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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Harvey; Houston's Largest Shelter At Double Its Capacity; HHS Secretary Declares Public Health Emergency; North Korea Says Next Target Is Guam. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 30, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Alisyn, we'll be back with you in a little bit.

Harvey making landfall in Louisiana just 12 years and a day after the state was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Next, we're going to talk to the mayor of New Orleans. Is that city any safer?

And look, it is a beautiful gesture that so many of you want to get involved. Here's how you can. Go to

There are many ways to give and it's going to last a long time. Please get involved.


CUOMO: What a way to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Twelve years and a day after that, you know, New Orleans, Louisiana changed by that storm, the city is facing another threat from Tropical Storm Harvey, making its second landfall.

Is the city prepared, how's it doing?

We have New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu joining us right now. Mr. Mayor, thank you. We know that time is precious.


CUOMO: How are you doing right now?

LANDRIEU: Well listen, by the grace of God, this is -- this is going to miss us. It came to the east of us and it's going to the west of us, so we're not going to feel the kind of impact that Houston felt.

We're pretty well prepared for whatever comes our way but, as you can see, you've got to be humbled by Mother Nature. When she sends a storm to you, like Harvey, it's going -- it's going to hurt you really, really bad.

So, on this anniversary of Katrina, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Houston. Unfortunately, I agree with Chief Acevedo and the mayor that the worst is not yet over for Houston. I think Beaumont got hurt really, really badly, as did southwest Louisiana last night.

And as we've watched this thing unfold you see the incredible humanitarian crisis but, simultaneously, you see the unbelievable heroism and the way people lift each other up. And the message that we have for the people of Houston is even in your darkest hour it's going to be OK.

And the other thing, just for the country to watch, and it's very important. Everybody's in the same boat. Nobody's asking anybody in the boat what color you are, where you're from, you know, what class you're in.

Everybody's helping each other up and at the end of the day, it's going to be all right. But we're going to have to go through some very difficult times together, but the country's going to reach out and help them and lift them up the way they lifted up New Orleans after Katrina, 12 years ago.

[07:35:04] CUOMO: Times like this strip away all the B.S. and people see that you're interconnected and interdependent in the most fundamental ways.

Help us understand this concern that it could still be worse. What is it that could be yet to come in Houston and those surrounding areas that we're going to have to look out for?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, besides the most obvious that Invest 93 is off the coast of Africa and still may be coming through, just as if you haven't had enough.

What's going on in Houston in that area right now is, obviously, you're seeing the flood. There are a lot of people that did not evacuate so the first responders are still in harm's way trying to get folks out. Once the water goes down they're going to have to go from house to house and, unfortunately, they're more likely to find people that didn't make it.

On top of that, massive amounts of people have lost everything and are now in shelters. And then one thing cascades into the next and then you get into a time crunch because besides rescue, you have recovery and then you have rebuild.

Everybody wants it to go back to the way it was, as though the storm didn't happen and, unfortunately, that's just not possible. So the country's going to have to help lift Texas up. I know Texas is big and I know Texas is strong, but nobody's so strong that they don't need a massive amount of help.

These are national crises. They require a national response.

Hopefully, we've learned from Katrina and from Sandy that we don't need to get into the politics of whether or not the federal government's going to invest heavily. They absolutely should. They should do it sooner rather than later and should be more rather than less. We've learned that lesson three times now with Katrina, with Sandy, and now with Houston, and so we ought to get that more right than we have in the past.

CUOMO: And what is your word to people who want to get involved about what the need will be? You know, these stories -- you know, you lived it down there -- they fade from the spotlight.

We'll mark anniversaries but --


CUOMO: -- the weeks, the months to come, what do people need to remember?

LANDRIEU: Yes. Typically, first of all, one of the things is that everybody wants to help and they throw everything at it and Houston's not in a position right now to receive everything. So I would be very thoughtful and make sure that you give money to the organizations that have a good track record in helping that can be precise about how they actually get in.

You're right. Next week, the cameras are going to leave but the people are still going to be in the shelters. Then they have to get back in their homes, they have to get back in their schools. This is going to be a very long haul for them.

And then, finally, this can't be said enough. The financial resources that are going be required are mostly going to have to come not just from the state of Texas, not just from the faith-based communities, which is going to be incredible. The outpouring of humanity and support is going to -- is going to take your breath away. But also, Congress is going to step up to the plate and I know that -- I know that they will.

But this is a long haul for Houston. It took New Orleans a long time to come back. The good news is that you're going to come back better and stronger. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

And the lesson to be learned from this is one we learn all of the time, is that we're all in the same boat and that when we're not thinking about just our own selves and we're thinking about somebody else, we all get better.

And I think we're going to see that lesson again but, unfortunately, it takes a tragedy for people to get reminded of that time and time again, and that's the unfortunate part of it.

CUOMO: I mean, that is the -- the reality is that we literally are seeing all different types of people in the same boat, trying to escape the floods in Houston and beyond.

LANDRIEU: A hundred percent.

CUOMO: Mr. Mayor, thank you for the perspective. Thank God you're not going to get hit -- LANDRIEU: Great.

CUOMO: -- directly. Let us know what we need to get out in terms of the word and information.

LANDRIEU: Thank God is right.

CUOMO: We're a resource. Be well.

LANDRIEU: You got it. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Thank you, sir -- Alisyn.


So here, where I am, at the Houston convention center, there are more than 8,000 evacuees and they are living in this, you know, cramped space. This space -- the folks here were just expecting 5,000 people.

So now, there are these two new mega-shelters that have opened. They're taking in more of the storm victims to try to alleviate the overcrowding in all of them.

So what's next, what can people do, how are they organizing all of this?

Joining us now is David Brady. He's the chief executive officer with the American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast Region. David, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: This morning, there are 8,319 people here in this shelter, some of them without their medications. They had to leave them behind. Some of them have lost their cell phones.

Where do you begin getting help for all these folks?

BRADY: Well, our main goal right now is just the comfort, the shelter, and the opportunity for us to provide emotional care for these folks as well. So, our goal right now is to make sure that the people who are here and the people who need to get here, when they arrive in any our shelters --

A lot of attention focused on this one shelter, Alisyn, and I understand why. But people need to know that the Red Cross has almost 100 shelters set up across the entire Texas Gulf Coast Region and we got those shelters set up during the storm. I mean, it was --

CAMEROTA: How did you do it? I mean, you guys were really forward- looking. You suspected that this was going to as bad as all the forecasters predicted, and so days ahead of the rain you were already getting into place.

Why were you so forward-looking with this one? BRADY: Well, I've got to give so much credit to our national headquarters -- to Gail McGovern, our CEO, and the national team really did an amazing job of very early last week mobilizing around this and getting us the resource we needed. Getting us the people we needed.

[07:40:12] We had the people and the resources set up in this community right in front of the storm. The challenge we had once the storm came in was you just couldn't get access. You couldn't get access to the shelters and that's what really challenged us.

And the last few days have been just emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting and I'm so proud of our team for, again, fighting in the storm. Our team -- our Red Cross staff and volunteers, they were out there in this storm battling it, some of them with their families at home, and I'm just so proud of our team and what they've done.

CAMEROTA: I know that you've seen just really, really inspiring stories and I know that it makes you emotional to --

BRADY: It does, yes.


BRADY: I really -- the last couple of days -- the last couple of days -- I didn't know what day of the week it was this morning when I got here. I had to go back and think about it.

For the last eight, nine days -- however long it's been that we've been in our disaster command center preparing and now recovering from this it's been such a challenge for us. But -- and I've been working like all of our team. And the worst day for me is not the best day for these people who are without their homes.

So to walk in this morning -- and there was such -- there was a palpable difference in this building today. The smiles -- when I saw our volunteers when I walked in and the smiles on their faces and some of the folks who were evacuated here and just -- there's a different feeling and vibe here.

The city and Mayor Sylvester Turner have done such a great job of partnering with us to make this happen. It really lifted me up today. I think I can make it through the rest of the day now.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I'm so happy to hear that, David. Thank you for sharing all of this with us.

And it does seem as though this shelter has really got it down. People are getting the clothing and the food they need right now, so -- but we do want to remind people that the Red Cross needs help. What are you asking people for right now?

BRADY: Well, right now, we don't need any more clothes or items brought to the -- to the shelters. We need financial donations,, and still, volunteers. The Red Cross is going to be here for a long time making sure everybody who's in a shelter gets taken care of as long as they need to.


BRADY: Our goal is to get them in homes. Our goal is to get them out --


BRADY: -- but we'll be here. And you can volunteer or donate at

CAMEROTA: Thanks for your good work, David. Thanks so much for being here.

Chris, let's go back to you.

CUOMO: All right. So, a public health emergency has been declared in both Texas and Louisiana. What does that mean?

We have Health Secretary Tom Price joining us live about what needs to be done and why, next.


[07:46:10] CUOMO: What can the federal government do to help? Well, we know that they have declared a public health emergency in Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Harvey.

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to own a 250- bed medical shelter in Houston today.

Joining us is the secretary, Tom Price. He traveled with President Trump to Texas yesterday. Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: What does it mean to designate those states as medical emergencies?

PRICE: Yes. A medical emergency -- health emergency allows for the greater flexibility for us to move assets, to get people in place to be able to help individuals who are in need from a health care or a medical standpoint.

The disaster declaration allows for resources to come in and the early declaration of it allowed Texas and Louisiana to be able to prepare for the challenges that now exist, which are significant and will go on not just for weeks, not for months, but literally for years.

CUOMO: So, how do you plan? How does the federal government help today, tomorrow, and in the weeks and months to come?

PRICE: Yes. In planning for this, we don't know where the hurricane is going to hit or when it's going to hit, but we know that it's going to hit. And so, every single government -- the federal government prepares for and runs simulations and exercises to make certain that when we pick up that phone and say that we need this help that the individual on the other end of the line, it's not the first time that we've spoken with them.

And so, those activities have been ongoing and that, I believe, is what resulted in an ability for the federal government early on because of the presidential declaration of an emergency, because of the public health emergency that was declared.

HHS deployed more assets -- pre-deployed more assets to Harvey down in the Texas area than ever before in the history of HHS. And that's an important thing because what that allows us to then do is to be able to respond to a greater degree.

CUOMO: We're hearing from doctors on the ground who are volunteering and, as you know, that's some of the good news. Clinicians are getting in there trying to help on a volunteer basis as much as possible.

Drugs -- medications are an issue. People are leaving their homes without their hypertension medication, diabetes maintenance, blood pressure. You know all of these as a clinician, yourself.

Have you thought about reaching out to big pharma, to the companies, to try to get replacement drugs for people? I know that you can't just hand out prescriptions medicines but that seems to be an emerging need. Do you have your hands on that?

PRICE: Yes, absolutely. The chronic health care needs of individuals are the things that get harmed in this because normal day-to-day routines are disrupted.

The drug store that you normally go to, you can't get to. The medication that you normally pick up, you can't pick up. The dialysis that you -- that you normally receive two times a week, you can't get to that. So all of those are being addressed through FEMA and through HHS.

From a pharmacy standpoint, there are over 2,000 pharmacies in the -- in the -- in the affected area and only about 200 of them have had to close. So what people have had to do is to get to a different pharmacy, maybe the same company but a different pharmacy, and they're able to fill those prescriptions.

In the -- in the shelters, oftentimes there are health care units. You mentioned the federal medical station that we've set up in the -- in the hall there. Those folks are able to care for individuals and provide pharmaceuticals -- medications that they might need for a chronic disease.

What we're trying to do, however, is get folks back to their communities as rapidly as possible. But it's those chronic disease challenges that tend to harm folks more than the storm itself.

CUOMO: And we haven't even seen the wave of waterborne illness yet that comes from this kind of --

PRICE: That's exactly right.

CUOMO: -- toxic soup that these people are forced to live in and try to escape from.

Let me ask you something else. Your perspective as a lawmaker -- a Congressional vet.

[07:50:02] Lessons learned. Are you hoping that the process for getting money for Harvey is better than the one we saw with Sandy? There are a lot of hard feelings about how many Republicans and conservatives didn't vote for money for that big bill for Sandy relief.

Do you think the politics will play out differently this time?

PRICE: Yes, Chris. I think it's important for folks to appreciate that we're still in the midst of this crisis of this storm. At HHS and at FEMA, we're still in a rescue and a lifesaving mode.

The president has committed that he will make a request to Congress when they return next week and I believe that Congress will do the right thing and address the needs of Texans and folks in Louisiana to make certain that we're able to address an historic epic storm, remembering we're measuring water -- we're measuring rain in feet, not in inches.

This is historic and it needs to be addressed.

CUOMO: Well, we'll be watching because that process needs to go the right way.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us.

PRICE: Thanks so much, Chris.

CUOMO: All right.

So another big story that we're following, North Korea. A defiant Kim Jong un. He says that the missile over Japan was just a curtain- raiser.

What's the next target? They're saying Guam. Would that be crossing a red line and what would America do, if so?

We are live inside North Korea, next.


[07:55:25] CUOMO: So the question is whether or not North Korea really is about to up its provocation. It's announcing that its next missile test could target the U.S. territory of Guam.

This comes as the U.S. gets ready with a test of its own.

CNN's Will Ripley is the only Western television reporter in North Korea. He joins us live from Pyongyang. Yesterday, you were saying, Will, that North Korea may, indeed, want to reach a point of diplomacy -- of actual negotiations with the U.S. -- but they want to do it from a position of strength. Targeting Guam would do a lot more than that.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does seem counterintuitive, doesn't it?

If North Korea, on one hand, launched a -- conducted a highly provocative missile test, they get the world's attention. Why would they need to then up the ante even further by launching missiles toward the Pacific and, potentially toward Guam?

But that's exactly what was in the official news announcement on the front page of the Rodong newspaper. You saw the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un all smiles, surrounded by his generals and his rocket scientists, overseeing this missile launch from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. Launching from their biggest, most important city.

And the North Koreans saying in this news release that more missile launches will happen. They will target the Pacific and that these missile launches are, in their words, a prelude for military options aimed at Guam. So, after talk of Guam kind of drifted out of the North Korean rhetoric, now it's right back in.

Perhaps the North Koreans feeling more confident after what they said was a very successful test of their Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile. It has a range that would allow it reach Guam if they had pointed it in a southern direction instead of northeastern, across the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan. And so, certainly a troubling development from the perspective of the United States.

And the U.S. conducting a missile test of its own off the coast of Hawaii. The U.S. anti-missile systems intercepted an intermediate- range ballistic missile. This was a test -- a test only, and the United States was quick to put out photos of their tests.

North Korea took about 24 hours to put out photos of their own test and, in fact, we were down in the square just behind me with North Koreans as they watched the news bulletin come in.

That iconic North Korean news anchor Ri Chun-hee, the lady who always announces major events in North Korea. She's announced the birth and the death of leaders, she's announced any natural disasters and missile launches, nuclear tests. And there she was on the screen today signaling to the North Koreans that this was a very important event for their country.

And when I asked people, unsurprisingly Chris, all of them said they are 100 percent behind their supreme leader. But given that this is an authoritarian regime where political dissent is not tolerated, what else are they going to say?

CUOMO: Consensus means something a little bit different in a non- democratic society. So, what is your sense of being on the ground, Will, of how important

it is to the regime to up the stakes versus just a show of strength?

RIPLEY: Well, the North Koreans continue to express to us a fury with the United States over the ongoing joint military exercises with South Korea. They've been angry for a long time -- for many years.

But this is the first time that they now have such an advanced arsenal. They have a number of missiles. This missile, and we actually saw it back in April at the day of the military parade, that's when it was unveiled. Back then, a lot of people were questioning if the missiles were perhaps dummies, do the missiles even work?

The first successful test was back in May and then we've seen now this test, an even more provocative test and North Koreans hinting that there is more to come.

There still is, though, that option for diplomacy. And we know that back channel conversations do happen occasionally in New York at the United Nations -- you know, the vicinity of the United Nations. Unofficial conversations between representatives from the United States and North Korea.

But the sense we get on the ground here in Pyongyang, they haven't had many conversations recently. They haven't been all that fruitful because the two sides are so far apart about what to do. North Korea wants to come to the diplomatic table, as I said to you, from a position of strength, whereas the United States wants to see a regime economically crippled and desperate before they're willing to talk.

CUOMO: All right, Will Ripley. Appreciate it very much. It is so good to have you right there in Pyongyang, North Korea.

All right. So, Harvey has made landfall again on our watch. Where did it hit, what is now worse? Let's get after it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day.

It is Wednesday, August 30th. It is 7:00 a.m. here in Houston where I am.

And we do begin with breaking news because Tropical Storm Harvey has made landfall again.