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Victims Begin Returning Home; Man Plays Piano in Destroyed Home; Military Conducts Air and Door-to-Door Searches; Water Pumps Sent to Beaumont; Son Visits Shelters to Find Father. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 1, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:50] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, some live pictures to show you, this time from Humble, Texas, right now. You can see, again, the scope of the damage. With good weather, helicopters can get into the air and see, in some cases, for the first time just how much damage has been done.

That's a house. I don't know if that was a separate house or an attachment or a big deck that was, you know, by that house, but it's clearly all destroyed right now. And you can see it as the flood waters recede.

While this is up, let me just point you to one other thing on our screen right now. There's a phone number there where if you have been affected by Harvey, you can call. It's, the phone number up there on the screen. We encourage all of you who have been affected by this storm to call that number to find out where you can get the help that you need.

So many people now with the weather turning to the good side getting that first chance to go home. And it is such a difficult moment for so many when they first realize just how much they've lost.

Our Rosa Flores has been with people as they get that first chance to go home. She joins me now from northeast Houston.


ROSA FLORES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, as you know, we spent time at the convention center and we met people there. And, you know, the emotion was of gratitude. They were just happy to be alive.

Now we followed some of them to their homes. And this is what we're seeing is just the sense of grief, knowing that they have lost everything.

Take a look here. We're also seeing signs of the resilience. People pulling all of that soaked stuff out, mattresses. You see tables and couches and belongings. And people bringing out their mementos, their photographs so that they can dry them out in the grass. It's a very emotional moment. Now, here, in this community, neighbors have also been helping

neighbors. They've been asking for and about their neighbors because in this particular street, one woman was missing and so the neighborhood was trying to find her. They were trying to figure out what to do.

From the individuals in this house, they say that friends are going to be coming over here pretty soon and they're going to be helping them take all of their soaked stuff out of their home.

[09:35:06] And if you look at these homes, you'll see water lines. And people here say that the water was about three, four feet high. The individual from this house, I've been hearing, John, from neighbors here is that he didn't want to leave until he made sure that other people left. Even though the water was about chest high, he was helping his neighbors and making sure that they were OK.

So we're also starting to see not only the resilience in Houston, people coming back to their home as fast as they can to try to salvage what they can. We're also hearing the stories of how neighbors put their lives on the line to make sure that their friends and their neighbors were OK.


BERMAN: So many people did that.

All right, Rosa Flores for us in Houston on a dry streets. It's a really remarkable sight to see the streets behind you actually dry for the moment. Again, which just gives people a chance to go back home and find out what they've lost and get to work rebuilding.

There have been so many memorable, indelible images from Houston over the last several days. One that was particularly poignant and shared so many places, a man playing the piano as his house flooded. Listen to this.


BERMAN: All right. Joining me right now is one of the currently most famous pianists in the country, Aric Harding, the man playing the piano right there. He joins me on the phone.

Aric, thank you so much for being with us as we watch and listen to this -- sort of this beautiful sight here. What made you do that? What made you sit down and play this music surrounded by water?

ARIC HARDING, HARVEY SURVIVOR: Well, the biggest part of it was that my son is actually the much more accomplished pianist in our house. And he is -- he was really worried about his piano and so we got -- actually waded back into the house from a place where we were staying to be able to just kind of get some stuff. You know, get some of the kids' favorite stuffed animals and some of that.

And when I went back in, I thought I would just -- I handed the phone to my friend. I was like, hey, can you just take a video of me really quick. I want to play tis and show him that it's working and everything's OK. And so -- and one -- you know, there was this truth that when I sat down and kind of really sat down for one of the first times in a while, it was kind of a moment to kind of let it all sink in, you know? But I didn't -- no idea that other people would kind of latch onto that in the way that they have.

BERMAN: Why do you think they have? I mean why do you think it moves people the way it does?

HARDING: Well, I don't know. It's not the piano playing. I want to go ahead and tell you that for sure.

You know, I don't know. I think that maybe that's exactly what it is, though. It was a minute to stop and -- because, you know, we can -- in these kind of times, you -- you're doing what has to happen next, what has to happen next. And this was a moment that maybe they just had to stop for that one minute that Instagram will give you to just listen to that, you know, and to have that image in their head. And so it's just -- it's just connected.

BERMAN: I'll take a stab at it. I think what it represents is the fact that spirit endures, even in the midst of a disaster. So even surrounded by water right there, you can see the beauty and the resilience, you know, of one family. I think it really is very beautiful to see and listen to. It's haunting, but I think it's also uplifting at the same time. You know, did the piano survive?

HARDING: I'm not totally sure. But that's -- that's, you know, that's a replaceable thing, you know. We were -- we've had so many conversations with so many people who lost literally everything. We're actually literally about to pull up to the end of the street of our best friends who lost way more.

And so that's -- you know, we -- it's just such perspective. So, you know, we -- we feel incredibly blessed. We've been incredibly loved on and our church has surrounded us. And I mean our houses on our street are already like -- have been cut open and vented. And today, again, there will be, you know, dozens of people there helping our neighbors. And, you know, to see what's going on with neighbors and church around here is really, really amazing. You know, and so, if it's a small blip of a sound track to what God's doing on a larger scale down here in Houston, then that's -- it's humbling to even be a part of anything remotely close to that.

BERMAN: It's got to be so hard. And I know it's hard on you as you're on your way to go help a friend right now. But you've had an outpouring of assistance to you and your family. I understand people are already coming to your house to help you clean up. You know, even after the flood waters have barely gone.

[09:40:10] HARDING: Right. And I -- day of, pretty much as soon as you get -- as soon as you could walk onto the street, people are there. I mean I'm surrounded by -- I'm a worship pastor at a church. I got my band members, elders from the church, just neighbors, friends from long ago, and they're just showing up. And they're like, gosh, I'm so sorry. I'm like, well, I'm just glad you didn't flood so you can sit here and deal with this with me.

And, you know, we're driving -- we're, literally, we're driving down the street to Friendswood (ph) right now and it just looks like an apocalypse. Everyone's houses are in their front yard. And it's just going to be a while for this to clean up.

But there's this incredible hope that everyone has got. There's a friendship, there's this new relationships with neighbors and it's deep. You know, it's deep and it's going to change your city forever.

BERMAN: Aric Harding, thank you so much for being with us right now. And I'm sure there are hundreds, thousands of people across Houston who want to thank you for the inspiration you've given them during these times. You know, good luck in the coming days.

HARDING: Oh, thank you.

BERMAN: All right, such a beautiful sight.

The military right now in Houston and around Texas conducting door-to- door searches. We'll get an update, next.


[09:45:45] BERMAN: As we speak, thousands and thousands of U.S. service members stretch out across Texas and Louisiana back out again this morning conducting air rescue, searching homes, door-to-door, in these neighbors which are still swamped. A staggering number of homes underwater, you know, a week after the hurricane first hit.

Joining me now, Brigadier General Patrick Hamilton, the duel status commander of Hurricane Harvey Military Recovery Operations.

First, let me ask you, that is a relatively new title, I understand. What does that mean, you're coordinating all the military efforts in the region?

BRIG. GEN. PATRICK HAMILTON, DUAL STATUS COMMANDER, HARVEY MILITARY RECOVERY OPERATIONS: That's correct, John. It's -- that came out of actually Hurricane Katrina, to make sure that the -- all of the DOD capability, reserve National Guard, active duty, could be coordinated under a single command authority.

BERMAN: What is your area of biggest need right now, general?

HAMILTON: Well, right now, we're still conducting significant recovery and search operations in Beaumont. That's still where the most flooding is ongoing. We're still rescuing people there. And it's transitioning in midstream there, if you will, to providing logistic support.

You know, Beaumont, the water supply was shut off because of some generator failures and pump failures. The Corps of Engineers, I got an update this morning, are on the ground trying to restore those generators and those pumps so we can get fresh water back in. But that meant we've been conducting supplies of water throughout the area all night.

BERMAN: Right. Right. Yes, we did just learn, the Army Corps of Engineers on the scene with eight pumps right now. The design there is to get Beaumont's water system back up and running so their own water can be at work. Is that correct?

HAMILTON: That's correct.

BERMAN: And you were saying you're still conducting rescues in Beaumont right now. The hospital there, we're learning, some babies from the NICU are being sent out today. Beaumont still very much in danger, would you say?

HAMILTON: Absolutely. And most of our focus is there, but we've not lost focus on the city of Houston. In fact, we still have ongoing commodity distributions operations going on down in Corpus, Port Lavaca, those areas down south that were originally hit by the storm. So it's still very widespread support, but we're focusing the need in Beaumont right now.

BERMAN: How about your numbers? Right now I guess, what, 15,000 military members in Texas and Louisiana. Is that enough?

HAMILTON: Yes, 15,000. We have 3,000 flowing in here very quickly with another 6,000 or so that are on the way. And we've got over 6,000 DOD partners supporting the entire effort at this point. So we have enough capacity, but we keep bringing more because as the need evolves, and event transitions from search and rescue to providing life support, commodities, logistics, the types of units we need change. And also we've now been at this for several days.

BERMAN: Right.

HAMILTON: We'll be able to start pulling units out, giving them some rest, getting new units in and then continuing to sustain those operations.

BERMAN: Yes, the job will change by the day, almost by the hour. Brigadier General Patrick Hamilton, thanks so much for being with us.

HAMILTON: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, an 88-year-old man lost in the storm in Houston. His son spots him in a picture on TV from several states away. Next, how the two finally found each other.


[09:53:44] BERMAN: This week, Bradley Allen was desperate to find his missing father, lost in all the chaos surrounding Hurricane Harvey. The 88-year-old did not have a cell phone, but his son did and he got the word out. Alisyn Camerota shows us what happened next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": On Sunday night, as torrential rain started to pound Houston, Bradley Allen started to worry about his 88-year-old dad home alone.

BRADLEY ALLEN, REUNITED WITH FATHER IN HOUSTON: Levels of the bayou were going up at a drastic rate.

CAMEROTA (on camera): What happened? What were you thinking at that point?

B. ALLEN: Call dad. Tell him to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's more rain on the way.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Bradley was monitoring the news and satellite information. So he saw the flooding begin to subsume his dad's neighborhood and knew the situation was dire.

CAMEROTA (on camera): Was there a moment where you were fearing the worst?

B. ALLEN: Every day because we could not verify factual that he was out of the house.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): The only solace was this photo that family members spotted in "The New York Times." It appeared to show the back of Harrison Allen, loaded with other evacuees, in a flooded dump truck, but they still had no idea where he was.

CAMEROTA (on camera): How many churches and shelters do you think you combed?

[09:55:01] B. ALLEN: A lot. Probably in the 40s or 50s.

CAMEROTA: You went to 40 or 50 shelters?


CAMEROTA (voice-over): They also handed out this missing poster, but still no luck. Until Wednesday night, when CNN put the poster on TV and Chris interviewed Bradley.

B. ALLEN: He doesn't have a phone. In this day and age, if people lose their cell phone, do you remember every number to call in an emergency? If you're 88 years old, you definitely don't.

MARK YAKOUBEK, DOUBLE TREE HOTEL: As soon as I saw it, I knew it was him.

CAMEROTA: Mark Yakoubek is one of the managers at a nearby Double Tree Hotel that has taken in hundreds of evacuees.

YAKOUBEK: I'm watching CNN and I see the story on this missing gentleman. I took up my phone and I took a picture of the screen and I immediately called the hotel because I knew he was still here. And then we were able to make the connection.

B. ALLEN: Where is he? CAMEROTA: On Thursday morning, Bradley and his family drove hours from

outside of Austin to the Double Tree to find his dad, who was just thanking Mark for his help when Bradley dashed up.

B. ALLEN: Hey, buddy.

HARRISON ALLEN: Hey, buddy (ph).

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

B. ALLEN: Yes. I know. These people helped us out finding you.

H. ALLEN: You did good. I appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Even baby Avery (ph) seemed relieved to see her great grandpa again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give him a kiss. Oh, yes. Yes.


BERMAN: So nice to see them all back together. Our thanks to Alisyn and also Chris, who did the first interview for that.

All right, moments from now, the first of 11 babies set to be air lifted. These are babies who have been in the NICU there. They will be evacuated from the hospital in Beaumont. We're watching this very closely. Stay with us.


BERMAN: All right, welcome back, everyone. John Berman here.

This morning, fourteen babies, the latest to be rescued from the floodwaters in Texas. Eleven of them from the neonatal intensive care unit. This from the hospital in Beaumont, forced to close for lack of drinking water. Those evacuations taking place all morning.

[10:00:12] In Houston, the reservoir is the major cause of concern.