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North Korea Launches Missile over Japan; Flood Waters Rise in Richmond; Harvey Compared to Katrina; Katrina Survivor Rescued from Harvey Flooding. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just to give you a sense of the mood of what it's like to be in the city, listen for a moment. And imagine that playing every hour of every day all around the city.

Back to the topic at hand, though.

North Korea, by launching this missile over Japan, and not towards Guam, they were able to accomplish a number of things. They can demonstrate their technical capability, that they can put a missile over a population center and put it down safely in the ocean. But by not pointing he missile south, they avoided perhaps crossing that red line that President Trump laid out.

Also noteworthy that North Korea launched a missile from their airport, from near their commercial airport here in Pyongyang, just about 20 miles from where I'm standing. It's very likely that people in some parts of the city could hear the missile launch. Normally North Korea chooses more remote locations. They might be sending a message to the U.S., John, by doing it from their airport, that they can use their mobile missile launchers, puts them in areas where there are a lot of people around and therefore pretty much eliminate a U.S. option of a preemptive strike on these areas because the humanitarian consequences would be so severe.

BERMAN: Yes, the civilian casualties would be enormous if you tried to take it out if it was near the airport or the city.

General Hertling, of course the president says that all options are on the table. His own chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who left the White House a week ago, essentially said that's not the case. He said there's no military solution, forget it, until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons. I don't know what you're talking about. There's no military solution here.

This gets to that moment. Steve Bannon, did his words undermine the president's threats, general?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think they did, John. And, primarily, what you have to understand is, there's always a military option on the table. Unfortunately in this case, it would consist of potentially a theater war with a lot of casualties. You know, you can't take the military option off the table, but there

are some things, other than what Mr. Bannon might know about since he didn't have a security clearance at the end, all kinds of other techniques, asymmetric means, that you can use to try and affect this.

But the problem is, I keep going back to the point, any military option would include a major theater war which would certainly affect the strategy in other places of the United States and cause us to take a look at what else we're doing in other places around the world, because it would take a lot of requirements for leadership to get the American people to support it and a lot of requirements to put alliances together to fight a war like this.

BERMAN: And, Will Ripley, this missile launch not just any launch. Overflying Japan is something's that hadn't happened, you know, in well over a decade. It had to be alarming for them. You know well over a million people that lived in Japan's northern island.

RIPLEY: Absolutely. They woke up this morning to the sound of air raid sirens and very frightening messages on their phones telling them to seek cover in sturdy buildings because North Korean missiles were approaching. The last time North Korea launched a projectile over Japan was 2009, and that was a failed satellite launch. It was actually a rocket, not a ballistic missile. Prior to that it was 1998 when North Korea launched a satellite and it flew over Okinawa, which is home, of course, to major -- the majority of U.S. military assets that are stationed in Japan, along with Yokosuka (ph) in Tokyo -- in the Tokyo area.

And so, obviously, North Korea, by conducting this test in this way, they succeed in frightening a key U.S. ally, but they didn't push the United States far enough to determine that they needed to shoot this missile down and Japan didn't shoot the missile down either, even though it did fly over that northern region.

BERMAN: That's right, over Japan is one thing, not toward Guam, another.

Will Ripley inside North Korea, thank you so much.

General Hertling, great to have you with us as well.

All right, this just in. We're getting a new count of the number of people in shelters in and around Houston. Seventeen thousand people now seeking shelter inside Texas. You're looking at a live shot of Houston's convention center.

We're on top of all the fast-moving developments. Stay with us.


[09:38:35] BERMAN: All right, these pictures from moments ago from Houston. You can see people headed out onto the water to begin the process this morning of trying to rescue more people from their homes as more rain falls in the Houston area. They could get four to six more inches of rain today. Isolated areas could see even worse. You can see that truck submerged there past the wheels to give you a sense of just how deep the water is.

We did just get news that 17,000 people in Texas are now inside shelters to get away from the flooding you are seeing.

We want to go to CNN's Polo Sandoval in Sugarland, Texas, where a lot of people have cleared out of their homes.

Polo, what are you seeing?


Actually just a few minutes ago we've relocated over to Richmond, Texas, which is not far from Sugarland.

We told you about the Brazos River that was on the rise yesterday. This is the river now. It is slowly making its way into the neighborhoods here in Richmond. A very short drive from Houston, Texas.

It is expected to reach record levels on Thursday. Yesterday we told you that it was expected this week -- or rather today. However, it seems that that rise is a little slower.

There are many people that chose to evacuate. There are some, though, that are staying behind, including Juan Padalis (ph), who's joining me out here.

Mr. Padalis, you have stuck around for now, but seems like you're going to be packing your bags pretty soon because you don't live far from here.

JUAN PADALIS (ph): I live approximately not even about five blocks, but I think that it's time for us to leave. No one wants to leave their home, but it's about safety. It's about family.

[09:40:05] I know that last night I came over here to take pictures and there was no water back here. So it's really time to pack up and leave. Nobody wants to leave their home, but it's a wise decision.

SANDOVAL: It's getting worse. You seem to live right on the flood line. So you've held out as long as you can. But it looks like you don't want to take any more chances. What's going through your mind as you see the water slowly creeping up to your home?

PADALIS: I'm -- I have fear for my family. It's important that I take care of my family. So even though we're the borderline of a mandatory evacuation, we're deciding to pack up and leave.

So it's time to go. It's time to go.

SANDOVAL: Mr. Padalis, thank you for your time. We'll let you go. I know you've got some stuff to pack.

PADALIS: Thank you.

SANDOVAL: And he's just one of several people who is getting ready right now. The concern here, John, is that this water is going to go up significantly. Currently it already is closing in on that record that was set in May when it reached 54 feet. The current forecast is predicting this (INAUDIBLE) to go up to 59 feet.

We heard from the local county judge here who told me the real concern is that the levies could potentially get -- be, in his own words, overpowered by this water. So that is why these mandatory evacuations that are in place just outside of Houston along the Brazos River are in place. There's not that much rain anymore. Threat really could just be -- just be getting started here.

BERMAN: We know the flood threat could continue until Thursday when that water will peak. That gives you a sense of how long those people will be in danger.


BERMAN: And, again, that was dry yesterday.

Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

I'm joined now by the former FEMA director, Michael Brown. He says he believes the damage caused by Harvey will be worse than Katrina.

Director, thank you so much for being with us. I do appreciate it.

Let me first ask you to assess the situation as you are seeing it. We're just seeing these days upon days upon days of rain in Houston. What would be your biggest area of concern right now?

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, one, I'm not surprised by the -- the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service also said that, you know, this rain was going to be, you know, catastrophic, 35 inches to 50 inches. And to your point about that last gentlemen that your reporter interviewed, what I don't think people truly comprehend about water is that the storm surge, as it begins to move, it moves slowly, but the amount of water that moves is incredibly significant. So what that gentlemen's going to see on the Brazos River is, it may be kind of low right now and seem to be slow moving, but the increase of that water will just exponentially increase rapidly over time. He's making the right decision.

So I've got to tell you, listening to an American citizen say, look, I know where I live. I know what the dangers are. And I'm getting out now. I wish everybody could have heard that interview, because that's what we need more of.

BERMAN: People need to watch very carefully what's happening around them.

Obviously you were involved with the Katrina response, which this has been compared to. Every disaster I think for a long time to come will be compared to Katrina, sir.

BROWN: Right. BERMAN: You have written an op-ed with advice to the president. Obviously the Bush administration, you came under criticism. What is your advice to President Trump about how they should handle things differently?

BROWN: Well, my first an main concern was, in this administration we have a lot of vacancies. If you look through -- "The Washington Post" keeps a tracker. And if you look through, you will see that there are a lot of deputy secretaries and undersecretaries and assistant secretaries that have not even been nominated yet. So my concern was that as the FEMA director reaches out to all the people in the cabinet, because he needs their assets and resources, I want to make sure there's somebody there to pick up the phone that understands from a political point of view that he needs these assets now, without question, get them there as quickly as possible.

I've witnessed and I've also heard from people inside the administration that that is exactly what they're doing. They're aware they have a lack of nominees in various places. So they're doing that.

And I think that's a good sign, not just for America, but it's a really good sign for the people that are in this disaster area, in Texas and Louisiana. That means that when Brock Long, the FEMA administrator, says that, look, I've heard from the governor, I've heard from Governor Abbott that he needs x, whatever x might be, that he's going to be able to marshal those resources and get them into Texas so they can help continue to save lives.

Which I -- frankly, John, is the point that I think we ought to consider. FEMA is still in response mode. You know, in a disaster you have preparedness, response, recovery and the mitigating against the first one. We're still in the response phase. We're still trying to make certain that we do everything to save lives and rescue people. That just shows the magnitude of this storm.

[09:45:05] BERMAN: And you have expressed concern that Harvey could end up being even more expensive than Katrina. That's not what we're hearing from your experts right now, but what do you think?

BROWN: Well, I think that's because right now everyone's thinking of today. And I'm looking at tomorrow and the next day and longer. And what we're -- what we don't realize -- and I think, frankly, the media and the public have a difficult time understanding this -- is that as these flood waters move into let's say the kind of structure that FEMA will help rebuild, a school or a public hospital or a bridge or a highway. As those waters condition to sit there, and rise and fall, the damage that's already existing will get even worse.

So I think that once -- you know, let's say two weeks from now, when all of the waters have gone, and all of the damage assessments are being done, I think FEMA's going to realize at that point that they have one major catastrophe on their hands that's going to cost the taxpayers a lot more than they think they -- they think it's going to cost today.

BERMAN: The president on his way to Texas right now. He'll be there with Brock Long, obviously whom you know, whom you worked with, by the way, years ago when you were at FEMA as well.

BROWN: Right.

BERMAN: Again, when the president gets there and with Brock Long there, what should they do differently? What should they have learned from what happened with Katrina?

BROWN: Well, I think, number one, from what I understand, of course I know the president's schedule and the events and he can change anything at any moment. But the good -- the good news is they're staying out of the Harris County Houston area, which with -- because of the bubble -- look, that bubble inside the presidential travel is huge. So as long as they stay away from the rescue efforts that are taking place, that's a good sign.

But once they hit the ground, the president just needs to make sure he reassures not just Americans but primarily the victims that he has, with his FEMA director next to him, he has told his cabinet that we are all hands on deck and we are doing everything possible.

Now, at the same time, I think he has to keep expectations reasonable because I think we've gotten to a point in this country where a lot of people believe that FEMA will come in -- and, look, they're rescuing people, they're doing what they should do. But I think a lot of people think that once FEMA comes in, that they're going to make that individual whole.

BERMAN: Right.

BROWN: And they don't do that. They just provide temporary assistance, temporary living expenses.

BERMAN: There is a --

BROWN: They don't rebuild houses and things. So I think just keeping expectations realistic.

BERMAN: There is a long process ahead.

BROWN: Yes, very long.

BERMAN: Michael Brown, thank you so much for being with us. I do appreciate it.

BROWN: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: We do want to show you some live pictures again -- are from -- pictures from Houston moments ago. You can see the helicopters now out in force.

You know, General Honore -- former General Honore told us he thinks there should be many more helicopters at play right now in the Houston area. But they do have a lot out right now engaged in the rescue effort. There is so much need.

As more rain falls, several more inches due to fall in Houston just today.

Stay with us.


[09:52:29] BERMAN: All right, we're just getting our first look at these new pictures in from Galveston. This was sent by our reporter Ed Lavandera and his team out there -- I want to say out on the streets, but these really aren't streets anymore. These are inland waterways in the city of Galveston, as more rain falls today.

And, of course, Harvey will make landfall again tomorrow. Incredibly trying times for the Texas coast.

A Houston mother was stuck for hours watching the floodwaters rise after losing everything in her apartment. Listen to this.


IASHIA NELSON, SURVIVOR OF HURRICANE HARVEY AND KATRINA: I'm so depressed. I don't know what to do. I'm praying that they get us, because if they don't get us soon, they're not going to get us at all. God, please, help us. Oh, my God.


BERMAN: She has now been rescued. But this was not the first time this happened to Iashia Nelson. She came to Houston after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina. And she joins us now live from the Houston Convention Center.

Iashia, first of all, how are you doing right now?

IASHIA NELSON, SURVIVOR OF HURRICANE HARVEY AND KATRINA: I'm just trying to make it. I'm tired. I just want to get some rest.

BERMAN: I don't blame you after everything you've been through. You were not alone. You were with a group of people. How were you ultimately rescued?

NELSON: With the rescue, it was -- I couldn't -- I can't hear what you're saying. Say that again.

BERMAN: How was it that you were rescued ultimately? You were with a group of people.

NELSON: It took us about -- I want to say it took about 15 hours to get out of there from all that water. It was 30 people. It was like six families. And my sister stayed across the street from the family that we were -- in a house we were actually in. It was one of my son's friend's momma. And she told us we can go there and stay there for a little while. I mean -- and with the storm coming because they had never been through nothing like that before and I had already told them, I said, if that water starts getting high, we're going to have to go to the second level and fill that tub up with water so if those lights go out we can use the bathroom and stuff. And so once the water started rising, the neighbors started coming

over there by us because they knew we were upstairs and saying, can we come up there because a lady was like, she didn't want to die. And I was like, come on, we all going to try to get out of here together.

And they had a small window pane. And in that window pane it was so small in there like big built -- big old people and I was like, um, if we're going to get out of here, I've got to break the window pane. So I took some pliers and a hammer. I busted the windows out. And I took the window pane out of the frame and I put a chair outside the window and inside the window so that people could step up and get out.

[09:55:11] I let the children out first, and then the adults went out, and we were on the roof. It was raining so hard. We didn't care, we just wanted to live. To see the apartment across from us just collapsed. I was just -- I got so scared. I didn't know what to do. And then to see those people drowning before my eyes. And one of the girls I actually knew that drown. And she leaves behind two babies. It's no fair. I'm so -- I think I'm going to need counseling after this.

BERMAN: How are you doing after having been through this not just over the last few days, but 12 years ago in New Orleans?

NELSON: Just -- it just -- it brought back all memories. And, like I said, I'm going to have to get some counseling or something because even as I lay down to take and try to go to sleep, it's still on my mind. And then my baby, he's sleeping. He wake up out of his sleep jumping because when we was in the upstairs trying to get rescued, I would hurry up and grab him to wake up thinking we were going to get rescued, breaking his sleep and stuff like that. So now he be like jumpy a little bit. But I don't even know how my boys are going to act after this because I don't know if it took a toll on them, too.

BERMAN: Iashia Nelson, we are so glad that you are safe right now. The people who were with you were lucky that you had that experience. As awful as it was, you no doubt saved a lot of lives there in Houston. And we are sure -- we hope you get the help you need soon.

Iashia Nelson, in Houston, thanks so much for being with us.


BERMAN: All right, just minutes from now, we'll get an update from the mayor of Houston about the situation in that city. The Texas governor told me moments ago he still thinks that 1,000 people, maybe more, are waiting to be rescued.

Stay with us.