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Update from Beaumont, Texas, Mayor; Rapper Trae tha Truth Joins Volunteer Rescuers in Houston; Trump Speaks in Springfield, Missouri; Katy, Texas, Mom Loses Home; 6 Family Members Die in Van in Floods. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired August 30, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:32:39] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Back with the breaking news. Let's just get right to it.
On the phone with me, the mayor of Beaumont, Becky Ames.
Mrs. Mayor, thank you for jumping on the phone.
Just give me an update on the situation where you are in Beaumont.
BECKY AMES, (R), MAYOR OF BEAUMONT, TEXAS (via telephone): Well, right now, we're in the middle of some high-water rescues. We had stopped doing non-emergency rescues yesterday at dark. We did announce that our citizens early on in the day. However, we did still do emergency rescues. So at daybreak this morning, that's what we started doing, and I guess you could say it's going smoothly. We are -- we were very prepared to begin this rescue. We do exercises all the time. I can't say that we've ever prepared for anything quite of this magnitude, because we have had our emergency operation center stood up since Wednesday, and we started getting very heavy rains on saturday night, early Sunday morning. So it is just been -- it's just like a never-ending storm. It's actually still raining here right now.
BALDWIN: I understand it's, you know, 26 inches of rain in the last 24 hours.
But Mayor Ames, I do want to ask you about the child. We've all heard the tragic story of this child that was found clinging to her mother's lifeless body. Can you update us on that? Is the child OK?
AMES: Yes. We are being told that the child is OK. It was an unfortunate situation. The mother was driving on a street, and I guess the water started pulling her away, and when she went to get out, there were businesses around her, and she stepped down into a canal and I'm sure she thought it was the street. And so I was actually at the emergency operations center when this rescue took place. And I have to say, it's a very sad situation. But the first responders on the scene did an excellent job. But we're really sorry that the young lady died. But at least the baby, we believe, is going to be OK. [14:34:54] BALDWIN: OK. Mayor Ames, thank you very much. And of
course, just our thoughts with the family and also with those first responders who are doing yeoman's work right now. Thank you for calling in. The mayor of Beaumont, Texas.
We're hearing from officials also celebrities are opening their hearts and wallets to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Houston Rockets owner, Leslie Alexander, is upping the donation to $10 million. Houston Texans football player, J.J. Watt, started an online fund- raiser that's raised more than $5 million. You have sandra Bullock and rachel Ray each giving $1 million to Harvey relief.
But there is a Houston rapper who has taken a more hands-on approach to helping his fellow Harvey victims. Trae tha Truth joined the growing list of volunteer rescuers after he was rescued from his own home, one of the many reasons he's been honored by his hometown for a decade now. There's actually a Trae Day in Houston on July 22 for his humanitarian work for this great Texas city.
So, Trae tha Truth is with me now from the convention center.
And, Trae, first, let's talk about you. Thank you for being with me.
I know you were supposed to get the keys to the city yesterday in some big ceremony. Mother Nature had other plans. How are you? How's your son?
TRAE THA TRUTH, RAPPER: We're blessed, man. You know, I have three little boys. Two of them are on the east side of town. I've been communicating with them through phone, just hoping the waters don't get high-high like that over there. I mean, we're -- it's devastating out here right now.
BALDWIN: Tell me, Trae, just your decision to -- I don't know if you and your friends, you know, grabbed a boat and started rescuing Houstonians.
THA TRUTH: So, I believe Monday afternoon, I had to evacuate. I was trying to be one of the people that was just going to ride it out, and it got to a point where I knew it probably wasn't going to slow down, so a few people came and actually rescued us. We actually walked through the water for a while. I mean, to the most part, we were safe. The dangerous part is you have alligators, snakes, and other stuff when you're out towards the country part, and I reached out on social media because a lot of people in Houston, we've been sharing addresses for those who are saying it's hard to get through 911 or other numbers, and so when we were doing that, I actually reached out and asked if anyone had boats, and somebody contacted me from San Antonio and a few friends from the Army, from Austin, they came down and we've been doing it since.
BALDWIN: Who have you been rescuing? And has anyone turned you down?
THA TRUTH: The area we were in yesterday was grand mission. It was really -- it was unbelievable. Like, I've never seen a whole neighborhood submerged under water, and if you could imagine, it's a lot of volunteers. I partnered with the fire department out there, so imagine street by street, the whole neighborhoods filled with water. And how you would see cars coming to stop signs, you're actually seeing boats coming to stop signs. It's a lot of people who were rescued yesterday, but it was a lot of people that decided they're just going to wait it out and, you know, it gets kind of frustrating because it's like, you don't want to be the one to leave and know there's a chance you might not be coming back that way, but I mean, at the end of the day, you have to respect everyone's wishes.
BALDWIN: That's right. That's right.
And you pointed out the water. You don't know what you're, you know, boating in, walking in. Did you see any crocodiles or snakes?
THA TRUTH: Oh, yes, we've seen snakes. Definitely, seen snakes. The dangerous part about it is, it gets deep in certain parts, and then it gets shallow. So it's too deep for you to drive trucks in, but then at some points, it gets too shallow where the boats can go. So it's kind of like we have to gauge with the boat, and then a few of us are always hop off the boat to walk in front of it to see how deep it goes. Like actually, as soon as I leave this interview, I'm actually leaving with the fire department, and we're going to go to Kingwood. And they said it's devastating out there. So at the end of the day, as long as I got my hands and feet, I feel like it's my responsibility, especially with me representing Houston, for us to come together.
BALDWIN: Wow. Good on you.
I've got one more question for you because you're there at the convention center. Thousands of people have sought shelter there. What's the number-one thing they're all tell you?
THA TRUTH: Right now, here, and not to sidetrack the question, it's just -- it's crazy. It looks like a whole other city inside the George R. Brown right now. But one thing I can do is I have to commend everybody because everybody's partnering together, whether it's the volunteers or the people walking in. But right now, it's no certain thing that they're saying, it's just everybody's just cooperating with each other, trying to embrace each other with open arms. So that's what's going on now. After I get done volunteering, doing some more rescues, I'm pretty sure I'm going to come there because even though I have a lot of entertainer friends that's been constantly calling my phone asking what they can do and my main thing to them is, at least let us get as many of us safe this week as possible and then we'll come together with a game plan. So right now, man, I just commend everybody in Houston.
[14:40:33] BALDWIN: And I commend you. We'll let you get on your way with the Houston Fire Department to those rescues.
Trae tha Truth, thank you.
And on that note, let's go to Springfield, Missouri. Here is the president.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. It's so nice and we appreciate it. And all of the people outside that were waving proudly the American flag, believe me, we appreciate it very much.
I want to thank Jerry Cook, Steve Bernie
TRUMP: -- and all of the tremendous employees here at the Lauren Cook Company for hosting us today.
Where is Jerry? Where is Jerry?
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you, Jerry. What a job. I've heard so much about you. It's a great honor to know you, Jerry. Thank you.
I also want to welcome the many distinguished guests who are here with us for this very important event. Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin.
TRUMP: Thank you, Steve.
Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.
TRUMP: Small Business Administrator, which, by the way, is a very large business, I will tell you that, Linda McMahon, friend of mine.
TRUMP: And from the purely political world, a really great friend, who did such an incredible job with his beautiful wife at the inauguration, Senator Roy Blunt.
TRUMP: Thank you.
Where is he?
Thank you, Roy.
The Governor Greitens is here, who's doing some job. That you know, governor. Thank you.
Lieutenant Governor Parson.
Lieutenant Governor, thank you, Lieutenant Governor.
TRUMP: And our great members of commerce, I want to thank you all for coming. There's so many.
I was asking the governor and Roy, I said, do you think I should announce them all? I have so many. But I'm honored that they're here. Representative Sam Graves.
TRUMP: Representative Vicky Hartzler, has been terrific.
TRUMP: My friend for a long time, and just somebody that he liked me from the beginning, and I liked him, Billy Long.
TRUMP: Billy. Right, Billy? Right from the beginning.
Blayne Lukamyer (ph). Where's Blayne (ph)?
TRUMP: Good. Thank you, Blayne (ph).
Representative Jason Smith.
TRUMP: Jason, thank you for everything, Jason.
Representative Ann Wagner.
Hi, Ann. Good job, Ann.
TRUMP: And I don't know, we have so many more.
Anybody I forgot? Right? Everything OK? Good. I got it.
You, I remember more than anybody.
Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.
And to the congressmen, congresswomen, we appreciate you being here. Thank you very much.
TRUMP: Before we begin, I'd like to take a few moments to discuss the deeply tragic situation in Texas and Louisiana. As we all know, our gulf coast was hit over the weekend with a devastating hurricane of historic proportion. Torrential rains and terrible flooding continue to pose a grave danger to life and to property. Our first responders have been doing absolutely heroic work to shepherd people out of harm's way. And their courage and devotion has saved countless lives. They represent truly the very best of America.
[14:44:41] TRUMP: We must be vigilant. We must protect the lives of our people.
I was on the ground in Texas yesterday to meet with Governor Abbott, who is doing, by the way, an incredible job, and local officials, so that we could coordinate the very big and unprecedented federal response.
In difficult times such as these, we see the true character of the American people, their strength, their love, and their resolve. We see friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger. And together, we will endure and we will overcome.
TRUMP: To those affected by this storm, we are praying for you, and we are here with you every single step of the way. And I can speak, I know, for the people in this room, every step of the way.
TRUMP: To those Americans who have lost loved ones, all of America is grieving with you, and our hearts are joined with yours forever.
The citizens of Texas and the gulf coast need all the prayers, support, and resources our communities have to offer. Recovery will be tough, but I have seen the resilience of the American spirit firsthand all over this country.
To the people of Houston and across Texas and Louisiana, we are here with you today. We are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover, and rebuild. Our thoughts and prayers remain firmly with the citizens and our fellow people, people, great, great people, all affected by this tragedy.
We're also glad to be back in the heartland with the very, very fine folks of Missouri.
TRUMP: And I said to Senator Blunt and I said to Billy Long on the plane coming in, can I say Missouri or should I say Missouri? OK?
And they said whatever you want is OK, so I said, good.
But I'm especially pleased to be here in Springfield, the birthplace of a great American icon, the legendary Route 66. Who would have known that?
BALDWIN: President Trump there in Springfield, Missouri. We just wanted to dip in and hear those comments on Hurricane Harvey. We saw him in Corpus Christi and Austin. He is there beginning this effort to sell this sweeping overhaul of the tax code. Apparently, congressional leaders in the White house haven't hammered out the details of that, so we're standing by for that, as, of course, Congress goes back to work next week.
I was just handed some new information just quickly here on Harvey. The death toll now, Harvey-related fatalities, stands at 24.
And again, the president, according to the White house, will be heading back to the flood-ravaged region this weekend.
Coming up, it could be weeks or months before some families may actually be able to go home. Next, we'll talk to a Texas mom who is stuck in a hotel with her two sons, one of whom relies on insulin.
And just in, two Houston airports plan to reopen soon, Bush Intercontinental and Houston-Javier plan to resume limited passenger service today at 5:00 eastern. Full service expected to resume this weekend.
Back in a moment.
[14:52:48] BALDWIN: Back to our breaking news here. You know, so many Texas families can't go home for weeks, maybe months, and some may not be able to go home again.
In Katy, Texas, LaQuishe Wright spent her 42nd birthday getting out of her house. She took her two teenage sons and two dogs and headed to a local hotel. She shot this video at a local grocery store while she stood outside in the rain for an hour waiting in line to buy basic supplies.
And LaQuishe is with me now.
LaQuishe, how are you holding up emotionally? How are your sons?
LAQUISHE WRIGHT, TEXAS FLOOD VICTIM: They're doing great. We were definitely one of the lucky ones because we got out in the middle of the night on saturday morning, since I knew that the streets were very prone to flooding outside of our neighborhood. So, we definitely have been through, I feel, less than a lot of my neighbors, who were Helivac'd and boated out of the neighborhood a few days later.
BALDWIN: Evacuating in the middle of the night constitutes lucky in your book.
BALDWIN: I know you decided to evacuate when you heard the Barker Reservoir would be released. Is it your youngest son, Ryan, is the diabetic? So that was a huge factor into why you guys needed to get out.
WRIGHT: That's correct. Yes, he's 12 now, but he's been a type 1 diabetic since he was 10 months old. And so with storms like this, growing up in the Houston area, we've always had to be very vigilant about making sure that we maintain electricity and can get to emergency care if needed. So, I was hyper-aware of what was at stake if we weren't able to get out of the neighborhood.
BALDWIN: And do you have any idea how your home is?
WRIGHT: It's under water pretty -- we probably will have between four to six feet of water because of the reservoir release. We've been in the house for 17 years, and it's never flooded. We've never had issues with flooding at all. We weren't in a floodplain zone at all, which is why we didn't have flood insurance. What actually flooded us was the release of the Barker Reservoir. And so we are fairly -- when my last neighbor left, I don't know, maybe there was a few feet of water in the house, but it will probably be four to six feet of water in the house and we probably won't be able to get back into the house for six to eight or more weeks.
[14:55:11] BALDWIN: Oh, and that's a thing, a lot of people don't have that insurance because you weren't in a floodplain but it's the reservoir issue. Just lastly, what is your near future look like? You'll be living out of a FEMA hotel for the unforeseen amount of time?
WRIGHT: Yes, we're in a regular hotel this week, and then we'll check out of here and on Monday. We have a reservation to do at least 30 days in a FEMA hotel. And in the meantime, and that's one here in Katy, so that when the kids do go back to school, they'll hopefully be able to be close. My youngest son's school is flooded, his junior high, so he'll probably have to go to a different school. But for now, we will be housed by FEMA in some form or fashion until we can figure out housing.
BALDWIN: My goodness. We haven't even begun to talk about that, back to school time, schools flooded, changing schools.
LaQuishe, our best to you. And I appreciate your spirit. Thank you.
WRIGHT: Thank you so much.
BALDWIN: Among the death toll here -- I just told you that now 24 people have been confirmed dead in Texas, storm-related -- this family found inside of a van that was partially submerged in water, six members of the Saldivar family, including four children, tried to escape the rising waters, but didn't make it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICIAL: We were able to retrieve the van, pull it out of the water where it was embanked. And we can now confirm that four other individuals are in the back of the truck as well, so we have a total confirmed six dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: 56-year-old Sammy Saldivar was trying to get his elderly parents and their four great grandchildren to safety this weekend but the flood waters apparently swept their van off the road and into a bayou. Sammy survived by clinging to a tree branch. But apparently, he could hear the children screaming and crying desperately trying to get out of the van.
Sammy's brother broke down and wept when he told CNN's Erin Burnett about the youngest child in the van, a 6-year-old little girl by the name of Daisy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC (ph) SALVIDAR, BROTHER OF SAMMY SALVIDAR: Oh, she was a -- I mean, as little girls are, I mean, she was just adorable. She was always laughing, always, I mean, you couldn't help but laugh. Excuse me. I mean, the minute she walked in a room, she -- excuse me.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: It's OK.
SALVIDAR: Yes, I mean, she was -- she was great. I mean, you know, I didn't see her much. I wish I would have seen her more often before mom and dad really got sick, they used to take care of her and they were always talking about Daisy, oh, she did this and she did that. And they were always just playing with her. I mean, she was a very good little girl. All of them were.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Our hearts go out to the Saldivar family. Debbie Saldivar, 16 years of age, Dominic, 14, Xavier, 8, and little Daisy, 6, along with 84-year-old Manuel Saldivar and his wife, Belia (ph), aged 81 years of age, who planned to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in October.
Back in a moment.