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Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall; Trump Pardons Arpaio, Gorka Is Out. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired August 26, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 3 o'clock on the U.S. East Coast. Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta as we continue following several breaking news stories this hour on CNN.
First, a major category 3 hurricane bearing down right now on the U.S. state of Texas. It's been downgraded from a category 4 storm but don't let that fool you. This is still a quite intense storm.
Officials warn that Harvey could be the worst storm to hit the country since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. The U.S. president has already declared it a major disaster.
Now to tell you about another storm of a political nature from the U.S. president. As Harvey bore down on Texas, the U.S. president pardoned a controversial former sheriff who critics accuse of brazen racial profiling.
Joe Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court about a month ago for defying a court order to stop illegally detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.
And then there was another story to tell you about. Another Trump official out of a job, Sebastian Gorka, who has been an outspoken defender of Mr. Trump, left the position as the president's counter terrorism advisor.
So a lot to tell you about again this day.
Let's start, though, with the monster storm at hand that's hitting the state of Texas this hour. Our correspondents on the ground following this story, Martin Savidge, live with us in Corpus Christi, Texas, and our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, live in San Antonio.
Martin, let's start with you. The situation there in Corpus Christi. So a couple of hours ago we remember seeing you, the wind just bearing down on you. This is still a very important storm, a very strong storm. Explain the situation as it stands now in Corpus.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you've gone from what was a category 4, as this storm came ashore, to now what is a category 3, reminding viewers that it was Katrina that was a category 3. And we all know about the devastation and death that storm created.
So even though this has been downgraded somewhat, a category 3 is considered a major hurricane and still capable of creating extensive damage and also killing people.
The other thing I should point out is that even though it looks like the situation has improved here in Corpus Christi, I'm not bent over as far as being thrown over by the wind, on the opposite side of building, if I was there, you would see me bent over, being thrown around by the wind.
On opposite sides of this building, which now is acting as a huge sail or wind block, it is still a massive wind tunnel. So all of the effects of that wind and rain are being felt on the backside of this building. And still every now and then, we'll hear a crash and then something falls out of the night sky onto the ground.
So you know it's extremely dangerous to be out on the streets here in Corpus Christi. We also know in areas like Rockport, which is about 30 miles north of here, where they saw the eye of Hurricane Harvey come ashore, there are reports now of extensive damage.
They've gone out and done some initial surveys, so they know it's bad.
But the problem is once the eye passed, the storm kicked in again, they're all hunkered down. And you can imagine there are many people that need help but emergency responders just cannot get out in the darkness and in the hurricane force winds.
And then we have the rain that is still expected to come, not just a couple of inches, a couple of feet.
And it's possible that hurricane force winds will be impacting this area this same time tomorrow. So this just shows you what an extraordinarily large and powerful storm this is and why they say it still could be catastrophic for Texas.
Now we have not heard of any deaths that have been reported so far. And here in Corpus Christi, no reports of major damage. Power outages, yes, but they've also been able to get the lights back on in some areas. The truth is, George, until tomorrow morning or daylight we won't really know how bad it is. We do know it won't be over anytime soon.
HOWELL: Martin Savidge, live in Corpus Christi, Texas, Martin, thank you for the reporting. We appreciate the insight of what's happening there.
Let's now switch over to Derek Van Dam. Derek live for us this hour in San Antonio, Texas, where many people along the coastline have decided to evacuate, to move in to safer ground inland in the state of Texas.
Derek, what has that situation been like, with people who got to safer ground?
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, George this is the largest city and closest city to the evacuation zone across the southeast coast of Texas. And you heard Martin talk about how we're going to be measuring the rainfall over the next five, seven days, slow moving storm. We're talking about inches if not feet.
VAN DAM: And I'm trying to put this into perspective for our international audience as well. We have done the calculations and we're expecting an area of 20 inches plus, that's 500 millimeters -- and if we were to spread that out, the area that is expecting that amount of rain is the size of Belgium; 30 inches or 750 millimeters, we're expecting that area of coverage of rainfall over the size of Luxembourg.
So you can imagine just how much rainfall, 20 trillion gallons of water will fall on the southeastern portions of Texas and into Louisiana in the next couple of days, depending on the slow meandering of what is now category 3 Hurricane Harvey.
I am in the quintessential backdrop of San Antonio, a population of just over 1 million people, again, I said, that this is the closest major city away from the evacuation zone.
But there are a couple of key messages here that authorities keep telling me and I want to try and relay to people potentially watching tonight from San Antonio, a lot of people who have evacuated to this particular city.
Just because you're 100 miles or 150 kilometers off the coast, doesn't mean that we're safe from the brunt of this storm. Granted, the winds haven't picked up all that much, 37 mph, that's the highest gust we've seen at the San Antonio airport but the storm is still slowly moving inland.
That means that we could get the bulk of the heavy rain, leading to flash flooding as we know. It's a big topic. But also the potential for strong tropical force winds, that's what we have in store for us and that's what we're going to continue to monitor as the nights and days wear on -- George.
HOWELL: Derek, that's the thing. Just waiting and seeing exactly how intense the rains will be to determine the flooding situation, we'll just have to wait and see. We appreciate the reporting from both of you gentlemen. We'll stay in touch with you.
Now let's switch over to our colleague, Karen Maginnis, who's tracking this storm. And it looks like the storm, as it moves inland, it's getting a little closer to those bands, the western bands, to San Antonio near where Derek is.
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There is no need to worry that a lot of this moisture is going to make its way towards San Antonio. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why I put this image up. I want to show you, here is Interstate 35. It runs from right around Laredo to San Antonio to Austin.
Essentially, it is this basin that we're looking at for the next five days, maybe a week, for this just to fill up with rainfall.
Computer models are all over the place as to how much individual places are going to get. But they've been fairly consistent that it is going to be feet of rainfall, where the average volume in a year that, say, like Corpus Christi sees in a year, is about 31 inches of rain. They might see that over the next several days.
Certainly we're getting some storm reports out of the last 24 hours of 5, 6, 7 inches of rain. That is just as it has made landfall, it's made a double landfall, right around Rockport, moved across the bay, Copano Bay. And they were saying over 200,000 people without power now.
Refugio County as one of the cities there, that's just to the north of Corpus Christi, George, they are saying they're getting calls from people who want help. They don't have the ability to go out and help those people. They were told yesterday to evacuate. This is very serious.
We're talking about, George, in some cases, there could be possibly 50 inches of rainfall before it's all said and done.
HOWELL: That is one of the biggest dangers, Karen. We spoke with a gentleman earlier. He explained one of the reason he decided to stay and wait the storm out but that is one of the dangers because then people have to wait for those emergency officials when it's safe to get back out there.
Karen Maginnis, thank you so much.
Just a short time ago I spoke with the fire chief of Corpus Christi, Texas. His name is Robert Rocha and he expressed his concerns about this particular storm. Listen.
ROBERT ROCHA, FIRE CHIEF, CORPUS CHRISTI: There were people that decided to go ahead and stay and we asked them to shelter in place, not to leave their home. We did not want anybody driving during this time period because we experienced high water in a couple of locations.
And as you know, half of the deaths that occur are when vehicles are getting stuck in high water. We really wanted to make sure that people were safe. And we encourage people to stay at home.
HOWELL: So, Robert, there are different phases of these storms. Obviously there is the preparation for the storm coming in and then there is riding the storm out, which again some people decided to do.
And then there is the aftermath. We know that this storm is moving slowly.
HOWELL: It's going to stick around that part of the state for some time, for several days now.
What is the concern there in Corpus Christi, specifically given what this storm is doing right now?
ROCHA: Well, the storm stall is what really effects us because it's just going to dump an inordinate amount of rain in one location at one time. So with that, you're going to have high-water levels. Quite frankly, there's nowhere for the water to go. So that's the primary concern that responders have.
We do have a lot of elements in place. We have Corpus Christi firefighters, ready to conduct search and rescue operations; law enforcement is with us. But we also have Texas Task Force One, which specializes in rescues.
HOWELL: I'm curious to ask you, Robert, if you would even have sort of an educated guess on how many people decided to leave Corpus Christi?
Was it the majority of people who decided to leave?
Or what are you seeing?
ROCHA: Well, the city of Corpus Christi does a phased evacuation, in which we encourage those residents that lived in low-lying areas, Padre Island, Mustang Island, North Beach, Flour Bluff and along also tributaries, we encourage those people to leave.
And quite frankly many did. We put them on buses and shipped them off to San Antonio to shelters up there.
But people also self-evacuated. We think the residents did an excellent job here in Corpus Christi in getting out. However, many did stay. When we did have a lot stay, we just encouraged them to stay inside their residence and shelter in place.
HOWELL: Again, that was Corpus Christi's fire chief, Robert Rocha, speaking with me. And obviously we are wishing the very best for anyone watching this broadcast, anyone that is hunkering down, riding this storm out. We will continue to update you as we learn information.
Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, the Trump white house busy on a Friday night. Another storm to tell you about of the political type including issuing a controversial pardon for the man once know as the toughest sheriff in America, also known for racial profiling.
Another high-profile advisor to President Trump is out of his job at the White House. We'll tell you more about that. Live around the world, this is NEWSROOM.
HOWELL: Live images this hour from our affiliate, KSAT, on the road in Corpus Christi, Texas. And you get a sense this category 3 storm still bearing down there on South Texas. Winds up to 130 miles per hour. That's about 200 kilometers per hour.
And heavy rains are hammering the Gulf Coast. And that is a large highway sign toppled over there in Corpus. There's bound to more damage like that in coming hours, and perhaps the coming days and weeks ahead just after the storm passes.
Officials won't be able to take stock of the wreckage until that happens. But some models have it lasting through the weekend or even longer.
Experts say that could all add up to this being one of the worst storms to hit the United States since Hurricane Katrina. And the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has already approved a disaster declaration. Of course, we'll continue to monitor the storm, the situation there, in Texas with the map that you see right here that shows you exactly where the storm is.
But there's another storm to tell you about of the political nature from the Trump White House. The president has pardoned a former Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Mr. Arpaio was a staunch Trump supporter who recently was convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to obey a court order to stop racial profiling. He was awaiting sentencing before this pardon.
Also controversial presidential advisor Sebastian Gorka is out of a job. The move was not a complete surprise, though. Critics say that he lacked the credentials to be a counterterrorism expert.
More on Joe Arpaio. He's been a controversial and a divisive figure in Arizona politics for many decades now. CNN's Sara Sidner has a look at his legacy and relationship with the Trump White House.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The case against Arpaio and his department's behavior began in 2007. A class action lawsuit accused him of implementing a policy of racial profiling and unlawful traffic stops of Latinos.
Arpaio was sued, accused of encouraging his deputies to detain people for no other reason that they were suspected of being in the country illegally. Known for his tough speak, his department's workplace raids, the tent city where inmates were housed and the pink underwear he made inmates wear, Arpaio argued his department was simply enforcing the law. JOE ARPAIO, FORMER ARIZONA SHERIFF: I'm the elected sheriff, I report directly to the people and I'm not going to be subservient to the federal government when they have come up with no proof.
SIDNER (voice-over): But Arpaio lost his argument in a civil lawsuit. In 2013, a federal judge put an injunction in place, ordering the department to halt unconstitutional policing practices.
According to prosecutors and a federal judge, Arpaio and his deputies defied the order. Arpaio claimed the order wasn't clear and he didn't mean to violate it. But a federal judge found Arpaio showed a flagrant disregard for the court's order. His critics cheered the decision.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racism in any form is wrong and Joe Arpaio, again, has been the center of racist policies and racist attitudes and he has been criminally convicted.
SIDNER (voice-over): From the start in 1999, when Sheriff Joe Arpaio was elected to office, he began an crusade against undocumented immigrants. His deputies' actions terrified not only the undocumented but anyone who looked like they could be.
ARPAIO: Donald Trump will build a wall.
SIDNER (voice-over): Arpaio's fiery speech and immigration policies gave him a kind of celebrity status in conservative circles and a kinship with the man who would become the 45th president -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.
HOWELL: It's important to point out that Mr. Arpaio is also known for his support of the birther movement during the former president, Barack Obama's administration. That movement sought to cast doubt on the first African American president's legitimacy, alleging that he was not an American, that he was not --
HOWELL: -- born in the United States. Mr. Obama was born in the United States. This allegation was repeatedly proven false.
President Trump also found a kindred spirit in Arpaio's hard line against undocumented immigrants. Arpaio expressed his gratitude to the president in a series of tweets saying this, quote, "Thank you, Donald Trump, for seeing my conviction for what it is, a political witch hunt by hold overs in the Obama Justice Department."
It goes onto say, "I am humbled and incredibly grateful to President Trump. I look forward to putting this chapter behind me and helping my maga."
The U.S. president is also taking action to block further transgender recruits in the U.S. military. In a presidential memorandum, Mr. Trump directed the military to stop moving forward with the plan to recruit any more transgender individuals into the armed forces.
It also bans the Department of Defense for providing medical treatment for transgender individuals currently serving in the United States military.
A lot to talk about here. Let's break it all down with Michael Genovese. Michael is the president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.
It's good to have you again this late hour there in Los Angeles. But thanks for your time, sir.
MICHAEL GENOVESE, LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.
HOWELL: So all of this happening as we're following this major storm, this storm that is bearing down on the U.S. state of Texas. The question here is the timing.
What do you make of the timing of the president choosing to pardon Mr. Arpaio when this big story is happening?
GENOVESE: Well, it's a Friday night dump and that's pretty standard for politicians who want to get something out that they don't want a lot of coverage of. But this administration does that more than most.
The Arpaio case is, I think, for the president, another blemish on his record as far as civil rights and equality is concerned. Here's a person who, as sheriff, was denying a court order. Here's a person who's supposed to be the lawkeeper who's the lawbreaker. And he's also the poster child for racial insensitivity, if not worse, with all the profiling.
And so this is a really plum gift to his base. But to those in America, who were concerned about the president's response to Charlottesville, this only makes matters worse.
HOWELL: It is important to point out this was the pardon of the president and the president alone. He did not refer to the Justice Department, which is standard.
The question here, how significant are pardons for presidents, when you look at presidents past, those who made those decisions, typically at the end of their term, this president making it right at the start?
GENOVESE: That's right. Historically, presidents wait until the 11th hour. And there have been a few exceptions and there has been some very controversial pardons. For example, the forward pardon of Nixon is considered by many to be the most egregious.
I think that the pardon that George H.W. Bush issued to Casper Weinberger, Secretary of Defense, in the middle of his trial, was probably worse because that trial was going to implicate George Bush in some of the Iran-contra scandal. (INAUDIBLE) ends up pardoning himself.
But presidents usually wait until the 11th hour when the damage can be done and they can just leave. Bill Clinton, in the pardon of Mark Rich (ph) with financial strings attached to that.
And so pardons (INAUDIBLE) -- to come this early, I think, signals something even bigger than just the Arpaio case. And I think that's -- he's signaling to those in the Russia investigation that a pardon for them might follow.
HOWELL: So we're talking about the micro of politics. Let's talk about the macro.
What all this means for Americans who watch this for the past couple of weeks, what are the impacts for pardoning this sheriff, accused of racial profiling, convicted for refusing to obey a court order?
What does it mean for the country coming off the heels of Charlottesville, coming off the heels of the white supremacist rally there, the president said they were fine individuals in that rally of white supremacists, what does it mean for people seeing all this happen?
GENOVESE: Well, you know, if you're a nice person and you're marching with neo-Nazis, you either get out of there fast or you don't get involved at all. And so the notion that a lot of nice people were caught up in that is absurd.
And the president has suggested, by many of his comments, a great deal of racial insensitivity: to Mexicans during the campaign, criminals and rapists, to Muslims.
And so he's starting from a very bad position. And then, after Charlottesville his, comments were grotesque, to say the least. And now this --
GENOVESE: -- only reinforces all of the bad things that some of President Trump's critics say about him. He's playing into the hands of his critics but he's also, more importantly, perhaps, playing right into the heart of his base.
HOWELL: If I said nice people, I do want to correct myself. The president's words were "fine people," fine people among the white supremacists, the KKK, the neo-Nazis, who were all marching that night with torches.
Let's also talk about the ouster of Sebastian Gorka. This move not a complete surprise.
How do you see this piece of the puzzle in terms of the changes that have been playing out at this White House?
GENOVESE: Well, Mr. Gorka was the king of snark. And he was bombastic, sometimes rude, sometimes crude. He was quite a character, even a parody of himself at points. What I think this suggests -- and you can't see it in isolation; you have to see it with the firing of Bannon, is that General Kelly is taking over. General Kelly has got his fingerprints all over this. So he's gotten rid of Bannon. He's gotten rid of now Gorka.
Is Miller next?
And so what General Kelly, as chief of staff has demonstrated, is that he's able to take the lower level people, dominate, control them. He still has to worry about the person up at the top. He cannot control the president and that's been his problem. And President Trump is not controllable.
HOWELL: Michael Genovese, we appreciate the insight from you this day. Thank you.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
HOWELL: The major story we're following this hour, Hurricane Harvey, it is hitting the U.S. state of Texas right now. Powerful winds and heavy rains there. This is a monster storm that we'll bring you the latest on.
Plus the United States says North Korea has launched more missiles. We have a live report from Tokyo ahead. Around the world, this is NEWSROOM.
HOWELL (voice-over): Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. We're following the breaking news this hour here on CNN. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
It's a major storm hitting the Texas coastline right now. Hurricane Harvey, a category 3 storm. It's been downgraded from category 4. But don't let that fool you. This is still a major storm.
You get a sense here in this snapshot, that satellite image, of how big this storm is. You see the eyewall clearly defined. Officials believe this will be one of the worst storms to hit the United States in decades.
Hurricane Harvey's powerful winds are just part of the problem. You can see, though, they've been doing some damage, ripping apart this gas station. Flooding is also a big concern as well. Some parts of the state could get more than 3 feet. That's almost a full meter of rainwater.
And the coast could see some of the largest storm surges as well. The city manager in Rockport, Texas, said the damage is already expensive. Keep in mind, 2005's Hurricane Katrina has come up a lot as the severity of this storm took shape.
Many think Harvey could be the most destructive storm to hit the country since then. Millions of people are in its path.
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has already approved a declaration of disaster before that storm hit land.
Let's bring in Rockport, Texas, resident, Karl Hattman. Karl joins us now by phone with his perspective on the storm.
Karl, we're thankful to have you on the phone. We understand you've decided to stay there to ride this out. And we also understand from officials that there is noticeable damage.
What are you seeing?
KARL HATTMAN, ROCKPORT, TEXAS, RESIDENT: Yes, thank you. Yes, we decided to stick it out. When the eye of the storm came, we'd been in the house for hours and we just heard what sounded like a freight train outside.
We had a couple of windows we thought were going to give. But ultimately when the eye of the storm came, we were able to crack the doors and go outside.
And what we saw was extensive damage. Front of the house, back of the house. Trees down everywhere. Our driveway is blocked. We're not able to leave our property.
One of our vehicles was hit by a roof tile and has extensive damage on it. Just very devastating storm and very concerned about what we're going to see when it's light out in the morning.
HOWELL: I want to ask you because officials gave the word -- they urged people to leave that area. But we also understand these are very personal decisions for people. Talk to us about the decision for you.
Was this sort of an in-the-moment decision to stay there?
HATTMAN: Well, we definitely thought about it. My wife and kids are -- we just moved here from Minnesota a couple of years ago. So this is their first time experiencing any kind of tropical storm or hurricane. So we were all pretty nervous.
But ultimately we decided -- my folks' house has a backup generator and is built to withstand a category 3 hurricane. Our home is not. So we came to their house. That's where we're at. There's six of us here.
We do have lights and air conditioning because of the backup generator we have. So that definitely played into the decision. Also this home is above, you know, far enough above sea level that predicted storm surges would not impact us. And ultimately last night at 1 o'clock in the morning we were loaded up in the car, ready to leave. My wife and I kind of changed our minds.
But then we looked at it. We have dogs, we have all the kids. And we would have to basically leave without any stuff. All we could fit was us and the pets in the car and decided that our, our original plan to come over here to my folks' house was the safest one. And thus far it has proven to work out. Ultimately the risks are that if there is an emergency, responders
aren't going to be able to get to you because you can't have them at risk, which I understand. So if you were someone that was on oxygen or was in a very low-lying --
HATTMAN: -- area or lived in a mobile home or something that could be catastrophically affected, you might have made a different decision.
But for us, this was the decision we went with. So if it wasn't for the fact that we wouldn't have had power, I think that would have changed our minds.
HOWELL: Karl Hattman, on the phone with us from Rockport, Texas. Karl, we're thankful you're OK. And, as you point out, it will take some time for officials to get to you.
We're hearing from all the meteorologists that this storm is going to stick around for a bit. There will be more rain. There is a concern of flooding so stand by there. And obviously the officials will be on the roads here soon as the storm passes a bit more. Thank you for your time today.
Let's now switch over to our national correspondent, Martin Savidge, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
And, Martin, we've been looking at images from a dash camera, taken from earlier, driving through the streets there. You do get a sense that this storm, it hit hard. There was a great deal of damage on those streets.
SAVIDGE: Right. It is probably going to have to wait until daylight before anybody gets a really good sense how much damage has been done in Corpus Christi here.
The good news is, as others have stated, the lights are still on. And that goes a long way to helping people cope with what they're going through. I should tell you that the scene behind me here is a bit deceiving because Corpus Christi is still getting blasted by this very powerful storm, category 3.
And that's another amazing thing. Usually when hurricanes come ashore, they fall apart pretty quickly, get down into tropical storm status fairly fast. This storm has been onshore, as we say, for a number of hours.
Now it is still a category 3, a major hurricane, that's capable of still causing catastrophic damage. So that just gives you an idea of how powerful and how large this storm is and the thing has been brought up many times, how slow it is.
It is moving extremely slowly and now the guiding winds that normally propel a hurricane out of the area have apparently fallen apart. And that's why we may see this storm linger. And not just linger as a storm but linger as a hurricane. So that's going to make the emergency response extremely difficult.
They're not going to have emergency responders going out if there's still a grave danger coming from the high winds and whatever debris is being blown about by them.
And then on top of that, there's the extensive rain that's anticipated, feet of rain in some places. And that could isolate people, who now have just realized they've suffered extreme damage, that their home is pretty much shot and they've got no way to get out of there.
It also means that rescuers will have a very hard time getting to them. So daylight is going to be very telling here. And, unfortunately, it's just the beginning of the story, George, because 200,000 people already in the state without power and that may just get worse -- George.
HOWELL: CNN national correspondent, Martin Savidge, live for us in Corpus Christi, Texas. Martin, thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.
Let's cross over to Bristol Minsker (ph) with the American Red Cross, joining us now from the state capital by phone in Austin, Texas.
It's good to have you with us, Bristol. So I'm sure you've been in touch with your teams on the ground, in these places that have been hit so hard.
What can you tell us about what you're hearing so far?
BRISTOL MINSKER (PH), AMERICAN RED CROSS: We are staying in communication with Red Cross teams all across the state. We're expecting pretty bad damage in our coastal communities. We're hearing many of the same damage reports you've been talking about over the last several minutes.
And here in Austin, where I'm located, our big focus right now is making sure we've got the ability to shelter evacuees coming up to Central Texas from the coast. So we're prepared to do that as well as providing shelter and relief for potential local flooding that we could see from the heavy rainfall.
This is a huge storm and it's predicted to bring many, many inches, if not feet of rain, to communities across Texas. So while many people might think of a hurricane only attacking the coast, it's going to hit a big chunk of the state of Texas. And we're ready to respond to that.
HOWELL: All right, so, Bristol, there are different phases of these storms, right?
There's the preparation for the storm to hit. Then there's the waiting the storm out, those who decide to wait and hunker down, those who decide to evacuate. And then there's the aftermath of the storm, to see the damage that was left over. Talk to us the about the Red Cross, what your organization is
preparing for in the aftermath of this storm. And keep in mind what the meteorologists are saying, this storm and even its remnants could stick around for a while.
MINSKER (PH): That's right. And this storm is unique in the fact that, normally when the sun rises, we can start to take a good look at what the damage has been and start to move into emergency relief mode.
But because of the impacts of this storm are going to be so extended, folks are going to be --
MINSKER (PH): -- experiencing the heavy rainfall and flooding for days. So we may not know what the future looks like until we get into early next week and what kind of relief is going to be needed.
But in the short term, our biggest priority is sheltering. At this point we're kind of in what we call mass care mode, making sure people have a safe roof over their head, a place they can go where they will get hot meals and as many of the comforts as we can possibly provide during what is a very scary time.
And then when we know what type of relief is going to be needed in the days and weeks to come, we'll be able to scale up our operation to meet those needs.
HOWELL: Bristol Minsker (ph), there in my hometown of Austin. The city not feeling the worst damage of this storm but getting some rain from it. And saying that the officials there are prepared to serve those throughout the state as we get a better sense of the damage there. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, we're following other stories around the world as this hurricane continues to bear down on the U.S. North Korea reportedly launches a few more missiles. How far those missiles were able to travel as CNN NEWSROOM continues.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN. Continuing coverage --
HOWELL: -- we're following the breaking news this hour along the Texas Gulf Coast. Hurricane Harvey has made landfall as a category 4 storm. It is now category 3 but still a very strong, major storm. Its wind up to 125 miles an hour. That's about 200 kilometers per hour and right now the storm is hitting the coastline with those winds and with torrential rains.
Harvey marks the first category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Charlie back in 2004.
Of course we continue to monitor the events there in the U.S. state of Texas.
But now a major story we're following around the world, North Korea. The U.S. says Pyongyang conducted three more missile tests just hours ago. Two of those missiles traveled about 250 kilometers. That's a little more than 150 miles but then exploded right after the launch.
CNN's Andrew Stevens is following the story live in Tokyo this hour.
Andrew, it's good to have you with us.
What more can you tell us about the particulars of this launch?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, George, these were short range missiles, about 250 kilometers. They traveled about what was expected from these types of missiles.
It's interesting; though, there was a little confusion to begin with about the success about the launch of these three missiles, PACOM, the Pacific Command, initially saying two of those missiles failed in flight and the third one actually blew up fairly quickly after it launched.
They then revised that to say that these missiles had flown about 250 kilometers northeast of Korea. So they fell into the sea sort of east of the Korean Peninsula. So they were short range.
The timing is interesting because this comes just a few days after the U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was basically praising North Korea for not taking any provocative actions since the United Nations had put new and tougher sanctions on North Korea in response to the launches of the ICBMs, the intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.
Rex Tillerson saying he was pleased to see the restraint being shown by North Korea.
Well, that's gone out of the window today. We have the launch of these three new missiles falling harmlessly. The Japanese, Japan's always on high alert here in Tokyo, though the prime minister not even responding to that.
Their government spokesperson saying the missiles or rockets didn't land in any place near Japan and in fact didn't threaten Japan -- George.
HOWELL: What has been the response in the United States given what happened?
STEVENS: Essentially no news so far, again, saying the same thing, that they pose no threat to the U.S. Obviously, short term or short range missiles don't pose the same sort of the threat as the ICBMs. And this is the real point of red hot contention for the United States. And we saw two launches of what are considered by experts as
intercontinental ballistic missiles. The second launch in July was of a missile which is seen by most as capable of at least reach Guam. In fact we have had the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un saying they could or they would attack Guam now. And nothing has developed from that threat.
But certainly the U.S. now is taking this very seriously, that there is the capacity from North Korea to hit not only the islands of U.S. protectorates but also mainland U.S. But these were not those types of missiles. And the reaction from the U.S. has been fairly low-key.
HOWELL: Thanks for details. Andrew Stevens for us live in Tokyo. We appreciate the reporting this day.
And we continue to cover our breaking news story, Hurricane Harvey, the eye of the storm over the Gulf Coast of Texas right now. We're tracking its path as NEWSROOM presses on.
HOWELL: Welcome back. A powerful storm has made landfall in the U.S. state of Texas. Hurricane Harvey is hitting the coast with wind speeds of 125 miles per hour. That's about 200 kilometers per hour. And what you see there, these live images from CNN affiliate, KSAT, out of San Antonio.
But this car driving near Rockport, Texas, we understand that there is damage of Rockport, extensive damage. Officials say this slow moving strong storm could drop as much as 40 inches of rain in some parts of the state.
The U.S. President Donald Trump issuing a disaster declaration on Friday in advance of the storm and -- hitting land, I should say. And the National Weather Service in Houston says the combination of wind, of water could leave many parts of Texas uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Last hour I spoke with the Rockport, Texas fire chief, Steve Sims. And Steve said that there had been damage. Listen.
STEVE SIMS, FIRE CHIEF, ROCKPORT, TEXAS: Well, being a firefighter, of course, we're still bunkered down in our station, we have hurricane force winds outside. But we do know we have significant damage throughout the area. We are inundated with calls, with people needing help. But we're waiting on the weather to allow us to do it.
HOWELL: Looking here at the image of the storm and it seems you're just to the south of the eye of this storm. But you're certainly within these bands, those strong bands of rain. You mentioned there were people who decided to stay, to stick around in the storm.
Do you have any indication of how people are managing the situation at hand right now, those who decided to stay?
SIMS: Well, that I really don't know, because, like I say, we've not been able to get out and start doing any kind of search and rescue or seeing what we got and how many homes we got that need our help. It's -- the eyewall actually came right over Rockport.
SIMS: And we had some severe winds on that, you know, the oncoming of the eyewall.
HOWELL: Steve, obviously you have to wait just a moment, you know, you have to wait some time when it's safe.
HOWELL: We're looking at this image of the vehicle that's driving the streets right now. In Corpus Christi, Texas, and again that's just to the south of you in Rockport.
The storm has already come through there. You get a sense of the things that were knocked over, blown over on the streets there.
Your emergency crews, when they go through, how long do you think it will take for them to safely go through and get a sense of what happened there?
SIMS: Right now we're anticipating, we're hoping within the next six to eight hours we can get out and start our search and rescue. We do have multiple calls that, you know, people requesting help. But right now, we're just in no -- you know, we can't get out and do it.
HOWELL: That was the fire chief of Rockport, Texas there, Steve Sims.
I'm George Howell here at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Our breaking news coverage continues of Hurricane Harvey with my colleagues, Natalie Allen and Cyril Vanier. Stay with us.