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Harvey's Devastating Hit; North Korea Threat; President Trump will Visit Texas Tuesday to View Storm Region; Harvey Regaining Strength, Could Hit Houston Again; Harvey Expected to Drive 30,000 People into Shelters. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Francisco Chairez -- thank you so much.


LEMON: Thank you. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching.

I'm Don Lemon. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause.


We are following two big stories for you tonight.

Catastrophic flooding in the U.S. state of Texas has emergency crews scrambling to reach stranded victims.

And another missile launch by North Korea -- only this time, the flight path was directly over Japan.

VAUSE: We begin in Texas where fresh fears are rising across the southern coast as Tropical Storm Harvey ramps up for another run over Houston.

The region has already been drenched with 15 trillions gallons of rain. More than 63 centimeters since Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane Friday night.

The storm continues to hover over the area and could bring another 63 centimeters of rain to metro Houston over the next few days. That's more than the city sees on average in an entire year.

SESAY: Well, the disaster being blamed for at least seven deaths and it is now regaining strength.

The Coast Guard says it's getting more than a thousand rescue calls every hour. One official tells CNN that 10,000 people are still trapped in flooded homes and that is in just one section of Houston and many are without food or water. VAUSE: While Houston is bracing for another hit from Harvey, our Paul Vercammen is in Houston. We also have meteorologist Derek Van Dam in Sugar Land, a little southwest of the city center.

But Paul -- first to you where an amazing scene has unfolded in the last hour or so -- Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. And Isha pointed out that this storm is gaining strength and indeed it has in just the last few hours.

And right here where we're standing near a freeway in east Houston, we are seeing rescues play out over and over again. Way off in the distance they're using boats and they're also using these big 2.5 ton trucks that sit very high off the ground to go and grab people out of here. And these folks right in front of me had recently just been rescued.

If you could stop for one second please, may I ask you a question real quick? How long had you been in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been in there since yesterday morning. And the water's since 10:00 this morning but --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday. Yesterday it was raining and raining and it was coming up but we didn't think it was going to get this high.

I mean this is the second time we've been --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there's a middle school we've seen. There's people on the second floor --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's so many people on the second floor --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then the gas station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it goes up, they might not make it out -- man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it goes higher --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a gas station in the corner along --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of people stranded on there, too. They're under -- under the roofs, by the windows, everybody's just there waiting to get help.

VERCAMMEN: Really quick -- for people around the world who're trying to get a sense for how fast this happened. You said you had been there since 10:00 in the morning. Can you describe all of a sudden when this rain picked up again and what happened after that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check this out. We were just eating breakfast and next think you know, the water's coming in the house. That's how fast it happened.

VERCAMMEN: And did you get here by boat or by truck?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We walked to the -- boats wouldn't go to the neighborhood. Only -- they were only getting elderly and newborns and children and women. And then we walked ourselves all the way -- (inaudible) all the way to Tidwell. Then we just stopped. Then we went to the middle school and then came back and that's whenever we saw the boats right now.

VERCAMMEN: I appreciate you taking time out.

So we're going to go ahead and walk this way and show you what this is playing out. Obviously this is a street -- the main street. She was talking about Tidwell and people are using this street to walk back this way to higher ground.

She alluded to a middle school. We know for a fact that there are people on the second floor of that middle school. Some others had relayed that to us. She also highlighted something else that's going on here and they are putting an emphasis on women and children and the elderly in terms of getting them out first.

Here comes another group. We'll call the rescued who they're clapping and smiling, some of them. They're obviously happy that they just got out.

Let me go ahead and -- quick question here. You look rather happy and glad to be seeing that you're finally out of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. She's happy -- man. She's good. We're out. And I hope we will make it to our families right now.

VERCAMMEN: How long have you been in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were there since Saturday.

VERCAMMEN: Since Saturday.

And you got out by boat or you walked?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we walked half way and then got out by boat when we couldn't walk.

VERCAMMEN: Great. Thank you. Appreciate. Glad to see you're safe. So you see so many of these people now flooding out and we were talking to a constable over here underneath this underpass. He said he thinks that they possibly have rescued as many as a thousand people tonight just in this one sector of east Houston.

It might be difficult for me to hear a question from John and Isha because the communications been tough out here in the storm. But go ahead and fire away if you want. I'm going to send it back to you.

[00:05:03] From east Houston -- I'm Paul Vercammen reporting. Now back to you.

VAUSE: Ok. Paul -- we'll leave it there.

But we should note that it's four minutes past 11:00 at night in Houston. These rescues are continuing at a clip; people walking out with their families simply trying to get to safety.

Some great reporting there by Paul. Thank you for showing us what's happening.

SESAY: Yes. Thank you -- Paul.

Let's go to meteorologist Derek Van Dam who is in Sugar Land -- that's a little southwest of the city center. Derek -- set the scene. What have you been seeing where you are?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Isha -- an incredible scene playing out behind us, across all the neighborhoods, all the communities in southwestern Houston where we're located in Sugar Land.

We have seen multiple rescues. We have been part of some of the swift water rescue attempts which are incredible. But what we're seeing are full volunteers from the communities coming together donating their boats, donating their time and their efforts to go and save their fellow friends and community members across this area.

But I can't really reiterate how immediate the threat is to this city. The water rises so quickly and we witnessed that first hand when some of the heavier rain bands sat up right over the same locations.

We have seen that water level rise drastically. In fact we're at the Brazos River in Richmond about five miles to the west of here. Earlier this evening that river has risen 35 feet since Saturday morning with another 10 feet expected before it crests out at record levels.

Talking to some of the volunteer rescue workers there has been some incredible, harrowing stories coming out of this region including one gentleman that we spoke to yesterday.

He actually has been going door to door with his boat and this is, by the way, a very low profile boat. That's incredibly important. He reiterated that because getting back in the neighborhoods and into these communities it can be very shallow but strong currents. It can also become very deep very quickly and he had to cross some of these strong, strong rivers of flooded water.

He came across a house that had a sign or poster over the banister that read "help". He stopped immediately. Found a woman who had multiple sclerosis and also a few children within the house, rescued them.

One of the members there too actually happened to be a friend of his who just recently had surgery. And he was in dire need of medical attention so they also were saved.

Incredible stories coming out of this region and rescue workers are going to have a long night ahead of them especially under the darkness of night.

SESAY: Yes. They certainly are.

And Derek Van Dam out there in Sugar Land, Texas. Derek -- stay safe, my friend. Thank you for the reporting.

VAUSE: Ok. So that is the situation right now in the Houston area. Let's find out where the forecast will be for the next 24 to 48 hours.

Karen Maginnis joins us now from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. And Karen -- the outlook, the forecast over the next 24 to 48 hours, it's not good.


VAUSE: It's not good for Houston and not good for New Orleans as well.

MAGINNIS: Exactly. We have seen so many harrowing stories but there are so many heroes out there as well where we see and hear stories that Derek just explained to us.

But unfortunately, you saw those rain bands Derek was in, there is more to come. The computer models have been so accurate at predicting just the scale of the flooding and the depths of the flooding.

There are about four cities right around the Harris County area, just one county. That's not all the other counties that have seen the flooding that have about a meter or more of precipitation over the last several days.

So technically, Tropical Storm Harvey is situated out over the Gulf of Mexico. It's going to remain there until early Wednesday morning and then start to make its way more towards the north.

So Houston is going to be impacted by another round of heavy rain. We could see an additional 250 maybe 500 millimeters. And I know it doesn't look very fascinating or impressive on the satellite imagery but John and Isha -- it is nonetheless still a monster that is lurking.

VAUSE: Not over yet. Not for a long while.

SESAY: No. And they -- some people say the worst is yet to come. We thank you for that -- Karen Maginnis. Thank you so much.

All right. Well, Amancia Aldridge evacuated from her home in Houston. She is safe with her family and joins us now from her grandparents' house.

Amancia -- thank you so much for joining us. I understand you live in an apartment complex. Tell us about what happened to you. When did the water start to rise in the building?

AMANCIA ALDRIDGE, HOUSTON RESIDENT: Well, the water started to come inside of the place some time today. But it was pretty much surrounding the outside of the building.

SESAY: So the water was surrounding the outside of the building. Well, looking at the pictures that water looked like it was deep and it looks like it came up quickly from what we've been hearing.

[00:10:05] Go ahead.

ALDRIDGE: Yes. The water comes to about the chest. So --


ALDRIDGE: -- it was very deep water. The water came kind of quick because at first you think, you know, is it going to rain in bursts but nothing is going to really happen. And then one morning, you know, you just wake up and then all the water is there.

SESAY: And just tell me -- you know, as you say, rise -- it came up very quickly and then suddenly it was there. What went through your mind you looked out and saw that you were surrounded by water?

ALDRIDGE: Well, we were walking out because the Coast Guard came to rescue us. I thought this is real. You know, watching it from my set at home on the outside is different than actually getting inside of the water.

And once we had to evacuate and actually walk through that much water to get on the Coast Guard truck, it's very shocking. It's unbelievable to say the least and it feels like you're just in a movie of some sort. It's very, very, very scary.

SESAY: So talk to me about the Coast Guard rescue but I understand the Coast Guard got not just you but you and some family members. But things didn't quite according to plan. What happened?

ALDRIDGE: Right. So the Coast Guard came on the street to pick up everyone in the neighborhood and as we were turning out -- well, first the Coast Guard I think they were really trying to be very helpful by getting so many members of all the families on the truck as much as possible.

And so when they turned on the main street, unfortunately the truck took a turn and flipped on its right side into the water.

SESAY: Oh my goodness. ALDRIDGE: So, yes. So we had about 20 people on the truck, four dogs, and my mom actually almost fell in the water and she had to actually hold on to the truck to keep from falling over.

And everyone was kind of hanging on -- hanging on in the water. I think the Coast Guard -- you see the water is so deep, you can't really tell the difference between what is the street and what is the lake or the water.

And I think the Coast Guard actually was turning. He probably thought that he was turning on the street but it was actually all water.

SESAY: So tell me about getting out of the truck. Tell me how you got out of the truck and -- I mean it must have been terrifying.

ALDRIDGE: Very, very, very terrified. Instantly -- I panicked instantly but I just thought, you know, I cannot panic. I have to be strong. I have my daughter on this truck with me and my family. And I just thought we have to get off this truck immediately. But you have to do it strategically because shifting the weight in the truck can cause everyone to collapse over into the water.

So thankfully some civilians showed up out of nowhere, volunteering to help us get out of the water. And the first thing I did was say please grab my daughter. So I got my daughter and I handed her to him. He took and put her on the lower end of the water.

And my (inaudible) -- he really coordinated almost everything for us. He was so great at shifting everyone to the right side of the truck to make sure that we need not lean and go further into the water.

SESAY: Well, Amancia -- I'm so thankful that you are safe and your loved ones are ok. How old is your daughter?

ALDRIDGE: My daughter is ten.

SESAY: Ok. We're pleased she is well and we're wishing you the very best. We hope you get through this safely without any more issues.

Amancia Aldridge there joining us from Houston. Thank you so much.

ALDRIDGE: Thank you -- Isha.

VAUSE: We'll stay in Houston now.

Rafael Lemaitre is joining us. He's the former director of public affairs for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Rafael -- thanks for being with us. What are conditions like where you are? How high is the water? How are you coping right now?

RAFAEL LEMAITRE, FORMER PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, FEMA: Well this has been a slow burn. This is a storm that seems to be unraveling in slow motion. Even days after landfall we're seeing continued catastrophic situation around the city. I'm about two miles north of downtown Houston in an area called The Heights and thankfully we're a little more elevated than many other areas and still fortunate to have power like many other citizens here but still many without power as well.

So we're coping as best we can right now.

VAUSE: You know, just taking a closer look at the immediate response to this disaster.

[00:14:58] You know, at one point there was this photo which was put out on Twitter. It was a call for help for a group of elderly residents in a nursing home. The photo went viral and the people inside that home were saved. But that just seems so kind of random, you know.

In the scheme of things, is that how it's all playing out at the moment?

LEMAITRE: Well social media is definitely a new tool that we have now where we're able to connect with people and get the word out about where help is needed most.

The fact is that I think that when it comes to this particular disaster, we're going to be in response mode for a very long time and in recovery for an even longer amount of time.

Thankfully there are neighbors here that are essentially the first responders in this situation who are doing their part in saving lives everyday along with the state and local officials and the federal officials that have arrived.

So hopefully things will get better soon.

VAUSE: There was some criticism that an evacuation order was never issued through Houston. Here's the head of FEMA explaining why that order was never given.


BROCK LONG, FEMA DIRECTOR: You know, the city of Houston is huge. It's two to three million people. You know, pulling the trigger on that is an incredibly difficult situation. A lot of times, you know, when you're facing a city like that in a rainfall event, you have to ask people to shelter in place because of the time frame that you're given, you know, the time frame to evacuate the city in Houston could take days -- days, early days.


VAUSE: Do you agree with that? Does that all add up to you?

LEMAITRE: I do. In fact if you look at the number of people who die in disasters like this, most of the people who tended to pass away are in their vehicles, they're on the roads. If you look back to Hurricane Rita in 2005 where there was an

evacuation ordered -- this isn't a city of two million people just within the inner part. Six million if you include the entire Houston- Harris County area.

And evacuating that many people in a limited amount of time may sound nice but in reality it could have ended up being more catastrophic. There's going to be a time when we kind of debate whether or not these decisions were the right ones. But right now I know that the local officials here are very much focused on the response and on saving lives that are currently in peril here.

VAUSE: Just very quickly -- we're almost out of time. But two weeks ago, President Trump signed an executive order rolling back an Obama- era regulation which required all government constructions to take into account the flood risk which is being caused and the future flood risk being caused by climate change and rising ocean temperatures and sea level. The timing now seems almost ironic.

LEMAITRE: It's totally self-defeating. This was the strongest move by the federal government to protect Americans from the most common and costly disaster we see in the United States which is flooding. We can debate climate change all we want but we know that the truth is that these floods are getting more common and more costly every year.

In fact, just over the past couple of years, we've dealt with multiple 500-year and 1,000-year flooding events. Just last year in Louisiana and even just a year and a half ago here in Houston and Texas area -- the tax day and the Memorial Day flood.

To rescind an executive order that enables government buildings to be built safer and stronger actually ends up saving taxpayer money in the long run because we know these floods are going to happen again. So it was a self-defeating effort by the Trump administration and I hope that at some point they might reconsider that.

VAUSE: We will see. Rafael -- thank so much. Appreciate you being with us.

LEMAITRE: Thank you.

SESAY: Time for a quick break now.

Still to come, North Korea has launched another ballistic missile -- why Japan is calling it the most grave threat ever. What makes this test so dangerous? Just ahead.

VAUSE: And surveying the devastation -- President Trump will get a firsthand view.

SESAY: And when he gets there, this is what he'll see on the left before Harvey; on the right, the catastrophic flooding the storm is leaving behind.

You're watching CNN.


VAUSE: Well, the U.S. and Japan will try and ramp up the pressure on North Korea after its latest missile launch. This time a missile flew right over Japan's northernmost island Hokkaido, home to more than five million people. They set off warnings on the island urging people to take shelter.

SESAY: The missile was in the air around 14 minutes. It flew 2,700 kilometers and broke into pieces over the Pacific.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls it the most grave threat ever.

VAUSE: CNN's Andrew Stevens, live this hour in Tokyo; Paula Hancocks, standing by in Seoul, South Korea.

Andrew -- first to you, Tokyo has warned of a firm response. What would that look like? And given the conversation in the last hour or so between the Japanese Prime Minister and the U.S. President, it seems that this will be coordinated at least between Tokyo and Washington.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It will be -- John. By all accounts already the U.S. and Japan and South Korea are pushing for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss that missile launch.

And Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister is being described as being furious about what the North Koreans did launching that missile over Japanese -- over Japan's sovereign soil into the north Pacific.

Now, Mr. Abe is also saying that they're going to be working with the international community to increase the pressure on North Korea. And at this stage, that would like more economic pressure. Obviously China will be a big part of that, but certainly economic pressure is about the only thing that Japan can bring to bear on this.

As you say, he did have a meeting with Donald Trump. It's a 40-minute telephone conversation in which he said that Donald Trump said that the U.S. was 100 percent behind Japan and would also do everything it could in the assistance of the defense of Japan.

But Shinzo Abe -- you said unprecedented. Listen to what he said because it was a very, very strong statement from Shinzo Abe.


SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN (through translator): The missile which passed over our nations represents the greatest and gravest threat to our nation ever. It also is an egregious threat to the peace and stability of the Asia Pacific region.


STEVENS: Yes -- gravest threat to our nation ever -- John, certainly very strong words from Shinzo Abe. VAUSE: Ok. Andrew -- thank you.

To Paula now -- what more is known about this missile which the North Koreans have just tested. Why is it being seen as such a grave threat because North Koreans have, you know, fired a missile over Japan in the past?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's not unprecedented. It's more rare than the other missiles that they fire.

We're just hearing from a military official -- John, here in South Korea that they believe it was an intermediate range missile which is just one below the long-range missile.

And what we've heard from the Joint Chiefs of Staff is that given the threats that we heard from North Korea when it came to Guam, the fact that this missile has a similar range is of great concern.

Now there's some speculation as to whether or not the North Koreans wanted to show that they could reach Guam but didn't want to fire a missile in that direction because there has been a strong response from the U.S. President Donald Trump in respect to that when he believed that Guam was under threat.

Now we're also hearing that South Korea is giving its own response. There has been a bombing drill, just about 150 kilometers from the DMZ, the border between North and South Korea. Four F-15 fighter jets dropped about eight bombs, each bomb, one-ton bomb on a shooting range there.

And what we heard from the military officials was an interesting line saying that this was to show the capability of being able to destroy the enemy's leadership. So a fairly explicit threat there to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un -- John.

VAUSE: Paula -- thank you. Paula Hancocks in Seoul, also Andrew Stevens in Tokyo -- appreciate you both being with us.


SESAY: President Donald Trump plans to survey the damage in Texas, Tuesday; it's the biggest national disaster since he took office.

VAUSE: He acknowledged recovery will be a long and difficult road but thinks the country will come back in his words, "bigger, better and stronger than before".


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tragic times such as these bring out the best in America's character -- strength, charity and resilience are those characters.

We see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend and stranger helping strangers --


SESAY: Well, joining us now Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas -- both are CNN political commentators. Gentlemen -- welcome.

First off, I want you to take a listen to the President discussing the situation in Texas during the press conference with the Finnish president earlier on Monday. Take a listen.


TRUMP: It's the biggest ever. They're saying it's the biggest. It's historic. It's like (inaudible) really like Texas, if you think about it. But it is a historic amount of water --


SESAY: Dave -- the President summing up the situation in Texas as only President Trump can. He's also been tweeting his way through this crisis using lots of exclamation marks. Your assessment of how he's responded so far.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's no doubt that President Trump has like come out and tweeted about the hurricane and promised financial aid and FEMA aid and that his administration was going to respond.

But I thought what was extraordinary was the fact the time that a President is supposed to bring the country together is supposed to be a beacon of strength for the country, a time of tremendous devastation -- he's fanning the flames of polarization across the country.

He spent the weekend pardoning a known racist, a convicted felon, Sheriff Joe from Arizona and then he endorsed a book deal from a Milwaukee sheriff who, of course, is a controversial figure who labeled Black Lives Matter as a hate group basically equating them to neo-Nazis. And then at the same time, he doubled down on the wall.

So he's furthering splitting the country rather than bringing the country together.

SESAY: John -- go ahead.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: As much as my friend Dave wants to turn this disaster response to do a partisan issue, the President actually deserves kudos. And he's received it across the aisle for doing a good job, empowering FEMA to do what they need to do to get things done.

Everything seems to be according to plan and for once the exclamation points, the braggadocious (ph) nature of everything being the biggest, is applicable in this scenario.

SESAY: What about the point of mixing politics with a national disaster -- a natural disaster in pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the timing of all of these things emerging. The Arpaio stuff, the officially instructing the military to ban transgender -- all of that happened on Friday as Harvey was taking center stage.

THOMAS: The President -- the government doesn't stop just because there's a natural --

SESAY: The government is calculated, you know that. All governments are. Do you think that timing was such to dump it and so people would miss it -- that news?

THOMAS: You know, it's funny. On Friday, I heard both stories. I heard Democrats speaking out both sides of the mouth. One was this is a strategic cue (ph) to pander to the base. Well, if you're going to pander to the base, you do it loudly so they hear it.

Others said he's trying to bury the news so that no one knows he's pardoning a racist. I can't speak to the President's intent. All I know is he took action.

SESAY: All right. So let's listen to what the President said because the President explained his actions. Let's roll the clip.


TRUMP: In the middle of a hurricane even though it was a Friday evening, I assume the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally, you know. The hurricane was just starting.


SESAY: So it's about the ratings -- Dave.

JACOBSON: There you go. He's bragging again -- right. I mean the reality is Donald Trump never misses an opportunity to exploit his self-indulgence when it comes to being an egomaniac. And the reality is like he wants to be in the headlines and clearly Hurricane Harvey was taking away from that.

But I think here is the other issue. He has to govern and he has to get a bill through to actually fund the relief. And this weekend he was tweeting that Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri bragging about his electoral victory over the weekend at a time when he should be talking about the hurricane. He's going to need her vote to pass a relief funds bill

SESAY: John -- the President is going to go to Texas on Tuesday. The question is can he stick to the script. Can he keep it about Texas? Or does it become about the President?

THOMAS: You know, I think at this point, they're one and the same. I think the President is focused on the federal government giving the proper response to the governor of Texas who said that he's been thrilled with the reaction and the relationship that the President's had towards Texas at this point. Time will tell.

But so far -- I mean I give the President, I think most of -- a pretty darn good rating in terms of handling this disaster.

SESAY: Apart from Dave. Dave -- what are your expectations of the President's trip on Tuesday?

JACOBSON: I think the question is like is he going to act presidential? Will he be cool, calm and collected and measured? And from what we've seen throughout the last seven months of this presidency, I doubt that's going to be the case.

[00:30:02] THOMAS: I think the difference is Dave wants -- he's concerned about temperament. I am concerned about actions and results.


JACOBSON: We shall see.


SESAY: Gentlemen, thank you.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: OK. When we come back, we will have a lot more from the Texas flood zone. This was seen just before nightfall in Houston. And in a moment we'll hear from a pastor helping the stranded as the floodwaters continue to rise.




VAUSE: No letup in the rain with Tropical Storm Harvey regaining strength and threatening to bring further devastation to America's fourth largest city.

Houston has already seen more than 63 cms of rain since Friday and that number could double by this coming weekend.

SESAY: Houston's mayor says about 8,000 people are now in shelters; many more have been stranded in their homes, on rooftops, even on top of their own cars, waiting for help.

A lot of rescues are being made by good Samaritans, putting their own boats in the floodwaters to help all these people in need.

VAUSE: Pastor Terrance Johnson says his High Dimension Church in Houston is trying to partner with the Red Cross to provide shelter and other aid. And he joins us now.

Pastor Terrance, thanks for spending the time with us.

How is everyone doing right now?

TERRANCE JOHNSON, PASTOR, HIGH DIMENSION CHURCH: We're trying to make it and our spirits are good. And we are pressing through it. It's the toughest thing that I've ever seen in my life or we've ever experienced since I've been living in Houston.

But we do it, our spirits are good. You know, we are together so we have strength as a city.

VAUSE: You don't have an official shelter but the doors to your church -- and there's three of them -- they are open.

So how many people have you cared for?

And how many are you expecting in the coming days, as this gets worse?

JOHNSON: Well, I think one of the things we're doing, we are -- I was at the convention center today, volunteering and the Red Cross, with our mayor, and Sheila Jackson Lee and Mayor Sylvester Turner are doing a great job. We're partnering with the Red Cross. We have over 13 shelters and continuing to add shelters.

And so we already rescued 5,000 people, you know, and so -- and many more have been rescued. We do not even know about yet. So we're just excited about how the city is coming together in a time like this and we are really strong because of community.

We have really put unity in --


JOHNSON: -- community. So I'm excited about the way Houston is standing up and helping each other.

VAUSE: I'm -- it's amazing that you can find the positive in there. But that is crucial right now.

What do you need at the moment?

If someone's watching, what could people do to help you?

JOHNSON: Well, I think of course, as a minister, we need your prayers. So that's so important, that the people are praying. But then there are some tangible things that we need: socks; we need medical help, those individuals who are professional medical professionals; need blankets. We need a lot of clothes. We need shoes. So many of the individuals who are impacted, they came into the shelters without shoes. They came with wet clothes.

We need diapers. We need wet wipes. Just all of those basic necessities that will help a person to get through the next couple of days.

VAUSE: By all accounts, it seems this disaster could get a lot worse before it gets better.

How are you planning for that?

How are you prepared for something like that?

JOHNSON: Well, I think the way that you plan, first of all, unity, just making certain that we stand together. I think regardless of what happened, because we can't predict the future, but we can prepare to the best of our abilities for it.

And I think unity, I think just consistent communication and I think as long as the community comes together, band together and is willing to help each other from a tangible as well as an intangible way, I think we can make it through it.

And so we're certainly hoping that the rain will be leave and the flood will be receding real soon.

VAUSE: From your lips to God's ear, I think everyone's hoping for and praying for that as well.

Pastor Terrance, thanks so much for being with us and continuing doing what you're doing. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Well, in contrast to Pastor Johnson there, televangelist and multimillionaire Joel Osteen is facing a lot of criticism for not opening up his Houston megachurch, despite a desperate need for shelter.

The church and indoor arena, which seats more than 16,000, announced on Facebook it was shut because it was inaccessible due to severe flooding.

Well, after a backlash on social media, Osteen tweeted this, "Victoria and I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends and family."

We tried contacting Osteen and his church but received no response. In the past, though, Osteen has described his megachurch like this:


JOEL OSTEEN, TELEVANGELIST: When you came in this building today, you may not realize it, but you entered a guilt-free zone. You might as well leave it outside. This is a righteous place.


VAUSE: But what about the people who need help?

Well, again, here is a short clip from an old Osteen sermon.


OSTEEN: Bottom line, nobody owes you anything. God is keeping all the records. He has seen everything that's happened in your life.


VAUSE: But we all make mistakes. If this decision by Osteen was a mistake, how would it fit in with God's plan? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSTEEN: What you think is a failure, you blew it, nothing good could come out of that, God has a way of making miracles out of mistakes.


VAUSE: Well, maybe not a miracle but possibly a change of heart. Osteen's church is opening Tuesday at noon to collect relief supplies and maybe getting ready to offer shelter as well. Watch this space.

SESAY: We'll all be watching.


SESAY: This space.

A quick break here. More on the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in just a moment. And the latest on the efforts to get people to safety.





SESAY: Hello, everyone.

The past few days have been devastating for Houston as rising floodwaters trap people in their homes. The Coast Guard rescuing more than 3,000 people on Monday alone, using helicopters and boats.

VAUSE: They've been receiving more than 1,000 calls an hour for help. Emergency services are overwhelmed. Operators are giving preference to life-threatening situations.

Meantime, a group of volunteers known as the Cajun Navy are also stepping in to help with the rescues.

SESAY: Kerri Murray joins us now. She's the president of Shelter Box, a disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization.

Kerri, thank you for coming in --


SESAY: It is hard to comprehend the pictures that are coming out of Texas right now. The destruction has been described as overwhelming. Shelter Box -- you guys have people on the ground. Tell me about what they're experiencing, what they been reporting back.

KERRI MURRAY, SHELTER BOX: Well, Shelter Box is preparing every single day for the worst day ever. And in Houston this is the worst day ever and you see people who've literally lost everything. And what we focus on is providing emergency shelter and supplies to

families and communities that have been overwhelmed. We have an emergency response team. They're civilian responders and these are some of the most highly trained people in emergency response.

They are on the ground in Texas. I've been in continuous contact with them. And we're really in the phase now where we're conducting assessments. And in these emergencies, there is urgency to act but good information on which to act on. And we're still -- as we talk to FEMA every single day in a situation where it's still search and rescue; there are still evacuations taking place.

And so on the ground right now we're really looking at how Shelter Box can respond in the most effective and efficient way with the types of solutions that we're prepared to bring in.

SESAY: So talk to me about that. You mentioned FEMA, that you've been in contact with them almost daily. They reached out to you last week to find out what shelter solutions you guys could provide. So talk to me about what -- where you fit in, what you can do here.

MURRAY: Sure. So Shelter Box brings in not only highly trained volunteers, but physical goods. So things like tarpaulins to repair damaged structures. So we've been looking at our inventory across the entire world of the shelter kits.

We've also been looking at Shelter Boxes, where we provide everything from water purification units, from contamination of water source; solar lights; blankets; ground mats. And then what we're known for, which is soft-sided shelter. So we have a variety of different tents that we deploy, depending on the environmental situation that we're working in.

So this situation is a flood-based situation; even for the tarps, you know, we've got some rainfall that's continuing to come down. We're looking at another 50 inches in the Houston area. So with those, we don't want to go in and repair a home until we know that the rain has stopped and there's safety and security there.

With the tent-based situations, we have a variety of options, including ones that can be used to provide privacy in a congregated area. So you can actually use the tents in an indoor setting. You see people lined up on cots, right, few inches apart from each other. So that we have a solution that you can actually use them indoors, bring a family literally back together.

SESAY: The FEMA director, Brock Long, has said that the mission here is going to be a very heavy lift.

What are the unique challenges at play in this situation?

MURRAY: I think one is information, right, is that how many shelters are there?

We're hearing reports of potentially over 100 shelters. And we're also looking at potentially up to 30,000 people or more in need of shelters and homes, thousands of homes that have been destroyed.

So it's going to be a real challenge to look at where we can shelter these folks, what are the needs that they have, how are we going to make sure that we're moving in in the most efficient and effective way. You see that, in the Houston area, there's more roads that are closed than open. So it's just a variety of --


MURRAY: -- logistics and supply chain challenges right now. We will be assessing the situation over the coming days.

SESAY: And you touched on it earlier on, you talked about information, having good information --


SESAY: -- and then I guess the other issue is once you get the good information, coordinating it with the other people on the ground -- that is always the issue in these emergency situations.

MURRAY: Right, right, coordinating with our local --


MURRAY: -- with FEMA, with other NGOs, right, with private and public really coming together and so the coordination is just so important in a situation like this.

SESAY: Considering the numbers we're talking about here, people that have lost homes, their homes are damaged, they're seeking shelter, what is the capacity that Shelter Box can meet in this kind of situation?

MURRAY: We look to where we can fill the gaps. We look at, with FEMA, at where we can come in and help. And it could be in the thousands we're looking at right now. So we look at shelter kits in the thousands. We look at soft-sided tents in the thousands.

Then we look at potential staging areas, where would we bring those in, how would we deploy those in the most effective and efficient manner. And that's the stage we're at now.

SESAY: OK, Murray, we wish you the very best of luck. A lot of people need you. A lot of people counting on you. Thank you.

MURRAY: Thank you. Thanks, Isha.

Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Just moments ago, the city of Houston addressed a rumor which had been circulating about enforcement of immigration laws. This is what came from the city's official verified Twitter account.

"We will not ask for immigration status or papers from anyone at any shelter. This rumor is false." There you have it.

For more on how you can help anyone affected by Tropical Storm Harvey, please go to

SESAY: A lot of people in need.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Please follow us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA. You can find highlights and clips from the show. For now, stay tuned for "WORLD SPORT."

SESAY: And then we'll be right back with another hour of NEWSROOM from all around the world. You're watching CNN.