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AT THIS HOUR
Interview with Texas Rep. Al Green; 13 Million People Under Flood Watches, Warnings in Texas and Louisiana; Harvey Unleashing Heaviest Rain on Beaumont, Texas; 11 People Trapped in Home in Texas Awaiting Help; Interview with Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired August 28, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] REP. AL GREEN, (D), TEXAS (via telephone): I just got off the phone with the mayor and Red Cross was on with him. They have emergency evacuations taking place in part of my district. They have hundreds of people that are going to have to be sheltered. They are trying to pull together the shelters as quickly as possible, bring in cots, bring in water, bring in food. These things have to be done almost instantly sometimes. We are responding as best we can.
I'm grateful to the Red Cross. I'm grateful to what FEMA is doing at this point. It's difficult. It's not easy. We want to make sure everybody is taken care of. As you may know out in this area, we had a lot of tornadic activity. As a result, people have been hurt in their homes. But we have a river about to overflow. That's why there's a mandatory evacuation.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: You mentioned there are emergency evacuations going on. Do you think the mayor should have ordered evacuations earlier?
GREEN: If you are talking the city of Houston now, icon cur with what the mayor did and I understand what many people are expressing. I was also around when we had Rita in 2005. At that time, people were out on the roads. When you evacuate millions from Houston, Texas, where is over 600 square miles, they have to get some distance away. This was an extraordinary circumstance with a hurricane that was far reaching. And we didn't know exactly which way it was going to go. It was a dynamic circumstance. With Rita, people were out on the road, 200 or 300 million people. People with heat strokes. We had people literally fighting. There was a bus with persons from the nursing home that caught fire. People literally lost their lives out on the roads trying to get to another city.
So, the mayor has the resources here. Trying to get resources to people on the road, in cars, don't know what the weather is going to be like, out of gas, it can be very difficult. It's a challenge. I think the mayor made the right call. There will always be people who second guess. If you have one million people on the roads trying to take care of them and resources here in Houston, Texas, it can be very difficult.
BROWN: Congressman Al Green, thank you for coming on the show.
GREEN: Thank you very much.
BROWN: Much more rain on the way for a region already suffering from devastating floods. A live update on where the storm is headed, up next.
[11:36:37] BROWN: Some 13 million people are under flood watches and warnings across Texas and Louisiana as we speak, with rainfall in many areas measured by feet rather than inches.
CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers is monitoring Tropical Storm Harvey and joins us live from the Weather Center.
What is the latest forecast, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The latest forecast is for the center of Harvey, not an eye, because it's not a hurricane, to move back offshore into the warm Gulf of Mexico waters and be out there for 48 hours trying to gather more strength.
Here is the map on where the rain has already fell. There's Houston. Everywhere you see white, that is 20 or more. So far, to the southeast of Houston, 34.8 inches of rainfall since this time last week. Really, it's all been Harvey.
Here comes the rain again. This is the latest radar. It's raining into Louisiana, Baton Rouge and toward New Orleans. Not too much rain in New Orleans right now, but we will watch all that because we know of the problems with the pumps. There's a new flash warning for Houston, not the one issued the day before or the day before that. A brand new one, because it is raining again. A couple inches in Houston. They need zero inches. They'll get two or three. Unlike Beaumont, Port Arthur picked up eight inches overnight, about eight inches. We are talking three, four, five inches an hour in some spots. That's here. Farther to the east, seeing rain in Baton Rouge.
Here comes the track I talked about. Remember, this is the storm where it's going to be on Wednesday morning. So, 48 hours in the gulf, trying to gather strength and pour water, pour rain on to Louisiana, Lake Charles into Beaumont and New Orleans again. And finally, giving Houston a break as the rainfall is east of the center or east of the eye. I don't think it becomes a hurricane again. But it is going to be very close. Some spots have 10 more inches for Houston before it finally gets out of here, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
BROWN: Wow. The rescue workers have their work cut out for them.
Chad, thank you very much.
Joining me now, the mayor of Beaumont, Texas, Becky Ames, joining us.
Mayor Ames, you heard our Meteorologist Chad Myers talk about Beaumont. Harvey is unleashing the heaviest rain on your city. He said three, four, five inches per hour. What is the flooding situation and are search-and-rescue missions under way?
BECKY AMES, (R), MAYOR OF BEAUMONT, TEXAS: Well, it's been very fluid. It continues to change. It's very hard to find out which streets are flooded and which aren't, because it's bands of rain around the city and in every single part of the city. It's not localized, whatsoever. So, we just warn our citizens to stay off the roads, if they can.
BROWN: So, what is your biggest concern right now, as we speak, as all of this is unfolding?
AMES: Right now, probably, the bayou near us, because it will in the next two to three days flood some homes. In addition to that, just today, that, you know, schools are out so the children are out playing and we are concerned about their safety because they are playing in drainage ditches. There could be snakes. There's manhole covers that are off that they could step into. Things like that.
We have had approximately 50 high-water rescues so far, since this started. That's approximate. It's changing by the minute. Our staff and our team at the Emergency Operations Center has done an excellent job in making sure that our citizens are safe.
I like that Congressman Green was around during Hurricane Rita. I was not the mayor, but I was on the council. I saw the mayor during Hurricane Ike. Most of the people I'm working through this now, I was with then. So, I hate to say we have had practice but, unfortunately, we have. So, we are very prepared and we continuously do exercises to make sure we remain that way.
[11:40:57] BROWN: Let me ask -- I asked the congressman the same question -- do you think there should have been mandatory evacuations in Beaumont given the situation?
AMES: Like he said, and especially the span of these rain bands, I don't believe that we would have -- it would have been beneficial for our citizens to get on the road. We have had, like I said, some high- water rescues, but they have done a good job at that. We are not totally out of power. We have about 3500 households right now that are out of power. We have 118,000 in the city limits. But we serve half a million people. Therefore, I don't think that's so bad. It's a difficult situation. As a mayor, as you know, the mayors, the emergency management director in the state of Texas with cities by state law, and it affects people's lives in so many ways. Sometimes we think evacuation is the right thing to do. It isn't always the right thing to do. In this case, absolutely not. I think we did the right thing.
BROWN: OK, Mayor Becky Ames, thank you so much.
AMES: Thank you.
BROWN: Much more on our breaking news just ahead.
Plus, President Trump preparing to visit Texas tomorrow as critics slam his controversial pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Details coming up.
[11:46:32] BROWN: Flooding has hit record levels in southeast Texas. People are still stranded and stuck in their homes as we speak. At least 2,000 people have been rescued in Houston, but there are hundreds more in desperate need of help.
Among them, my next guest, Leidys Schull. Her home, seen in these photos here, completely submerged under water. 11 people, right now, are trapped on the second floor of her house.
Leidys joins us now.
Tell us the situation where you are now, Leidys. How many people are stuck in your home?
LEIDYS SCHULL, TRAPPED IN HOME BY TEXAS FLOOD (vis telephone): Yes, around 11 people. We have seven adults, four children under 6 years old. I can see people try to wait, asking for help. We don't have anybody helping us right now.
BROWN: So --
SCHULL: I see helping others -- I guess more are in danger. As of right now, nobody came to help us.
BROWN: Have you called 911?
SCHULL: Yes. I call 911 and they -- it was a long time to wait on them. They told me that I had to be on the waiting list and to wait since yesterday. Today is about 1:00 and nobody has come here.
BROWN: The mayor had a press conference earlier and said people need to call 911, stay on the line, because really it's been inundated. You are on the second floor of your home.
BROWN: Are you seeing the water rise?
SCHULL: Yes, I see the water rise to my second floor, yes. It hasn't come to the second floor, but I see it coming up. Try to get out. It's difficult because now it's very cold and the water is cold.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (INAUDIBLE)
SCHULL: You know, getting the water, give us, you know, hypothermia. The water is so big we cannot swim. You know, we could lose our lives trying to get out of this.
BROWN: We just heard, it sounded like a child in the background. Have you been able to get food or water? SCHULL: I did a little bit. What we have right now. And then, yes,
we have water. But we were about what we are going to do later on. We only have a little bit and it's already -- we have no lunch, nothing. We trying to get help here.
BROWN: I imagine.
SCHULL: -- life, too. Nobody -- we supposed to be leaving out of this area. Nobody knew. All the neighbors are trapped inside their houses.
BROWN: We were able to find you through social media because you posted pictures. What kind of response have you been getting on social media? Is there any indication volunteers are coming to help you?
SCHULL: Yes. Nobody has come to help us. I'm surprised that it is taking so long, very long. Hours and taking so long. Hours and hours.
[11:50:03] BROWN: Are you seeing private boats in the neighborhood?
SCHULL: We've seen flooding, and that's how people tried to get out, but it's just like one. One, and I no see that person anymore.
BROWN: What is the feeling? You said 11 people trapped in this house, including children. How is everyone handling this right now?
SCHULL: We tried to be a little calm, but we worry about the children. That's our concern. As they say, like, some people can come and rescue only three people say, well, we just want the children to get out from here, because they're the most important.
BROWN: Is there anything, while we have you on, that you want to add, Leidys?
SCHULL: Yes. I wish our local people tell us what's going to be, everything was going to be OK. We had the opportunity to leave. Now, we are trapped inside our houses without, you know, food or, you know, running out of water. They say that before, but they did not. They say just stay inside your houses and be safe, but -- this is very risky.
BROWN: You are certainly in a dire situation. Your story is now on CNN.
Like I mentioned, you know, the mayor said for people like yourself, call 911. Wait on the line. Make sure you get help. There are volunteers, search-and-rescue teams ready to help you, Leidys.
We wish you and your family the best of luck.
(CROSSTALK) SCHULL: It's just hard. It's just hard to get help here. We see people outside on the water, but nobody rescuing nobody. Nobody rescues. Nobody, nobody rescues. Nobody here to help.
BROWN: It was very important you came on to share your story. Sharing your pictures on social media. That will only help in terms of rescue for you, your family and your neighbors there in that neighborhood.
Leidys, we wish you the best of luck.
SCHULL: Thank you so much. I wish somebody listen and have the possibility to come to this address. It's 21931 Westfield Creek Drive, Houston, Texas, 77273. The whole under water. A lot of people need help. Please.
BROWN: Leidys, say that number again. I had a hard time understanding what you said. Tell us the neighborhood and the address.
SCHULL: Yes. It's 21931 Westfield Creek Drive, Houston --
BROWN: Westfield Creek Drive?
SCHULL: Yes. Houston, Texas, 77273.
BROWN: So just to make sure, we heard this correctly, 21931 Westfield Creek Drive, and in Houston.
SCHULL: Yes. Yes. In Houston.
BROWN: You and your neighbors desperately in need of help there as the waters continue to rise. And we will keep tabs on your story, Leidys, and make sure you get the help that you need.
SCHULL: Uh-huh. Thank you so much. For sharing this, and I telling people that we called for help, so we just going to keep waiting for help.
BROWN: OK. Like I said, we'll keep in touch.
Thank you so much, Leidys.
SCHULL: Thank you so much.
BROWN: Thank you.
And we'll be right back.
[11:57:54] BROWN: Congressman Blake Farenthold joins me from Corpus Christi. He represents the 27th district of Texas.
Congressman, I just spoke to a woman who is trapped in a home with 11 people. Water is rising. Many of them cannot swim. She lives on Westfield Creek Drive. What are you and other officials in Texas going to do to make sure families like hers and her neighbors are going to get the help they so desperately need right now?
REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD, (R), TEXAS: Right now, the emergency response service is in Houston are simply overwhelmed. What's happening throughout the state, what we've seen both down here when the winds came through from the hurricane and what's happening is the floodwaters are going through Houston, we're seeing neighbors helping neighbors. And we've got folks out in boats, volunteering to get people. They've got a large group there. A lot of these are just small pleasure boats that people have basically taken off their trailer and put into the streets. And, hopefully someone will hear this report and get out there. Unfortunately, there's no real coordinated dispatch for that right now.
BROWN: Why isn't there a coordinated dispatch?
FARENTHOLD: Again, these are volunteers. This isn't the -- this isn't the sheriff's department or anything like that. There are lots of people that have fishing boats that don't have even a Marine band radio.
BROWN: The woman said she called 911, they put her over to the fire department. She's still waiting for help hours later. What can you done to remedy this? All of these people are stuck in their homes and worried for their lives?
FARENTHOLD: I don't really know what the answer is, other than neighbor to neighbor help. This is an unprecedented event. Normally, hurricanes come in and are gone in a matter of hours. This one stuck around for days, with very torrential flooding. This is an unprecedented weather event. There are people saying this is the 1,000-year flood.
BROWN: All right. Congressman Blake Farenthold, thank you very much.
Still a lot of work to be done down there in Texas. People waiting for their lives to be saved at this hour.
Thank you for joining us. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now. .