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NEW DAY

Harvey Regains Strength, Will Make Landfall Again; Red Cross: Houston Convention Center Shelter Over Capacity; North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile Over Japan; Trump Defending Pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's definitely a very, very scary time.

[05:59:31] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officials say there are potentially tens of thousands more people trapped, awaiting rescue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are just beginning the process of responding to the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It happened so fast. You're literally in moments of panic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to take care of every single Houstonian.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will get through this. We will come out stronger than ever before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea launching a missile over Japan, prompting an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, is furious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, this is a highly, highly provocative missile test by North Korea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, August 29th, 6 a.m. here in New York. Here's our starting line.

Tropical Storm Harvey is regaining strength and threatening to make landfall again. America's fourth largest city, Houston, is paralyzed by this catastrophic flooding.

You're looking at live pictures right now of storm victims packing the Houston Convention Center, which is way over capacity, giving refuge to thousands more people than anticipated. And thousands more have been rescued, but many are still stranded in rising floodwaters. Rainfall totals now near four feet in the hardest hit areas, with more days of rain ahead and the death toll also rising.

CUOMO: In just hours, President Trump is going to head to flood- ravaged Texas. The president is going to avoid Houston. He says he wants first responders to stay focused on helping those in need.

This isn't the only crisis facing the president. Mr. Trump now weighing his options after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan, after saying just last week that Kim Jong-un respects the U.S.

We have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Scott McLean, live in the suburbs of Houston. And the rain is coming, and it's coming strong -- Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Chris.

Well, President Trump will be coming to Texas today, but he will not be coming here to Houston, where it is still very much an active rescue operation, where the floodwaters are still rising.

Where we are, they've gotten some 23 inches of rain just in the last 48 hours alone. Other areas have gotten more than 30 inches, and as you can see, there is still a lot more on the way.

All 12,000 of Texas National Guardsmen and women have been activated to help with this response. And some estimates say there could be tens of thousands of people still stranded inside their homes.

Now, where we are in northeast Houston, Chris, there's a whole neighborhood back here. You can't see it, obviously, because it's still dark; but there are hundreds, maybe thousands of houses back there, and they've been pulling people out of the neighborhood all night long. They've been taking them under this underpass before taking them to shelters where they've been given supplies, a lot of them handed out by volunteers. They say they pulled out probably 1,000-plus people just overnight.

And this effort, Chris, has relied heavily on volunteers with big trucks, with boats, people who simply wanted to help. I can tell you, I spoke to a couple guys who came here from Mississippi. They're fishermen. They brought their boat. They're actually Hurricane Katrina survivors. They said they simply wanted to help, and they will be here for the next couple of days or as long as there is a need for them.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Scott, solid reporting on that. Some of the guys are part of what's known as the Cajun Navy. They were born after Katrina. They started helping each other down there, and now they're needed once again.

You are looking at live pictures of one of the major shelters down there in Houston. It's the convention center. It is way over capacity already. There are about 9,000 people there. The governor is believing you may have three or four times that, that need shelter.

CNN's Rosa Flores is live with the breaking details. What do we know? ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Chris, like you

mentioned, we just learned that more than 9,000 people are waking up downtown Houston at that convention center, still grappling with the fact that they lost everything and still processing the trauma of being rescued from rising waters, a lot of them children.

Now, I'm a few blocks away. You can see the downtown skyline behind me. You can see a pump actually pumping water out of one of the basements here.

But I want to turn around quickly, because these are the waters that these people have been rescued from. This is Buffalo Bayou, and it's still raging towards the Gulf of Mexico.

But back to the evacuees, capacity at the downtown convention center is 5,000. Right now, 9,000 people are there. Megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen opening Lakewood Church to being a shelter and also for a donation point, but you know, authorities here estimate that many, many more people will be needing shelter.

Dallas stepping in, that shelter scheduled to be opening up this morning. And Alisyn, it continues to rain this morning. Bad news for Houston, as it continues to get pummeled.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, Rosa. Something's got to give there in that makeshift shelter. Thank you for the reporting. We'll check back all morning.

Tropical Storm Harvey's torrential rain is shattering records in Texas. At this hour, the storm is regaining strength in the Gulf, and it could dump more rain over Houston and Louisiana. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our latest forecast.

Tell us what's about to happen, Chad.

[06:05:03] CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Houston's going to get rain. Beaumont, Port Arthur, also; probably all the way over to Louisiana and Mississippi; and even as far west as Mobile today, and Pensacola to the east will be some of the heavier bands.

But two to four inches of rain on top of Houston last night overnight, South Houston now at 49 inches of rainfall since this started, and it's still raining right there. I'm sure we'll get higher numbers today. They usually come in around 8 a.m. in the morning. We'll watch them for you. I'll post them as soon as I get them. But I'm sure some places now are approaching 50 inches.

The storm will move this week finally. It won't really move very much today, pumping a lot of rainfall across parts of southeast Texas, all the way, again through about New Orleans; and there you see the heavy rainfall all the way to about Pensacola, Florida. So this now is spreading itself out. That's good news. Spread out all you want. Don't just dump it in Houston, because that's what we've had.

Today I think Houston gets another two to four inches, even making South Houston's number today, Chris, almost 50 inches as that is what the computer predicted almost 120 hours ago.

CUOMO: So you have all of that saturation and over such an extended period of time, it's just going to ruin those homes and buildings. Chad, we'll check back with you in a little bit.

So at this hour you still have thousands in their homes, many waiting for rescues. Authorities are asking them to hang a white towel outside their home if they need help. Remember, in a lot of these places you don't have the ability to communicate. There's no power. Cell service is spotty.

Joining us now is Leidys Shull. Emergency workers rescued her and 10 other people, including four children overnight.

Can you hear me?

LEIDYS SHULL, RESCUED (via phone): Yes. Good morning.

CUOMO: Thank God you guys are -- got to safety now. How are you doing? How's everybody?

SHULL: I am so happy to be outside of my house. We are in the hotel right now, and you know, happy to -- our lives to be safe.

CUOMO: So everybody's healthy. Nobody got injured. You know where everyone is, yes?

SHULL: Yes. They are here with me at the hotel. So we got three rooms, so we are staying here together.

CUOMO: Were you able to take the things that you needed out of your home? Were you able to take, you know, the most important things with you, or did you have to leave everything behind?

SHULL: I leave everything behind. We just take maybe one clothes extras. That's what we have.

CUOMO: So how do you feel, now that you're at the hotel, about what comes next? Do you have any plan?

SHULL: We have a little anxiety, you know, because we have lost everything. I don't have a plan right now. Just, you know, asking to God to help us and to be a change so we can go through this situation.

This is my second time that we lost everything. I did it for Katrina; now this time Harvey. So we are -- I don't know what's going to happen next, but I'm just trying to be calm and take something good out of this.

CUOMO: Well, you say you've had the really bad luck of having to go through this before. You know, this is hurricane season, and Katrina marks 12 years today. What did you learn that last time about what it takes to get through something like this and rebuild your life?

SHULL: Yes, and like I just say, I did it before, so I -- this time is going to be the same. We're going to -- we're going to go through this. And we're going to make it.

CUOMO: Do you have insurance?

SHULL: Yes, we have friends, and they've been calling me to check on me. And I'm so thankful with you guys, with CNN and everybody, you now, who has spread the news and helped us to get out from our house and even help our neighbors to get out from their house, because it was very deep, very dangerous situation we was, no light, no power, no food. So it's not safe for anybody to be, you know, locked inside a house in that situation.

CUOMO: We're looking at the pictures of your house now, and it looks like there's water almost up to the roof in some places. How much water was inside the house while you were still there?

SHULL: It was -- it was reaching about the second floor.

CUOMO: Geez.

SHULL: So the last option, if it got much higher, the last option we had just go to the roof, if we was able to make it. For 11 people, I think it was not possible.

CUOMO: Eleven people.

SHULL: Yes.

CUOMO: How long were you together in that house?

SHULL: We were about 24 hours to get rescued.

CUOMO: Wow. Do you have insurance? Do you have ways to recover what was lost?

SHULL: I -- I do not have flood insurance for my house. Unfortunately, my house is -- I bought it through owner finance, so I don't know what is going to happen.

CUOMO: Well, what are you telling yourselves this morning, now that you're in the hotel? I'm sure it's just starting to sink in that you're out of harm's way, at least for now. What are you telling yourself?

SHULL: There is hope. And I know this is a good moment for everybody to come together and work together so we can get out of this situation, like we did it before with Katrina. I know we can do it now here in Texas.

CUOMO: Well, Leidys, I have to tell you, to have the confidence that you have and to be as positive as you are after living through something like that for 24 hours with all those people, you will be an inspiration to many. You will help feed their hope.

Thank God you're OK. I wish you well. We will stay in touch with you to make sure that everything is OK in these next few days. Thank you for joining us, and I'm happy you're safe. SHULL: Thank you. Thank you so much. Everything is -- I want to

tell everybody in this situation what we're going through right now is nothing. I'm sure we can do this together; we can overcome this.

CUOMO: Amazing things are possible when you work together. Be well/ We'll stay in touch -- Alisyn.

SHULL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's find out more about those rescues. The Coast Guard working around the clock in Houston, rescuing thousands of people from the floodwaters. Joining us now is Vice Admiral Karl Schultz. He's the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, Atlantic area.

Admiral Schultz, thank you for being here. We spoke almost exactly 24 hours ago. Tell us what's happened in that time.

VICE ADMIRAL KARL SCHULTZ, COMMANDER, ATLANTIC AREA, U.S. COAST GUARD (via phone): Good morning, Alisyn.

A lot has happened. The -- Harvey still remains an extremely dangerous storm with catastrophic flooding. The weather reports are indicating, you know, 10 to 20 inches of rain here in the coming days. The storm is sitting, you know, 90 or 100 miles south of Houston and continuing to sock the area, moving very slowly.

In the last 24 hours, I believe we've had about 150 additional air rescues, almost 2,000 rescues with our flood teams on the water. If you roll those numbers up I think it's about 3,500 rescues in the last couple days for the Coast Guard.

We continue to flow assets into the area. I believe right now -- the exact facts on this, I think we have a respect crew in the area that's medevacking a late-term pregnancy, woman reportedly in the 38th, 39th week of pregnancy; and they're trying to get her to a higher level of medical care.

CAMEROTA: Is it true, Admiral, that you're getting 1,000 calls for help per hour?

SCHULTZ: I believe, Alisyn, that it's a number in the thousands, a thousand, thousand plus. I don't have the exact fidelity on the calls. The calls continue to come in at a very high volume.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. And so what condition are these folks in? Once your boats get to them, how do they find people who've been stranded all this time?

SCHULTZ: Well, Alisyn, I mean, we find folks by -- you know, through dispatch working with the state EOC and the 911 centers. And when our helicopters are out flying on, you know, cases they've been dispatched to, they usually see other folks in distress.

The folks on the water, you know, are assigned grids, as are their state and local partners. And they work within those grids. I think we've seen a tremendous outpouring of what we call good Samaritans or Texans helping Texans and the Cajun Navy here in Texas helping out. And I think one important thing is just to reiterate that it is not work without some danger there. We want to have folks that are experienced on the water, if possible. If they can check into a local staging point, I think that optimizes their effectiveness.

CAMEROTA: What's your biggest concern, Admiral, at this hour?

SCHULTZ: Well, Alisyn, my biggest concern, I'd say, is two-fold. Obviously, the forecast has the storm continuing to sit offshore through today and tomorrow and then slowly start moving northeast. It's going to continue to dump more water in the area, so this -- you know, we have not seen the likely maximum extent of the floodings, and we're obviously concerned, like every other first responder, that we don't know where everybody is that's out there.

But we are going to continue in the fight and get to folks as we can. We try to triage the calls so we get to those that are in the most immediate distress with the most immediate life- -- you know, life- threatening situations, and we just keep at it.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Admiral Karl Schultz, thank you very much for taking time to update us this morning. We know you have a busy day ahead.

SCHULTZ: OK. Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So another big story this morning: a major escalation of nuclear tension. North Korea launching another ballistic missile, this time over Japan. How will the president respond? We have a live report inside North Korea, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:18:33] CUOMO: The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting today in response to North Korea launching a ballistic missile over Japan. President Trump speaking with Japan's prime minister last night.

Let's get the very latest from CNN's Will Ripley. Will is the only western journalist inside North Korea. He's is Pyongyang, the capital, with details.

What do we know, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know that more than 12 hours after this missile launch, Chris, North Koreans are still unaware of what has happened. It hasn't been officially announced on state media. And in this, the most isolated country on earth, where people don't have access to things like the Internet, people have been going about their day, unaware.

We were out on the streets earlier talking with people, and we were told we could not ask about this missile launch specifically, because they just don't know yet. But when it is announced, and it will be in the coming hours; North

Korea will triumphantly announce it as a major accomplishment by their supreme leader Kim Jong-un. The rest of the world looks at him as someone who's escalating the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the point of nuclear war. North Koreans, however, will say that it's actually the United States doing that.

They blame the U.S. and, specifically, President Trump for the military exercises happening right now in South Korea, and also for President Trump's fiery rhetoric, which just one week ago today, he seemed to think was working with the North Koreans. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Kim Jong-un, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. I respect that fact. And maybe, probably not, but maybe something positive can come about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[06:20:21] RIPLEY: Well, when we landed here in Pyongyang, we were quickly told that is not the case. The North Koreans are still furious over President Trump's rhetoric and over the actions of the United States.

So what we saw was their most provocative missile launch in years, flying a missile over Japan, over the northern region of Hokkaido, 5 million people waking up to air-raid sirens and emergency messages on their phone telling them to take cover, just a terrifying way to start the day, even though the missile ended up falling in the Pacific Ocean harmlessly.

Also significant here, Chris, the North Koreans launched this missile from the Pyongyang Airport, about 20 miles from what I'm standing in the heart of their capital. Normally, they'd choose remote areas. Perhaps launching from this location near a highly populated city is a sign to the U.S. that they shouldn't think about a preemptive strike, because there could be severe humanitarian consequences.

CUOMO: So that's the provocative side from North Korea. The prime minister of Japan believes that this may be a little bit of a backing off by North Korea, because the trajectory of this missile went over Japan and not Guam. Guam, U.S. territory, I guess would be perceived as more provocative. What's your take on that?

RIPLEY: The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and President Trump had a 40-minute emergency phone call during the overnight hours. And out of that phone call Abe said that this is the most grave threat, a really unprecedented threat for Japan.

But his foreign minister also indicated that he thinks because North Korea launched this missile on the trajectory it did and not south, that perhaps North Korea may be backing down. They may have calculated here in Pyongyang that, by not firing this likely intermediate-range missile toward Guam, which would have likely been a red line for the U.S., that they can -- they can send a strong message of defiance. They can make this launch different from the others. They can get more attention, but they don't cross that line that could force the United States into military action.

Which raises the question: even though the North Koreans say they don't trust Americans, do they want to talk with the United States? And I believe that the answer to that is yes, although the sense I'm getting on the ground here is that the back-channel discussions that occasionally happen in New York between the U.S. and North Korea, unofficial conversations haven't been going anywhere lately.

North Korea certainly wants to come to the diplomatic table, Alisyn, but they want to do so from a position of strength, not a position of weakness, which is why we see these repeated tests and indications this morning North Korea could be preparing for their sixth nuclear test. New activity spotted at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. That would certainly send a message and escalate the situation even further.

CAMEROTA: Will, it is so helpful to have you on the ground there for us to bring us all the latest. Obviously, this is developing very quickly, and we'll check back with you. Thank you for all that reporting.

So in just hours, President Trump will travel to Texas to survey the damage from Hurricane Harvey and get briefed on the relief efforts. This as the president tries to weather his own political storm, defending his controversial pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more.

What's the latest there, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

The president stepping into his role as consoler-in-chief with this trip to Texas. He has been trying to strike some unifying notes, as this natural disaster continues there with one notable exception. The president took a lot of heat for his controversial pardon of the former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, because of the timing of it. It came right as the storm was bearing down on Texas, and was seen, perhaps, as an attempt to try to minimize the media fallout from the pardon.

But when the president was asked about it at a news conference just yesterday here at the White House, he said he wasn't trying to bury the news at all and even suggested he might have been trying to maximize it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally. You know, the hurricane was just starting. And I put it out that I had pardoned, as we call -- as we say, Sheriff Joe. He's done a great job for the people of Arizona.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So today it's all about Texas, the president heading out first to Corpus Christi, where he's going to get a briefing; then on to Austin to see the emergency operations center there. He'll be traveling with his wife, Melania.

Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our panel to discuss all of this. We have CNN political analyst Abby Phillip and chief political writer for "The Austin American Statesman," Jonathan Tilove. Great to have both of you.

So Abby, President Trump is saying all the things that Texans would want to hear today. He's saying, "We're going to get your funding." He's spoken to Congress. He believes the funding for the relief efforts will happen very quickly. He believes they feel the way he does in a bipartisan way. All words of comfort. So what do we expect to see today when the president lands?

[06:25:06] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think today is really just about him showing solidarity with the folks who are there, showing support for the first responders who are on the ground.

And I think that, you know, generally speaking, we're still really in the middle of what is a humanitarian disaster and a crisis. So you're not going to see a lot of politicization of the situation, thankfully. And I imagine he'll be there shaking hands, saying positive words and just sort of being a presence.

I think it's a little early, frankly. It's Tuesday. People are still ravished -- you know, dealing with floodwaters and being rescued at the moment not too far from where he's going. So in some ways, I think there's a risk here. But I think the White House is trying to do it in a way that is sort of quiet and unobtrusive but gives Trump an opportunity to -- to have a presence there.

We haven't seen him do things like go to FEMA, for example, in Washington, which presidents often do during disasters just to kind of give a pep talk. I imagine that's kind of what he's going to be doing down in Texas.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, there's always criticism: you go to early, you go too late. He's going to be on the ground.

Jonathan Tilove, before we get into the president, I know you're in in Austin, but is your family OK? Is everybody all right with what's been going on with Harvey?

JONATHAN TILOVE, CHIEF POLITICAL WRITER, "THE AUSTIN AMERICAN STATEMAN": Oh, yes. Yes. No, Austin is fine. I mean, there is some flooding in surrounding areas but no, we're fine here.

CUOMO: All right. TILOVE: Thanks for asking.

CUOMO: The message from the president is "I am with you, not just in mind and spirit, but in body. I'm going to be there." What do you think this means?

TILOVE: Right.

CUOMO: How is it being covered on the ground?

TILOVE: Well, I think this has the potential to be his best moment of his presidency so far, because he's -- he's acting capably, and he's coming to show support for the state. And he's forged a really strong relationship with Governor Greg Abbott, who I think has also had his finest hour during this hurricane.

So barring the unforeseen, which with this president is always lurking, I don't see why this wouldn't be a very good day for him.

CAMEROTA: So Abby, at the same time that he's confronting this national crisis, obviously, we just had the reporting from Will Ripley in North Korea about what North Korea is doing. What's the feeling in Washington about what's next from Pyongyang?

PHILLIP: Well, you know, it's interesting, because this president has obviously been really focused on North Korea and responding to it, but he's also said some interesting things that I think you all played not too long ago, in which he suggested that whatever the strategy is, is already working, that North Korea is suddenly respecting the United States. I think this attack -- this missile launch really proves that to be not -- not exactly right.

And I think it's important for the president to set the right tone here, and to -- and also to reassure the American people this is really serious, scary stuff, a missile flying over a populous city in Japan, one of our closest allies. I think it's important to hear something from this White House that reassures people.

At the same time again, it is what seems to be a very difficult and somewhat intractable problem. They're working at it, but there have been no break-throughs at this moment in time.

And you'll see the same kind of pressure points: the diplomatic efforts at the U.N. You'll see the White House and the State Department responding, as they have for the last couple of months. But I'm not sure that we're seeing any change, which is ultimately what President Trump has promised in this situation.

CUOMO: Well, Jonathan, it gets tricky, right? If you're on the ground in Texas dealing with all that despair, do you deal with the international? Do you deal with the political? Do you talk about Joe Arpaio? Or do you just stick to the people who are down there and maybe call out the Osteens and tell them to open up the church and do it sooner? What do you think the play is for the president?

TILOVE: I think he's -- I mean, my guess is he'll steer away from any politicization of it, because this is really something where, you know, his relationship with the governor is such the governor gave the federal government an A-plus for what they're doing. And one way to kind of calm the president and maintain his support is to support him. And I think this is a case where the governor's been able to support him without having to go out on a limb and in a way that benefits the state of Texas.

I think everyone is clearly focused on the storm here. I -- you know, who knows what he might say. But I don't think there's any reason why he's going to stray from that. I think, you know, he likes the fact that he's the president in charge of recovery and rebuilding of what is maybe the -- one of the biggest disasters in American history. I think this is something he'll be able to -- to talk about and suggest that he's -- you know, this is on the credit side of the ledger for him.

And I think, you know, he's comfortable here. I don't think there's some political score to settle here. I think here he is in a state where, I think, he identifies with the state and its leadership; and it should be all good. And I don't see him trying to borrow some kind of controversy.