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North Korea Fires Missile over Japan, U.N. Meeting Soon; Historic Rains Push Levees, Reservoirs to Brink; Volunteers with Boat Rescuing People in Beaumont, Texas. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So, where are we now? The president says all options on the table. Is there a military option? Is there something new here? But 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 keep on the diplomatic side of it. That's what the United Nations is all about. That's what secretary of state Rex Tillerson is working towards, but so far, neither of these seem to be changing Kim's mind.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Military or diplomacy, I have a feeling the Colonel I'm about to talk to is going to agree with you.

What options might the president have? Nikki Haley said this.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: What happened yesterday is absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible. 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've had. And so I think something serious has to happen.


BALDWIN: CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton is with us. John Park is with us, the director of the Korea Working Group at Harvard Kennedy School.

Gentlemen, good to see both of you.

John Park, you know, again, underscoring this is the first time that Kim Jong-Un has sent this missile over a major foreign population center. Obviously, Tokyo is furious. You know, on the provocative scale, how high up is this? And was this a message to Japan or is this a -- is there broader intent here?

JOHN PARK, DIRECTOR, KOREA WORKING GROUP, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Sure, Brooke, there's a lot of reading of the tea leaves right now but one thing we have to keep in mind is that this is a broader part of a game plan. Kim Jong-Un and his regime, the over five years of his rule, you're looking at a situation where he's been making net progress in terms of these tape of capabilities so this is the latest and when you look at the range, 1,700 miles, this is an effort to test that kind of range. We don't know the intentions. As Barbara was mentioning, we're trying to piece that together but what we can do is look at the results, and the results here is that North Korea's getting into this territory of having this kind of capability.

BALDWIN: The president says all options are on the table. The White House statement, they said, "The world has received North Korea's latest message loud and clear. This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior, threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and all nations of the world. All options are on the table".

That includes, as Barbara pointed out, anything from diplomacy to military option. Your thoughts.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Most certainly everything is on the table from that standpoint, Brooke, and I think one of the key things that the president outlined was the fact that there are consequences to these kinds of actions, so the question is when one is he going to pick, the president of the United States. One thing to keep in mind, also, is that this missile path was really close to an air base on Japanese soil that has a very large U.S. unit on it, an air force base called Masawa Air Base, which is on the northern part of the island of Honshu, home to the 35th Fighter Wing, and that is a very key force multiplier for us. North Korea is certainly aware of that and the fact that that missile came that close to Masawa Air Base is a key component in my mind as well.

BALDWIN: When you take a step back, thinking about President Trump and options, the statement of all options on the table follows his remarks just last week in Phoenix where he said Kim Jong-Un was starting to respect us, which was preceded by, you know, his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, contradicting the president in that print interview, saying that there is no military option in North Korea.

John Park, I know we cannot even begin to crawl into the mind of Kim Jong-Un, but when you're getting all this range of messaging, what are you thinking?

PARK: We're getting into the space of psychological issues. North Korea now is making forward movement in getting the capabilities to put a nuclear ICBM together and so the notion is, how do we coexist with a 33-year-old leader, we know very little about him. We've coexisted and deterred and contained other countries, but we're looking at a country of a little over 22 million. How are we going to get through period and this is where we're looking at all options on the table, and this idea of what kind of military force, either defensive and more ballistic missile defense capabilities or others that is now going to be primary focus of discussion.

BALDWIN: On the response, militarily, Colonel, I think that John was hitting on, you know, it has created Japan now, bolstering efforts, Tokyo, Seoul, upgrading their missile defenses. Wouldn't that, though, anger China, Russia, complicating that international coordination.

[14:35:17] LEIGHTON: It certainly could, Brooke. And one of the things that they have to remember, though, as they develop these responses, that includes the United States, South Korea, and Japan, they have to do this for themselves, so no matter what the reaction from China or Russia is, or might be, they need to make sure that their defenses are ones that can actually take care of an intermediate nuclear threat or an intermediate ballistic missile like the one that was tested, apparently, just yesterday. So, those are the key things and when you look at that, they have to make sure that they keep a unified front, and that is really what's important here.

BALDWIN: Colonel Cedric Leighton, and, John Park, thank you both so much.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let's get you back to Texas here. Record rainfall pushes levees to the brink there. Officials warning, get out now. More than 9,000 people are now in shelters in Houston and that number is growing quickly. We're going take you back to Houston where those rescues are under way.


[14:40:28] BALDWIN: Let's get you back to Houston to our breaking news here where frantic rescues have not let up. So many people remain trapped from all the heavy flooding and the worst part of all of this is that it is still not over. More rain is coming. Harvey set to make landfall again, could drop up to 15 or so more inches of rain. The rainfall has already set a record for the entire state of Texas.

CNN's Scott McLean is in Houston surrounded by -- you tell me. Where are you?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke. We're in northeast Houston with a tiny bit of good news, and that's that it is barely raining, at this point, after getting just torrential downpours all morning. So, what's happening behind me is this is the flooding that you can see that's affecting a neighborhood, about a mile down. You can see it sort of in the distance and you can see these folks headed out and then you can see some high-water vehicles as well, and some boats, so that's what we've been seeing all day today, boats, high- water vehicles headed out into these neighborhoods, grabbing people, grabbing things, pets, and coming on back. That's what we're seeing right now.

One of the big challenges, though, Brooke, is that there's massive depth changes. We experienced it earlier today, you can take a boat for part of it but then it gets a little shallow and you have to push the boat so a lot of people are staying in their homes or having a hard time getting here because in this neighborhood, there's really only one way out and it's to walk a mile through water that's, you know, between knee and shin deep there.

You can see another one of these boats coming in.

And so I've been talking to these people all day who have come off these high-water vehicles and they're pretty relieved. And one of them is Patrick Randall.

And so, Patrick, you're one of those folks who's -- your house isn't flooded but you needed to get to dry land anyway, didn't you. Why?

PATRICK RANDALL, HOUSTON RESIDENT: Because we called the flood warning services and they're telling us that it's still a possibility of flooding so we were just being careful and we're taking our chances over at our dad's House.

MCLEAN: Did you lose power?

RANDALL: Yes, we did.

MCLEAN: And so what have the last couple days been like.

RANDALL: It's been a little hot. We had to sit outside under our garage just looking at the rain pretty much. You know, it's been boring.

MCLEAN: And how close did it get to your house?

RANDALL: The most has been a little over our driveway.

MCLEAN: How did you get from there to here?

RANDALL: We came on trucks. So, they -- they were coming through the back and coming to, like, where it's not really any water. Then they pick us up and come back and drop us over here.

MCLEAN: So how are you feeling at this moment?

RANDALL: I really don't know. I'm just feeling a little bad, you know? That House hasn't flooded yet. I'm happy about that. And I'm happy that we get to go with the rest of my family.

MCLEAN: Where are you going to go from here?

RANDALL: To my dad's house. It's around Katy. He came from close to Katy to get here.

MCLEAN: We will cross our fingers that things stay dry for you and that you can return to a dry home.

Thanks for talking to us. I appreciate it.

So, Brooke, this is again one of these challenges is that there's a lot of people down there who don't have water in their Houses, but in order to get out, they have to trudge through a whole heck of a lot of it so some people are driving their cars, think maybe they can make it out. They really cannot and we've seen the results, a lot of stalled vehicles there. A lot of people have enough food and water. The only discomfort is the fact that maybe they don't have power but there's one other wrinkle we've been discovering recently, and that's that some of the families that live here are undocumented, and they are reluctant to come out of their house and seek shelter in case their immigration status is sort of compromised by the authorities. The city has made pretty clear that that is not the case, but that being said, a lot of people are still concerned -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Got it. And to the last gentleman I talked to, I suppose boring is a good thing, given some of these rescues we're seeing.

Scott McLean, thank you.

Speaking of rescues, these are pictures in west Houston.

Paul Vercammen, I believe we have you somewhere. Talk me through what we're looking at.

[14:44:50] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We'll look at these pictures directly, Brooke. We are in west Houston. This is where the Addicks levee overtopped for the first time in its history.

This is the boat of another one of these volunteers of goodwill, Ray Driver. And they're helping these people out of this boat right now. And you can see they're standing in knee-deep water, more than knee- deep water.

And what we're seeing is these people -- these good Samaritans have jumped into the breach and helped out, however, and wherever they could, with whatever they could. This obviously is a boat. We've seen them literally come through here, Brooke, in dump trucks. We've seen National Guard carriers come through here. We've seen so many different scenarios, and you can hear someone behind me clapping right now.

The Manjit family also just got rescued.

Quickly, if I could ask you a question, please. What was it like for you when you heard that the levee had been overtop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We really never thought it would happen. So we just came to check on our house, and it did. So, it's overwhelming. This is really overwhelming. Knowing that maybe your House could be devastated. So, yes.

VERCAMMEN: Let's hope for the best for your house. Great to see that you're OK and that you're OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's better, right? Lives are more better than values. They can be replaced. But still, it hurts.

VERCAMMEN: Were you surprised with the level that this water rose at once you heard that levee overtopped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we did. We were really shocked.

VERCAMMEN: As you can hear right now, they're trying to make sure that everybody has their medicine. And Brooke, this has been a real important part of the evacuations.

As you know, there's been a talk that a lot of people were missing important medicines that they left too soon. So they're double checking and he's asking these volunteers to go back to the house.

I also want to get out of the way and show you what we told you. Here comes one of these high water, we'll call it, rescue trucks. Looks like Texas National Guardsmen, and Brooke, the reason they've been so effective is you can tell how high they sit above the water level. And last night, this also played out in east Houston as they got these trucks in here and they've been able to get a lot of people on to the trucks.

Let me go over here. See if I can tell you. They're looking for a green medicine bag as this family now evacuates.

Back to what I was saying earlier, Brooke, about medicine. As you can imagine, there's been a run on pharmacies, and there's a lot of people who are on prescription medicine who want to make sure they have everything necessary.

And let me give you a description of where we are. We're about 19 miles, we believe, west of downtown Houston, and again, what was really important was that they get people out of this neighborhood after the Addicks levee overtopped for the first time in its history, and something off in the distance is being held by one of these volunteers. Perhaps -- we can't see it clearly. This could be the medicine that they're looking for.

BALDWIN: OK, Paul, let me jump in. Can you hear me?

VERCAMMEN: I can, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, I mean, it's incredible to watch this unfold right before our very eyes.

Can you ask these -- the guy -- so this is a private boat? Is that what you're saying? This is a private rescue.

VERCAMMEN: Yes, it is.

BALDWIN: That's a gentleman we're looking at, and the guy in the green and the water. Can you ask them why they wanted to do this?

VERCAMMEN: Yes. Hang on.

Ray, real quick question here. You know, we were talking earlier about how you came down here and what was it that -- what was it about what you saw that inspired you?

RAY DRIVER, HOUSTON VOLUNTEER: I flooded before. I know what it's like. It's tough. Just trying to help. Just trying to help.

VERCAMMEN: You're a hero to a lot of people. You know that.

DRIVER: No. It's what we do. It's what we do. VERCAMMEN: How long have you been at it?

DRIVER: Oh, just a few hours. We've been protecting our home, you know, up to this point. So, now that the water's up, it's time to get out and help.

VERCAMMEN: Ray, what runs through your mind when you see the cats rescued, the children rescued, these people and the look on their faces when you show up.

DRIVER: Real happy. Very happy. Proud to be a Texan.

VERCAMMEN: I've observed a lot of this selflessness from Houstonian. Describe that character, that spirit.

DRIVER: It's all over the place. There's thousands of people helping people all over the city, all over the region. A lot of this is through church groups right here so everybody just comes together. Everybody's been through, you know, different events before. And so, people help others that have been helped in the past. So, that's what we're trying to do.

VERCAMMEN: Well, I think your name is rather appropriate. It's Ray Driver.

I think that's fitting because he's been driving a lot of these people who were just awash in misery out of their homes. And this is how they're doing it. We'll call it the Houston Volunteer Navy. It has been doing wonders for people who are stranded. There's just not enough, as you can see, government boats and government vehicles, although we have one to our right, it's these volunteers who are keeping this effort alive, people just like Ray Driver, who have gone out here and have rescued person after person.

And as we are talking, Brooke, if you can look down here, Gabe, yet another kitty rescued. And that's also important to so many people that their pets get out of here. They don't want to leave any of them behind. And they smartly had a whole batch of pet carriers.

I'll throw it back to you, Brooke. I can hear a helicopter going overhead. But this is being played out in block after block after block here in west Houston.

[14:50:45] BALDWIN: Extraordinary. You are at ground zero. You are in the thick of it.

Paul Vercammen, thank you. And thank Ray. And I'm sure that family is so grateful as well. We'll check back with you. Just extraordinary.

We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


[14:55:24] BALDWIN: Right now, there's an army of volunteers out in flooded waters looking for anyone they can find trapped by the severe flooding caused by Harvey. This torrential downpour has reached Beaumont, Texas. There are loads and loads of boats and lots of helping hands.

Drew Griffin is in Fannin, Texas.

And, Drew, I understand you just -- we turned around some tape. Look at you in that pouring rain. What happened?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, the call goes out, and immediately, you have these volunteers show up, not just from Texas, Louisiana, other parts of the country with their boats. And as we roll the tape, you can see what's happening. It's like a fast-action rapid response that takes place, and the people go in with their boats, clear out a neighborhood, and then they go on to the next. This just took place about an hour ago. Now we can tell you that that neighborhood has been cleaned out. As you can see behind me, no more boats coming in, although we're expecting a few more just based on the trailers we have here. But multiply this, Brooke, by dozens and dozens of communities all across this area of Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas, that has been getting hard hit. This rain is pounding down for days now. And the water keeps rising in different places as different problems develop.

And I will show you this parking lot, if you can take a look. This is a parking lot of just, I would say there's a third of the trailers still here, still out, trying to get people and come back. But most of the boats have come back and have now gone to yet another spot in this county where these kinds of rescues are need.

You can tell, Brooke, the rain is still pounding down. This is two, three days here in Beaumont, Texas, and there is nowhere for this water to go.

BALDWIN: I saw humans and a dog and a deer, Drew, all in this video that you guys turned around. Who's doing the rescuing? Did I hear this is Customs and Border Patrol or are these private boats?

GRIFFIN: No, these are all private guys. They got a couple of sheriff guys in this county who are trying to direct and dispatch, but basically what happens is you show up in this county, you go to a fire station, and they dispatch you with a boat where you are needed. These are all volunteers. I haven't really seen any kind of official rescue boats. That's not to say that they're not out there. They might be in places where they are more needed. But these people are coming back, and you can see -- we saw a boat come in with a -- a kid was just slumped over, flat-out sleeping on a boat, and his parents had to carry him off that boat. Literally exhausted from the rescue attempt. And, no doubt, the night that this kid had somewhere back behind me in these neighborhoods. Lots of pets. No place to put the pets. It's just crazy.

BALDWIN: Yes, crazy. Cannot imagine.

Drew, thank you to you and our crew for being out in the elements for us, telling these stories. Drew Griffin in Fannin, Texas. Ahead here, entire neighborhoods under water, thousands of people now

in shelters as the rain continues to fall in Texas, adding to the danger here, levees are reaching their breaking points. We're going to take you back to the flood zone at the top of the hour.

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