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Catastrophic Flooding Across Texas; FEMA Expects 30,000 in Shelters; Family Trapped in Houston Home; More Rain Expected in Texas; CNN Crew Help Rescue Victims. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 28, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN's special live coverage of the storm that make landfall as a category four hurricane and has now turned huge parts of Texas, including Houston, into an inland sea.

And the threat from this storm grows with each and every passing hour. The rain from Harvey continues to batter southeastern Texas and now threatens the state of Louisiana.

This storm front isn't going anywhere. This is what we're hearing from forecasters, that it could dump 15 to 25 more inches of rain on the upper Texas coast by Friday, bringing totals in some places to more than four feet. And many of these folks just totally shocked by how quickly the situation went from challenging to life-or-death crisis. Perhaps no more so than a nursing home just outside of Houston.


KIM MCINTOSH, MOTHER OWNS NURSING HOME THAT FLOODED: Toilets started overflowing. And that was the first indication something was going wrong. And then water started coming in through the door. And my mother said within 10 to 15 minutes it was waist deep. So they had 10 to 15 minutes between enter and waist-deep water.


BALDWIN: And as the rain continues to fall and the floodwaters continue to rise, so, too, do the challenges emerging in an event that is already catastrophic by any measure.

Not long ago, FEMA came out with a dire estimation that some 30,000 Texans, 30,000, will spend at least part of this week in shelters. More than 2,000 people have been rescued from their flooded homes thus far in the city of Houston. Hundreds more in Galveston.

And in the devastation, and in the rising floodwaters, we are witnessing the worst of nature and the best of humanity. A lot of the boats that are out there saving people from their flooded homes are manned by volunteers. And FEMA says more volunteers are not just welcome, but needed.


BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Helping Texas overcome this disaster is going to be far greater than FEMA coordinating the mission of the entire federal government. We need citizens to be involved. Texas, this is a landmark event. We have not seen an event like this.


BALDWIN: We have reporters fanned out all across the region. We began with CNN's Scott McLean there in Houston. Look at that water to your knees.

Now, I hear the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started controlled release of water from two dams. How has that effected those neighboring areas?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, so we are in the Bear (ph) Creek neighborhood, northwest Houston. Things here are going to get a whole lot worse before they get any better. This area was -- parts of it, at least, were dry earlier this morning. I have to apologize, we don't have a great shot right now because our photographer actually doesn't have a viewfinder because it's pretty hard to keep technology dry when you have this kind of weather and this kind of rain coming down.

But before we were able to -- there was actually -- we parked our car down this way. You couldn't park it there anymore. We've had to move it.

There were also people here this morning who were trying to get out of their homes here. You can see, you know, just as this truck is coming here, Brooke, you can see just how much water is being displaced. And a lot of these people, their homes -- we've just got to get out of the way here, excuse me, these people, you know, the water is right up to their doorstep. So this guy displacing so much water, and almost knocking us over here, you know, that's going to push more water into these homes.

And this is an area where, you know, people haven't had water before. I spoke to one gentlemen who actually was dry for the last 40 years he said. We watched him get rescued by a couple of good well-to-do volunteers here.

You mentioned those reservoirs. There are two of them in this area, Brooke. One is called the Barker (ph) Reservoir. The other one is the Addison (ph) Reservoir. They are simply at their peak and they're gushing water out in the surrounding neighborhoods. And this is one of them. So they did release water from those last night or early this morning, a little earlier than expected. But even that isn't doing very much to help the situation here.

BALDWIN: I realize that that truck passing you, people need to get places, but that is like the picture of what you are not supposed to do. My goodness, Scott McLean, thank you so much to you and your photographer son's (ph) viewfinder.

Let me go now to CNN's Rosa Flores, at the Houston Convention Center.

And, Rosa, what are you r seeing there? What are some of the stories you're getting from folks being rescued?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we moved just a few streets down from that convention center, Brooke. But I want to set the scene because you can see the Houston skyline behind me. This is an urban scape, but right now take a look, it is flooded by water.

Now, the headline where I'm at is the rising and the receding water and how quickly it happens. Yesterday I couldn't stand here because I would have been submerged in water. You see that minivan over here. That minivan was completely submerged in water.

[14:05:04] And as we make our way in this direction, you'll see this is the onramp for I-45 north towards Dallas. Take a look to my right. There's a refrigerator. Beyond that, there's furniture. There's all sorts of debris all over.

Again, this overpass was not passable. I would have been completely under water if this were yesterday. Here, you can see more debris, barricades. And you can see the water levels too, Brooke. You can see that that debris was flowing through here hitting and also mangling a lot of this debris.

And then the power of this water and the force in which it is running. Take a look. This is Buffalo Bayou completely over its banks and flushing out towards the bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. So when we talked to people who have been rescued and they speak and they describe their experience as apocalyptic, this is the type of waters that they have been seeing. These are the type of waters that they have been rescued from.

And it is unbelievable and mindboggling to think. And you know how first responders say it's very dangerous, you can't trust water. As we look at more of these pictures of mangled debris, take a look beyond that overpass. So this is the ramp that would normally take you north towards Dallas. It is completely under water. Water's still raging through from all over as it creeps through and meanders through the different bayous.

And, Brooke, the other really bad news, of course, that you mentioned at the tonight of your show is that we're expecting more rain, 15 to 20 inches.


FLORES: And take a look -- take a look around. Everywhere that you look here in this area of downtown Houston, it is completely covered in water. Some of the people who were rescued that I talked to said that their experience was apocalyptic. That's how they described it. When you look at these pictures, you can relate with some of the stories that we've been hearing.


BALDWIN: Which speaks to some of the criticism, why the heck weren't there, you know, mandatory evacuations. But, again, I know a lot of officials point to Rita. We'll talk to the mayor of Houston momentarily.

Rosa Flores, thank you so, so much for that walk and talk.

You know, Rosa mentioned a lot of these people getting rescued. Houston officials say 2,000 people have been rescued so far and there are so many more just sitting there watching the water rise and waiting for help.

And one of them is good enough to hop on the phone with me. She is Leidys Shull. She lives on the north side of Houston. And she took some photos that will pop up on the screen just to see how high that water is. She has 11 members of her family all waiting for rescue, including four kids under the age of six.

Leidys, thank you for taking a minute with me.


BALDWIN: How are you all holding up?

SHULL: Hi. We're still here. I see just a couple rescue boats try to help some people. We ask them -- we asked them for help with them and they say we come back, we come back. But we're still here waiting. Water keeps raising up and I -- it's (INAUDIBLE) here, our neighborhood, asking for help, too.

BALDWIN: So, hang on a second, Leidys. So you're seeing rescue boats floating around your neighborhood.

SHULL: Yes. Yes.

BALDWIN: And I'm assuming you're yelling, please rescue us.

SHULL: Yes. Yes.

BALDWIN: Are they able to communicate with you? Why aren't they coming?

SHULL: Yes, they actually asked and they say, another boat behind is going to come and get to you. So that's all of what they say.

BALDWIN: And no boat.

How long have you been waiting? How long have you been holed up with the water rising in your home?

SHULL: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) say that the water was raising up yesterday around 6:00. We called 911 because we not have transportation. Our car is (INAUDIBLE). We called 911 and (INAUDIBLE) to the fire department and they put us on the waiting list. And (INAUDIBLE) 3:00 in the morning, this morning, and nobody showed up. So we -- so -- and then we are still waiting. And calling (INAUDIBLE) to get help with all their sources, they said that firemans and Coast Guard and we call people, they say they're going to come, but there's still nothing happened. BALDWIN: Let me ask you, Leidys, because the Harris County Sheriff's

Office, they're telling people, if you're waiting for rescue, right, so just like you, hang a towel or a sheet prominently so they can find you, because apparently addresses are hard to spot. Have you all done that?

SHULL: Definitely. I got a big white sheet hanging up with a sign "help" that we write on it. We have white towels (INAUDIBLE). And people, the rescue -- some rescue people see us, but they're still not doing anything for us.

[14:10:13] BALDWIN: So you're doing everything right. You're doing everything right.

SHULL: I know they help the olders, but there is no -- what I was expecting. You know, I was expecting -- you know, I was expecting it to be more, you know, more consideration. You know, just help people get out, it's getting very danger here.

BALDWIN: How -- tell me --

SHULL: And the water is completely deep. I mean we can't -- we can't even swim. And we have little children. So it's more difficult.

BALDWIN: Of course. We said you have four itty-bitty ones under the age of six. So how high -- we're looking at pictures, Leidys, and the water I want to say is like three quarters up to the top of a garage door. How high is it now where you are?

SHULL: I've been here -- how high do you think it is? It's about --

BALDWIN: Is it into your second floor?

SHULL: Yes. It isn't -- I t is -- it is not to the second floor, but it is on half of the stairs going to the second floor. Inside the house is about six to seven inches. And outside is about -- I'm sorry, 5 feet, maybe 7 feet. And outside it's about 10 feet.

BALDWIN: My goodness. And how are you on food, on water? I assume your kitchen, it's obviously totally submerged.

SHULL: Uh-huh. Yes. It's flooding. We haven't eat anything. We got a few Gatorades and a little water. And I'm just concerned for my baby. He -- (INAUDIBLE) giving something to eat but at least know the food that he (INAUDIBLE) to eat. You know he had a good -- (INAUDIBLE) a good lunch today. (INAUDIBLE) --

BALDWIN: How old is your --

SHULL: (INAUDIBLE) it's something they do every day for him.

BALDWIN: Leidys, how old is your baby?

SHULL: (INAUDIBLE) have access to lunch. So he's -- it's OK. He hasn't eaten anything, you know, that he (INAUDIBLE) to eat.

BALDWIN: How old is he?

SHULL: At this age. He's one -- one year old.

BALDWIN: One. One.

Do you have -- forgive me, but, I mean, do you have access to a toilet? Is that functioning? Or is that long gone?

SHULL: The light -- the power is off. The power is gone.



BALDWIN: OK. And you, from what I understand, Katrina, I know Katrina was 12 years ago tomorrow. You survived Katrina, is that correct?

SHULL: Yes. Yes. I do. Uh-huh.

BALDWIN: And came to Houston. And the biggest difference, I understand, is that you were forced to evacuate there. This was a different situation.

SHULL: Yes. Katrina, yes. They told us, they, you know, many times to evacuate. So we were one of those first to evacuated New Orleans on time. But this time they didn't. They make us -- we didn't know (ph), it's going to be OK. Just stay inside your house. And -- but, look, we have the water and this is just very -- it's stressful.

BALDWIN: Are you frightened?

SHULL: I'm sorry?

BALDWIN: Are you frightened?

SHULL: Say what? I'm sorry.

BALDWIN: Are you -- are you afraid?

SHULL: Oh, yes. I -- basically afraid for my baby and for my children. I do, you know. But I tried to also keep them calm because I know want (ph) to think how much things we have lost here because (INAUDIBLE). I know, you know, with the time (ph), we can get it. But my only concern now is to get out of here. So we can have -- we can have a decent meal and at least assure that we -- we are in safe place, you know, away from this water.

BALDWIN: Of course. Of course.

Leidys, here's my last question and then I'm going to let you go.


BALDWIN: I'm talking to the mayor of Houston in a couple of minutes. Is there anything you would like for me to ask him? SHULL: Yes. Is he -- just let him know that we don't have enough

rescue boats. Maybe the people who is helping, it is people who do it privately or maybe to come and get their loved ones and get out. But I only see one person working for the police and maybe fire department. And they say they was going to come back. I don't see anybody around. I see cows outside the houses. (INAUDIBLE) outside the houses. We have people screaming for help and are concerned about them. And also we are concerned about our own life. So we definitely need help so we can, you know --

BALDWIN: I promise you -- so you can get out and get to safety, you and your baby and all the kids and your family.

SHULL: Yes, help us to get out and be in safe place.

BALDWIN: Yes, Leidys Shull, thank you so much.

I will talk to the mayor about you and let's stay in close contact with you and make sure we get you out of there.

[14:15:01] Leidys, thank you so much, on the second floor of her home and trapped.

Thank you. Thank you.

South Texas still bracing for even more flooding after getting drenched with 25 inches of rain in two days. Up to 50 inches is forecast before the rain finally stops. So just to get a sense of what this looks like, I want you to look at this. Fifty inches would mean if you, water up to the neck, if you're a five-foot woman. It's also enough to completely flood a Volkswagen Beetle, just for perspective there. And the rain just continues to fall.

Meteorologist Chad Myers is in the Weather Center.

And, you know, we talked over the weekend. We worked over the weekend. You know, you said people would be waking up Sunday morning and there would be, you know, it would be bad, but it just -- it isn't stopping.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It isn't, because the storm isn't moving.

Brooke, the storm right now, the center of the storm is only 70 miles from where it came onshore in Rockport on Friday night. So it kind of meandered in, tried to get to San Antonio, stopped, turned around to then it went back out toward the ocean, toward the Gulf of Mexico. Forty inches now. I'm just going to round it up, 39.72 in Dayton, Texas. That is the new high number that I've seen. Waller out there in Harris County, not that far from Houston, 34 inches. League City about the same.

It is still raining in Atlanta. It's still raining in Houston. It's still raining in New Orleans. This is now a very large storm. This has kind of brought its wings back out again because it's half over water. It's not going to gain strength to be a hurricane again, but it's gaining humidity. It's gaining moisture. It's gaining everything we need to make more heavy rain and also more flash flooding. Every red box is a flash flood warning going on right now.

Still have these things that could possibly be a tropical threat. Tropical storm warnings are going on because this storm is moving offshore and then it will eventually move back onshore very close to Beaumont, Port Arthur. But even that isn't until Wednesday. I mean, we're talking from here to here, about 100 miles in 48 hours. You know, I can do that math. That's two miles an hour.


BALDWIN: Yes, that's mighty slow and that's a mighty stall. And going back out over the gulf, getting juice, moving back over inland. What's your biggest concern or question with regard to Houston? We're talking to the mayor coming up?

MYERS: Well, actually, I wanted to be able to chime in on this. I'm afraid that there are submerged cars under those 15-foot walls of water that, you know, some of these -- some of these roads are 15-feet deep. I also am concerned that only 100,000 people are without power.

And you're going to say, why would you say only? Because that means 2.3 million people still do have power. Where is that power going to go when the water comes up? That power's going to go in the water. Electrocution hazard I think is tremendous. If you can -- if you know the water's coming up and you can't -- and you're not standing in water yet and you can turn off your breaker box before that water gets to your house, you're going to be a lot safer than when that water finally gets to the first outlet.

BALDWIN: It's frightening. We'll talk to the mayor about that. I'm glad you brought that up.

Chad Myers, thank you so much.

MYERS: You're welcome, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll check back in with you.

Coming up next here, it is President Trump's first major national disaster. How he and the White House are responding and what we're learning about the president's plans to visit the region tomorrow.

Also, just dramatic stories of rescue, some unfolding before our very eyes, including this moment. A CNN crew, Jason Morris there, the producer, and Ed Lavandera jumping into action, helping this elderly couple. Moments from now, we'll talk live as I mentioned, to the mayor of Houston. What are his concerns as his city is bracing for even more rain? And how does he respond to the criticism? Why wasn't Houston mandatorily evacuated?

Back in a moment. You're watching CNN.


[14:23:14] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin here. Talking all about Texas. And moments like these with the unprecedented flooding we're seeing there, it's not just about capturing the stories and images, but also about just rolling up your sleeves and helping your neighbor when need.

While navigating through a flooded neighborhood in Dickinson, Texas, this is just outside of Houston, our -- one of our CNN crews heard a voice, heard this cry for help, and that is when CNN's Ed Lavandera and his producer Jason Morris actually swooped in to help rescue this elderly couple from their flooded home. The raw, stunning moment played out live on air.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were about to leave this neighborhood. There was a woman who had kind of flagged us down that her and her two elderly parents were still stuck inside the home. So I'm going to put the mike 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.

How are you doing, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably be better if you get in on that side right there. Let me see if I can get something for you to -- I don't have anything.



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


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: All right, ready?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two three.

LAVANDERA: We gotcha.



LAVANDERA: You got it?


LAVANDERA: OK. I got it. I got it.

Get that foot in there.

[14:25:06] Not too bad.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wherever you feel like moving again, just sit right there on the edge and we'll take care of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Are we taking on water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's all that rain we had earlier today. And I never bailed it out. It's not a problem.

LAVANDERA: You doing all right?


LAVANDERA: A long night.



LAVANDERA: All right, we got -- hey, Ana (ph), we've got this gentlemen's wife and their daughter that still need to be pulled out of her. So Austin Seth (ph), who is the volunteer who had been talking us on a ride -- 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 -- and they have two dogs as well. Come on this way, little fella. So they're trying to get her out.


BALDWIN: My goodness.

Ed, that was incredible. That was incredible. We've all watched that multiple times over. How are they doing?

LAVANDERA: They're doing well. Last -- we checked with them last night. They -- I think they were trying to make their way to Pam Jones (ph), her daughter and her daughter's husband had come and picked them up on the side of the road. It took them a while navigating the roads throughout a lot of these small communities. It's been rather difficult. So -- but they were fine. They're -- Pam Jones' mother was treated, had a couple cuts on her leg, and she was treated there in the boat, Austin Seth's boat, before they were taken away. But they're doing better and much, much happier that they are not inside that house that is flooded out.

BALDWIN: Tell me where you are right now and what's going on. LAVANDERA: Well, we've teamed up with a -- the National Guard unit out of Dallas, known as the Wolf Pack. And they have been making their way through various neighborhoods. But what is interesting is, you know, that they are trying to figure out, you know, load up in one of these big trucks where -- in the bed of one of these big trucks that is being used to pick up evacuees and move them to higher ground and to shelters.

And what is interesting is that -- and we've probably made it to three or four different neighborhoods. And what we're seeing, which is good news, is that a lot of the neighborhoods around Dickinson, League City and Friendswood, these are homes -- subdivisions, large subdivisions with thousands of people in them, but it sounds like a lot of them have already been cleared out of all the people who want to be cleared out. That's the vast majority of them. But there are some -- still people who didn't want to be evacuated.

But it sounds like, for the most part, that a lot of these communities and these neighborhoods, people have been taken out of their homes. And that is thanks in large part to people like Austin Seth, that you saw there in that clip, who we were riding with yesterday, essentially these volunteers of people with boats and literally just launching these boats out into these neighborhoods and bringing people back to safety as quickly as they can.

So many people have done that. You just see when we're driving through these neighborhoods with high water, it's just boats crisscrossing back and forth all over the place. So it has been, you know, amazing to see.

We're about to leave here with this unit, this National Guard unit, and make our way back into Dickinson, which is not too far from where we are now. We're expecting to pick up more evacuees and take them to shelters. So that work continues, but what they're hearing every time they get to one of these places, that the majority of the people have already been taken out of a lot of the subdivisions here in the southern part of the Houston area that we've been patrolling through over the course of the last two days.

BALDWIN: Well, we need the lady rescued, she and her one-year-old baby, and the, you know, the 10 people in her home we talked to a minute ago. You know, still some people are obviously trapped.

But I'm going to let you and the Wolf Pack go, Ed. You've got bigger work than talking to me here on TV.

So, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much there in the pouring rain in Texas. We'll check back with you.

Ahead here on CNN, President Trump and the first lady are set to head to Texas tomorrow to see firsthand what exactly the state is dealing with amid the catastrophic flooding and so much more rain on the way.