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Red Cross: Houston Convention Center Shelter Over Capacity; Harvey Death Toll Rises to 9, Rain to Continue; North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile Over Japan. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 29, 2017 - 07:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The U.N. Security Council meeting today in response to North Korea launching a missile over Japan.

[07:00:07] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a pretty significant escalation from North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big question moving forward now: what will North Korea do next?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Tropical Storm Harvey regaining strength, threatening to make landfall again. This is the scene inside the Houston Convention Center. More than 9,000 victims are there. The shelter is at nearly double its capacity. They are still taking people in.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of people have been rescued from the rising floodwaters in Houston, and many more are still stranded in their homes. Rainfall totals are now nearing four feet in the hardest-hit areas, with more days of rain ahead; and the death toll is rising, as well.

In a little more than an hour, President Trump heads to Texas to survey the damage. The president says he'll avoid Houston, because he does not want to get in the way of first responders' efforts.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Rosa Flores. She is live inside the Houston Convention Center.

What's the scene in there, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Alisyn, we are seeing hundreds, thousands of people walk into this convention center. I want to set the scene for you, because this is the entrance where people are coming in from.

You can see security officers there. There is a security check as soon as people come in, for the safety and security of everyone in this facility. There's also, you can see here, donations. People not only opening their wallets but literally dropping off clothing, towels, socks, because again, the people in this facility have lost everything.

As we keep on showing you here, this is the registration desk. This is where people are registering. And then beyond this wall, that's where the evacuees are staying.

Now, the American Red Cross put it this way. Now this is their home. That's the reason why we can't go in there and show you around and show you close-ups, because this is their home. We are respecting their privacy and not going inside.

As you mentioned, 9,000 people waking up this morning here at the Houston Convention Center, grappling with the fact that they have lost everything, processing the fact that they were rescued. A lot of them children, air-lifted, plucked from their homes, Chris. So there's a lot of trauma here, not just, you know, the scenes that you're seeing of people, whether it's getting some clothing or some supplies, but the trauma that they're dealing with this morning, tremendous, as they figure out what's next for them and their families.

CUOMO: Always significant mental health issues. That's why the Red Cross and other service providers deal with counseling, as well as getting all those hard supplies that people need. You have to get both to make it through something like this.

Rosa, thank you very much. We'll check back with her in a moment.

Joining us on the phone right now is Anthony Tornetta. He's a spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

Anthony, we know you're very busy. Thank you for joining us. We also know that the demand is great. It will probably continue to grow. What is your ability to meet it in and around the Houston area with shelters and places that people can take cover?

ANTHONY TORNETTA, SPOKESMAN, AMERICAN RED CROSS (via phone): Yes, well, we did an excellent job of repositioning resources ahead of -- ahead of the storm. And the great thing is that community partners are working really, really well to ensure that we're meeting all the needs of those that have been impacted.

So we're going to continue to push forward, you know. This is a disaster, and so it's not -- not going to be an easy recovery process. But we're going to work with our community partners, and we're going to ensure that the people, you know, that have been affected have everything they need as they go forward.

CUOMO: What does community partners mean? And how do you deal with the fact that you're at double capacity in the convention center?

TORNETTA: Yes, so we're going to find safe transportation to move people to other shelter locations. We have over 30 shelters set up across the Gulf Coast region, and so we'll make sure that we -- we find, just as they may have been brought into the convention center shelter, we're going to make sure that we find a safe transportation to get people to a safe location for them.

CUOMO: And what are are your thoughts about what the demand is going to be and whether or not you can meet it?

TORNETTA: You know, the great thing about the Red Cross, about our volunteers, about the community of Houston and Texas, is that we're very resilient. And together we'll make sure that we meet the needs of these people that have been affected.

You know, this is a very chaotic time for them, and what we want to do is in the Red Cross organization. So we want to try to put a little bit of normalcy to a rather unnormal situation and help them, just at least when they're with us and they're in our shelters, know that they're in a safe place and that somebody is there to put an arm around them and talk them -- start talking through this process with them.

CUOMO: How do you deal with the range of need? You have shelter. You have clothes. You have food, medical, mental health, anxiety, planning for the future, of getting their insurance claims. How broad is the Red Cross scope of service?

[07:05:09] TORNETTA: Yes. All of what you just touched on. We have disaster mental health workers. We have spiritual care volunteers. So, you know, we have people that -- that will talk with people that need to just sit down and take five minutes of their time just to talk about their thoughts, talk about their experiences.

Because each of these people that are with us have a very different experience of how they got to them. Some may be -- some may just need something -- something to eat. Some might just need a place to lay down for a couple of hours so they can regroup.

So we're going to make sure each individual is -- needs are dressed, and we're going to try to help them with the recovery process, although the recovery process is a long way away.

CUOMO: And just quickly, do you have enough local partners? We know there's a story out there about the Osteens and when they're going to open up their church so that they can have more people get help. People have been knocking on the doors. Do you have enough partners?

TORNETTA: You know, one of the things that I can tell you is that, as I watched your program, you know, you see people. And this is such an impressive thing about these disasters, is that people are helping people. They are truly helping each other. Community partners that probably would never be involved in disaster recovery effort are stepping up and helping each other. Just the average person getting in their canoe and helping somebody get out of their house are helping each other. And so this truly is a community relief effort.

CUOMO: Anthony, thank you very much. Thanks to the Red Cross. When Mother Nature is at her worst, often we see human nature at its best.

TORNETTA: You got it.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

TORNETTA: Thank you, sir. CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Well, the death toll is rising as rescuers try to bring thousands of people still stranded to safety.

CNN's Scott McLean is live in the suburbs of Houston, where of course, the rain continues to fall. Scott, what's the latest?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Alisyn.

That death toll now standing at nine deaths that are potentially storm related. There are also estimates that say there may be tens of thousands of people still stranded in their flooded-out homes across Houston.

Every single National Guardsman or -woman across Texas -- that's about 12,000 of them -- has been activated to help try to get people out. And that is why President Trump will visit Texas today, but he will not be coming to the hardest hit area here in Houston, because he doesn't want to get in the way of what is really a very active situation.

Where I'm standing right now, Alisyn, this is in northeast Houston. They've gotten about two feet of rain in just the past 24 hours alone. Other parts of the city have gotten more than two and a half feet.

Now you can't tell right now, because it's still dark; but there is a whole neighborhood of people just beyond that store there. Many of them have been pulled out. Police say there's about more than 1,000 that they've taken out over the last couple of hours. We witnessed the last load of people about two hours ago, being taken out by truckload.

I just spoke to a gentleman who had a big box truck here. He showed up to see if there was anyone who needed to be taken to shelter. A box truck. He says it fits about 30 people. He says he's taken about 200 to local shelters over the past day or so.

And Alisyn, this effort is also relying heavily on volunteers with big trucks and with boats, as well, who are going in there to get people out. I spoke to a gentleman, a couple of guys from Mississippi who have a boat that they've brought in. They are Hurricane Katrina survivors. They just wanted to help out, as well.

They're also coordinating using an app. And I've been listening to some of the chatter on there. It sounds just like a 911 dispatch, and I can tell you even at this hour, they are still very busy -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Scott.

CUOMO: All right. So Tropical Storm Harvey's torrential rain is shattering records in Texas. The storm is now regaining strength in the Gulf. It's expected to dump a lot more rain over Houston and Louisiana.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the latest rainfall totals, and forecast. Not the news they wanted on the 12-year anniversary of Katrina, that more rain could be making its way to the Gulf.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: More rain will, not maybe. Absolutely, Chris. This is just another devastating part of this story.

There is the center of Harvey right now, moving into the Gulf of Mexico. It will eventually get up here somewhere around Beaumont-Port Arthur. And what is that going to do? That may dry out the west side of the eye or the center of the storm. It's only going to get to be 45 miles per hour. That's what it is now. That's what it's going to stay. Not really gaining wind strength, just gaining moisture.

But then that's going to push an awful lot of rain on this side. You know how we saw when the storm was near San Antonio how very wet Houston got. Same idea. The east side of the storm gets significantly wetter than the west side of the storm. The west side of the storm is dragging down air from Oklahoma. The east side of the storm is pushing up air from the Gulf of Mexico.

So we will continue to watch the rainfall today. I think Beaumont, Port Arthur, you are in trouble today, eight to ten more inches for you. Washington -- Houston, Texas, about three to four inches. And New Orleans, about three to five inches today. That's it so far -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chad, thank you very much. We'll check back with you.

[07:10:06] Our next guest, Kate Quarrella Beard, lost her home in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Then she relocated to Dickinson, Texas. Now, she's had to evacuate that home. She is on her way back to New Orleans to stay with her mother, and Kate joins us now.

Kate, how are you doing this morning?

KATE QUARRELLA BEARD, EVACUATED FROM DICKINSON, TEXAS: Hi, good morning. I'm OK. Doing better today than I have the last two days.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we can imagine. What was it like in your home in Texas as you saw the floodwaters rising and realized that you were going to have to get out?

BEARD: I actually evacuated before it happened.

CAMEROTA: You did. So you heard the alerts.

BEARD: I did.

CAMEROTA: And you decided to get out?

BEARD: Yes, I did. Yes, because after Katrina, I realized anything can happen. We were, you know, in a very low flood zone. We flooded and I lost my house, so I wasn't taking any chances. I have an 18- month-old, and I'm six months pregnant, so I was ready to leave.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, Kate. And how's your -- how is your 18-month- old doing? BEARD: He's doing OK. We've been staying with family and so he --

he's good. Has no idea, thank goodness.

CAMEROTA: And so when you decided to evacuate before things got really bad, what did your neighbors in Dickinson, Texas, say to you?

BEARD: That they have never flooded before in the 30 years they've been there. This is just like any other storm. It's just going to come through. It's just going to be some rain. Nobody's going to flood.

And then people wound up having to be evacuated off of their roofs and rescued through their attics and taken from boats. It was just -- it happened so fast, it was so scary.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. I mean, so they were -- is it fair to say they were sort of scoffing at you sort of and making you sound like an alarmist? And were you trying to tell them about your own personal history and that they should take heed?

BEARD: Absolutely. I know from experience that once -- even a voluntary evacuation is nothing to play around with. It's just -- it's serious. Everything happens so fast and people go into panics. And then thousands of people need to be rescued, and they wait days as, you know, more people need to be rescued. It's just -- it's horrible.

CAMEROTA: So Kate, what does this mean for your life? I mean, you have a baby on the way. You have a toddler. You've now lost two homes. What do you do next?

BEARD: Well, at 4 a.m. this morning -- I haven't slept in three days. At 4 a.m. this morning I was watching my doorbell camera as the water was coming up to my doorway, so I'm hoping we don't get too much more rain, and we'll kind of go from there.

I've been through it once, and we can do it a second time. I know that the city will come together like they have never been before. People from all over will reach out to everyone in Texas who needs help. It's one of the most amazing things that you can actually experience. The community just truly comes together. It's not about race, religion, color, nothing. Everyone comes together as one, and it's really an amazing experience.

CAMEROTA: That really is a silver lining, Kate.

BEARD: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for bringing us that message. And we pray that you are able to return to your home. And certainly stay healthy, get some sleep, and we're wishing you the best.

BEARD: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris. CUOMO: All right. There are a lot of people that didn't get out ahead of the storm, and they are still waiting for rescue now. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is deploying all 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard to respond to this need.

Joining us now is Lieutenant Colonel Travis Walters. He's the public affairs officer of the Texas Military Department.

It's good to have you with us, sir. We know that you're going to be very busy, so let's get right to it. What are you dealing with on the ground?

LT. COL. TRAVIS WALTERS, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, TEXAS MILITARY DEPARTMENT: On the ground right now, conditions are changing hourly. So I just got off the phone with a ground commander who is in south Houston, saying that roads that were passable an hour ago are not passable now. So our soldiers and airmen that are currently engaged -- this is about 3,000, going up to about 12,000, as you said -- are working their way through that to save lives and help their fellow Texans.

CUOMO: All right. And you are dealing in an area that has close to four feet of rain, so you're in one of the hardest hit areas, and obviously, whether the bayou's capacity is up to snuff is going to be even a more sensitive issue there. What are you dealing with in terms of need? How many calls? How many potential rescues? How big a grid?

WALTERS: Well, we have about 3,000 people deployed for this mission right now, going to add another 1,000 today. Of course, that number will continue to increase throughout the week.

We've seen about 3,500 rescues so far from our forces alone, and that doesn't include our interagency partners that are working with us and the first responders locally on the ground.

[17:15:08] We've done about 300 helicopter hoists, and then we also have C-130 operations flying out of Galveston Island yesterday, bringing 126 people up to Dallas to be sheltered there, as well as numerous high-profile water vehicles. And we've also rescued about 300 animals.

CUOMO: Yes. We are hearing about that need. People and their pets and livestock, as well, that has to be addressed. Have you ever seen anything like this?

WALTERS: Well, of course, we are accustomed to having, historically, hurricanes in Texas, but this is really at an unprecedented level, which is why Governor Abbott has called up the entire National Guard. All able-bodied and available folks who aren't in a deployed location or aren't evacuees themselves are mobilizing.

So help is on the way. Help is already there. And we're working around the clock, whether it be night rescues, in our boats, or airplane operations, to make sure that we are saving lives and taking care of our fellow Texans. CUOMO: What's your biggest concern with the more rain that may be

coming? And what's your word for folks who are waiting for rescue? We know that some had been saying hang a white towel outside the house if you still need help. What's your message to them, and what's your worry going forward?

WALTERS: Well, you bring up a great point, hearing the weather, that the weather has not stopped. So our concern going forward is we're still operating in an area that's engaged in an active storm. More rain is coming, more flooding is coming. Conditions are changing hourly on the ground.

That's the concern for folks that are still in need of help, to stay put and if you can, listen to first responders that are locally on the ground. And we have a tremendous amount of resources pouring into the area to get to you. We will not leave you. We are here to help; and we are going to stay there until the job gets done.

CUOMO: Lieutenant Colonel Travis Walters, thank you very much. We know you're going to be busy. Let us know what word we need to get out. See us as somebody who's here to help. Thank you, sir -- Alisyn.

WALTERS: Thank you, sir.

CAMEROTA: All right. Another top story we're following, Chris, North Korea launching a ballistic missile over Japan. What happens next? CNN is live inside North Korea.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:20:21] CAMEROTA: Breaking news for you, North Korea firing a ballistic missile over Japan. The U.N. Security Council is convening an emergency meeting today in response as President Trump and Japan's prime minister speak for 40 minutes last night about these escalating tensions.

CNN's Will Ripley is the only western journalist inside of North Korea. He is live in Pyongyang with all of the breaking details.

What do you have for us, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are several things about the missile launch that really make it quite extraordinary. One is where the missile was launched, about 20 miles from where I'm standing right now in central Pyongyang, from the same airport that we flew into over the weekend, right near the commercial airport, North Korea perhaps sending a message to the U.S. that they can launch missiles from anywhere, even near highly-populated areas, which would make any U.S. plan for a preemptive strike on North Korea's missile launchers much more dangerous because of the possibility of catastrophic humanitarian consequences from any sort of bombing run.

Also the trajectory of this missile very alarming, certainly for Japan, a key U.S. ally. It flew over Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. Around 5 million people living there. Many of them were woken up by air raid sirens this morning. They got messages on their phones, telling them to take cover, a very terrifying situation even though the missile did end up flying only for about 15 minutes and coming down harmlessly in the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea wasn't targeting any cities with this missile, but what they were targeting, the United States and the Trump administration with a very strong message, a message of defiance. Because they're furious, and officials here on the ground have told me that they're furious, about ongoing joint military drills that are now in their second week, happening just miles from what where I'm standing in South Korea, thousands of troops training alongside American soldiers.

They're also furious about that fiery rhetoric from President Trump, when he threatened to rain fire and fury like the world has never seen and said that North Korea's arsenal is locked and loaded. Just a week ago, he was saying that he thought that kind of talk was working with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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)

RIPLEY: But instead of something positive coming about, what we're seeing is a rapidly escalating situation here on the Korean Peninsula, with South Korea conducting its own bombing drills, a direct response to the provocation from the North.

And also word from South Korea that the United States is considering deploying additional military assets to the region in a defensive posture, which North Korean officials here say will only provoke the situation even further and perhaps push them to take this to the next level by conducting an even more provocative nuclear test. There are signs of activity right now at their Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. So Will, the U.N. is having this emergency U.N. Security Council meeting. What can they do?

RIPLEY: Not much. They just passed a seventh round of sanctions that haven't even started to go into effect yet. China has -- hasn't been buying North Korean coal for many months now, and while that is putting a dent in the regime's cash flow, it certainly hasn't stopped their ability to condition launching missiles.

And in fact they say, even if they have to cut in other areas, officials here in Pyongyang tell me they will continue to launch missiles defiantly. In fact, they'll even accelerate their missile program.

However, it's noteworthy that North Korea didn't fire this likely intermediate range missile toward Guam, as they threatened to do several weeks ago. This flight path was never a threat. Japan decided not to shoot it down. And the United States didn't take any military action.

But had North Korea launched this missile the same distance but south, we might be talking about something very different right now.

Japan's foreign minister indicated that perhaps this is a sign that North Korea is backing down. Perhaps North Korea will be willing to sit down with the United States and talk about negotiations.

But the sense I get on the ground here, while they are open to a dialogue, they're not going to come to the table from a position of weakness. They say they want to come from a position of strength which is what perhaps why we continue to see this defiant, provocative behavior.

CAMEROTA: Will, thank you very much. It's so helpful to have you there on the ground in North Korea for us.

All right. Let's discuss all of this with our panel. We want to bring in CNN political analyst Karoun Demirjian; and "Dallas Morning News" Washington bureau chief, Todd Gillman. Great to have both of you.

So Karoun, look, we heard -- you remember the president saying there at that cabinet meeting North Korea best not threaten the U.S., or you know, fire and fury will rain down. So now with this missile launch over Japan, is that what threatens the U.S.? Has that crossed some sort of red line?

[07:25:02] KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it certainly is North Korea expressing that it will not be cowed by the president's warnings, basically. Trump has been saying that he thinks that North Korea's been hearing him loud and clear and respecting the fact that the United States will act fiercely and won't back down.

But we've seen North Korea with these missile test launches, with these -- with the launches that are basically saying, OK, it may not be one of those missiles. It may not be inching close to the United States, but it's certainly scaring our allies right now. And that is a very significant thing.

And then, in addition to what Will was reporting about where they launched this from, it's a warning that, basically, this is not going to be clean and easy for the United States, and they're not scared.

So it doesn't necessarily change the calculus of where we were before, but it certainly ups the stakes; because it means that these sanctions that were very comprehensive that were passed, these warnings that were very forceful that were made by the president of the United States have not changed the mind of the North Korean leader. He's not abandoning the nuclear missile program that he's got.

CUOMO: Todd, we'll see the president coming down to Texas today. What's the plus-minus on the trip?

TODD GILLMAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Well, it projects a national sense of compassion. It projects that the president is hands-on and engaged. And it provides some reassurance to the people of Texas and the government of Texas.

And it really is mostly to the plus side. This is something that we expect our presidents to do, to be a consoler-in-chief in times of crisis. It's not something we've seen a lot from Donald Trump, but it is part of the job description.

I think back to a number of other hurricanes that I've covered over the years. I've seen former presidents do this. Some are better at it than others. It will be interesting to see just how warm and how consoling Trump is. I remember being in Galveston after Hurricane Ike and seeing President Bush 43 holding hands with the mayor and hugging her. And it was very warm and genuine. Hard to imagine Donald Trump doing that kind of gesture. But he has an ability to connect with people, and this could be a very presidential moment for him.

CAMEROTA: Well, he's certainly saying things that are comforting Texans in terms of making promises that they will get the relief, that he's talking to Congress and that Congress is like-minded and that they'll pass, you know, a big relief package for them. I mean, who knows what will happen, but that's what he's saying. And he's -- I mean, Karoun, do you want to point that out? I was just going to say, he's going to leave in an hour from now, but what do you think? How do you think Congress is going to respond to those comments?

DEMIRJIAN: Well, I mean, it is the president's role at this point to say there will be stuff; there will be money there; there will be aid there, and the president will ask Congress for that. That's a routine thing.

But this has been a sticking point for Congress in the past, that everybody has this commitment to do something, but then it gets mired in the traditional Republican internal debate of do we do emergency funding or do we offset emergency funding to make sure we don't upset the budget?

What might be different this time is that it's Texas, and Texas has a large Republican delegation. Many of them have voted against doing emergency funding in the past but may vote for it right now because it's in their backyard.

But if we get mired in this heading back into the congressional session, which is September, they have to pass a budget. If this -- they get stuck in this, if this starts to be a free-for-all, it could actually upset the calendar of other things Trump wants to do. Remember, he wanted to talk about tax reform this week. Now we're talking about this, and we're talking about the budget, and it's very important. So it could change the way that they are able to execute their agenda, if they're able to actually get to all those agenda points, because we're going to be fighting about these money issues, which are clearly vital.

And we see the pictures from Houston. They're not going to be going away any time soon as they recover. So it's going to be a constant reminder of this being center stage.

CUOMO: Well, it's always a little different when it's you, right? I mean, Cruz and Cornyn and Ryan were tough on the Sandy financing. Let's see how Cruz is now when it's his home state that he has to deliver for.

Todd, let me ask you something while I have you. The president has chosen Joe Arpaio as a human flag in the sand on the issue of immigration. I mean, clearly, he wants to send a message. He doubled down on the righteousness of his pardon. Here's some sound.

(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)

CUOMO: What do you make of the president's suggestion of the timing here being intentional and the pardon being a rightful one?

GILLMAN: Well, I would take him at his word to some degree that his timing was intentional. It's kind of an extraordinary admission by -- or statement by a president; but on the other hand, he really is quite media savvy compared to most presidents.

As far as this being righteous, that's in the eye of the beholder. There are lots of people who, as the president says, were cheering him on at the Phoenix rally -- excuse me -- last week who clearly believe that Arpaio was wrongly convicted of this and was doing the right thing.

And there are many, many people who find this incredibly offensive that the president would pardon a law man for unconstitutional actions, for racial profiling.