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Levee Breached South Of Houston: Residents Told To Get Out; Harvey Maintains Strength, Set To Make Landfall Again; 30K Troops On Standby For Flood Assistance; Trump Visiting Texas As Floodwaters Keep Rising. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 14:00   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- coverage of the aftermath, the hurricane -- Drew Griffin, thank you very much. So, that's it for me. Our coverage of the aftermath of hurricane Harvey continues with all of our brave teams on the ground. Stay with us.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jim, thank you. We'll take it from here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me. You're watching CNN's special live coverage of the catastrophic aftermath that is hurricane Harvey, and the new threat facing the flood-ravaged State of Texas.

Get out now. That is the stark warning to folks who live just south of Houston as the river levees breached some short time ago. As Harvey is now circling back over land, officials say river water is pounding down these tributaries and creeks and they are, quoter, at the end of the line. Dire predictions of up to 50 inches of rain quickly becoming a reality, last rainfall estimates staggering 49 inches of water in some areas. That is more rain than Houston sees in an entire year.

President Trump and the first lady have arrived in Corpus Christi, close to the area where Harvey made landfall. The president is receiving a briefing now on Harvey relief efforts.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATED: I can tell you that my promised is telling me how great your representatives have been in working together. It's a real team. And we want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years, in ten years from now as this is the way to do it. This was of epic proportion. Nobody's ever seen anything like this.

And I just want to say that working with the governor and his entire team has been an honor for us. So, governor, again, thank you very much, and we won't say congratulations. We don't want to hear that. We don't want to congratulate. We'll congratulate each other when it's all finished.


BADLWIN: The good news, more than 3000 people have been rescued, including this woman and her 3-week-old baby, but the bad news is that so many people are still stranded. This Houston family here, anxiously awaiting their turn in the garage of their deluged home. Police admitting, it is just impossible to know how many are out there like this.

Adding to the crisis, at least one reservoir is expected to overflow at any time now. The Houston Convention Center bursting at the seams as well, look at these pictures. All these people needing just shelter, 9000 people there. The Red Cross promises no one will be turned away. And we are just now getting worried that the Department of Defense has put 30,000 troops on standby just to assist in flood operations.

So, let's begin the hour with Nick Valencia who is there live in Corpus Christi where we just saw the president. There you are standing in front of Air Force One. I understand the president is not scheduled to tour the hardest-hit areas, I presume, not to take resources away from folks who really need them.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They didn't want to be a distraction, essentially. Today, the White House says it's all about laying the foundation for this long road ahead to recovery. He's joined by the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security as well as Health and Human Services Secretary, and Ben Carson from HUD. SPA Administrator Linda McMann, all those agencies are hoping to be in locked step with the president of the United States.

He is getting a briefing. You mentioned, got a briefing a while ago at a fire house in Corpus Christi. It is with noting Brooke. I have been speaking a lot this morning to residents from Rockport and hard- hit Fulton. It took direct hit on Friday night from hurricane Harvey.

And I was asking them what they wanted to hear from the president and what they thought about the president's visit. Every single member of the community that I spoke to was excited that the president was coming. They believed it was perfect timing. They don't think he's a distraction being here. They did say though, however, they don't want to be forgotten about. This is not a community of 10 million, I should say.

It's a community of 10,000 and they know that the pictures in Houston are heartbreaking. They know that they don't have the flooding that Houston has, but they also say they have dramatic wind damage and we've seen that firsthand ourselves. They're a small place, a small town, a tight knit community, a community that say, they hope they are not forgotten or overlooked by the president. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Nick Valencia, thank you so much in Corpus Christi. Let's go now to Houston where those rescues are ongoing. CNN's Brian Todd rode along with those first responders on some of those rescues earlier today. CNN choppers coming and go behind you Brian. What did you see?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we can tell you that rescue operations are moving at a furious pace by boat and from the air. You see this customs and border protection chopper landing right behind me. I think they're going to get some maintenance done right now. We were riding along with them as you mentioned earlier.

We just landed a short time ago. And I can tell you that they are running these missions rapid fire and really at significant risk to the pilots, the agents, and the choppers themselves.

[14:05:04] Talk about that in a second, but let's show you some of the aerial footage first. This is incredible to see from the air because it really gives you a scope of the devastation.

From the perspective that we got, above some of these worst flooded areas in Houston, you can see the flooding really goes on for as far as the eye can see. The flooding goes up to the roofs of some houses, entire streets, entire neighborhoods are under water. I mean, forget trying to travel over road on some of these streets. There are roads and highways closed as far as you can see. The aerial views really give you a perspective of the damage.

Now, we rescued, in three different missions, in about a course of an hour, Brooke, about 28 people. We landed in a flood-ravaged neighborhood. These customs agents got out, and they basically shuttled people, you know, from a -- sometimes in rafts on to the chopper and then ferried them to either a high school or a fairground nearby.

We also were riding in tandem with another black hawk helicopter when it lowered a basket on a hoist to take some people up. We were told that in that one operation, they rescued six people and a dog. So it's incredible, the pace at which these operations are going.

And one agent told me about just the treacherous conditions they're flying in. First of all -- I mean, behind me now, visibility is actually pretty good. It's subsided a little bit, the rain and the fog. But earlier today, when we were up in the air, the visibility was horrible. You couldn't see more than maybe a quarter mile in each direction. The pilot and co-pilot had to constantly communicate with each others and talk about what was to their left, what was to the right, what was just ahead. The driving rain is a factor also.

Texas is known for a lot of towers, radio and TV towers that have wires that extend from them at a 45 degree angle. So those present hazards to the pilots as well because they've got to fly low enough to stay under the cloud cover. When you're flying that low, you run the risk of running into a tower, Brooke.

So, again, they're doing these missions rapid fire. They've rescued hundreds of people. They're going to do it around the clock and it's being done at great risk to these agents and pilots.

BALDWIN: What about the agents and pilots? You know, when you talk about the rapid fire pace and Texas is so grateful for them and they need them, are they able to cycle in and out? Are they getting the rest they need?

TODD: You know, they're really not. What we're being told is they have about 25 agents manning. I think six or seven different choppers and they're working around the clock. I did ask about the exhaustion factor and he said, one of the agents told me, you know what, we really don't think about that until the end of the day. We just keep going and going and going. So, no, they're really not getting much rest at all, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Bless them. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Another major concern, two major reservoirs just west of Houston, the Addicks and the Barker dams were built to protect downtown Houston and keep water out of the Buffalo Bayou. The Army Corps of Engineers has already opened the gates for controlled releases, but it's not working. It's not working. And now they're dangerously close to overflowing uncontrollably.

Let's talk about that with Pedram Javaheri. How is that all supposed to work?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it is beginning to overflow now and go right over the top of this dam at its lowest point. That, of course, is a concern when you look at the broad perspective, everything in.

With tropical systems works, when it comes to it, it comes down to three elements. Initially, if that wind speed, the landfall location, everyone pinpoints on, then it'd becomes a widespread rain event. And then, when it's all tapering off, the flooding sticks around and that is exactly where we are at part three of the story.

But if you go in for a closer look, here is the Addicks dam right here and this reservoir in perspective that holds about 65 billion gallons of water. Now, if you look at the outer edge of it, there are communities in seven areas of neighborhoods there that make up some 3000 structures.

They are all beginning to take on water and as you go in towards this area, the area is indicated in the colors from about one feet to three feet under water in some of these neighborhoods as you look. And, of course, that stretches all the way to northern fringe where you have what is called pooling or the water reaching the top of this dam in particular.

In fact, the highest point across this dam sits right around 108 feet, or the lowest area I should say, 108 feet, the water at its highest point, 108.55 feet. So it's essentially about 6 inches over and the water is coming down in these communities. And it's essentially going to find its way down into the Buffalo Bayou and eventually make its way in through Houston. So that's the concern at this part of the story remains.

And if you look at it, there is Houston right here. It's say about 30 miles or so west of this region when you go in. There we are with the two dams. In fact, we'll go in for a closer look because these reservoirs, they are built back in the 1970s. There are sunburns. Essentially, they're a catchment.

So in the last 24 hours, officials had actually been doing a controlled release right there across this region of letting the water come out to allow some of the pressure to be eased off of this. Of course, when you're looking at dams that are this old, that is a tremendous amount of pressure to put 60 billion gallons of water within them.

But inside this, it is usually so dry, Brooke, that when you go down in here, there's a dog park. There's a walking trail. There's a baseball field. There's infrastructure down at the bottom of what is essentially a reservoir, designed in an emergency situation, worst case scenario, to take on water.

[14:10:05] Right now, this area you're looking out on Google earth is actually about 30 feet underwater, so we're talking about significant damage here. The top of it and back behind it is where those 3000 homes that are taking on water are located as well. So, this is the sort of story we now have to look at the next couple of days because just by nature of how water works, that volume of water wants to move somewhere else, wants to move downstream, down towards the Gulf of Mexico. It has Houston in the path of it.

So, when the sun comes out in a couple days, Brooke, we're still going to be talking about this and potentially getting worse in some areas with this water moving downstream.

BALDWIN: Also worse, Pedram, just following up on rainfall. And I got the note from the National Weather Service so far in part of this area, 49.02 inches and counting. How much more rainfall are we talking?

JAVAHERI: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, 49.2, by the way, is the highest we've ever observed across the continental United States. So we're getting into historic values from any storm we've ever seen. In fact, that's the highest.

Another location just south of there picked up the second highest we've ever seen. So that kind of gives you to shell (ph). But as far as what is in store here, I think at least another, let's say, two to three inches left. The vast majority of which Houston will see is now beginning to taper off.

We'll get additional showers and thunderstorms but I think the bulk of it around Galveston. Now, we have some of our reporters down there right across the Galveston area and we're seeing a lot of rainfall come in.

All of this now pushes into Louisiana. So the track will want to make landfall somewhere across southern Louisiana, say in the next 12 or 16 hours. And then, it finally does what any tropical storm, you expect to do. It catches the westerlies. It takes the ride and it quickly gets out of here. Rains itself out, but our storm, of course, has been stuck across this region because across the western U.S., there's a major heat wave in and that's the high pressure is keeping the storm at bay.

BALDWIN: Glad you mentioned Louisiana. We'll go live to Louisiana in a little bit. Pedram for now, thank you so much.

JAVAHERI: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Coming up, we will take you inside one of these emergency shelters where thousands of evacuees are dry and safe but are now coming to grips with this new reality. What comes next? A live report is coming up.

Also, President Trump warns all options are on the table as North Korea fires off another missile, this one prompting people in Japan to seek shelter underground. You're watching CNN special live coverage on a Tuesday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:16:41] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We're continuing with our special live coverage here of this historic and catastrophic flooding in Texas.

And I want to just give you an update on the people captured in what has become one of the more powerful images from this entire disaster. This photo here of this group of elderly folks submerged in chest-high water. It is heartbreaking. It is startling. And I know a lot of those in this photo are in wheelchairs, and they're covered in blankets as they desperately waited to be rescued.

This photo was tweeted out in the middle of the storm, was widely viewed online. Fortunately, all of these men and women and the staff members of the facility were rescued a short time later. And today we're getting an updated photo of those survivors. Here they are, safe in much better spirits, we're told. And of course most importantly, just safe, dry, and on high ground. The rescued are now staying in an assisted living facility in Alvin, Texas. So I just wanted you to see these more smiling faces today.

But thousands of people in the Texas flood zone have been rescued. Many more continued to wait for help to arrive. Those fortunate enough to escape the rising waters are sharing their harrowing stories. And case in point, look at this home. This is Dickinson, Texas. The pickup trucks in front of the home are all but submerged. The flood waters are very near that roof line.

The Glaze family lives here. Flood the fast rising water by, first, hiding in the attic with their puppy. They've been watched in disbelief as a lifetime of belongings inside this home was overtaken by the rising water.

Eventually, they did decide they need to swim out of the house. They stood on a brick flower garden on the front porch of the home with their heads poking out above the water. They were thankfully spotted by a passing sheriff's boat, rescued and taken to safe dry land.

So with me on the phone is Sharon Glaze. This is her home. She took these photos. Sharon, how are you holding up?


BALDWIN: Can you just take me back to those moments when you all were, you know, in the water, heads sticking out, waiting for rescue?

GLAZE: It was very traumatic. Two hours before we were rescued, we tried to swim out and the current was too bad. And we had to return to the attic. And didn't think we were going to get out. Didn't think we were going to make it.

BALDWIN: When did you realize you'd be OK?

GLAZE: When we finally -- we had seen several sheriff's boats go by. And Larry was out whistling and hollering and they finally heard over their motors and saw us. And as soon as they turned into us, I knew we were going to be OK.

BALDWIN: My goodness. And so you and your husband and your dog, you hop on this boat, you then dropped off at a staging point, and then what? Where do they take you from there?

GLAZE: From there, we never got anywhere. We stayed at the staging point until my phone was dead. Larry's was wet. We finally was able to reach my son. And he was able to get to the staging area about 6:00 p.m. And pick us up.

[14:20:05] They were having the National Guard come and take people from the staging area, but they were, you know, they were obviously taking the sick and the children first. And so eventually, we got picked up by them. We never made it to a shelter, and my son brought us to his home.

BALDWIN: OK. So you're with your son. And I understand -- Sharon, I understand your brother in the midst of all of this, did I hear correctly, he had a heart attack last night?

GLAZE: Yes, ma'am, he was -- yes. And all we know right now is that he was dialed 911. He was taken to UTMB Hospital in Galveston. And at this moment, he is stable.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness. And Sharon, for people who don't live in Texas, who are watching all of this just unfold on a TV screen or on a computer, help people understand what this feels like.

GLAZE: I've been through floods before. I've never lost everything in my home. And those pictures that are on there now are showing before it's totally under water. And I don't know how to recover from this.

You know, we will survive it. It's surreal. It's -- I can't even find words yet to describe. I feel like I'm in a dream and I'm going to wake up and it's going to be OK. And I look at the pictures here and, yes, not going to be OK there. But we will go on.

BALDWIN: I know you all have set up a GoFundMe page. I know you need help. What do you immediately need?

GLAZE: We got out with just the clothes on our back. Everything we had to move out, I didn't realize my furniture and everything would flip over and the things I had saved would be gone. Right now, we did get someone to bring us some shoes and some shirts and some toothbrushes. But I hate to say everything, but I guess we need everything.


BALDWIN: Sharon Glaze, thank you. No, I just -- thank you so much. I know you've got a lot to deal with, but thank you for taking a couple minutes with me here live with me on CNN. Obviously, our best to you and your entire family as you survive this thing. At least you have each other. Sharon Glaze, thank you.

And I know a lot of people. Your hearts are gripped by stories like Sharon, so many of these images on your screen and you can help. Just go to our CNN Impact Your World website, that's We have vetted a number of these charity organizations. You can make sure they get your money and your thoughtfulness where it needs to go,

Ahead here on CNN, get out now. Those orders from officials as levees and reservoirs are pushed to the brink amid this historic amount of rainfall. We will take you inside those towns rushing to evacuate as the water levels rise.

And President Trump warns that all options are on the table as North Korea fires off yet another missile, this one prompting people in Japan to seek shelter. More on that, next.


[14:27:53] BALDWIN: We'll get you back to our breaking news on the flooding in Texas in just a moment. But first, the United Nation Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting. The United States and key Asian allies are the ones who called for this, and it's now over the latest North Korea missile launch.

For the very first time, the rogue nation launched a ballistic missile over Japan, triggering all kinds of alarms and text messages like this one, missile launched, missile launched. It seems that a missile has been launched from North Korea.

Please evacuate to building with strong structure or go to the basement. That is what people got in this part of Japan. The missile broke into three pieces and fell into the Pacific. Since then, the Japanese Prime Minister had a 40-minute phone call with President Trump, who said this in response to the launch, quote, all options are on the table.

Let's go to our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, there was there -- was there something specific that triggered North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to do this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, as usual, nobody's really too sure what's in his mind. You know, even on a good day. There have been these U.S./South Korean military drills, exercises, which he always objects to. There has been an awful lot of pressure from the west. And he'd say for some period of days, had appeared to be backing off testing some of these longer-range missiles, if you will.

But, you know, back with this one now, an intermediate range missile by all account falling about 700 miles to the east into the ocean off northern Japan's Hokkaido Island. But, you know, flying over Japanese territory has really upset the Japanese. The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, calling this a grave and serious threat, if you will.

Not making the effort to shoot it down, however. That's very key because the missile was so high in the atmosphere at that point. It didn't pose, by all accounts, a direct threat to Japanese territory. Officials are telling us, even though that warning was sounded obviously to the people that live there.

So, where are we now? The President says all options on the table. Is there a military option? Is there something new here? By all accounts, it's the same options as always, and it's a matter of risk. How much risk are you willing to take by attacking North Korea? By exercising a military option or do you --