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Trump Administration Unveils New Travel Restrictions; NFL Stars Defy Trump with Anthem Protests; Germany Decides 2017; Iraqi Kurds to Cast Votes on Independence. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 25, 2017 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:10] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump administration announces new travel restrictions affecting several new countries.

The U.S. President revived an old controversy saying NFL owners should fire players who don't stand for the national anthem. Now dozens are kneeling in solidarity and protest.

And election fallout, a German far right political party will be represented in parliament for first time in half a century.

Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.

We're live in Atlanta and CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Thanks again for joining us.

The White House has unveiled new restrictions on people from eight countries trying to reach the United States. It made the announcement Sunday as a controversial travel ban on six Muslim majority countries expired.

North Korea, Chad and Venezuela now join five of those countries under the new restrictions. Sudan is no longer included.

For more, here's our Laura Jarrett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: While Trump administration has unveiled new travel restrictions on certain foreign nationals from eight countries, this time Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen as a replacement to a central portion of the controversial travel ban which expired on Sunday morning.

Now these new restrictions vary widely by countries and they also include a phased-in approach so most of the limitations won't go into effect until mid-October.

For the last three months thought, the Trump administration has used an executive order to ban foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries to enter the U.S. unless they have a quote "bona fide relationship with a person or entity here in the country, in the U.S." Now individuals with that bona fide exception, like if you have a grandparent here, they can still apply for visas until October 18th. But after that date the new restrictions on travel will begin and in some instances travel for immigrants will be broadly-suspended across the board like in North Korea, nobody can come in. Whereas for others like Iran, those on student visas will be able apply to come into the country.

Now, I should mention anyone with a current visa or a green card can always come in. Their documents will not be revoked. The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the legality of the current travel ban next ahead so that's moving full steam ahead.

And President Trump already tweeting about the ban on Sunday saying "Make America safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Justice reporter, Laura Jarrett for us there.

Now let's turn to our Ben Wedeman. He is live in Tokyo with more on these restrictions ban and including how they will impact North Korea.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. North Korea is an addition to the list of countries that was on the original travel ban, the one that came out in January so messily.

Now, it's rather ironic because obviously there probably aren't any tourists from North Korea. The only North Koreans who do travel to the United States are for instance, the foreign minister of Korea, who was in the United States in New York last week attending the United Nations General Assembly.

But that's a special case. But for most people, it clearly doesn't make a difference. Critics of this latest travel ban or order are pointing out that perhaps this is just a sop. The fact that, of course, North Korea is not a Muslim country, it is officially an atheist country in fact just adding that might dilute some of the criticism that some might direct towards the Trump administration.

But fact of the matter is, it has no practical impact on the e ground when it comes to the unfortunate inhabitants of North Korea -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Yes. And meantime, we saw the North Koreans still rallying in the streets against the United States and the vitriol from Donald Trump. Has that defused somewhat anything else officially from Kim Jong-Un?

No. Nothing new but certainly scanning the KCNA, the Korean Central News Agency, the official news agency of North Korea, we continue to see fairly steady flow of stories, editorials, critiques of President Trump and his promise to destroy North Korea. So that essentially remains the same. [00:05:00] And of course, perhaps President Trump is sleeping at the moment so we're not hearing from him now but who knows what will come when the sun rises outside the White House.

But we did see over the weekend that the United States flew B-1 bombers further north than they have in many years above the DMZ, or the 38th parallel that separates the two Koreas and according to an American spokeswoman over the weekend the point of that flight, that unprecedented flight of B-1 bombers off the east coast of North Korea was to show that President Trump has a variety of military options at his disposal.

But at the moment tensions remain the same and I think the coming hours will probably show that there will be more vitriol flowing in both directions -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Ben Wedeman for us, live there in Tokyo. Ben -- thank you. Always good to see you.

Well, many of the NFL players and owners are defying U.S. President Donald Trump. Before every single kickoff in Sunday's games in cities across the country, players and some owners kneeled or linked arms in a mass display of solidarity during the national anthem as you can hear there.

In Nashville at the Seattle Seahawks-Tennessee Titans game, both teams stayed in their locker rooms while the anthem was sung. Even the singer and her guitarist knelt during the last few notes. They were all responding to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see on of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say "Get that son of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) off the field right now out? He's fired. He's fired." Wouldn't you love it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: In 2016 San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked criticism for refusing to stand. He knelt. He says it was a protest against racial injustice. Some say President Trump is stirring up racial tension with his recent comments but he disagrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Has nothing to do with race. I had never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: CNN's Boris Sanchez has more on President Trump's response from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The President certainly making this issue a focus of his Sunday, arguing that NFL owners should get together and do something about NFL players that kneel down during the national anthem. He tweeted about this several times, digging in his stance that he first vocalized during his rally in Alabama on Friday saying that NFL owners should fire players that kneel during the anthem.

One of his tweets he writes quote, "Sports fan should never condone players that do not stand proud for their national anthem or their country. NFL should change policy."

Earlier in the day he actually re-tweeted someone who wrote that if players boycott our anthem fans should boycott the NFL.

The President again making the case that Americans should not stand for this sort of thing. In fact he says that the majority of people agree with him.

Listen to more of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think that the flag has to be respected, our country has to be respected. There's plenty of room to do other things but our country has to be respected.

And I've always felt strongly about that. And by the way, most people agree with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: One more interesting notes from one of the gaggles that the President held with the press on Sunday. He says that race has nothing to do with this issue of players kneeling during the national anthem. This is purely about people respecting the flag, people respecting their country.

If you go back to August of last year when Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the national anthem and many players followed suit he made it very clear that the reason that he was protesting the national anthem was because he felt that police officers in this country did not respect communities of color.

So at least to many of the players this is about race. To the President it is apparently not.

Let's put this in context. This reigniting of a controversy by the President on Friday night and into this weekend comes at a very interesting time where the White House is dealing with a lot of issues, not only on the legislative front with another attempted repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and a tax reform rollout set for later this week but also escalating tensions with North Korea.

At one point over the weekend, the President tweeting out that North Korea leadership may not be around much longer. So it's certainly curious that the President would pick this time to focus on this issue in this way.

Boris Sanchez, CNN -- at White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Joining me to talk more about this from Washington is Lynn Sweet. She's the Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun-Times". Hi Lynn -- thanks for talking with us.

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU SEAT, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": Hey, thanks for having me.

[00:10:00] ALLEN: Well, it was expected more players would join in the one-knee protest during football games and the national anthem. And that's exactly what happened.

You write for the "Chicago Sun Times". The Chicago Bears linked arms today while their opponent, the Steelers stayed in the locker room. So did the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans, by the way, in a show of solidarity for their teammates.

And a Chicago Bear statement from the chairman said in part, "The Chicago Bears are proud to support our players, coaches and all members of our organization to bring peace and unity together through football."

So what is your reaction to this?

SWEET: Well, my reaction is that the owners and the players appear unified. And this is, you know, management, you know, and staff, management and worker.

Donald Trump has been able to unite sometimes parts of professional football that don't always agree.

What is notable here I think for our listeners is that even though owners writ large of National Football Leagues in the United States often trend Republican, some of them are big donors to the party, Trump has not found any defenders here.

This is coming off as a self-inflicted wound for going after football players and by the way their mothers, using profane language which certainly didn't help create a calmer resolution to the administration before a big game day Sunday.

ALLEN: Right. You wonder if President Trump expected this reaction. That he would help bring support for the players and their teammates of all color and from players beyond football, now that it's spreading to basketball and baseball.

SWEET: And I expect it will go to all pro sports, maybe college level and beyond. You know, just think this started a few days ago on Friday at a rally and I think this context is important where President Trump was trying to rally the base for a interparty feud going on in the state of Alabama, a southern state. And that's when he started going after the football players for, as we now say in America, taking the knee. By the way, I don't know why we just don't call it kneeling but taking the knee.

This was just an unnecessary, divisive, polarizing line of attack/discussion. This is not most important thing going on in the Alabama senate race per se.

But here's another thing that's notable Natalie, President Trump had tried to make this about the flag. The original protester who took the knee, a football player by the name of Colin Kaepernick, he was protesting the treatment of African-Americans in the United States, particularly by police in cases of police violence. This did not start as anything having to do with the American flag and now President Trump has twisted this protest into something that never was.

ALLEN: Let's get your reaction though to something else that just happened. The moves by the Trump team on the travel ban. The Administration has announced new travel restrictions for nationals of eight countries including now Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. Is this a surprise?

SWEET: Well, I think North Korea is not a surprise. It wasn't on the original list of countries. You know, when this thing got started, we called it President Trump's Muslim ban. So clearly adding North Korea to the list is a reaction and stepped up action that the Trump administration is taking in the increasingly heated situation between the leaders of our two nations.

And the threat perhaps that North Korea might explode a nuclear weapon as I'm sure some of the listeners know in the last few days President Trump has stepped up his level of taunting calling the North Korea leader the little rocket man.

And this has only made a tough situation tougher. The North Koreans said that they don't like being insulted. I don't know how this is going to be cooled down in the days ahead. Or if there's any interest in the Trump administration in cooling things down.

ALLEN: It doesn't appear to be at this point.

Lynn Sweet, "Chicago Sun Times", thanks for spending some time with us. We appreciate you.

SWEET: Thank you.

ALLEN: A historic election in Germany. Angela Merkel will stay in as chancellor for a fourth term but now she's facing a far right party making political progress. What does she got to say about that?

We'll have a live report coming up here.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

[00:14:31] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) ALLEN: German political life is in for a historic change after Sunday's general election. The anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim party, Alternative for Germany or AFD, is projected to become the third largest party in the federal parliament.

That has infuriated protesters across Germany. They chanted, "Nazis out" and "Refugees are welcome." This will be the first time a far right party moved into Bundestag in over half a century.

Meanwhile Angela Merkel has secured her fourth term as chancellor but she is politically weaker now. The main traditional parties took a hit and Mrs. Merkel will likely have a hard time forming a coalition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): After 12 years, given our responsibility to govern, we as the union, I can say it's not obvious that we are the strongest party again.

But the AFD made it into the German Parliament. We will clearly analyze it. We wish to get the voters back in order to deal with good policy and also to take away their anxieties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is live for us in Berlin. And a new term for Angela Merkel, Fred but a new mix in parliament as well that she has to deal with.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she certainly does -- Natalie.

And it really is a new political reality that many Germans are waking up to here in Berlin as the sun is not even out. But certainly there's a lot of people who are looking at these elections results and I think many people think that on the one hand it's more of the same obviously with Angela Merkel staying in office. But then also a big political earthquake that many folks are waking up to.

And with me to talk about this is Dominic Thomas from UCLA. First of all, good morning -- many thanks for coming up this early.

[00:20:00] Let's talk first about Angela Merkel and the next four years. Is she going to be weaker than she was before? And what's that going to mean on the international stage?

DOMINIC THOMAS, FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA: Right. It's clear that just a few days ago, people are talking about Angela Merkel as sort of, you know, the leader of the free world.

And the polls were right all along that there were going to be more political parties entering the Bundestag which ultimately meant that here position and that of her coalition partners were going to be weakened.

At this particular juncture she faces a lot of uncertainty. I mean first of all, it's the political parties that were reelected here and we still have to see what kind of coalition she can create out of this.

But there's going to be a lot of movement and already the SPD, here coalition partner, has announced that they are no longer interested in working in a coalition. So there will be a completely new coalition formed, government structures, ministers and so on.

PLEITGEN: We talk about how she won reelection but at the same time -- well, most probably won re-election --

THOMAS: Right.

PLEITGEN: -- but at the same time, her party lost somewhere between 8 percent and - percent. I mean that's going to be quite troubling to her and will also make it more difficult for her next mandate for the next four years.

THOMAS: Right. And as we look at coalition partners, this is first of all, you know, the largest number of political parties that have ever entered the Bundestag. She's going to have to go into a coalition not just working with her own sister party, the CSU, but most likely with the FDP and the Greens.

So that's already going to be, you know, an incredibly complicated process to decide how these positions are going to be divided up.

And not only that but we see the rise of the far right, you know, AFD party that actually did extraordinarily well in the CSU's Bavaria region. So this is important too.

PLEITGEN: Yes. So the CSU -- the Bavarian wing if you will, the Christian Democrats, some 11 percent. They went from 49 percent to 38 percent. And another statistic that really has to blow someone's mind is that of male voters in the former east of Germany, the AFD, the new right-wing party is the strongest party. Where do you think that comes from?

THOMAS: Right. Well, not only the strongest party but if you look at the sort of the vote right down in the East, it's the second party after the CDU, CSU. This is quite extraordinary. It has tremendous appeal to male voters, appeal to people living in the former east.

And I think that the AFD had been incredibly astute at not only appealing to disenfranchised voters to the sort of status quo that was perceived.

I mean everybody knew that Merkel's party would be the leading party coming out of this election. But they've been very clever with that public phase that's appealing to the sort of German values, to the sort of people that have been left behind and to the advantages and benefit that's perceived to have been given to refugees and immigrants in this country. And this has particularly impacted lower income workers in their perceptions.

PLEITGEN: So what happens then? Because we've been talking a lot about, you know, the rise of the right in France the Front National. We've been talking about U.K. We've been talking about Donald Trump and some of that anti-immigrant feeling in America.

But people are always saying not in Germany. Germany is stable. But it seems that there are people who underestimated the right.

THOMAS: Right. And a very different system. In the French system, that's a winner take all system where the President is elected to office followed by parliamentary elections in which Emmanuel Macron did well.

In this particular system of proportional representation, the AFD will occupy a significant number of seats in the Bundestag. It was interesting last night that many Germans had almost a visceral reaction to the AFD's performance. They went out into the streets and demonstrated and they were eager to point out that 87 percent of Germans did not vote for the AFD.

The big challenge for the AFD is this new four-year-old political party goes forward is whether it's going to be able to exceed its kind of sort public, German identity, protectionist, anti-Islam identity or whether it's simply going to remain a protest party, the disenfranchised voters will go towards.

But I think that the Germans now have to get used to fact as the French have been wrestling with for many years now that the far right is going to shake the political debate in this country.

PLEITGEN: Dominic Thomas -- thank you very much for joining us. We'll be seeing you again this morning.

THOMAS: That's right.

PLEITGEN: So yes, as you can see, a big, big political shift that's gone on here in Germany. Certainly something I can tell you from having been here way late into the night last night -- Natalie.

Many people are talking about especially Dominic was just saying, the rise for the AFD. What that's going to mean for German political culture, not just in the next four years but possibly moving forward.

So it's going to be interesting to see. We're going to continue that debate as the morning comes here in Berlin. And certainly I'll be on with you in the next couple of hours.

ALLEN: All right. Yes, the sun is about to rise on a new day in Germany for sure. Fred Pleitgen for us -- thank you so much. We'll see you soon.

Well, in just about one hour, millions of Iraqi Kurds are expected to cast their votes on an independence referendum. The vote has triggered international concerns about fresh violence in Iraq even as the battle continues there against ISIS militants.

Turkey demanded the referendum be canceled fearing unrest among its own Kurdish minorities. The president of the Kurdistan regional government in northern Iraq dismissed the concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[00:25:05] MASOUD BARZANI, KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT PRESIDENT (through translator): With regards to Turkey saying that this referendum is a threat to its national security, I disagree with this. We're not a threat to its security.

Over the past 25 years we have proven to Turkey and to all other neighbors that we are a partner for stability and security, not a threat. We will continue to be a partner of stability and understanding and partnership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: CNN's Nima Elbagir is in Iraq and shows us where the border for and independent Kurdish region could be established.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Less than a year ago when all this was ISIS held territory. Now, you can see it's the key artery for the movement of people and goods between federal Iraq and the Kurdish region. This is also potentially where the world's newest border could be.

From 6:00 tonight we understand all of this will be closed off while the Kurdish people go to the polls to vote on whether they want to part of a united federal Iraq or to go it alone. The Kurds have been key, of course, to the fight against ISIS and there has been a barrage of international visitors in recent days from the U.S., the U.K., the European Union and the U.N., begging the Kurds to stave this off, to wait until after ISIS is finally pushed out of Iraqi territory.

But many of those Kurds we're speaking to, including key government officials, say that now is the time. That they have earned this; that Kurdish blood has been spilt enough to push back and protect Iraq. This is now their opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: We'll talk live with Nima in our next hour about the situation and this referendum.

Still ahead here a gunman opened fire o churchgoers leaving a prayer service in Tennessee. The latest on the deadly attack and man police call a hero.

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[00:30:00]

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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.

(HEADLINES)

ALLEN: CNN has learned that President Trump's son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, has used a private e-mail account on occasion to conduct official government business.

Kushner's lawyer says it did not happen very often and it usually involved forwarding news articles to White House colleagues.

But Athena Jones reports for us this could raise the interest of investigators in the Russia probe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's what we know. We know that Jared Kushner on occasion used a personal e-mail account, a private e- mail account, to communicate with administration officials. This is something that his lawyer has acknowledged.

We have a statement from Kushner's lawyer, Abby Lowell, who said that Kushner uses his White House e-mail address to conduct White House business but he went on to say that fewer than 100 e-mails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal e-mail account.

These usually forwarded news articles or political commentary and most often occurred when someone initiated the exchange by sending an e- mail to his personal rather than his White House address.

So Kushner's lawyer is saying that there's nothing wrong here, nothing, nothing -- no evildoing in all of this. It's important to note that we're talking about a private e-mail address, not a private e-mail server, which was the issue with Hillary Clinton.

You'll remember that on the campaign trail, candidate Trump spent a good deal of time attacking Hillary Clinton on this issue of her use of a private server, using it to try to raise questions about her credibility and her trustworthiness, saying that her use of this private server showed she had something to hide.

This is different, this is a private e-mail account; still, this is likely to be controversial, at least in some quarters. It's odd to see a senior adviser decide to go this route, to have any communications with other -- with government officials business through -- on government business using a personal account.

And the issue -- the issue here, the concern is that use of a personal e-mail could go against the Presidential Records Act, which requires that government business, government messages be archived in some way.

Now Kushner's lawyer, Abby Lowell, says there's nothing to worry about there, either; he says all non-personal emails were forwarded to Kushner's official address and all have been preserved in any event.

So Kushner's lawyer saying that there was no wrongdoing. But given the various investigations in to the 2016 election meddling and Russia's role in that and whether there were any Trump aides or associates who were directly involved, it is possible that some of those investigators, whether on Capitol Hill in the congressional committees or at the FBI might have an interest in Kushner's private e-mail traffic. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Athena Jones for us there.

Another story we're following: a masked gunman opened fire at a church in the southern U.S., killing one person and wounding seven others. Police say this man shot and killed a woman in the church parking lot in Tennessee Sunday, then went into the building and shot people at random. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launching a civil rights investigation into this deadly church shooting. Investigators in Tennessee alleging that Emanuel Samson --

[00:35:00]

SANDOVAL: -- a 25-year-old man, arrived at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, after Sunday service armed with two weapons and opened fire. Investigators say the 25-year-old man shot and killed a woman in the parking lot before making his way into the sanctuary.

That's where he was reportedly confronted by Robert Engle (ph), a 22- year-old usher, who was licensed to carry a firearm. Investigators saying that there was a brief struggle between the two, at which point the suspect then pistol-whipped this 22-year-old usher, who then went to the parking lot for his weapon.

As soon as he returned, that's when investigators say the suspect was apparently wounded himself before investigators moved in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I would say about Mr. Robert Engle (ph), the usher, he physically engaged the shooter and, during the struggle, the shooter was shot. At this time we don't know exactly how that happened, whether he shot himself or whether the gun discharged during the struggle.

Mr. Engle sustained serious injuries himself and he's the hero. He's the person that (INAUDIBLE) so we're very, very grateful to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: Investigators say six people inside the sanctuary at the time were injured; they are expected to recover. As for the suspect, we're told he has already recovered from his injuries and expected to face murder and attempted murder charges.

So as this state investigation continues, trying to establish a motive, federal investigators also joining in on the case -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: And coming up here, desperation deepens in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria knocked out power and cellphone towers. We'll look at what people are doing to try and get in touch with their loved ones.

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ALLEN: In Puerto Rico, most areas still do not have running water or power after Hurricane Maria pummeled the U.S. commonwealth last week. Not only that, many residents are having a hard time still reaching their loved ones because most of the cellphone towers are not working. Here's more now from CNN's Leyla Santiago in San Juan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From above, the images tell the story of Maria's destruction. But on the ground, the faces tell the story of its desperation, as many on this island of 3.5 million people struggle to reach their loved ones.

JOSE FLORES, MARIA SURVIVOR: Well, this is the only place where we could get a signal.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): On this highway overpass, dozens pull over, hoping that this spot is the one to reunite family, if only by voice.

Jose Flores drove for hours to get here, to get to cell service, to get to tell his daughter in Florida one thing.

FLORES: I just want to tell that my family and now that we're fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO (voice-over): For others, borrowed satellite phones are their last hope.

SANTIAGO: People are trying --

[00:40:00]

SANTIAGO: -- anything they can to reach out. This note, handwritten, was passed along to our photographer in hopes that it would reach a loved one.

It says, among other things, "Tony OK. Tony at Frank's house and love you all." UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Later that day we were able to get a call out to his girlfriend in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it was just such a relief. Neither I nor his family has really slept all week, just worrying about him.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): An SEC report found 96 percent of cell towers in Puerto Rico are not working. The government here says it's trying to figure out which towers need generators and fuel to start working again.

A small sign of hope on this island with so much to rebuild, for many here, the first chance to talk is the first step to recovery -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: What a long wait for so many people. One of my good friends, her mother was there; she hadn't heard from her since. Finally got through to her mother. Her mother said, look at that, all gaps. She said it was a monster, a big monster. She was locked in her bathroom for 12 hours.

You were there, you felt and saw it.

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DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Of course, we've been talking a lot about the dam that had a near failure earlier in the work week. And unfortunately, with additional rainfall in the forecast, that could lead to more stresses, more cracks and a complete collapse of the dam if they're not careful. So still 70,000 people evacuated in and around the Guajataca Dam in northwest Puerto Rico.

ALLEN: When you see the picture of that rushing water, you have to remind viewers the dam hasn't broken yet. That's just the situation now.

VAN DAM: That's right. But it could collapse if more rain comes.

ALLEN: All right. Thanks, Derek.

We're back at the top of the hour with more news. Now stay with us for "WORLD SPORT." Thanks for watching.