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Confirmed Death Toll Rises To 40; Rescues Continue By Helicopter. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired August 31, 2017 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Anderson what you really saw today really reminder that this crisis and the needs are really far from over.

ANDERSON COOPER, BREAKING NEWS SHOW HOST: Yes that is for sure, well said Don, you look at Beaumont when they run out of a clean drinking water and we saw all day long that hospital in Beaumont having to be evacuated because they didn't have access to water. Don thank you for that welcome news report now at the top of the hour, the death toll from hurricane Harvey and the flooding that followed the death toll is rising again has now reach 40 and of course no one imagines that is going to be the final numbers and I talked to the chief of fire department earlier tonight, they are starting to go in some leverage with water receded. Finally it will have go door-to-door and actually check on people's homes and check what is inside in town east of here, that city of more than 100,000s as I mentioned without clean drinking water, General Russell Honore he joins us later calls it potentially a game changer.

He said any time you lose a crucial piece of infrastructure whether it is water, sewer, power, gas, losing the grid he said that's a game changer in Beaumont Texas population of 1800 and they had lost a piece of the grid and it is being felt up and down the line is rough tonight in Beaumont and Port Arthur in all localities, hit by Harvey second landfall. A lot to be reported within an hour ahead across the Houston area people who still be rescued from porches, rooftops, streets with water and rescued in many cases are just strangers help a stranger's that we have been seeing for days. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, we have seen it across the region as much as rescued it is people helping in other ways too, ways large and small, people like NFL star Houston Texans J.J. Watt, he started a fund to help the recovery is taken off to say the least dollars he is going to raise is $200,000, but has raised about $13 million, I talked to him right before we went on air, you will hear that conversation shortly we are going in depth with him. First of rescues are still happening, CNN Brian Todd has been out on the water all day, in our 8 p.m. hour we witness Brian scenes coming to someone's aide, he joins us again now. So earlier tonight while we were talking to you, you ended up helping but some people were trapped in a strong current, what happened?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were just on an airboat, kind of surveying the flooding, we had been with the rescue teams are earlier this week with an with a fire brigade are today on dry land going to some houses that were devastated just knocking on doors checking on people, and we got an airboat to survey this area, not necessarily intended to do any rescues and we ended up doing rescue, it was live on your show, a gentlemen who was a meteorologist, ironically enough, he was going back to his house on a canoe with his nephew to rescue his cat.

Well if you saw this scene earlier, the street which was flooded, what it looked like a fast-moving leveraging, he got caught in some kind of a mangrove and was just swimming for help and waving his paddle. We happen to hear him and we happened to see them and made our way and pulled him out. That's not an example of what neighborhoods like this are up against. I am in fairly shallow water right now compared to what's back here, we have to get off the boat. Back here the water is basically waist deep, chest deep in some areas and this may not leave this for days. And the only way that people are going to be able to get out of here is a random airboat on random fishing boat comes by and they call for help in they are plot out of here and that's again just by happenstance, but I will say that these brigades of private boat operators have saved the day in so many cases and tonight was one of them Anderson.

COOPER: People are trying to ride things out and had made it this far, they want to stick out longer if a place like Beaumont suddenly they lose access to clean drinking water then they will need rescuing. They will need evacuation and it is days from now a lot of the boats that we are seeing maybe had gone home. Even some of the choppers will be flying as extensively as they are right now.

TODD: That's very true, a lot of the private boat operators were just exhausted from the first couple of days of doing this and decided they have to go home. Since it is not really organized in anyway, there is no simple authority telling them no we need you guys to stay, because there maybe still people trapped around here. Nobody is telling that because it is nit organized, so that is the problem so that the problem that we may run in to the coming days in places like Beaumont.

COOPER: Brian Todd, I appreciate all your doings. Every single boat crew deserves everything so does everyone here lending a hand in different ways, sometimes a great risk to help other, sometimes to help complete strangers, often times frankly. And in the skies helicopter crew has been flying dangerous mission sometimes in marginal weather and always clouded skies which is another danger for them. That includes coastguard helicopter pilots and their crews, they say they have aided a rescue more than 9,000 people since the storm began in Texas and Louisiana. I flew with one coast guard crew today, here is what we saw. (BEGIN VIDEO)

COOPER: All day the searching continues, Coast Guard pilots Matt Meyer and Dan Miller are flying low over the flooded streets of Texas. Flight Mechanic and rescue swimmer look for anyone in need of evacuation.

[23:05:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been flying over this are for about 20 or 30 minutes and they just believe they have somebody have been waiting to them, I you see the situation though, I can't tell for sure if I want to be rescued or not and the rescue diver is ready to go down if necessary, but they are trying to figure out exactly what the difficulties this Coast Guard crews are having is just the lack of communications, they get information base on 911 calls. A lot of people they have rescued they just see, and the hover over the area and give them a thumbs up or thumbs down to get an indication whether they need to actually be rescued.

COOPER: The pilots hover about 150 feet above the water, as the rescuer is lowered to the roof of the house below.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the guy wife, I think he is trying to figure out how to get on the roof.

COOPER: Two people are in the house along with their two dogs. Medically they are ok. The one who escape the rising floodwaters basket is lowered to bring them off one at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The basket is now clear off the roof, they are bringing it up slowly, he is in the doorway, he had the visual on this, and he is giving information again to Miller (inaudible). They are hovering directly above this obviously you can't see what is going on.

The basket is now back on the roof, the second person is getting the basket. The crew guide the pilot for the basket to be free from obstacles.

They still haven't brought back the rescue swimmer, they are asking me to get out of the basket to sit here in order to move the basket and make sure there is enough room, and they put the basket on the side. I got to say this dogs are incredibly mellow.

COOPER: So what is the plan now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was down on the roof I was talking to them and they say the next hours or so they need to go to the drop off point not far from here.

COOPER: It is amazing to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a whole lot of fun, it is so real once you are doing it.

COOPER: Plans change quickly, however another coast guard helicopter has pick up four people and drop them off to a nearby field, the chopper rear end will pick them up and bring everyone to a shelter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we are going to be landing on that field in order to pick up some of the people that they rescued and we will take up because we have more fuel.

The four people that just went in, they are wet and tried to ride out the storm but the water just kept on rising and it even rise even more in the coming hours and they wanted to get out, now we are going to a shelter where they get some dry clothes and food and they could rest. They have been through a lot and ready to get out of here. COOPER: There are now six evacuees and five dogs on board, there is

room for more a dozen people and space is an issue, my camera and I would get off. In minutes the chopper reaches the shelter and when the evacuees are gone, this coast guard chopper heads out once again searching for anyone that needed help.


COOPER: And the searches continues CNN Kelly Heart has also been out for a chopper crew today, she joins us from Lake Charles Louisiana, Kelly you are out with the rescue team as well, what did you see, what happen?

[23:05:03] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson I took off not long after you landed from an airstrip not far from the Texas state line and Louisiana. There were five coast guard helicopters who had been working for the past two days their efforts mostly focus on Port Arthur and Beaumont but just as we are loading up this afternoon there are words coming in that the dam is releasing water and raising new concerns in an area about 10 miles north of Beaumont. We hear a call for service for 20 people trapped on a roof. And as we traveled there to saw so many homes where all you could see was the roof, when we got there we found this 20 people and a house surrounded by boats, they were loading at quickly and safely there. As the water continued to rise and remain on board the helicopter. Those five members of the Coast Guard professionally trained for these rescue mission were so quick to praise the work of the many volunteers like Navy and every other person who has come out here and drop their own boat for the volunteer effort.

We got to witness the emotions and this challenge of a rescue mission a little bit later in Orange Texas, we know the waters have been rising here as well. A 57-year-old woman Jenny (inaudible), she got on board the helicopter. She told me I had lost my car. I lost my home. I got my life and I am thankful for the US Coast Guard, Anderson her story one of thousands and you and I both know there will be more of those.

COOPER: One of the things that really struck me today is the crew I was with when for the first hours they were fine, but you are not much can happen today. The weather is not bad. This is an area that been a lot of other rescues in already but is, as we saw, and as you saw as well. You can fly several crews to be flying over the same region one chopper leaves does not much is happening and then just seconds later the entire situation can change in our driver makes a wrong turn down a road finds himself in water much deeper or you know of a levy is overtopped or dam breaks or in the case of Beaumont Hospital runs out of access to clean drinking water and all of a sudden there is a whole other level of rescues that the need to take place.

HARTUNG: Absolutely it is incredible how quickly that scenario can change, I experience the same thing you did. This morning, the first crews that went out from the airstrip and sulfur. They need to rescue anyone but as the day progressed situation involved of course there are more rescue to be made and something that struck me as you mentioned that at one point I look up in the sky around I saw helicopters. It was not just Coast Guard you had every branch of the military represented in the sky. I ask, how this coordination works, I found out so much credit goes to J-tach unit of the Air Force. The guys were used to running tactical missions in war zones. There is a gut instructing aircraft were to drop bombs but now they are translating their skills in to helping to stabilize. They become the liaison between the communication centers on the ground, where they are taking all of those calls looking at a map tallying the map and a signing aircraft and then there the ones keeping the airway safe and organizing all of the different assets in the in skies.

COOPER: I saw the exact same thing for 4 to 5 choppers in the same area in the garage with consulates were on their heads left right up and down just to make sure they had a visual on any other chopper that was nearby so that there was not some sort of accident. Despite that coordination from the ground, Kelly I appreciate your reporting today now we got o hurricane Irma destroyed another hurricane out there CNN Tom Sater has been watching this new potential threat tonight, don't want to cause any undue concern would you want to keep track and see where is so Tom is now category three where is it how far away and any sense of where it is headed.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLIGIST: Well Anderson and all you said that beautifully we would want to be sensitive to too many people in survival mode suffering is not like it comes another hurricane to test Louisiana but this does not bear watching and here is why. Yesterday was just a tropical storm and we rarely see this kind of intensification in its early birth is 3000 miles away from Miami. However, it has been gaining speed. Yesterday a tropical storm. It jumped right over category one hurricane to have a category two and then later on this afternoon category three, National Hurricane Center has a getting up to a category four. This is typically historically the track and the models are agreeing with this, and the models that really handle the atmosphere very well. If you look at all of the computer models or spaghetti plots. They are in agreement and we saw this with Harvey. That is what you want to see for competence. The further out. However, you go, they start to spread gives us some uncertainty were still for five days away from really getting the forecast down is not this weekend but it is next weekend.

[23:15:00] COOPER: And so we do not have a sense of where honestly too far out to really model correctly, is that right?

SATER: Well, we can take the models a little bit farther and let us do that the European model which really handle Harvey well takes the system does continue to strengthen it to category 4. It has its eyes on the Caribbean and somewhere in the U.S. This model shows Saturday night in between Florida and Cuba. Depending on its interaction with land, still has it as a category four. Let's throw in on Saturday night what the American model does. That is a category five up in the northeast on its way towards Cape Cod. There are 1200 miles between the two. So there is uncertainty. However, a couple of things we know. One, these models have it as a formidable storm, category four and five. Two, eyes on the U.S. So quickly for you, there is uncertainty. Let's hope that it could get into warmer waters on the Gulf of Mexico. Let's pray for it to go north. Enough is enough.

COOPER: Yes. Tom Sater I appreciate that. Ahead tonight a musical hero you'll want to take note of. Listen.




COOPER: And next another hero on and off the football field, J.J. Watt. He is going to tell us how he turned his fund raising campaign, it started out $200,000, now he is raised more than $13 million and counting, and he to a message to everyone in the meantime.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message to everybody in Houston is we have your back. We're going to take care of you. We want to do everything we can to make sure that we take care of you because you're our city.



COOPER: If you're into football you know who JJ. Watt is. He is a defensive end for the Houston Texans and he is raised $13 million and counting for the Houston flood relief. He start would an ambitious goal, $300,000. A goal met within a couple hours. I tried to not to intimidate him with my height.


COOPER: First of all when you see a neighborhood like this, what goes through your mind?

J.J. WATT, HAS RAISED $13M FOR HARVEY RELIEF: Devastating. I think that is the only word that can describe it when you see the floods, the pictures on TV, what's happening. Devastating is the only word you can use but I think inspiring is the other word that comes to mind because you see then you see the neighbors, the police, the fireman. And see what humanity can do when everybody comes together in a time like this and that is the most inspiring part of all.

[23:20:15] COOPER: The idea of fund raising, when did you come up with it?

WATT: Well we were stuck in Dallas, we played a game in New Orleans a week ago and they said we couldn't come home to New Orleans and we were sitting in Dallas in a hotel and so I said I feel helpless. I feel like I want to do something to help our people. I can't physically help and I set out to raise $200,000 and that was the initial goal.

COOPER: Did you think you could get 200,000?

WATT: Yes, I had a plan for 200,000. And now we're over 12 million, going into the $13 million range. So new plan.


COOPER: A lot of folks that have been waiting to see you are very grateful. When you saw it starting to go up, you reached 200,000, every time you clicked on the site?

WATT: It kept going and going and we broke the site. The funniest story of it all is the initial night we broke the site and couldn't figure out how to get it back up and found the CEO's phone number and called him at his house and got him out of bed.

COOPER: That is customer service.

WATT: I got to give the guy credit and he probably helped us raise a ton more money because he got the site up and running.

COOPER: So do you have a goal now in your mind or is it just open ended?

WATT: Once we hit 10 million I said I'm going to put it at 15 and see what happens. Yesterday we raised 4 million. We're just going to let it go and see where it goes. Maybe it gets to 20, maybe more, but now I'm really focusing on getting the money directly back to the people. My first phase this weekend my teammates and I have semi-trucks we filled up, about nine semi-trucks with water, food, clothing, everything. And then I want to regroup after this weekend because I was planning for 200,000 and now a new plan I'm going to make sure I get with the people and learned from Katrina so I make sure I do it right because if they trust me with their money, I want to do it exactly the right way so I can help the most people possible.

COOPER: You've already been helping people who went through Katrina to get a sense of what they did.

WATT: I've spoken to Drew Breeze, going to get on the phone with some more people. I talked to some of the companies to get a glimpse of what went wrong, what went right and the best thing people have told me so far is take your time and make sure you do it right and I want people to know that is what I'm going to do because I want to do right by these people that need it and I want to do right by the people that trust me with their money.

COOPER: In the situations like this, there are emergency needs right here right now but this is something that goes on for weeks, months, years in some cases.

WATT: So I spoke to the mayor of Houston to talk about the immediate needs and what I'm going to do on Sunday and exactly where I can get the resources to make sure we take care of the emergency situations. But this isn't a one day, a one week, one month thing that is going to take months and years and years. I want to make sure I do it right over the long period and I want Houston to know I'm with them for the long haul. I'm here to make sure we take it down the road.

COOPER: Have you seen anything like this?

WATT: Never. COOPER: You're from Wisconsin originally?

WATT: You see these disasters on TV but you've never really been a part of it and to be in it, to see my city going through it, to see all of our people going through it and streets that you know flooded 50 feet high, that is when it hits the most home and that is really why I'm so passion to about making sure I do it right.

COOPER: I wonder how your teammates and families are reacting.

WATT: It has been different because some guy, we have some guys who can't get home, they live in evacuation zones, and we had had a couple of our staff members had be to evacuate by boat. So it's been here and there. The one think our team is all about is helping and giving back. Once they're family are safe, play with kids from the shelter and bring toys. And once the football season starts, it's about three hours every Sunday if we can be a distraction for the fans and the people to take their mind off this.

COOPER: It takes off in a life of its own. You have big name people giving a lot of money and a lot of people who have been move by what you have done and want to help. Like you so many people see this on television and feel frustrated. What can I do?

[23:25:10] WATT: And that is what is so interesting is this crowd funding idea has really taken off. And while I have people donating 500,000, we have people donating $5 but they are donating because they want to show their support. The last time I checked there was over 110,000 people that had donated and from all over the country, all over the world. We've had people from different countries donate. I think that is my biggest message is the city of Houston thanks you for what you have done and I appreciate you trusting me and I'm going to make sure I do everything I can to get the city of Houston back up.

COOPER: I was out today with coast guard and they were doing incredible rescues and you see the dedication of folks. They're working around the clock. And the volunteers, the folks who grabbed the boat and doing what they can.

WATT: I think it's a difficult time bring out the best in humanity and it's so true. I think with everything that is going on in the world and no matter what happens if you're rich, poor, black, white, the one thing we can rally around is helping our fellow humans. I think we're going to continue to see that in abundance. It's a very resilient city. And I think we can all take a page out of that book.

COOPER: Did you ever think you would see a response like this? You always wonder what would happen if you see something like this.

WATT: I hope so. To see it coming to reality is a whole different ball game. It's so beautiful to watch. You see lines of volunteers where you're like is that a line for the food or is that an -- all the sudden it's a line of volunteers. It's so special when you have that many people willing to give what they can. Shelters are turning away supplies because they have so many. COOPER: People see -- well, it stopped raining, and they think the

worst is over, things are getting better. But you go to Beaumont today where they ran out of clean drinking water and had to evacuate a hospital. And neighborhoods with reservoirs.

WATT: We cannot forget about what's going on just because the water is starting to go away. Need to help out the other areas, continue to raise the money because they're saying some of the areas with the water aren't going to go away for a long time. We need to get them rebuilt, back in our homes because so many people have been displaced.

COOPER: How do people go about donating money?

WATT: The site is you watt. You can go to the site, you watch it update as it goes. It's incredible. And then the checks can go directly -- the Justin J. WATT foundation.

COOPER: Did you create a foundation?

WATT: I've had my own foundation for seven years but we had to create a branch. We went through all the legal paperwork so we could accept these donations and we're going to give it directly to the people for hurricane Harvey. There's been a lot of phone calls, legal conversations to make sure we do it the right way, because like I said the number one thing is I want them to know the money they're donating is going directly to Houston.

COOPER: What do you want them to know?

WATT: The message to everybody in Houston is we have your back. We're going to take care of you. We want to do everything we can to make sure that we take care of you because you're our city. You've supported us, taken care of us. So I want to make sure I do everything in our power to take care of you. To people around the world, thank you for your support, thank you for your love, your thoughts. Please don't forget about it once the storm goes away. Please keep donating, please keep supporting. And the last message, we thank you. Thank you to all the firefighters and policeman and neighbors that help out. Thank you to everyone who donated and sent their supplies and fireman and their boats and everything. Thank you to humanity, thank you for being good people, thank you for donating and thank you for showing there's good in the world. I appreciate that.



COOPER: There are dozens of folks from this neighborhood who have been waiting and were there obviously and applauding J.J. Watt for what he is done. A little update on what's ahead. The vital and delicate work of flying some badly ill hospital patients elsewhere so they can get the treatment they need to survive.


hour with a new and higher death toll sadly it rose again from 41 to 47 now. We sadly believe it will rise many times in the coming day Arizona you saw the city of is without clean drinking water tonight. It's difficult for many and impossible for patients and staff at the local hospital, Gary Tuchman is there today to report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the Texas hurricane zone they are evacuating hospital patients. Helicopter ambulances and the process of flying all 193 patients out from the Baptist Beaumont hospital to other Texas hospitals but it's not because there are flood waters, it's because there is no water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't transfer patients when we had our last hurricane, so when we get the call saying our city has lost its water that is a game changer for us.

TUCHMAN: The city of Beaumont lost its water supply system, because rising river waters cause the malfunction of the city's main pump station. Nobody in the city of nearly 120,000 has water, including the hospital. Water is a hospital necessity, so now every patient has to leave.

Is there any concern with the sicker patients, the trauma they're going through?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wouldn't transfer a patient unless they were safe to do so and we have people making sure they have everything they need to make that ride.

TUCHMAN: Military Blackhawk helicopters took five dialysis patients at a time. Smaller choppers came in to take E.R. then intensive care and other patients.

This could take 36 hours for them to get all the patients out of the hospital.

TUCHMAN: The patients include some in the neonatal unit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have nine babies up there right now and they will be transferred all to the University of Texas Medical branch in Galveston and Dr. Doeshy will be riding with them.

[23:35:04] TUCHMAN: It's certainly a traumatizing development for the hospital patients and their families but it's all being done very calmly with great care and professionalism. Gary Tuchman CNN, Beaumont, Texas.


COOPER: We have a late status report from the hospital. 85 patients have yet to be evacuated. Dade Phelan, Texas state representative is from Beaumont. He joins us now. I guess what's your latest assessment of how the rescue effort is going in Beaumont and elsewhere?

DADE PHELAN, TEXAS STATE HOUSE: Thanks for having me on. Thanks for highlighting the issues down here in Southeast Texas. I think things have gone very well. Anything from a storm that caught us all by surprise. The amount of water that has fallen on southeast Texas is something that is biblical proportion and so I think we've done an excellent job. I want to thank the governor, I want to thank my local County Judges and Salvation Army and the Red Cross and the military. I just left the airport earlier today where a thousand people were waiting for transport to safe harbor. We're going to get them out of here. We're going to get them somewhere safe.

COOPER: Is it clear to you who runs point for getting that fixed as soon as possible?

PHELAN: Yes. I have supreme confidence in the City of Beaumont. I feel we're ahead of the curve. It's going to happen sooner rather than later. There's no time table for that but originally was going to be seven to 10 days. They're working around the clock and they got solution. I talked to the TCU in Austin today and they feel confident of the plan is a sound one and they feel confident we'll have water sooner rather than later.

COOPER: So in Beaumont do you expect the number of people that have ridden out the storm thus far in their homes, do you expect that number of people to decide they then want to evacuate to rise because they no longer have access to clean drinking water?

PHELAN: No. I don't think that is going to be a determining factor at this point. So Beaumont, we have 100,000 people in Beaumont but Jefferson County as a whole is closer to 300,000. Many of those folks do have clean drinking water. I think we're bringing in truck loads. They brought in 1618 wheelers today. We have multiple other venters coming in and donating free water. If we can get it up and running, I think we're going to be fine in Beaumont. Orange County's got serious issues. They've got massive flooding, electricity issues. We've got power in Jefferson County. Power is spotty over there. They have access issues. I've got multiple folks all over the state of Texas saying I've got water, food, and diapers. I can't get it into Orange County because the roads are flooded. They're on an island. So we're doing all we can to help them. It's going to be days before I can open again. So it's a unique -- all storms have different challenges and this is certainly one we have never seen before.

COOPER: Appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

Vice President Pence told residents President Trump we are with you, the American people are with you and the President himself pledged a million dollars of his own money to help people in the area and says he'll be back on Saturday. When we come back, the tragic story of rescuers who gave their own lives saving others.


[23:42:66] COOPER: We've seen an incredible number of civilian volunteers doing their part to rescue hurricane Harvey survivors. And some of the amateur rescuers have lost their lives. The story of one of those boats.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are on a rescue missions.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At 12:06 p.m. Monday, Houston, Benjamin was live on Facebook. He was out rescuing people in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. A short time later at 12:33 p.m., he posted this video. By now Benjamin, two of his brothers, a friend and his wife's step father were back in rescue mode with two journalists from the Daily in tow. Benjamin's sister in law, Stephanie, says their wives had said you did enough, you saved lives already and they all wanted to continue.

By 2:50 p.m. Monday they were hauling the boat on its trailer down the street, preparing to put it back in the water for more rescues. Minutes later they were in high water and in high spirits. The men never could have predicted the dark turn their afternoon would soon take. Just about 20 minutes later, Benjamin posted his last video of the day. It was 3:07 p.m. It shows the rescuers along with the Daily journalists in the boat.

At one point one of the men is knee deep in water walking down what appears to be a heavily flooded street. The boat passes flooded gas stations as the men battle heavy rains and gusting winds. It's hard to hear what they're saying but there does not appear to be any sense of panic. The video lasts for about seven 1/2 minutes. About 10 minutes after that, we learned the men lose control of the boat in the strong currents and drift towards power lines. A family member recounts what happened next saying the current was too strong, they grabbed an electricity line and all fell into the water. Sparks were coming out of the water. They were electrocuted several times.

[23:45:20] Reporter Allen Butterfield from the Daily told his paper the boat was crackling and smoking. I was desperately trying to swim away from the power lines in the water. I felt electricity in the water. It paralyzes you for a second. How we survived electrocution, we don't know. The other journalist held on to a tree. They were rescued nearly 24 hours later. They are recovering from electrical burns in the hospital.

Later the bodies of Javier and Jorge Perez were both recovered. Rodriguez and who owned the boat and driving it are still missing. In all this team of amateur rescuers saved seven lives, including a disabled elderly woman but lost theirs in the process. Benjamin's family friend told CNN if you needed help, he would always be there. I'm not surprised he was out rescuing people. Randy Cay, CNN, New York.


COOPER: One of those things you don't think about. Russel Honore the U.S. Military response to hurricane Katrina 12 years ago. Incredible. That is one of those things that rescuers grabbed on to a live power line and it's one of the risks out there that so many people don't consider. RUSSEL HONORE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And it's one of the decisions that

need to be made collectively by the government when you're doing search and rescue operations, I'm of the opinion it needs go down in that sector. The danger of the people that you're trying to bring out unfortunate like this, now you got helicopters coming out with baskets.

COOPER: When the power grid goes down, people lose electricity, things change.

HONORE: It's the dynamic. That is why the politicians get paid the big bucks. They got to make decision whether to leave your grid up with water in the basement and gas on in the house and helicopters dropping baskets and first responders knocking on doors. Whether you're going to leave your grid up or not.

COOPER: We saw Beaumont now has the situation in their clean drinking water. But that is just one of those things that things might be getting better on the ground but all the sudden you lose water and again that is a game changer.

HONORE: The problem is how you distribute it. You can bring all the trucks of water you can in, as long as the water is standing water in the City, you can't get it to the people you need get to.

COOPER: So there's folks that have ridden out the storm thus far, they at least have clean drinking water. It's very possible in some areas, more remote areas -- the need for rescues are going to go up.

HONORE: You can get it to Beaumont, you can get to Port Arthur, but then how you distribute it? With the streets full of water, until the water go down. Again I'm of the opinion you need to evacuate people but with the grid down and no water, no sewer, because if you bring the grid up, you got multiple other problems that people still can't live in their homes. If the sewer is not up and other problems. So that is a decision they're go having to make. Whether to evacuate or bringing the grid up and keep them there. The other problem is they have a mosquito. All this place is going to be infested with mosquitos. Another decision and recovery is how long you keep the curfew on. When you're working on your house, have a job and you're working on your house at night and you got to be home at midnight that reduced the amount of recovery work people do for themselves as well as small businesses that have to restock. And so you traded off a lot in your recovery when you curfew at midnight to 5:00 in the morning.

COOPER: Coming up, with his house flooded, I want to tell you the story of a man who sat down to play his piano. It was a simple act of hope and beauty, the video has gone viral and what he told me about this moment next.


[23:53:27] COOPER: Eric Harding returned to his flooded home to pick up a few toys for his seven kids, almost everything was covered in water including the piano. Not the most important part. The video that has gone viral. Him playing the piano in his flooded home. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When are I saw that video, I got to say, it brings

tears to your eyes.

COOPER: Did you think you would play the piano when you went home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were literally just going to go get some stuff. I was just showing that it's working. I didn't know if it would work.

COOPER: He was concerned about the piano.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it didn't work, I was going to delete the video. It work and so I ended up posting a piece of that video later on. It kind of struck a chord with something our pastor said in a Facebook video to us. That we are all going to go through suffering, but in that suffering, that coupled with this kind of eerie flooded piano, this struck a chord with people all over the place.

COOPER: Did you have an idea it would strike a chord?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I posted it. I knew my closest friends would be like stop being melodramatic and they were.

COOPER: Your neighborhood and what happened and what happened since the response that you have seen among your neighbors. It's such an important thing to talk about. We see the worst in people, but in street after street, we have seen the best of people.

[23:55:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America has been filled with the worst of people for a while. I mean 24 hours after that video was made, I probably had 40 people at my house tearing out walls and removing insulation.

COOPER: People helping out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. We had them on our street. Two neighbors were stuck in Dallas. There are crews over there just ripping it out and making it happen. When they came home, they didn't come home to a flooded mess. They came home to their church. That is powerful. That is people doing at this time right way. That is neighbors that we never have.

COOPER: You met neighbors and gotten to know them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I have seven children. We get off of a rescue and we show up and literally the guy is like do you have anywhere to eat and I said no. He said come on. No one takes seven kids and their dog. It's big enough that they open up their door. I feel bad. It's been cool. Amazing.

COOPER: I appreciate you sharing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks so much.

COOPER: Some of the stories here. We'll be right back.