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President Trump Pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio; Harvey's New Threat More Than 20 More Inches of Rain Expected; Interview with Mayor Paul Polasek; Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 26, 2017 - 21:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[21:00:24] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. Breaking news tonight. The state of Texas bracing right now for what could be the worst of Harvey. We are on the ground covering the storm from every angle for you.

Also ahead, breaking developments about the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a pardon President Trump granted as Harvey made landfall just Friday.

Now tonight a new report from "The Washington Post" that the president actually asked about the possibility of closing the case before it went to trial.

Good evening. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN. I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world.

But let's get straight to that breaking news out of Washington. President Trump reportedly asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible to drop the criminal case against the former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And the key piece here is that was all apparently before his case was at trial. This is all, of course, before the pardon.

So let's go to Athena Jones. She's at the White House for us. And we've got CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin on the phone for the analysis.

But, Athena, first, just backing up on "The Washington Post" reporting, what more do we know? What did he ask for exactly?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. Well, according to this new report by "The Washington Post," the president had a conversation back in the spring with his Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

We should note that Sheriff Arpaio's case got under way in late June. So this conversation according to the report took place before that.

I should mention that just in the last week or so through CNN's own reporting we learned that this is something the president had been planning, something that he had been preparing to do. Now we're getting a sense of just how far back that thinking on the president's part may have gone.

Here is what an official -- a White House official told "The Washington Post." They put it this way. "We knew the president wanted to do this for some time now and had worked to prepare for whenever the moment may come."

So that is what the White House official was telling "The Washington Post." And, of course, this is a pardon that has gotten a lot of attention. We don't want to get the reason for that to be lost in the controversy now over the process the president went through with the pardon. This was a case that Sheriff Arpaio was convicted of contempt for ignoring a court order to stop racial profiling, to stop stopping Latinos on the mere thinking that they might be undocumented immigrants.

So that is what this is all stemming from. And that is one of the reasons there is so much harsh blowback not including from the "Arizona Republic" newspaper which in an editorial said this is a slap in the face of Latinos.

Let's go ahead, though, and play what Sheriff Arpaio said after he learned of this pardon.


JOE ARPAIO, PARDONED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP: He's a big supporter of law enforcement. I know it came from his heart. Two years ago I supported him first rally. And I always said, regardless of pardon or no pardon, I'll be with him until the end. And I say that. So I'm really happy with all the support I received across the nation, Arizona, for this pardon, and I'll have more to speak out and let the true story come out about the abuse of the judicial system and politics.


JONES: So clearly the sheriff is happy about this now, former sheriff. And we should note, Brooke, that this -- Sheriff Arpaio and Trump, even before he was a candidate for president, have been like- minded, and Trump has been a fan of Sheriff Arpaio and vice versa.

Sheriff Arpaio was an early endorser of candidate Trump. He was a prominent figure on the campaign stump with President Trump -- with candidate Trump at some rallies. And remember that both of these men were proponents of the birther conspiracy theory, to question the citizenship of President Obama -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Athena, thank you for perfectly setting all this up. Appreciate it.

And, Michael, to you. Before we even actually get to the legality of the pardon, of course it's constitutional, although there are a lot of, you know, buts and firsts here. Just on "The Washington Post" reporting on how we've now learned that apparently the president wanted to interfere before this thing even went to trial. Have you ever heard of that? MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's against Justice

Department policy. For decades, to avoid the appearance of political meddling in federal law enforcement, both Democrat and Republican administrations have had written policies between these contacts. Mike Mukasey under the Bush administration had one in 2007 that says essentially said don't do this. And it goes for decades before that.

[21:05:04] And in fact, the Hatch Act which prohibits career and political appointees with the Justice Department from being engaged in political activity exists for the avoiding of this particular practice.

BALDWIN: Got it.

ZELDIN: So it may be that the president has that authority as the chief executive officer, but it is against public policy for decades and decades for him to try to intervene in the manner that he is said to have done so in "The Washington Post" piece.

BALDWIN: All right. So he didn't intervene. We know how this played out. Eventually Arpaio was, you know, convicted of contempt here. That's the pardon. And it's my understanding, Michael, it's unusual for a couple of reasons. You know, the fact that Arpaio hadn't even been sentenced yet. He'd been convicted. The fact that he is a bit of a household political name. And that DOJ didn't actually play any sort of role here.

Does that play into how this is unique?

ZELDIN: Right. So let's, you know, be clear. The president under Article Two of the Constitution has the right to pardon.

BALDWIN: Absolutely.

ZELDIN: He's acted lawfully. But the way the process is supposed to work is there's the Office of Pardon attorney in the DOJ. And under the policy guidelines which are set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations, there's supposed to be a waiting period of five years after sentencing, then there's supposed to be the contact with the United States attorney who'd brought the criminal charges in first place.

If there are victims, there's supposed to be victim offense statements. Then there's supposed to be post-conviction conduct. So you're supposed to see whether the person who was convicted was contrite, whether he acknowledged his error, whether it was something that in time made sense to pardon.

None of that stuff took place here. And so what you have is a very quick pardon after conviction, which the policy was designed to avoid because of the thought that to do that denigrates the seriousness of the offense. And unfortunately, the president decided to be a supporter of law enforcement, as Arpaio said he is, by circumventing all the rules that govern law enforcement around pardons.

BALDWIN: Yes, yes. Hearing from Republicans and Democrats that the political fallout of all of this. We'll explore it in the next two hours. But for now Michael Zeldin, thank you so much for calling in to CNN here on this Saturday night. Appreciate you.

Let's get you now to Texas. Catastrophic flooding expected as the sun is setting. Harvey right now stalling over Victoria, Texas. 20 inches of rain has already fallen. Another 20 more on the way. We'll talk to the mayor there in just a couple of minutes.

But my goodness, you see these pictures. Just utter devastation in Rockport where Harvey hit as a category 4 hurricane. At least one person was killed. Power lines mangled, arcing over waterlogged streets, roughly 300,000 people in the dark right now. And the lack of power. Obviously, that's a massive concern in the overnight hours as the threat of tornadoes ramp up. This funnel cloud spotted just hours ago.

We have live team coverage in Rockport, Victoria, Houston. Meteorologist Chad Myers is also standing by. But let's begin in Rockport with Martin Savidge.

Martin, I see what was a home behind you. Awful for that family.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's like that throughout much of this community here. We're in the business section here. So a lot of what you are seeing are actually business, but there are homes as well. And this community took a direct blow from what was a category 4 Hurricane Harvey at the time it came ashore. And it had a devastating impact not just on the wooden structures, not just on the lighter, smaller buildings, but on concrete solid construction buildings.

Many of them the roofs ripped off of them. They just caved in. So the impact here is massive. The only lights that are on are the television lights that you see lighting up in the background. You might see headlights, but beyond that there is absolutely no power in this town. In fact police officers were saying it's not only that there's no power and it's not just that the power poles have gone down.

No, on some streets the power poles are gone. So that just gives you an insight as to the depth of destruction that's happened on the infrastructure here and the long road back. The good news is was that late this afternoon or early this evening we began seeing a convoy of relief effort coming in. This included everything from National Guard troops, which will now be out on patrol on the streets here, to also heavy earth-moving equipment, which is desperately needed to lift the debris and also clear the roadways to allow more help to come in. And the organization that's about to lay the foundations.

[21:10:02] There's no cell communication here. There's no telephone service. So they're trying to get the cell towers up, but most important right now they're trying to find if there are any more victims. There is a report that there's at least one fatality in town. The sheriff says, to be frank, he really doesn't know if there are more. There could be. And to that effort there are search teams right now going through the city door-to-door. They have divided it into a grid system.

They hope to work through the night weather permitting. And they will begin with the frantic calls that came in last night about this time. 30 of them at least that the fire department and the police department got at the height of the storm. People pleading for help but they could not go out because it simply would have been suicidal for them. So they're haunted by the memories of the calls they couldn't respond to. They're trying to check welfare now -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: How entirely frightening for them. We'll stay in close contact with you, Martin Savidge, thank you, in Rockport.

Let's head to Victoria, Texas, this is about 42 miles inland from the coast. CNN's Derek Van Dam is there live.

Derek, how is the rain?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's not great, not going to lie to you, Brooke. But we're here, we're doing it. And the storm keeps surprising us. We're about 40 miles outside of the center of Tropical Storm Harvey that continues to churn across southeast Texas. And I did a pretty extensive walkabout across the city, one of the stronger gusts coming through right now.

And the damage here is equivalent to what you would expect from a category one hurricane. I know it was a category 4 when it made landfall. But here in Victoria, 20 to 30 miles away from the coast, we've had shingles torn off of roofs, we've had awnings completely rippled off of buildings, we've had trees completely snapped. You go down -- up and down some of the main roads here and trees are littered across the roadways.

There was no power here about four hours ago when we originally arrived. But utility trucks have been on the scene and slowly street by street, block by block it looks like some sense of normalcy is coming back to the city, which is a bit of relief I'm sure for the residents here in Victoria.

But still a long night ahead and several days ahead of extensive rain. Very, very saturated ground here. So more rain on the way will obviously bring the potential for flooding. That is the next concern -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: No, you're right. It's not just tonight, it's the next couple of days as Chad Myers is about to tell us.

Derek, for now, thank you so much. They're in Texas.

Let's get the latest on Harvey's strength and path. Chad Myers is live in the weather center. And I mean, the story is this thing is far from over.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. We're 72 hours at least from this storm even leaving Texas.

BALDWIN: Wow. MYERS: And that's the rubber. And I want to show you something that

has really just happened in the last half hour that wasn't there just, you know, two hours ago. No real indication that this was going to happen. A large, large flare-up of severe weather near Houston right now. Two to three-inch rainfall amounts coming down to the south and west of Houston moving into Houston proper in the next half hour.

There's that line of weather. It's a feeder band of a hurricane. We just don't have a hurricane. But all those bands, all those pinwheel bands that you would see in a tropical storm, now one is going to park itself over Houston possibly for the next 12 hours.

Now there's a threat of tornados, too. That big red box. That's a tornado watch box. There have been tornados today. In fact, the weather service has issued almost 70 tornado warnings since the storm made landfall. Twelve of those storms were actually confirmed tornados on the ground. So this is still a real probability. That purple area there north of I-10 that's already 10 inches on the ground.

Now I want focus on this. I'm going to put a little dot there. I haven't done this all day. Hope it works. There's Houston right there. That's the part that I want you to focus on. Make it bigger. That's the way -- I want you to focus on that. This is the radar at 9:00 local time. Now I'm going to move you ahead. This is the forecast model radar. It's still raining. That's 4:00 a.m.


MYERS: Thunderstorm after thunderstorm after thunderstorm all night long. Now at 10:00 a.m., it's still raining, even raining harder to the east, Beaumont, Port Arthur. So I get this out of the way and I show you what I expect there are purple areas in this map. This is a computer generated map that says everywhere that you see purple there, Brooke, ten inches of rain will fall by morning.


MYERS: OK. I can't stress this enough that you may hear your alarms going off with flash flooding tonight in Houston because it's on the way now. I hate that it's happening at night. You can't see it. You can't hear it. But this is where we are at this point. A very dangerous night for Houston proper, Pasadena, Baytown, Cady. I don't care where you are. I'm talking the entire metro area of Houston is under a big threat tonight.

BALDWIN: Hunker down, stay safe.

[21:15:04] Chad Myers, thank you. You are the guy we want to listen to. We'll come back to you in just a little bit. Thank you so much, Chad Myers, in the weather center for us here at CNN.

Coming up here, as Harvey pummels the state of Texas and devastation is just beginning as Chad pointed out for a number of families. We'll talk to one woman who says she has lost everything. Meantime, President Trump says he wants to travel to Texas as soon as

possible, but his response to Harvey is being overshadowed by several major moves within the administration. We have those details for you ahead.

And North Korea launching three short-range ballistic missiles. Will it reignite tensions that flared up earlier this month between President Trump and Kim Jong-un? CNN has the only western journalist in North Korea. We will have a live report for you coming up.

You're watching CNN's special coverage on a Saturday night. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We're back, you're watching CNN on a Saturday night. Special coverage here. I'm Brooke Baldwin talking about Tropical Storm Harvey. Right now it is centered near Victoria, Texas. And it is barely moving. And that's the problem for a lot of people there with all of this rain and flooding issues.

Joining me now the mayor of that city, Paul Polasek.

Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for hopping on the phone with me. I know you've got a lot of other really important things to do. But in terms of -- I understand there's a curfew that you all just put in place. Is that correct, sir, until 6:00 your time, 6:00 in the morning?

[21:20:03] MAYOR PAUL POLASEK, VICTORIA, TEXAS: Yes, we did. We did that this morning. And it will expire 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. And then beginning Sunday we'll just have basically a dusk-to-dawn type curfew.

BALDWIN: How bad it is where you are?

POLASEK: Well, you know, it's not as bad as it could have been. We had some pretty dire consequences or predictions, rather. And the storm didn't diminish more than we anticipated which is good news. We were dealing with rain, we have a power outage that we're working diligently with the utility to get power restored. And another problem we have is water, running water. We did issue a boil notice for water for consumption. And we're hoping we can get all that restored maybe tomorrow, sometime, and lift that boil issue. So --

BALDWIN: Right. What --

POLASEK: We're working hard.

BALDWIN: I am sure you are, Mayor Polasek. What about flooding? I mean, it's my understand that some pretty bad flooding is expected in your neck of the woods. Are you all prepared and ready for that?

POLASEK: Yes, ma'am, we are. We expect some of our river crossings to become a problem as people try to return to the city as well as outside resources begin to come in, aid, et cetera, from state and government as well as we have a lot of private entities reach out and want to help. But things are actually starting to look good and hopefully we can get back on our feet in a few days.

BALDWIN: That's great. That's great. How are your emergency crews, first responders, how are they faring so far? Are they all right?

POLASEK: Yes, I think so. You know, we -- our emergency operations center has been staffed well. We're dealing with a bit of fatigue among the leadership now. And we're starting to rotate that out a bit so people can get some rest.

The responders in the field are rotating out. And they're just really eager to help. We've got some great folks. We actually had to hold them back when the weather was really bad and they couldn't get out to help. We had to make sure they didn't risk their own lives. So we're holding up well.

BALDWIN: Just last question for folks who have power, who are paying attention here to the TV, what do you want them to know before they go to bed here on night two?

POLASEK: Well, you know, stay calm and relaxed and be patient with all of us as we get the water and electricity back on. I'm very hopeful that tomorrow those things may both occur. And do not travel. Restrict travel. It's not safe. There's a lot of downed power lines. And help your neighbors. Check on your neighbors near to you but stay indoors as much as possible now.

BALDWIN: All right. The mayor of Victoria, Texas, on the phone with us here.

Mayor Polasek, thank you so much. Good luck there taking care of the people who need it the most.

Still ahead here on CNN, we're going to turn to politics. Big headlines out of the White House. President Trump's pardon of the controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the departure of Sebastian Gorka, an outspoken and combative defender of the president. CNN has new comments from both of the men.

And we are staying on our tropical storm Harvey coverage tonight. The ongoing threat for dangerous floodwaters. We've got a couple more days before this thing is said and done.


[21:26:55] BALDWIN: As we stay on tropical storm Harvey, take a look at these pictures. This is Houston, Texas. I know you all are dealing with a lot of rain and clearly pretty stunning lightning storm as well over this mega city in Texas where we're keeping a close eye, obviously, on what this means for a lot of you as far as flooding is concerned over the course of the next couple of days.

We're going to check back in with our reporters on the ground throughout Texas and of course with Chad Myers in the weather center as well.

But let's talk politics on this Saturday night, shall we? This is the big story out of "The Washington Post" that President Trump had previously asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions if it was possible to drop the criminal case against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio before he went to trial. When the president was told that that couldn't happen, Trump allegedly decided to let the trial go ahead and simply pardon him if he ended up being convicted.

Last night the president followed through pardoning Arpaio, all the while this category 4 hurricane was barreling towards Texas and was consuming all of the news coverage.

So I asked CNN political commentators Scott Jennings and Alice Stewart. Scott is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and Alice is a Republican strategist and former communications director for Ted Cruz.

So here we go on a Saturday night. Welcome to both of you.



BALDWIN: Hey, guys. Scott, just beginning with you. And let's just preface all of this by this was entirely legal for the president to do, and, you know, entirely OK based upon his constitutional right.

That said, why do you think he did it, Scott? I mean, is there any other way to look at this other than just a total political maneuver?

JENNINGS: Well, look, as you pointed out, the Constitution is very clear. It gives the president full power to do this. And it's consistent with his world view. He ran on as an immigration hard- liner. Arpaio and he have been allied for quite some time. So I don't think anyone should be surprised that he did it.

Regarding this issue tonight in "The Washington Post" where he asked about dropping the criminal case, I don't have a problem with this because it seems to me the president sought legal advice about what he could do, was advised that they couldn't drop the criminal case, that would be inappropriate. So then he found a very ordinary, very legal and very constitutional way to achieve his objective which, of course, is fully allowable and legal under the law.

So I think there's going to be a lot of outrage, but I don't know that it's warranted here.

BALDWIN: Yes, very legal. I hear you on the legality. And I'm not arguing with you whatsoever on that. But Alice, I mean, let me just in reference part of Senator McCain's statement on the law piece.

"The president has the authority to make this pardon," obviously this is before "The Washington Post" reporting came out. "But doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of the rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions."

I mean, is this, Alice, not another example of where the critics are going to come out and say this is a president who thinks he's above the law?

STEWART: Well, this is about the president doing what he thinks is within his authority to do so. And given this week, what we've had all this week, this is a total eclipse of the heart and the president's heart is with the base. And the base supports what Sheriff Arpaio did and so does the president.

The president has said all along that he believes that the sheriff was doing everything within his legal bounds when he was sheriff to go after these people, and he's always said that he supports local law enforcment and enforcing federal immigration laws and in his mind -

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Alice, let me just stop you. "Phoenix New Times", I don't know if guys have seen their Twitter feed, they've been pointing out all of what Sheriff Arpaio did.

In fact, ran a jail that he described as a concentration camp. Prisoners died there at an alarming rate.

One of his jailers nearly broke the neck of a paraplegic guy who had the temerity to ask for a catheter. Ran an ongoing mugshot of the day contest on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office website.

And in the list, I'm sure you guys have seen this, it goes on and on and on. Is this really a good look for the president of the United States to pardon this particular person?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, almost every person who gets a pardon has committed a federal crime and, therefore, has done something that most of us would find repugnant.

BALDWIN: Should they be contrite because Arpaio wasn't?

JENNINGS: I'm sorry. Well, I don't know. Chelsea Manning didn't seem very contrite to me when he betrayed our nation and put our soldiers and allies at risk, but that didn't stop Barack Obama from pardoning him.

Here's what I think the difference is that people need to think about regarding the politics of this. Most presidents do their most controversial pardons and commutations at the tail end, maybe even on the last day, in the case of Bill Clinton and Marc Rich and that pardon.

Donald Trump has done this right up front, and so there's a clear remedy. If you're mad about this, there's a clear remedy. You can vote against him in the next election or you can elect the United States Congress that would impeach him and convict him.

So, in the infinite wisdom of the framers, they have given a remedy to this if you're mad about it. Frankly, most presidents do this on the way out the door. I kind of respect the fact that he did it right up front and said here's who I am and here's what I'm going to do.

BALDWIN: Sure. And we should point out, just looking back, historically speaking, other presidents have done it within the first month. This isn't never been done before.

But there are those, obviously, who disagree with this pardon, who are already saying this is essentially a wink and a nod from the president to anyone close to him, who could maybe get caught up eventually in the Bob Muller special investigation. What would you say to them?

STEWART: Well, clearly, it is. And, look, the pardon of Sheriff Arpaio was not a matter of if it was going to happen, but when it was going to happen. He made that clear quite some time ago because the sheriff had been loyal to the president, not just since he started running for office, they were both in the birther movement together against President Obama. So, this has been a payback for the sheriff's loyalty.

Look - and, clearly, this is also the president's way of saying, look, anyone and everyone who has been associated with my campaign or in the White House that may have some ties to Russia and, as he calls it, the witch-hunt of the Russian conspiracy theory that he has the ability to use his pen and issue an executive pardon and that -

BALDWIN: So, you do see it as a signal to potentially the General Kellys or the Paul Manaforts.

STEWART: And also the Muellers who are doing the investigation of this who may go after someone like Manafort or others who are part of the, as he calls, the Russian witch-hunt that the president has the ability to issue an executive pardon and exonerate people even before it even becomes a problem.

So, look, this is absolutely, completely with his wheelhouse to do this. Granted, yes, it is raising a lot of ire. But, look, with regard to the sheriff, this is absolutely completely playing to the president's base.

These are people that support what the sheriff has done and his tough stance on immigration and, clearly, is going to cause people to be frustrated with this. But President Trump right now is doing anything and everything he can to really appeal to the 35 percent that are his base, and this is yet the latest example of that.

BALDWIN: All right. Alice, you got the last word. Alice Stewart and Scott Jennings, thank you both so much.

STEWART: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Let's talk about this storm. Live pictures outside of Houston. A constant lightning there as the city is bracing for severe flooding from tropical storm Harvey. We have much more of our special coverage for you on this Saturday night there.

Also, we'll take you live to North Korea because North Korea has launched another multiple missiles. This is a week after the US praised Kim Jong-un for showing "restraint."

CNN has the only western journalist in the country. We will give you a live report from Pyongyang coming up here on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:38:19] BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news tonight. Disaster in Texas and dire warnings of potentially catastrophic flooding for folks in Houston. Tropical storm Harvey is churning inland and dumping torrential rainfall. CNN's Rosa Flores is there. And, Rosa, how bad is it where you're standing?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the biggest concern here in Houston is the flooding. This is the bayou city. There are bayous that meander throughout this town, not only through downtown, but through neighborhoods where people live, and the ground is already saturated because we've had rain for a few days.

And so, first responders, city officials, what they're worried about is what you're seeing behind me, this rain, you see the lightning, you hear the thunder, all of this rain has to go somewhere.

And because the bayous, which act as the drainage system in essence that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, because they're already full and because the ground is saturated, there's a lot of worry that flash flooding can happen, that waters can rise and very quickly and create life threatening situations.

So, this city is prepared. They have been telling people to have food and water for five days, four or five days to make sure that they can survive without leaving their home because that's one of the other huge dangers in the City of Houston because a lot of the interstate - and I wish I could show you, but it's so dark right now -

BALDWIN: So dark.

FLORES: - Brooke. But - yes. But these interstates dip in-valley and it becomes extremely dangerous because, as you know, in the dark you just can't tell when waters rise very quickly and you might be driving through a road that you've driven many, many times, but if that water has risen to a level, it's not passable. It becomes extremely dangerous.

[21:40:15] And so, the city has - at different points around the city, they have strategic points where they have resources ready to go just in case people need to be rescued.

Now, there is no evacuation order here. And in the past five minutes, the latest guidance from the Regional Joint Information Center here in Harris County upped the amount of rain that they're expecting by about 5 inches.

We had heard 15 to 25 inches, Brooke, is what we were expecting. Now, it's 15 to 30, with isolated areas of up to 35 inches of rain. Not good news. Officials here asking people to be vigilant. If that water starts rising, call and ask for help. Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, that's the thing. It is so dark and that's the tricky. That's just like the extra whammy of this sort of storm and all this rain. So, I think just talking to the mayor in a different town. Just stay put where you are tonight. If you are in Houston or any of

these surrounding cities, stay put and just let it rain.

Rosa Flores, we'll check back in with you and your crew there in Houston. Thank you so much for that.

Let's bring in another voice. Chantal Cleveland is on the phone with me. Her home was just totally destroyed in Rockport. Chantal, we've got some pictures of your home. How are you holding up?

CHANTAL CLEVELAND, ROCKPORT RESIDENT: I don't think it has hit just quite yet. I can tell you that we didn't know what to expect. Friday morning, we woke up - I'm sorry, Thursday morning, we woke up and it was just like any other day. We went off to work. We expected it to be a tropical storm and it quickly turned into a Category 3.

So, I definitely have some stubborn parents, but I finally talked them into evacuating inland. So, we went to Corpus Christi, loaded up, prayed as much as we could.

Then, next morning, we got up at the crack of dawn, we started making our way to Rockport, just driving through Portland, it was just crazy. All of the structures that had demolished. And going more and more into Rockport, it just got worse.

And I think, at a certain point, we just all started crying in the car, just knowing that several families may have evacuated, another large percentage may have stayed.

But a lot of people aren't going to have homes to go to. And it's sad. Uninsured homes. I think right now, we are just hoping that our elected officials and state agencies come in through for us. We had a strong community.

We have a lot of tourists that come to Rockport. Everybody knows Rockport, Texas is a beautiful town and everybody knows Corpus Christi is - our coast is very popular. So, I think our main focus is just building that community and being there for each other right now because we don't take a lot of rebuilding, but times are crazy right now. So, we just want to be there for one another.

BROOKE: Yes. We're looking at these picture, Chantal. It just looks like a - nearly a lake where I'm assuming a road would be and these homes are just gutted.

But you mentioned your - sweetly mentioned your stubborn parents, but is their home OK?

CHANTAL: No. I can tell you, as I was driving into the highway, it seems like the houses were getting (INAUDIBLE) as I was getting close to the Rockport. And I started seeing the neighbors' houses just demolished.

And so, as we were coming in, we live in front of a highway, I told my uncle because he has a truck, I don't, I said just stop the truck please. And just crying. I ran through the ground, 2-foot water. We have three homes, but we rent them out to tenants. I saw the first

and I just imagined their children having to come back. I was just crying and screaming. And then finally, I walked all the way back to my home, saw the windows shut in, I got in and there's just debris. Two or three feet of debris.

And I just walked into my room and it looked so sad. All of my stuff was there, just under debris. It's not going to be salvageable. I wasn't prepared for the storm to get this big. We packed maybe two or three changes of clothes.

So, like I said, it's going to take a while for us to rebuild. But I can tell you one thing that was the feeling here at Corpus Christi and in Rockport and Portland is that sense of community. Everybody is extending their support and their help. So, I think -

[21:45:01] BALDWIN: BROOKE: That is when it is incredible, but the resilience of communities shines through in times like these. I've covered devastating storms like this, the kindness of people.

CLEVELAND: Yes. I can tell you in the morning I was screaming. I was on my knees just crying and screaming. My uncle had to hold me. Years of memories just covered in debris.

But when I got back, I was just overwhelmed with how supportive everybody is being here. And I know that we have elected officials that will come through for us. We have agencies. Our community members will come through for us. And I think we can definitely rebuild after this.

BALDWIN: Bless your heart, Chantal Cleveland. Thank you so much for taking a minute and calling CNN and letting us know how you are. It is tough. At least you have yourself and your parents. Chantal, our best to you and your great community.

And I know a lot of you are watching and you're gripped by Chantal's story. She is one of so many. And you want to help and you can. Go to our CNN Impact your World site. It's just, go to and there's a link of vetted organizations where you can help people like Chantal.

Coming up here on CNN. So much for restraint. North Korea defies demands and fires off three ballistic missiles. We will take you live to Pyongyang. Coming up.


[21:50:17] BALDWIN: State of Texas reeling from Harvey. And now, a catastrophic flood threat, widespread devastation. At least one person has been killed and the rain has just been relentless. Water rising over the streets in the City of Seadrift.

The coast guard making 20 air rescues so far and 2 to 3 feet of rain is still expected to fall. This storm is truly a triple threat - wind, rain and tornadoes, now a major risk overnight as the sun sets.

Chad Myers is in the weather center with more tornadoes, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: Absolutely. Not F4 tornadoes like in Oklahoma and Texas like in the movie Twister, but these are EF1, EF2s, maybe 115 mph and they're not that wide. But they are significant enough that you need to pay attention.

There have been a couple of them on the ground already today. That's the flare-up over Houston I'm most concerned about. That's the flood that's going to happen tonight.

You wake up early tomorrow morning and look outside, before you push the button for coffee, look outside and see what happened overnight. There may be 10 to 15 inches of rain in the City of Houston somewhere. It's now on the west side of the city.

But as this (INAUDIBLE) continues to come onshore, this rain will be relentless. The lightning will be too. It may be right over your house for hours. It appears that the rain is coming in at about 2.5 inches per hour.

So, if it rains at your house for four hours, that's 10 inches you're going to get a flood. Or even if it doesn't rain in your neighborhood, it's going to rain just north of you, you're going to get a flood. This is serious as it gets for Houston proper.

Houston floods with 3 to 5 inches of rain. So, you put 10 inches down, it's going to be a mess. There is the rain. This is a forecast where the rain is going to be. Four am, already raining, still raining. Still raining at 10 am. Even 5 pm tomorrow night, it still may be severe. We will keep watching it for you.

I do expect a significant flood in Houston. If you live there or know someone make sure that you know or they know and you can make the phone call.

BALDWIN: Chad, we'll be back in touch. Thank you very much watching Texas, bracing for the worst of Harvey. You just saw some of the devastation.

Now, the impacts of Harvey's serious flooding are really starting to be felt. The areas that could wake up under a foot of water, feet of water coming up.

Also ahead, North Korea launching not one or two, but three missiles overnight. And our correspondent Will Ripley is the only Western TV journalist inside of North Korea amid all these tensions. His exclusive reporting coming up next.


[21:56:32] BALDWIN: Well, restraint appears to be over. North Korea has again defied the world's demands with three ballistic missile launches. The US military says two of the missiles flew about 155 miles before falling into the sea. The other exploded right after the launch. The latest barrage comes less than a week after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised North Korea for showing restraint in its weapons program. And it is likely no coincidence that this comes at a time when American troops were holding joint drills with the South Korean military.

Now, CNN hasn't been allowed inside North Korea during these joint drills until now. Will Ripley is back in Pyongyang. He is the only Western journalist who was there amid all of these tensions. So, Will Ripley, 10:30 in the morning your time there in North Korea, you've been talking to officials there. What are they telling you?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's an incredibly tense time here. It was basically being described to me that while things are relatively calm on the surface, just underneath things are near the boiling point here in North Korea.

They're still thinking about President Trump's threats several weeks ago of fire and fury, in which North Korea then responded detailing a plan to launch missiles and put them down less than 20 miles from Guam.

The news cycle here doesn't move quickly like the United States. So, they are still very focused on those threats from the United States president.

And perhaps what we're seeing, this show of force in terms of these three ballistic missile launches was an attempt by the North Koreans to project power as we are about to enter week two of those military exercises, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the bellicose language from the president of United States, right, which was returned by the same sort of thing where you are in North Korea. Are you surprised that so far, though, we haven't seen more of a strong response from the US to these launches?

RIPLEY: I don't think that these launches cross that redline that President Trump was talking about. This is a pretty traditional trajectory for North Korean missiles. They fly them up, they go down in the waters off of Japan.

These missiles, as you said, flew just over 150 miles, still theoretically putting within striking range of US military bases in South Korea and all of metropolitan Seoul, but this wasn't the type of provocative flight path that would take the missiles up over Japan and put them down so close to all of those military assets down in Guam, which the United States has indicated would have crossed the line and would have been a very severe provocation.

We've seen dozens of North Korean missile launches. We also saw North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un overseeing a special forces training exercise. That video just released within the past 12 hours or so, showing commandos simulating an attack on South Korean islands.

North Korea, they are still going to find ways to show their own military strength, but they haven't taken it to the point yet that could really push the situation to an escalation. But, again, Brooke, on the ground here, officials say, it really would just take one misstep for things to blow up and for the situation to become far more dangerous.

BALDWIN: Well, thank you so much, Will Ripley, back in Pyongyang, North Korea, live for us here on CNN.

Back here at home, catastrophic flooding is expected from tropical storm Harvey over the next couple of days. The storm is still - it's just at a standstill, lingering over the State of Texas, leaving this trail of destruction in its wake.

Our next hour of special coverage here on CNN starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: You are watching CNN here, special coverage tonight. Texas is about to find out if it has seen the worst of tropical storm Harvey.