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North Korea Provoke Nations to Respond; Harvey's Damage Continues; More Water Expected in Houston; Harvey Regaining Strength, Could Hit Houston Again; Countless People Stranded By Flooding From Harvey; Trump: Harvey Recovery Will Be Long And Difficult; Trump: Times Pardon During Higher Tv Ratings; North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Over Japan; Southeast Texas Warned Alligators May Be On The Move; Fema Manages The Challenge Of Evacuating The Elderly. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: North Korea launches a missile that flies over Japan and lands in the sea. South Korea responds with a warning staging bombing drills.

And rescue missions are ongoing in and around Houston, Texas as tropical storm Harvey continues to soak the area. President Trump will make his way to Texas in a matter of hours.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you know what causes all this?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not me. Hurricane Harvey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not a dummy. I came for you and you didn't want. I just wish you a good trip, OK? And you'll be OK.


CHURCH: CNN goes to a nursing home in the flood zone as senior citizens prepare to evacuate.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

And we begin with Harvey, the tropical storm is regaining strength and getting ready to strike again. Devastating flooding has overwhelmed the city of Houston since Harvey made landfall as a category four hurricane on Friday. The storm continues to hover over the area and could bring a years' worth of rain in just a few days. At least four people have been killed. Emergency teams are working

around-the-clock in the air in boats and on the ground racing to reach people trapped in flooded homes.

Earlier, CNN spoke to a flood victim just minutes after she was rescued.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just get rescued right now. We've been at it since 10 a.m. in the morning. We called the choppers, we waive white flags. We got, I mean, our self and we have to, you know, kind of like conserve everything and then our power went out around three o'clock. Waters were arising and we're like, you know what? We have to go. And priority was priority.


CHURCH: Millions of people a currently under flash flood watches and warnings. The Coast Guard says it's getting more than a 1,000 rescue calls every hour. Houston is bracing for another hit from Harvey as we mentioned.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is Sugarland, a little southwest of the city center, he joins me now live. So, Derek, this relentless rain keeps coming and still the rescue efforts continue even for the night. What have been some of the major challenges that you've witness there?

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Well, you summed it up quite nicely there, in fact, Rosemary, we have got an extremely difficult night ahead of us for the rescue workers and for all the volunteers here and of course for the people stranded still within their houses. The relentless rain that continues to pound this area it is non-stop.

I mean, we have been on the ground for nearly 72 hours and it has not stopped raining the entire time. You can imagine just how difficult evacuations are under the darkness of night having to navigate the streams and the flooded roadways in the neighborhoods.

We've actually talk to many of the volunteers with water rescue personnel that are out there and it's incredible some of the harrowing stories that they are telling us but also just the difficulties that they had to, had to endure, including just navigating those floodwaters across the neighborhoods.

They're actually trying to divert around submerged vehicles, full trees, power lines, you can imagine how difficult that is, but there's also the reward aspect as well. And they actually come to our house to finally rescue some of the stranded individuals that are just pleading for their help, the motions on their face tells it all, happy and also just overwhelmed with, you know, complete emotions considering that they are now safe on dry ground.

Talking about the forecast going forward it's a dire looking scenario. We already know that 15 trillion gallons of water will fall on this area by the time it's all said and done setting record numbers of totals here across the greater Houston area. And the staging efforts set up across the region here are immense as well.

There are 26 helicopters set up with the Sugarland airport about 5 miles to my west that's going to set up search and rescue efforts at first light tomorrow morning. There are staging areas with water rescue boats just on the road as well. It is a very busy night for search and rescue crews to say the least.

[03:04:57] CHURCH: Yes. I mean, it is hard enough during the day, never mind during the night when it's so hard to see but those rescue efforts continuing nonetheless, and of course, more rain is on the way and that will only add to the rising water levels.

DAM: Yes.

CHURCH: What city officials planning to do about all that water and what impact will it have going forward?

DAM: There's two reservoirs that are just to the west of the city of Houston. And of course, the flooding problem is widespread. It's not just Houston. It stretches all the way to Galveston all the way to Lafayette and into the greater New Orleans region.

But speaking specifically in Houston where I'm located now there are two reservoirs just to the west side of the city and those are meant to control the most catastrophic devastating flooding that could potentially exist downtown without them in place, but they have reached their limits.

Those have reached their capacity and they actually have to perform controlled releases of these reservoirs and these dams. Unfortunately, that water has to go somewhere and it's going to flood certain communities.

CHURCH: Indeed, and we've already seen some but people who have had to be evacuated because of that very release of that water.

Thank you so much there, Derek Van Dam joining us from Sugarland. I appreciate that great reporting there on a very difficult circumstances. Many thanks.

Well, about 8,000 people are now in shelters around the Houston area and thousands more are waiting for help. CNN's Paul Vercammen talked to some who just made it to safety.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Rescue after rescue here in east Houston, this is Kidwell Street and it's also beltway 8 and you can see people are coming out of here with their dogs with their belongings.

Excuse me, sir. I'm glad to see that you made it out. How long had you been there?


VERCAMMEN: Since Thursday. And what was going to your mind as this rainwater came down and walk with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just didn't know where and when are we going to get out.

VERCAMMEN: Scary though?


VERCAMMEN: As many of the residents here relate to us it happens so fast. One minute they were in their houses and the next minute they were trapped. So what they started doing is using a ferry in the shuttle system here. Volunteers appearing from all over the Houston area bringing their boats down there that flickering light in the back going into these neighborhoods and helping get these people out.

Tales of six people of family up on their roof others trapped inside and they never quit. Some of these men and women volunteers had been up for 24, 36, 48 hours. And the rain has subsided for a while and then it kicked up again as you can see it turn the streets into rivers.

No easy task but one thing the resolve of the people in Houston showing yourself again and again as they decided they would come down and volunteer and worked tirelessly to help their fellow Houstonians out of tough situations.

I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.

CHURCH: Thanks so much for that report. Let's turn now to meteorologist Karen Maginnis for more on where the storm is headed right now. SO Karen, of course the big worry for all people living in and around Houston is worry that Harvey is coming back, what is that going to mean for people there.

KAREN MAGINNIS, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: There is a second landfall, Rosemary, and that's going to be indefinitely about Wednesday morning. So between now and Wednesday morning we're looking an additional 200, 300 millimeters of rainfall. The center of Harvey were just strengthening but that's really not the issue.

The issue is it keeps picking up that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. This is the position we go into 24 hours this by Tuesday evening. It is still offshore so it is still picking up that deep tropical moisture throwing it back on shore right around that i-95 -- the 1-10 corridor, the i-45 corridor Galveston, Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur getting hit repeatedly.

Those reporters that we saw on the field that were telling us about all those evacuation and people who are in desperate need, people are still calling out and waiting for help to come is going to be worse.

We've got another 48 to 72 hours to varying degrees of precipitation but there you can see the computer models show where the bull's-eye are located and that includes portions of Louisiana as well. These are the areas now under tropical storm warnings. I want to show you the river shed area a lot of the people our

international viewers are wondering about maybe the topography are, why is Houston flooded so much. Well, one is just the pure volume. We've already seen since Friday of last week day after day round after round of very heavy rainfall.

But at how these rivers, these are showing up very precisely on our Google Earth. This area outlined in red the watershed area around Houston is roughly the size of the country of Greece.

[03:10:06] And we are looking at that expanding a little bit further towards the north and to the northeast. There are millions of people. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. And I want to mention one other thing, Rosemary, we heard earlier from someone who said we just don't know what's going to happen next. We only know what's going to happen for the next several days. There will be a drying out time period. But this is months and years of recovery for Houston.

CHURCH: Yes. And when you see the pictures you understand that is what lies ahead. Thank you so much, Karen Maginnis. I appreciate it.

Joining me now on the phone is Joseph Lengyel, he is the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Thank you so much for talking to us to this very difficult time for you and your bureau. The storm is heading back toward Houston, the rain keeps coming and the waters arising, what is the biggest challenge facing you right now as you try to rescue as many people as possible?

JOSEPH LENGYEL, CHIEF, NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU: Yes, Rosemary. Thanks. You know the challenge is that continued downpour of water in Houston area. I mean, it is a water that unseen before, certainly in Texas and I believe over time this is, you know, the words of epic and landmark and those words accurately describe this event in terms of the water turning out to be.

CHURCH: Now there are some reports of people shooting at some of these rescue boats if they don't stop for those who want to be picked up. What are you hearing about that, what is the situation there?

LENGYEL: Yes, Rosemary, I have not heard yet of those types of criminal activities going on. I mean, in this situation that happened it's not unusual for frustration and people to get angry and want to be rescued but I'm not aware myself of any National Guard boats that currently have been shot at. You know that the governor, Governor Abbott has ask for an immediate increase and plus up of National Guard forces to augment law enforcement activities in the city of Houston and we will provide that immediately.

The Texas National Guard will provide 1,000 different soldiers who were trained in law enforcement activity to augment and under the supervision of all the local civilian police force there. So, if those kinds of activities are going on there should be adequate law enforcement to deal with it.

CHURCH: Right. And of course as these waters continue to rise with the rain coming down more people clearly want to be rescued and have decided they do not want to hunker down in their homes. How many more people do you think you need to be rescued at this time?

LENGYEL: Yes, it is difficult to estimate the total numbers. We are concerned with that very fact. I know you add in general Texas is worried that, you know, when the rain finally does stop and people realize that this significant water is going to last for probably weeks not just days that the migration and need to evacuate more people should in fact arise.

So it's a good time. There could be a lot of people, you know, the surrounding areas of Houston, we're talking about some six million people. And so that's the concern certainly that first responders are worried about.

CHURCH: And the major concern here is that there's a very large elderly population in that area, many of those people would not be able to find a way to wave down help. They might not even have access to any smart phones to call for help. What happens in those instances?

LENGYEL: Well, in many cases at least as far as the National Guard and those door to door, house to house searches that they've done in previous flooding event and they go by and see if people are in there that need help and they markup houses that are empties to help get reject. And it's a long slow steady process that requires a lot of time, a lot of manpower and a lot of coordination with a lot of people.

So, I think your concern is valid and I think people will spend a lot of time checking out houses one at a time until they're sure nobody is there.

CHURCH: And what's your major concern at this point?

LENGYEL: Well, it's still obviously it's the lifesaving effort that's ongoing. You know, the waters about to come for another two days I think the need, you know, for the weather to clear so that the aviation and helicopter assets can get in which they started to do more abundantly today, but both the ground search and rescue efforts those trained to do that with boats and the air effort will continue to go forward and saving people in, saving as many lives as we can in their term is got a bit remain the top priority.

[22:15:04] CHURCH: Right and that is the top priority understandably because then in the days and the weeks ahead there's the worry about what happens to all of these people who now have no homes to go back to.

LENGYEL: That's absolutely a concern and sheltering and caring for this displaced people is going to be a long term issue that I think the state of Texas is gearing up before to deal with. There are under, you know, there's no illusion that the scope and scale of disadvantage just did met. And even the length of time that the waters is going to be and it's going to complicate the delivery of commodities and water and medicine to those people who can't use roads to get around and take everything their selves. So, it's a very, very complex environment that's going to go on for a while.

CHURCH: Joseph Lengyel, you have a massive job ahead of you, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you so much for joining us at this time.

LENGYEL: Well, thank you, Rosemary. My thoughts and prayers with Steve in Texas and me and those people that have lost a lot because of these floods. We'll keep thinking about them and working hard to do what we can to save.

CHURCH: And for more on how you can help people affected by tropical storm Harvey, just go to our special impact your world web site at There you can donate to charities vetted by CNN which are working to help those affected by the devastating storm. That's all at

And we are following breaking news out of North Korea where Kim Jong- un has test fired another missile. This time right over Japan. How Tokyo and Washington plan to respond. We'll have that for you next. Stay with us.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, Japan says it is doing everything possible to protect its people out of North Korea's latest missile test. The missile flew directly over the Japanese island of Hokkaido before breaking into pieces over the Pacific Ocean.

South Korea responded with a live fire drill simulating the destruction of Pyongyang's leadership. The U.N. Security Council will meet in an emergency session Tuesday in response to this new launch.


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


CHURCH: And we have team coverage with CNN's Andrew Stevens live this hour in Tokyo, CNN's Will Ripley is in North Korea's capital Pyongyang, and Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea.

[03:19:55] So, Paula, let's turn to you first. And South Korea has already responded to North Korea's missile launch with bombing drills as we mentioned. Talk to us about that and how Pyongyang is likely to react.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Rosemary, this is a much faster response than they usually see from South Korea when it comes to these missile launches. The South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for a strong response and then the air force carried out eight bomb drops, one ton bomb each from four fighter jets at a shooting range.

And what the statement said, which was interesting, was that this was to show that there is a capability of destroying the enemy's leadership. So, a very explicit message there to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un showing that South Korea is very able to react to any kind of threat that it sees and any kind of emergency situation that it sees.

Now there's been a flurry of diplomatic activity at the same time that military action. We know that the foreign ministry he spoke to the U.S. Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson and he said he was disappointed that this has happened that North Korea had carried out this missile launch despite the fact there are being talks or an offer of talks on the table.

And of course, at the back of this that the U.S. and South Korea military drills are ongoing, U.S. and Japanese drills today as well. So certainly there is an awful lot going on but South Korea condemning this launch very strongly.

CHURCH: Right. And what more are we learning about this missile launch and what might it tell us about North Korea's nuclear program.

HANCOCKS: Well, what we have is we know that it flew around 2,700 kilometers, an altitude of 550 kilometers. The South Korean, Japanese, American analysts are pouring over that data right now to see what else they can tell from this. We know that it broke into three pieces before falling into the Pacific Ocean, the waters of the east coast of Hokkaido in Japan. It landed just over 1,100 kilometers off that coast.

So what we're understanding is whether or not it was a medium range or an intermediate range that experts in both Japan and South Korea are looking that at this point. But the joint chief of staff here in Seoul said that given the threats there were from Guam certainly this missile launch is of a certain challenge to the U.S. and to South Korea.

Some suggesting that North Korea didn't feel that it could fire a missile towards Guam but a similar range missile towards Japan may not provoke such a response from the U.S. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Right. Many thanks to our Paula Hancocks, joining us there from Seoul in South Korea. Let's cross now to Tokyo with CNN's Andrew Stevens is standing by with a live report. So, Andrew, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with the U.S. president about this missile launch. What all have you learned about that conversation and how is Japan likely to respond to this provocation from North Korea?

ANDREW STEVENS, ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR, CNN: Well, there's no doubt, Rosemary, that Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister was angry about this launch by the North Koreans. It's the first time in 20 years since there has been a successful missile, North Korean missile launch which has traveled across a Japanese airspace. He actually in front of the media three times in as many hours this morning to talk about developments including talking about a 14-minute telephone conversation with the U.S. president.

What kind of that is really additional pressure or plans for additional pressure on North Korea? That starts with a bid to get the Security Council of the United Nations to hold an emergency meeting that's being pushed through not only by Japan and the U.S. but also by South Korea as well.

Mr. Abe say that he's going to urge the international community through the U.N. to apply more pressure to North Korea. We've seen sanctions impose, tougher sanctions impose in the last few weeks, so perhaps more sanctions at this stage, but really it is limited to economic actions as far as where aware at this stage, Rosemary.

But Mr. Abe makes it very clear from the sound you played in the introduction there saying this was the gravest threat that the North Koreans have posed to Japan. That is a big statement so he will be pushing to get some further action.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed, he will. Andrew Stevens joining us there from Tokyo, where it is nearly 4.30 in the afternoon. Many thanks to you. And this new launch is meant to send a clear message from Pyongyang.

CNN's Will Ripley is in the North Korean capital.

WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Clearly this is a highly, highly provocative missile test by North Korea that they accomplish several things by launching a missile in this way.

[03:24:58] First of all the trajectory to fly it up and over Hokkaido in northern Japan where there were no U.S. military bases they can send a very strong warning to a key U.S. ally but not pose a direct threat to military assets as they would have had they launch this very same missile toward Guam, for example. A threat that North Korea made several weeks ago.

This missile went down harmlessly in the Pacific Ocean. Also by launching it from near the Pyongyang's United Air Force, just a short distance from where I'm standing right now here in central Pyongyang. They sent a message that they can use their mobile missile launchers to rollout missiles in pretty much any location in North Korea not just the remote areas that they tend to launch from but also near highly populated civilian areas.

This throws off the whole U.S. strategy of a preemptive strike against their missile launch assets because North Korea is saying they can place their missiles pretty much anywhere so it add certainly ups the risk if the United States were to try take out missile facilities if those missile launching facilities and this mobile missile launchers were located near a city like Pyongyang or other North Korean cities.

They also of course gain technical knowledge from this. Their rocket scientists learn key information with every missile launch a success or failure and by launching this particular missile at this time they can make it a very different effect, a stronger impact than those three shorter range ballistic missiles that they attempted to launch over the weekend. The big question moving forward now what will North Korea do next.

Officials on the ground here on Pyongyang had told us repeatedly they are furious about the ongoing joint military exercises happening in South Korea which are now in their second week.

And there are indications according to the South Korea's national intelligence service that North Korea may be preparing for their sixth nuclear test at Punggye-ri which would certainly up the ante even further in an already tense region. Although keep in mind officials have been saying for months that North Korea could conduct a nuclear test at any time. That hasn't happened, at least not yet.

Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang, North Korea.

CHURCH: At least one person is dead and eight people wounded in an explosion near the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan's capital. Officials say the blast happened outside a private bank in Kabul. No one has claimed responsibility. The explosion comes just one week after U.S. President Donald Trump announced American forces would be staying in Afghanistan indefinitely.

And we'll take a very quick break right here then flood victims in Houston have a lot of questions. Someone wants to know why there was no evacuation order, others simply want to make it through the night. The faces of Harvey's catastrophic flooding, that's next.


CHURCH: And a very warm welcome back to you all. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.


CHURCH: From lengthening rain, tropical storm Harvey is inundating parts of Texas days after making landfall as a category four hurricane.

The deadly storm is regaining strength and could strike Houston again in the days to come. The U.S. Coast Guard says it's getting more than 1,000 risk loopholes every hour.

North Korea has test fired a ballistic missile that flew directly over northern Japan. It was in the air for about 14 minutes passing over the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The missile eventually broke into pieces over the Pacific Ocean.

A gunman open-fire in a public library in New Mexico killing two people and wounding four others, the suspect is in custody. Reports say, he surrendered to police without a struggle. The motive for the shooting is unknown.

Security forces remain on high alert after a controversial Indian guru was sentenced to 20 years in prison for rape. Many of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh supporters were involved in deadly protests with police following his conviction last week. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: Back to our top story now. Harvey has already dumped more than 63 centimeters of rain on Houston since Friday, an amount that could double by this weekend.

CNN's Alex Marquardt shows us that means a lot more than just numbers, especially if your home has been destroyed and you're still waiting to be rescued.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Block after block of homes now swimming in the rising floodwaters. You all alright?

These quiet suburban streets turned into dark rivers, Tanny Evans (ph) with his boat responding to the call for everyone to pitch in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have 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 catastrophic like this to happen but they said it was going to happen from day one, and it sure enough happen.

MARQUARDT: They're releasing it from the reservoirs. In this house, three people were forced upstairs by the water. This is the situation a lot of people are dealing with.

They're debating whether to leave or not. Right now, the flooding on the ground court isn't that bad. These neighborhoods weren't supposed to be badly affected.

Now the flood water is rising. People are realizing they have to get out. And so right now they're making a tough decision whether to stay or to go.

Just one decided to leave, the others staying behind, tough (Inaudible) that you will totally evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totally upset, totally upset.

MARQUARDT: Do you have any sense that this is going to be this bad?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Not -- I mean I know it's going to be bad but not to this extent.

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

We helped him into the boat and he looked around at the place he's called home for almost 40 years. How does it feel to see the neighborhood like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't (Inaudible). I heard commotion after and there's a boat after and trying to pass over there. I said (BLEEP) around picking up people.

MARQUARDT: This water flowing directly from two nearby reservoirs. The dams open to prevent more catastrophic flooding in the city. This is the place that Texas and FEMA will be involved in for a long, long time.

Officials warning the worst is yet to come. The rain is expected to keep falling all week. It's all hands on deck , all 12,000 Texas National Guard now involved, the Coast Guard carrying out air and water rescues, carrying more than 1,000 people to safety, and armies of everyday people now mobilizing.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: There are so many heroes in Houston who literally save the lives of their fellow Texans. Texans helping Texans, that is what we do as a state and I don't think anybody does it better.

MARQUARDT: Now the water level here has gone up significantly during the course of the day. It wasn't supposed to be this in this area that there has been so much rain that those two reservoirs I mentioned were overflowing.

The Army Corps of Engineers decided to open up the dams essentially making the flooding here worst from preventing worst catastrophic flooding elsewhere in Houston. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Houston.


CHURCH: And of course Houston isn't the only city in Texas dealing with the aftermath of tropical storm Harvey. The town of Lagrange in Texas is more than 150 kilometers west of Houston and has seen record- breaking flooding. CNN's Miguel Marquez is there and has this report.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the Colorado River here. Typically it's about quarter-mile in that direction safely in its banks.

[03:35:00] But it is way over flood stage. It crusted at 54.5 feet. Flood stage here is considered 26 feet. So they're way over twice over flood stage here. I want to show you how high it got here in a Lagrange, Texas.

This is a shop here that was flooded not terribly, not as bad as some of them but there's the water line here for this shop.

This is a county that has several thousand people and at Fayette County, about a thousand people in total were displaced in this neighborhood and this area about 200 homes and businesses have been completely inundated.

But the good news is for this place, the waters as high as it's going to get. It is starting to receive now but that crest is now moving down the Colorado River, places like Columbus, Texas are in for it next. The water there expected to cross between nine and noon central time

on Tuesday. Miguel Marquez, CNN, Lagrange, Texas.


CHURCH: The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued thousands of people and many more are still in need of help. CNN's Ed Lavandera went along with the Texas National Guard as they look for stranded people.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With the demand on first responders simply overwhelming across the city of Houston and the areas around the city, the entire Texas National Guard for some 12,000 soldiers have been called into duty.

We spent the day combing through some neighborhoods with one unit from Dallas that have been one of the first wave of soldiers called a unit known as the Wolfpack.

There from Dallas they have been combing through neighborhoods looking for evacuees desperate to get out of their neighborhoods and their homes. And what we've saw was just stunning.

They do -- did all of this as another round of relentless rain hour after hour, after hours of rain kept falling down on the region and that is something that has people here extremely nervous.

This rain cannot end soon enough but it struck us as we picked up one group of people from an apartment complex that was essentially kind of an island in and out itself surrounded by flood water that the people inside this apartment complex really had grasp for seeing for themselves the amount of rain that has into floodwaters that was surrounding their neighborhood.

And we learned that in the truck with them, taking them to the shelter. There was an audible gas as we came across the worse of the floodwaters that we saw on that drive.

And they all kind of took in that moment and realize just how devastating the situation this is, not just for them but the entire city and neighbors around them.

It was a stunning moment to kind of see all of what developed and watch them take in that moment for themselves for the first time. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Galveston County, Texas.


CHURCH: And President Donald Trump plans to survey the damage in Texas on Tuesday. It's the biggest national disaster since he took office. He said he believes Congress will act quickly to provide relief funding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Texas is a unique place. It's is a great, great state, great people and I think it'll be up and running very, very quickly -- really very quickly.

So yes, I think you're going to be in fantastic shape but it's a long road, still pouring, still a lot of rain nobody's ever seen anything like it. They -- I've heard the words epic. I've heard historic, that's what it is.


CHURCH: Joining me now is CNN Political Analyst Julian Zelizer. He is also a historian and professor at Princeton University, thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: Now President Trump and the first lady plan to visit Texas Tuesday. What impact will that likely have do you think and how do you think Mister Trump has handled the emergency so far compared to other presidents?

ZELIZER: Well, the trip was handled well. It could have a very dramatic impact. It could be a heroic move. It could be a responsive move. It will be the Amish of the president coming in some ways to the rescue of everyone who is suffering.

Practically though it's a big -- it's a big project that requires a lot of security. It is very disruptive to the president has to be careful that this doesn't add to the problems that Texas already faces.

CHURCH: All right, I want to take a look and a listen to the way President Trump reacted to a question Monday about pardoning the controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio while the hurricane was hitting. Let's take a quick listen.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: In the middle of a hurricane Harvey hitting on Friday night, you chose to pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

I wonder if you could tell us what was behind your thinking for issuing a pardon for the sheriff and as well, what do you say to your critics, even some in your own party who say it was the wrong thing to do?

TRUMP: Well, a lot of people think it was the right thing to do, John, and actually in the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening.

[03:40:00] I assume the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally. You know the hurricane was just starting.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Julian Zelizer, Mister Trump is been criticized by some who say it was insensitive to make a major announcement regarding a controversial pardon then to say it was about ratings while at the same time, so many people of course was suffering from the effects of the hurricane and the flooding that followed in Texas. Why would the president of the United States of America make such a comment?

ZELIZER: Well I think sometimes President Trump can't refrain from saying exactly what he was thinking or what's on his mind. The pardon itself was highly controversial. The president isn't correct in saying that it has lots of support.

In fact he had lots of opposition including members of his own party but then to say that in some ways, the ratings that whether crises generate was a reason for him to announce it will sound good for many Americans.

And just as you thought the president might handle this without major controversy, he makes a statement like this and this is something that can be very damaging. These natural disasters often go very poorly politically for the president when there are missteps like this.

CHURCH: And of course the timing of this is hard to grasp because why would Mister Trump decide to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio so early in his presidency and at such a critical time when the state of Texas is dealing with this catastrophic storm.

ZELIZER: Well the why is to support a supporter. It's also to send the message that he is going to remain hard line against immigration.

And it's also to show he is the president and he will pardon whoever he wants. It's an aggressive use of presidential power. I think he said exactly why he announced it on Friday. It wasn't to bury the news. It was just the opposite.

It was to announce the news when he knew many Americans were watching about the weather and they heard this story. So I think he was creatively using the television cycle, even if oppress to his political advantage.

CHURCH: And at this time of course the president is experiencing very low approval ratings. So he would be looking to get some sort of increase here, some sort of hike there either on the back of the hurricane, and the way he deals with it or with this pardon.

But the pardon certainly appeals to his base. So what are we likely to see in terms of his approval ratings in the wake of these decisions he's making?

ZELIZER: It's the same story. I think his over all national support will continue to erode. He is doing nothing to reverse the problems that have caused these low approval ratings.

He will retain relatively strong support with that base that we keep talking about. The real question is what happens with the rest of the Republican Party, thus far they have supported him, they have been the reason that President Trump has avoided many of the problems that potentially faced him, not the base but the entire party.

So the question is do stuffs like this pardon start to erode his standing with Congressional Republicans, with Republican voters who aren't the base, that would be trouble for him in the midterms and in the next few years aftermath.

CHURCH: Yes, we are certainly seeing more Republicans speaking out on various issues. We want to see what happened in the days and weeks going forward. Julian Zelizer with the pleasure to speak with you, many thanks.

ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: President Trump's attorney confirms to CNN that the Trump organization was pursuing plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow while into his presidential campaign.

And Michael Cohen says the president knew all about it. Keep in mind, Mister Trump has said repeatedly, he has and had no business dealings with Russia.

The Washington Post reports emails show a Trump business associate pushed for the deal, bragged about his ties to Vladimir Putin and how this could help get Donald Trump elected. We'll take a short break here.

But still to come, Japan calls North Korea's latest missile test the most grave threat ever. What made this test so dangerous? We'll look at that just ahead.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. The U.N. Security Council will hold an urgent meeting in the coming hours to discuss North Korea's latest ballistic missile test.

Through missile flew about 2700 kilometers over Japan's northern island of Hokkaido before breaking apart over the Pacific Ocean.


CHURCH: That test set off warning sirens on the island and authority has sent text messages urging people to take shelter. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls it the most serious and grave threat ever to Japan joining.


CHURCH: Well joining me now, Kazuto Suzuki, is a professor of Public Policy at Hokkaido University. Thank you so much for being with us.

Of course you're there in Hokkaido where you and only other residents receive these text alerts and heard the sirens.

That woke you up in fact and warned about the missile launch that had just taken place. What was that like? How frightened were you and of course the other residents?

KAZUTO SUZUKI, PROFESSOR, HOKKAIDO UNIVERSITY: Well we do have the earthquake seismic alarm system, so we are kind of get use to have this sort of sirens but this is different tone, very sharp, very alarming and then it was 6:04 A.M., I'm in bed, it's very, very troubling. I mean...

CHURCH: Yes, I can -- I can imagine. Very disturbing, so why -- why do you think North Korea fired a missile over Japan at this time? What message do you think Pyongyang was trying to send the world and what does it have to gain by doing this now?

SUZUKI: I think this missile test is the part series of the tests to make sure that they have enough technical advantages, and I think this is -- this is not towards the direction of Guam which was announced but it was towards Hawaii.

But the distance -- the range of the missile test is almost equivalent to the coast of Guam. Guam is about 2,000 kilometers -- 2,000 miles away from North Korea, and this flew like 1700 miles. So I think this a test to make sure that they are -- they are able to achieve to the target.

CHURCH: Right, and to send a message to the U.S. that it can do it presumably and of course U.S. President Donald Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have spoken to each other about the missile threat.

The U.N. Security Council meets in the coming hours in an emergency session which will likely increase economic pressure on North Korea. Is that the only likely response from Japan and the rest of the world? Is that the only option really that's there?

SUZUKI: Yes, I think this moment, Japan doesn't have the course and forces to work together to put the metric pressure on North Korea.

So I think the appropriate way of putting additional pressure is going to the U.S. channel.

[03:50:00] And there is still some hope that the diplomatic and this international pressure would change the course of behavior of North Korea.

But as you might guess, I think this has not -- this message has been tested and tried and tested but it didn't work. So I don't know. Maybe there are more -- I mean currently, the United States and South Korea is running the military operations.

I mean military drills. And they may have more, stronger message through those exercises but Japan has not been a part of it, and Japan doesn't have to the ability of demonstrating its power to North Korea.

CHURCH: All right, Kazuto Suzuki, thank you so much for joining us there from Hokkaido. We do appreciate it.

SUZUKI: Thank you very much. CHURCH: Well, some of the evacuations in Texas require a delicate task. How rescue officials are helping get elderly people to safety. We'll have that for you when we come back.


CHURCH: Tropical storm Harvey has swamped Houston, Texas with rapidly rising floodwaters.


CHURCH: The photos on the left were taken before the storm hit clearly and you can tell where the roads are. The photos on the right show how those locations look like now.

Houston has seen more than 63 centimeters of rain in just two days and officials expect that amount to double by next Saturday, just incredible comparison there.


CHURCH: Now Houston residents already pushed to the limit of being told there are more than boats in the floodwaters. Experts tell us alligators don't like big vicious storms any more than we do.

The man who runs the gator country rescue park in Southeast Texas told CNN's Drew Griffin, he is expecting a gator break out.



GARY SAURAGE, OWNER, GATOR COUNTRY RESCUE PARK: Well, we are -- this is gator catch. We're actually kind of a rescue where alligators that kind of lose alligators, where they are people's pools or of course the backyard, and we kind of give them a -- we let them live here.

Every sense -- three days ago we've been working real hard to catch a lot these alligators that have been outside. Obviously we're going to catch every one of them.

We've got -- we've got a lot them in holding facilities, up in Beaumont into drier spot. We've still got some alligators that are -- that are underneath fences.

These fences are about to go underwater. This tropical storm will not give up. It just keeps pounding us -- pounding us. It's going to be days before these proceeds.

GRIFFIN: So these gators will lay actually flee because the water is too high, they go over the fence?

SAURAGE: Absolutely. There is no question about it. When -- you've got regulation signs, fences, and they're over the top of them, some of these alligator, there's no question. Some of them are going to get out. The good news is, here in

southeast Texas, everybody is used to live with alligators. We've got over a million alligators right here on the Texas, Louisiana, Gulf Coast.

We've got a bunch of them and everybody is used to it. Everybody in here knows gators safety. You've got to stay away from them. You've got to stay from them. However, there's no question, we're going to have a few alligators get out.


CHURCH: All right, they also points out, the parts of venomous snakes and other creatures have been captured, and stowed away.

[03:55:00] Well, evacuating the elderly poses a number of added challenges. Their physical and mental conditions can make moving them risky while the weather calls for quick action. Gary Tuchman shows us how FEMA crews are managing it.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Floodwaters encircled the Heritage Park nursing home in Katy Texas just outside of Houston and inside work an 80 seniors in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Some frightened, some confused, all thankful help has arrived.

Two rescue workers beginning the work of getting them out of the nursing home one by one. And in continuing hail of force winds in driving lane, gently brining them on board, military trucks in other to get them out of the flood zone

DR. NICHOLAS KMAN, MEDICAL MANAGER, FEMA OHIO TASK FORCE: You can tell some of them are very upset and so that makes us upset you know. But I think all we can do is do the best thing for the patient, try to comfort them, that everything is going to be OK.

TUCHMAN: Many of the residents are bed ridden and not in good medical condition. Doctors perform checkups before they take those residents out to the trucks.

This rescue was being 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. The nursing home residents board the truck sitting side-by-side, getting ready for their exits.

STEVE SHUPERT, RESCUE SQUAD OFFICER, FEMA: (Inaudible) the central location, our truck spot, from there we're sending them all to separate facilities best suited for their needs.

TUCHMAN: And where there will meet up with worried family members. They're going to get you to good place and there will be lots of friends and family. You know what caused all this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You. TUCHMAN: Not me, hurricane Harvey.



TUCHMAN: I'm not a dummy. OK, you can call me anything you like. I just wish you a good trip, OK? And you'll be OK. OK? That's my promise.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll that's sweet of you.

TUCHMAN: And as the rest, you are promised too.


TUCHMAN: Thank you. Many of these residents haven't left the neighborhood surrounding this nursing home for many years. Now they have all left, safely rescued, and trucked out by men and women grateful to the opportunity to help.


CHURCH: Gary Tuchman with that report from Katy Texas, about 50 kilometers west of downtown Houston. And thanks so much for your company, I'm Rosemary Church, remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs is coming up next. You're watching CNN.