to take to get the power turned on. You know, that is a huge step in just getting people the relief from the heat index that is well over 100 degrees in many parts of Southeast Louisiana. Then there's gas lines, and people needing those gas lines to either power up refrigerators or AC systems or fans. You know, all of that kind of stress is really building. And, Wolf, this is the neighborhood that President Biden just visited a short while ago. In fact, his motorcade just went up past this street a few minutes ago, a pep talk essentially, and urging people to under believe that the federal government would be here helping them get through all of this. But, you know, the fact of the matter is, is that that's not going to turn the lights on this afternoon, it's not going to turn the air conditioning on this afternoon. And officials here are really trying to send that message to people that this is going to be a long process, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're also hearing that four nursing home residents died after being evacuated to a temporary facility, another -- a new very serious questions about it being in deteriorating conditions when they got there. What are you hearing?

LAVANDERA: Indeed, this was apparently a move that happened in the days leading up to the storm. A number of nursing home -- nursing homes transported, was originally supposed to be about 315 -- 350 nursing home residents to a warehouse that was equipped to be able to get these people through the storm. According to state officials, that number blossomed to about 800 in the days since the storm. They've had issues keeping the electricity on, with generators. And because of all of that, four different -- four people died, three of them believed to be storm-related death.


So, there are questions as to exactly how all of this happened. State officials say that the warehouse was inspected before the storm and everything appeared OK. But in the day since the storm, the situation deteriorated, and the governor is investigating. This is what some relatives of the people who were in that warehouse said just today.


SABRINA COX, FAMILY OF NURSING HOME RESIDENT: Why didn't you contact anybody for help? Let somebody know what was going on. Contact one person. People shouldn't be treated like that. You should be held accountable.

RENETTA DEROSIA, FAMILY OF NURSING HOME RESIDENT: I just feel guilty, you know, for long, I don't know. Had I known, I would have bring her with me.


LAVANDERA: Wolf, a troubling situation that is now being investigated. Wolf?

BLITZER: As it should be. All right, Ed Lavandera, thanks very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with the Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng. Thank you so much for joining us, Cynthia. You met with President Biden today as he toured storm damage in your part of Louisiana. Tell us about your conversation with the President. Did he offer the support your community so desperately needs right now? CYNTHIA LEE SHENG, JEFFERSON PARISH PRESIDENT: Yes, myself and other elected officials were able to meet with him and and really go over our immediate needs. We still have fuel needs, we still have medical special needs, people here that we're not able to take care of. And then a longer term need of, you know, how to harden our system, how to fight storms better with our electrical grid.

But I was pleased to know he seemed very briefed on these issues. And I really am glad that the President is down here because it's going to take, you know, an all effort from the federal government, the state government and local government working together to really recover and recover in a stronger way. Because the way these storms are coming at us so frequently, this is something that we're going to have to get used to it seems. I don't know that these are strange times. I hate to say that this is -- these storms are coming at us too frequently now. So we need to build back stronger.

BLITZER: Yes, we certainly do. We're told that more than 800,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana remained without power on this blistering hot day. Can you describe, Cynthia, the impact, this absence of power, electricity, telecommunications, so much more gas is having for residents in your parish?

LEE SHENG: You know, we're in this several days and today was really hot. I myself was struggling today being outside for so long. We had one of our Louisiana National Guard members who was out trying to put a bridge, get a temporary bridge together for us in Lafayette, had to get rushed to the hospital for heat exhaustion. Those men and women are out in full uniform. Can you imagine, you know, how hot it is?

But the good news is that Entergy gave us restoration times for many of the communities. And the really good news is that all of our hospitals, I just told our last hospital, are online now. So all of our hospitals have electric power.

So, as the days go on, we'll have more victories like this. It was nothing but bad, bad news for several days. And I told my teams, this will flip on us, there's more assets come, we will start rebuilding and we will get better and better news as the days go by.

BLITZER: As you know better than anyone, parts of your parish, including Grand Isle have been repeatedly decimated by storms. Are you rethinking where and how you rebuild as hurricane season becomes an even greater annual threat down the road?

LEE SHENG: Absolutely. I mean, the immediate need now is we have people who don't have homes, and then we have people who have liveable homes, if we could get tarps on top of them. So that's, you know, the difference there. But many of the more modern buildings are going to build back stronger. Some of those homes in Lafayette and Grand Isle were older. So I'm sure we'll go over all the building codes and make sure they're stronger when we rebuild. That will be conversations that we will absolutely be having.

And Wolf, if I have time, if I can -- I was just notified of a FEMA scam, I want everybody to be aware of, it's a text message for $8,500 and relief from FEMA. This is a scam. You need to understand the source of the information. You never want to give your private information via text or e-mail. is the official FEMA website for the storm or 1800-621-3362. So please be mindful. There are some really horrible people out there wanting to take advantage of people who are down on their knees and just out and we know we don't want that to happen to anybody. We've been thrown off, so let's be vigilant about defending against that kind of activity.

BLITZER: And you said it right. Let's hope the authorities find these horrible people trying to take advantage of desperate people right now to steal their money in a horrible, horrible way.

The Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck.

LEE SHENG: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're going to have more on the breaking news coming into The Situation Room right now. Get this, the nation's top intelligence agencies are now warning the terrorists, terrorists. They try to exploit the upcoming 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. We have new information, standby. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following, a new U.S. intelligence bulletin just out says the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security expect foreign terrorists to exploit the upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Our Senior National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt is working this story for us. Alex, what is this warning? What do we know specifically about this warning just ahead of this momentous anniversary?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is an intelligence bulletin that was put out jointly, as I mentioned by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security as well as the National Counterterrorism Center.


What they're saying is that foreign terrorist groups like ISIS, like al-Qaeda will likely use the upcoming anniversary, 20th anniversary of 9/11, as well as this chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan as part of their propaganda, which they have used to radicalize and recruit. They do caution that they are not aware of any sort of specific threat around the anniversary of 9/11. And that, in fact, in the past, homegrown terrorists have not used symbolic anniversaries to carry out attacks. So they do not believe that this anniversary is going to accelerate any sort of planning around any potential attack on September 11th this year.

But they do say that when you look at the past what al-Qaeda and ISIS and others have done in terms of their propaganda, they have used things like 9/11, they have used -- they have pointed to America's divisions, they have pointed to a weak economy. And they have also, interestingly, this bulletin says in a video put out by al-Qaeda back in July, they referenced January 6, the insurrection of the Capitol saying that that event was more impactful than what they called the fourth plane that did not hit its target. So that is likely a reference, Wolf, to Flight 93 which crash, of course, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

I want to read you part of this bulletin, this Joint Intelligence bulletin that was just put out. It says, "Media produced by al-Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates and branches which reference the 9/11 attacks likely reinforce homegrown violent extremists, anti-U.S. sentiments and contributes to the radicalization by serving as a reminder of past success in targeting the United States".

So this bullet in believing that this anniversary will be used in their propaganda to drive radicalization and recruitment, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, 20th anniversary week from tomorrow. Alex Marquardt, reporting for us, thank you very, very much. We'll have much more on this story coming up in our next hour.

We're a little over one week away from the California Governor recall election. Early voting already is underway and one reason poll shows 58, 58 percent of likely voters are against recalling the Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, while only 38 percent are for the recall. However, everything may boil down to who shows up at the polls on September 14th, and one particular group Latino voters may hold the key to whether Newsom stays in office.

CNN's Kyung Lah is joining us right now. So, Kyung, what are you finding out?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in California is super important and critical voting bloc. They are growing in size and power. And this recall is proving once again that Latinos are not monolithic and can prove unpredictable.


LAH (voice-over): Gary Montana's day as a maintenance technician is so jammed. He doesn't have time to care about the upcoming California recall election. A registered independent, he carries one overriding feeling about Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

GARY MONTANA, CALIFORNIA REGISTERED INDEPENDENT: He just said that lack of -- I don't think he really understood like the average person voted you in.

LAH (voice-over): He's most upset about Newsom dining at an exclusive restaurant in the middle of the pandemic while he works. It is in California's Latino communities where COVID impact was felt the most everyone in Montana's family got COVID.

MONTANA: I just saw the lack of leadership skills like, I was thinking he was like, OK, and that's when I thought we needed to recall the governor.

LAH (voice-over): Latinos make up an estimated 30 percent of California's voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All roads to victory on September 14th are going to lead through every Latino neighborhood in the state of California. Am I right?


LAH (voice-over): Key in whether Governor Newsom keeps his job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for your help.

LAH (voice-over): Why Democrats are blanketing Spanish language media with ads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).

LAH (voice-over): As are the Republican challengers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).

LAH (voice-over): With less than two weeks ago to recall Election Day, the drive is getting the base out to vote. Progressives have been knocking on doors through this Central Los Angeles neighborhood. While some say this --

(on-camera): Have you heard about the recall?


LAH (voice-over): And there is frustration over the Governor's economic policies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're recalling Governor Newsom, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, a little one that blew (ph) in there.

LAH (voice-over): Most in this predominantly Latino community say they'll vote no on recalling Newsom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to vote no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most likely will say keep him in office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could end up with something worse, something like Donald Trump. GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Thank you, California.

LAH (voice-over): In 2018, 64 percent of Latinos voted for Newsom, part of a resounding victory sending the Democrats to the governor's mansion. While the most recent recall poll shows Latinos support keeping Newsom, there are questions about whether those voters will even cast a ballot.


LUIS ALVARADO, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sometimes we show up and sometimes we just don't. It depends on what the issue is. And sometimes we're the ones who can change the whole paradigm. And sometimes we just don't show up and everybody wonders what happens.

LAH (voice-over): One frustrated independent feels so disconnected. He's considering voting Republican.

MONTANA: Yes. I would rather see someone more in touch with the people.


LAH: Here's something important to watch though, Wolf, that voter and nearly every single voter we talked to in the neighborhoods, almost none of them had actually turned in their ballots. So there's going to be a real push in these final days to get those ballots in the mail. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, lots at stake indeed. All right, Kyung Lah reporting for us, thank you very much.

The breaking news we're following, President Biden in Louisiana's disaster zone tonight, seeing the hurricane devastation first-hand and promising, promising health for the Ida victims.