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Father And Son Separated By Hurricane Reunite; Opening Of Houston Schools Delayed By Harvey; Harvey Survivors Return To Homes In Ruins; Rescue And Recovery Efforts One Week After Harvey's Landfall. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 1, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:35] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What a story for you amidst all the tragedy.

Wednesday night, Bradley Allen called in to help find his missing 88- year-old father.

He knew where he had been but he didn't have his cell phone. He couldn't remember any of his numbers so Bradley didn't know how he was going to find him.

So we put it to you on the show and social media and boy, did you step up.

Today, we have a wonderful update. Harrison Allen, that 88-year-old, was located by you.

Alisyn, you've got this story of the search and the reunion.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I do, Chris. It was such a great moment. We were there when Harrison was reunited with his entire family.

So let's recap for everyone the story of this Hurricane Harvey victim who was lost and found.


CAMEROTA (voice-over): On Sunday night as torrential rains started to pound Houston, Bradley Allen started to worry about his 88-year-old dad home alone.

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

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

ALLEN: Call dad. Tell him to get out.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: 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?

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?

ALLEN: A lot. Probably in the forties or fifties.

CAMEROTA: You went to 40 or 50 shelters?

ALLEN: Face-to-face.

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

ALLEN (via telephone): 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.


CAMEROTA: Mark Yakoubek is one of the managers at a nearby DoubleTree hotel that has taken in hundreds of evacuees.

YAKOUBEK: I'm watching CNN and I see the story on this missing gentleman. I took out 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.

ALLEN: Where is he?

CAMEROTA: On Thursday morning, Bradley and his family drove hours from outside of Austin to the DoubleTree to find his dad, who was just thanking Mark for his help when Bradley dashed up.

ALLEN: Hey, buddy.

HARRISON ALLEN, REUNITED WITH SON IN HOUSTON: Hey, babe. Oh, it's so good to be back --


H. ALLEN: -- in the arms of my family again.

ALLEN: I know. These people helped us find you.

H. ALLEN: Hi, gang. You did good. I appreciate it.

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

H. ALLEN: Give me a kiss? Oh, yes, yes.


CAMEROTA: So Chris, I mean, just the best possible outcome we could have. A good news story and obviously, the power of television. When you put somebody's picture on T.V., you know, it gives a chance for millions of eyes to see it, and it worked this time.

CUOMO: It really did. People stepped up. And that's a big part of the story coming out of Houston about the reality that we are all in it together and people want to do good things for others when they can, and we saw it right there.

[07:35:11] Also, you've got the Houston's Greenway Plaza DoubleTree hotel. They were very nice letting us shoot it. Their manager stepping up and making the identification.

All 388 rooms, they're giving them to what, the evacuees, right? They're giving them the whole hotel?

CAMEROTA: Yes, and first responders. Can you believe that? All of their rooms right now are filled with evacuees and first responders.

I mean, look -- you know, this is a great story but Harrison's not alone. There are a lot of people who have, obviously, been separated from their family and are still looking for them.

So, anyway, that DoubleTree has opened their doors to us and to all of the folks who have been struggling with the Hurricane, so we thank them a lot.

Chris, a great story.

CUOMO: Yes. Listen -- I mean, and there are too many of them. There are too many people who need rescues, there are too many people who are still stranded or displaced, or can't be found. But happy endings matter, too, and it's nice to be able to bring this one, at least for that family.


Meanwhile, Harvey's catastrophic floods are forcing Houston's schools to delay the start of their school year. The superintendent of the school district -- the largest one -- is going to join us next with what's happening with the kids.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:40:25] CUOMO: Harvey took out a lot of Gulf Coast refineries and as a result, driving up gas prices coast to coast. And, you know, the timing couldn't be worse -- Labor Day holiday weekend.

CNN's Alison Kosik live in Dallas with more. What do we know?


So, since at least 5:00 a.m. local time we've seen this line forming at this particular gas station in Dallas. You know, people actually telling me they set their alarms just so they could wake up and get to the gas station.

This is after social media kind of went wild with people really concerned about these production disruptions because of refineries being shut down in Houston, being shut down in Port Arthur.

People also getting really worried when they see that gas prices are spiking. Here in Texas, since Harvey hit, it's been a week. We've seen gas prices spike anywhere from 17 to 21 cents a gallon for the national average.

Other areas around the country seeing the same kind of thing. South Carolina up 19 cents in a week per gallon. Delaware, 18 cents; Kentucky, 17 cents.

Here's the thing. Refineries are expected to stay off line for if not days, then weeks, and we could see this kind of distribution and production issue last a lot longer. So, Chris, we could see gas prices, at least the national average, hit $2.75 a gallon -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: OK, Alison, I'll take it here. Thanks so much, guys.

All right, so listen to this. Classes were supposed to begin this week for Houston Public School students but Hurricane Harvey, of course, changed all of that. So now what?

Joining me now is Richard Carranza. He is the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, which is the seventh-largest in the country.


CAMEROTA: OK. So, you have all of these students. They were supposed to start school on Monday. Now what?

CARRANZA: Well, we just want to make sure that students and families are safe, first and foremost.

So what we've been communicating is as we've gone and looked at our school buildings -- our facilities -- we have almost 300 schools buildings -- we've been able to inspect about 120 of them so far. The rest we just can't get to because of the water. CAMEROTA: What condition are the ones that you've inspected? I mean, after all of this devastation and flooding, what condition are they in?

CARRANZA: They're not in good shape. Every single one has been affected to some extent by the flooding.

CAMEROTA: Every single one of the schools -- the buildings that you've gone to has been somehow -- the structure has somehow been changed --


CAMEROTA: -- by this?

CARRANZA: Well, some very minimally, others a little more significantly to some. We're not going to probably be able to open them up for a year or so.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. And so, if you're not able to open schools up for a year or more what happens to all of these kids?

CARRANZA: Well, we have multiple scenarios that we've been working. Everything from co-locating schools that are inoperable with other schools, basically.

CAMEROTA: Meaning the kids would be bussed to different towns?

CARRANZA: Yes. Well, as close to their home school as possible.

We've also had scenarios about a rolling start to the school year where a group of students will start, then a few weeks later another group. That's not our first choice.

But we will have the full assessment -- we've even got boats now going out to some of the schools. We'll have a full assessment by today and then determine how we're going to open up on the 11th.

CAMEROTA: But how do you know you'll be able to open up on the 11th given all of these questions?

CARRANZA: Well, we know that we currently have enough facilities that we know we can either fix or dry out or get ready for school that we can start.

The big variable for us are two other variables, the Greater Houston infrastructure. Can we transport 218,000 students, which is our student population, and we have 31,000 employees. So can the infrastructure support that?

And then, secondly, is our teachers and our staff because they've been impacted as well.

CAMEROTA: For sure. You don't know how many of them will be able to show up on September -- the day that you open, on September 11th. CARRANZA: Yes. So we have principals, right now, checking all of their staff members. We have, even, teachers that are calling their families or texting their families. So we're trying to get a pulse on who's where and will we have a sufficient staff to even start on the 11th. We think we will.

CAMEROTA: This is just complicated on so many levels. You have 213,000 students that you're dealing with?

CARRANZA: Two hundred eighteen.

CAMEROTA: Two hundred and eighteen thousand students.


CAMEROTA: Look, I don't have to tell you parents kind of look forward to the first day back at school so that they can get their own lives back in order with childcare, et cetera. You know, parents have to go back to work --


CAMEROTA: -- at some point.

[07:45:00] So what's happening with all of those kids right now?

CARRANZA: So we are -- obviously, the entire Houston community has been affected but Houston's coming back to work. So what we're doing is partnering with our community-based organizations so that we have those opportunities for, especially, younger students to have some kind of a structured environment before they come back to school.

It's a hard call but what we don't want to do is put any of our students or any of our faculty in a situation where the environment isn't conducive to learning.

CAMEROTA: Yes, for -- of course, or in danger. I mean, how are you going to figure out if all of those buildings are structurally sound?

CARRANZA: Well, we have a great team -- and I have to tell you our district team is fantastic. This isn't their first rodeo. We've dealt with flooding before.

So the assessment team that we have is top-notch. They're going to be able to tell us how soon can we repair, what kinds of repairs are there.

And, like I said, based on the buildings that we've already looked at we are confident that we can get enough ready so that even if we have to combine some schools for a while, we'll be able to get the school year started.

CAMEROTA: OK. Superintendent Carranza, the best of luck to you --

CARRANZA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- as this -- as you take on this huge undertaking.

CARRANZA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.

Chris, just one of the many ramifications of all of the aftermath of Harvey.

CUOMO: All right. People are trying to start to pick up the pieces. Heartbroken survivors and victims returning to see what's left of their homes.

How do you salvage? How do you start again? Where do you begin, next?


[07:50:35] CUOMO: Nobody wants to leave home. It's not just about stuff, it's about memories and things that make you who you are, to a certain degree.

And for so many in Houston, their homes are still under several feet of water. But some are still trying to get back as soon as they can to salvage whatever they can and once they do, they really have to come to grips with the reality.

CNN's Alex Marquardt traveled with one survivor on his journey back home.


BILL WOLFE, HOUSTON RESIDENT, EVACUEE: There's a mail -- there's going to be a mailbox here.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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've just never seen before. I mean, this is my intersection here.

And I'm telling you, man, I don't know. This is crazy.

CAPTAIN KENNY EVANS, VOLUNTEER 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 --

WOLFE: Last but not least.

MARQUARDT: -- in the middle of the storm on Monday.

WOLFE: My, Lord. Oh.

MARQUARDT: After navigating the boat to the door we wade into the living room.

WOLFE: Oh, boy.

MARQUARDT: Furniture now floating through past the pictures of his sons.

WOLFE: I'm really proud of them. I'm really proud of them, my wife, my family. They're tough little kids.

MARQUARDT (on camera): They're holding up?

WOLFE: Yes, 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 want to be here very long.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Back in the office the real loss becomes clear.

WOLFE: You've got a 150-year-old family bible under this water.

MARQUARDT: Stacks of photo albums, baby books, and other sentimental items.

MARQUARDT (on camera): Is this the worst part, is the personal stuff?

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

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Upstairs where it's dry, Wolfe throws his sons' toys and sheets into garbage bags.

MARQUARDT (on camera): So you think there's 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 with six feet of water in it, so --

MARQUARDT (voice-over): 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 floodwaters. MARQUARDT (on camera): This was Ed's office -- all these papers piled high on his desk. You can see now they're all totally ruined. The water in here is so high that back there in the kitchen the fridge is now floating on its side.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): On the boat, Windler tries to take it all in.

ED WINDLER, HOUSTON RESIDENT, EVACUEE: It's 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 T.V. but this is total devastation in every way -- physically, emotionally.

MARQUARDT: Alex Marquardt, CNN, Houston.


CUOMO: The captain said it right there. I mean, this is the kind of disaster that just hits you on every level and there's so many different urgencies.

I mean, it's not just about stuff, it's about the things that make you remember who you are and what your family's about. And yes, you can cling to each other but this is going to hurt.

And those medications, that's a big deal. So many left without them, Alisyn, and they're going to be hard to replace because pharmacies aren't open and available. So that's a real one, too.

But you've got to feel for these people who go back and see all their memories washed away.

CAMEROTA: Oh, for sure, Chris. I mean, look, we've met several survivors who took enough of their medication. They knew Harvey was coming.

They took a week's worth and now they still can't get back into their homes and their medications are washing away. So they thought they'd done the right thing and that's hard.

But look, I mean, to your point, it's just the concept of home, you know. That's a really powerful feeling for all of us. And to not know when you're going to be able to return to yours and everything in it might be ruined is just so terribly sad.

[05:55:12] But it's been a very long week, obviously, here in Houston for the survivors and the rescuers.

So joining us to discuss what's happening today and the rescue efforts and what he sees is CNN contributor Lt. Gen. Russel Honore. He was the commander of the joint task force for Hurricane Katrina.

General, you've been with us all week. It's been great to have your expertise here.

So what you do think the priority is today?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.), COMMANDED MILITARY RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA: It will continue to be saving lives, as the governor has said is the number one priority.

So you've got search and rescue missions going on in one part of the state. You've got the city of Beaumont of water -- the grid went down -- and it's surrounded by water, which means the roads are impassable. So you're talking about creating an air lock to lift stuff or get high enough trucks where you can get the flow of water and start distribution points.

The problem of water is distributing it. It's heavy, it's not easy to handle. You're handling it in bottles.

And I would consider a community like this that may be four or five miles, where do you put the one water point where people can come? And you can't get it in so you may talk about using airlift support to bring it in and set it down, and then distributing to people equitably to keep them alive, you know.

When you look at the town here -- this big great metropolitan area of Houston -- there's about four or five different Houstons operating now.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. There are four or five different Houstons that you see because where we are -- downtown, where we're staying it looks basically normal. Things have dried out. The water has receded.

But then you come a few miles west and here is what you're looking at.

So what are all the different Houstons you're seeing?

HONORE: And this is a pretty upscale community and they still have access. They still have electricity.

CAMEROTA: Yes, explain that. Why do we see lights on in some of these homes that, clearly, people have already evacuated from? What does that tell you?

HONORE: Well, a lot of people are in these homes. When we were here last night they --

CAMEROTA: People are staying here --

HONORE: Yes, a lot of them are staying here.

CAMEROTA: -- because their second floors are fine.

HONORE: Right, and they took -- some of them took water on the first floor and they've done some minor opening up. But they have electricity, they have air conditioning, and they have television.

CAMEROTA: So that's a good sign or a dangerous sign?

HONORE: That's a good sign because if the electricity would go off most of these people would have to leave --


HONORE: -- because you don't have the sewer system working, you don't have water working.

So, maintaining the grid under these conditions, my hat's off to the utility people in this Harris County. Whatever they've done, they've done it well because there's a whole lot of this grid that's underwater.

But what's not seen and is a big deal today is while we continue to do search and rescue missions and lifesaving is establishing a priority of work for logistics.

CAMEROTA: So if you were the commander you would come up with a -- because there are so many different challenges, you would have to come up with a priority list of where to deploy people --


CAMEROTA: -- immediately.

HONORE: And that has to be driven down to the counties and into the cities for them to establish a priority of work. And where are you going to establish a distribution system and where do you need them.

There's some places like this where you've got grocery stores that are open. Some of them have pharmacies in them. Some of them are underwater and the people are displaced.

But, Alisyn, you know, talking gives people confidence. Helicopters popping people off roofs save lives, and watermen going out in boats saves people's lives.

But the true solution to a disaster like this is logistics. There's an old saying in the Army, amateurs study tactics but geniuses study logistics. We need some logistic genius here and we need a face on them.

CAMEROTA: Got you.

HONORE: There can't be somebody appointed in Washington that shows up on a T.V. screen. In Katrina, we brought the first COSCOM --


HONORE: -- out of III U.S. Corps and they had trucks, airplanes at their disposal and they worked up a distribution grid.

CAMEROTA: And you've not seen that person yet, very quickly? That's what you're waiting for.

HONORE: They need a face on logistics.


General, thank you very much for all of the expertise. It's been great to be able to rely upon you.

So we're following a lot of news for you this morning. Let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at comparisons it's far larger than Katrina, far larger than Sandy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This hurricane is of a magnitude that I have never seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The food is running out, the water is running out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is unbelievable. A nightmare that we can't wake up from.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a long way to go. It's not months, but it's years.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll continues to rise as the president prepares for his trip to the flood zone Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen a lot of things but that terrified me.

EVANS: It's not even real. You see this stuff on T.V. but this is total devastation in every way.

DERRICK FREEMAN, MAYOR, PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS: You can't fight Mother Nature. She's given us one right now but our citizens are resilient. We're ready for it.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.