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Harvey's Last Punch; Trump in Texas; U.N. Ratchets Up Pressure on North Korea. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 30, 2017 - 04:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The gulf is about to take another hit from Harvey. New shelters opening their doors to already desperate Texans. How much longer will Harvey linger and will it finally pick up some speed and make its way out of the region?

You can see the forecast there, the radar showing more bands of rain coming to Houston.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rene Marsh. It's Wednesday, August 30th. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East, 3:00 a.m. in Houston.

[04:00:01] And Harvey is set to make landfall one more time, bringing death and destruction in its wake. More bands of rain coming in a few hours to add to an already record breaking total. The highest rainfall from total: almost 62 inches in Cedar Bayou, southwest of Houston. That's already a record in the Continental U.S. for any tropical system.

BRIGGS: Staggering, ain't it?

Right now, Houston is under curfew until 5:00 a.m. Central Time, 6:00 Eastern, part of an effort to stem looting businesses and homes. The Harris County D.A. says 14 people have been arrested for looting in the past 48 hours. He says anyone caught looting in the disaster area faces extra punishment.

MARSH: And northwest of Houston, officials say water keeps rising in the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs even as it flows over the dam's spillways. Thousands of homes now have between three and five feet of flood water in them. Water isn't expected to stop flowing from the Addicks dam until mid-September.

BRIGGS: This morning, there are nine confirmed deaths from Harvey, including a Houston police officer who's 60-year-old Sergeant Steve Perez. He drowned trying to get to work during the flooding.


CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: We couldn't find him and once our dive team got there, it was too treacherous to go under and look for him. As much as we wanted to recover him last night, we could not put another -- more officers at risk. For what we knew in our hearts was a recovery mission. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Such a heartbreaking story.

More deaths are expected to be linked to the storm. Among those now missing a family of six, four kids and their great grandparents believed to be washed away in a van.

MARSH: Countless others still awaiting rescue. Officials say at least 9,000 to 10,000 people have been rescued in the Houston area alone, between police, fire and the Coast Guard. That includes this rescue that you're looking at right there, a mother and her baby. Of course, all that's on top of the huge numbers of private rescues we've been reporting on.

BRIGGS: Those working to save life and limb need to rest and recharge. Here are exhausted Texas National Guard troops sacked down on brand new mattresses in a sleep store show room between rescues. That was in Richmond, Texas, which is where we find CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

Derek, a ton of rain has fallen where you are, though, it looks calm this morning. If you could start with the status of the shelters, we understand one enormous shelter open up late last night.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that was the Toyota and NRG Center that has opened up recently. And the capacity of Toyota Center is 18,000 people. It's incredible to witness what's happening here on the ground in Harris County, Fort Bend County, the areas surrounding Houston.

But I've got to point this out to you, Dave and Rene, and to everyone watching this morning, we've been on the ground here at the Brazos River for about six hours. And literally, this river has risen.

If you notice behind me, there's a fence. That was completely exposed when we arrived here six hours ago. And now, it's about halfway inundated with water.

You can see some of the households behind me too that have been impacted by this flood water. The rain has stopped here, but that doesn't mean the threat is over, because the water that has dumped into this region, over 15 trillion gallons of water, enough by the way to fill up the Great Lakes another foot is still racing down the rivers and the statuaries and the various bayous across this region streaming its way into the larger rivers like the Brazos River behind me. In fact, this river has risen 40 feet since Saturday morning, staggering numbers. It's going to eclipse previous records and it's not done rising, another five feet to go before it actually crests in the next 48 hours. So the threat, even though the rain has come to on end still remains.

Now, the EPA is on the ground. Right now, they are actually testing the water samples here because the future going forward here, we've got to be concerned about E. coli, salmonella, the chemicals that wash off into this flood waters. Imagine if you had a scrape, a minor cut on your leg and you waded through these waters to get your belongings in one of these houses behind me, you would have an infection immediately. This water is dirty and it's going to be extremely a hazard for anyone to actually wade across in.

Dave and Rene, we've got so many stories to tell here, we're going to continue to tell them from the ground, but we're going to send it back to you now in the studio.

MARSH: David, thank you so much. Stay safe out there.

And as Harvey makes landfall again, it is set to pick up some speed and move out of the area, a bit faster.

We want to bring in meteorologist Karen Maginnis live this morning in the CNN weather center.

Karen, even more rain and you've been talking about that storm surge all morning.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, a different place, for all intents and purposes, Houston is out of the precipitation. There may be a few isolated showers, but for the most part, it is concentrated right around the Sabine Pass, the Beaumont, Port Arthur area and Lake Charles region.

It is very separate from what is essentially the center of Tropical Storm Harvey. That is still just offshore, but just about ready to make a second landfall. But what it will do is it will create that storm surge, two to four feet more than likely. But right around Beaumont, Port Arthur, Cameron, and we're looking at Orange, some areas could pick up an additional 6 to 10 inches of rain and in a worst case scenario, maybe eight to 12 inches.

So, as we go into Wednesday morning, around 7:00 a.m., makes landfall, moves right smack across central and northern Louisiana. Earlier computer models had it moving right back over Houston and moving more in this direction. So, there has been an improvement in the computer models. It's still wringing out and will move into the Tennessee Valley over the weekend -- Rene, Dave.

MARSH: Karen, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's bring in Marc Rylander. He's the communications director for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. He joins us now by the phone from Dallas.

Marc, we appreciate you joining us. We understand you've been to three different parts of the Houston area. What were those and what are you seeing in different regions there?


BRIGGS: Good morning.

RYLANDER: It's been very interesting to see three different cities that I've visited. I was in Corpus Christi Friday and Saturday when the brunt of the eye wall hit there. I was in Houston on Monday, and then Victoria on Monday night and yesterday. And all of this is the same storm and yet, three very different places.

Corpus Christi, of course, the eye wall had high winds, heavy rain, waters rising, so you had both the wind damage and the rain damage. Houston is mostly the flooding you're seeing all over the television right now, and then Victoria was all wind damage so though it's dry, it looks like a literal war zone. So, just the impact on the state of Texas by one storm yet seen in so many dramatic ways is just mind boggling.

MARSH: And I want to talk to you a little bit about the needs. I mean, do you feel that all the resources are there and people are getting what they need? If not, where do you need the most resources right now as we speak?

RYLANDER: You know, we have seen a flood of people coming all from parts around the country to Texas. As I drove around the interstates going from place to place, I would see convoys of police cars and police assets from departments of all around. I would see military vehicle convoys. You would see electric company trucks, literally by the dozens with their lights flashing coming.

I think it's not that we have so much of a need for more, more, more. It's just that it's going to take so much time because the area is so massive. Again, I've heard it compared to the area from Manhattan all the way up to Boston, it's affected, and you can imagine in those terms just how massive this area is.

BRIGGS: Yes. Marc, some people forget that you're talking about more than 6 million people who have seen 30-plus inches of rain. Six million people, that's more than 33 United States. People need to take perspective just how huge that area is.

We're seeing the very best of Texas. We are seeing people coming together, saving one another, but, unfortunately, as you know all too well we are seeing the worse. We're seeing some looting. We are seeing scams. Fake charities popping up.

What are you doing at the attorney general's office to prevent against both?

RYLANDER: Well, you say something great, Dave. In times like these, we see the best of Americans and in the season when we've been so inundated, all of us on every political and philosophical side with disunity in America, this storm has united hearts and lives and people and they're laying down all the stuff. And they're coming together to help and to serve and to rebuild. That's been refreshing.

Unfortunately, these kind of storms bring out some bad actors. And the attorney general's office, Attorney General Paxton, opened up over the weekend and our consumer protection division and our constituent affairs division, a hot line center where people could call. We literally received hundreds of calls over the weekend predominantly right now of people that were doing price gouging in the areas of gasoline and water and lodging.

[04:10:04] And as soon as we get the calls, we investigate it and we go in, and we've dealt with them. And people have done one or two things -- they've reacted and changed, or else they haven't reacted and they're in for a long road legally ahead.

MARSH: So, it seems like there is just this great need still in place for people who need to be rescued. What is the apparatus in place to ensure that the people who are in the most dire situation gets priority, the very sick, the very old, the very young? How are you all determining that so that you can get to those people first?

RYLANDER: Well, our rescue operation, water, (INAUDIBLE) teams, they are doing a phenomenal job. It's been so incredible to watch them. They have literally gone from neighborhood to neighborhood as your reporters have shown time and again.

But again, they're trained to do that. They do that and they're doing it amazingly, phenomenally, accurately, precisely and successfully. One of the great things that we've also seen are just volunteers. Again, I would see just rows of pickup trucks and boats, perhaps only in Texas, where would -- these volunteers are just going to the area, laying down their lives for their friends and going in on their own private water crafts just for the purpose of how can I help serve and save the people of this state. And it's been phenomenal.

BRIGGS: Not just Texans but kudos to the Cajun Navy who's been saving people throughout the Houston area.


BRIGGS: But lastly, I know your boss, the attorney general, Ken Paxton, did meet with the president of the United States yesterday. What was their interaction like?

RYLANDER: You know, the whole interaction was very positive. We feel in Texas that President Trump has been very interested, very well- advised during -- before and during this entire process.

He came down tastefully yesterday. He didn't try to go and disrupt the efforts that were going on. He went to a brief meeting in Corpus, a brief meeting with officials in Austin, and then he left.

And it was tastefully done. It was well executed, and you know, there's federal aid and assistance. I saw it with my eyes in three different cities that back up everything the president's talking about. So, it was a successful meeting and we believe that we'll see him again soon and that we'll receive more and more help from the government as we continue down this long journey.

BRIGGS: We hope so.

The communications director for the Texas attorney general, Marc Rylander, we appreciate your time this morning. Check back with you in about half an hour. Meanwhile, Harvey is dealing airlines a $300 million financial hit

right before one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Two of Houston's biggest airports have been closed since Sunday. Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport, a major hub for United Airlines -- United, one of the largest carriers in the U.S. So, Houston's closures causing delays around the country likely costing the company at least $265 million. That's according to an airline analyst.

And United says it's adding flights elsewhere to help ease congestion. But United not the only one losing money. Southwest has a major presence at Hobby Airport, and will likely lose $77 million.

So, including the projected losses for the Spirit Airlines, the storm will cost carriers $353 million overall. Of course, that assumes Houston's airports reopen this week. The FAA predicts most will remain closed through Thursday morning.

MARSH: And President Trump went to Texas to survey Harvey damage.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to get you back and operating immediately. It happened in Texas and Texas can handle anything.


MARSH: The question this morning: did the president put a big enough focus on the victims? More, next.



[04:18:05] TRUMP: This was of epic proportion. Nobody's ever seen anything like this. Governor, again, thank you very much and we won't say congratulations. We don't want to do that. We don't want to congratulate. We'll congratulate each other when it's all finished.


BRIGGS: President Trump with Governor Greg Abbott there.

The president has said during his visit to Texas that recovery from the hurricane will take a long time in Austin and Corpus Christ, he voiced confidence that Congress will find the money to help rebuild. He met with officials, but did not make prominent mention of the victims. He will get another chance to do so. The president set to return to the Gulf region soon.

Our Sara Murray has more from the White House.



President Trump is back here in Washington after spending the day yesterday visiting storm ravaged Texas. He visited an emergency operations center, met with local officials and acknowledged this is going to be a long and expensive recovery effort, and he insisted he would work with Congress to make sure that a residents and local officials have resources they need from Washington.

TRUMP: Probably there's never been anything so expensive in our country's history. There's never been anything so historic in terms of damage and in terms of ferocity as what we've witnessed with Harvey.

MURRAY: Now, we don't expect this to be the president's last visit to this area. The White House says he'll be returning to Texas this weekend as well as to Louisiana.

Back to you, guys.


BRIGGS: All right. Again, the empathizer in chief missing but when you listen to Marc Rylander, who's the communications director for the attorney general in Texas, they're thrilled with the response from the president. It might just be a Washington, D.C. Northeast bubble that people want to see empathy from this president. It is certainly not his strong suit and I think even the most ardent Trump supporter would have to acknowledge that.

MARSH: Yes, and it's something we traditionally are used to seeing.

BRIGGS: Certainly when you think of President Obama, you think of him singing in that church.

[04:20:01] MARSH: Right.

BRIGGS: President George W. Bush was certainly a real empathizer when he saw victims of disasters.

MARSH: And then the other thing on the president's plate, of course, is North Korea. The U.N. Security Council is now demanding North Korea stop further missile launches, but does Pyongyang have any reason to listen? We are live in Seoul.



NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: What happened yesterday is absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible. They have violated every single U.N. Security Council resolution that we've had. And so, I think something serious has to happen.


[04:25:01] MARSH: Tough talk on North Korea from U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, ahead of an ultimatum from the U.N. Security Council.

Member nations say they are furious over Pyongyang's latest missile launch, condemning it as outrageous. President Trump now warns all options are on the table.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live now in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula, despite the tough talk, is it having any impact there in North Korea?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely not, Rene, and to be honest, I don't think it's expected to. Kim Jong-un has a remarkable ability to ignore international condemnation, just like his father and his grandfather did. We've heard from North Korea today through state-run media, they have said that this was effectively, this missile launch over Japan was the first step of a military operation in the Pacific, saying it's just a prelude to what they will do, an operation surrounding Guam.

Now, of course, Guam, the U.S. territory, has really been a focus of North Korean threats over the recent weeks. It's threatened Guam many times in the past, over several years, but certainly recently, it has pinpointed that as the target of its rhetoric. We heard from Guam officials, though, saying that this was under no way a threat to them -- this missile launch over Japan.

Now, we know that the leaders in Japan and also South Korea spoke by phone. They said they have to do the absolute maximum to try and put pressure on North Korea. Prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, saying it's clear that North Korea has no interest in dialogue at this point. Obviously not what the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, wants to hear because he still favors dialogue with the North.

But there was no mention within the U.N.'s statement of any future sanctions and the reason for that probably is because the previous sanctions, which were only signed at the beginning of this month, have yet to get into place. It will take many months before we can see if that has any kind of impact on North Korea and is able to try and isolate the country more economically. But certainly at this point, North Korea is showing no sign of heeding this international condemnation -- Rene.

MARSH: That's right. The president saying all options on the table but it's unclear what those options are. Paula Hancocks, thank you so much.

BRIGGS: Boy, a pair of major crisis for the president to handle.


BRIGGS: Harvey, the other one, of course, set to make landfall one more time in southeast Texas. Another agonizing day in store for residents just trying to outlast this brutal storm. We're live in Texas with more ahead on EARLY START.