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Harvey Maintains Strength, Set to make Landfall again; "Cajun Navy" about to Start another Rescue Mission. Trump on North Korea: "All Options are on the Table"; Soon: Houston Mayor Updates on Harvey Devastation. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 10:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, John Berman here.

A new day of rain over Houston, a city already pushed beyond the limit, Harvey due to make landfall again over the next 24 hours. The once nearly unbelievable predictions of 50 inches of rain are now a reality in some places. Look at these pictures from that city in that area just inundated. We will hear from the Houston mayor in just minutes to get the latest update on the situation.

Houston area reservoirs are at the brink right now of overflowing. 9,000 people are now inside the Houston convention center. Statewide, Red Cross put the shelter population at 17,000 and says no one will be turned away.

I spoke to the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott a short time ago. I asked him his best guess of how many people are still waiting to be rescued.


GOV. GREGG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: My estimate would be over 1,000. And that's why we just simply need more people in these boats, in these vehicles going door-to-door. This is a door-by-door process.


BERMAN: The president and first lady now on the way to Texas. Our live coverage begins with Scott McLean in Houston. Scott?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, the rain is still coming down here right now in Houston. We are in the northeast part of town under a highway overpass. And that's because this is sort of a staging area for a lot of the emergency crews and simply the volunteers who brought their own boats to help out however they can with these flooding. You can see here those ready TVs there. Those belong to the Coast Guard. They have just unloaded some of their boats. They are going to be headed out.

And if I can just get my photographer, John, to pan out to show you what exactly we are dealing with. You can see just how heavy those bands of rain are that are coming down. And there's a lot of people are headed out into this because if you can see just on the horizon there, there are homes back there, a whole heck of a lot of them and a lot of people still in them.

Yesterday, it was a constant effort to bring people out of those homes to here. But there are still a lot of people who either has refused to leave or they just haven't been able to. And so, we have just been told by the Coast Guard that there's actually -- if you go back far enough, there's actually a motor home parked back there that hasn't been gotten to at all. So, it's unclear how many people might be stuck in those RVs back there.

We also know -- I spoke to a gentleman who - a friend of his, he's stuck back there with water in his house and a family of four inside. He's trying to make sure that they get out. He's trying to track down whatever boat he can in order to take him out. He had $100 in his pocket. He left about an hour or more ago to try to get that family out. But there are some pretty tough areas to get to.

And then you see this truck here. This is just a private boat, a private truck that's just here on their own. I just spoke to a couple of gentlemen from Mississippi. They drove. They got in yesterday night. They worked all night until 4:00 a.m. in the morning, until they stopped picking people up. Got a couple hours to shut eye and they are about to put their boat back in the water as well.

And I just want to introduce you to James Rios here.

JAMES RIOS, HOUSTON RESIDENT: You are one of the folks who've shown up here to try to get your friends out. In this case, it's members of your church congregation. Can you tell me about them and where they are stuck?

Well, according to -- the information we're having back and forth there about a mile in, on a road called Tikin (ph). We've been in constant communication with them. I mean, you know, through the night. But, you know, with the night, we are not able to come in. I mean it was just too dark. You don't know where you are going to walk through. I mean, you really don't know how high the water is back there. I mean, from some information we have been getting, some houses are eight, nine foot, ten foot high water already in there.

MCLEAN: And in this case, this is a family, right? There are a lot of people inside that house?

RIOS: Eight adults and five children. So we have been communicating with them and this morning, we are going to find out exactly where they were. And they sent us, you know, an address. So now we came here this morning hoping to see we could get through. But obviously, we couldn't. A good person helped us out with a boat. So he was able to go in and try to look for them.

MCLEAN: So you managed to track down a boat to go out there. You gave him the address to try to get there.

RIOS: One of our members from my congregation went along with them because they know who they are. So once they find them, they would be able to you know bring them out.

[10:05:05] MCLEAN: Why have they not been able to get out so far? Just it's too difficult? How much water is in the house?

RIOS: According to what the provision they've given is - on some areas, it's about waist high. Some areas are just about higher. I mean, like I told you, last night, they went in for some other members. The water rose so fast. In some areas, it's ten foot high. They brought them out on a raft and the guys were swimming out, bringing them out. So even people that are not from our congregation, you know, they were bringing then out as well.

MCLEAN: And your church is getting quite a few calls of people looking for help as well, is that right?

RIOS: Through the night - I mean, yesterday, through the day and the night, I mean, they were getting quite a few calls, you know, for trying to get help to bring them out. But, like at our church, we have been accepting, you know, anybody who wants to stay there. I mean, they are you know, invited. I mean, our doors are open for anybody who wants to accompany us there. I mean, we got food. We have water. We are, you know, we need to help anybody out that is in need at this moment.

MCLEAN: Well, you guys are really doing God's work. Hopefully, obviously, this family of your congregation is able to get out soon. Thanks, James.

And so, John, you can see, you know there are a lot of people just like James who have shown up. They know someone who is stuck out there. They are trying to track down a boat just like this one, to try to convince them to go out there. The trouble is, though, that a lot of these places are pretty inaccessible.

We just heard about one where there is a drainage canal right in front of that home that's creating a strong current which is hard to get to. And so, there are plenty of challenges here. But right now, at this moment, it is really a hive of activity trying to get people out of those floodwaters.

BERMAN: It's so interesting. Nighttime brings so many threats, daytime brings reality. And that can be so challenging. Scott McLean for us in Houston.

And again, remember, the governor of Texas told me, he thinks that more than 1,000 people still need to be rescued. Some 17,000 people are now inside shelters in Texas, including 9,000 in the Houston convention center. Let's go to CNN's Rosa Flores who is there. Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I want to introduce you to Karen Preston. She was rescued by Jet Ski from the northeast part of the city. And Karen, you were telling me about the emotional toll that you have gone through, through this rescue, and now being here at the convention center.

KAREN PRESTON, RESCUED BY JET SKI: Yes, ma'am. I never experienced anything like this. It was very devastating. My 17-year-old son, we never experienced anything. He just didn't know what to do. And all he could think of is the water is rising. It is still raining. It's not going to stop anytime soon. Mom, I got to get you out of here. So -

FLORES: And you said that he went on a kayak to higher ground to get help to get you out?

PRESTON: Yes. Yes he did. He was very brave. He went out on kayak through those rising waters and he went got help and jet skis came.

FLORES: Tell me about that. How did you get to the convention center? It started with a jet ski, and then what happened?

PRESTON: The jet skis came and got us, and then as far as they could take us, then we had to go walk through some a little bit more water to get to the boats. And once we got to the boat, a school bus came and picked us up and got us to the beltway over there off Sam Houston beltway. And from there, we waited and for a -- I'm sorry. I'm just so -

FLORES: You were telling me that you are in pain, you are stressed, you feel overwhelmed and you just had knee surgery as well. So you are in a wheelchair. This is a very overwhelming moment for you.

PRESTON: Yes, it is. I just thank God that I'm here, though, me and my babies and family got out safely. And we are here at George R. Brown. We went to a Walmart on a school bus and from the school bus we went to metro and metro got us here. And we are together. My biggest thing was not to separate. Not to separate. So, I was holding my son's hand the whole time, probably squeezing it more, less.

FLORES: You were telling me that one of the things that break your heart is to see the children that you saw also evacuating and your fear that these children were going through the same thing that you are going through.

PRESTON: Yes. Yes, ma'am. It was just devastating to see the little kids. I mean, we are talking newborns, two, three, 5-year-olds, their parents toting them, their mothers carrying them. Let's not forget the elderly.

[10:10:01] I mean, I've seen one that couldn't even walk. They had to remove her out of her house and get her on the bus in wheelchairs and it was just like that overwhelming just to see everything. I haven't slept all night. I just been watching and looking around and seeing all my surroundings and seeing all the little kids and they innocent, they don't know what's going on. They just think it's a -- I guess adventure or vacation away from home. But they don't know what's going on. And to see their parents are even me, my 17-year-old seeing me crying, told me, Mama, don't cry, it's going to be all right.

FLORES: Karen, thank you so much for sharing your story. We really appreciate it and we really wish you the best of luck. John, back to you.

BERMAN: Rosa, please let Karen know that everyone is with her and that she is a hero here as well, keeping her family together throughout this incredible ordeal. And it's a reminder that whatever damage is done to property, this is something that people do not forget easily and have to live with for years and years. Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

I want to go Chad Myers right now in the Weather Center to get a sense of what is in store in the coming hour and days. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, the center of the tropical storm is right about there. It moved onshore on Friday, stopped almost to San Antonio, turned around and came back offshore yesterday. Now it's about to turn by tomorrow morning and come up somewhere around Lake Charles, Louisiana and hopefully, get out of here. I mean, just keep moving already about two or three miles per hour, the entire time, finally getting a little bit of relief right now with that movement.

We'll have rain all the way over to Mobile, Pensacola with the storms today but still, look at the focus on Houston. I know it's close to the center, I get that. But the rain just will not stop. It just keeps developing, one storm after another. And then, from Galveston almost up to about Dayton, seeing 4-6 inches more rain.

Lake Conroe, Lake Houston, the reservoirs off to the West of Houston, still right at capacity full and in some spots, they are overflowing. So, let's get to that right now. Let's get to the map here of Houston. I will draw it for you.

Houston Proper, right downtown, kind of go the wrong way and show you the Buffalo Bayou right through here. And then we have been talking about these reservoirs. There is an earthen dam right there, there, and there. These are all houses. They are all flooded.

Here is earthen dam. This is abbot, Addicks. This is Barker. This is the area that is holding back a tremendous amount of water. These were built like 60 years ago, when Houston had 250,000 people. Now, Houston is over a couple million still holding back all of this water. But in the years that they were built, 60-70 years, they have never, ever been this full.

Now, Addicks up here, is beginning to overflow. Now they have been letting water out, trying to let a little bit of relief water out here and here from Addicks and Barker. That helped, but it didn't help enough. For Addicks up here now is overflowing what is an emergency spillway. Now it's not in trouble, it's just an emergency spillway.

This is what the earthen dam looks like on the southeast side of Barker and this is what it looks like on the northeast side of x. So by the time you take it all the way up here to the top of Addicks, you are at 108 feet above sea level. That's where the water is right now. 108.25. So, water is going out and around in places that it has never, ever moved before.

Back out here to the west, all of these houses are completely flooded. It was the plan to let the water out of this to get it into the Buffalo Bayou to release the pressure here, but now it's too late, can't let the water out. It's an uncontrolled spillway release now. If you are along the Buffalo Bayou, watch for rising waters.

BERMAN: Yes, the Governor Greg Abbott told me about 30 minutes ago that he just received an update on those reservoirs. They think they are in control right now but, Chad, obviously an area of great concern. Chad Myers, thank you.

MYERS: That's changed in the past hour.

BERMAN: Well, that is not good news. That is a source of major concern for that area. Chad Myers, thank you.

All right, so many people on the ground now, helping out. One group of volunteers is from Louisiana. They call themselves the Cajun Navy. They have been out for days doing boat rescues.

Joining me right now is Flint Theriot, who volunteers with these group and is about to go out on that water again. Flint, thank you so much for being with us. Give us a sense of what you have seen over the last few days.

[10:15:00] FLINT THERIOT, CAJUN NAVY (via telephone): We got to Dickinson area a couple of days ago, a few days ago. We made some rescues in that area. We were worried about dumping the reservoir so we would go back and came north to EOC. Then we started hitting Beltway 8 at Tidwell. And there's still hundreds and hundreds of people in that area that need help. We are getting fuel, restocking supplies and getting ready to head out right now.

BERMAN: You think there are still hundreds and hundreds of people in one area who need help. Do you feel that everyone is being reached?

THERIOT: Probably not. There's -- we just scratched the surface on that area last night. We went to one house -- the last house we got had 13 people in it, eight adults, bunch of kids. One of the kids was three days old. The mom had a C-section and stuff. I mean, that's just one house in that cul-de-sac. I had to tell everybody else, that was at midnight. I have to tell everybody else that we had to pull out. We hadn't slept in three days. The water was raining so hard, spilling out boats out. We couldn't bail them out fast enough. It was rough, you know?

BERMAN: It is a big risk you are taking to do this. What's been the response of people when you show up, I want to say to their doors, but chances are, maybe to their roofs right now to get them out.

THERIOT: Most everybody is happy. A lot of them are real happy to see us, real desperate. People were trying to grab on our boats last night to get out. They started getting real desperate. There were some people in Dickerson trying to get out that just didn't want to go nowhere. A lot of people think the water isn't rising no more. We tell them it's coming up, but they are not listening.

BERMAN: Flint Theriot, this is not your job. So what drives you to do this?

THERIOT: Man, we lost our house in hurricane Rita and hurricane Ike. I have a little girl and a wife. We are from Lake Charles and it's flooding right now. I mean, I got them out before I came over here but you never know some of my family may need it over there.

BERMAN: All right. Flint Theriot, you know, paying it forward, spreading goodness. We wish you the best of luck. I know you are headed back out on the water right now to save more lives. Flint Theriot thanks so much.

THERIOT: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. More than 17,000 people are in shelters across Texas right now due to Harvey. At least 3,400 people have been rescued in Houston alone. We are waiting to hear from the Houston mayor looking at live pictures on the left side of the screen. We'll get an update in just minutes including the status of those reservoirs that Chad Myers is so concerned about.

Plus, North Korea launches a new missile over Japan. President Trump says all options are on the table. What does that mean?


[10:22:09] BERMAN: All right. You are looking at live pictures from Houston right now. Just look at that. People wading through what once were streets, heading into the water to, no doubt, begin the process this morning of rescuing as many people as they can. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott told me moments ago, he thinks there are still more than 1,000 people in and around Houston that need to be rescued. We'll get that shot for you again in just a moment.

We are waiting to hear from the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, to get an update on the situation on the ground, including the two reservoirs, Addicks and Barker. That there is serious new concern about we just heard from Chad Myers, one of those reservoirs is beginning to overflow within the last hour. So we want to get a status on that.

In the meantime, I'm joined by Christine Clauder. She is inside a subdivision right now blocked by floodwaters. Christine, thank you so much for being with us. Give us a sense of what's going on around you.

CHRISTINE CLAUDER, HOUSTON RESIDENT (via telephone): I'm in my house right now. And luckily for me, my neighbors and I were blessed and my street is not personally flooding, but the intersection into my neighborhood, they are blocked by rising floodwaters. I can actually hear the airboat rescuing the people from just outside our subdivision from inside my house.

BERMAN: Are you concerned that over the next 24 hours, because the pictures we are looking at from outside, all we see is rain. Are you concerned that the situation will change?

CLAUDER: Absolutely, absolutely. It was a very, you know, dire situation. So, it's kind of a scary, scary thing to be in the middle of.

BERMAN: Do you have a plan?

CLAUDER: The plan right now is to stay put. I know that based on the road conditions that I'm seeing, it's far more -- it's safer to stay in my house right now than it is to try to evacuate or self-evacuate.

BERMAN: You know, now we know going back to last Thursday and Friday, the forecast was for feet of rain, you know, three feet or more in some places. The fact that those worse fears have now been realized, did you ever expect it would be this bad?

CLAUDER: I didn't expect it to be as, quite as bad. I knew that the flood or I was expecting it to flood somewhat, but not to this extent. I don't think that anybody in Houston really expected as bad as it is.

BERMAN: All right, Christine Clauder inside Houston right now. Luckily, with your house not flooded yet, but watching very, very carefully, please stay safe and keep your neighbors safe as well. Christine, thank you.

[10:25:04] CLAUDER: Absolutely. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. North Korea with a new missile launch, this time, over Japan. The Japanese Prime Minister and President Trump strongly condemning the action, the president promises all options are on the table. Are they?


BERMAN: New this morning, all options are on the table. That from President Trump following North Korea's new missile launch. This one traveled over the northern part of Japan. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch as a, quote, "most serious and grave threat."

And just moments ago, a new strong message from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who said something serious needs to happen with regard to North Korea.