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Harvey Leads To Catastrophic Floods; Harvey Regaining Strength Could Hit Houston Again; Trump Will Visit Texas Tuesday To View Region; Nation's Fourth Largest City Reeling From Historic Flooding; Countless People Stranded By Flooding From Harvey; Water Rising As Harvey Continues To Dump Rain In Texas; North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Over Japan; North Korean Missile Flew Over Hokkaido, Japan; Harvey Expected To Drive 30,000 People Into Shelters; Mexico Offers Humanitarian Help to Texas. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us. We are following two big stories right now. Catastrophic flooding in the U.S. state of Texas and fears tropical storm Harvey may bring even more devastation in the coming days.

SESAY: Also, new provocation from North Korea. The country fires another missile. This one, flying straight over Japan.

VAUSE: We begin with tropical storm Harvey which has regained strength and set to bring more rain to Texas and beyond. The city of Houston is now a major flood zone after Harvey made landfall on Friday as a category four hurricane. The region is now expected to get a year's worth of rain in just a few days.

SESAY: Emergency services are working right around the clock in the air, in boats, and on the ground, racing to reach victims trapped in flooded homes.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: There is the reality that we have to come to grips with, and that is we are just beginning the process of responding to the storm. We are still involved in the search and rescue process. Our number one goal from Corpus Christi, all the way to east of Houston is still protecting and preserving life and rescuing every person that we can find.


SESAY: Well, U.S. President Donald Trump will visit Texas, Tuesday. This is the biggest natural disaster since he took office. He says the recovery will be long and difficult but promises that the state will get the money it needs.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Texas is a unique place. It's a great, great state, great people. And I think you'll be up and running very, very quickly. Really, very quickly. So, yes, I think you'll going to be in fantastic shape. But it's a long road. Still pouring, still a lot of rain. Nobody has ever seen anything like it. They've -- I've heard the words epic. I've heard historic. That's what it is.


VAUSE: Live to Houston now where they are bracing for another hit from Harvey. CNN Meteorologist, Derrick Van Dam, is in (INAUDIBLE) southwest of the city center. Derrick, it's just after midnight there. What are the conditions like right now?

DERRICK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John, it's relentless out here. The rain has not stopped. We've been here for nearly 48 hours, and it just continues to fall that tropical, tropical rain that is in dating the city, and those raindrops are massive. And you can imagine with over 40 locations just in Harris County alone -- that's where Houston is located. They've had 40 locations with 4,750 millimeters of rain or more just since the storm started. Remember, it started as a category four hurricane, battering the southeast Texas coast.

We have transitioned now from what was a wind-related storm, now to a flood-related disaster, and it is a disaster. It's hard to actually reiterate just how immediate the threat is to Houston and the surrounding areas -- all the way to Galveston, even eastward towards the Baton Rouge and New Orleans region because of the rain, like I said, is relentless. The flood waters rise so incredibly quickly. In fact, we witnessed that first-hand on one of the search and rescue boats that we joined last night.

We saw how difficult the conditions were going into the back waters of these neighborhoods, kind of traversing some of the flooded streets, the bayous across this region, and hearing some of the incredible heroic stories of search and rescue operations. It ranged from saving children to adults, to the elderly, to the medically ill, to pets. It's incredible to see that people coming together, volunteers offering their boats, their time, and their efforts to try and save this tight-knit community in southeast Texas.

VAUSE: Well, Derrick, with all this rain still to come, do authorities have a plan in place to deal with it?

VAN DAM: I mean, water has to run somewhere, right? And the plan in place for Houston is ultimately failing because we have had a reservoir, just west of the city that is meant to prevent the most catastrophic flooding within the city of Houston, and they've actually had those tested to the extremes with all this rain. That they've had to do controlled releases and that ultimately floods communities in and around those reservoirs. It's inevitable that it's going to happen.

There are plans in place, of course, to deal with this flooding the staging areas, one that's just a few miles up the road here has 26 helicopters for search and rescue operations. Of course, that ends once darkness falls on the city, but of course, that'll be started right back again first thing in the morning. There are staging areas for the boats, the search, and rescue, swift water rescues all around the city. Not too far from here, we have seen some incredible heroic efforts by the volunteers from the constables located in Harris County.

[01:05:09] VAUSE: It is a massive operation and it is not over by a long shot. Derrick, thank you. Derrick Van Dam there, live with very latest.

SESAY: Well, Tara Butler and her son were evacuated from their home in Houston. She joins us now on the line. Tara, thank you so much for being with us. Tell us about your experience with this storm. What happened to you and your child?

TARA BUTLER, RESIDENT OF HOUSTON (through telephone): Well, we prepared for rain but we could not predict the amount and, you know, the cars were swimming in water. My son and I were lucky to live on the second floor, but the first residents were flooded and they had come, and you know, climb up to be with the second floor, and then we have wait for rescue boats, and it was an ordeal.

SESAY: Yes. It really does sound like it. I mean, just, just, just -- I hate to make you go back, but take us back to just being in that space and knowing that the waters were rising below you, and neighbors coming up. I mean, just what was it like? How is your son dealing with it all?

BUTLER: He was talking to friends that lived in the area, and comparing their experiences. And I think, you know, they've just never experienced anything like that, but I haven't either. And when I saw the water rising, and rising, and rising, we just didn't know when it would stop. It was overwhelming.

SESAY: I mean, did you call 911? I mean, tell me what you did once you realize this water was not going to stop rising.

BUTLER: Well, yes, I went to (INAUDIBLE), I called 911. They told me to call other numbers like to call to our command center, then on an emergency police station. There were multiple numbers that I was told try and some are busy but we just had to keep trying. And finally, myself, and other neighbors did, you know, get through to some of these lines and put ourselves on the list. And then, we waited. It was just a waiting game. Finally, boats started to come but, of course, they had to pick up people who are injured, or there was an unconscious woman, a pregnant woman, an elderly woman. So, we, you know, we just had to wait for them to get those people out first.

SESAY: How long did you have to wait before it was your turn?

BUTLER: Well, we've started trying to leave this morning around 10:00 a.m. is when I decided, you know, we have to get out. And I finally made it to my sister's home nearby around 4:00 p.m.

SESAY: Wow! 10:00 a.m. and you didn't there until 4:00 p.m.

BUTLER: Correct time, yes.

SESAY: You're now at you sisters. I know your car was submerged. I know the building you lived there, and as you said the first floor had water rising up in there. I mean, what has the road ahead looked like for you, you and your son?

BUTLER: Well, right now, we just don't know. You know, of course, we're thinking of all that, you know, when I was riding in the boat, I could see all of the damage. The schools, the businesses, the home, it was just unbelievable. I don't know how long it will take for things to be normal. So, I'm just expected that get one day at a time. You know, employers, they're very supportive. We just don't know when things will be back to normal. My sister's area is pretty clear. It's hard to get intuit because of the water surrounding her (INAUDIBLE), her street is dry right now. So, we are just taking it one day at a time.

SESAY: I think that's the best course of action for many people in your situation, just moment to another. We are grateful that you are safe, you and your son, and that you are with your sister. And thank you, though, in the middle of this ordeal, you took time to speak to us. We appreciate it, Tara.

VAUSE: OK. Well, Meteorologist, Karen Maginnis, joins us now with the very on the storm. Karen, we just heard from Tara there, wondering -- excuse me -- when will things get back to normal. Is it even possible to have any idea at this point?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I have watched these tropical systems (INAUDIBLE) Higo, 1989; also, Hurricane Andrew, it takes months and years for these cities to rebuild. We know Houston is strong. We know that these people will pull together. They haven't seen anything like this. I wish I could say the nightmare was going to end tomorrow, but it's not. This is going to be another 72 hours that we're looking, as Harvey pester and pummel Houston and these coastal areas that are looking at 500-year flood event. And there could be an additional 250 to possibly 500 millimeters of rainfall. And the center of this system is out over the Gulf of Mexico. So, yes, it's going to take some speed, but it's just the lingering across this region.

[19:10:34] For our international viewers, the reason you're seeing this disaster play out day after day is because these bayous, the rivers, the creek, they have filled to enormous levels because it has been relentless. Harvey made landfall late in the day on Friday. Here we are into early Tuesday. And to bearing the grieve that rainfall is going to stay in place all the way until the end of the week. And we could see some of that flood spreading into coastal sections of Louisiana. But take a look at this, it does move away and it does pick up some speed. But essentially, as we have said over the last couple of days, you can walk faster than Harvey has been moving.

It continues to pick this moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and is situated just about in this vicinity, but there you can just kind of this abundance of tropical moisture just being pulled on in across this upper coast of Texas. I saw one of the tweets where someone said that they wanted their grandfather rescued, that he'd been in his flooded home for the past 14 hours. That's one tweet. We know there are tens of thousands of people who have called because they have been compromised in some way, they are in danger, they have babies, they have elderly people who are incapable of getting out of water that maybe chest deep or up to the ceiling of their first floor. It has been a dreadful situation, and we're looking at an additional 250 to 500 millimeters, John and Isha.


SESAY: It is incredible to think that the rain just keeps on coming. Karen Maginnis, we appreciate you -- the information is absolutely crucial at a time like this. Thank you.

VAUSE: CNN's National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, is with us now from Boston. Juliette was an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Juliette, thank you for being with us. Right now, in Texas many residents, they're stuck in these flood at home, they don't have power. The (INAUDIBLE) doesn't work. It's night time. It's pitch dark outside. Clearly, this is terrifying. But what are the increased risks they're now facing until first light?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The first is, of course, public safety and public order. It is night time when looting could occur, other crimes occur. You have an over extended first responder, and police officers who have been working day and night in the last couple of days. So, one of the reasons why Governor Abbott brought in the National Guard in full force today was to ensure that you could just keep the calm and peace.

The second increased risk, of course, is to first responders and volunteers. There are things in the water. There are dangers that can't be seen in the dark. And so, unfortunately, a lot of those rescue missions will be held off for a couple of hours. People who are stuck in their homes will just sort of have to wait even longer, until daylight tomorrow morning, when they can then, you know, begin the process of restarting what still is essentially a recovery effort right now.

VAUSE: And those minutes, will seem like hours. And hours will feel like days right now for those people. Obviously, this is unprecedented. They are comparisons made to Katrina, for example. In your opinion, do you believe that the city of Houston and the state of Texas was prepared as best they could be, not just sort of in the days leading up to this disaster but in the years leading up to Harvey?

KAYYEM: It is going to be a question that every major city actually has to ask themselves. I think the short answer is no, simply because feral and growth occurred in ways that did not imagine or prepare for not simply a storm like this once a year, but storms like these that are just consistently coming. And so, you know, it's very difficult for cities to plan ahead for the kinds of threats that they may be seen in particular because of climate change or oceans and water that bring this kind of damage. So, but, nonetheless, I have been impressed so far with the local state, and of course, the federal response, given the situation they had.

I heard one of the emergency managers say, we're doing the best we can with what we got. And a lot of times in disaster management, I certainly notice, you have to judge success by whether the -- you know, whether workers can mitigate the worst of damages. I don't -- knock on wood here, but we have some fatalities but these are not a catastrophic number, and that's the primary goal here -- it's to save lives. And to the extent that they can keep that number down, I would say the preparations definitely were successful.

[19:15:25] VAUSE: OK. President Trump plans to visit the region on Tuesday, that's still flexible, it all could change. The White House, though, says it's taking measures to minimize any impact on emergency crews, local law enforcement, but you know, regardless of what they do, it will still be disrupted, right?

KAYYEM: It is. And look, this is not political because I work for President Obama who visited the BP oil spill states. When I was working that disaster, he came five times, and every time anyone who's working a disaster says, why does he have to come now? That is just the nature of the tension between politics, which are necessary, and a disaster on the role of a leader, and those out on the field who have to get the work done. I was pleased to hear that Governor Abbott and President Trump will be sort of off-site, won't be close to, of course, the images that we're seeing right now, it will end.

And in some ways, it does help galvanize the troops, they're exhausted, they've been working nonstop. So, so long as that's the purpose and it sort of does disrupt operations -- it's not something that I'm too worried about but, you know, we have to remember: this is an ongoing disaster. It's not like we're in the recovery stage. This is -- it's raining now, and we're still in the recovery stage.

VAUSE: There's a cost benefit analysis here to be done. Having the president on the scene, showing support that he's engaged, could be a morale boost or can send a positive message.

KAYYEM: It can. I mean, I think I would've preferred for the president, maybe, to show at FEMA, the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in D.C., sort of show, you know, his operational expertise in this regard, and save the visit -- so are the visit until later in the week. The rains have not stopped, and that means that the kind of moisture and flooding that we've seen is going to be ongoing, at least according to the weather reports at least through mid-week. But you know, look, I've learned -- being in disaster management that when a president or governor say they want to do something, basically, it will happen.

VAUSE: He is the commander in chief. OK. Juliette, good to see you. Thanks so much.

KAYYEM: Thank you so much.

SESAY: All eyes will be on that trip.

VAUSE: Yes. It's always difficult, these things -- SESAY: Striking (INAUDIBLE), getting close but not too close.


SESAY: Quick break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., more on the devastating flooding in Houston, Texas and a look of what the Red Cross is doing to help.

VAUSE: Also, North Korea fires a missile directly over Japan; we'll have the latest on how Tokyo and Washington plan to respond to an increasingly belligerent Pyongyang.


[01:20:18] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Rising floodwaters from tropical storm Harvey have left most of Houston, the fourth largest in the U.S., under water. The photo here on the left was taken before the storm, and see a lot of detail there like roads.

SESAY: The photo on the right show how those locations look right now; totally inundated. Houston has seen more than 63 centimeters of rain in two days, and this is far from over. That number could double by Saturday.

VAUSE: We'll have more on the situation in Houston, but now to North Korea which test fired another missile by (INAUDIBLE) here 21 launches for this year so far. Only this one was different; the flight path was directly over Japan. Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, called at the gravest threat ever. Missile flight set of emergency sirens and text alerts on the Japanese Island of Hokkaido. Let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea, also Andrew Stevens live in Tokyo. Andrew, first to you, North Korea's fired missiles over Japan twice before 2009, and 1998. What's causing so much concern this time?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, this one was clearly -- it was -- North Korea gave no indication that it was firing, and it has done that in the past. And they've claimed that it was a telecommunication satellite, John, but there was no warning at all. And firing a missile which is on the back of those previous missile launches we've seen, plus an ongoing nuclear program has clearly rattled Tokyo this time. Shinzo Abe, making it very clear -- the extent to which North Korea has irked Japan. Listen to what he said.


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


STEVENS: Now, Japan has basically got a defensive posture towards North Korea. But with these increasing missile launches, John, in numbers -- we saw multiple launches of shorter ranged missile just a few days ago. The concern, obviously, is that that defensive posture by Japan could not keep away a multiple missile strikes on Japan. And just with the tensions rising with what we've heard from the U.S., with what we've heard from Kim Jong-un, it is putting Japan in a very, very difficult situation.

Shinzo Abe has actually spoken to Donald Trump soon after that launch. And Donald Trump telling the Japanese prime minister that the U.S. is a hundred behind Japan, and pushing for new ways to increase the pressure on North Korea. It does appear at this stage, that pressure will be economic, through diplomacy as well starting with an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. That's what the South Korea, Japan, and U.S. are now pushing for as a start, John.

VAUSE: OK, Andrew. Let's head off to Seoul and Paul Hancocks. So, Paula, what does North Korea have to gain by firing this missile over Japan? It could've chosen any flight path.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And what we heard from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in South Korea was mentioning those threats that North Korea had made to Guam. That North Korea had said it was going to be able to hit the waters of Guam, the U.S. territory, with four missiles. It never actually did that. But what we're hearing from the JCS is that these could've been a similar range of those particular missiles, and we've heard this from Japanese official as well. So, potentially, North Korea, not wanting to actually fire anything towards Guam, knowing that that could spot a U.S. response, given what we heard from the U.S. President Donald Trump, but still wanting to make a point.

Of course, there's military drill still ongoing between the U.S. and South Korea. We also saw the South Korean response to these drills -- sorry, to this missile launch today, much faster than we usually see, a stronger response that we usually see. We have four F-15 fighter jets dropping bombs on a shooting range in the northeast part of South Korea -- eight, one-ton bombs. And the press release is saying that it was to show the capability of being able to destroy the enemy's leadership. Some of the very explicit threat to Kim Jong-un there, a reminder that there is a deterrent, there is a capability on the South Korean side to be able to fight back. John.

VAUSE: And the tensions, once again, appear to be escalating. Paula Hancocks in Seoul, Andrew Stevens in Tokyo, thanks to you both.

[19:25:01] SESAY: Well, federal official's (INAUDIBLE) will send 30,000 people into shelter and drive hundreds of thousands more to seek some sort of disaster assistance. Let's bring in John Myers now, he's Regional Director of Communications for the Red Cross here in Los Angeles. John, thank you so much for being with us. According to the Houston mayor, there are about 8,000 people shelter by Monday night. I know the Red Cross is involved in relief efforts in some of those places.


SESAY: Talk to me about what you're hearing about conditions in the shelters you're in. MYERS: Yes. Well, first off, let me just say, you know, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of south Texas in what they're going through right now; this storm has been relentless. So, you know, they're going through some of the toughest times they've ever come across in their life. So, they really are in our thoughts right now. You know, on the ground the right now, we are making sure that we have shelters provided for those that are being evacuated or who have lost everything. Making sure we have shelter, we have food. We're taking off their needs. That is our main goal, and to make sure we're doing it safely. You know, we have thousands of volunteers that are coming out to take care of these shelters and take care of the people there. But we have to make sure those volunteers are safe as well.


MYERS: So, that's our overall goal at this moment.

SESAY: I mean, how are your volunteers navigating around the water?

MYERS: It's not easy and it's hard for humanitarian service. We want to jump to right in and be able to provide that comfort and care. But we have to do so safely, so we work with law enforcement, we work with first responders there to make sure that we are doing it safely. You know, we try to get the shelters out of harm's ways when we set up the shelters in the first place to bring the people out the destruction, and get them into a safe place. So, that's where our shelters are, that's where our volunteers are really focusing.

SESAY: Is the issue of the inundated roads the biggest challenge your people are facing right now?

MYERS: Yes. You know, as you've seen in the reports, we are still in a response mode to get those people out of their homes, out of the communities, out of harm's way. So, for us we're waiting to see, as you've heard the reports right now, it could go up to 30,000 people as we start further evacuating people out of that community.

SESAY: I do (INAUDIBLE) in being of the fact that online, some people are urging members of the public not to donate to the Red Cross because you have faced criticism about your response to various disasters in the past. Talk to me about what you've learned? I mean, you've faced criticism of the slow response to Isaac, to Sandy. What have you learned from the past? What are you doing differently now in Texas?

MYERS: You know, with every disaster, there are things we learn, and we grow, and we overcome any challenges that we may have faced in the past. What I can tell you right now with this disaster, with Hurricane Harvey is that the Red Cross response has been strong. It's been upfront and very positive. Every report that's coming back right now has been very positive. What we're seeing in the shelters right now, you know, is a group of people that, like I said, going through some of the worst time of their lives. They're still getting used to the fact that, you know, they're dealing with this situation, so they're coming to us in this time in need right now, and Red Cross is there. Well responded to and taken care of. SESAY: Well, what do you need?

MYERS: Right now, what we need from the public is, and you hear this all the time, but financial donation are what help us be able to take care of these people. We rely on the generosity of the public. To be able to provide financial donations, they can go to 1-800 or call 1- 800-RED-CROSS, or go to to make that donation. But right now, that's how anyone can help. We're also, you know, always looking for volunteers to come out and help. They can go to, sign up and become a volunteer. We go through some basic training to get them and help us responds to disasters such as this.

SESAY: John Myers, we appreciate you coming in. You've got a lot of people on the ground, I hope they going to stay safe. Thank you.

MYERS: Thank you very much.

SESAY: All right. For more now, you can help people affected by tropical storm Harvey, go to our special impact your world Web site, it's There, you can donate to charities that have invested via CNN, charities which are working to help those affected by this devastating storm. It is all there for you at

[01:29:19] VAUSE: There are a lot of questions at this hour from stranded residents in Houston; some want to know why there is no evacuation order, others simply want to know how they can make through the night. We'll have the faces of Harvey catastrophic flooding in just a moment.


[01:32:07] VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay. You're watching CNN coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

VAUSE: Scared and stranded, thousands of people in Houston are waiting to be still waiting to be rescued, but the rain just won't let out. Tropical Storm Harvey is regaining strength and threatening to bring further devastation to America's fourth largest city. The Coast Guard says it's receiving about a thousand calls per hour for help. On Monday, they rescued more than 3000 people.

VAUSE: About 8000 have made their way to safety and thousands of others have been stranded on top of their cars and houses. See pictures. Reporters have been Houston. They've seen members of the community stepping up and helping out. The city's mayor is grateful.


SYLVESTER TURNER (D), MAYOR OF HOUSTON: I am very, very proud of people in the city, citizens, Good Samaritans, neighbors, the business community, the nonprofits. I am very, very proud of how we could come together. No one is asking whether Democrat or Republican. No one is asking whether you hear illegally and not legal. No one is asking about your partisan or your social economic status. If you are in need in this city, we ban together, work together to give you the assistance you need to get back on your feet.


VAUSE: The numbers are staggering. Houston has already seen more than 63 centimeters of rain since Friday. They're measuring not in inches but in feet in the U.S. And that's will double by the weekend.

SESAY: CNN's Alex Marquardt shows us that's more than numbers, especially if your home has been destroyed and you are still waiting for rescue.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Block after block of homes now swimming in the rising floodwaters.

KENNY EVANS, TEXAS RESIDENT: You all, all right?

MARQUARDT: These quiet suburban streets turned into dark rivers.

EVANS: One, two.

MARQUARDT: Kenny Evans with his boat, responding to the call for everyone to pitch in.

EVANS: I've been trying to call FEMA and the Coast Guard. A lot of people weren't prepared for the storm. People didn't get enough food and water and didn't make plans. We never expected something like this happen. But they said it would happen from day one. It sure happened.

They're releasing it from reservoirs.

MARQUARDT: In this house, three people were forced upstairs by the water.

EVANS: This is the situation people are dealing with, determining whether to leave or not. Right now, the floating around here is not that bad. The neighborhoods were not supposed to be badly affected. Now the floodwater is rising realizing and people are realizing they have to get out. Right now, they are making a tough decision to stay or go.

MARQUARDT: Just one decided to leave, the others staying behind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know it's going to be bad, but not to this extent.

MARQUARDT: Neighbors at this home with an 86-year-old man living by himself. Evans found Ed Wendler in his dark bedroom with no power, unaware of the danger outside.

We helped him into the boat and looked around at the place he called home for almost 40 years.

(on camera): How does it feel to see the neighborhood like this?


MARQUARDT (voice-over): This water flowing directly from two nearby reservoirs. The dams open to prevent more catastrophic flooding in the city.

ABBOTT: This is the place that Texas and FEMA will be involved in for a long time.

MARQUARDT: Officials warning the worst is yet to come. Rain expected to fall all week. It's all hands on deck. All 12,000 Texas National Guard now involved. Coast Guard carryout air and water rescues ferrying more than 1000 people to safety. Armies of everyday people now mobilizing.

ABBOTT: There is so many heroes in Houston who literally saved the lives of their fellow Texans. Texans helping Texans. That is what we do as a state. I do not think anybody does it better.

MARQUARDT (on camera): The water level has gone up significantly during the course of the day. It was not supposed to mean is that in this area but is so much rain, the reservoirs were overflowing. The Army Corps of Engineers decided to open up the dams, especially making the flooding here worse but preventing worse catastrophic flooding elsewhere in Houston

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Houston.


VAUSE: On the Gulf Coast, this lady is on the line. She was rescued Monday morning along with her two children.

Thank you for being with us. How is everyone coping right now.


VAUSE: I'm having trouble hearing you. The line isn't great but we'll stick with it. Can you tell me what happened when you were rescued and some of the images you were confronted with, with the flooding?

Are you still with us.


VAUSE: Can you describe what happened Monday morning when the water started rising and your mom and your rescue along with the neighbor?




VAUSE: We'd love to hear more from you but the connection on the line isn't great. We might have to leave it there.

We're glad your safe and your children, one aged 2, the other aged 4, now safe with you, stay with your mom that in Galveston and we wish you all the best. Of course, the concern is among many is it will get worse before it gets better. Hang in there.


VAUSE: Her home is gone, the car is gone, but she's alive.

SESAY: People have to realize the scale. You're talking 30,000 people in shelters. Almost 450,000 people --


SESAY: I mean, incredible numbers. They say the worse could still be around the corner.


[01:39:21] SESAY: No. Not any time soon.

Stay with us.

A neighbor offering help. That message from Mexico, despite it's frosty relations with Washington.


[01:40:] SESAY: Hello, everyone. President Trump tried to reassure Texans that help is coming quickly. He said he believe Congress will move quickly to provide disaster relief.

VAUSE: There's been another over of assistance from south of the border.

Leyla Santiago reports.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mexico is offering aid to Texas. The Mexican foreign minister reached out to Texas' Governor Abbot to say they will provide an assistance to Texas right now needs to provide hurricane relief. That includes boats and troops, food, any type of humanitarian aid that Texas needs is on the table. They're waiting to find out, waiting for a list of what Texas needs right now for the hurricane victims.

And the timing is interesting because it comes days after Trump went on Twitter and slammed Mexico. I asked one government official, why help now, why help Trump and the U.S. during their time of need. Not only did they mention a significant of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the U.S. but they said, quote, "because this is what good neighbors do." That's the line from the foreign ministry in Mexico. They want to do any kind of good that could help the U.S., just like Mexico provided during Hurricane Katrina. At this time, they're just waiting to get a list of what is needed and they promise the help will come from Mexico.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Joining us, Democratic strategy, Dave Jacobson, and Republican consultant, John Thomas, both CNN political commentators.

Thanks for being with us.

SESAY: Welcome.

VAUSE: Dave, first to you.

It is what good neighbors do, according to officials in Mexico, but still not clear the Trump administration will accept this offer help coming from Mexico. Is that politics more than need?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's has everything to do with politics. The reality is, after 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, obviously, President Bush accepted support from the Mexican government. Those in the Mexican military came across the border, obviously, to help those in need. And I think Donald Trump is largely elected on the mandate to build that wall and on the mandate of Mexico was paying for the wall. That's why he's tweeting this weekend rather than tweeting about the hurricane devastation. He did some of that. He should have done more about instead of the wall. I think he understands fundamentally that this is an upset the base if he shows any sort of collaborative approach with the Mexican government. And that is just sad because people are dying.

VAUSE: John, we do see this with Trump, the political calculation of the base often saves is more important than the well-being of the nation for the president.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the president's thinking is fundamental promises are the most important in helping the country but certainly collaborating with our neighbors who agree they want help is the right thing to do. I hope he does accept it. I wonder to what degree Mexico can help and not get in the way, assuming they do help and not get in the way, you'd be a fool not to accept it.

[01:45:16] SESAY: The president wants to talk about Mexico still and the wall even on Monday, even with 13 million Texas under flood watch, he wanted to talk about the wall. Listen.


TRUMP: Mexico will pay for the wall and maybe through reimbursement. We need the wall very badly. As you know Mexico has a tremendous crime problem, tremendous, one of the number two or three in the world. And that's another reason we need it. And just to add on, tremendous drugs are pouring into the United States at levels that nobody's ever seen before.


SESAY: John, mixing politics with disaster is very find, difficult line to walk.

THOMAS: Presidents in the past have gotten in trouble for doing something like that. Not even coming up to that line as far as Trump. But the wall, wherever he goes, people ask about.




THOMAS: It's one of his fundamental campaign promises/

SESAY: Only with his base. The polls show that rest of the country doesn't want it. So


THOMAS: You're right that a lot of people don't want it, but a lot of people are asking questions about it, so he just goes with the questions that are being asked.

Now that the interesting thing about a time like this, you're right, sensitivity is needed. And we will see. It's a big test. I think on the execution of what he's done with FEMA, they've done a good job. But a lot is tone. We'll see that when he visits in a couple of days.

VAUSE: Saying they are rapists and drug dealers. Talking about tone and striking the right cord at a difficult moment, especially for the people in Texas and beyond. Again, the president's tone is being question. Listen.


TRUMP: They're saying it's the biggest, historic. It is a historic amount of water.


VAUSE: Over the weekend, Dave --


VAUSE: Intentionally or not intentionally. But there's an accusation he almost seemed excited by all of this, and not in a good way.

JACOBSON: He is a reckless and a catastrophic failure of a president for this country. The reality is he is rather than being a cool, sort of calm and collected, methodical president, embracing the role of the person showing strength to those in need, this is one who exacerbates the fears and anxieties that we see throughout the country. And this is emblematic of what we seen over the last seven months, throughout the course of his presidency. And I think that's where using the splintering within the Republican Party. So many Republican senators now, before would not call the president by name and their doing so on issue by issue. And so it will raise real questions of what moving forward other Republicans are going to do.

THOMAS: This is emblematic of the double standard that Trump has to deal with on a regular basis. He gets hit all the time for saying he overplays things. When he finally actually fairly describes what's happening in Texas, well, maybe he should tone it down. So I don't think it's fair to --


THOMAS: In this case, it actually --


SESAY: Again, it's the game of politics. Another point made, some have accused him of over tweeting.


THOMAS: You're right. It's a hard line to walk. Could you imagine if he had made a statement saying we're keeping an eye on it and it's worth watching develop and see how significant it is, people would say here on this stage and say he's not recognizing the severity of -


JACOBSON: Here's the challenge. Simultaneous to the time he's going and talking about the devastation, the big of a catastrophe this is, he is tweeting political attacks against Sen. Claire McCaskill from Missouri saying I won the state, and shame on her and all this. He's going to need her vote in a couple weeks for a relief bill going to the Congress. And the reality is he endorsed a book this week by controversial sheriff in Milwaukee, of course, at a time we got a massive catastrophe, a massive disaster in our country.

VAUSE: There's also the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday.

You raised a point about Katrina, what a disaster it was politically for George W. Bush. John, does this have the same potential for Trump, keeping in mind that the FEMA director was only appointed in late June. The National Hurricane Center has been without a head since May. This is an understaffed White House, an inexperienced White House, and this is a disaster which takes a lot of coordination. And, yes, a lot of people inexperienced to deal with this. And those are things we haven't seen yet and -

[01:50:17] THOMAS: Undoubtedly. It's a great risk for any presidential administration even with seasoned hands at play. But, so far, the FEMA director of the Sunday talk shows seemed like they had things as much under control as they could. Governor Abbott in Texas said that he's been incredibly pleased with the president's attentiveness and response. VAUSE: A Republican governor.

THOMAS: OK, but nonetheless.


THOMAS: You're seeing these heroic efforts by everyday citizens coordinated with government officials. Time will tell.


SESAY: Time will tell. This is going to a very long road. It's not about being attention now and coordinate the immediate moment. It's down the road.

JACOBSON: In the long term, and I think the question also is this, is the president going to change the way he looks at funding things like FEMA.


JACOBSON: Almost $1 billion they want to cut. They cut $680 million. The questions like moving forward, is he going to modify the budget because clearly he knows long-term other things will happen.


THOMAS: This could be the president's moment to shine if it does work out. Obviously, the deaths and things are horrible but if the president arises to occasion it could be --

VAUSE: Does he have the attention span for something that will go on for a long period of time.

THOMAS: He's a real estate developer. He does know how to -

VAUSE: True, good point.

David, John, thank you.

SESAY: Thank you for that.

VAUSE: Some evacuations in Texas require a delicate touch. Rescue officials are helping get the elderly to safety.

We'll be back in just a moment.


VAUSE: Joel Osteen and his Lakewood Church in Houston. Well, there's criticism that the church wasn't opened to take those who need shelter. Joel Osteen is now opening his church, and it will be used as a shelter.

This came from statement on the church's Web site, which previously said the building was closed because of severe flooding. Now at statement from Osteen that the church was never actually closed. A spokesman says it can house several hundred people. They also say it will be used as a donation center. Interesting because it did explicitly on the Web site, on Facebook, church closed because of flood water. I wonder how like is fine right now.

SESAY: This was an unforgettable image. Elderly residents stranded an and sitting in waist-high floodwater. The owner took the picture and told her daughter they were waiting for helicopters or the National Guard to rescue them.

VAUSE: When help did not arrive, the owner's daughter put this photo online. It went viral. The National Guard arrived. She says everyone has now been relocated.

SESAY: That's heartbreaking.

Getting elderly people to safety in the middle of a national disaster is far from easy. It can be risky because of their physical and mental conditions.

[01:55:14] VAUSE: But it also has to happen fast.

Gary Tuchman shows us FEMA groups are managing all of these complexities.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Floodwaters encircle the Heritage Park Nursing Home in Katie, Texas, just outside of Houston. Inside more than 80 seniors in their 70s 80s and 90s, so frightened, some confused, all thankful help has arrived.


TUCHMAN: The rescue workers begin the work of getting them out of the nursing home one by one. And in continuing gale-force winds and rain, gently bringing them aboard military trucks in order to get them out of the flood zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can tell some are very upset. But all we can do is do the best thing for the patient, try to comfort them, let them know it will be OK.

TUCHMAN: Many of the residents are bedridden and not in good medical condition. Doctors perform checkups before taking those residents out to the trucks.


TUCHMAN (on camera): This rescue is being done with love, but also a sense of expediency. The current is getting stronger, the water is getting higher. These people need to be out of the nursing homes as soon as possible.

(voice-over): The nursing home residents board the truck, sitting side-by-side, getting ready for their exit. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are transported to a central location, a truck stop. From there, we're sending them all to separate facilities best for their needs.

TUCHMAN: Where will they meet up with family members.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take you to a good place and there will be lots of friends and family. You know what cause all this? Not me. Hurricane Harvey.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not a dummy.

I just wish you a good trip, OK? And you'll be OK. That's my promise.

And that's the rescuers' promise, too.

Thank you.

TUCHMAN: Many of these residents have not left the neighborhood surrounding this nursing home for many years. But now they have all left, safely rescued. Trucked out by men and women grateful for the opportunity to help.


SESAY: It is such a relief to see that.


SESAY: A great report.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

In the meantime, we'll be back.


VAUSE: More news, right after this.