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Houston Area Mosques Turned into Shelters; CNN Crew Saves Man from Floodwaters; DefSec James Mattis Renews Call for North Korean Diplomacy; Missionaries Travel to Houston. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired August 31, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:02] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: For ways you can help, go to CNN.com/impact. CNN's coverage continues.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN HOST: Hello, everybody. We would like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm John Vause in Los Angeles where it has just gone 9:00 p.m.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And it's 11:00 in the evening here in Houston, Texas. I'm George Howell, live.
The backdrop here -- the Houston convention center. This is a place where some 8,000 people are calling home, a temporary home, after losing so much. But there's also a great sense of hope here.
We'll have more on that in a moment.
But first the very latest on what is now tropical depression Harvey. This storm weakened Wednesday night. It's moved on from Houston, but the governor of Texas says the worst is not yet over. Life- threatening floods are a big concern here and entire cities in fact are under water in parts of the state.
The death toll so far, at least 37 people have been killed since Harvey hit Friday night as a major hurricane. Here in Houston, Texas alone, police say they've responded to more than 5,000 calls for rescues.
Now, as a matter of this storm itself, Harvey has broken the U.S. record for rainfall for a single storm dumping almost 52 inches of rain -- that's 130 centimeters of rain in parts of the state.
All credit, of course, given to first responders; the work of these first responders has been non-stop. Just ensuring order, making sure that people are getting rescued from dangerous situations.
And to talk more about that, we have with us now the police chief of Houston Texas, Art Acevedo. It's a pleasure to have you with us today, sir.
ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON, TEXAS POLICE CHIEF: Thanks. Good to be with you. Thank you. HOWELL: Talk about hard work, talk about a busy time, just tell me what it's been like watching your officers do so much.
ACEVEDO: I'll tell you, it's just been amazing. I've been a cop for 31 years. And I've worked with so many good cops, but I don't think any of us have faced what these men and women have been facing now for six days.
We started our alert on Friday. And they haven't been home yet. Tomorrow will be the first time they'd be sent home. And they're really my heroes.
HOWELL: What was it like the day of the storm? I mean that's what you had so many calls coming in. People were in really bad situations.
ACEVEDO: Well, you know, it was frustrating. It really touched my heart when I saw grown men, police officers, and women, talking to me with tears in their eyes and frustrated they weren't getting to enough people.
ACEVEDO: Yes. And so, they're here, they're all still here working hard, you know. And this is their sixth day of working without going home. Yet, they're still smiling, still happy. And I think they represent the best of policing in this country and in the free world as the American police officers and the Houston police officers on top of that.
HOWELL: We've been through the last several days after Harvey. Talk to us about the next couple of days, the next couple of weeks, months. I mean it's going to be a lot of work, and you guys know that.
ACEVEDO: Yes, they do. But you know, the truth is, we're still in the response phase. We still have some flooding going on. We still have some concerns about rising water. And so we're not past the danger. We're not past the challenge.
And after we're done with that, the primary searches, we have to do secondary searches to make sure we haven't missed anybody, to make sure there's nobody sitting in those homes that tragically lost their lives and we need to recover those bodies for families.
HOWELL: One more question that want to ask you about this convention center. I saw some of your police officers singing and dancing with people here, just making them feel better, given how much they lost.
HOWELL: I mean, to be in this room, with so many people who lost so much, but their lives were spared. Their lives were, you know, they were saved. It's a mix of emotions.
ACEVEDO: It is a mix of emotions. And, you know, I think Mayor Turner has talked about it a lot. People are happy. They're happy to be here. But what the mayor really wants is for all of our partners in the federal, state and county and local partners to move quickly to restore these people's lives.
It's just priority and I think it's this community's priority to get people back on their feet and get them back in regular housing instead of where they're at now, which is on cots.
HOWELL: I do have one other thing to ask you. What's the most poignant thing? What stuck out to you in the past couple days?
ACEVEDO: Well, you know, we obviously lost Steve Perez. Sgt. Steve Perez --
ACEVEDO: -- that's been around serving honorably for 34 years. But what has got to me is I've been around cops my entire adult life and sometimes we can be a bunch of, you know, we complain.
But these men and women, we didn't feed them the way we should have fed them at first. We didn't let them go home to their families.
[00:05:01] We're not a fire department where we sleep at the station, you know. That's just not our cycle. No complaints.
Their homes are under water, almost 200 of them, and not one has said, hey, I need to leave, coach. And it says a lot about the heart of our department. I'm extremely proud.
HOWELL: Chief Art Acevedo -- thank you so much, of the Houston police department and the men and women who do the fine work. Thank you so much.
ACEVEDO: Thank you -- guys.
CROWD: Thank you.
HOWELL: There are many stories of survival, as I mentioned. There are also many stories of loss from this storm.
LaQuishe Wright is a storm survivor, but lost her home. She joins us live from Katy, Texas. LaQuishe -- thank you so much for being willing to share your story with us here on CNN. Help our viewers to understand exactly what happened.
LAQUISHE WRIGHT, STORM SURVIVOR: Well, the storm first started on Friday, which ironically was my birthday. And I'd love to say we had a hurricane party, but I stayed up all night trying to figure out what was happening.
In the middle of the night, I realized that I was becoming concerned that even though our neighborhood doesn't normally flood, I was afraid that by the time -- if I waited too long, we wouldn't be able to get out of the neighborhood, because the streets surrounding our neighborhood tend to flood. So at about 2:00 in the morning, I instructed my two kids, I have two sons that are 12 and 17, to start packing their things up. And we decided to -- even though it was the middle of the night, and we were being told not to leave in the dark, we got our things together and found a hotel. So that we could make sure that we could get out of the neighborhood.
Specifically, for all of us, but specifically because my youngest son, he's a type one diabetic and I needed to make sure that we were able to get out in time so that he could get proper medical care if needed. I didn't want to get stranded. And I didn't want him to have the stress of having to potentially wade in water to get out.
We were able to get our initial car out, and when I saw that the roads were clear enough, we then went back and got a second car. So thankfully we haven't lost either one of our cars.
We were only originally able to take one of my dogs. So we then went on a rescue mission later in the day, that day on Saturday, to go get the second dog. But that was more difficult, because by that time, more things started flooding in the neighborhood.
So we had to go up wrong streets and go in wrong entrances in order to get to him, but we did. So at that point, by Saturday, I had all of my living souls with me in the hotel. And it was great to come early because now people can't get hotel rooms.
We were able to get our spot, secure it here, and then, you know, be here when the storm truly really hit and stopped all of my neighbors from being able to actually leave the neighborhood with their cars in a normal fashion.
HOWELL: So talk to us about what your next is. I mean how did you find, you know, shelter? How did you figure out a place to eat?
I mean that's the story that I hear from so many people here, you know. Where do I lay my head at night? Where do I find food because I can't cook at home and the restaurants are all closed? How did you figure that out?
WRIGHT: Honestly, in the middle of the night, I used hotels.com in order to figure out what hotels were closed and had availability and would take pets. I was able to do a quick search. And so that's how I found the Hyatt place that we're at right now. So that I knew it would take my dogs.
And then once we were safely here, initially there wasn't very much of anything open, but I had already grocery-shopped for food in the thought that we would actually be staying at the house.
So we brought a lot of food with us, initially. I have to make sure that my diabetic son has access to certain types of food in order for him to stay healthy and ok. So that was the way that we got around the food situation initially, was that we brought a lot of it in a cooler with us. And because we had two vehicles, we were able to bring quite a bit of food. And then eventually we started -- other people in the hotels would tell us things that were open around us and we would go hunt them down. We had a local pizza place that dropped off flyers at the hotels, so everyone at the hotel was trying to get food from that one place.
It's a lot of -- honestly we're all just really working together. A lot of us in the hotel are in the same boat. And when people find things out about -- whether it's about FEMA or, you know, about insurance or different things, like we're all just -- we don't know each other necessarily, but in some cases we do. Some of our neighbors are here.
We're all just trying to help each other through a really difficult time. So it's about word of mouth and talking to each other.
[00:09:58] HOWELL: After going through so much loss, is there a sense of optimism, just given the fact that you see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend, people are pitching in to make sure the people they care about, or even people they don't even know are taken care of?
WRIGHT: Most definitely. I definitely saw it so much in my neighborhood itself. We had a Facebook page where all of those in our separate houses were communicating with each other. Those of us that escaped, those of us that were still stuck there -- we were all communicating to figure, you know, what routes to take, how to get out, what we needed to do.
Everyone has bonded together, because we've all lost together. Most of my neighborhood, maybe 95 percent, doesn't have flood insurance. So we've all vowed to figure this all out together.
And it's that sense of camaraderie. It's that sense of, you know, we're all going through something difficult, but we have all made it through. We are alive.
There's so many people. I think the count of people that have lost their lives is up to 37 or so now. It could have been any one of us. And I think we all appreciate the fact that it's not us.
I appreciate the fact that I'm in a hotel and not in a shelter, that my children have a space. That we're moving to a FEMA hotel on Monday, where we'll be able to stay for at least 30 days.
I'm very sad that it will be a while before we get back into our home, because it was flooded because of the release of the Barker reservoir. And it could be six to 12 weeks before we get back into our home. That's difficult.
But between the government helping us and all of the family and friends that we have that have continued to call and donate to us and help us, I know that we're going to be ok, because we have -- we've just been really blessed, honestly.
We had neighbors getting out of the neighborhood in helicopters and on boats and having to wade through shoulder-deep water. And so I feel very lucky that we were able to get out in time and still have two cars because most of our neighbors have lost all their vehicles.
So many people have lost so many things and I feel like we were really lucky. And we have our animals. We have a lot of neighbors that had to leave their animals. And the neighborhood is just completely destroyed right now.
I probably have potentially about six feet of water in my house. And it's a one-story house, and with that much water, over that amount of time, it's going to have to be taken down to the studs. And we don't even know if we're all going to rebuild or not. That's what we have to figure out.
HOWELL: LaQuishe, we appreciate you taking time to share your story. And, you know, we wish you the very best, you know, as you and your family go through the process of recovering. Thank you for being with us.
Thank you very much.
HOWELL: For many of the thousands of people stranded here in Houston, Texas the only way out from their homes if they're surrounded by water, the only way out is up. Daring helicopter rescues are saving lives.
That story is next.
[00:13:02] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: Welcome back.
I'm George Howell, live here in Houston, Texas where relief efforts are pouring into the city. The U.S. military is mobilizing its resources from around the country to join in. The Coast Guard has already been helping out. This is one of their aircrew men tending to a baby after a helicopter rescue. Two navy warships carrying nearly 700 Marines will set sail later on Thursday.
Our Martin Savidge rode along with a U.S. Navy unit and he was on board for a dramatic rescue that played out. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's almost impossible to hear with the noise of the helicopter here. Looks like a mother and child, very young child, brought in. As you can imagine both the fear and the relief -- terrified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: So you know, we've seen day after day after day of these rescues, some by helicopter, some by officials, John -- and some of the people who were rescued here at this convention center, trying to get a good night's sleep, trying to figure out what the next step is for their lives -- John. VAUSE: Yes. And it's good that the air power is beefing up the army
sending what -- more than a hundred choppers to Texas, because in many cases, it's only by air people can be rescued.
Back to you in a moment -- George, thank you.
Harvey made another landfall on Wednesday morning, slamming into the Louisiana coast. With the threat of flooding there starting to ease though officials in Louisiana are helping storm victims from Texas, taking hundreds of them across the state line to shelters in Lake Charles and Alexandria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (R), LOUISIANA: I was able to talk to Governor Abbott just before I left Baton Rouge. And he had found out about what was happening here in Lake Arthur and he called over to tell me how much he appreciated what we were doing. And of course it's just the right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Twelve years ago this month, Louisiana had been hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds of thousands were left homeless, 80 percent of the New Orleans was under water, and the city's superdome was a shelter of last resort.
Within two days more than 15,000 people were there, and still more would come. But with limited power, no plumbing and damaged roof, not enough food or water, it became a symbol of the desperation of so many left reeling after the single most catastrophic natural disaster in U.S. history.
In that moment of crisis, cities across the United States opened their doors to Katrina's homeless, but no city took in more than Houston.
[00:19:59] Eventually more than 150,000 people would head across the border and many never went back. Houston's mayor at the time was Bill White.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WHITE, FORMER MAYOR OF HOUSTON: Houston is rising to the challenge of an unprecedented domestic refugee situation. People are helping people in many ways. They can't always be just sitting around here in numerous shelters, churches and people putting people up in their homes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And now the mayor best known for sheltering so many victims of the hurricane is a victim of Hurricane Harvey. This is a photo of him leaving his home in waist-deep floodwaters.
And Bill White joins us now on the line from Houston at a friend's house. Mr. White -- thank you so much for being with us. I guess it's fair to say you never thought you would be among the homeless after a hurricane or a natural disaster like this.
WHITE (via telephone): Well, I certainly hoped that I wouldn't, but as I said at the time to many Houstonians and others, we could be in the same situation and although there were a lot of sacrifices made in order to put over 150,000 people out of harm's way, it was worth it because after all, we've got to treat our fellow Americans the way we would want to be treated.
VAUSE: Can you describe what happened with -- what happened at your house, how quickly did the floodwaters rise, when did you actually decide to make that call to get out?
WHITE: You know, this was an incredible, incredible freakish event. And we built a house along a bayou system, but on Piers' Way (ph) above what was predicted to be a hundred-year flood plane, way above the level of the record storm of tropical storm Allison some 15 years ago, and yet I did see the bayou waters rising, 50 inches of rain in some areas around the metropolitan area. That's more than you get in a normal year.
And I saw the bayou -- that's what we call the streams and creeks that take the waters out the bayous, rose up to the level of my deck and house and then start popping through the floor. When it was still rising and above my ankle, then I waded out.
VAUSE: You know, as you look at the destruction and the devastation from Harvey, it seems, you know, Houston is going to need the same kindness and generosity which you showed to show many in Louisiana and New Orleans 12 years ago.
WHITE: Yes, yes. The experience of that, of having to take people, so many people who didn't have homes to return to and get them into apartments, health care, kids in school, a whole range of needs, pharmacies, medical triage, getting people transportation. We got 35,000 households and two apartments within a period of three months -- people who didn't have anything else.
There were many, many tens of other thousands of households who had the resources and safety net to make the transition smoothly. And if we could do that with folks in New Orleans and Houstonians, people in this region, with the help of people from New Orleans and other places, we can do it for ourselves.
Ok, Bill White, mayor of Houston 12 years ago, who took in so many after Hurricane Katrina, now a victim of Hurricane Harvey. But sir -- thank you so much for being with us. And I wish you all the best.
WHITE: Thank you -- John. Take care.
HOWELL: Fair to say the damage from this storm is extensive. It will take years to recover, but in the short-term, forecasters say dangerous flooding will continue from Houston all the way into southwestern Louisiana for the rest of the week. So in the meantime, on the other side of the world, there's another deadly deluge to tell you about. This is a situation in Mumbai, India. Reuters reports at least 14 people have died from major flooding in that city that's been ongoing since Tuesday.
Let's bring in our meteorologist Karen Maginnis, live in the International Weather Center with more details on both of these storm systems -- Karen.
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And we start with what is now left of Harvey -- a tropical depression. But it still has legs.
As remarkable as this is, it still could produce flooding right across the Tennessee River Valley. It is still raining in Beaumont, Port Arthur although not to the degree that we saw just 24 hours ago.
In one 24-hour period Beaumont, Port Arthur saw 26 inches of rainfall, just about 650 millimeters. Now it's going to be transitioning more towards the north and northeast.
[00:24:56] It is situated just about over Alexandria, Louisiana. But through the Tennessee River Valley and in towards the Ohio River Valley, as we look at this radar forecast, essentially going through Thursday. This is where we're going to pick up the heaviest rainfall, in the vicinity of Memphis, maybe Nashville toward southeastern sections of Arkansas, the potential for as much as ten inches of rainfall or just about 250 millimeters.
Now let's take a look at what has happened around Mumbai and indeed South Asia. Take a look at this image out of Mumbai. We did see over 400 millimeters in just one 24-hour period. They say they haven't seen any flooding like this since 2006. It has been dreadful.
It has affected schools. It has affected businesses. It has affected the airlines. And they're saying that the flooding has destroyed or severely damaged nearly a million homes across the region.
Now that area of low pressure is transitioning more towards Pakistan and coastal areas there could see significant flooding. We've seen significant flooding since August in Nepal, Bangladesh and also portions of northeastern India.
George -- back to you.
HOWELL: Karen -- thank you so much. Still ahead, we talk with an Islamic leader here in Houston whose organization has opened its mosque as emergency shelter for flood victims.
As we go to break, before and after images of Interstate 10 about 120 kilometers, I should say, east of Houston. This is the main highway into New Orleans. The water is so deep and choppy in places that it now resembles an ocean covered with white caps.
[00:30:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. I'm George Howell, live in Houston, Texas.
Throughout the southeast part of the state, rescue missions are ongoing and the scenes are dramatic. For a fifth day now, emergency workers and volunteers went door to door, answering calls for help in Port Arthur, Texas.
Patients were evacuated from a nursing home. The mayor of that city says the entire town is under water.
The U.S. Navy flew search and rescue missions over Beaumont, Texas, as they lifted 25 men, women and children from the floodwaters.
And then look at this, this video of Jonathan Evola (ph), carrying an elderly woman on his back out of her home. He and his brother, Joshua, were in that neighborhood that had been cleared out when they found two other elderly people and two children also inside that home.
So, John, the rescues continue; the stories of survival are incredible. It just raises the hair on your skin to think about what people went through, to think about the fact that they're here to tell those stories and the optimism that they have about their next steps, powerful.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: There are some tragic, horrific stories, there are also some incredibly optimistic, uplifting ones as well. George, thank you.
The rain from Harvey may have eased up over Houston but thousands continue to fill emergency shelters across the city. Four of those shelters are mosques affiliated with the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.
And flood levels, as they continue to fall, more mosques will become accessible to the evacuees who need them.
Shaizad Chatriwala is director of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. He joins us from Stafford, Texas, a suburb southwest of downtown Houston.
Great to have you with us, sir.
How many people are you caring for tonight?
How are they all coping?
SHAIZAD CHATRIWALA, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF GREATER HOUSTON: So we started with 100. We -- actually, we started with six people, went up to a 100. And today we're at about 60, around 55-60 people, about 15 families, average family of four people, yes.
VAUSE: How are they coping, how are they getting by? CHATRIWALA: Oh, they love it here because our shelter has been
given a five-star hotel shelter, they call it, because it's a small- knit community, kids enjoy it and we make their stay as comfortable as we could. So they're part of our community. So there are no strangers to us.
VAUSE: I'm just wondering, though, you say there are no strangers to you.
But would you say that there are people who you've cared for or are caring for who probably this is the first time they've ever actually been inside a mosque?
CHATRIWALA: Some of them are new but most of them are part of the community here. So they've been frequenting during -- for Islamic programs; they're here for prayers, they're in Ramadan. So they are not really strangers, so, you know, they have been here. They feel at home, really.
VAUSE: I just want to make the point, though, you are taking in anybody from any religion, color, race, it doesn't matter, faith doesn't matter, everyone's welcome?
CHATRIWALA: That is correct. So we -- our shelter is open to humanity. So we don't -- you know, that's what has united this community in Texas. We are open to anybody and everybody. And the response from the community also has been, you know, vice versa. We have people from all faith coming in, pouring help, supplies and support.
We had never imagined -- this is the first time we opened a shelter and really it, you know, just the outpour of support was -- I cannot describe it.
VAUSE: Do you have any idea how long you'll have to keep operating as a shelter?
Do you have enough food and other supplies, you know, for an extended period?
CHATRIWALA: Oh, yes. I mean --
CHATRIWALA: -- actually, you know, we have three areas, three buildings in our campus, so we have a full-time school, with 400 kids. And so we're housing the families in the school, so the family can stay together because, the drama they've gone through, you know, Islamically, we have to separate men and women separately in different prayer hall.
But then we took this opportunity and put them in the school. So once the school opened up, then we had the prayer halls opened. So we could go on as long as needed, yes, sir.
VAUSE: And also, you have a lot of volunteers there working. But they've also been directly impacted by Harvey as well.
Some of them, have they lost their homes?
What is their story?
What are their stories, rather?
CHATRIWALA: I'm one of them. I've been evacuated. And so this is my home now. And so is some of the volunteers that are supporting us. So it's -- you know, like I said, the volunteers who are coming to help and the people who are our (INAUDIBLE), it's just like I am part of it. And you are part of me, so that even makes it very easy.
VAUSE: They say charity can purify the heart. You'll have a very pure heart by the end of this, I imagine. Thanks for being with us, sir.
CHATRIWALA: All right.
VAUSE: Just like Houston's Islamic Society, celebrity preacher Joel Osteen and his Lakewood church have opened their doors to offer shelter to those in need. It just took a couple of days longer.
On Monday the church posted on Facebook the building was inaccessible because of floodwater. That sparked outrage on social media, given that so many were in need. They needed somewhere to go.
Osteen did the rounds on breakfast TV in the U.S. on Wednesday, trying to explain what happened, mostly repeating the same reasons why the church remained closed, like here on "Good Morning America," because no one had asked to open up the building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOEL OSTEEN, TELEVANGELIST: The city has a shelter four miles from here. We work with the city all the time. And when their shelter was totally full, they started bringing people over here. And here we are again today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Then there was a safety issue. Here is Osteen on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSTEEN: We had floodgates right behind me over to the right, it was within a foot of that. So there was a safety issue the first day or two.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Same thing on NBC's "Today" show, all about safety because the building had flooded before, about 16 years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OSTEEN: If people were here, they'd realize, there were safety
issues. This building had flooded before. And so we were just being precautious (sic).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Over on "CBS This Morning," a similar line about no one asking for the building to be turned into a shelter, no government officials asked for any help. This, though, came with a twist. Listen closely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSTEEN: If you needed shelter, we could have been a shelter from day one, if they wanted that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: From day one.
Take a short break. When we come back, a dramatic flood rescue near Houston is caught on tape. And this time, CNN journalists are part of the action.
Plus, North Korea celebrates its latest missile launch and U.S. president Donald Trump responds with an angry tweet. That's next on NEWSROOM L.A.
HOWELL: We've been telling you about so many of these flood rescues in the Houston area, one of them involving some of my own colleagues. This was caught on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL (voice-over): CNN correspondent Drew Griffin and his team were preparing for a live report Wednesday when they saw a man accidentally steer his truck into a flooded ravine. There was no time to call 9-1-1 so the CNN crew rushed in to help Jerry Summerall. They pulled him out of his vehicle with a rope. Take a look here at how it all happened.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SR. INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Look at this. Get out, dude!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
GRIFFIN: You got a power cord?
You got a rope?
GRIFFIN: Hold on, I'm trying to get you a rope. We're getting you a rope, getting you a rope.
Yes, Brian, call 9-1-1.
I got him. I got him coming out of the water right now. I'm hanging up with you.
All right, buddy, come on. Get up out of that water. No, don't, don't, don't go backwards.
You all right?
No, ma'am; no, ma'am, we got a car in a ditch. We just pulled a fellow out.
JERRY SUMMERALL, FLOOD VICTIM: Lord, have mercy.
GRIFFIN: Are you all right now, buddy?
GRIFFIN: All right. Take your breath and we're going to pick you up. We want to get you off of this bank. OK?
SUMMERALL: Yes, sir. Yes.
GRIFFIN: We're going to get you off of this bank.
HOWELL (voice-over): Thank goodness. I mean, how scary that had to be. Luckily, Drew saw this. Summerall was shaken but in good spirits. He asked to be part of the live report so that he could thank CNN, that team, for saving his life -- John.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Wow, that's incredible to think just how lucky he was, how lucky so many people have been over the last couple days. George, thank you.
Well, the Trump administration is once again sending mixed messages on North Korea. Wednesday morning, the president sent out this tweet.
"The U.S. has been talking to North Korea and paying them extortion money for 25 years. Talking is not the answer."
But later Defense secretary James Mattis contradicted the president during a meeting with South Korea's defense minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We're never out of
diplomatic solutions. We continue to work together and the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's Paula Hancocks is live this hour in Seoul, South Korea.
So Paula, whether the U.S. is interested in diplomacy, whether it's not, right now it seems the North Koreans are, for the time being, the ones who have been consistent about this. They have no interest at all in sitting down and talking.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's interesting you used that word consistent. That's certainly what the feeling over here is. There is an assumption amongst many experts and officials here in the region that North Korea would be willing to talk but only on its own terms.
We have seen consistently, from North Korea, that they want to perfect their nuclear and missile program. They've said they will continue these missile launches. They have continued them. They said they will do more nuclear tests and we are waiting for number six at this point.
Certainly there is an assumption that they would be willing to negotiate with Washington. We've heard that from Beijing a number of times. But they have said they have no intention of denuclearizing, of giving up their nuclear weapons. It would be on their terms.
And there is a question here as to who to listen to when it comes to this question of consistency. You hear one thing from the U.S. president, much more forceful words, talking about all options on the table.
And then you see and hear the more balanced response from the Defense secretary and the secretary of state -- John.
Paula, thank you, Paula Hancocks live this hour in Seoul
We will take a short break. When we come back, after a lot of criticism that he did not show enough empathy for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, the U.S. president has fine-tuned his message. That's next on NEWSROOM L.A.
HOWELL: The U.S. president is offering his prayers and support to victims of Hurricane Harvey. President Trump was in Springfield, Missouri, on Wednesday, pitching his plan for tax reform. You'll remember Mr. Trump has been here before to the Houston area.
He has been criticized for that visit to Texas, for expressing interest in the crowd size of the people who came to see him rather than actually meeting the people one-on-one in those crowds, the people who have been affected by this storm.
In his last speech, the president struck a more compassionate note. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In difficult times such as these, we see the true character of the American people, their strength, their love and their resolve. We see friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor and stranger helping stranger. And together we will endure and we will overcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The people President Trump is talking about, right here. Many of the volunteers here, many of the people who are receiving help, a lot of people are here to help. Earlier I spoke with two missionaries, who came to the Houston area to lift people's spirits. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: What compelled the two of you to come here?
VICTORIA WHITE, OTHERS OUTREACH MISSIONS: People.
MARQUIST TAYLOR, OTHERS OUTREACH MISSIONS: Passion. We -- Victoria and I have this history. We've been friends for over 10 years. So I called her on the phone the day before all this went haywire. And we're looking for places to give. Well, I found out that a lot of the shelters were at capacity with the volunteer needs.
I'm like, listen, Victoria, this is going to sound crazy, I think God is calling us to do something called shelter worship. She said let's do it.
TAYLOR: -- I'm there. So we meet at the shelter. We did not rehearse. We did not know what we're going to do. But she is amazing worship and I was a motivational speaker.
So I'm speaking to these people. And it worked out. Just to see the countenance was what, you know.
HOWELL: So, Victoria, how are you helping?
What are you doing when you go through these halls, when you meet people? WHITE: Singing. Even before that, just meeting people and
encouraging them, letting them know that hope is still present. And even if they don't feel that, hopefully, by what we're able to do, they will before we leave. That's it.
HOWELL: Give us an example of how you're helping?
WHITE: Yes, thank you so much. Thank you.
TAYLOR: You want me to sing after that?
HOWELL: If you'd like.
TAYLOR: No, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. So I sing but that's not my calling. I'm a preacher. I'm a pastor. I'm a minister. So I just motivated the people, just to let them know that even though they lost material things that still they have their mouth, they have activity in their in limbs and they should be grateful.
Grateful people don't look at what they have. And that's not what success is. The fact that you came out alive and you're in your right mind. Just to think about, it's devastating to see what happened to the people.
But to put a smile on your face and to be grateful, it's like Job.
Job said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him." Though he looks back, I'll trust God. So that's what we're doing. We're helping people trust God.
HOWELL: You guys both make me so proud of my state.
TAYLOR: Oh, man. Thank you. Thank you for having us.
WHITE: Thank you for having us. We appreciate it.
TAYLOR: Thank you so much. God bless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: To hear something like that, it absolutely lifts your spirits.
Singer Gloria Gaynor, you know that song, "I Will Survive"? She is also sending a message to Texas with new words to that hit
HOWELL: That's a good note to leave you with.
If you would like to help, for more information on what you can do here for people of Texas, go to cnn.com/impact to learn more.
A great deal of sadness. A great deal of loss here. But, as you can see, a great deal of optimism as well.
I'm George Howell, live in Houston.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause in Los Angeles. Please stay with us. We'll be back with a lot more news after a very short break.