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Widespread Devastation in Texas as Flooding Begins; Flooding Rescues Underway in Dickinson, Texas; Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 27, 2017 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: At least a thousand people were rescued overnight. That number has been climbing really exponentially throughout the day. Helicopters swirl overhead looking for people trapped on their roofs. Volunteer rescuers are coming in their boats.

The head of FEMA says this is a storm the United States has never seen before. One that'll require teams to be on the ground not for days or even weeks but years as some areas brace for up to 50 inches of rain before this is all over.

President Trump tweeting, "Wow, now experts are calling Harvey a once in a 500 year flood. We have an all out effort going and going well."

We just learned the president will visit the flood on Tuesday. In a moment I want to talk with the mother who, along with her 5-year-old daughter, had a harrowing escape from their Houston home as flood waters rose all around.

But first, I want to bring in our teams on the ground. CNN's Brian Todd is in Houston and our Ed Lavandera is in a rescue boat in Dickinson, that's southeast of Houston.

Ed, you've had some of the most incredible pictures where you are right now on a boat with a volunteer rescuer. Talk to me about what you've seen in the last hour?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, this is really our first chance to get an up close sense of just how devastating this flooding is across many parts of Houston.

Get you a sense of where we're at. This is the neighborhood of Bayou Chantilly, which is in a small town of Dickinson, Texas, just along Interstate 45. I think we're about 25 miles south of downtown Houston. These are the images. And it is just striking to see.

Look, this is a home where you can see the family had used a ladder to scale up on top of the roof. They have an American flag that they were using to wave down for help, they have a box of supplies and blankets, and that sort of things. All of that left behind. The garage still open to their home.

As we've floated through this neighborhood, Ana, we've seen a number of homes where you see holes in the roof where they had chopped their way out through the attic. In fact just here to our right passing these other house, this is an example of what we've seen in the number of homes where people had escaped into their attics and used their ax or some sort of heavy tool to sort of punch their way and chop their way out of the rooftop through the ceiling of roof so they can get pulled out to safety.

The water and flooding damage in this particular neighborhood has been absolutely breathtaking and unreal to see. We've -- volunteers have been coming in the similar boat that we're in. We're in a boat with a young man by the name of Austin Seth who drove an hour from Lake Jackson, Texas, to volunteer. He's pulled about a dozen people out of this area and pulled them out to safety.

Interstate 45, Ana, is essentially being used as a boat launch today as hundreds of volunteers and other first responders have been coordinating and launching boats into these floodwaters. This is just one of many, many neighborhoods across the city of Houston that have been just devastated and in dire need of help.

These are people in this neighborhood, Ana, who went to bed last night not thinking that their neighborhood was ever going to flood in this storm, thinking that they were on higher ground, that there'd been enough people who lived here in this neighborhood for generations who felt that they were going to be safe here. And they woke up this morning to water inside their homes, water quickly rising.

So incredibly emotional for people. We've seen throughout the day a number of people who have been rescued here, some other folks being pulled out.

How you guys doing?

Thumbs up from them. These are, again, a number of people who have been rescued throughout the day. For the most part here in this particular neighborhood that we're in, we've seen people kind of coming and going throughout the day. They have been pulled out to safety, so that is the good news.

From what we can tell, very, very few people left behind in this neighborhood. But it has been a small Navy of volunteers that have gone up and down the water here. And these guys coordinating amongst themselves, Ana, here making sure that every last person who wants to get out of here is able to do so.

So this is a scene that we've seen here repeatedly. And this is looking down one of the main roads here into this neighborhood. And the images, I think, speak for themselves just to how dreadful and devastating this day has been for these people -- Ana.

CABRERA: The images are so chilling and the stories that you're telling us are so heartwarming in so many ways to hear and to see the volunteers and this effort of people who are just laying it out there, trying to save lives and do what they can to make a horrible situation slightly better for some of the folks in that neighborhood.

Ed Lavandera, thank you very much for that. Please do let us know as you continue to encounter new images and new people and new situations. [18:05:03] Brian Todd is also among those survivors who are also

escaping from the floodwaters.

You're in Houston, Brian. We know there have been at least two deaths confirmed in the storm. One of them in Houston. A woman who apparently drove into high water. I see you have some folks among the people who are trying to get out.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. We're hear just about six miles west of Houston near the Omni Hotel, which apparently has been flooded. There are dozens of people stranded there. They're being pulled off by private rescuers. We've got one family here.

Abraham (INAUDIBLE) and his son, Colin, and his daughter, Abby. He's 10. She's 7. They just got pulled out of the Omni Hotel.

Abraham, tell us what you saw in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty much this morning when we woke up, the whole place was flooded and the power is out. We went down, looked around, and they provided, like, you know, some food and some water. And pretty much, OK, we're going to hang tight for right now. But then the water just continued to raise throughout the day.

TODD: And so that made your decision easier to come out. We're told some people are staying there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people decided to stay there, yes. There's cats there, too. So -- because it's a pet friendly hotel. I think that they were just deciding to hang it out there.

TODD: And we did hear also that there are fumes in there. Were you kind of worried about that as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, definitely when I woke up and I walked in the hall, I started noticing some fumes. So that was another thing that was a little bit alarming.

TODD: All right. Colin and Abby, how scared were you guys?

COLIN: We were pretty scared. Basically we woke up with just a lot of water. We thought it was going to come up to the second floor.

TODD: You ever see anything like this before?

COLIN: No, never.

TODD: And Abraham, you live around here.


TODD: You came to the hotel. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because we had a generator, we just moved here about a year ago. We don't a generator and all that kind of staff so we're just worried about, you know, we've never been in a flood like this in our house that we live in now and we thought maybe it would be safe if we're in the hotel. So.

TODD: And where are you going to go now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know yet. I think they're going to take us to another hotel that apparently is dry and has electricity. The other Omni. OK.

TODD: All right. Well, thanks very much for joining us guys. And good luck to you. All right. Thanks, kids.

They're directing them to get to arrive to another hotel now, Ana. And you can see another boat full of people coming from the Omni Hotel. They're actually staging wave runners, too, because another boat ran out of power as it was coming from the hotel.

Again private rescuers in wave upon wave, just going to put people out of that hotel, we're told maybe between 60 or 80 people are stranded there, but some people are electing to stay even though we're told that there are diesel fumes throughout that hotel. We're trying to get over there and to see what the conditions here but it's tough to get over there right now -- Ana.

CABRERA: And people without power. So obviously that's a problem, too, for those who are trying to call for help and obviously their cell phone battery go down and took down.

Brian Todd, thank you for that report in Houston.

The elderly of course are among the most vulnerable in this catastrophic flooding. Some in nursing homes can't physically move themselves. And this is just one of the shots of the chilling images across the county in Galveston. This picture is not PhotoShopped. It was taken at a nursing home in Galveston County early today.

The owner sent this picture to her family members begging for help, and around noon thankfully help came. The owner and residents about two dozen or so were rescued. The county commissioner saying some were found up to their waist in the water. And those who were wheelchair bound, you see in this picture, were found up to their chests or even their necks.

And we spoke with the daughter of the owner who took this picture. She says that her mom sent her this picture in a text, and her cell phone was dying, please get some help, and she obviously went out on a frantic mission to try to get them help. And she posted this on social media to attract the attention to get the help they needed. And that is what did it.

We have learned from the county officials that every single member there was rescued and was taken to a hospital in Galveston County.

One Houston mother meantime, though, she had to laugh to keep from crying after seeing the incredible damage done to her home by the floodwaters. You can see just how high the water went. This was earlier today filling room after room and leaving the family no other option but to try to leave to escape with a 5-year-old child. The mother who shot that joins us now by phone, Darnica Burns (ph).

Thank you so much, Darnica (ph), for spending time with us during a difficult time, I know, for you and your family. I understand that part of the reason leaving your home was so frightening is not only because you have a little girl, but you can't swim. So take me through what happened?

DARNICA BURNS, FLOOD VICTIM: It just happened so fast. The water just kept rising. At first I thought, you know, it was going to go down. But it just kept rising, and it got up to maybe our knees. And about 30 minutes later it's like it's gone, you know, almost our chest. So we had go ahead and leave out the house.

[18:10:03] And we walked to the nearest gas station and it was kind of hard because of the pressure from the water. And I had my baby on my back trying to walk through it. It was some guys there and they asked if we needed help. And they had a ladder and (INAUDIBLE). And then we were really, really OK. And they took us to the nearest hospital.

CABRERA: So where are you now, Darnica (ph)?

BURNS: My uncle picked me up so I'm at his house right now.

CABRERA: OK. Thank goodness you were able to get somewhere safe and warm and dry. Have you ever seen flooding like this in Houston?

BURNS: Never. I've never see anything like this. It was just so scary, especially with my daughter.

CABRERA: Right. How is she doing?

BURNS: She is braver than me. She kept saying, mommy, why are you crying? I kept saying, baby, it's my allergies. But she wasn't scared at all. She was more brave than me. So I had to keep it together so she wouldn't be scared.

CABRERA: Darnica (ph), thank you so much for sharing your story, for sharing your images. And our best to you and your family.

I want to go back now to our Ed Lavandera in Dickinson, Texas, there. There's another rescue underway right now.

Ed, talk to us about what's happening.

OK, he can't hear us right now, I'm told. But we will just continue to stay with this picture. There's a rescue happening. You'll recall this is in Dickinson, Texas. He's been on this boat and he's assisting right now. This is live, that's why the camera's a little bit shaky. They don't have contact with us. Obviously some technical issues being in the middle of nowhere and all this flooding. But we saw a dog being loaded onto a boat.

Ed is on a boat with a gentleman named Austin who got the social media call for help. And he brought his boat to this area. Officials actually went online and said we need more help. We don't have enough rescuers. We don't have enough resources here as this flood was just overtaking neighborhoods.

And so Austin took his boat out there. And Ed told us he's helped to rescue about a dozen people today in the last few hours. Ed made it in on this boat from the interstate. And now I think we have a connection with Ed.

What do you -- what can you tell us about what's happening where you are right now, Ed?

LAVANDERA: Ana, there's a woman -- we're about to leave this neighborhood and there was a woman who kind of flagged us down and her two elderly parents who were stuck inside the home. So I'm going to put the microphone down. We're going to help them try to get back into the boat so we can get them out of here. So I'm going to put the microphone down while we help them get into the boat.

CABRERA: OK. I'm just going to let this play before our eyes and I'm not going to say much. But if you are just joining us, this is live right now on CNN in Dickerson, Texas. And Ed Lavandera is in a boat with one of the volunteer rescuers helping people out of their homes who have been stranded.

LAVANDERA: Jason, you want to come up here and help?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can help lift you if that's OK? OK. You ready?

LAVANDERA: You ready?


LAVANDERA: You got it?


LAVANDERA: OK. I got you. I got you. Not too bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sit wherever you feel like, you know, is the most comfortable for you.

LAVANDERA: Whenever you feel like moving you can sit right there on the edge. Are we taking on water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's all that rain we had earlier the day and I never bailed out.

LAVANDERA: You all right? Long night.


LAVANDERA: All right. We got -- hey, Ana, we've got this gentleman's wife and their daughter that still need to be pulled out of here. So Austin Seth, who is the volunteer, who has been taking us around -- I tell you what, we were just about to leave and we just happened to hear this woman so -- ask for help. So that's -- Austin here, they have two dogs as well.

Come on this way, little fella.

So they're trying to get her out. We'll keep working on this and doing that. I got to be honest, the daughter told us that her mother has Alzheimer's so that's complicating the situation.

[18:15:05] CABRERA: Yes.

LAVANDERA: So let's be a little bit delicate here because I don't know what kind of condition her mother is in. Let's give us a second --


CABRERA: I got you. We want to be sensitive to the family.

LAVANDERA: You know what I mean?

CABRERA: Sure. We want to be sensitive to this family.

LAVANDERA: I want you to see here --

CABRERA: Amazing things happening right now in Dickinson, Texas, where this gentleman was just rescued.

Ed, we'll let you do the work that needs to happen there on the ground and we'll check back in with you and that family when the time is appropriate.

But for more information on how you can help the victims there of Harvey just log onto We're going to take a quick break. We're back in just a moment.


CABRERA: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I want to replay a powerful moment that just happened here on CNN.

[18:20:02] A flood rescue that just played out in Dickinson, Texas. Our Ed Lavandera was there. Watch.


LAVANDERA: How are you doing, sir?



LAVANDERA: You want to give me your hand, sir, and I can try and pull you up? How are your arms feeling? Jason, you want to come up here and help?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can help lift you if that's OK. OK. You ready?

LAVANDERA: You ready?


LAVANDERA: Yes, yes. I got you. I got you. Get that foot in there. All right. Not too bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sit wherever you feel like, you know, is the most comfortable for you.

LAVANDERA: Whenever you feel like moving you can sit right there on the edge. Are we taking on water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's all that rain we had earlier the day and I never bailed out. It's not a problem, though.

LAVANDERA: You feeling all right?


LAVANDERA: Long night.


LAVANDERA: All right. We got -- hey, Ana, we've got this gentleman's wife and their daughter that still need to be pulled out of here. So Austin Seth, who is the volunteer, who has been taking us around -- I tell you what, we were just about to leave and we just happened to hear this woman so -- ask for help. So that's -- Austin here, they have two dogs as well.

Come on this way, little fella.

So they're trying to get her out. We'll keep working on this and doing that. I got to be honest, the daughter told us that her mother has Alzheimer's so that's complicating the situation.


CABRERA: Again, Ed Lavandera, that moment happening just moments ago right here on CNN. That is with a gentleman who is there volunteering to help rescue people.

Let's go back to Ed Lavandera live now -- Ed.

LAVANDERA: Hey, Ana, we were just leaving -- Pam, what was your last name?


LAVANDERA: Pam, we were about to leave the neighborhood and we heard your voice.

JONES: Yes, thank God. We've been waiting on the Coast Guard and waiting on somebody else. And the girls have been calling we -- anyway.

LAVANDERA: How long have you guys been trapped in there?

JONES: All night.

LAVANDERA: All night.

JONES: Mm-hmm.

LAVANDERA: You've been with your parents?


LAVANDERA: How are they holding up?

JONES: I think pretty good. Pretty good. I think pretty good for the circumstances. Everything is floating, and it's bad.

LAVANDERA: You guys have been stuck upstairs all day?

JONES: All night. Yes.

LAVANDERA: We've done a couple of passes through this -- down the street here and we didn't even know you were in the house.

JONES: Yes. Well, I heard the boat but I thought the Coast Guard or someone was going to rescue us. But then we found out that my sons were coming on their jet ski and then they had -- they got stopped. So -- outside bridge. Anyway, they got stopped and so I figured --

LAVANDERA: What was it like in this neighborhood through the night?

JONES: It just creeped up really -- it was shocking. You know, it came in through the garage about an inch and I was shocked.

LAVANDERA: What time was that?

JONES: I think around 1:00 or 2:00, 2:30. It was really (INAUDIBLE). Then I think it's like three feet or more inside the house.

LAVANDERA: I've heard from a lot of people here who said that they didn't expect this neighborhood to flood.

JONES: No. My parents were in a 100-year flood, and I can't remember what year that was. But, no, we didn't think it was going to flood. I live in Twins Wood, we would have went to my house. We knew it wasn't going to flood. And plus they did roadwork.

LAVANDERA: And you've been trying to get people to pull you out all day long?

JONES: Yes. My daughters have been calling. And of course my cell phone.

LAVANDERA: Where are your daughters?

JONES: The big city.

LAVANDERA: The big city? All right. Well, hopefully they're able to watch this and they know you guys are safe. JONES: Yes. Yes, well, I'm going to call one of them to pick me up.

LAVANDERA: What was it like? It's dark?


LAVANDERA: Outside --

JONES: No. We had lights all the time. Dad's got a generator.

LAVANDERA: You never lost power?

JONES: Never.

LAVANDERA: Unbelievable.

JONES: We had power all night. They had a generator and I guess that's what it was.

LAVANDERA: Right. Were you worried that -- we're getting pretty close to nightfall here. Were you worried that you weren't going to be able to be pulled in time before dark or --

[18:25:03] JONES: Yes, we were just starting to because we found out that they're putting a rescue and then we heard the Coast Guard can take a couple of days. We didn't know.

LAVANDERA: How are you feeling now?

JONES: Happy. Very happy. Very happy, very blessed.

LAVANDERA: Sorry you got stuck on the boat with the CNN crew here.


JONES: No, I'm glad. We're glad. We're very happy.

LAVANDERA: What do you do now? Do you know where you're going to be able to stay tonight or --

JONES: I think we're going to my house in Prince Wood.


JONES: Hopefully.

LAVANDERA: You have someone picking you up when we get back at --

JONES: Yes, one of my daughters.

LAVANDERA: Have you heard -- what's it been like in this neighborhood throughout the day? I mean, I just see boats criss-crossing all the time.

JONES: Just boats in -- I don't know of anything else, really. I've been up there helping my parents. LAVANDERA: It has to be surreal.

JONES: It is.

LAVANDERA: To see your neighborhoods like this.

JONES: It is. It's shocking. It is surreal. Yes.

LAVANDERA: Have you been able to talk to any of your neighbors at all?

JONES: No, I -- no, I was helping my mom and dad.

LAVANDERA: Yes. Yes. So they're going to be OK?

JONES: Yes, I think so. Dad -- yes.

LAVANDERA: Well, they did a great job jumping into the boat, especially your mom.

JONES: That's good.

LAVANDERA: She did great.


LAVANDERA: Ana, we'll toss it back to you. We're going to get them back to Interstate 45, which is the kind of in the launching pad area and where -- I hope they have like buses. You have friends or family have been picking people up. So anyway we were able to get to that situation. I'm glad we're able to hear Pam.


LAVANDERA: Called out for Austin's boat here. Austin drove right into the front door and pulled them out.

JONES: Yes, that's awesome.

CABRERA: I can sense the relief in that boat.

LAVANDERA: Which I thought was kind of funny.


CABRERA: I got to ask you, though, Ed, that was a rather emotional moment watching for a lot of us. I could sense that it was emotional for you, too.

LAVANDERA: Look, you know, it is. When Pam came out to the door and you had mentioned that your mom has Alzheimer's, you know, and, look, we are trying to tell stories and inform people about what is going on but trying to be incredibly sensitive to people's lives and what they're doing. So when I heard Pam say that her mother has Alzheimer's, you just never know what condition you're going to come across and I hadn't seen her yet. So, you know, we wanted to be able to see the young lady first before

we -- that's why we cut away. We thought let's just get a hold of the situation first and we can always come back. But I didn't want to put them in a horrible emotional spot.

CABRERA: Of course.

LAVANDERA: It's emotional as it is for you guys so we wanted to try to be as sensitive as possible. Every time you get rescued from a flooded home, there's a camera crew in there so we apologize for that. Thank you for being a good sport.

JONES: We welcome it. Thank you guys so much. Thank you. Thank you.

LAVANDERA: And so anyway that's kind of where we're at, Ana. Crazy day to say the least.

CABRERA: So glad to see that family is OK. And, again, our thanks to Austin who is the man behind that boat, behind that camera. Thank you all.

We're going to take a quick break here on CNN. Much more straight ahead as we continue our special coverage of the storm, what was Hurricane Harvey, now Tropical Storm Harvey, and the flooding that continues throughout the southern Texas state.

[18:32:50] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Continuing coverage of tropical storm Harvey. This is a live shot right now in Houston. Another rescue under way right now. Again, live images, but the camera a little askew there.

But, again, a boat right now helping to make some rescues in another neighborhood that has been flooded. A dog was just put on that boat.

We'll continue to monitor those pictures and we'll take you back there as more rescues are taking place. Meantime, other areas. Here we go. More images of a gentleman just walking now into this boat.

We know now that FEMA and the Coast Guard say 400 urban search and rescue personnel are working in South Texas across that area. More than 500 other personnel are in the state, and they're expected to be performing rescues later this evening.

Again, it's 5:33 there in Houston in Central Time, and so they have a few more hours before it gets dark. A lot of places have lost power. More than 300,000 people without power as well so time is of the essence.

And, of course, this is still bearing down across the state, across the southern part of the state where they're expecting about twice as much rain as they've already received. And you can see the impact there as these families who really are helpless in a lot of situations are getting the help that so many so desperately need.

Meantime, in Rockport, Texas, another devastating situation. That area took a director hit from Hurricane Harvey. And today, one state official said the coastal town is, quote, it's totally void of any functioning infrastructure. We have some drone video showing just how extensive the storm damage is there.

Residents have also dealt with tornado warnings, torrential downpour, more flooding in that area. Rockport is also where one of the two deaths from this storm happened. And our Martin Savidge is joining us now from Rockport.

And, Martin, it looks like the ground there is somewhat dry. But that area has been --


CABRERA: -- ravaged from the winds of the hurricane that ripped through that area.

SAVIDGE: Right, yes. The rain was a big event yesterday, of course, and during the storm. We haven't had much of a problem with that today. The winds are still gusty. It's a problem here because you've got so much debris on the ground.

[18:35:01] And I'll just sort of slowly walk you along this storefront area here just to give you a sample of the kind of devastation you see block after block in this community here. And by the way that drone video, I saw some of that -- no disrespect to the drone operator -- but that is nothing compared to the kind of devastation and destruction you see, say, over in Fulton about a mile and a half away, especially along the waterfront there.

We went into a neighborhood near there and saw some people trying to essentially shore up their home. They had seen the home on a YouTube, apparently a storm chaser video. They thought it was damaged. When they got there, they saw it was devastated, but they do say that they're going to rebuilt. But their house is just one of many, many, many.

Then you have entire apartment complexes, you have hotels -- I could go on and on and on, but you get the sense that what you see here is magnified a hundred, maybe a thousand, times over. It is such a huge area that has been devastated. Not rain. This is the wind damage that came on Friday night.

We're told that at least several hundred people have been evacuated out of the time. This is the city basically saying, if you're here, get out because you really can't exist it here. There's just no water. There's no electricity. There's basically no modern life.

They are working now to try to get the electricity to the sewage plant. If they can do that, then at least people would have potable water. But that's first on their list. The other thing that our friends and police are doing is trying to do the search and rescue effort. And that is ongoing here.

And you could see because of this kind of tangled mess, in many cases, they've got to go through, how difficult it is. And the teams have paired up. They've got local officers as well as state national resources. That way, they can have larger teams but they've still got a local person there who, if there is a person who is found, it is found with the help of local law enforcement.

So that's the way this whole process tries to untangle here, but they are weeks away from electricity, we are told. Weeks.

CABRERA: Wow. Wow. Martin Savidge reporting in Rockport, Texas. Our thanks to you.

And as we go to break, we leave you with more images of the destruction in Houston. Our tropical storm Harvey coverage continues in just a moment.


[18:41:37] CABRERA: Welcome back. We are following the catastrophic and unprecedented flooding in southern Texas. The waters are forcing thousands, millions of people, perhaps, to flee their homes.

More than 2,000 rescues, we've learned, have already been made today, but it's not just humans that need saving. Take a look at this video. This is posted by a storm chaser who drove right into the path of Hurricane Harvey.


AARON JAYJACK, STORM CHASER: Hey, guys. I'm on my way back to Austin from Victoria, Texas. And I've picked up a little passenger here. I stopped for gas, and this guy was following me down the road. And when I stopped he jumped into the jeep.

I really need help trying to find this guy's owner. We'll call him Harvey, but I need help trying to find his owner. So if you could share, tweet, whatever you got to do to help. I found him in Rung, Texas, R-U-N-G. Thanks.


CABRERA: That is storm chaser, Aaron Jayjack. He is joining us now.

Aaron, you have some good news. I heard you found the dog's owner.

JAYJACK: I did find him. The power of social media worked like I was hoping.

CABRERA: So do you know how they got separated?

JAYJACK: Yes. So the owner is actually -- he was on call, I believe. I'm not sure what he did, but he got -- he was on call for work, and I think the dog got -- he said the dog got scared and jumped out of his kennel.

CABRERA: I know you pulled over to take a moment to talk with us, but you're back in the car. Where are you headed right now? JAYJACK: So I actually am sitting in Houston right now. Actually,

I've got a friend that -- his sister is apparently stuck on an overpass somewhere near, about two miles from where I'm at right now, so I'm trying to see if I can make my way over there to find her.

CABRERA: So you've been driving around as much as you can, although I imagine that might be somewhat difficult given the images we're seeing and the reporting we've been hearing from the ground there about how all the interstates are cut off, at least in certain portions, because of the floodwaters there. What kind of damage have you seen since you've been there on the ground in your storm chasing effort?

JAYJACK: Yes. So in Houston, there's not a lot of damage, but there's a lot of flooding. I found one way into Houston from Austin coming on 290. But the night -- yes, the night before, in Victoria, Texas, I spent the night -- I had to -- I was huddled up against a parking garage.

I spent the night in this, the vehicle I'm in right now, just trying to stay out of the wind and the debris. And Victoria was crazy as the eyewall approached and came into Victoria. I mean, it looked like a war zone with power surges flashing all through the night all over town. And the wind, it was crazy.

CABRERA: Incredible. So you're storm chasing. How do you storm chase a hurricane?

JAYJACK: Well, it's a lot easier than storm chasing, say, a tornado or a supercell because it's so big, right? You just -- you pretty much just -- you get yourself in the path. And, you know, I took a few precautions.

One, I didn't want to deal with any storm surge. I wanted to be able to stay mobile. So I didn't want to get stuck on a barrier island or anything like that, so I purposefully moved a little bit inland. And that's why I chose Victoria. It had good escape routes in all directions -- north, south, west, east.

And I wanted to be approximately where the actual hurricane, the eye of the storm, is going to be at sunrise, at daylight. Since it landed or made nightfall or it landed at night, right? So I wanted to be able to, you know, get that footage of what was going on during the day with the first daylight.

[18:45:02] CABRERA: Now, catastrophic is the word we have been hearing over and over again from officials as they are describing the storm and the damage and what is yet to come still. You've been doing this storm chasing. How does this compare to times past?

JAYJACK: Well, you know, this is a pretty incredible. You know, it's a unique situation with all the rain and this thing stalling out. You know, generally, they come through, they make landfall, and then they zip on out of here and cleanup can start immediately.

But this is going to be days and days of potential rain and flooding. And, you know, the hurricane making landfall during the night was just the start of the story. So there's -- you know, it's -- you know, only time can tell what's really going to happen. But, you know, they're forecasting, you know, many, many inches of rain, feets of rain in certain locations, so it's pretty incredible.

CABRERA: What are you hoping to get out of this? As a storm chaser, I know a lot of times, it involves research of some sort. What's the goal for you?

JAYJACK: Well, for me, it's, you know, really it's just -- really, it just comes down to the passion. You know, I think it's important. Everybody should have some kind of passion in their life.

Mine might be a little crazy, but mine happens to be -- I like to get in the path of severe weather and experience that, the wind and that rain and the intensity of mother nature, you know, in its rawest form. So that's what I get out of it.

Secondarily, you know, I like to be on -- since I can generally avoid those dangerous situations, you know, I'm available to be a, you know, first responder to help out and rescue either people or, you know, like you saw the other day with my video, the animals. Especially the animal since they're pretty helpless, right? They can't help -- they don't have anybody to help them out, so I'll be there for them.

CABRERA: Well, we appreciate your hard work in that effort. Aaron Jayjack, do stay safe, and thank you for calling in and spending some time with us as we continue to cover what is continuing to be tropical storm Harvey bearing down on southern Texas right now.

Houston really taking the brunt of the rainfall. More than 24 inches of rain fell in the past 24 hours. And our meteorologist, Tom Sater, says they could see double that before this is all over. Don't go away. We're back in just a moment.


[18:51:23] CABRERA: OK. Check out this video. A T.V. station in Houston, KHOU, is now empty. The staffers were forced to evacuate because of the rising floodwaters there. I mean, you can see it was creeping in around desks.

The weatherman at that station tweeted this video out. And we should note, this happened despite the fact that this station has floodgates around its building. And we have aerial images to show you of just how extensive the flooding is in Houston.

Officials say they received more than 2,000 911 calls from people asking to be rescued, and they currently have 600 boats being used in those efforts. And they've asked for even more help. And in fact, volunteers have been asked and brought in with their boats.

And take a look at this video. This is out of Rosenberg, Texas, where all the rain led part of a road to collapse into the raging water below. In all, there are 250 highways in the state of Texas closed because of the flooding at this hour.

Our Tom Stater is monitoring tropical storm Harvey in the CNN weather center.

Tom, what lies ahead for Texas?

Tom, I'm not sure if your microphone cut out or it wasn't turned on. We will come back to you because we know you have an important forecast to give to our viewers. Obviously, this is a slow-moving storm so we do have Tom to keep us posted there in just a moment. We'll have more images as we take a quick break.


[18:57:21] CABRERA: Back to our continuing coverage of tropical storm Harvey, I just want to let everybody know we're getting some new information. And Dallas has now opened up its convention center to evacuees where they say they can help prepare for 5,000 evacuees who may need shelter.

As right now, we're watching the storm hover around Houston and that region. And Tom Sater is in our CNN weather center with much more on what we can expect in the evening ahead and the days ahead.

Tom, fill us in.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Believe it or not, Ana, we're not even halfway through this. We're watching a calamity unfold that is a one in 1,000 year event. Everyone has been asking, how in the world is this still a tropical storm? It made landfall on Friday night.

Well, believe it or not, it is feeding off its own rainfall. It's called a brown ocean effect. When these systems are over water, sure, that's like fuel, they fire up. But because it's been moving at one, two miles-per-hour, it's actually sucking up the rainfall it's been dropping. That is not a good thing.

Now even if it was downgraded to a depression, it's still going to provide this rainfall. But as to what happens next, we're watching all the moisture start to fan now into Louisiana, and that's where some of the severe weather is.

But if you look at the last 24-hour radar loop and just keep your eye on Houston, Chad Myers mentioned it last night that a ban was going to be moving in, possibly dropping a foot. We had four to six inches of rain per hour falling down at Hobby Airport to the south of Houston, picked up 10 inches in an hour and a half.

The National Weather Service has been busy too, but now you can see the rainfall into Baton Rouge, moving in towards New Orleans. The National Weather Service out of Houston has issued over 115 tornado warnings. So that has been a big issue as well.

It's going to expire at some time, but let's look forward now. The National Hurricane Center, as the model showed us the other day, bringing it back offshore. This is like a refueling stop. This is going to actually help the system sustain its tropical storm strength and then, possibly, even get a little stronger, making a second landfall. Where? In Houston. We could see the amount of rainfall in Houston, Ana, double. And it's

going to be unbelievable, the amount of rainfall. In fact, the amount of rain of two feet goes to the north, so the broadened area expands for emergency services.

CABRERA: All right. Tom Sater in our CNN weather center, thank you.

SATER: Sure.

CABRERA: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us.

It is a storm for the record books. Harvey living up to all the fears and the predictions by bringing catastrophic flooding to parts of Texas, including the nation's fourth largest city of Houston.

[19:00:00] Here's what we know at this hour. Around 3,000 National Guard members have been activated as water fills homes and streets.