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Hospital Evacuated In City Left Without Running Water; Evacuations, Urgent Rescues Ongoing In Disaster Zone; Flooding Survivor Recounts Harrowing Ordeal; "I Will Survive" Takes On New Meaning; Son Reunited With Elderly Father Missing After Storm; Woman's Missing Friend Has Been Found Safe; Woman Who Was Trapped In Home Safe In Galveston. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 31, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now it's time to hand things to Chris Cuomo. Cuomo Prime Time starts now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Anderson. We're going to check back with you in just a few. I'm Chris Cuomo and this is PRIME TIME.

Harvey may be gone from Texas but in some areas the situation on the ground has only gotten worse. Rescue teams are on the lookout both on the ground and from the air. A CNN crew spotted what you're looking at right now on your screen.

A swift water rescue in progress. A man clinging to a tree for dear life as the water rages around him. A rescue swimmer swoops in, plucks him to safety. Look at that.

The difference in timing, the difference in where they were, controlling the aircraft, getting to that man, how long could he have held on? But it all went right, this time.

Everywhere the water goes, it wins. At least one shelter had to close. Patients had to be evacuated from the hospital in Beaumont, Texas. That city is really up against it. We're going to talk about them a lot tonight.

They have no running water after both of their pumps failed. So it is a desperate effort to get to people and get them out of the water. We have some updates on the folks that we reached out to you to help us for.

But first, let's get to Anderson Cooper, he has the latest. And Anderson, I've been watching you going out there with the rescuers. What are they dealing with?

COOPER: Yes, you know, Chris, it's interesting. You talked about the precision of those pilots and those helicopters to lower those rescue swimmers. I saw that firsthand today on a coast guard chopper. Two pilots, Lieutenant Mayer (ph) and Lieutenant Miller (ph), they thought today was going to be a pretty calm day. They didn't think there'll be frankly a lot of rooftop rescues. We were in an area near Beaumont, Texas, out in that direction, and after being out there for 20, 30 minutes there was a man on a roof calling for help. They just saw him, they didn't get a 911 call or anything. Their cell phones had run out. They lowered themselves about a 150 feet, they lowered a rescue swimmer and he assessed what was going on.

They brought his wife up to the roof and they got them on board. That was just two of a total of 15 people in all that this one chopper crew rescued today.

But just the precision of being able to get the helicopter that low, to keep it steady so that they can lower a rescue swimmer and then bring that basket with people up in it and pets, it's just an extraordinary thing. And the thing I hadn't realized is, you know, you think while the weather is pretty good here now, it's not raining so there's not a lot of elements to deal with, there's so many air assets in the air at any one time.

Choppers from the military, from the coast guard, from Customs and Border Protection. They have to constantly be looking out and turning left and right, looking up and down just to make sure. And sometimes there's four or five choppers in their radius that they have to be aware of just to make sure there's not some accident.

So it is incredibly difficult and dangerous work for these pilots, for these rescue crews, these flight mechanics who are the ones who are actually lowering the rescue swimmer. It's an extraordinary thing to witness and I was really just honored to be out with the coast guard. The coast guard says they have helped to rescue or assist as many as 9,000 people so far in Texas, in Louisiana and more than a thousand pets.

CUOMO: Wow. I mean, those numbers are staggering. And that accuracy, that precision with no sleep. They're working around the clock, as are you, my friend. Thank you for giving us the update. We'll check back with you in just a little bit.

Anderson said right there, 9,000 rescues. We know of 300 water rescues just today just in Beaumont, Texas, alone. And the bad news is that the river there has not crested yet.

Remember what we're dealing with. These are floodwaters that are moving their way north to south towards the Gulf. And as they move, they get faster, stronger and more deadly.

Joining us right now, Marcus McClellan. He is with the Jefferson County Texas Emergency Management Office. Can you hear me, sir?


CUOMO: All right, you hear what I'm talking about here. Contextually, people feel when the storm is gone, everything is OK. But we see situations getting worse, especially in like Port Arthur and Beaumont. Why? Well, the water is still out there, like you said. They're draining up into the rivers and there's so much other things out there that we don't see under the water that you have to compete with while you're out there trying to rescue people.

CUOMO: So, you know, you can't treat it like you're just like in a river or a lake. It's all about what lies beneath and what does that do in terms of your efforts?

[21:05:05] MCCLELLAN: It makes it difficult. You can top over a boat that's going to a rescue and then you have two rescues that you have to do. So they're constantly watching where they're going and they're having to look everywhere. Because one second there's nothing in front of you and all of a sudden there's a tree. So they have to constantly be looking and being aware of their surroundings.

CUOMO: One other question about the rescuers and then I want to get to you about what the survivors are dealing with there, ad what you're up against. I'm a boat captain and I was thinking of myself, it's amazing how we haven't heard about more of the people out there in the boats getting hurt. You know, becoming casualties themselves.

What do you make that up to? Just being super careful, just getting lucky so far? How do you explain that?

MCCLELLAN: A little bit of all. Luck, experience, and training.

CUOMO: Because they're really dealing with tough situations. That water is moving fast so you have to control the vessel and as you keep saying, who knows what's underneath. So, we heard that the pumps failed in Beaumont so they have no water. And we heard that shelters are getting flooded, hospitals are getting flooded.

Is this situation still getting worse or is there any sense that you're starting to get some type of management of the variables?

MCCLELLAN: Yes, we're definitely starting to get a handle on it. Like you said, the pumps failed, even the secondary backup pump failed and that's just because of the water was so high and got to them and caused them to malfunction. Like I said, they're getting everybody out of the hospital here in Beaumont because they do not have any running water. It's not hygienic, it's not functional for hospital care.

So they're getting those individuals out of there so that they can continue with medical care.

CUOMO: The water itself is becoming a factor. It is not just river or lake water, it's like a toxic soup. What are you finding in terms of the onset of these water-borne illnesses that we're all so worried about in these situations?

MCCLELLAN: Yes. If anybody has been out in the water especially our deputies that have been in the water, we're getting them inoculated for tetanus and other diseases so that they can continue to do their job without getting sick. If anybody's been out in that water (INAUDIBLE) that they do need to seek medical treatment to get those vaccines so they can not get ill.

CUOMO: What are you seeing in terms of needs? So many people who are watching the coverage right now want to get involved, either they want to go there or they want to send something. What are you seeing in terms of the need in the hardest hit areas?

MCCLELLAN: Right now -- I mean, we've got a great group of people out there in the water. We've got plenty of boats. We've got the Texas military coming in and they're helping us with the evacuations.

It's really hard to get anything in here other than through a C-130 cargo plane because we have no highways that we can get in and out on. We're basically locked in. And once those waters recede on the highways and interstate then we can get supplies back and forth.

What we're going to really need is cleanup equipment because there's going to be a lot of houses that need to be redone, there's going to be a lot of businesses that has to be cleaned so that we can get the community back to functioning.

CUOMO: But in a way, you know what, that will be a blessing. Doing that kind of work because it will mean that you're through this phase. We know that you are still overwhelmed by requests for service and rescue. And I have to tell you, I've been in a lot of these situations. I've never seen more Herculean efforts in terms of work hours and results as what you're doing on the ground down there right now.

So, keep going, stay strong, and God bless. Thank you for being with us. Let us know how we can help.

MCCLELLAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Now, we do need your help right now. There is a 77-year-old man, he's out there somewhere and his family can't find him.

His name is Mickey Riley, OK. He went missing yesterday. He was driving the truck that you see on your screen. He is the 77-year-old man on your screen. He was going to check on his home, that's the last time his family heard from him.

I spoke with Mickey's granddaughter, her name is Kristin Riley, just a few minutes ago. Here's her plea.


CUOMO: Tell us about your grandfather. We're showing a picture of him right now. What's his name? What do you know about his last whereabouts?

KRISTIN RILEY, GRANDFATHER MISSING SINCE LAST NIGHT: His name is Mickey Riley. His last known location was on I-10 westbound in Orange County, Texas. And that was at about 5:30 p.m. last night.

We still have not heard from him. His phone is off. And currently my father is out on a boat with a local man going through the floodwaters to see if they can't find his truck and if anyone's pretty much seen him. So efforts are being made to find him and we still have not heard from him.

CUOMO: Why was he on the I-10? Just to give some people some context. Was he being taken to a shelter? Was he driving himself somewhere? What does his truck look like?

[21:10:04] RILEY: He was driving home back towards (INAUDIBLE) to go check on his house, and it's about a 45-minute drive without any delays. And, you know, my father thought that he was spending the night in Orange, and his girlfriend in Orange thought he made it home and we didn't realize until this morning that nobody had heard from him.

The truck that he was in is a tan Chevy z71. It's, you know, a (INAUDIBLE) extended cab truck. Yes, he was trying to come back home to go check on the house and make sure everything was OK and he didn't make it, and we have not heard from him.

CUOMO: All right. And is he in good health?

RILEY: Yes, he is. He is in very good health for a 77-year-old man. He is kicking like he is in his 30s.

CUOMO: So that area wasn't evacuated. That couldn't be the explanation that he was told he couldn't return, he had to divert somewhere else. That's not the case. You're not in an evacuation area?

RILEY: No, our area is not an evacuation area but the -- yes he would have to travel through to get to our area was very flooded. Certain areas it was upwards of seven to eight feet of water. So that has my concern, is that every direction to get towards our county is completely flooded. And that is our concern is that he was, you know, caught up in the floodwaters.

CUOMO: All right, Kristin, I know you're at work, I don't want to take up too much of your time. But the people have heard the information, we'll have it on my social media threads. Please try to keep your spirits up and you can get us any time you want.

RILEY: Yes, sir. Thank you so much and God bless you.

CUOMO: Well, God bless you as well and your grandfather.

RILEY: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right. So you have the emergency situation, trying to rescue people like you're hearing about right now, trying to deal with where this water is going to go. Then you're going to have the bigger issues of how you help out in Harvey.

Coming up, I'm going to talk about President Trump's response to the storm and how we'll pay for storm relief with Senator Bernie Sanders.

We're also going to test his solution for your health care. There's a lot ahead.


[21:15:44] CUOMO: All right. Thank you for following on social media and getting the word out about people who are missing. We'll keep tracking this throughout the show.

So, there is an old saying, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That's why I keep asking lawmakers about how to avoid the mess, the delayed relief after Superstorm Sandy.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was in that fight and I asked him about the challenge with Harvey and upcoming battles over immigration and health care that he attacks in his new book, which is called "Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution." It sounds like a basis for a political campaign maybe. Wait until you see how he liked that question.


CUOMO: You had express some concerns throughout the campaign process about how Donald Trump would fair as president in times of crisis. We are in a crisis with Harvey. How do you think he's handling it?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I think the issue is not so much how Trump is handling it. His public statements are fine. The issue is what we as a nation are going to do.

And I'll tell you something, Chris, right now there's a lot of suffering and dislocation in Houston. What I'm seeing there is just some extraordinary bravery of people coming together. And by the way, I hope Trump learns from that lesson.

That in Houston right now, people don't care whether you're black or you're white or you're Latino or you're gay or you're straight. People are helping each other which is what this country is supposed to be about. People in Houston are coming together and hope Trump stops dividing up the American people.

CUOMO: Well, he would say and his supporters say that he doesn't have that lesson to learn, that he was just being fair about violence being on both sides when it came to what happened in Charlottesville and that he's not a divider, he's a uniter. What do you make of that?

SANDERS: Well, I happen to strongly disagree with that assertion. When the president of the United States talks about nice people, quote/unquote, nice people on both sides, let me be very clear. There are no nice Nazis and we have got to do everything that we can to end the kind of bigotry and hatred which these people are espousing.

CUOMO: We'll get back to that discussion but right now, I want to focus on Harvey. The thing that the federal government is going to have to do, and by that I mean, the executive with the request and then you in Congress with the follow-through, is give the money to the survivors in Harvey, not just once but each time that they ask and give them what they need. It would sound right now like that's a foregone conclusion, of course that will happen. But it didn't happen during Sandy. Why didn't it happen and how do you avoid it this time?

SANDERS: Well, it didn't happen because we have an increasingly right wing majority in the Congress who think that their function in life is to give tax breaks to billionaires and cut back on all kinds of programs that the middle class and working families need. So, there was some of those folks who said, hey, you know, we're sorry that in Hurricane Sandy a lot of people have been displaced and hurt but you know what, we don't want to use federal money to help them.

I would say to you, Chris, that if we are a nation, our job now as a people is to stand with the folks who are struggling in Houston and in Texas and maybe in Louisiana just as I will hope and expect that if Vermont suffers another crisis -- and we've had our share of floods, or other states are hard hit, the people of Texas will be there for them. That is what is called a nation. We stand together in times of need. I believe that will be the sentiment in Congress.

CUOMO: The defense of the posture during Sandy by the GOP lawmakers who didn't vote for it is that it needed to have budget setoffs, it wasn't a clean bill and there was a lot of pork lauded on to the belief. Is that a fair appraisal on your opinion having been involved in the process?

[21:20:12] SANDERS: Well, first of all, no. I think that sentiment is dead wrong. Of course we are going to help people who are stranded, who have lost their homes, lost everything that they owned, and you don't have to cut health care or education or environmental protection to help these people. That is what we have historically done as a nation and that is what we must continue to do.

Second of all, the argument that there was pork, look, this is tough stuff. But I think the OMB or the CBO, somebody has looked at that and found that there was a minimal amount of pork. People were hurting and we've got to respond to that in a responsible way. And that means that the officials in Texas are going to have to give good documentation. We don't want any pork but we do want to deal with the tragedy and the suffering that people are experiencing.

CUOMO: Do you think Congress will get at it right away and do you think that you'll see both sides coming together?

SANDERS: I do. I honestly do. And again, Chris, this is what this country is supposed to be about.

CUOMO: SO then you get to the larger question, why do we keep having these 100-year storms like every other year? So I asked the president's senior counsel, Kellyanne Conway about it. She berated me.

And then we heard Secretary Pruitt today push the same suggestion to the side and that is, should part of the conversation at some point be about why these happen and if climate change has something to do with it. Both of them dismissed that as being disrespectful to the plight of the survivors on the ground. What do you think?

SANDERS: This is what I think. Obviously, the task right now is to save lives, to do everything that we can to rescue people. The task right now -- and it's a very difficult task, is to make sure that people who have lost their homes, lost everything that they own, are treated with dignity and respect, that we try to find safe housing for those people. That is the immediate task.

But I think it is pretty dumb not to ask some hard questions about why more rain is now falling and has fallen in the Houston area, as I understand it, than any time that people have measured. Is it related to climate change? Is some of the intensity and the magnitude of this rainfall related to climate change?

I think most scientists believe it is. And the right question to be asking is, what does this mean for the future? Are we going to see more storms, more rainfall of this magnitude? And of course that is an issue that has to be looked at.

It is my view that Trump is dead wrong when he talks about climate change being a hoax. I think it is a very serious, serious problem for our country and around the world. I believe that we have to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy and energy efficiency.

I also think that this tragedy in Texas should have us take another hard look at infrastructure in America. And why it is that all over our country, we have major disrepair in terms of roads and bridges and dams and levees. So there's a lot to be learned from the storm. But the first task, of course, is to rescue people and to help those people who are hurting right now.

CUOMO: One of the things that you raise in this book that I have in my hand, "Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution." Forgive my banana hands, they're covering your title. There it is, now it's clear for everybody to see.

I have some questions for you about this book, sir. One of the most ambitious proposals in it, is your idea for health care as single payer. And it's good that you have Kamala Harris with you but the GOP is against this. They see it as (INAUDIBLE) to market system, free market. Even the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton said it is a dream, it will never happen. Why push for something that both sides of the aisle think can't happen?

SANDERS: Well, it is certainly not going to happen when you have a president like Donald Trump and Republican leadership that wanted to throw up to 32 million people off health insurance. I understand that. But you've got to start this fight somewhere.

And what people understand is there is something wrong when we are spending twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other nation when we are the only major country on earth, Chris, that doesn't understand that health care is a right, not a privilege. When at a time when the drug companies are making unbelievable profits, charging us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, one out of five Americans can't afford the medicine that they need.

The truth of the matter is, that more and more people understand that our current system is designed not to provide quality care to all people in a cost-effective way but to make huge profits for the drug companies, the insurance companies and others.

[21:25:02] CUOMO: But who says that the solution is to have the government be entirely in control of it. You'll have efficiency arguments, you'll have (INAUDIBLE) people's choice and their ability to take the best plan to them. Even Clinton said it's a dream.

SANDERS: Well, even Clinton -- well, I ran against Hillary Clinton, I disagreed with Hillary Clinton. I live 50 miles away from the Canadian border. They have a Medicare for all single-payer system. By and large, Medicare in this country is a single-payer system.

People have and must have freedom of choice with regard to the doctor that they go to, the hospital that they go to. And by the way, in the current system today, there are many plans which obviously limit your freedom of choice in terms of doctors and hospitals.

Here is the bottom line. We are spending far more per person on health care than do the people of any other country. Our health care outcomes are not particularly good compared to the rest of the world. Our infant mortality rate is higher, our life expectancy is lower.

Health care, to my mind, is a human right. We have got to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to every man, woman and child as a right.

CUOMO: Well, you will have a fight on your hands and I look forward to covering that. A couple more questions. Political revolution, that's what it says on this book. And it takes us back to an earlier conversation we were having.

During Charlottesville, the president was making this argument which he thought was constructive. OK, these guys on the right, the KKK, the white supremacists, they're bad. But what we've seen coming out of Charlottesville is people who support the president, are now making the argument that the left has its own problem. Antifa and other groups where you saw them beating up people this weekend and there are common criminal activities involved with what they call protests, others would call it riots, and that the left owns them, they're on your team. Do you accept that?

SANDERS: No. What I accept is that we have got to do everything that we can to stop the spread of the ideology of Naziism. You know, we lost 400,000 men and women in World War II fighting Naziism. And I think the way to do it and we saw that in Boston and we see that in communities all over this country, is people come out in peaceful demonstrations. So you have a handful of Nazis surrounded by thousands of people who are going to do everything they can to end hatred and bigotry in America.

CUOMO: There's no question it's a malignancy. There's no question that white supremacy and all that goes along with it is a malignancy. No question.

The argument becomes, but there is another malignancy that these Antifa people and like groups, they are equally malignant in their own way because of the violence that they cause and what they attack and they belong to the left. Do you agree with that?

SANDERS: Chris -- I don't -- I mean, this is just belong to the left. I do not believe that people should use violence in counterprotests. I'm strongly against that.

The best antidote to these Nazi-type demonstrations is what we saw in Boston and elsewhere, where thousands of people come out and peacefully protest and make it clear that the overwhelming majority of the people are in opposition to this hatred. Violence is not something that I support in any way, shape or form and I hope people stop that type of effort.

CUOMO: The book is a guide, it is a message. But it begs a question, sir. Who is the messenger? Who is the warrior of the light to bring this to the American people and make it happen?

We have an election some years from now. You'll have your midterms and you'll have your presidential election. You've got two schools of thought.

One is, it's got to be the guy on the cover. It's got to be Bernie. And then there's another school of thought that it can't be Bernie, Bernie's too old. What does Bernie Sanders say? Are you the messenger for this message?

SANDERS: Well, there is a third school of thought, Chris, and that is that the media never, ever gives up and instead of focusing on real issues, they keep talking about never-ending campaigns. Chris, honestly, you've heard me say this to you before.

CUOMO: Yes, and I've never like the answer.

SANDERS: Media wants to know who's going to run and when.

CUOMO: I never like the answer.

SANDERS: You are wrong.

CUOMO: It matter who fights the fight.

SANDERS: Of course it matters -- Chris, of course it matters who runs. But we don't have to have never-ending elections. We just had an election six months ago. It never ends.

You know, in the U.K., they take two months to elect their candidate. And kind of the same all over the world. We never stop elections.

People are sick and tired of it. They want me to go back to Washington to deal with climate change, to deal with health care, to deal with education, to deal with issues that impact their lives. They do not want to see never-ending elections. So, the long and the short of it, Chris, is I don't know what I'm going to be doing. It's a long way away from the election. And let met suggest, you'll be one of the first to know. But now is much too early to talk about it.

[21:30:12] CUOMO: The book reads like a campaign manual. That's all I'm saying, Senator. You can yell at me all you want. I still think what I think.

SANDERS: I'm not yelling at you. I love you. Not yelling at you, Chris.

But, if you read the book thoroughly, what it's not about is a person. It is about the need for millions of people to become involved in the political process because right now, we increasingly have a political system dominated by a handful of billionaires who spend unlimited sums of money electing folks who want to cut social security, Medicare, Medicaid and education and give tax breaks to people who don't need it.

The anecdote is involving people in the political process. That is what that book is about.

CUOMO: I hear you. A message and a messenger often go together. I'll take you at your word. We'll see what happens in time.

And Senator Sanders, you're always welcome here to talk about what matters. Thank you, and thank you for the book, even though it's an unsigned copy.

SANDERS: Thank you.


CUOMO: And so I'd have to pay double for a signed copy. Look, it matters who runs. You got to ask the questions and people don't always like them but it's given something for you to think about.

All right, let's go back to the main story that we're following tonight. What happens when you wait until the last possible moment before evacuating? Anderson cooper is in Houston, he has a story you don't want to miss.


[21:35:34] CUOMO: All right, look, I know that it sounds like unqualified good news that Harvey has moved on. First, you have the states that are in its path right now. We're going to have to follow that.

But second, the water that remains is a problem on two levels. One, what's happening in Texas is that you have those floodwaters trying to make their way to the Gulf. They're moving more and more quickly. And they are taking everything that's in their path and they're collecting everything that's in their way which means, it's a toxic soup. So you have downed power lines, you're going to have waterborne illness, and you still have people in desperate struggles to survive, and that takes us to our next story. It is hard to leave your home behind. We can all relate to that. but often the decision to ride it out is costly and even deadly.

Anderson cooper joins us again from Houston. He has a flooding story and a survivor with some story to tell. Anderson, thank you for bringing this to us.

COOPER: Yes, Chris, thanks so much. I want you to meet Mark Washington. Mark, how long have you lived here in Houston?


COOPER: All your life?


COOPER: You've seen a lot of storms here?

WASHINGTON: I've seen a lot of storms.

COOPER: So when you heard about this storm, did you ever think about leaving?

WASHINGTON: No, I didn't.

COOPER: Figured you could ride it out?

WASHINGTON: Figured it was going to be like all the other storms. Yes.

COOPER: Your family that wasn't with you for the storm, where were they?

WASHINGTON: No. They're in Disney World.

COOPER: So, they're (INAUDIBLE) to Disney World.


COOPER: You decided not to go to make sure your house was OK?


COOPER: So what happened when the storm came?

WASHINGTON: You know, it was OK. It hit land and then, you know, there was nothing. It was like nothing.

And then the next day the water started to rise a little bit. Day after that, the water started to rise more. And then -- I think it was Sunday the water started rising up into my driveway and I went and told my buddy who was in building two, hey, man, you have the canoe, I think it's about time we get out of here. COOPER: How high was the water at that point?

WASHINGTON: At that point, the water was probably only about one or two feet.


WASHINGTON: Yes. And he said, well, we're going to say until the power goes out until the water starts coming in the house. I said that's fine, you're the guy with the canoe, not me.

And so, I went home and I took a little nap, man, two-hour nap. I woke back up. Man, the water had rose by like four feet.

COOPER: Is that right?


COOPER: Just in that time?

WASHINGTON: Just in that time.

COOPER: And I know we're looking at some pictures of your house, it looks not in great shape.

WASHINGTON: No, it's not. The first floor is completely wiped out.

COOPER: So when the water -- what point did you decide to leave.

WASHINGTON: It was like -- it was at the porch step.

COOPER: Uh-huh.


COOPER: So that's about six feet, you're saying?

WASHINGTON: At that point it had to be in about like five feet.

COOPER: And how did you get out?


COOPER: You and your friend with the canoe?

WASHINGTON: Yes. We rode out, we did a test run to make sure we could get out, and we hit a gate, flipped over the canoe, got back on, rolled all the way out, came back in, and we're going to try to save our neighbors, get them out of there. Lucky at that time, first responders were already there on the scene and they were able to get our five other neighbors out.

COOPER: How do you make that call to your family and tell them what happened?

WASHINGTON: I had my family worried, man. COOPER: They wanted you to get out?

WASHINGTON: Yes. I should have got out way before that.

COOPER: When you see what's been happening here and you see the response to it, the people reaching out, what do you think?

WASHINGTON: Man, it's great, man. I mean, it's good to see the community come together like this and everyone just come together and want to help each other out.


WASHINGTON: I mean, you can't ask for anything more than that.

COOPER: Yes. And Mark, I'm glad you're safe, I'm glad your family is safe.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.

COOPER: And I hope they have a fun trip in Disneyland and come back.

WASHINGTON: I'm quite sure, yes.

COOPER: All right, yes. And Mark, you take care of yourself.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.

COOPER: Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: What a story and thank God he's here to tell it. A quick note for you, Anderson is going to speak with J.J. Watt tonight at 11:00 p.m. You know who he is, a football great. He's raised an extraordinary amount of money for Harvey's victim. So please, be sure to watch.

Now, up next, for concerned citizens, they are out there in force, like J.J. Watt and guess what, there's a new star joining their ranks. She rewrites the lyrics of her most famous song in a tribute to the people of Texas. Gloria Gaynor joins us next.


GLORIA GAYNOR, GRAMMY AWARD WINNING SINGER: At first we were afraid, we were petrified, kept thinking Texas couldn't live with floodwaters this high. We know you spent plenty of time preparing for this hurricane, who could have known that it will come with so much devastating rain. But we were strong and you'll survive with all our love --


[21:43:53] CUOMO: At first we were afraid, we were petrified. Sounds familiar? Of course it does but it's a new take on such a classic from none other than Gloria Gaynor. Listen to this.


GAYNOR: And you'll survive. With all our love and help and praise we will stand strongly by your side. We are your neighbors, tried and true. And we'll do all we can for you. And you'll survive. You will survive. You will survive.


CUOMO: Here she is, the one and only Gloria Gaynor. Big fan, (INAUDIBLE), I love you for this. What a gift. So, tell us, what was the moment when this was going on where you said this is what I need to do?

GAYNOR: I think it was when I saw the elderly people in the --

CUOMO: The nursing home?

GAYNOR: -- the nursing home. You know, it was like just really tore at my heart because they're helpless in many ways and I just can't imagine being in that situation and hoping that someone would be there for me, to bring me out of that.

[21:45:00] And so I'm like, yes, I've got to do whatever I can do. I had already donated money but need something beyond that. So at my -- actually my manager called me and I was like, what can I do and my manager said, why don't you rewrite the words to -- I'm like, oh, my God, why didn't I think of that?

CUOMO: Well, I'll tell you why you didn't think of it because people don't do that. You don't mess with a legendary anthem from 1978. You know, I mean, the song stands on its own. So the manager suggested it, you were OK with it. How long did it take for the words to come?

GAYNOR: About five minutes.

CUOMO: Really?

GAYNOR: Yes, really. They came to me.

CUOMO: Why do you think they came so easily?

GAYNOR: Well, because it was on my heart. Probably because I prayed about it and said, OK, Lord, what can I say that's going to touch these people?

CUOMO: And what do you want people to take from it? I mean, the original song, the reason it became such an anthem is, personal empowerment. You will get yourself through. Believe in yourself.

GAYNOR: Right.

CUOMO: The dynamic here is a little different. This is about us all being interconnected, interdependent. It doesn't matter how you look, it doesn't matter what you believe. At the end of the day, we're all in it together.


CUOMO: So it's about surviving together and you captured that in this song.

GAYNOR: Well, that was my purpose. That was my purpose because there are times in our lives when we are independent and can do things for ourselves but there certainly are many, many times in our lives when we need one another. And I think that it is in our finest hour that we find ourselves interdependent and responding positively to that.

CUOMO: Uh-huh. And look, the country did not need this. This is unqualified catastrophe that's going to stay with them forever and I don't love silver lining analysis. You know, I always feel like -- no, this is terrible. There may be some aspect that is not as terrible or even good but it is overall terrible. True on every level.


CUOMO: But at a time -- you know, sometimes if you believe things happen for a reason, this is a terrible thing. But at a time when the country was questioning who the hell are we anyway, what are we really about? You know, what are our core values? What we're seeing in terms of the recovery effort and people coming from everywhere. First responders to what we're calling this concerned citizen core which you're now a part of, I've never seen anything like it.

GAYNOR: Like you said, the country didn't need it. Perhaps we did, to remind us of who we are.

CUOMO: I just (INAUDIBLE) because the catastrophe of it, you never need loss of life.

GAYNOR: Well, you know, when you're a child and you're getting a spanking, you don't think you need it either.

CUOMO: But, I don't see that Harvey as a punishment. I'm saying that I think the reaction to it --

GAYNOR: Not punishment.

CUOMO: Right.

GAYNOR: Not punishment. There's a difference between reprimand and punishment.

CUOMO: True. But I'm saying I'll take the virtue of what's coming out of a horrible situation as an instruction in itself because I didn't expect it.

GAYNOR: Precisely.

CUOMO: First responders, they give blood and sweat 10 times out of 10. But people coming from all over the country, people like Gloria Gaynor saying I'm going to do something, for this J.J. Watt who's going to be on with Anderson later, you know, the Houston, Texan (INAUDIBLE) on the football field, even bigger, (INAUDIBLE) for raising millions and millions of dollars (INAUDIBLE).

So what do you do this song? What do you now? You're going to perform it? Let's say, someone come to you, they want to create a venue for this.

GAYNOR: I'm -- yes, that is exactly I was going to have and we're going to do a concert. I'm also -- I have put the -- I have already my ERE, my merchandising company and (INAUDIBLE), my partner and I have created a few thousand t-shirts with "I Will Survive" with a map of Texas and we're giving them to the people in Texas. Anybody else wants to help with that particular situation can go to my website, and buy t-shirt and a 100% of the proceeds are going to Salvation Army.

So that's an extension of what I've already done for that. And we will just keep doing whatever we can do and we invite anyone and everyone to come and do whatever you can do for this situation because when it all comes down to it, we're all in this together. We really are one, and we need to start acting like it.

CUOMO: Well, we're acting like it right now in terms of what we're seeing people give of themselves. But it is such a long way from over. But I have to tell you, it's moments like the one that you've created that we'll keep this on people's radar, we'll make it resonate.

Can we hear some more of the song? You didn't box me out with some like -- only amount of time (INAUDIBLE). Can I play more of the song? Do we have more of the song to play? Who wants to hear me talk when we can hear Gloria sing?


GAYNOR: At first we were afraid, we were petrified. Kept thinking Texas couldn't live in floodwaters this high. We know you spent plenty of time preparing for this hurricane. Who could have known that it would come with so much devastating rain.

But we will strive. And you'll survive. With all our love and help and praise we will stand strongly by your side. We are your neighbors, tried and true. And we'll do all we can for you. And you'll survive.


[21:50:10] CUOMO: It's amazing how the words just -- they just fall right into place in this song. And of course the voice has no equal. Gloria Gaynor, thank you so much.

GAYNOR: Thank you. Thank you so much.

CUOMO: No, this is --

GAYNOR: And thanks to all of you for all that you do to help.

CUOMO: Thank you very much, and we'll see where this goes and we will get the word out about the shirts. Absolutely. Absolutely.

All right. So just like Gloria Gaynor stepped up, so many people have. And I've been asking you to do exactly that. There are people in need, desperate for a rescue or to find a loved one.

And you have stepped up. You've made happy endings. We have a great reunion of a father and son and some really important updates. Please, go nowhere. Gloria Gaynor, thank you so much.

GAYNOR: Thank you so much, my pleasure.


CUOMO: Mother nature at her worst. Human nature at its best. It's just true. We see it being proven true time and again.

[21:55:06] Gloria Gaynor lending her voice, that gift, changing her anthem for the people of Texas. The concerned citizen corps that expands all the time down there coming with boats, with food, with water, just with soulful purpose to help others.

And then you have big, big names getting involved. Houston, Texan's Defensive End J. J. Watt who keeps moving the goal post. He'd upped his goal several different times to help the storm survivors. He now hopes to raise $10 million.

Anderson Cooper is of course on the scene and he talked to Watt. here's a little taste. You're going to see the full conversation at 11:00 p.m. about the tremendous response. But here's a sample.


J.J. WATT, HOUSTON TEXANS DEFENSIVE END: The funniest story of all is actually the initial night we broke the site, we couldn't figure out how to get back up and we somehow found the CEO's phone number and called him at his house, at his house and we got him out of bed. He helped us fix the site and then it got rolling so here we are.

COOPER: Wow. That's customer service.

WATT: That's -- I got to give the guy credit. He was unbelievable. And he probably helped us raise a ton more money because he kept the site up and rolling.


CUOMO: I tell you, somebody that size calls you, you're going to hop out of bed and do whatever he asks you to do also. So millions and millions being raised and the entire interview is going to be coming up at 11 p.m. Easter with Anderson Cooper right here on CNN.

So we have some big updates for you. Separated by the storm but back together again. You met Bradley Allen last night. You remember, he was searching for his elderly father, 88 years old, lost his phone, didn't have numbers memorized. Tropical Storm Harvey had pulled them apart. CNN cameras were there when the two of them were reunited this morning. Take a look.




H. ALLEN: Hey. Oh, it's so good to be back in the arms of my family again.

B. ALLEN: Yes, I know.

CUOMO: Bradley did not know where his father was. He didn't know what was going to happen. We aired this story, a hotel manager recognized him, led to a phone call, got to Bradley, told him his father was safe and to come get him.

B. ALLEN: Yes, I could not believe it. I could not believe it. It's been a hard, hard days.

H. ALLEN: Combination of people just trying to help.

B. ALLEN: Yes.

H. ALLEN: And finally, it made a connection between here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

B. ALLEN: Right.

H. ALLEN: And so here we are.


CUOMO: I got to tell you, there's much more to this story about how the father got separated. How he wound up where he was. We'll bring that to you in the morning on "NEW DAY" but I have to thank you. Thank you for stepping up like that.

Thank you for realizing the need and connecting the dots and helping. You made such a difference for this family. Imagine not knowing where your 88-year-old father is.

All right. Also, we have another update for you and it's a happy ending. Dawn Coles, the mother who stood up that mommy strength, swam about a mile with a kid in one hand and supplies in another, got to the chopper and made it away with her three-year-old son. She was worried, if you'll remember, she left her dog behind. Somebody found the dog.

She hadn't been able to find her friend, Connie Parker (ph). Well, we've learned Connie is safe. She's sat her son's home in Crosby, Texas, and Dawn is aware and she is a hell of a friend.

Also, we have an update that you have been asking for the most. Last night, you met an older woman named Julia Chatham (ph). She was trapped in her home in Port Arthur, she was with other people, they're in a top floor. Here are the pictures of what she was facing outside.

And if you'll remember, it wasn't just that she's in Port Arthur, this is one of the places where the floodwaters are now trying to make their way down through towards the Gulf and the waters are rising. The storm is gone but the problem is increasing and she cannot swim.

So the idea of going into four, five, six feet of water to make way is just not going to happen so she was holed up with five other people. They had no more water, they had no more food. She reached out to us, we got her on the phone. She was asking for rescue. We put out the word, you guys triangulated

The Cajun Navy was involved, the coast guard was involved. She was put on a list and guess what, word went out and help came for Julia and the people she was with. She is safe, she is in Galveston. We've been talking to her family, we're trying to get to her.

There are so many ways to help. This is extraordinary. What you guys have been doing when we asked you to connect people with rescues or to find people they can't find, that's extraordinary.

There's so many ways to help, though. You can go to and make all kinds of donations. So thank you for watching us. Remember, we are all in this thing together.

CNN TONIGHT, is next.