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A Ton of Problems Now in Front of Texas Government; Business Establishments Takes Advantage of Calamity; U.S. Retaliates with Russia; Challenges In Harvey's Wake; New Concerns A Week After Harvey Hit; Post-Harvey Price Gouging Emerges; Coast Guard Crews Rescue 6,000 Plus People; Emotional Evacuee Returns To Ruin; Entire City Of Beaumont Loses Access To Clean Water. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 1, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] RENE MARSH, CNN HOST: A variety of new challenges are emerging in the wake of Harvey. Hospitals being evacuated and complaints of price gouging and fears of more explosions at a chemical plant. We have all the latest right now.

Good morning to Early Start. I'm Rene Marsh.

DAVE BRIGGS, HOST, CNN: I'm Dave Briggs. Good morning, everybody. Friday, September 1st, it is 3 a.m. in the east. Yes, we are here again an hour early for you 2 a.m. in Houston, Texas. Pardon me.

And that's where we start. One week after Harvey blasted its way ashore there are new and growing concerns emerging from the storm and its impact. Overnight the death toll climbing again, it now stands at 47.

At the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas more blasts are expected. Following the first explosive of an organic peroxide container about 24 hours ago. A 1.5 mile evacuation perimeter remains in effect around this plant.

MARSH: Another new worry this morning. Price gouging. Texas officials say they've had close to 600 complaints about storm related scams and gouging. One Houston convenience store reportedly charging $20 a gallon for gas, and $8.50 for a bottle of water.

Social media hysteria touching off a panic with bizarrely long gas lines and prices shooting up from 2.20 to 4.50 a gallon ahead of Labor Day some stations even sold out.

BRIGGS: As to the Houston's Addicks and Barker reservoir they are operating normally with no breaches, no failures. Officials now say it will take three months to empty them through controlled releases. Buffalo Bayou where that water drains will likely stay flooded for some times several weeks at the deepest paths.

State and federal environmental officials are warning people to take precautions because contaminated sewer water tends to be released during major flood events. They say people in the flood zone must ensure they, quote, "have access to safe drinking water."

MARSH: And the city of Beaumont, Texas, still without running water. And it's going to take some time to get the taps running again. Residents stood in long lines trying to buy bottled water. The failure of the water treatment system is causing other problems on the ground. We'll have more on that a little later.

But overall first responders have rescued more than 72,000 people since the storm hit. Now that does not include all the rescues by civilian volunteers.

BRIGGS: Harvey dumped an estimated 27 trillion -- trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana over a six-day period. That's enough to fill the San Francisco Bay more than 10 times over. That, folks, would power Niagara Falls for a year.


BRIGGS: For the latest from the disaster zone let's bring in CNN's George Howell live at the Houston Convention Center. Good morning to you, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, HOST, CNN: Dave, good morning to you. The mood here -- so I would categorize it as people are patient but people still unsure. You know, unsure what their next steps will be. We understand the numbers here at the shelter started around 8,000 just a day ago that we shared with you.

The numbers are diminishing to some extent. But at the same time we learn of another issue. Here at this shelter and quite frankly, throughout the metro region people are concerned about missing persons, people who are unaccounted for.

And we actually found a center-right here in the shelter that focuses on people who are missing in the shelter if a child walks away. But also throughout the metro region people can file reports to connect with police to connect with the Red Cross. Take a look at this shelter.


AMANDA SMITH, VOLUNTEER, TEXAS CENTER FOR THE MISSING: We just had a grandmother earlier she couldn't find her 11-year-old daughter. She was in a state of panic because there are so many people here you don't know who you're interacting with. And so, we actually had my fiance here, he brought her around and helped her get back with the family and help reunite with the daughter. So there's case of that happening (Inaudible).

HOWELL: But you guys, you handle the shelter, the people in the shelter.

SMITH: Correct.

HOWELL: But you're also opening this up to anyone throughout the metro area. SMITH: Absolutely. Yes. So, you know, we've had people getting

displaced at nursing homes and you know, from flooding they've been coming here to the shelters and getting displaced with their families. So we've had people coming here looking at this as a main point for Houston.


HOWELL: So, you know, as people come together at these different shelters you find that when there is a problem, these officials they find solutions. So that is good news.

[03:04:56] To other headlines that we want to tell you about. The Cajun Navy. So you remember the Cajun Navy back from hurricane Katrina they came to fame for rescues that they conducted there. They're here in the state doing the same.

But they're concerned right now about a possible shortage of gas. They believe that a shortage of gas could make it harder for them to do the work of rescuing people. They are expressing concern there.

Here is the thing, though, as we understand it. It's actually a supply and distribution issue. So, the supply exists, the gas is here. The supply is here. The problem is getting that supply to the different parts of the state. And we have people online posting, you know, concerns about long lines, et cetera, then it does create those problems in those communities.

So that's the situation that we're monitoring. The other thing that I want to share with you guys before we go, the Houston school district. So we understand that they will start school back on September 11th. So you are starting to see some things that get back to normal. But, again, there is a lot that needs to be done here to start that recovery process. Dave and Rene.

BRIGGS: yes. Hard to imagine how many thousands of students are not ready to return based on their housing circumstances.


BRIGGS: And roadways and cars. George, thanks so much for your reporting.

MARSH: All right. And the skies are clearing over Texas but that doesn't mean that the flooding threat is passed.

We are joined now by meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, how things looking this morning.

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Yes, Rena, the remnants of hurricane Harvey now a tropical depression moving across the Tennessee and Ohio River Valley, Nashville to Lexington to Columbus today and that's where we're focusing our attention on the heaviest of rain.

But just like you said it's cleared off nicely across Louisiana and Texas, but that does not mean the flood threat is over. By no means does that actually indicate that. Twenty eight major flood stage gauges across west -- southeastern Texas and western Louisiana including the Brazos River.

This is a location that I was reporting from not 24 hours ago. And I want to point this out because it is currently at record level. But look at this rain gauge. It has record level territory 55.7 feet for the next four days. This river will be cresting at maximum capacity for four days straight before slowly receding, you can imagine the concerns there.

And if that's not enough let's talk about the next hurricane that has just formed across the Atlantic, still 7 to 10 days away from making any considerable impact across the United States.

But this is one we are monitoring quickly because, or closely because it has strengthened quickly, Dave and Rene, to category 3. It is forecast to become a category 4 over the next five days impacting the Caribbean.

From there the computer model have a wide variety of options from the Florida Straits to the New England coastline. We'll keep close eye on it.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: Boy, it's just tough for people to hear this morning.


BRIGGS: Derek Van dam, terrific job by the way reporting from the center of the storm. We appreciate the forecast as well. Rebuilding efforts just getting underway in Texas.

Joining us to talk about the state response as the waters recede, Marc Rylander is the communications director for the Texas Attorney General.

Good morning to you again, once again, sir. Great to have you on. Look, so many things to focus on for officials there whether it's rescue, the rebuild, the water supply in Beaumont, Texas. This chemical plant. How do you begin to prioritize where resources should be deployed?

MARC RYLANDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL KEN PAXTON'S COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, good morning, Dave and Rene. We have a phenomenal team on the ground. You guys have reported it now for almost a week and we are seeing their excellent work as they from the Texas, Louisiana border all the way down to the bottom of the coastal bin.

Corpus Christi they're working strategically, they're working smart and well and swiftly to make sure that the priorities are named that they are understood and that the plan is executed.

And so, no matter which part of the Texas coast you are talking about, all of the areas have different dramatic impacts from the storm. They're doing the incredible job and priorities are coming as they deem necessary.

MARSH: So we did see some images of long lines people waiting for gas. We have reports of $20 for gas, $8.50 for bottled water. Gouging is clearly an issue. How are you all cracking down on that to make sure these folks aren't being taken advantage of?

RYLANDER: Well, thankfully the Texas legislature in preparation for these kinds of storms several years back came up with very stiff penalties for people who are guilty of price gouging. And what they came up with was a $20,000 fine per occurrence or if someone 65 years or older is affected it jumps to and up to $250,000 fine per occurrence.

[03:09:55] And so, the legislature put in place these laws and these protections so that in times of vulnerability like this people cannot be taken advantage of.

Now that hasn't affected some people from trying to do the things that we're talking about. However, again, the emphasis being on the fact that so many people uniting, coming together and doing good.

BRIGGS: Marc, how do you determine, where do you draw the line between supply and demand and price gouging in situations like raising the price on gas and water and the supplies that people need? And look, just trying to base that you are a business trying to make money and the supply is small.

RYLANDER: Listen, we are free market people. We believe the market deserves to and should set pricing and succeed and make profit, et cetera. However, in times like this, when there is a disaster on the ground we have so many people who are hourly workers who haven't been able to work in a week. They are running out of money.

We cannot afford to have people charging $5 for a loaf of bread, $10 for half gallon of milk, $20 for a gallon of gasoline. And what we usually do is look at price trends over the last three months, take an average and then sort of a ball park of 10 percent based on what's commodities we're talking about and from there determine if something is fairly priced because of the change in availability, or supply or if people are clearly taking advantage.

Now what we've seen in Dallas, for instance yesterday we saw all of a sudden a hysteria on social media that suddenly Texas is out of gasoline people all over north Texas. Now here is an area that's four, five areas away from the flooded zone. People went hysterical charge all the gas stations and now all around Dallas Fort Worth their gas stations with no gasoline and out that again, people start charging 6, 7, $8 a gallon.

And I'll tell you what, our office is investigating them and where it's right we're going take action.

BRIGGS: And Marc, as Texas begins to rebuild it's notable that according to Pew Research more than a quarter of the Texas construction industry is made up of undocumented workers, some feel it's as high as 50 percent. One hundred twenty thousand DREAMers live in the state of Texas. It's

been reported that your boss, the attorney general, wants to comply with the September 5th deadline, that is Tuesday, for the Trump administration to move on DACA legislation affecting those DREAMers. Why is this remain a priority for the Texas attorney general's office?

RYLANDER: Yes, several months back, a couple months back I should say, Dave, 10 states sent President Trump a letter asking him to reconsider the DACA program. This was long before hurricane Harvey was ever on the maps, ever forecasted. And a court began to work towards that September 5th date.

And so, all along for these couple of months this has been a strategic plan with the courts with the states with the federal government. And so, for anyone to act like that's something that suddenly has popped up or that's related to the storm it's just not the case.

We heard rumors out of Washington throughout the day yesterday none of those rumors have been substantiated by our office. But again, our focus is today first and foremost on recovery and moving this entire coastal region towards rebuilding.

BRIGGS: No question about that. You certainly have your hands full. Best of luck to you, sir, and all the people there in southeast Texas. Thanks for joining us, Marc.


RYLANDER: That's for your coverage today, Dave and Rene.

BRIGGS: You bet. All right. As flooding continues to cripple America's energy industry, the Trump administration is tapping into an emergency oil reserve. Many key oil refineries are off line. So the Energy Department will send 500,000 barrels of oil to one that's still operating and keeping gas flow into the rest of the country namely through the Colonial pipeline, a major gas pipeline to the East Coast.

It usually transports 100 million each day but shut down when it ran on the gas to fill it.

Meanwhile, companies are booking gas tankers from Europe to ease the U.S. shortage. Millions of gallons already on the way. The goal here shielding Americans from higher gas prices especially before a huge travel weekend.

The average gas price already up 10 cents and could go higher that's because gas futures hit a two-year high up 28 percent last Friday. This of course a huge holiday weekend when Americans prepare to hit the road for vacations. Rene.

MARSH: All concerned about those gas prices. And coming up, it could be quite a while before running water returns to the city of Beaumont. Now a local hospital is in the process of being evacuated. We have more next.

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BRIGGS: Welcome back, everyone. One of the most dire situations to

folks in southeast Texas is the water outage in Bel -- Beaumont -- excuse me, Texas. City officials now saying they have no time line for restoring municipal water. They say once the Neches River finally crests and recedes they'll be able to assess the damage to pumps at water treatment plants.

MARSH: Meanwhile, the city is working to get bottled water to affected residents as soon as possible. Officials plan to set up a water distribution point today. The flooding and water problems in Beaumont have forced yet another hospital evacuation which was suspended overnight and starts up again in just a few hours.

CNN Miguel Marquez has more.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Dave and Rene, the city of Beaumont is experiencing a double crisis. They have too much water that is falling from the sky and none at all coming out of their faucets here. We are at Baptist hospital in Beaumont where they are evacuating the entire hospital because the city, all 135,000 people in the city and parts of the surrounding county are completely without water.

They started with about 193 patients. They were able to get several of them out. They're down to about 85 at this point. And these are not the critically injured. All the critically injured have been moved to Dallas, or Galveston, or Jasper, Texas, even one patient was moved Missouri.

There were also nine prematurely born infants that were moved to Galveston as well out of this facility.

[03:19:59] The rest of the patients they say they have to move by chopper because Beaumont itself is literally almost cut off from the rest of the world. It sits up on a plain and the freeways around it are cut off. So they have to move people out by air.

It is with military precision that they are doing this bring in bank after bank of helicopters and then moving the most critically out -- ill out first and then moving down the line to those who are less critically injured. Dave, Rene?

BRIGGS: Miguel Marquez, great reporting there from Houston.

MARSH: And the U.S. decides to close Russian diplomatic missions in the United States. It comes a day before American personnel have to leave their own post in Moscow. More of the diplomatic tit for tat live in Moscow.


BRIGGS: Retaliating against Russia, the U.S. ordering the Kremlin to close the Russian consulate in San Francisco along with two diplomatic annexes in New York and Washington. That's in response to staff cuts at the U.S. mission in Moscow ordered by the Russian government. [03:25:00] CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in front of the U.S. embassy in

Moscow, which is reopening consular services later today. Fred, good morning to you.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. Good morning, Dave. And as you can see behind me it's not just us that's out here. It's also a lot of Russian media out here. Obviously, this is a big story here in Russia as this diplomatic wrangling continues.

And as you mentioned the U.S. is reopening its consular services here today. They closed that down for about nine days when they said, look, if you guys want us to down size your staff we're not going to be able to do what the consular services that we've been doing in the past. So we're going to have to shut down a while for that reorganization.

So the U.S. yesterday informed Russia that they had finished that reorganization that had cut the staff down to 455 which is exactly as many diplomatic staff as Russia has in America. But then America said look, if you guys want us to have the same amount of staff there needs to be parity as far as the amount of diplomatic compounds on each other's territories.

This concerned as well, so you guys are going to close your consulate in San Francisco and the those two annexes in New York and D.C. They informed the Russians they need to do that by tomorrow September second.

The Russians say they regret that move and they say they're studying and might retaliate as well.

All of this comes, Dave, as both countries are saying that they do want better relations with one another but at this point in time it certainly looks like it isn't going in that direction, Dave.

BRIGGS: It is hard to recall that time, Fred, when the Trump administration was said to bring positive, better relations between the U.S. and Russia. Not the case. Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Moscow. Thank you, sir.

Also we should mention the Russia investigation continues to heat up with more developments from the special counsel Bob Mueller as well.

MARSH: Right. That story still going on.


MARSH: Coming up, dangerous water, price gouging, broken infrastructure, potential explosions. Just some of the challenges facing Texans trying to emerge from Harvey's wrath. More, next.



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A variety of new challenges are emerging in the wake of Harvey, hospitals being evacuated, complaints of price gouging, and fears of more explosions at a chemical plant.


BRIGGS: We have all the latest right now on Early Start with you. An extra hour early, welcome to Early Start everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rene Marsh. It's 31 minutes past the hour. One week after Harvey blasted its way ashore there are new concerns emerging from the storm.


MARSH: Overnight, the death toll climbing again, it now stands at 47. The Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, more blasts are expected following the first explosion of an organic peroxide container about 24 hours ago. And 1.5 mile evacuation perimeter remains in effect around the plant.

BRIGGS: Another new worry this morning is price gouging. Texas officials say they have had 600 complaints about storm related scams and gouging.

One Houston convenience store reportedly $20 a gallon for gas and $8.50 for a bottle of water. Social media hysteria touching off panic with bizarrely long gas lines and prices shooting up from $2.20 to $4.50 a gallon, ahead of a huge travel weekend on Labor Day, some gas stations even sold out as you can see.

MARSH: And as for the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, they operating normally with no breaches and no failures. Officials now say it will take three months to empty -- to empty them through controlled releases. Buffalo Bayou where that water drains will likely stay flooded for some time, several weeks at the deepest spots.

Say in federal environmental officials are warning people to take precautions because contaminated sewer water tends to be released during major flood events. They say people in the flood zone must ensure that they have access to safe drinking water.

City of Beaumont, Texas, still without running water and it's going to take some time to get the taps running again. Residents stood in long lines trying to buy bottled water, the failure of the water treatment system causing other problems on the ground, more on that a little later on.

Overall, first responders have rescued more than 72,000 people since the storm hit. That does not include all the rescues by civilian volunteers.

MARSH: And Harvey dumped an estimated 27 trillion, that's with a T gallons of drain on Texas and Louisiana over a 6-day period. That is enough to fill the San Francisco Bay more than ten times over.


MARSH: For the very latest from the disaster zone, let's bring in George Howell. He is live at Houston's convention center. Good morning, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rene good morning to you. The mood here at this convention center that serves a shelter quite frankly home for so many people. I would say the mood is patient but also uncertain.

You know so many people uncertain, unsure of what their next steps will be. We do understand that the numbers here, so just the other day is some 8,000 people at the shelter, those numbers are diminishing to some extent.

Many people going back into their neighborhoods and their communities to see exactly how badly damaged those homes are. But again, so many people here lost so much.

As they go out into the community and even here at the shelter, Rene, there is another problem. People who are unaccounted for -- missing people and we found that the Texas Center for the Missing, they actually have a setup right here in the shelter.

They help people in the shelter in case a loved one, a relative, a child strays away. They help people to reconnect and they also do the same throughout the metro area as simple as just filing a report.

[03:35:00] And then these officials, they share that information with police and they share it with the Red Cross. We spoke with one person with that group to explain the organization. Take a listen.


AMANDA SMITH, TERRITORY ACCOUNT MANAGER, TEXAS CENTER FOR THE MISSING: We just had a grandmother earlier she couldn't find her 11-year-old daughter. She was in a state of panic because there are so many people here you don't know who you are interacting with.

And so we actually had -- my fiance here, he rolled her around and helped her get back with the family and help reunite with the daughter. So there are cases like that happening minute by minute here.

HOWELL: But you guys, you handle the shelter...

SMITH: Correct.

HOWELL: ... people in the shelter but you're also opening this up to anyone throughout the metro area.

SMITH: Absolutely, yes. So, you know, we have had people getting displaced at nursing homes and you know from flooding, they have been coming here to the shelters and getting displaced with their families. So we've had people coming here and looking at this as a point -- a main point for Houston.


HOWELL: So also I want to address another situation. You may have seen this online, this talk about a shortage of gas here in the State of Texas given what happened.

We are hearing from the Cajun Navy. They're saying they're concerned about not enough gas here in the state to get around to do their work of rescuing people.

So what we have actually discovered is this is really just a supply and distribution issue. So the supply exists. But it's a matter of getting it to these different parts of the state that need it. That's the problem.

And you know when you see these concerns that are voiced online, people saying that there is a shortage of gas well quite frankly it causes problem in those communities as people panic. But again the supply does exist as we understand it. Back to you.

MARSH: OK, important to point out. We have the gas, it's just getting it to the gas stations.

BRIGGS: Right. You're looking at more than 300 Texas roadways are covered in water, so difficult to get around. All right, George Howell live for us in Houston.

As if one hurricane wasn't enough. Yet another major hurricane has its eye focused on the United States. Let's bring in Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Good morning to you, Derek. What's on the way?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All right, good morning, Dave, Rene. I think it's important that we keep this in check here because we are still 7 to 10 days out from any potential threat to the lower 48.

But nonetheless, this major hurricane which is formed across the Atlantic, now a category three, sustained winds of 115 miles per-hour, it really does have its eye set on the east coast or perhaps even into Florida, perhaps the Gulf of Mexico.

It all depending on the computer models you look at. And again, I want to reiterate, we are still several days away, several thousand miles away from the storm making any formidable threat across the United States.

But something we're going to monitor very, very quickly, you can see the differences in the different computer models that we look at as meteorologist.

Earlier, the European model had the storm making a pass across the Florida straits late Sunday of next week. Again, so 7 to 10 days away from any formidable threat from the storm. But let's talk about now what's taking place now.

Because we still have our remnant of what was Harvey that continues to churn across the Ohio and Tennessee River Valley. That is going to bring our flood threat to that region.

But we can't forget what's still taking place across southeast Texas and Louisiana. We still have 28 rivers at major flood stage, including the Brazos River which we reported on from 24 hours ago. This thing is going to stay at record level territory for the next four days. Dave, Rene.

BRIGGS: Yes, that is frightening, Derek, to think that some of these rivers haven't yet crested. We are not even halfway home. Thanks so much for that forecast.

VAN DAM: Thanks.

MARSH: And now this process -- the grueling process of going door to door. Rescuers are beginning to go block by block to search homes in Houston for anyone left behind in the Harvey's historic floods.

Eighty-seven thousand homes damaged statewide, 7,000 destroyed. CNN's Brian Todd looks at what search crews are up against in west Houston.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Rene we are here in west Houston where the waters are still dangerously high, several days after hurricane Harvey came ashore.

Look at this, this is a neighborhood called Lakeside Forest. The water is still just up to the windows on the first floor of these houses. It's still eerie being out here in the dark.

This neighborhood was flooded pretty much from the start but the water actually kept rising even with the branch of the storm pass because of the controlled release of that Addicks reservoir near here.

And we just found one person -- we just rescue from a canoe who was stuck is a meteorologist, he thinks that this water level really is not going to decrease any time soon.

He says the water -- this neighborhood thought that we will not be rid of the water for maybe weeks. So look at the -- if you look at this these people are going to be really up against this and may not get into homes any time soon. Dave and Rene.

[03:40:00] BRIGGS: Devastating. All right, in the last week, more than 6,000 people and at least 1,000 pets have been rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. That work goes on, air crews searching for people stranded by the storm.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung took a flight with a Coast Guard chopper looking for survivors in hard hit areas of Texas. Kaylee has more from just across the border in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rescue missions in the air are ongoing for the U.S. Coast Guard and so many other military assets in the area.

For a group of Coast Guard helicopters taking off from air shrift in Seoul for Louisiana not far from the Texas State line, the focus for the past two days has been Port Arthur, Texas.

But on Thursday afternoon, when I loaded up a five-man crew in a Jayhawk HH-60 helicopter, we have just got a word that dam was releasing water and there was an area where waters were quickly rising about ten miles north of Beaumont.

We headed there with a call for service saying that 20 people were trapped on a roof but when we got there, we saw those 20 people and a house surrounded by boats, those people loading up into boats and getting to safety very quickly.

These trained men aboard this helicopter with me very quick to praise the efforts of the volunteers with their boats. The Cajun Navy if you will who have come out in mass numbers.

Our crew then headed over to Orange Texas, another place where the waters continued to rice on Thursday. There an elderly woman was rescued.

She told me I've lost my car, I've lost my house but I have my life. I'm thankful for that and I'm thankful for the U.S. Coast Guard. Her story, one of thousands just like it and there will be more. Dave, Rene.

BRIGGS: Thanks so much Kaylee Hartung. As flooding slams the Texas Gulf Coast most homes under water don't have the insurance needed to rebuild. Most private insurance does not cover flood damage, so home owners rely on the National Flood Insurance Program.


BRIGGS: However, only 20 percent of the homes hit by Harvey are covered. What about the other 80 percent?

Well those victims have to apply for federal aid which is a low interest loan or they'll have to pay out of pocket. Both options can lead to debt but even home owners with flood insurance could face problems.

That's because this federally funded program is $25 billion in debt. Thanks to a series of storms with major flood damage like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Right now, the program has less than $8 billion for the victims of Harvey. And estimates forecast property damage up to $65 billion making it one of the costliest storms ever to hit the U.S.

MARSH: And a growing sense of urgency in Washington to keep federal dollars flowing for the disaster response. CNN has learned the Republican led-House could vote on a short term funding bill as soon as next week.

There is concern FEMA will need more money well before the broader aid package is drafted later this month. Leader on Capitol Hill are still waiting for specifics from the White House which says that the proposal should be coming soon.

BRIGGS: Yesterday in Texas, Vice President Mike Pence urged speedy action but did not lay out a time line. He declined to say if Harvey should be of set by other budget cuts. That's something Pence and other conservatives in Congress pushed for back in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

MARSH: And tomorrow President Trump and the first lady will return to Texas and also visit Louisiana. The president has pledged $1 million to help victims of Harvey. The White House press secretary said that that contribution would come from Mister Trump's personal funds.

BRIGGS: Good to see. All right, some Houston residents finally getting a chance to return to homes to their flooded homes and they're devastated by what they're finding. Look at that video. We'll have that part of the story for you next.



MARSH: Well people in Houston are dealing with a harsh reality that they won't be able to go back home for weeks, possibly months.

Some of them return by boat on Thursday to salvage what they can and come to grips with everything they're forced to leave behind. CNN's Alex Marquardt was there and has the emotional story of one evacuee.


BILL WOLFE, TEXAS FLOOD VICTIM: There is mail -- there's going to be a mailbox here.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: this is the first time that Bill Wolfe has been able to get back to his house since being evacuated.

WOLFE: Surreal is probably the understatement of the century here. You know watching a 30 foot fishing boat drive down your street is like something that you just (Inaudible). This is my intersection here. And man, I don't know this is crazy.

KENNY EVANS, RESCUER: Let's see how high the water is though.

WOLFE: Yes, so I mean, we'll see if I can even get in or not.

MARQUARDT: Captain Kenny Evans is taking Wolfe back.

EVANS: one minute you're stressed about your gutters and the next minute everything you have is ruined.

MARQUARDT: It was Evans who rescued the Wolfe family along with their cat and dog in the middle of the storm on Monday. After navigating the boat to the door, we wade into the living room, furniture now floating through the pass the pictures of his sons.

WOLFE: I'm really proud of them. I'm really proud of them, my wife and my family. And they're -- they're tough little kids.

MARQUARDT: They're holding up?

WOLFE: Yes, yes. It's -- I'm not an emotional guy. I'm pretty calm. And this has been too much for me, to be honest I don't know if I'm going to be here very long.

MARQUARDT: Back in the office, the real loss becomes clear.

WOLFE: We've got 150-year-old family bible in this water.

MARQUARDT: Stacks of photo albums, baby books and other sentimental items. Is this the worst part, the personal stuff?

WOLFE: Yes, I mean this is the stuff that you can't replace, right? I mean, this is -- these are my son's birth announcements, right?

[03:50:00] MARQUARDT: Upstairs where it's dry, Wolfe throws his sons toys and sheets into garbage bags. So you think there is a possibility you may never live in this house again.

WOLFE: I don't know. Yes, I mean, it's going to sit here for a month or two in six feet of water.

MARQUARDT: Up and down this neighborhood, people taking stock of their belongings and their lives. Eighty-six-year-old Ed Windler is also back for the first time.

With Captain Evans, we found him on Monday in his dark bedroom alone with no power. He needs his medicine. So, Evans heads inside, past countless possessions now suspended in the dark flood waters.

This was Ed's office. All these papers piled high on his desk. You can see now they're all poorly ruined. The water in here is so high and back there in the kitchen, the fridge is now floating on its side. On the boat, Windler, tries to take it all in.

ED WINDLER, FLOOD VICTIM: Just very confusing. I can't get it wrapped up in my mind what's going to be next and what I'm going to need to do.

EVANS: Grab it. Grab it.

MARQUARDT: Windler and Wolfe are just two of the countless people who Captain Evans has helped this week. And his work is far from over.

EVANS: It's not even real. You see this stuff on TV, but this is total devastation in every way, physically, emotionally.

MARQUARDT: And this here is the tireless Kenny Evans just a fantastic embodiment of the spirit of the people of Houston and everyone whose come out over the past few days to help out.

Now we should note that along with the heartbreak in this neighborhood, there is also growing frustration and anger. A lot of the water that you're seeing here is coming from the controlled releases of those two nearby reservoirs Addicks and Barker.

And a lot of people have been telling me today that they feel the authorities should have told them much sooner how much water there was going to be so they could have gotten out sooner and saved more. Alex Marquardt, CNN, Houston. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Oh, thank you so much, Alex. Yes, you talk about days weeks before it's back to normal.


BRIGGS: Well, for a lot of people never.

MARSH: Yes. That's the bottom line.

BRIGGS: Never get back their home and of course there are the lost lives as well there.

MARSH: And then you get emotional realizing the never aspect of it.


MARSH: Well, one of the most surreal scenes after the storm was when Aric Harding went back to his flood ravaged home south of Houston, most of his stuff was pretty much destroyed. But there was one item that was not.




BRIGGS: That's good huff Harding had gone home to pick up some stuffed animals and toys for his seven children who are taking shelter at a nearby house.

One of his sons who loves to play the piano was worried it was destroyed in the floods. But Aric said he was grateful to one person he doesn't even know who had offered him a new piano.

MARSH: I love that.


MARSH: That's like the small blessings there when everything else is going wrong.

BRIGGS: Some nice stories...


BRIGGS: ... of this tragedy. All right, the August jobs report is out later today. Can the U.S. expect another strong month? We'll preview the numbers on CNN Money Stream next.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Days after Hurricane Harvey made land fall, much of southeast Texas is still ravage by flood waters, a live report from Houston, coming up.

The U.S. and South Korea fly bomber jest over the Korean Peninsula. North Korea calls it rush act. We'll have the report from Pyongyang. Another sign of frayed relations as the Trump administration over several Russian diplomatic pose in the U.S. to shut down. Moscow's reaction ahead.


FOSTER: Thanks for joining us. I'm Max Foster in London and this is CNN News Room. We'll begin in Houston, Texas finally there are signs that floodwaters are receiving but still much of America's fourth largest city is under water.

The remnants of Hurricane Harvey have taken at least 47 lives. A new danger just seems to emerge every day. Houston there, struck an optimistic mode on Thursday declaring the city opened for business.

There are fewer people in shelters and more bus lanes and lines have resumed on the city's shipping canal or channel has reopened on a limited basis.

But countless people are still stranded across east Texas waiting, hoping to be pulled to safety. Emergency workers have so far rescued some 72,000 people in one way or another. This monster storm has devout entire Texas City.

Not only Houston, Port Arthur and Beaumont are almost entirely underwater. Beaumont has completely lost access to clean water, an emergency on its own. Miguel Marquez reports.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Miguel Marquez in the east Texas City of Beaumont where the hospital here is evacuating all of its patients because the entire city, all 135,000 people in parts of the surrounding county are without water.

The floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey -- they lose their pumps here and they are unable to pump water. They have both failed and the city now is without water.

The hospital has been on a military like mission to get the patients out, the most critically injured were moved to Dallas and Galveston, and Jasper, Texas.

One patient even moved to Missouri, nine prematurely born babies were also moved out. They have about 85 patients left and they believe they will get them out in the next 24 to 48 hours.


FOSTER: Miguel Marquez, there in Beaumont. U.S. president Donald Trump will be back in Texas on Saturday to see the damage from Hurricane Harvey first hand.

While Vice President Mike Pence just toward there is hit by the storm. He visited Rockport, the Texas Governor Greg Abbott and even helped in cleanup efforts there. In Corpus Christie, Pence vowed the U.S. governments would help Texas and said law makers will back relief funding.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We expect Congress to move quickly on the initial legislation and will be working very diligently in the -- in the opening weeks of Congress --