Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
More Coverage of Hurricane Ike Aftermath
Aired September 13, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And you just can't believe that's even happening.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chad Myers, thank you very much as well. General Russell Honore, thank you very much as well. One other person said what happens to the people? Who pays for the people who are rescued? And you said to me...
HONORE: That's the great part about being an American.
LEMON: All right, there you go.
HONORE: We'll come get you anywhere around the world if we know where you are.
LEMON: Thanks to both of you. We appreciate you watching us this hour. I want to throw now to my colleague out in the field, Anderson Cooper. He continues our coverage of Hurricane Ike with a special edition of "AC 360."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks very much, Don. We are live in Bridge City, Texas, just north of Port Arthur, Texas. And the water here tells the story. It is - goes as far as the eye can see, severe flooding here in Bridge City. We have seen rescue and evacuations throughout this day. People trapped on the top of the roofs of their homes since early morning hours. They thought they could ride out the storm. They found out they couldn't as the water started to surge and the winds started to howl. And there have been some dramatic rescues throughout the day. We're going to bring you that over this next two hours of our special coverage.
We have correspondents fanned out throughout the Texas region in Bay City - Bayside, we have Ali Velshi, who's taking a look at the impact on oil refineries, Gary Tuchman, Rob Marciano. They are in Galveston, Texas tonight, where we have seen severe storm damage. Jeanne Meserve is in Houston, Texas as well for us. And Rick Sanchez is in a Coast Guard Air Station monitoring the rescue operations that had been going on throughout this day, as the storm winds finally decided they were starting to able to go out, try to survey the damage.
Today, it is a day of rescue and recovery. Those are the two words we heard an awful lot about today. All throughout the next two hours, we're going to bring you some of the most dramatic moments. Also, the latest on that train crash in Los Angeles, what they now say caused that crash. More than 20 people confirmed dead. And the death toll at this point, it has just been horrific. We'll take you to the scene for that.
Right now, let's go to Gary Tuchman, who is live in Galveston with Rob Marciano. Gary, what's the situation there?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we had talked for the last couple of days about the National Weather Service warning that anybody who lived in one or two story homes near the beach and were a mile from the beach right now faced death. That's exactly what they said. They said they would die.
The fact is the people who lived in these homes, many of them didn't stay. They didn't die. That doesn't mean it was a good situation. We've talked to one family who lived in a house on this block. And they told us - they made the decision to stay because they were concerned about valuables in their house. We hear that a lot. They stayed in the house and the water started coming in the house. First one foot, then two foot, then three foot. Then the eye came over Galveston. We all experienced that eye for like an hour. There was no winds at all. And then the worst part of the storm, the back half of it came in. Four feet of water.
The family then decided to go into the attic, where they lived a terrifying evening for a few hours in their attic as the water continued to rise. They are now OK. Their house is a wreck. The water has receded. And they just told me a short time ago they would never do that again.
The good news about the storm is that it does not appear at this point that there are any casualties. There are no reports of deaths here in Galveston where the eye crossed, no reports of injuries. But a really important point, look at this street. Scores of streets like this in Galveston, Texas, we've gone up and down this town. Streets under water. And the police have not had the opportunity to check all these homes.
So we don't know for sure if the people in all these homes are OK. When I was talking to this family that rode it out, they said they really aren't sure. They think a couple of families stayed here, but there's no sign of anyone coming out of these homes.
So we hope there are no casualties, but there are no guarantees. That was the warning that people could die. I'm telling you, Anderson, here in Galveston, it was an incredibly rough evening. We had 12 hours of torrential rains, 16 hours of tropical storm force winds and hurricane force winds. And at times, we had sustained winds of 100 miles per hour. There's intense damage all over this city, but the good news so far, no deaths. Anderson?
COOPER: Hey, I know it was frustrating for a lot of rescue personnel. They had folks calling 911 at the height of the storm on Galveston, saying come rescue me. Folks who had been told very clearly, look, you face certain death. Have you talked to those people? I mean, are - do they regret riding it out?
TUCHMAN: Right, we asked that question to authorities that did you talk to those people today? And they said they talked to people, that there were no casualties from those callers to 911.
That's not the first time we've heard that. I mean, that's something we always hear during every hurricane that people decide at the last second to go. They call 911. Sometimes the authorities can go, but I will tell you at the heart of this last night, there was no physical way to get a car out safely on the road to help rescue someone. The people who were calling 911 during the middle of the storm, they had no option but to wait it out in their homes.
COOPER: Gary, I just want to show our viewers some of the rescue personnel, the vehicles that have been coming through this water. They're able to drive on part of the road here. But just off to the side of the road, the water just gets incredibly deep. If I step back even a few more feet, I'd basically be up to my neck in water. And you see these things floating by. Here's a tire that just kind been floating by. It's kind of surreal to say the least. The house behind me, as far as we can tell, has been evacuated, but clearly, they have suffered some very extensive flooding. There's just flooding throughout this area.
I also want to check in with Rob Marciano, who also rode out the storm on Galveston. He's there now. Rob, what have you been seeing today?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, driving around, we've seen quite a bit of damage. And the frustrating part of what today brought is that there's still a lot of this town that is underwater. And officials can't get to the people their most feared about, particularly on the west side.
The mayor today said well, pretty much the island is closed. They don't want anybody coming in. You're free to go out if you could dodge around all the debris. They're in recovery mode right now.
They let the fire department out around 9:00 this morning once the winds died down enough so that it would be safe for them. And they went door to door searching homes to clear them, mark them, much like we've seen in other natural disasters, be them tornados or hurricanes. They only got through 42 structures. They did pull out 27 survivors out of those structures, and put them into shelters. No serious injuries with those folks.
17 of those structures completely collapsed. And there were 10 fires. So that added just another element of drama to this whole deal. But as Gary mentioned, zero fatalities right now. But I should point out that this is a 32 mile island that at mile marker 11 goes underwater. So basically, 20 miles west of here, they're underwater and they need for those water to recede before they can assess the situation completely and say - give the green light.
Speaking of water, storm surge. Obviously, that's what brings the water in. I want to talk with Mark Sudit (ph). He's with Hurricane Track. Your specialty is putting boxes out and training video and taping video these storm surges where people don't want to be. How did it work out for you? MARK SUDIT: Rob, it's a tough job. It worked out perfect in terms of the execution. Fortunately for the island, it wasn't a massive storm surge. We didn't get that huge inundation that bulldozed everything like we saw, at least not at this part of the island, where the sea wall is, like we saw in Katrina. The project worked. We're going to have to analyze what we captured on tape and on our laptop computers and take it from there. But it did work. And the - the idea of using that technology to put these cameras out where none of us have any business being and going and hunkering down somewhere safe as relative as possible, it worked. We'll have to see what the results are.
MARCIANO: On the very spots you put out there, what was the most dramatic? And which one surprised you the most?
SUDIT: Well, the one that we placed at Bermuda Beach, that we haven't been able to get to yet, is the one that was the most dramatic. Of course, the one that we cannot get and show on the air right now is the most dramatic. That's the way it works. What surprised us the most, though, is the amount of water coming in to that sea wall. And the fact that it held, you're seeing that is definitely good news for Galveston.
MARCIANO: All right, Mark Sudit, hurricanetrack.com. Thanks, Mark. He's been all on CNN, the street neck video. You probably saw it in some of our hurricane coverage. And of course, go to his website if you want to check it out more.
Storm surge, a big deal, Anderson. When it came to this sea wall, protecting the city for almost 100 years. And it was put to the test with Ike. It was not breached. It was overtopped in some spots. It was damaged in some spots, but it did manage to protect the inner core of this city. But around that sea wall, obviously, we've got some water issues that may not subside for quite some time. Anderson?
COOPER: Yes, the good news here, the water - Rob, water is subsiding a little bit. I just want to walk over and just show our viewers. Also, meanwhile, we're still seeing paramedics, fire personnel, fish and wildlife folks in boats and pick-up trucks, monster trucks, taking people out of here. Injured people as well. We've seen just in the last couple minutes, a couple cars go by with people. We don't want to put a camera in their face just out of respect for them.
But here's a - look at that pole right there. I don't know if you can zoom in on that. You see, the water level is about a foot and a half higher earlier today. So it is definitely going down here, but it has a long way to go before anyone is able to return to their homes. And there's no telling how long power is going to be out.
There's some two and a - more than two and a half million people in the Houston area who are without power on this evening. And they have been told, and all day you've been hearing people talking about on radios, power could be out for weeks in a lot of parts of Texas.
I want to check in with Chad Myers, who has been tracking the storm all night for us. Chad, you know, I think a lot of people watching this storm last night said you know what? It wasn't as bad as they thought it was going to be. What happened? Tell me the track of the storm.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The track went right over the tip of Galveston Island. And so that means from Galveston Island northward, to where you are, all the way into Louisiana, that was the bad side. That was the dirty side of the hurricane.
And although we've gotten a lot of damage in downtown Houston and in glass is out, and power's out, and two million customers without power, the real damage was to the east of there, and relatively unpopulated, compared to living in Houston or having this thing make a direct hit on Houston.
We still have tornados today. We still have some winds still coming on shore into Louisiana and Texas. So that's why the water's not coming back or going out. It's still kind of getting pushed in. It'll keep getting pushed in for the next few hours. By the time this goes away and gets up into Arkansas, finally, your wind will slacken it up that your water eventually, Anderson, will all go out there.
You need to be careful in that water, though. There's some bad stuff in that water.
COOPER: Yes, I don't know what an impact your world thing is. Yes, I don't know what - and Chad, at this point, it's now down to a tropical storm. How long are conditions going to be - I mean, how long is this water going to be here? Can - is there any way to tell?
MYERS: There isn't any way to tell. And it's a long, slow process for it to get back into the ocean, especially if it has to go back over barrier islands or kind of a little bit of a burham down south of where you are. And that's likely where those barrier islands are. It has to find its way out through some - through the jeddys and out through the shipping canals. It's not just all the way - it sloshes over the island, but it can't - doesn't slosh back into the ocean. It has to find its way through the cuts in the barrier island. And that's what it's doing now.
I imagine the rush of water, through the cut, the jetty that is there in Galveston Island, between Galveston and Boliver (ph) Peninsula, I bet that water is rushing like you would never believe. It would be the world's worst rip current that you've ever seen right now.
COOPER: Chad, we're going to check in with you throughout these two hours. I want to put on the screen a website for you, for impact your world for folks who are watching this and want to be able to make a difference and do something for the people here who are clearly going to be needing some help in the coming weeks and months, because this thing, the impact of this, I mean, the news media and a lot of people's attention moves on very quickly. For the people down here, this has been a devastating storm and the impact is going to be felt for a long time. So the impact your world website there, you can see it on the screen. Coming up, we're going to talk to Ali Velshi, who has been looking at the refinery situation. If you've tried to get some gas today, you might have noticed prices have risen already across the country. He'll explain why that's happened and how long that's going to be the case. Let's look at what's happened with refineries. A lot more to come here from the path of Hurricane Ike. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We've been seeing rescue operations. The Governor Rick Perry of Texas said this is actually the largest rescue and recovery operation in Texas state history. If you drove down on the roads today, you saw National Guard vehicles, you saw Army vehicles, you saw paramedics, you saw firefighters from all over. They're sending folks up from San Antonio.
We saw people here being rescued in monster trucks and pick-up trucks, anything they can. They got boats out here. There's some folks driving in right by on motorcycles. They're doing everything they can to try to get people out of here. We're looking at a Coast Guard rescue that took place yesterday. The Coast Guard has been out in force today. Rick Sanchez is at a Coast Guard Air station, who's been monitoring rescue efforts.
Rick, what have you been hearing?
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Not only rescue efforts, Anderson. We're here at Ellington Air Reserve Base. I'm here in the hangar right now with all the Coast Guard rescue officials who have been literally, I'm watching them, walk in and out from the tarmac as they affect rescues. Let me say something like 60 rescues over the past 24 hours.
What we have for you over the next hour and a half is segments of videos, showing not only rescues, but Coast Guard exclusive videos of some of the areas, like Freeport, for example, where you see home after home after home under water, where literally, the Gulf of Mexico itself has gone up into people's homes, rows of houses at least 10 or 11 deep.
What I want to do for you now though is actually show you that video again that so many people talked about yesterday, the video of those six people being taken out of that truck. And I'm going to put on the phone for you right now Chief Petty Officer Al Shannon, who's joining us now to tell us or take us through what happened there.
In fact, I should tell you, Anderson, the Chief Petty Officer Shannon is the one who first spotted these six people in this truck. I'm putting them on the phone for you now. Chief Officer Shannon, this is Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Hey, chief, thanks so much for joining us. Tell us a little bit about the rescue operation that we're seeing the video of. What happened?
CHIEF PETTY OFCR. SHANNON: Well, I'm not actually looking at the video right now, so I don't know specifically which video you're looking at, but I know once we were in the first helicopter that was out there yesterday morning. And the final search had moved inland almost to the road, parallel to the beach. And a lot of vehicles were trapped along that roadway right there, trying to make their way off of Boulevard Peninsula.
And as the waves got higher, it broke on the roadway, it was rolling vessels over and (INAUDIBLE) a lot of those trucks. And the vehicle that had the black truck, that had the six people inside the cab or in the bed of the truck, we initially spotted it, but we were low on gas. And we had survivors on board our helicopter, and were unable to stop and pick them up.
So we marked the position and we passed it to the second helicopter. That was ten minutes from being on the scene. We passed that position to them. When we initially spotted that vessel -- excuse me, we initially spotted that vehicle, waves were literally breaking over the top of that truck. And we feared that the people in the back of the truck were actually going to get washed out.
But unfortunately, we were already passed our bingo for fuel. So we needed to keep going. And we had to get the people -- survivors we had on board back to safety. And we knew the other aircraft was only 10 minutes away.
COOPER: And (INAUDIBLE) today, what have you seen out there?
SHANNON: As far as today, it's not quite the same conditions as it was yesterday. Now, everything just seems to be flooded. There's - and most of the people that were in harm's way yesterday are not -- the amount of people in harm's way from yesterday were caught by surprise when they woke up that morning, to see that tidal surge already in their yard. Those people aren't there. They had a chance to - they've already a chance to be evacuated. Now, it's just the people who are trapped due to floodwaters, high floodwaters and what not.
COOPER: Well, listen, we -- I know it's been a busy day for you. Appreciate you talking to us and appreciate all your efforts from you and everyone at the Coast Guard and all the folks we've seen out there today. It's been a remarkable effort and remarkable response.
A lot of pre-staging and crews throughout Texas. A lot of prior preparation went into this. And it certainly showed today. So we appreciate you talking to us.
We're going to talk to Ali Velshi, who has been watching from Baytown, Texas. He was there all night last night through the worst of the storm, watching the situation with oil refineries.
Ali, what's the situation there now? And people are complaining gas prices have gone up all around the country.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. In fact, we saw a jump of six cents overnight for a gallon of gas. That's a national average. That is one of the bigger jumps we've ever seen. We only saw bigger jumps right after Hurricane Katrina. Now we have an average expectation that gas prices are going to jump across the country maybe as much as 20 cents. In fact, in Tennessee, we've seen a jump of 27 cents. And there are isolated incidents of gouging around the country, over $5 for a gallon of gasoline.
Now back behind me is the Baytown refinery, ExxonMobil's Baytown refinery. It's the biggest one on the continent, making about 570,000 barrels of oil into gasoline every day. It is shut down, along with about 13 other refineries in Texas. Texas is responsible for a quarter of all of the refining in the United States. So we are hearing from the oil companies now that they are starting to restaff some of these facilities. They are starting to have damage assessments.
I took a drive around Baytown a few hours ago, didn't see any apparent flooding. It's a little bit higher than the ground that we're on right now. So it was pretty safe, but there are still issues with no oil coming into the refineries, and nothing going out of those refineries, distribution centers.
The oil companies are saying that they are working very hard to get their distribution centers and their tankers out to gas stations. If there are gas stations without power, the oil companies and distributors are trying to get generators to those stations. So they want to get everybody at least in this part of the country getting gasoline to those stations. And we have started to see some of them open.
Also, Anderson, Baytown is a bit of an oil town. But there are a lot of people who live here. And there was some serious damage to the town. We earlier went around and we saw some serious flooding. It's still here. This is the entrance from the bay into the Houston ship channel. And we definitely saw a lot of flooding around here. We also saw a lot of trees down. We talked to a gentleman earlier, who had a tree land, a big 90 foot oak right on his house. We saw a lot of damage, but we are keeping an eye on that and the oil situation. We'll know more in about 24 hours when the oil companies and the Department of Energy have had a look.
One more thing, Anderson. The Department of Energy has set up a website. And they have asked people if they think that they have been subject to gouging or they're looking at gouging. You know, they think that a particular station is gouging, they should send information to this website. And I'm just going to give that to you. The website name is www.gaswatch.energy.gov, gaswatch.energy.gov. The government is taking this very seriously. They say it's not the right thing to do, to be gouging people in this time of need. Anderson?
COOPER: I think there are a lot of people right now who would tell you that there's gouging not just today, but been gouging going on a long time at the pump. And I guess that's certainly a matter of opinion.
Ali Velshi, thanks. We'll check in with you again. We are on for the next - throughout these next two hours to give you a full update on the storm. But we also want to get you updated on the breaking news story out of the Los Angeles area, that deadly train crash that we saw last night. It happened around 6:00 p.m. East coast time last night. We were following it all during the evening.
It is just -- the video is just horrific. Firefighters literally crawling on the wrecked gnarled train, trying to get people out, trying to find the living, trying to recover the dead. More than 20 people have died. We'll give you an update on that when we return.
COOPER: And you're looking at pictures of this deadly train crash in Texas - excuse me, in Los Angeles that occurred last night. Of all the horrific things that can happen, I mean, a train crash is among the worst. Huge chunks of steel. Bodies strewn everywhere mixed with the steel. It is very difficult for rescue workers. We're going to talk to a representative of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department in a moment.
But first, I want to talk to Ted Rowlands, who is covering this deadly train crash all night last night. The death toll is now, I believe, past 21. Let's confirm that with Ted.
What's the death toll? What's the situation?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, a few moments ago, we just got an update. And the death toll right now stands at 24. And as horrible as that is, it's actually good news. And we also picked up from the L.A. County folks here, they have pulled the last body, they believe, out of the wreckage. And they just announced it moments ago.
This morning, they were expecting it could have been much worse. This was a bi-level, a two-level train. And this morning, they started the grim task of getting to that second level. And at that point, they weren't sure what they were going to find.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of the wreckage and the way this engine has kind of gone into one of the cars, it may be that these numbers -- and it's very likely that these numbers will grow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've recovered the ones on the top, the ones that have been removed by the fire, the personnel. But now we've got to go step by step and work on the lower car and the surrounding area.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 130 of the estimated 220 on board the commuter train were injured. More than 40 of them critically. Overnight, as crews pulled bodies from the wreckage, people waited for word on loved ones that they couldn't contact.
For a few moments overnight, rescuers stood silent as the body of an off-duty L.A. police over was lifted out, killed like most of the other victims, on her way home from work. The commuter train originated in downtown Los Angeles, and was headed northwest. At the point of the collision, there's a stretch of single shared track. Authorities are still investigating. But at this point, officials believe the engineer of the commuter train somehow missed a warning signal that a freight train was coming in the opposite direction.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We believe that it was our engineer who failed to stop at a signal.
ROWLANDS: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger toured the site this afternoon, praising rescue workers and offering condolences to the victims and their families.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, CALIFORNIA: I just met the family of one of the officers that died in this accident here. And so it's a very, very tragic situation. It's one of the worst train accidents in modern history in California. ROWLANDS: The condition inside the lead train car is being described as horrific. Rescue crews are vowing, though, to keep working around the clock until every victim is removed.
MARIO RUEDA, L.A. FIRE DEPT.: We believe the likelihood of anybody being alive in the wreckage at this point is very remote, but we do continue to remove victims. And as you can imagine, with the wreckage, it's been very, very difficult work, but the firefighters and police officers have just done a great job. And I'm very proud of them.
ROWLANDS: And you can hear the emotion in the fire chief's voice there, really indicative of the emotion surrounding this entire area, a horrific scene. A lot of people pitched in, including civilians, to try to help these people out.
But the wounds here are going to take a long, long time to heal. The NTSB has officially now taken over this investigation. As to a cause at this point, they say they're just beginning it. They do have eyewitness testimony because four of the workers on the two trains are still alive. The engineer on the Metro Lake train that was believed to have missed a signal did die, but the others are alive and they do have recording devices on both of the trains that they'll analyze to figure out exactly what happened here. Anderson?
COOPER: Ted Rowlands, I know it's been a long, gruesome night for you. We appreciate your reporting on this.
We also received a number of ireports from - I believe the one we're about to show you from Matt Hartman. These were taken just moments after the train crash. Obviously, rescue personnel are on the scene there. But these are these - the ireports that viewers sent to us. And we always ask people, you know, do not take any risk to yourselves, especially during a storm, to send us these.
But clearly, after this train collision, Matt was able to take these photographs and really gives you a sense just of the - not only the quick response, but just the amount of activity, trying to save whoever could be saved inside that car.
Steve Whitmore with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, we talked to him a lot last night, even at the height of the storm about what was going on. We asked him to come back to talk to us tonight. He joins us now.
Steve, tell us a little bit, if you can, what it was like for these rescue personnel working in these conditions? I can't imagine a more grueling, gruesome task.
STEVE WHITMORE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Well, the last 22 hours, everybody, all hands on deck, were peeling apart those cars. As you know, the Metrolink engine was pushed back into the Metrolink car. And they worked thoroughly and meticulously to check every single person, to check every single corner that they could possibly find. It was long, it was focused. But now, it has ended. It is officially being turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board. And so, they will take over this operation as it moves forward.
COOPER: It was obviously a solemn scene. And I know they found the body of an L.A. police officer. And I'm told when he was removed, he was flanked by several of his fellow officers. There were just so many moments, so many terrible scenes last night. Have you seen anything like this before?
WHITMORE: Well, it's been a -- it's been a most difficult two days. And it has had its special tragedies. It certainly is a tragedy of historic proportions. But it must be noted that in this tragedy, there have been heroes. There have been many heroes. There have been civilians on the train that tried to help those who could not help themselves.
One of our own deputy sheriffs who experienced severe injuries used his radio until he couldn't use it, then instructed a passenger nearby to use it for him, and told him how to use it. And then he tried to continue help until he couldn't help any further.
So there was many heroes involved in this, not only the firefighters, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the fire departments ad infinitum, the agencies that were involved in this. The 24 that are lost, we'll never ever forget. And our thoughts and prayers go to their families. The operation now to notify, to identify, and to notify.
COOPER: Steve Whitmore, well said. And we certainly echo those sentiments and those thoughts and prayers. And we want to thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today, especially also to talk about the heroism of the passengers and also rescue personnel.
And we have seen heroism as well here throughout the state of Texas and Louisiana, where there was severe flooding as well, which we want to talk about in these next two hours as well.
But in Bridge City, where I am right now, I mean, the water tells the story. As far as the eye can see right now, we're about two miles actually outside of Bridge City. And there is just water topping - you know, coming to close to the tops of mailboxes just all the way down this road. And it stretches basically as far as the horizon in the opposite direction as well.
We have seen a lot of people being taken out today in boats, taken out. They spent the night on the roofs of their buildings, their one level homes. They thought they could ride out the storm. Some people said they couldn't get out because they couldn't afford to. There have been some rescue personnel who have said you know what, that's not really the case.
But whatever the reason they stayed behind, they have been reached today. And again, the kind of heroism that we saw in Los Angeles on that train, we've been seeing an awful lot of that right here in Bay City and in Galveston and in points all around this area.
We want to -- when we come back, we're going to check in with Chad Myers, who going to have you an aerial view of some of the worst areas of flooding, and also going to check in with Sean Callebs, who partially rode out the storm with me in Houston last night. But he'll also give us a sense of where some of the most badly affected areas are. Our coverage continues from the path of Hurricane Ike. We'll be right back.
COOPER: And welcome back. We are on the outskirts of Bay City. You can see water starting to recede a little bit. There's the telephone poles about a foot and a half to two feet lower than it was earlier today. That is certainly a good sign.
But if you look on our camera, you can see a long line of emergency vehicles just kind of waiting. They may be heading back down into some of the worst hit areas around Bay City just to see what's going on.
But we have seen rescue vehicles going back and forth all day long, and still finding people, still bringing people out, bringing people out in the back of pick-up trucks, bringing people out in dump trucks.
It's also, you were seeing pets roaming around. Hey, come here. You all right? There's a lot of dogs just kind of roaming around here. I'm not sure if they belong to somebody, if they belong to any of the rescue personnel. But that dog clearly has a collar on, so he belongs to somebody.
A lot of people - and you know, we saw that in Katrina, of course, a lot of people not wanting to evacuate because of their pets. You know, shelters have taken care of that. Now they learned that lesson from Katrina, but a lot of people here just chose to ride out the storm. And frankly, they're paying the price for it right now, because they are still need to be rescued.
And it looks like all those vehicles, which had been kind of stationed where the floodwaters ended, it looks like they are now slowly going to go en masse through these floodwaters and try to see what they can see.
I see a number of fire personnel, fire trucks. We'll try to find out exactly where they are going. We haven't seen this long a line of emergency vehicles in this area at this point. So clearly, there is still work to be done in this area.
Want to -- they are heading towards Bridge City, I've just been told.
I want to check in with Jeanne Meserve, as we watch this scene here, I want to check in with Jeanne Meserve, who is in Houston. Some 2.5 million people without power right now. A lot of glass flying through the streets.
You know, Jeanne, you and I were very close to the Chase tower last night. We were watching it all night long. It got hit hard in Hurricane Rita. I didn't see it this morning. How did it do?
JEANNE MESERVE: Well, I'll tell you, Houston is wasting no time putting itself to rights, Anderson. You look back here, you can see a street sweeper. There have been three or four of them doing runs up and down this street. In about half an hour, they have picked up a lot of the glass that came out of the Chase tower.
We can take a look at that. You can see on this side, virtually every window out of this building, up to about 30, 38 stories, really did a number here. But as we pan down, you can see again one of these street sweepers, coming right on by, picking it all up just as fast as they can.
This, of course, wasn't the only building in Houston that suffered damage. There also was a motel that lost its roof. People who were staying there said about 2:30, or 3:00 in the morning, they heard this loud noise and felt like they were being sucked out of their bed. Here's what one eyewitness had to say about the experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were freaking out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can imagine the feeling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...more than freaking out. Beyond freaking out. They were crying in the bathtub.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can feel the...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw my daughter is crying. That's terrible. That's terrible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but at least we're all alive. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: And there were a lot of trees down all over this city. Even the mayor said he had a couple down, one across his deck. There was flooding here. I just went down and checked on the flooding that was near here. That's gone down considerably since this morning.
There's worry about the water system here. The pressure was very low. The mayor was concerned that it might become contaminated. He asked residents to please use bottled water, keep their taps closed in order to keep the pressure up as much as they could. That's the situation there we're very much last watching.
But at last report, there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries here in Houston, just the spectacular kind of damage that we see behind us. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: All right, Jeanne, we're going to check in with you in the next hour. We so far had, I believe, four deaths total, our reports are four deaths total. One little boy was killed in advance of the storm while his folks were trying to cut down trees in their yard. Apparently a tree fell on him. Just a terrible, terrible event.
Governor Rick Perry joins us now. Governor, how is your state doing at this hour?
GOV. RICK PERRY, TEXAS: Well, we're making do. A lot of folks have been rescued since early this morning. Some 950 rescues have occurred since we've been able to penetrate back in on the backside of this, with the largest search and rescue operation this state has ever seen. So I would suggest to you that although we've had a very good operation to date, from the aspect of evacuation, and you know, we still have people we have to deal with. And our focus is on saving those lives and those first responders, the Texas military forces, Texas task force 1 and Task Force Ike, along with the local law enforcement and search and rescue people doing a fabulous job of addressing the issue of individuals...
COOPER: We're watching in Bridge City some operations right now, a long line of rescue personnel heading toward Bridge City through this floodwater. What are the areas of greatest concern to you? Obviously, Galveston, clearly...
PERRY: Well, Orange and...
COOPER: ...around Orange...
PERRY: ..yes, Orange and Port Arthur are two of the areas that really hard hit. They were on the side of the hurricane where you had some really substantial surges. So low-lying. And - but again, Galveston Island, a great concern. Partly because you had too many people in our estimation that didn't heed the warning of the local officials and stayed there.
COOPER: Are you concerned? You know, with Hurricane Gustav, we had some dire predictions. We had a very dire prediction with this one. You know, National Weather Service saying certain death if you remain in Galveston in one or two story homes. Are you worried -- a lot of people didn't heed that warning on Galveston. Are you worried that there's sort of a hurricane fatigue, that people are just kind of don't believe the warnings anymore?
PERRY: Well, I think it's just the free will of individuals who live in a free country that make those decisions. And you can tell them and you can tell them. I don't know how you can get more dire than if you stay on the island, you will face certain death.
Fortunately, this storm did not reach the level that could have made that a very poignant statement. But the fact of the matter is you're always going to have people that don't take that advice and think they're bullet proof.
COOPER: And at this point, what do you want folks around the country who are watching this to know about what your state needs right now?
PERRY: Well, I think the state is handling the needs. They're working really well with our federal counterparts, FEMA, and the Corps of Engineers, obviously, very important when it comes to recovery side of it.
I talked to the president this morning in his office, a number of times since then. So it appears that all of our needs are being met from the standpoint of nobody's a miracle worker out there.
The fact of the matter is Texas sustained a catastrophic event in one of the largest cities in the world. It's going to take a while to get electricity back, but we've seen some miracle working out of the state operation center. Jack Holly and Steve Mccraw have done a fabulous job down there getting some electricity pushed back on in Houston, so that they get their water supply working.
And that's been some -- frankly, miracle working. So we'll continue on. And people can keep us in their prayers. That's the best thing they can do right now because search and rescue is still ongoing. And that's the biggest focus that we have right now. Recovery will happen. And it'll happen in a very short time frame. But you know, Texans are very resilient folks. And we'll get this taken care of. And I know our federal counterparts will be there to help us.
COOPER: Governor Rick Perry, appreciate your time this evening.
PERRY: Thanks, Anderson. So long.
COOPER: We've been looking at live pictures of Houston, aerial shots. Also, you saw Reliant Stadium earlier. That sustained some damage, but these are live aerial shots of Houston.
And again, we saw - we heard it so much last night, breaking glass, shattering glass, falling into the streets. You really didn't want to be out in those streets. And that was a concern early on because you saw people kind of walking around, not taking it too seriously.
But again, even though the winds maybe weren't as high as some people thought they might be, it was that breaking glass that was of real concern.
We have a lot more coverage ahead this evening and throughout much later into the evening as well.
When we come back, what the candidates today said about the storm here. We'll hear from Barack Obama, John McCain, and Governor Sarah Palin. All that ahead. Stay tuned.
COOPER: And welcome back. We are in the Bridge City area in Texas. You see the house there behind me, I actually wanted to kind of walk over to that house. It's kind of, you know, to see how badly it was flooded. I can't actually even get over there. If I took about two more steps behind me, I would basically sink up to my neck in water. And though that make something fun to watch on youtube, I don't really want to star on youtube in that way.
We want to check in with Sean Callebs. He rode a good part of the storm in Houston. And all day today, he has been driving all along, from Laporte to now in Keenan, Texas to kind of get an overall sense of the lay of the land.
Sean, what have you found today?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we left Houston early this it morning. And really just even getting out of the town with the on ramps to the interstates flooded or blocked in some areas, it felt like that movie "Escape from New York."
Just trying to get out was kind of a nightmare. It took us about an hour to get out of the city. Then once we get out of the interstate, 45 south to Galveston was fine. A lot of debris on it, but still a lot of traffic.
Boy, when we got into this area where the Galveston Bay is, Laporte, Seabrook,. Clear Lake, Kemah. Just look behind me. I'm going to step out of the way. We're broadcasting via broadband, so the picture's not going to be that phenomenal, but you can see all of this debris.
If you look back through there, you find appliances, furniture, people's silver. Of course, those items. But then there's those things that mean so much more, like an old wedding invitation, years and years old that's framed, a World War II era photograph.
I'm reminded of what parts of Mississippi looked like after Hurricane Katrina came in with that massive storm surge. And also, there's these gigantic concrete barriers over there that have just been blown out.
Galveston Bay is usually very far to my left. We're basically at the bottom of a bridge that separates the town Kemah from Seabrook. Well, the bay has swept all the way in. And it is connected with Clear Lake. It has flooded a massive area.
Authorities here with the city and state, there are floodgates nearby. They're trying to get those floodgates raised. They hope that by doing that, maybe they can release some of the pressure.
But you know, this flooding, Anderson, is just so widespread, I really -- it's hard to imagine this water's going to go down anytime soon. We've seen a great deal of debris., a great deal of flooding all along the area.
We were back in areas under mandatory evacuation. A lot of homes are simply boarded up. There were gigantic trees that had been dropped everywhere. What really hits you with this storm is the sheer size of the devastation from Galveston well up past Houston area, probably close to 70 miles. That storm Ike was a monster churning around in the Gulf, but it really did its worse as it carved its way up through this area.
You know, we've heard people talk about they're going to be without power for perhaps weeks on end. It's certainly easy to believe. We've talked to a number of law enforcement entities here today that have really been pushed to the limit. These people are exhausted. And really, they haven't begun to scratch the surface to try and clean all this up, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Sean Callebs, appreciate that.
You know, the damage to power I heard on the radio today may be worse than it was during Hurricane Rita. And again, just the notion of people reacting. You heard a lot on talk radio today here in Texas. People reacting that they're going to have to wait weeks in some cases in order to get their power back.
It's going to be a long recovery. But as the governor said just a short time ago, the focus really today in a lot of areas is still rescue operations. And we've been seeing that all along here in Bridge City.
When we come back, we're going to hear what John McCain and Barack Obama had to say about the storm. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Bridge City is where we're coming to you from tonight. We saw a long line of military vehicles, National Guard vehicles, heading towards the main part of the city, moving very slowly through these floodwaters. We've been seeing just long lines of paramedics and EMS and first responders just going all day back and forth and bringing people out.
We're going to have another hour of coverage. We're going to bring you some of those stories, and also take you to Galveston, where some of the most dramatic stories and some of the worst wreckage that we have seen thus far today.
But again, we are still just getting a sense of the scope of the recovery effort that is ahead. The rescue effort still going on right now.
I want to show you what the candidates had to say today about what occurred here. At a stop in Manchester, Barack Obama had this to say. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA: During difficult times, during moments of tragedy, the American people come together. We may argue, we may differ, but we are all Americans. And one of the principles of this great country is that during times of need, we are all in it together. And it doesn't matter whether we are Democratic or Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, native-American. We are there for each other at moments of need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And here's the comment John McCain released. It's a statement. Nothing on videotape. Senator McCain said "Cindy and I join every American in offering prayers and assistance to those along the Gulf coast. We do know that the economic impact from this storm will be severe. Like most Americans, our main concern about the impact this storm will have on gas prices across the country, but our priority now must be to help the relief effort in any way we can."
That's the statement from Senator John McCain referencing also his wife Cindy.
Our coverage continues all throughout this next hour from Galveston and Bridge City, where we are right now, and points in between. We'll be right back.