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CNN Saturday Morning News
Hurricane Ike Hits Texas
Aired September 13, 2008 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you all from the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, specifically right now your hurricane headquarters. Welcome to CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is September 13th. I'm T.J. Holmes.
Two-thirds of our CNN SATURDAY MORNING team out and about right now in the midst of that monster that is behind me. You see there on the screen, that is Hurricane Ike. And there is our Betty Nguyen you see there and also our Reynolds Wolf.
Betty is in Houston. Reynolds there for us in (INAUDIBLE) hey made their spot for a lot of oil and a lot of gas production. We'll be checking in with both of them in just a second. I want to give you the latest about what's going on here.
We certainly have our correspondents out and about in full force as well as our affiliates. Specifically, Houston there is in the eye of things right now going through all kinds of things, some of these early pictures we are getting here from what has happened in that area. We have a lot of concern about a lot of windows, a lot of glass jumping off from a lot and being busted out from a lot of those high- rise buildings in downtown.
Now some people got out. Thank goodness they did. A lot of people absolutely did heed the warnings and get out of town, but a lot of people have stuck around there in town and hopefully they will be all right. We know a lot of calls have been coming in for rescues going on.
I want to turn to back to my buddy, my co-anchor, Betty Nguyen, my partner who is out in the midst of this. We have been watching you six 6:00 this morning. And I saw you just about five or 10 minutes ago, that was really the first time we could get a good glimpse of your face. Quite honestly, you've been blown around so much and a lot of weather in your face, so tell us what's going on in downtown Houston.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let me tell you it's been quite a morning. The winds are blowing at up to 130 miles per hour. Now, things, obviously, have died down a lot, but the rain is still pouring here. I'm going to see how much I can bring you out to the street level so you can see some of the debris; I don't have a lot of cord here.
Our photographer is underneath a shelter in a parking garage to make sure that we can keep our signal on the air, but if you look over to my left here, you can see some of the debris along the streets, but that really doesn't compare to what is down this way. There are tree limbs everywhere.
On top of that, we have seen street signs, even traffic signals all over the place, so you are seeing a lot of flying debris. We also heard some corrugated steel, glass shattering because just to my right about a couple of blocks down the street is the JPMorgan Chase building. That building has 75 stories to it, so as you can imagine there is a lot of damage there with flying debris and glass from broken windows.
But you know as bad as this storm has been coming through downtown Houston, a lot of the concern here was just the wind, but a little bit farther to our south in Kemah, which is an area right here on Galveston Bay, their concern was storm surge. I was out there yesterday and talked to a couple who were simply sitting there on their front porch watching this storm come in.
They really didn't have a care in the world. They thought they would be in a secure place. Well hopefully they are, but take a listen to what they told us yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA FRANCIS, KEMAH, TEXAS RESIDENT: We have food and everything for water, like I said, we have a 250-gallon water tank, so we are prepared. We are really prepared.
WILLIAM WHITNEY, KEMAH, TEXAS RESIDENT: They are only calling for a 20-foot storm surge, so I mean this place it won't even reach the second floor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all.
WHITNEY: And then with the generator, the water and everything else, we should be fine.
ELENA SAMUELSON, KEMAH, TEXAS RESIDENT: But that's all I've got.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If you could take him with you, you would have already left?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: The first couple, I was really pretty secure in the fact that they would probably ride out the storm and be OK because they had a fortified home. There are lots of brick around it and they did have a second story, but that last woman who was really unsure about leaving, her home was filling with water fast, even yesterday, at least on the outer rims of it, because we were seeing water rise about an inch every 15 minutes.
So it was coming in fast and that was before this storm even made landfall. As you can see, it has definitely hit south Texas. It is here. Ike has arrived and our Reynolds Wolf is in Clute, Texas where they are also feeling the effects of this.
Good morning, Reynolds. REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Betty. Things are getting a little bit better here. I say the only comparison we had too over just the past 30 minutes. The wind has dropped a little bit. The rain is pretty much about the same.
We are here in Clute, which is actually in Missouri County (ph), home to roughly a quarter million people, 70 percent have evacuated. You got 30, 35 percent or so that are still sticking around. Some of the people that are sticking around, about 137 people have crossed Highway 288 over at the BASF (ph) chemical plant.
We've got another camera, the camera you are seeing right now, that's Joel Villaroisa (ph), but we have another camera that is up on top of one of the balconies and that is John Persom (ph). John Persom (ph) is going to get a great show for you across the way. It'll give you a better view of this chemical plant.
It is one of the largest in North America, but not only do you have this plant, but you also have (INAUDIBLE) close by. You also have (INAUDIBLE). You've got Shell. You've got the strategic petroleum reserve also in this particular area.
All places that would have a staggering impact on our economy had the storm made a direct hit in this area. I will tell you that the people at BASF (ph) and DOW (ph) were here long before this storm came close, making sure that everything was secure. Everything was fine.
They are actually checking the levees in this area also. Everything is certainly in great shape. Many of the levees that we actually have in this area were actually constructed back in 1961 right after Hurricane Carla made landfall, almost, let's see, 47 years ago. And that storm had winds of 167 miles an hour, had a storm surge at around 18 feet and about 30, I think 37 people lost their lives in that storm, so certainly a very bad history in terms of rough storms in this area.
Now at our location, we are actually on Hotel Road. Our hotel, again, just with the CNN crews; you can see our live truck right over there. John Persom (ph) is up on that balcony. This morning I can tell you things were a little bit crazy here when the winds began to pick up.
We had a lot of these pieces of plastic that were flying around all over the place. I can also tell you Joelle (ph) who is holding the camera -- Joelle (ph), boot the camera up and down -- there you go -- Joelle (ph) was sleeping and everything was perfectly fine in his world, then he got a blip, a little bit of water that landed right on his nose.
The roof was leaking. We've been without power since about 8:00 last night. The strongest winds were around midnight. And now we are getting a couple of the gusts that are up coming in pretty strong. I got to tell you that overall, though, Betty, I think things are improving as the storm marches northward.
It is time for College Station (ph), Waco, Texas, Austin certainly going to get a lot of this. But it will get weaker, even your own hometown, Betty, Dallas is going to get quite a bit of the wind and the rain. Certainly Texas is not through with the storm. It certainly going to get a little bit better in southeast Texas, but the problem is when the storm goes off then a lot of people are going to be heading its way -- heading back towards the coast trying to get an idea of what's left of their homes, their property.
In many cases, there's livestock. Another thing in Brazoria County, you've got over 2,500 branches and barns. A lot of cattle here, a lot of horses, hay is tremendous in this area, so that is going to be a big thing. People are going to have to come back and find out what's left. And that is certainly a terrifying prospect.
The what if, what could possibly be left, should we have taken some of those extra supplies. Should we have taken that photo album? A lot of people are probably going to be second guessing themselves, but probably no more than the 35 or 30 percent of the population that actually stayed closer on the coast.
We have no idea how they made things out. The first responders have not had a chance to get out there and take a look and certainly help some of those who did the distress calls. It's going to be a very interesting morning and very apprehensive to find out what the next couple of hours may tell us. Betty, let's send it back to you in Houston.
NGUYEN: Yeah, stay safe down there, no doubt. We're going to see a lot of the damage once it does start to break day here. I'm seeing a little bit of light, so we'll be able to give you a better indication of what has happened due to Hurricane Ike. But in the meantime, though, we are not only using our resources along the Texas coast, we are also working with our affiliates as well. And I want to send you to a piece that was just filed from our affiliate KTRK. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISSA RIVAS, KTRK: It is. We are getting some gusts out here, serious gusts. The problem out here is the (INAUDIBLE) White Oak Street and the North Freeway. The Bayou rushing pretty seriously and if you look down a little bit, about not even 100 yards, I guess it's 100 yards when we got here, but White Oak Street and the flooding coming off of White Oak Street into the Bayou has created such a tidal wave that the Bayou and the White Oak Street flooding have all become one. So it's been a combination as we've seen here in the last hour since we've been out here.
The big time flooding coming down off of White Oak Street and then the rising Bayou, they've just merged to become one. This section where the two are one is about 100 yards across. It has moved up a little, even since we have been here, so it's not showing any signs of letting up. It is really only showing signs of picking up.
The wind is picking up a little bit, too. And so that's where we are right now. This road where there's water, of course, you never drive into water, but sometimes you will drive up and you say hey, it is just a little water, I can still see the pavement. That water down there is pretty deep and it is rushing pretty fast.
It is really hard because it is not very light yet to tell just how fast the water is moving and just how deep it is. And of course, we are not venturing out into it, but I can tell you that in terms of anybody that would need to get through this area, you don't want to be outside anyway, but it would be impossible at this point -- back to you.
UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: Now, are there any homes located in the area that you are? Because I know near White Oak and bayou in some places there are some residences. Are there any right there and are they even getting any of that flooding at this point?
RIVAS: You know that's an excellent question about residence and whether or not this water is going into their homes. Has it destroyed any property beyond this? When we got here it was very dark and we couldn't see anything. We are getting some light, but because of how far (INAUDIBLE) at this point, it's impossible to see anything beyond this particular intersection, so we're just going to have to wait and see.
This is an awful lot of water. If there's any property or any homes back there, it is the kind of water that can cause serious damage, but there's no way of telling at this point in the morning if that's happened yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: And that's just a little taste of Hurricane Ike as it blew through south Texas. Down here in downtown Houston, we are seeing the winds really die down a little bit. And that was the first police officer I was able to see drive by. We are seeing just a tiny bit of traffic on the roadways here. There's a lot of debris in the streets and I want to bring in CNN's Jacqui Jeras in the CNN Hurricane Center because Jacqui, when we look at the downtown Houston area, does it appear that we are on the tail end of this hurricane?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know the Hurricane is here north and east, Betty, so you know it is starting to pull away from there. The maximum winds aren't going to be quite as strong, but there are bands just to your south that easily you are going to get some hurricane-force wind gusts, so even though things may seem a little calmer where you are now, you know be on high alert because things are going to be kicking in and we're still looking at a couple of hours before you see real significant improvement overall.
So we still have a ways to go in the Houston area. Do not go outside. Don't risk it. There's debris all over the place. We have got reports of falling glass; windows broken out you know things flying through the air. So many people are without power. The power companies aren't able to get out and help everybody.
There may be live wires. There you can see a picture of what looks like a fire. It looks like -- I'm being told it's the Galveston area, even though that says Clute, Texas, on your screen there. So it continues to be a very dangerous situation. More than two million people are without power in the area.
And I know it has been a scary thing all night being home in the dark and hearing those winds howl as things are going to be calming down a little bit. We are also getting some more reports in on the storm surge situation. If you can take a look at our Google earth map and kind of show you the situation and tell you some of the new information that we are getting.
You know we have heard a lot -- that's actually virtual earth. If you go back to I believe it's GR113 (ph) is your source to show you our Google earth image, so I can fly around and show you the area that I'm talking about. It's on my weather switcher -- there you can see it.
All right, but here's Houston, here's Galveston area, of course we have reports all in this area that it is you know completely inundated with water. We are getting new information -- this is north of Port Arthur. Here's the town of Orange and we have some reports that emergency management says that numerous people have been stranded on their roofs and their attics due to the storm surge in Orange County.
I'm being told that those people are probably safe as the water is not going to be going up much more, but the winds are too strong that they can't get any choppers or do any kind of rescue in this area. Of course, you know this is just away from the bay area. And of course, you have the river that runs through that as well.
And over here in Cameron Parish, we are getting word that there's water in the courthouse and water throughout the town. And the storm surge here is worst than in Hurricane Rita. So now as we are getting towards that daylight, people are going to be getting out and assessing and doing some aerial things as soon as those winds calm down, but we are still getting reports around Beaumont/Port Arthur around 80 mile per hour in terms of gusts, so hang in there, Betty. We'll have more coming in right after a break.
NGUYEN: Well I'm glad that you clarified that because here in downtown Houston the winds have died down and a lot of people, as you say, starts to get a little bit of light outside will want to venture out and see the damage. But just as you mentioned, the winds will start picking up again. It is not over.
We felt a really strong gust, so as you say, Hurricane Ike is still being felt right here in Houston. We have coverage all along the Texas Gulf Coast, so you want to stay here as we continue to follow Hurricane Ike.
HOLMES: All right. We'll hope to get that sound to you. What you're looking at and what we were hoping you were going to hear is the Galveston city manager kind of giving an update about what was happening in Galveston (INAUDIBLE) Galveston hit and hit hard by this storm, a storm that is still on the move. Right now we do know at least three deaths are being blamed on this hurricane, Hurricane Ike, including a 10-year-old who was hit in the head by a tree branch. We know as many as four million people are without power.
Utility officials are saying it could be weeks before the lights come back on. Also, we know that thousands of homes right now are under water. Take a look at what Hurricane Ike is going to be blamed for as well, some damaging winds that fed a fire in Houston.
It happened at a popular restaurant. This restaurant called Grinnings (ph), anybody that has been in that area should certainly know this landmark really. A little girl and two employees were injured in this fire. The restaurant owner says he thinks a transformer blew and that started the fire. But he says every time it seems that firefighters got it under control, the wind kicked back up.
We're going to turn back to my co-anchor -- well, she is not there yet. We're waiting to see our Betty Nguyen, expected her to be in that block for us, but we're going to take Reynolds since his signal is up and working right now.
Nice shirt -- if Reynolds can hear me, Reynolds is getting blown around a little bit. I don't know what Reynolds is up to right now, but maybe that high wind and that rain is getting to him a little bit there in Clute, Texas. He's about 60 miles south of Houston.
There he is. Reynolds, can you hear me because we can't hear you just yet.
WOLF: ... the anchor this morning.
HOLMES: There he is. Hey, Reynolds...
WOLF: (INAUDIBLE) hello.
HOLMES: OK, Reynolds is apparently getting ready to do a live shot for a different network or different affiliate right now, so we're going to try to get back to him here shortly. Again, our Betty Nguyen -- again two-thirds of our team out and about. Betty Nguyen in Houston as well, we'll check in with her shortly.
We also, in stories like this, our iReporters help us tell these stories and our Josh Levs has been helping us with that. And also we have an iReporter on the phone right now. Sean Blake who is going to tell us about the experience he's been having. Sean, you're in Houston. Tell be what you are up to in Houston right now.
VOICE OF VOICE OF SEAN BLAKE, HOUSTON: Yes, sir. We are two blocks north of Minute Maid Park (ph) and the building that we are in was built in the early 1920's. And the roof has started to collapse and we are completely saturated. Completely saturated, we've got several inches of water in this building and windows blown into the building as well, so we are going to put our yellow float-tees on and hope for the best right now.
HOLMES: Hope for the best. Why are you still there in the first place? Why didn't you get out?
BLAKE: We really didn't have any place to go.
BLAKE: We didn't have any place to go, so...
HOLMES: Well, how many of you are hunkered down there?
BLAKE: Pardon me?
HOLMES: How many of you are there together?
BLAKE: It is my wife and my two children.
HOLMES: How old are the kids? I'm sorry. I can't help but be concerned. How old are your kids?
BLAKE: My children are 3 years old and 3 months old.
HOLMES: Now, have you all been through something like this before or is this your first...
HOLMES: OK, this has got to be some serious stuff for you.
BLAKE: Horrendous. The sound of the wind and the windows breaking is just a nightmare, just a nightmare.
HOLMES: How have you seen it change over the hours? I guess give me the current conditions right now and compare those to how it's been for you the past several hours.
BLAKE: Well the winds really started to kick up about 2:00, 2:30 a.m. Standard Time. And that's about the time that we lost electricity and approximately 4:00, 4:30 is when the wind really kicked up and started bringing the windows in and that sort of thing. The ceiling started to cave in and it is just -- everything is saturated, everything.
HOLMES: All right -- again Sean Blake, one of the iReporters, who held -- iReporters certainly help us tell these stories in these times. Sean...
BLAKE: Yes sir.
HOLMES: Man you take care of you and your family. You all hang tight there. And hopefully you all make it through this thing with just a hell of a story to tell. Thank you so much, all right.
All right and Ike right now continues to slam into Texas. We have got pictures just coming into us. Many of them we are sifting through, many of them you haven't seen. We will be showing to you, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm underneath an area that's giving me some shelter, but I'm just going to walk out there real quick just to show you what it looks like when you walk into this thing. I'll see if I've got enough wire. Now, this is a big difference from what Gary says he is feeling now being in the eye of the storm.
We are still in the middle of this thing and there you see what it is like when you get inside this thing. I mean, the rains are coming hard and there goes my cap, by golly, I'm getting out of this, there goes another transformer as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Yeah those CNN hats are hard to come by Rick. That's our Rick Sanchez, who's out in the middle of things, who's doing some reporting for us, as so many other of our correspondents are. He's getting blown around a bit there.
My co-anchor, my buddy here, Betty Nguyen, who is thank goodness not getting blown around as much so more. Betty, good to see you kind of on not as shaky ground; we were worried you were going to get tossed around a little bit. Hey there. What's going on in downtown Houston?
NGUYEN: It was a little touch-and-go there for a while. The winds were just really whipping through downtown Houston. You know because with all of these skyscrapers and these tall buildings, it does create a bit of a tunnel effect. And at times we clocked it upwards of 130 miles per hour.
I want you to take a look at downtown Houston. It is starting to get a little bit light outside and once it does, we'll be able to really get a good look at the damage because of Hurricane Ike. But you know talk about reality checks, I'm standing in it right now, but Mister Reality himself is back there in Atlanta. And I understand Josh Levs you have a look at some of the pictures that are coming in from this storm.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah I do. And a matter of fact I'm glad you said that because this is a really important image. Part of the story here is about the first responders who sometimes go into really dangerous conditions in order to help people. We have some of the first images from The Associated Press of these. Let's go to this and I'll tell you what we are seeing here.
They tell us this is Andie Godwin (ph) reacting after losing it. Wildlife and Fisheries officials rescued her and her two puppies from south of -- from her home south of Houma (ph), Louisiana. And I was telling you about some of the other ones. We are also seeing people wading in the water here. This is in Galveston where police officers had to help people who were flooded inside their homes and helping residents evacuate. Let's go to this next one as well where we are seeing them carry a man who was pretty much caught inside his home as well. This is also in the Galveston area. We are told one of the people there is the man's son and the other one is an officer. And then we got some more of these amazing Associated Press photos that just show this sea wall and show some of the powerful conditions that people are facing.
I got a little bit of time and you can see -- I mean again people wading through these waters. Let's zoom in on the board behind me because I want to let you know, you can see more images like this at cnn.com. And while you are there, there's something pretty incredible. That it's the first time they have ever done this, you are able to see satellite imagery right there. They'll trace you through each step of the way and now Betty, now back to you.
NGUYEN: All right, Josh, thank you for that as we get a little glimpse from those pictures, I want to take you back out here now to downtown Houston. As its still raining and the wind gusts they come in and out. They come and go sometimes very strong and other times they die down a little bit. But I understand from Jacqui Jeras it is not over just yet.
As you take a look around, though, you can see tree limbs that are just lining parts of the street. And here we go with another gust of wind. Not only are there tree limbs in the street, we are seeing lots of steel and glass being blown around. We've even seen some traffic signals that have been picked up and became bits of flying debris.
At this point, though, with the buildings that are surrounding this particular area, I don't see any of them that have been blown out, but that doesn't mean that they are not. Because as of yesterday, Houston officials were saying that some 25 percent of the windows downtown had the potential of being blown out because of this storm.
So there is still a lot more to come. We are following Hurricane Ike. And coming up though, I want to tell you about this, a story that we were able to capture yesterday as the storm was heading into this area, lots of hospitals were taking precautions, especially when it comes to babies. Sometimes some of the most helpless people in a storm like this. So we are going to show you what hospitals have done to make sure that babies stay safe during Hurricane Ike. Stay with us.
HOLMES: Hurricane Ike making landfall near Galveston, Texas, about five and a half hours ago. It was a Category 2 hurricane when it came ashore, its winds about 110 miles an hour at that time. The water surge is flooding the coast and also cities inland. There's power out to a huge area of that part of Texas. Emergency responders also waiting to move out and respond to those in need, those that did not get out of the area like they were told to do so.
We do have reports of a whole lot of damage to homes and businesses in Galveston. Meanwhile in Houston, lots of power outages. Up to 4 million people lost their power during this huge storm. Emergency officials are warning people, do not go outside just yet. However, you need to be aware of what's going on out there if you do go. A lot of flooding going on, and also you need to be aware of those downed power lines.
We do, of course, have our correspondents all over the region for this storm throughout the day. We have people in Houston, San Antonio, Galveston, Baytown, Beaumont, Clute, as well as La Porte, and including two-thirds of our CNN MORNING team. Betty Nguyen is actually covering things for us and has been anchoring the show from Houston. And also, our Reynolds Wolf has been in Clute. We'll see him in just a second.
We do want to let you know that at least three deaths are being blamed on Hurricane Ike right now, including a 10-year-old child who was hit in the head by a tree branch. Again, power outs to as many as 4 million people we're told. And utility officials say could be weeks before the lights are back on. And that's, of course, as we expect thousands of homes right now are under water.
We do want to turn back to Clute, Texas. Reynolds Wolf, has been out there. Reynolds, things have been changing. Every time we see your shot's a little different. The rain's a little different, the winds a little different. What's going on now?
WOLF: Well, things are a little different, T.J., so to speak. What we have been seeing here is the winds picking up a little bit. It's again, as I've been telling, it's just kind of like a post thing effect of the storm. And it continues to march away to the north. We're going to get with Jacqui Jeras in a few moments to find out the exact location and get a better idea where they're intended.
But I can tell you here with these strong winds, one of the last things you want is to have a structure that has something on it that might be say shaped like, I don't know, kind of black, kind of curved, kind of a like a wing, maybe something like a roofing tile. That would be a bad thing to have in these kind of weather conditions.
Case in point, take a look at that building right over there, T.J. The top of the hotel, you can see again just the wind getting right underneath some of those tiles. They're going have quite a bit of work there. And that is going to be a scene that's going to be played out all over parts of Clute, Texas, and all of the southeast corner of the state. And it's going to be a tremendous mess. A big, big cleanup that's going to reach into the billions of dollars.
You want to talk economics or something, when you keep -- talk about economics with storms without talking about the oil, the natural gas, and even the chemical industry, right across the street at BASF, right across 288, you can see, again, the lights there. That place has been manned by 137 people keeping a sharp eye on the situation there. They're making sure everything is in tip-top shape as the storm rattles on through.
We got another shot. We're going to go to the shot that we have up on the balcony from John Persom. He's going to give you a better bird's eye view of what's happening. Beyond BASF, you've got Dow Chemical. They happen to be in the area, Shell Oil. You've got Gulf Oil. And then on top of that, you have the Strategic Petroleum Reserve also in the area.
So these are areas that, thankfully, were not really hit head on by the storm. This is, of course, the result could have been catastrophic.
Right now, they may be catastrophic. I mean, that's the thing. We've seen some of the images out of Houston, but a lot of this is just unknown to us. We're not going to get a full scope, a real idea of damage of this, until the storm continues to marches off and until we're able to go back in, places like Galveston. (INAUDIBLE) to say Surfside Texas, even to Freeport to get a full scope, a full idea of exactly what the storm has done.
To get a good idea of where the storm is headed, and what we might be able to anticipate for the rest of the day, let's go to one of television's best meteorologists, my friend, CNN Jacqui Jeras.
Jacqui, tell us, what do you know right now?
JERAS: Well, you know, it's pulling away and it's picking up some forward speed, Reynolds. And I wanted to ask you, you know, Reynolds, you're kind of getting close to the end of the rain bands there. How significant has the winds improved there in just the last couple of hours?
WOLF: Jacqui, if you asked me a question, I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to repeat it. I had two people speaking in my ear at the same time, but...
JERAS: That's OK.
WOLF: ...it happens in a live situation.
JERAS: I just wanted to ask you...
WOLF: Please speak, please speak.
JERAS: ...about the wind conditions. The wind conditions there, we saw some of the damage from those roof tiles being thrown off. You know, you're kind of getting on the edge now of the heavy rain bands pulling out. And I was just wondering how significantly the winds have decreased there just in the last hour or two?
WOLF: I'll tell you, Jacqui, my wind denometer, my wind gauge actually tacked down, say 20 miles an hour. I know, though, it's inaccurate. We'd had stronger winds, no question.
I would guesstimate maybe 60 miles an hour are the strongest winds that we have felt. But you know how it can be with these storms. I mean, say ten miles from this spot, you can have wind speeds up to 90 miles an hour at this area. We've had stronger gusts like the one I'm feeling right now. But I'll tell you, it's been really kind of chancy at times. I'd say definitely say anywhere from the 40 to maybe 60-mile-per-hour range.
JERAS: OK, thanks very much, Reynolds.
Well, the storm is pulling away more quickly now. So you're going to watch for your conditions to continue to improve. And check out the eye or the center of the storm way up here now. It's some 40- odd miles away from the Houston area. And so we're thinking the timing of these strong winds into Houston.
You've got maybe another two hours, I give you that window, of still seeing the hurricane-force winds at a maximum. And I think you're going to be done with the tropical storm-force winds probably by early afternoon. So that's a little bit of quicker timetable. So that's some good news, but look at the heavy bands right along the I- 10 corridor here, covering all of downtown. So it's still very gusty, heavy rains.
And as these winds start to pull up, then our focus is going to start to change to some flooding. And the rain really has been tremendous. This is an estimate of rainfall by Doppler radar. I'm not sure how well you can see it, but I wanted to point out this big purple area here, in particular the white. This is eight to ten inches estimated by Doppler radar. So put it in perspective. Here's the coastline for you. There's Galveston. And here's Houston up here. So that entire area right along there and along I-45 is -- that's a lot of rain to come down in a very short period of time.
Unfortunately, we're going to continue to see those rain showers throughout the day today, even as those winds start to calm down just a little bit. And to put it in perspective, too, this storm still remains very large. And some of the worst conditions well away from the center of this storm. Look at these lines moving in towards the Beaumont/Port Arthur area. And I think ultimately, we could potentially see some of the worst conditions overall from Ike way over here near the Texas/Louisiana state line -- Reynolds?
WOLF: Thanks, Jacqui. Thanks so much for that information. I know you'll be with us throughout the rest of the day giving us an idea of what the storm is going to do and what people can expect.
Guys, we're going to shift gears a little bit. What we're going to do is we're going to send it over to Sergeant Chris Bottoms. He's over in Harris County.
Serg Bottoms, can you hear me? Are you with us?
VOICE OF MASTER SGT. CHRIS BOTTOMS, HARDIN CO. TEXAS EMERGENCY MGMT.: I'm actually in the Hardin County Emergency Management area, which is..
WOLF: Hardin County.
BOTTOMS: Yes. WOLF: My mistake. Can you give me an idea -- can you give me an idea of what kind of damage you've had reported so far?
BOTTOMS: So far in one of the areas close within our county district, the area of Pinewood, we had an individual call in, one of our commissioners called in and said the initial damage that he has seen in the Pinewood area is more significant than the damage that was encountered with Rita. And so that's one of the earliest reports we have. And that's just from somebody living within the area. that's one of our commissioners.
We have not received any other areas reporting. And we have deemed it too dangerous to get any of the emergency, our infrastructure folks out to take a look at things right now. We're riding out winds gusting 80/90 miles an hour. We have gusts reported nearly 100 miles an hour. We've got a lot of limbs and loose sheet metal flying around the area. So we've determined that it's just too dangerous to get any of our emergency responders out to check things out. Probably not going to be safe to get out for another three hours or so.
WOLF: I can only imagine how your hands are tied in the situation like this, how frustrating it must be for you. How many crews are you going to have at your disposal to get out there and assist others later on, when the winds do begin to drop?
BOTTOMS: Well, right now, that number's still being determined. Most of the energy seems to be folks from the Jefferson County area, the Beaumont, Port Arthur region in Orange where the storm first came across. And so, we don't have a clear estimate of how many crews we're actually going to have at our use.
WOLF: I see. Well, sergeant, thanks so much for your -- thank you.
BOTTOMS: You're very welcome. God bless you.
WOLF: Thanks so much. Thank you so much. We're now going to send you over -- we now have some information from President Bush. We're going to go to that right now.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The storm is yet to pass. And I know there are people concerned about their lives. Some people didn't evacuate when asked. And I've been briefed on the rescue teams there in the area. They're prepared to move as soon as weather conditions permit.
Obviously, people on the ground there are sensitive to helping people, and are fully prepared to do so.
Secondly, I've asked Secretary Chertoff to go down as soon as weather conditions permit. I suspect he'll be able to get down to Texas this afternoon, and will be in the Gulf Coast region hopefully within a reasonable period of time to help the state of Texas officials, as well as local officials, begin the recovery effort.
There's going to be a need for federal, state and local coordination as this storm moves through east Texas. Obviously, there will be concerns about electricity. We've got generators in place, generators moving into the area to help. There will be concerns about water and ice. They will be concerned about energy. And I'm concerned about energy.
This administration has moved quickly. Last night, we suspended EPA waivers on certain reformulated gasolines, which will make it easier for imports from abroad to make it into our markets.
In the meantime, the Department of Energy, the Federal Trade Commission, and I know state authorities will be monitoring the gasoline prices to make sure consumers are not being gouged, make sure consumers are being treated fairly. As this massive storm moves through the Gulf Coast, the people of that area can rest assured that the American people will be praying for them and will be ready to help once the storm moves on.
HOLMES: All right. Again, listening in there. President Bush making brief comments about what's happening in response to Hurricane Ike, which is still causing all kind of fits right now for people in Texas. Of course, the president's home state of Texas, where he was once governor.
He did mention that rescue teams are in place and will be ready to help as soon as the weather permits. Also, as we heard from our Betty Nguyen, Secretary Chertoff, expecting him possibly in Houston, expecting him though in the region at some point. Homeland Security, Secretary and President Bush saying he will be going down as soon as the weather permits as well, calling for federal, state and local cooperation, and something else that is affecting a lot of people right now, even those that aren't in the area of gas prices.
He says people are now -- federal officials are monitoring the gas prices right now to make sure gouging is not going on. However, we have seen those prices go up really throughout the night. You might be shocked when you see where they have gone up in just the last 12 hours. We'll tell you how high, how much they're going up, and what is wrong with a lot of what we're seeing right now. Stay here.
WOLF: Coming to you from Clute, Texas, where the rain continues to fall. Things are getting better here, but they're getting worse in the northern part of Houston. We're going to switch gears and go to one of our reporters in the field of one of our affiliates, KTRK-13. Let's go there right now. Elissa Rivas.
RIVAS: Yes, we're just north of downtown Houston, at the interchange of I-45, north of and I-10 from the east and west. This is one of those many bayous that runs through our area.
This is the road that we actually came in on. It's -- the whole area has been flooded out. It reaches back along the street that runs parallel to the bayou. The bayou -- White Oak Bayou has come up over its banks.
We can estimate for you. This is only an estimate that the water coming up over the banks is at least two, three, maybe even four feet up over the banks because it's been getting higher since we got here about an hour and a half ago, but this is one of the biggest concerns for the Houston metropolitan area with the many bayous that run through our area, coming up over the banks.
Usually, there's a steep area of at least 100 to 200 yards when they are within their banks. But unfortunately right now, all of that area has been covered with water surging into the banks into the bayous. And they are very close to coming over the banks and have in some areas like you can see behind me.
Back to you.
WOLF: Thank you so much, Elissa. Please be careful. Please be careful in these rough conditions.
Folks, we're going to switch gears a little bit. We've been telling you all morning along about the human element of the storm, what it's going to mean, but what it's doing to the communities.
We have to also keep in mind what it may be doing to the economy. And for that, we're going to switch gears a bit. We're going to go to Ali Velshi, Ali Velshi, CNN's Ali Velshi, currently over in Baytown.
Ali, do you have us?
ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I got you. We are in Baytown, which is the refining capital of the United States. It is hitting us pretty hard right now. This is the second wave of the surge, I suppose.
Listen, we have seen a big increase in gas prices. Last night, we were reporting that we had seen major jumps in some American cities. Atlanta, we were seeing gas for $4.95 a gallon in Florida up to $5.49 a gallon. The governors of Alabama and Florida and Georgia have all been warning retailers that they will take action if they find people gouging.
But what has happened overnight is a combination of those price increases and price increases across the country, because of the anticipation of the storm is that prices have gone over...
WOLF: OK, folks. We're going to try to get Ali back in a moment. And as you can understand, these rough weather conditions, sometimes these transmissions come and go. It's all nature of the beast with these kind of storms.
I can tell you the situation that we have here in Clute, Texas, is similar to what many people have been dealing with. Again a while ago, we spoke with Elissa Rivas of KTRK. You can notice that the rough conditions in Houston have been just absolutely abysmal. But we're hoping conditions will improve as the storm moves farther to the north. Folks, we're going to have more coming up in just a few moments. You're watching CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
HOLMES: Continuing now to follow up the latest with Hurricane Ike. Here's what we know right now. At least three people have been killed. And those deaths blamed on Ike, including one 10-year-old child who was hit in the head by a tree branch. And then 4 million people are without power. And utility officials say it could be weeks actually before those lights come back on. And of course, we have thousands of homes under water right now. So a lot to deal with. And the storm's not even over right now.
We're going to head to -- turn right here to my right, who has been helping out with all these catastrophes. It's like hurricane after hurricane. Retired Lieutenant General - Army General Russell Honore.
Sir, what is the immediate issue right now? Do we have to wait until the storm pretty much gets out of there before the help can come in?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you see assessments right now about local police, fire departments, utilities. Then there's the massive task force assembled under the Texas National Guard called Task Force Ike. As we speak at 0800 Central Time, they started movement from San Antonio to the affected area, focusing on Galveston and Beaumont.
Those troops are moving. You'll see those vehicles on the road. As we speak, two serials, as we call them in the Army, serials of 500 vehicles, 1,000 Texas guardsmen, including inter agencies, swift boat folks that can come in and go in and do search and rescue. They will come in. They will have some food and water with them. And they'll be supported by logistics.
HOLMES: But specifically there for search and rescue?
HONORE: Search and rescue and life support.
HONORE: The others you will start seeing shortly is those orange helicopters, the United States Coast Guard, best in the world, that multiple - dozens of helicopters and small vessels that will attack this thing from the sea.
So as the storm moves north, you'll see the Coast Guard will start working the most affected area along Galveston Island in the bay, and start looking for people. Then they'll come in with the vessels to try to get into the channel to do an assessment.
The other part of that is Army helicopters and Air Force helicopters that are staged in the area. As the wind go down, they will come in from the flanks of this storm and come in as a part of a joint inter agency team to start search and rescue.
HOLMES: And something I was asking you about here during the break is you want to be -- you want to get as close as you can so you can respond as soon as it's time to go, but you have to make sure those resources, those helicopters, those trucks, those people are just enough outside of that storm zone, so that stuff doesn't get blown away and gets damaged and can get in there. How tough of a job is it to strategically replace your people and your equipment around that storm?
HONORE: Reminder, you got the first team working this.
HOLMES: Yes, all right.
HONORE: We can put a 500-pound bomb in a window. We can do this. And we are coordinated. They are synchronized, they are working under the command of General Rodriguez and the governor of Texas. They have practiced this. They're rehearsed. They know what they're doing. What we need people to do now is hunker down, be safe, and remember one out of every four Texans right now is out of power.
North of this storm, by nightfall, it could be up to three of every four Texans, which about 23 plus million will be out of power. So get ready, get your radios ready, donate your money to the Red Cross. They've got 20,000 people in shelters right now. They need money, they're broke.
HOLMES: All right, well, we are glad we have you here with us. General Honore is going to be here with us to help us cover several storms. Thank you, sir. We'll be talking to you again soon. And stay here with CNN. We have continuing coverage throughout the day of this massive storm. Our people are all over that area. Stay here. Take a quick break.
NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody. This is Betty Nguyen coming to you live from downtown Houston, where Hurricane Ike is still passing over the city. As the storm rolled ashore, a lot of concern was placed upon the hospitals to make sure people who needed medical care would be able to get it should the electricity go out.
Well, we went to a hospital yesterday to find out exactly what they were doing to protect some of the tiniest patients. Take a look.
NGUYEN (voice-over): Babies at Houston Memorial City Medical Center were on the move. Their neonatal intensive care unit is surrounded by windows, which could have put them in the path of flying debris. Getting these newborns to a more fortified part of the hospital was a careful process. It took a team of nurses to pack up the equipment and prepare the babies for their trek to the other end of the building. DR. SHERRI LEVIN, OB/GYN: By moving them early when they're not behind the eight ball. And they're trying to get them moved. Supposedly, our worst time would be like midnight to 6:00 a.m.
NGUYEN: They rode out the storm in a room usually reserved for day surgery. It had all the necessary equipment to handle major medical emergencies during the storm.
That put parents like Joshua Price at ease. His twins were born Thursday night.
JOSHUA PRICE: They're taking every precaution necessary, regardless of where they think the storm will go.
NGUYEN: Beds were set up for parents in the next room so they could stay with their babies throughout the storm. Courtney Lewis says she couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
COURTNEY LEWIS, MOTHER OF INFANT IN HOSPITAL: I just had a cold vision of him just in this little plastic crib by himself. And no matter how great the nurses are, they have all these other babies to take care of. And that way, I can just sit here and bond with him, too, because he was -- yesterday he was a week old. Wednesday was the first time I ever got to hold him. And so this will give us some extra bonding time.
NGUYEN: Her only concern was how the rest of her family would fare as they hunkered down at home.