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New Orleans Braces For Floods On Katrina Anniversary; Levee Breached South Of Houston, Residents Urged To Leave; Red Cross: 17,000 Plus Evacuees In Shelters Across Texas; Trump Warns North Korea: "All Options Are On The Table". Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- at a different nursing community. All right. Thank you all so much for being with us. Let's now go to Pamela Brown who continues our live coverage of Harvey.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Pamela Brown in for Kate Bolduan. Great to have you along with us on this Tuesday.

We are following breaking news on the historic flooding in Texas. We have learned a levee breached Brazoria County that's just south of Houston. The county is urging people to get out right now. An urgent situation there.

Meantime, President Trump and the first lady set to arrive soon in Texas. They will be seeing the damage on the gulf coast firsthand while they are there. The White House says the president will lay the foundation for the long recovery effort.

Meantime, Houston police say they have rescued more than 3,400 people and counting. The Red Cross says more than 17,000 evacuees are in shelters all across Texas. Dallas opening a mega shelter just within the last couple of hours.

The predictions that Harvey would drop 50 inches on parts Houston are coming true. Homes and two bloated reservoirs could be flooded for weeks.

The flood fears are spreading east. Hundreds of rescues last night in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Today, on the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is under a flash flood warning.

I'm going straight to CNN's Scott McLean in Houston, who spent the night with flood victims under an overpass. What can you tell us, Scott?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pam, we are under a highway overpass right now. This is sort of a staging area for lots of first responders and just private citizens with boats who showed up to help and to try to get people out of this neighborhood behind me.

I'll get out of the way so my photographer can zoom in and show you what we are looking at here. You can see in the distance, there are actually houses, but they are quite far away from the road.

This, as I understand, is one of few entryway points into this neighborhood which extends one mile or several miles inland and there are houses that are under water back there. There are houses that are not under water, but hard to get to.

You can see some of the boats that are going in and coming out with people as well. There's boats, jet skis. Some people have rafts and dinghies and things like that. This was a very active scene last night in the overnight hours.

I spoke to people who came from Mississippi with a fishing boat. They arrived last night. They started pulling people out at 6:00. They worked until 4:00 in the morning, got about four hours of sleep and we saw them head back into the neighborhood to try to pull people out.

There were some people they simply could not get to yesterday because of darkness or time, or in some cases, these areas are tricky to get to.

So, I want to introduce you to Donald Randle. Donald's mother-in-law, your mother-in-law is stranded out there, is that right?

DONALD RANDLE, MOTHER IS STRANDED: Yes, sir. Yes, she is. She stays about four miles inland. The problem is, there's high water to low water. It's very difficult for the boats to get in. Then you have to have an opportunity or avenue for them to get back deeper in there.

We are a little worried about her. She is elderly, 74 years old, diabetic. We want to make sure she has enough medicine to last. Right now, she's working on 24 hours without power.

The last thing we want is something to happen and no one get to her. Me and my wife, her daughter, have been out here since yesterday trying to figure something out. It's tough right now.

MCLEAN: Donald, her house is dry, though, right? There's just no way to get in or out?

RANDLE: Yes, correct. The water is up to the driveway on her town home. No way to get into there comfortably without a lot of multiple options in order to move her out of there.

MCLEAN: How long has she been trying to get out and how long have you been trying to get help for her to get out?

RANDLE: Basically, since yesterday, about noonish, about noon yesterday, we kind of figured out the water was getting bad. We worked this way. Not knowing how bad the side roads have been. We stay maybe four miles up the beltway heading north and our neighborhood is fine, you can get in and out.

This is a very high flood area, and so, they want to stick it out, didn't think it was going to get too bad. Hindsight, we wish we would have got her out Saturday evening. Not knowing that Harvey was going to sit on us like this, that's tough. MCLEAN: Have you been able to talk to her on the phone? How is she feeling?

RANDLE: She's feeling good. She is calming down. Her daughter lives with her and she's calming her down more than vice versa. She understands the process. It takes time. So, she's very patient right now.

Just hoping and praying that somebody shows up. We're hoping and praying the say. We also understand it's a process. Where she sits is a very tight neighborhood to get to and not necessarily easily accessible based on our conditions right now.

[11:05:04] MCLEAN: Does she still have power and water?

RANDLE: Power, no. Bottled water, she has that. We are more worried about the medicine side especially when offices are going to be closed. Not knowing what the situation is on dosage, if she has enough to maintain for the next few days.

MCLEAN: I understand you actually did speak to the Coast Guard and she is on their radar to go and get? Is that right?

RANDLE: Yes. She is on their high priority list. Once again, we don't know how deep that is. We understand there's a process to it. We have called multiple emergency services. They are working as best and fast as they can.

We appreciate all the work they have done. Guys who yesterday helped us get almost close to her. Once we got there, the boats couldn't go any further. It was as hard deal to get right there at the cusp with an opportunity and had to turn around because the water is not high enough, which is probably the craziest thing to say.

But can't get back there because the water is not high enough. So, we are going to keep praying and keep hoping for the best.

MCLEAN: We'll send our prayers as well. Thanks for talking to me, Donald.

Pamela, you know, we have been hearing this over and over again. You heard it from Donald and I heard it from some first responders and some, you know, private citizens with boats as well that, you know, part of the challenge is, it's almost like a relay race to hand people off.

At some points, the water is too shallow for boats and so you need a high water vehicle and other places it's too deep for the high water vehicles. You need to hand off to a boat. People might take two or three boats or vehicles to get from their homes, a couple miles back to the underpass where they are taken out to friends' houses or to local shelters.

BROWN: That certainly sounds like a logistical nightmare trying to figure all that out. Scott McLean, thank you very much for that. At any moment now, we expect Houston officials to update us on the flood situation and the ongoing rescue efforts. As soon as that news conference begins, we will take you there.

And now let's turn it over to CNN's Rosa Flores. She is at the convention center where nearly 10,000 evacuees are staying. What is the latest from there, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, I want to introduce you to Isaac Sandoval. He and his wife were rescued, but their family was separated. They have four children, ages 3, 7, 10 and 11. He was telling me about how they were rescued and the stress involved when your family has to be separated.

He said they took the women first. Can you share with us how you were rescued? In advance, he said his English is broken so he's asking for people to have a little kindness with him. I'll translate if you have any issue.

ISAAC SANDOVAL, STAYING AT HOUSTON SHELTER: Well, first thing I was rescue after six, seven hours when we started asking for help. When we got help, a boat, the people where we were living called friends and one of those friends came with a boat. But, they -- it was kind of small so they trying to save children and women first.

We had to be separate. That's the stressful part on my heart because to see my kids and my wife going and not be sure they were going to be safe. After that, we have to wait eight more hours to be rescued.

FLORES: Tell me about that wait? How difficult was it, not knowing if your children and wife are OK and knowing that you still hadn't been rescued?

SANDOVAL: Well, in that situation is real hard. My heart broken because -- it's pretty hard to think that you cannot do anything for them. It's hard. It's hard.

FLORES: Now your wife was describing seeing people wanting to get on boats and not being able to get on those boats because the boats were already full. Share with us what that was like.

SANDOVAL: Well, when we got -- when we meet together here in the convention center, she told me what she saw on the way. One thing that I saw, too, later, when I went on the boat, it was a lot of people swimming, trying to save the kids. They try to reach a safe place. It's pretty hard. It's pretty hard.

What she told me, too, families, you know, trying to get family in safe place, but they couldn't make it.

[11:10:05] So, they, they were -- they were swimming in the water, they had to leave the family in the boat. They don't know. See people dying that way is real sad. Real sad.

FLORES: Isaac, thank you so much for sharing your story. Your English was perfect. I don't know why you were worried about that. Thank you so much and best of luck to your family. Pamela, back to you.

BROWN: Wow. What a heart wrenching interview to see the emotion when his family has seen witness through this. Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

I want to go now to CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers at the Weather Center. So, Chad, where is exactly is Harvey? Where is the storm heading?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The storm center of Harvey is almost due south of Galveston. That's why Ed Lavandera's live shot was so dramatic, just pouring down rain right now in Galveston, one of the new inner bands of the tropical storm.

Now it is not really gaining a lot of strength, but it's gaining humidity and moisture and rainfall potential. Still raining in Houston and New Orleans and all the way down across the gulf coast. This is what the radar will look like all day long.

Kind of spreading out a little bit. Getting heavy rainfall possibly. Some minor flooding as far east as Pensacola or Mobile, Alabama. The heaviest rain, though, is going to be Beaumont, you are the center of the bogey today.

We talked about the reservoir situation going on in Texas. I'm going to take you through it again in case you weren't with us. You have heard Buffalo bayou for five days. Here it is.

There are major reservoirs to the west of Houston, built when Houston had 250,000 people. Here they are right here. The Addicks reservoir holding back billions of gallons of water.

Back here, Barker is holding back a lot of water. Eventually, the water spills out over the spillway control and into the Buffalo bayou. We have been controlling this spill for days now, pushing the water out controlled.

But that has all failed. There's not enough water coming out and the reservoir has filled up. It has filled up and flooded all the neighborhoods on the we'll be right back here that have been built since 1930s when this reservoir was built.

Get rid of this real quick and I will show you what else we want to talk about. Here is the reservoir, an earthen dam built on dirt, big piles of dirt, 114 feet above sea level here. On the north side we have 108 feet, ending right there.

That's where the water now, at 108.3 is spilling over and into areas that have never seen flooding before because this barrier, this dam, this earthen dam has always been there. Now, it's not failing.

This is just how high it's ever supposed to get. Even at this point in time, all of these neighborhoods are all full of water. Now, the water is finally spilling over here, going to be flooding different spots, different places and back into the Buffalo bayou, uncontrollably, so Rosa Flores may see more water coming up in downtown Houston because of this water has to go right through the city.

BROWN: That is certainly not good news for people there. Chad Myers, thank you for breaking it down for us.

I want to now to Fort Bend County, Texas, just west of downtown Houston. The river there is rising. We heard Chad Myers touch on this. The sheriff of the county joins me now by phone. Sheriff, thanks for coming on. Several neighborhoods in your county are under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders. What is the situation?

SHERIFF TROY NEHLS, FORT BEND COUNTY (via telephone): That is correct. You know, we have had an enormous amount of rain over the last couple of days. We have evacuated more than 5,000 people from their homes.

For the next 24 to 48 hours, even 72 hours, we are extremely concerned about some of these water ways that are running through Fort Bend County, exceeding their banks, then even further, exceeding some of the levees that are protecting a lot of our neighborhoods within Fort Bend County.

BROWN: And I know, Sheriff, you, yourself, have helped to carry some of these residents to higher ground. Tell us what you have been seeing.

NEHLS: Well, I have access to an airboat. I have been on it for the last 24 hours just removing people from their homes that are asking to be rescued. It's a daunting task. Something about Fort Bend County, in fact, we are all working together.

We've had individuals coming from Free Port and Rockport and everywhere else with their air boats and John boats just assisting in the effort. We really, really appreciate that as well.

[11:15:01] BROWN: All right, Sheriff Nehls, best of luck to you and thank you so much.

NEHLS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: At any moment now, we expect Houston officials to update us on the flood situation and the ongoing rescue efforts there. As soon as that news conference begins, we will take you there live.

Plus, all options are on the table, President Trump's new warning for North Korea after one of Pyongyang's most provocative missile launches yet. We'll take a look at the military options.

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BROWN: Welcome back. We are following breaking news on the historic flooding in Texas. A levee has breached in Brazoria county, that is just south of Houston. The county now urging people to get out right now, an emergency situation there.

We are also awaiting the arrival of President Trump and the first lady in Texas. They are expected to touch down in Corpus Christi just in the next hour. They will see some of the widespread devastation firsthand.

And any moment now, we expect Houston officials to update us on the flood situation and the ongoing rescue efforts. As soon as that news conference begins, we will take you there.

[11:20:08] But first, President Trump's stern warning to North Korea, quote, "All options are on the table." This comes on the heels of North Korea's ballistic missile launch over Japan and this is the fourth missile fired in just four days.

And the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley says, enough is enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: No country should have missiles flying over them like those 130 million people in Japan. It's unacceptable. They have violated every single U.N. Security Council resolution that we have had. I think something serious has to happen. I think something serious has to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he be (inaudible) these sanctions today?

HALEY: I think we have a lot to talk about today and so with all of our partners, what we hope is that China and Russia continue to work with us like they have in the past on North Korea. I think enough is enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr joins me now. So, Barbara, what is the Pentagon saying about this missile and its launch?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, you know, the U.N. ambassador there saying enough is enough, the president saying all options are on the table, but here at the Pentagon, I would say they are taking a very cautious approach to this because they have seen it before.

Is there really a realistic military option that the president might engage in? It doesn't appear to be so, at least not right now. This missile, what they are tracking here at the Pentagon is the fact when it launched out of North Korea, it did fly over the Northern Japanese island, over Hokkaido and they woke up to warnings that they should take cover.

That's a very serious matter. Now the Japanese didn't attempt to shoot the missile down as far as anybody knows because it was so high at that point. The trajectory was so high. It didn't pose a threat to Japanese territory, per se.

But it flew over Japan and what to do about that because the North Koreans will simply continue to engage in these provocations. A lot of language, the Japanese leader, Shinzo Abe calling this very grave and serious. The South Koreans engaging in a show of force, practicing their bombing runs, but it comes back to the fundamental question, what would change Kim Jong-un's mind? What would lead him to change his behavior?

And so far all the threats, rhetoric and possibilities of military action simply don't appear to be changing his mind -- Pamela.

BROWN: Yes. Clearly, the recently passed U.N. Security Resolution did not change his mind and the missile test continue. Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

I want to bring in former State Department spokesman and former Pentagon press secretary, and CNN analyst, John Kirby. He is also a retired rear admiral in the Navy.

First, I want to ask you, it seems like we hear this time and time again that all options are on the table after North Korea tests a missile. At what point do those words seem hollow or do they already seem hollow to North Korea? Barbara Starr is saying it's rhetoric more than reality.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Yes. When we say all options are on the table, we think military options. That's what we all sort of gravitate to. Clearly, Barbara rightly points out, threats and bluster, those kinds of things aren't changing the calculus of Kim Jong-un.

When I hear all options on the table, what I hope that means and the administration means is that diplomacy is still an option. That there are ways to work through this in a diplomatic, peaceful way to deal with the crisis.

I mean, look, you have to remember, Kim Jong-un thinks that the United States is an existential threat to him and his regime. That is why he pursues this program. As long as we continue to give him reason for that, he's going to continue to pursue and perfect his program.

Now I'm not saying that we stop military exercises or reduce our presence on the ground there in the Peninsula, but I think we need to look for opportunities to try to get back to the table. That's hard.

Right now, there's no incentive for Kim Jong-un to go back to the table. But I think we have to work harder on that because clearly, the sanctions and military rhetoric is not working.

BOLDUAN: Right. Do you think diplomacy might be key here, might be helpful? The president of the Council on Foreign Relations tweeted this today. He said, let's see here, "Deterrence rest on assumption rationality in case missile launch over Japan raises new questions here, increasing odds of U.S. preventative strike."

Do you agree that the chances of a preventative strike now by the U.S. have increased?

KIRBY: I don't think it has to increase, Pamela, I really don't. I hope that's not where the administration is leaning. I don't disagree with him when he talks rationality and deterrence working.

I think that's one of the reasons why we haven't seen the kind of positive outcomes we tried to seek through the various deterrence capabilities that we put to the peninsula and the regime.

[11:25:12] I mean, again, they view us as an existential threat. For Kim Jong-un, this is about the United States. For us, it's about the international community increasing pressure on him. But for him, it's about us.

Therefore, we have to take the lead in trying to find a diplomatic solution. I do not think this launch alone increases the likelihood of a preventative strike. I certainly hope that that's not the way the administration is leaning.

Again, I think this should increase the sense of urgency, no question. I think it should increase the sense of urgency to try to get them to the table and try to find a way to negotiate this capability down.

BROWN: As you'll probably recall, last week, Rex Tillerson, secretary of state said that the U.N. Security Council sanctions were working and he commended North Korea for exercising restraint. Here is what the president also said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And you see what's going on in North Korea. All of a sudden, I don't know, who knows, but I can tell you what I said that's not strong enough. Some people said it was too strong. It's not strong enough. But, Kim Jong-un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. I respect that fact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: What do you think? Does this latest test signal to you that the administration misjudged him?

KIRBY: Yes. It's a middle finger to the charm offensive that they were on there in terms of trying to woo Kim Jong-un and pat him on the head and say good boy when you haven't reacted too sharply to anything in the past.

Look, this isn't just about messaging, Pamela. This is about capability. Every time he fires off a missile, whether it's a ballistic missile or not, he learns. He perfects. He improves his program.

This program to him is the ultimate insurance policy. That's really what he is doing. Now I agree, flying over Japan like that, that clearly was a very clear, not veiled message to Japan and our allies and partners in the region that they pose a very serious threat and the Japanese should take this very seriously. It was, also, again, the advancement of a program that puts the region in danger.

BOLDUAN: All right, John Kirby, thank you very much. KIRBY: My pleasure.

BROWN: And back to our top story now, she cried out for help, trapped in her own home as the waters rose. Coming up, I'll reconnect with the Hurricane Harvey survivor.

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