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Trump White House; Hurricane Maria Aftermath; Mysterious Sonic Attacks at Cuban Embassy; Kurdish Referendum; Battle against ISIS; Puerto Rican Town Desperate for Aid; Catalonia Referendum. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired September 30, 2017 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): After much speculation and guesswork, President Trump's health secretary resigns over the private flights he took on the taxpayers' dime.

Also --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're tied up here because we don't have IV antibiotics to give the patients and we have no place to get them.

ALLEN (voice-over): Our chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, finds out just how hard it is to get life-saving medicines for patients in Puerto Rico.

And the U.S. government takes action after a wave of mysterious sonic attacks against diplomats in Cuba.


ALLEN (voice-over): Welcome the to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. We're live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Our top story, U.S. President Donald Trump dealing with two major issues this weekend.

One, the resignation of U.S. health chief Tom Price. Price came under fire for using private jets to fly around the country when commercial jets would be much cheaper for taxpayers.

Then, there is the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria 11 days ago. The president says the federal response has been going well but many Puerto Ricans are saying they've been waiting for help to arrive. We'll get back to the situation in Puerto Rico in a moment. But first, our Jeff Zeleny takes a closer look at the latest casualty on Mr. Trump's team. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The first member of President Trump's cabinet is removed from that position. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price submitted his resignation late Friday here at the White House. President Trump accepted it.

This is all over about $1 million worth of airfare that raised questions. About half of that were private flights; the other half, military flights, simply going against the grain of what cabinet secretaries at that level normally do.

This follows day after day after day of controversy here, the president saying he was displeased by this. We asked him before the resignation earlier today if he had confidence in his secretary.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a question of confidence. I was disappointed because I didn't like it cosmetically or otherwise. So I don't like to see somebody that perhaps has the perception that it wasn't right.


ZELENY: So clearly it was the optics here that President Trump was so concerned about. Now this is something that is just the beginning. There are multiple investigations into these flights and others.

Now on Friday evening, the Director of Office of Management and Budget issued a new order, saying the White House chief of staff should look into all of these flights across the cabinet, saying common sense should prevail, thinks just because it's legal does not mean it should be actually done. This is something that flies in the face of what the president was trying to do to drain the swamp, simply a waste of taxpayer money.

But this is, again, another hole in the president's cabinet -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: And this week was supposed to be about tax reform. But, instead, Mr. Trump had a cabinet official resign in disgrace and took a lot of heat for his response for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. With me now to talk about it is Steven Erlanger, the London bureau chief for "The New York Times," who is joining us by Skype from Brussels, Belgium.

Steven, thank you for joining us.


ALLEN: First of all, I want to get your reaction to what Tom Price did and losing his job over it, taking these private jets that cost the taxpayers of the United States up to $1 million. ERLANGER: I have to say, it's pretty amusing. We know Trump loved his own private jet much more than Air Force One. He's been very disparaging about Air Force One. Maybe it's no surprise that others in his cabinet have similar tastes.

It was very insensitive. I mean, if this is draining the swamp, maybe one should clear the skies.

And there are other issues like that. Betsy DeVos, another cabinet member, flies in her own private plane. Now she says that doesn't cost the taxpayer anything. But the question is whether an American servant of the people should be flying around as if they run a little empire of their own.

ALLEN: Right. And it's not just these you mentioned; Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, he's a very, very wealthy man who requested a private jet to go on his honeymoon.

And there are others on the cabinet that are being investigated for this. It's kind of egregious behavior and so far afield from public service and what you mentioned, Donald Trump going to Washington to drain the swamp.

And you wonder where is the organization, where is the ethics?


ERLANGER: This is really part of it. It's a question of discipline in the White House and John Kelly is trying to --


ERLANGER: -- provide some discipline. It's not so easy.

Now sometimes cabinet members have to travel quickly and they have to travel, you know, as best they can. And it's not always easy to fly commercial, as you know, from one place to another. So I don't think all of it is bad.

But the optics are bad for someone who came to Washington, promising to be different. The tax reform question is very similar.

I mean, is it really going to be a tax reform -- we don't really know -- that benefits the middle class, as Mr. Trump promised, or benefits the wealthy like himself?

That's a serious question.

ALLEN: And that's up next on the docket.

Let's move to the Puerto Rican situation. The president bragged about the great job his administration is doing there. But millions are without power, food, water, fuel. And the desperate mayor of San Juan pleaded to someone to help -- and I'm quoting her -- "Help us. We are dying."

Let's listen to President Trump's take on how he views his administration's work in Puerto Rico.


TRUMP: As far as Puerto Rico is concerned, that's been going, as you know, really well. It's been total devastation. We have over 10,000 people in Puerto Rico right now.

We're getting truck drivers because the people from Puerto Rico, the drivers just aren't there. They're looking for their homes. They have a lot of other problems. Likewise with the police force. But I think it's going really well, considering.


ALLEN: Quite a different tune from the mayor, though.

What do you make of that disconnect?

ERLANGER: Well, I'm not there, you know, and it is very hard for emergency services, after so much trouble in Houston and the hurricanes and now Puerto Rico, I'm sure they're overstretched.

I mean, I don't want to, you know, diss the efforts of those people trying to help those in Puerto Rico. I think the people of Puerto Rico are right to raise questions that prompts the government to do more.

I'm sure in some ways that Trump is right. But it's also certainly true that the people of Puerto Rico need as much help as they can. After all, they really are -- you know, they belong to us.

ALLEN: Right. And they remind that and they want us to pay attention to them. So hopefully they'll get the relief that they need. Steven Erlanger, as always, thank you for your thoughts.

ERLANGER: Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: The Trump administration is confident that hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico are on track, as you just heard, and people on the island are recovering. That rosy assessment does not quite square with many Puerto Ricans, as we were just talking about, who are waiting in long lines, as you see here, for food, water, fuel and cash, if those things are even available.

CNN correspondents are all across Puerto Rico. Leyla Santiago has an emotional reunion with her family in Corozal. We'll bring you her report in just a moment.

But first, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on the difficulty hospitals face trying to get medicine and supplies.


DR. ASTRID MORALES, VOLUNTEER: We're tied up here because we don't have IV antibiotics to give the patients and we have no place to get them. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I kept thinking to myself, how difficult could this be?

If these life-saving supplies are on the island of Puerto Rico, why aren't they getting to the people who need them?

What's standing in the way of that happening?

And can I make it happen myself?

The first place I'm going to try are these DMAT tents, disaster management assistance team, the HHS. This is the federal government. See what they have to offer.

I was with the doctors yesterday who were volunteering and this is what they were asking for.

OK. So we've been waiting about 45 minutes now outside the HHS tent. We know that they have medications. What we heard is that they got to run it up to lines of command, two chains of command, and then they get back to us.

But, again, it's been 45 minutes.

How are you doing?

We're going to go and try somewhere else.

We're trying to get to some of these medications because we went to some of the shelters --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can get some here.

GUPTA: Is there medications here?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have the medications just arrive.

GUPTA: OK. OK. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

GUPTA: Because the hospitals have been slow to start back up, these are all volunteer doctors over here, who have basically come, trying to gather supplies and take it out to the people who need it. They're trying their best. It's a slow process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

GUPTA: OK, OK. Yes, if we can get a few doses, we will take it over there.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have only some of the antibiotics (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need it also.

GUPTA: Yes, that would be great.


GUPTA: All right. Perfect. OK, Doctor, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other one I will give you --

GUPTA: Appreciate it. Thank you.


GUPTA: It's all about getting the supplies and then getting them to the people who need it. These come from an organization called Direct Relief. You can see they're set up right underneath this parking structure with all these medications.

We got them. Now we're going to take --

GUPTA: What Dr. Morales asked was that we get these medications and see if we could bring it to this clinic, this hospital. This is one of those places that is up and running. But without these medications, they haven't been really able to take care of patients.

Dr. Rodriguez, I was told to bring you this.

DR. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

GUPTA: These are --

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

GUPTA: Let me tell you what we have. There's all sorts of antibiotics, primarily. But Dr. Morales said that you were needing a lot of this.


GUPTA: Is that true?


GUPTA: How are you getting -- you can go through it. And there's also pediatrics.

Well, I hope this helps.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, a lot. Thank you.

GUPTA: You're doing great work here. Keep doing what you're doing.

It's like a little baby.


GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Loiza, Puerto Rico.


ALLEN: Every little bit helps, doesn't it?

The mayor of San Juan is furious that so many Puerto Ricans are still suffering. Carmen Yulin-Cruz told my colleague, Anderson Cooper, that she's, quote, "mad as hell" at the government's slow and inefficient response. She warns that lives are hanging in the balance.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You said you're mad as hell earlier today. Tonight you're wearing a T-shirt, says, "Help us, we're dying. That's really happening.



COOPER: That is not a metaphor?

YULIN-CRUZ: No, it's not a metaphor. If you go also inside the island, it's very important that people know people are drinking out of creeks.

Here in (INAUDIBLE) San Juan, you have people that are in buildings. And they're sort of becoming caged in their own buildings, old people, retired people, that just don't have any electricity.

We've taken 37 people out in the last two days from retirement homes. Some of them have been left to die. They are -- they have no dialysis or nothing of the sort. So it is dying.

COOPER: How are you holding up?

I mean, you must be, you've been working nonstop.

YULIN-CRUZ: My house got flooded. It got cleaned up. Everything inside is lost. I'm staying at the coliseum, (INAUDIBLE) we have the largest refugee station in all of Puerto Rico, 685 people. We have --

COOPER: That's where you're staying? YULIN-CRUZ: That's where I'm staying with my family. We're sleeping on cots. We're eating the same food that refugees are eating and we're doing the best we can. And I'm getting -- whatever -- I'm exhausted, I can tell you that.

But you know what?

I have to get the voice of our people out there. I lived in the United States for 12 years. I went to school there, I had my child there in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I know what the U.S. heart is all about.

You know, you are intelligent, daring people. So I just don't understand why things have become so complicated and the logistics are so insurmountable.

COOPER: I got to say, it hurts me so much to hear so many people on this island say to me and say to reporters, we're Americans. We're Americans. That they have to explain that as if we shouldn't know that. I mean, that -- I just find that so -- I mean, I think it says something about the way people here feel about the way things have been handled.

YULIN-CRUZ: There is a lot of linked history. There is a lot of cross moving. There's people in Orlando, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston. Every time there is a problem, we are a kind of people that share our sorrows but also share our triumphs.

And we just don't understand. And, sorry, maybe I'm too tired. I get a little emotional. But you know, we're dying here. We truly are dying here. And I keep saying it, SOS. If anyone can hear us, if Mr. Trump can hear us, let's just get it over with and get the ball rolling.

You know?

When you have to do an emergency tracheotomy, you're not concerned if whether you're doing it with is the actual correct and precise knife.

COOPER: You just want things done.

YULIN-CRUZ: You just want things done. You know, sometimes you got to build a plane as you go along.

I was supposed to go to a FEMA distribution center that is in Canova (ph). That's about 30-40 miles from San Juan when there's one in Bayalon (ph) that's about 20 miles. And the answer was, well, that's how the plan was done.

Well, you know, the great plans of mice and men. Things have to change.


YULIN-CRUZ: We're going to move fast. And, frankly, we have to show the world that we can do it. And, in that respect, I want to thank all of you people from the news that have been doing such a great job and amplifying our voices and making sure people know that we're here and that we count on you to get our voice out there.

COOPER: There's a lot of people counting on you, Mayor. Thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it.

YULIN-CRUZ: Thank you very much.


ALLEN: The mayor of San Juan. She's a tough cookie, living in a shelter with her family and working so hard for the people there.

For some of our reporters, the devastation in Puerto Rico is personal. Leyla Santiago is based in Mexico for CNN but was born and raised in the town of Corozal, about 40 kilometers southwest of San Juan. While reporting, she made it back to the place she calls home. Here is her story.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is relief, seeing my family in Corozal for the first time, hearing them tell me they're OK.

(Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO: That's the relief I found in this small town, but it's far from the relief needed on this island.

At the shelter in Corozal, a school, we find more than 120 people living in classrooms. The generator went out six days ago. No power, no water and the staff tells us they have people here with cancer, HIV, diabetes, children with asthma like three-year-old Joanne.

SANTIAGO: She walks everyday about 15 minutes to get therapy for her daughter who has asthma. She's three and a half years old and needs medical attention she's not getting here.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): We then find Francisca Rivera, she has Parkinson's disease. Haven't had access to the medicine she need indeed.

SANTIAGO: She's crying because she doesn't know about her family.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Desperation is growing. People are waiting in line to get water from mountain streams.

SANTIAGO: He says they can live without power but they can't live without water, that's why they're filling spring water from the mountain side to take a bath, to cook, to eat. People are even resorting to washing clothes like this.

This is Juana. She's been here since this morning washing clothes. Five to six hours cleaning clothes, she tells me.

I'm asking her, where is the help? She says there's no help. No help has arrived here.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): No help at all, none from the local government, residents say, nor from FEMA, which has only been here to do an assessment, not to deliver any aid. The people of Corozal are now in survival mode waiting for their relief -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, Puerto Rico.


ALLEN: There have been so many people around the world doing their best to help out. And if you want to find out how you, too, can help, the people in Puerto Rico and around the Caribbean, be sure to go to our website,

You can donate to one of the charities we have vetted or you can volunteer your time. Find out more about it right there.

The United States is slashing its embassy staff in Cuba after mysterious sonic attacks on American diplomats. Cuba says it's not to blame. We'll have a report from Havana.

Plus, both Russia and the U.S. want him dead but ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi may still be calling the shots. We have got a new audio recording for you to listen to -- ahead.






ALLEN: The U.S. is drastically cutting its embassy staff in Cuba after mysterious sonic attacks made some diplomats ill. The State Department is warning Americans not to travel to the island, saying they could also be at risk. CNN's Patrick Oppmann has our report from Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just two years after the reestablishment of full diplomatic ties, the U.S. embassy in Havana has seen better days. Hurricane Irma battered much of Cuba and Havana's seafront boulevard where the embassy is located.

U.S. diplomats are still picking up from the storm and now are facing another calamity. Diplomats' families and nonessential personnel are being ordered to return to the U.S. after at least 21 members of the embassy staff were targeted by what U.S. officials say could have been sonic attacks.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have it under evaluation. It's a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered. We've brought some of those people home.

OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. officials believe that, starting last November, devices that emit sonic waves could have targeted U.S. diplomats while they were in their homes or staying in hotels. Who is behind the attacks and the motive is still unclear. Cuban officials deny responsibility and say they are investigating the incidents.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA, CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Cuba has never perpetrated not will it ever perpetrate actions of this sort, nor has Cuba allowed or will it ever allow its territory to be used by third parties for that purpose.

OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. officials say they believe the Cubans know more than they are saying and what they call rogue elements of the island's formidable intelligence services could be involved.

OPPMANN: Not long after the U.S. complained to the Cuban government about the attacks, Raul Castro himself personally promised American diplomats that Cuba would investigate the incidents. The FBI was allowed to come to Havana and security increased at U.S. diplomats' homes. But U.S. officials say still the attacks continued.

OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. officials say, as a result of the attacks, they will stop issuing visas to Cubans effective immediately and issue a travel warning to Americans --


OPPMANN (voice-over): -- thinking of visiting Cuba.

Despite the harassment, both current and former U.S. diplomats say now is the wrong time to lessen the U.S. presence on the communist-run island.

VICKI HUDDLESTON, FORMER CHIEF U.S. DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN HAVANA: It is the worst possible thing that could happen to both countries. And what worries me more than anything is that hard-liners on the Cuban side and the U.S. side might be behind pushing this idea.

OPPMANN (voice-over): U.S. officials say their first priority has to be to keep U.S. personnel and their families safe. But they concede that American diplomats leaving Cuba could be just what the people behind these mystery attacks were hoping to accomplish -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


ALLEN: The Iraqi central government is making good on its threat to shut down international flights to the Kurdistan region. It is in retaliation for an independence vote this week, in which Kurds chose overwhelmingly to split from Baghdad.

The central government views the vote as unconstitutional and the Kurds have little international support for their independence bid.

Now the Kurds have been key in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and their independence bid comes after a string of major losses for ISIS. The jihadists aren't calling it quits yet, though. There's new evidence their leader is still alive and calling for more attacks. Our Brian Todd has that.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been called a ghost and the invisible sheikh. So mysterious, only this one video from 2014 exists of him. For months, the Russian government had said he was dead. Tonight, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of ISIS, is apparently alive and calling on what's left of his terrorist army to attack the U.S. and its allies.

ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI, HEAD, ISIS (through translator): Carry on your jihad, your blessed operations. Let not the crusaders enjoy life in their homelands while your brothers are subjected to bombardment and destruction.

TODD: The new audio message running more than 45 minutes is, experts say, a clear directive.

Any doubt that that's a call for ISIS to launch attacks inside America?

AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA ANALYST: What ISIS wants to do is show that they are a virile, powerful organization. And what better way to show that is to lunch attacks wherever these folks are, whether it's in the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, or elsewhere. And so, this is Baghdadi in the bunker.

TODD: U.S. intelligence officials tell CNN they have no reason to doubt the tape's authenticity. The message does appear to have been recorded recently. It references the nuclear threat from North Korea and current Syrian peace talks. What's not clear is why the message was released now. Could Baghdadi be trying to regain command and control?

PERITZ: We know that he had delegated a lot of his efforts to his underlings. His successor has been trying to get things going in a lot of places. But as we've seen, pushing out for complex operations such we saw in France and in the U.K. and elsewhere is extremely difficult.

TODD: A U.S. official tells CNN the American-led coalition has tried to take several shots at Baghdadi in recent months and thought they had their best shot at killing him in a recent airstrike.

But getting him has proven challenging. Baghdadi is said to have an obsession with his own security. Analysts say he covers his face, even when meeting with his most trusted lieutenants and makes them place cell phones in a lead-lined box. But experts say he's also got an Achilles heel.

MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": And his personal proclivities I've heard -- I've heard it from various sources might give the game away. For instance, Baghdadi has kept a consortium of sex slaves. He's taken Yazidi women, some of whom -- one of whom at least has escaped his clutches as his own personal chattel.

TODD: If he's alive, which the new tape suggests, the ISIS leader could be running out of places to hide. The coalition says more than 33,000 square miles of territory in Syria and Iraq are clear of ISIS and more than 6 million people have been freed from ISIS control.

Analysts say this audio message could only intensify the coalition's hunt for Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, that intelligence agencies are combing through the audio for any potential clues to his whereabouts. If they can successfully target him, it might put ISIS even more on the ropes. As one expert put it, of a potential replacement for Baghdadi, all the usually suspects have been killed -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: We'll return to one of our top stories in a moment: food, water, electricity, Puerto Ricans face chronic shortages of them all. But the one thing they need most, fuel for their cars and generators. That is not happening for many of them.

Look at that. We've got more coming right up here. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.


ALLEN: It has been a week and a half since the hurricane turned life upside down across the Caribbean. In Puerto Rico, daily routines have been put on hold as people search for basic goods. Most of the island is without power and only about half of the people have access --


ALLEN: -- to clean water. Our Anderson Cooper is outside the capital, where trying to buy gasoline is an all-day ordeal.


COOPER (voice-over): In Loiza, gas stations are open, but the lines are long and agonizingly slow. It's 91 degrees and Gloribeth Munoz is trying her best to stay cool.

COOPER (on camera): So, how long have you been waiting here?

GLORIBETH MUNOZ, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT (translated): Sitting in the car since 5:00 am.

COOPER: Since 5:00 am.

And just sitting here in the car?


COOPER (voice-over): Felicita Ferria (ph) can't sit in her car any longer. She's been waiting for nearly ten hours.

I've been here since 4:30 am, she says. We're just waiting for the generator to turn on. They turned it off because it got overheated.

When the generator starts again, so does the pumping. Like most places in Puerto Rico, here cash is king. Credit cards can't be processed, so dollars rule the day.

COOPER (on camera): A lot of people can't even bring their cars here. They're just waiting in line in person with as many gas cans as they can, but this line, there are dozens of people and it stretches all the way down here. And a lot of people here have been waiting for hours as well.

What's it like?

I mean, just day to day?

GISEL TORRES, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: Well, I haven't been able to come back. Even my boss said, don't come back unless you have gas just for our risk. But during the day, we have from 6:00 am all the way to 7:00 p.m. to be out in the streets looking for whatever you can so that --

COOPER: That's how you spend your days basically, looking for stuff, water --

TORRES: Yes, yes.

COOPER: Gas, food, anything.

TORRES: Right now, today, it's just gas.

COOPER (voice-over): Slowly, the cars inch forward. Felicita is close with cash in hand.

Loiza's deputy mayor says the needs are overwhelming and it all starts with the need for gas.

DEPUTY MAYOR LUIS ESCOBAR, LOIZA, PUERTO RICO: This is the chain, right. This is one piece. This is another piece. No fuel, no work, no money.

COOPER (on camera): It's all connected.


COOPER: People are patient, but they're tired and fed up.

FRANCIS FELTON, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: I don't understand what's -- why things are so drastic and so out of control. It's just gas. We have gasoline, so why isn't there in the stations?

COOPER: Do you see relief supplies coming? Do you see the federal government coming?


COOPER (voice-over): Felicita finally makes it to the front. Fuel is no longer being rationed, so she can fill her tank and a small gas can as well.

She drives off happy. Tomorrow, she'll look for water and other basic necessities. The line inches forward. It's another car's turn at the pump -- Anderson Cooper, CNN, Loiza.


ALLEN: They certainly seem like very patient people in that situation.

CNN's Ivan Watson is in the town of Florida, Puerto Rico, where the U.S. aid agency, FEMA, is bringing much needed supplies. Residents there have been lacking the basics -- food, water and electricity -- and desperately need help. Here is his report.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to Florida -- Florida, Puerto Rico.

Like so many other communities on this American island, this town suffers from fuel shortages and the collapse of many other utilities.

NORMA BRUNO, RESIDENT OF FLORIDA, PUERTO RICO: There's no water in the house. No telephone, no Internet, nothing.

WATSON (on camera): Have you seen any --

BRUNO: People from government? No.

WATSON: Officials?

BRUNO: No. No one. No one. No one pass from any neighborhood. No,

WATSON (voice-over): One neighborhood in Florida is struggling with an additional problem.

(on camera): This is -- are these fish in the road?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Fish in the road.

WATSON: You've got fish in the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Really big one.

WATSON (voice-over): A flood.

(on camera): This town is up in the hills. Nowhere near the coast and yet somehow, the storm backed up a nearby creek creating this flood that has inundated dozens of families' homes. Among those now homeless, Edith Negron.

EDITH NEGRON, RESIDENT OF FLORIDA, PUERTO RICO: We lose everything. First floor and second floor, everything is gone. Everything is gone.

WATSON (voice-over): She's now living with her son and family in a local government shelter. The municipality provided this pump to suck out thousands of gallons of flood water and it's distributing fuel to volunteers like George Pagan, who is using his own equipment to help clear debris.

Much of the cleanup here is also being done by ordinary citizens.

During our visit the mayor of Florida appeared accompanied by officials from FEMA, the Federal Disaster Relief Agency. The mayor tells a FEMA representative he's worried the flood could spread disease. Residents made homeless by the storm have their own questions for FEMA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your sources for like food wise and gas wise --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and water?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That need that the mayor reported to us we're reporting back to San Juan and somebody --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how long will that take?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are the first to come here, apparently, so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because for us to move back in here, because it's black water, it's full of black water.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no type of moving back in there.


WATSON: FEMA's first visit to Florida comes nine days after the storm.

CAROLINE CUDDY, FEMA: We've said this is the first many visits. FEMA is not going to forget about this community. FEMA is not going to forget about the needs that they have and we are going to work with our people back at the field office in San Juan about what we're going to do.

WATSON: The people here could sure use some more help -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Florida, Puerto Rico.


ALLEN: So we're talking about lack of the basics, all they're trying to do, to survive right now.


ALLEN: Ahead here, another key member of Trump White House out of a job. We're on the scandal that finished off Health Secretary Tom Price.





ALLEN: Add another name to the list of former Trump administration officials. U.S. Health Secretary Tom Price is the latest departure and his resignation comes amid scandal. Here is CNN's Rene Marsh.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the end, it was the same type of lavish private jet flights that Tom Price railed about as a congressman that brought him down.

TOM PRICE, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I think we have made it halfway where we ought to and that is cut it from eight to four jets. Now we need to cut it from four jets to zero jets. This is just another expect of fiscal irresponsibility run amok in Congress right now.

MARSH: As secretary of health and human services, Price spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on private planes and hundreds of thousands more when he and his wife flew on military jets for two international trips from Liberia, Germany, Switzerland, to China, Vietnam and Japan, racking up a bill in the neighborhood of $1 million since August.

His wife reimbursed the government for her flights and Price said he would repay just over $51,000, a fraction of the total cost. Price also went on FOX News to try to make amendments.

PRICE: And I look forward to gaining -- regaining the trust that the American people, some of the American people may have lost in the activities that I took and to not only regain the trust of the American people, but gain the trust of the administration and the president.

MARSH: Price was just one of the Cabinet secretaries whose travel is being scrutinized. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke all under scrutiny.

Today, Zinke firing back.

RYAN ZINKE, U.S. INTERIOR SECRETARY: I would just like to address, in the words of General Schwarzkopf, a little B.S. on travel.

MARSH: Zinke says his agency did extensive due diligence before taking three charter flights, as well as a military flight. The cost of the private jets, at least $15,000.

ZINKE: Using tax dollars wisely and ethically is the greatest responsibility and is at the good heart of good government. And there are times, however, we have to utilize charter services because we often travel in areas and under circumstances that we don't have other flight options.

MARSH: The question of whether there were other options is at the heart of some of the internal probes. A source tells CNN, the Treasury inspector general is now focusing on the process of approving travel and whether some flimsy excuses are being used to justify costly travel.


ALLEN: Rene Marsh reporting there.

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson has arrived in Beijing for top level talks with Chinese officials. He's expected to meet with President Xi Jinping in the coming hours. On the agenda: trade and investment as well as the increasing tensions with North Korea.

They will also discuss preparations for U.S. president Donald Trump's upcoming visit in November.

Some call it justice. Others say it's civil disobedience. But just about everyone in Spain has something to say about Sunday's independence vote in Catalonia. We'll have reaction from both sides -- coming up here.






ALLEN: In Spain's restless region of Catalonia, people are gearing up for a contested referendum on independence, something separatists there have wanted for years. But the Spanish government deemed Sunday's planned vote illegal and has deployed police to prevent it.

Still, campaigners for Catalan independence vow to proceed. The ballot will ask if voters want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic. If a majority vote yes, Catalonia's parliament will declare independence from Spain within 48 hours. If a majority vote no, an early election will be called to form a new regional government.

We sent our Isa Soares to Spain to get a closer look at how both sides view this hotly debated referendum.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A sea of red, yellow and blue screams to be heard.

These are the yells of defiance.

"We will vote. We will vote," a message the central government of Mariano Rajoy --


SOARES (voice-over): -- who, in the last week, has been accused here of (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SOARES (voice-over): "He has lost his democratic compass," tells me this man, "and he thinks he can stop this with the use of force and the courts in a perverse manner."

Earlier in the day if the streets of Barcelona, that anger and frustration was matched by the deepest desire to vote, come what may.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

"We're going to vote with carnation," tells me this lady, "with flowers. And there will be no type of violence. No one will stop me because we're so many. I don't think they can do anything."

SOARES: According to the Catalonian government, some 150 referendum websites have been suspended. What this has led to is the creation of more traditional campaigning, right here on the streets of Barcelona.

People can approach, asking for information regarding polling stations, which ones are open from what time and, critically, they can collect their official ballot paper.

SOARES (voice-over): This is a grassroots referendum, too, with people occupying polling stations like this school to make sure that police cannot close it and (INAUDIBLE) stop them from voting.

"The option to vote yes or to vote no is up to each person," he says, "and what we want above all else is to vote. We want to manifest our opinion and our desire as a people." But a look towards the Barcelona port suggests the central government

of Madrid has other plans. Here are reinforcements, as many as 7,000 police officers awaiting to be deployed to stop a referendum the central government calls unconstitutional and illegal.

But while the (INAUDIBLE) may be ready to trash the party, Catalonians now are celebrating in the hope that, on October the 1st, they'll be finally heard -- Isa Soares, CNN, Barcelona.


ALLEN: We have another hour of CNN NEWSROOM just ahead right after the break. I'm Natalie Allen. Please stay with us.