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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Flood Emergency Now Hitting East Texas, Houston Still Swamped, Rescues Continue, Countless Still Stranded. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired August 30, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:03] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening from Houston, where the clear skies above us are deceiving and conditions remain very dangerous in many places throughout this region.
The rain might have moved out from Houston but this remains very much an unfolding crisis. Rescues have been happening every minute of every hour by boat and increasingly by helicopter, especially in Beaumont and Port Arthur, which is east of here in Houston, hammered by what used to be Hurricane Harvey as it made second landfall overnight along the Texas-Louisiana border. Naval aviators, Army and Coast Guard choppers, have all been flying, often in very risky conditions, and they are pulling people to safety.
It is not over yet. Port Arthur's mayor says the entire city is underwater. It is much the same we're told in Beaumont. Water clear to the horizon.
I just want to show you a picture that pretty much says it all. It only looks like a storm tossed bay that you're looking at until you see that interstate road sign. This body of water south of Beaumont is not a bay, it's a stretch of I-10.
Logan Wheat, who snapped that photo, also shot video this from the small boat he was in which is the only way to get around, and around much of the Beaumont-Port Arthur area. And this was not taken by the way as Harvey came ashore on Friday. It was taken last night when it struck the second time, not over yet by any means.
Here in Houston, water still covers entire neighborhoods across this enormous city, block after block, mile after mile still under water. Not over yet.
I do want to show you a live shot, you're looking at right now. It gives you just a sense of -- this is in Houston -- just a sense of how big this is and how many the kind of flooding we are still seeing in neighborhood that -- this is by the Addicks Reservoir, one of the two reservoirs that areas around them had not flooded until more recently when water began to come out of that reservoir they had to release some water, so that -- to relieve some of the flooding in that area.
Gives you just one sense of one neighborhood behind me, there's members of the state -- a Texas state marine unit who have been undertaking rescues all day in this area of Houston where I am. You see them now. Their work is done for the day. They stop because it's starting to get dark. They're probably going to resume here tomorrow as well.
They say they have taken out as many as 600 people, 610 people. And it wasn't just them there's an army of volunteers, people who -- I talked to one young man earlier today who actually just bought a boat two days ago because he wanted to come here, didn't live here, but he bought a boat, he drove it here and he has been helping bring people out of their homes.
The images just keep coming, along with some of the horror stories as well. We have seniors trapped, some for 24 hours, according to CNN's Drew Griffin in the flood water. Shelters flooding, others filled to capacity. The death toll rising, now at 28.
But -- I mean, the truth is, there's no way to really get an accurate sense of how many people may have been hurt in this, how many people are still missing and how many people may have died. It's -- I was talking to the sheriff of Harris County who said it's really going to -- it's going to take a lot of time until the flood waters dissipate, that they can really get a sense of the toll.
The grim work of recovery soon to get underway around us, but still days in the future, across other parts of the region, it is not over yet. Luckily, neither is the truly remarkable outpouring of volunteers that we talked about. Their flotilla of small boats and big trucks, ordinary people just doing extraordinary work at a time of such great need.
Joining us right now by phone is Becky Ames. She's the mayor of Beaumont, Texas.
Mayor Ames, I appreciate you've been with us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances.
This morning, you said that every single body of water around you was at capacity and overflowing. What's the situation right now where you are?
MAYOR BECKY AMES, BEAUMONT, TEXAS (via telephone): Well, it is still that way unfortunately sometimes we were near bodies of water like bayous and rivers that we have, so many around Beaumont, the aftermath is worse because when they crest, some of the flooding (INAUDIBLE).
I -- we -- I don't believe there were quite as bad as Port Author. We have many homes that have not -- don't have any damage whatsoever, but then we do have homes that have some water in them. I don't have any that are totally covered that we're aware of yet.
COOPER: Do you have any idea of how many of your residents still need to be rescued or maybe unaccounted for? I mean, did you have a sense or is it are you not at that at that stage yet?
AMES: Well, we are still assessing because what we are asking them to do, we have a customer service hotline that we've turned into a non- emergent call center where we have 311, and we've asked the residents if they need to be rescued and it's not emergent, or if they think they might need to be rescued that they call that 311, and we prioritize that.
I would assert that most of the people that are going to need help out of called us, unless they're going to get hit later with the rising water (INAUDIBLE) or not they live near the river.
[20:05:13] So, we are prioritizing those. The non-emergent residents that they just can't get out of their homes, (INAUDIBLE) we are prioritizing them, but also -- we -- they do know that we wait until daybreak because of the standing water so much in the street and the outlying areas and in the canals, it's very dangerous. It prevents us to try to rescue to them. It certainly helps a lot when we have resources (INAUDIBLE).
(INAUDIBLE) on Wednesday and we started getting heavy rains on Saturday night and Sunday. But we have been doing rescue efforts since our first responders since Sunday. So, we have been working on this for several days, we didn't have -- rain last night as you know, but some of these are residents were already rescued.
COOPER: Right. What -- do you -- I mean, do you have what you need? Do you need more boats, more high water trucks? I'm wondering what's your message to state and federal authorities right now.
AMES: Well, actually, they have been very responsive and I'm sure there will be some things in the future. Right now, they have been extremely responsive.
Our biggest issue right now is we don't typically shelter in Beaumont. So we've opened -- we have three shelters open. They were not at capacity until they started getting at capacity today.
So, we're looking at open another shelter, that the issue is not the space. We have plenty of space, but a shelter you don't just put up there and ask people to come. As you know, you have to supplies, cots, blankets, food and someone that really knows how to run it.
And the Red Cross -- because of all of the devastation in Texas -- is very, very spread thin and our limited resources for them too. So, I think that would be our biggest issue, the resources that we need to put into the new -- the secondary shelter that we're setting up and then someone to actually run it.
We partner with the Red Cross and helping, but we don't actually run shelters, that we will partner like it's nursing and I was helping with resources but not actually running it. So, that's probably the biggest challenge right now.
I have been here for (INAUDIBLE)
COOPER: -- Mayor Ames --
AMES: -- and has been the mayor for 10 years --
AMES: -- never seen as many people that need a shelter. COOPER: Well, we hope -- we hope you're able to open up that other
shelter, Mayor Ames. I appreciate so much you taking the time --
AMES: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, I'm having a hard time hearing. We have already opened it, we just don't have all the resources we need to complete it, but we are getting them. We will not wait -- no one has been turned away, no one.
COOPER: That is certainly good news.
Well, Mayor, I hope to speak to you tomorrow night as well and I just wish you and the people there the best.
As we mentioned the top the broadcast, the military ramped up rescue operations. We have been watching a number of those all day. Two U.S. Navy warships, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Oak Hill are being deployed to the area, along with 690 Marines, according to our Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Medical, communications, other support teams are already in place or are on their way.
CNN's Martin Savidge has been out and airborne with the Navy rescuers over east Texas. He's been capturing some remarkable images. He joins us now.
So, Martin, you're still on the chopper, returning to base. Tell us what you've been seeing up there.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, this one boat (INAUDIBLE) working the area of Beaumont (INAUDIBLE). What they are doing, they rescue 25 people, mostly (INAUDIBLE)
COOPER: Martin, we're having trouble to hear -- Martin, we're having trouble hearing you. So, we're going to come back to you when we get contact, or maybe when you get back down on the ground.
And we're going next to Beaumont and CNN's Drew Griffin who has been having quite a remarkable day as well.
Drew, you've been on the ground all day. Talk about what you've been seeing there.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It's a violent night and to add on to what the mayor was speaking to you about, Jefferson County, which is where Beaumont is, it's really a series of islands, Anderson.
[20:10:07] So, you have these people rescued, they're put on an island, and then as water continues to rise, that island gets smaller and those people need to be rescued off of that island, to another island, to another island. So, that's why you have this day after day after day of rescue and the water in some places is still rising in this county. We just heard about a levee breach that is flooding another subdivision just west of here. It can happen in a split second. That's exactly what we found out this morning. We're setting up for a
live shot when, all of a sudden, we heard a noise and we found this guy in really dire straits. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Look at this. Get out, dude! You got -- you got a power cord? You got a rope? Hold on, I'm trying to get you a rope.
All right, buddy, come on, get off of that water. Backwards.
Are you all right?
No, no, ma'am. No, ma'am. We got a car in a ditch. We just pulled a fellow out.
All right, Marcy. Are you all right now, buddy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
GRIFFIN: All right. Take your breath and we're going to pick you up, we're going to get you off of this bank, OK? We're going to get you off of this bank.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Sixty-six-year-old Jerry Summerall (ph). He was just out looking for food. He got in trouble. He's doing OK. We talked to him later.
But this is the danger right now, Anderson. This water -- this intersection was flooded just about an hour ago. In fact, the police are over there trying to deal with flooded cars that were just left here.
But the water continues to move throughout the county, so it drains here, it's got to go somewhere else. People are not used to these areas being flooded and they're getting in trouble, which is why right now, this emergency is not only continuing for people who need to be evacuated, but for all the people who have been cooped up for days want to get out and see something and they find themselves getting in trouble just like that fellow did this morning -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, Drew, that's one of the really deceptive things here is you can't tell obviously how deep this water is unless there's you know a submerged car that you just see the top of it or something. I mean, even in the area that we're in right now, if we just pan over here, you have really have no sense of how deep this water is and it just goes on, it's really as far as the eye can see.
I'm told, you know, further down there, it gets -- it gets up to about the waist. Here, it's pretty shallow. But, Drew, that's -- I mean I assume that's what happened to that that man who you helped rescue. He had no idea that the water he was driving into was going to be so deep. GRIFFIN: Anderson, he thought he was driving onto a road. He had no
idea that that was a actual drainage ditch. It was a ditch that he was driving into. He thought he was just crossing a parking lot, crossing a road that was covered with water and he was gone, it's floating. And just after we pulled him out, his truck, his four wheel drive truck sank.
It happens that quick. People do not recognize the difference between standing water that's overrode standing water that is actually a raging river as a drainage ditch and it's happening all across southeastern Texas right now.
COOPER: The images you're seeing on your screen are from Orange, Texas. Those are those are the first images I'm seeing from that air and again you get a sense of just how much water there is on the ground.
Drew, I appreciate that. That's near the border of Texas and Louisiana, we should point out.
I want to get some perspective now from a pair of experts, CNN contributor and retired army lieutenant general, Russel Honore, who, of course, headed up the Hurricane Katrina effort and also joining us at Jon Connors, a former marine, a member of Team Rubicon, which is an organization that brings together of veterans and first responders, volunteers, for moments just like this.
General Honore, first of all, what's your assessment of where things stand now in terms of rescue operations, in terms of the flooding?
LT. GENE. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the problems got bigger. I mean, we now go from Corpus Christi to -- in the Cameron Parish, with search-and-rescue missions, on warrant. And this is the hard part after we do the initial picking people up with helicopters and using emergency signals to find people.
Once this water go down, Anderson, and every house has to be checked and that cannot be done by a civilian volunteer. Without these volunteers we've really been in a mess because the military have been slow to scale up I've spoken about that for days now that they should have been scaling up, we should have Navy ships follow hurricanes in. We learned that in Katrina. We learned that in Rita.
Yet, the one of the biggest hurricanes predicted as of last Thursday didn't have Navy ships following it. We've got to get this fixed because we're at the beginning of hurricane season.
That being said, the shelters look great. Everybody is getting along as far as the government agencies.
[20:15:02] We don't have the bickering and the fighting.
COOPER: And the volunteer efforts, I got to say, are just incredible.
HONORE: Yes, but I was here today with a boat, we came on this very road to go search, nobody to talk to, no communication systems. We need to tie that together with a disruptive technology that allow the police and fire to talk to civilian and they're coming into a region and saying, go here, we mission you over here, this is your mission. When you get there, the link up with this way, and then be able to communicate.
COOPER: Jon, from Team Rubicon, you guys are veterans, volunteers, you've worked in a lot of a lot of different areas. What are you seeing on the ground?
JON CONNORS, TEAM RUBICON: Yes, so as you mentioned, we're veterans based disaster response organization. We pair our skills with first responders sometimes. We're trained to respond to chaos right we're ready to go when this kind of thing happens.
So, our folks got on the ground on Monday and we've been doing boat operations since Monday. We will continue to do those until, you know, the community doesn't need it anymore.
COOPER: But you're really focused also on long-term.
CONNORS: Yes. So, right now, our teams are setting up for the long term. We expect we're going to be here for a few months. What we generally do is wait for the waters to recede so it's safe for our volunteers to come in and then we just start working on long-term operations where we can help the community get back on their feet.
COOPER: Because that's the thing. I mean, General Honore, you know, obviously, there's the adrenaline now for folks here. That lasts for a couple days, it gets you through. But you know, once the water recedes, there's the grim reality of recovery operations rebuilding.
HONORE: And the things that they're volunteers can't do. Now, the volunteers -- their big mission is to come help people run from muck houses. Last year in Baton Rouge, Katrina, for years, the hurricane volunteer groups came from all over the world.
You see that over there, Anderson -- that water does turn every one of those catch basins got to be clean before the next storm. Every drain, every culvert, every bridgehead between here and the gulf's going to have to be clean because if it took 40 inches this time, this time, it'll take ten because what the impact the flood is head on the drainage system.
COOPER: Is that -- I mean, that's one of the things says there's attention on storms when they happen in the immediate aftermath, and we saw this group strain and we went back down in New Orleans, I don't know times or something over there over the years. But a lot of people, once the water dissipates, they kind of think oh, it's over, but it's not.
CONNORS: Exactly. And Team Rubicon is still to this day working on houses in New York and New Jersey that were wrecked during Superstorm Sandy. So, you know, everyone else forgets about it, but we're going to stay there with the community until everyone gets back on their feet.
COOPER: What do you see in terms of organization at this point?
CONNORS: You know, what our teams have been seeing every day is the armada of the community that has stepped up to help each other and that's amazing to see, and to see everyone working side by side with the government agencies is really encouraging.
COOPER: You exist -- Jon, you exist, Team Rubicon exists basically from donations. They're not getting to get government funding. It's Team Rubicon, what's the Website?
COOPER: OK. Thank you.
CONNORS: We need donations. Thank you.
COOPER: Thanks very much.
HONORE: Twelve years ago today.
COOPER: I know. It's crazy. I want to talk to you about that.
Take a look at these live pictures again -- what area is this now? OK, this is Orange, Texas, and it just gives you a sense of -- I mean, this thing is not over. I mean I know a lot of folks saw Houston today, they saw the rain stopped and they thought, oh, you know, well, the worst is over and that may be the case for some neighborhoods here in Houston.
But check out what's happening right now in Orange, Texas. You get a sense of just how deep those waters are.
When we come back, what began as a truly life-saving rescue or rest the resuscitation in fact has now turned into something a mystery. No one seems to know where certain know for certain where this survivor now is. She apparently still needs medical attention. We'll have details on that next.
We'll also hear from some of the survivors, even now still making their way to safety with the health of an army and flotilla volunteers we've been talking about. We'll be right back live from Houston, and all the along the region.
[20:21:30] COOPER: And welcome back. We're here in Houston.
I just want to give you a sense of what's happening right behind me. This is a Texas state maritime unit -- division, excuse me. They were supposed to be stopped for the night but someone just came up to them and said that their grandmother is in the house and needs to get out -- need some rescuing. So, they're actually mounting up again. They're going to take out some of their boats out. They'd stop because it's starting to get dark and they were going to resume tomorrow, but they look like they're going to go out to try to find that person. You can also see another boat just coming in right now if you just pan
over here a little bit. I don't know if they're bringing somebody out or if this is just a boat that's returning after a day of rescues. Again, this -- that looks like a group of volunteers. We've seen so many rescues just from this area today, more than 600 people we were told were brought out over the course of the day, and again some of these folks are just volunteers.
They had a boat, they brought the boat here. They're not even people in the shell you who live in this neighborhood. So, we're going to continue to follow what's going on here. We'll obviously bring you any updates.
Now, if recent experience is any guide they're going to be scenes like this unfolding around the area. Rescues whether by police troops or the volunteers from the area around the Gulf, as well as across the country. There's a lot to talk about.
I want to go now to Ryan Nobles who is in Orange, Texas.
Ryan, we've been seeing some of the images from Orange tonight. What's happening there on the ground right now?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. So, Orange is just on the Louisiana/Texas border. So this is an area that was hit hard by the second wave of Harvey after it went back out to the Gulf of Mexico and then came back inland. So, a lot of the flooding here began around 1:00 this morning, and you can see this area where we are now. This is a shopping market area. It's become kind of a central locating point and you can see in the distance there, there is a supermarket now.
We understand that supermarket is closed but from time to time, they're getting in food and water shipments. And so, there is a line of people out in front of this supermarket, hoping to get stocked up on provisions so that they can take care of their families. And the rescue effort has gone on here all day, starting early in the morning and continued. Like what you're seeing in Houston, it is by and large a volunteer force. There are certainly, first responders from both Louisiana and Texas helping to guide them.
But one of the problems they had earlier today, Anderson, and even into the night is that there are many boats willing to get people out of their homes and to dry land, but there aren't necessarily buses and cars and trucks able to take them to shelters. So, that's one of the holdups now in this rescue effort, but it is going to take some time before all these people can be rescued and to be put in somewhere safe, and the water at this point has not started to recede -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ryan Nobles, appreciate it.
As you heard just then, so many people in Houston and East Texas are wondering about their loved ones, whether they're OK, whether they're alive, and as you see behind me, these are some folks who are just being brought out. They're thanking the folks who brought them out and also you have now, this maritime division, which are going to start out. They've got helmets on.
You know, it may not seem like -- I mean, this water is not particularly fast-moving but they have to take all the precautions they possibly can because some of that water is very deep, you're getting some areas of eddies. It can it can turn bad very, very quickly.
Many of those survivors who did escape the waters are still now looking for other ones. Many local survivors are now in the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo is there now. He joins us.
Chief, if you could just tell us what the latest is tonight in terms of rescue operations, do you have a sense of how many people were rescued today, how many people do still believe may be in need of help?
[20:25:12] CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE: Well, I can tell you that the rescue operations have continued in our west area of the city, in the memorial area, where we notice the water has creeped up and continue to creep up. I don't have a current number. This is really day six for the Houston Police Department, where our people haven't gone home. As a matter of fact, this will be the first time tonight that we're going to let some of them go home to get some rest.
But the numbers are every hour that passes, they're going down, and as certainly what the thousands of people have been rescued, we're down to probably a matter of a hundred or so.
COOPER: I wondered to the people you know who see the waters receding and maybe think Houston is out of the woods, what is your message to those people tonight?
ACEVEDO: Well, first the messages that were not quite out of the wood because we know we still have a water event going on in our west side of the city, of the Memorial City Mall area, and we still haven't gone into these neighborhoods to do our secondary searches. You know, my heart still aching -- all of us fearful that we still might find more folks in homes and know these flooded out areas.
I mean, Anderson, you look at the destruction here. Two-story homes completely, just completely engulfed and covered by water, where you can't even see the rooftops. We just fear what we might find. And so, while we're hopefully and we're glad we have had such a few deaths, it sets an event of I think biblical proportions because of the number water we got, we're still concerned about what they're still might find in days to come.
COOPER: And that that actual toll, you may not know is my understanding until -- I mean, really until the waters recede and as you said, until you can do those secondary searches.
ACEVEDO: Correct and so that's -- and, you know, secondary searches, our first responders, it's still very risky to go back into those neighborhoods where power lines are down and gas mains and everything else, and a lot of debris -- you know, a lot of things that they have to deal with. And so, we're thankful that there are additional strike teams with search and rescue capabilities. They're headed towards our area of operation here and those strike teams are going to help us complete those secondary searches.
COOPER: Yes. Well, chief, I wish you the best and all of your officers. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for talking with us.
ACEVEDO: Thank you.
COOPER: Chief Acevedo doing incredible work here in Houston, so much need, so many people are to respond to so many neighborhoods to try to cover.
Up next, what you're seeing here is not a bay. Take a look at this video. It's an ocean, but it's not an ocean. It's actually the freeway. It looks like a ocean or a bay. We're going to talk to the man who took this video when we come back.
[20:30:17] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back. I just -- things are moving very quickly obviously on the ground. I want you to meet Frankie Aziz who just came over to this area. These guys who have been out here all day rescuing people from this neighborhood, which is still very flooded, they were done for the night. Frankie, you got a call from your aunt.
FRANKIE AZIZ, RELATIVES STRANDED: My aunt, yes.
COOPER: Explain what happened.
AZIZ: Everything was fine settled with communication with them throughout the family. And all of a sudden this morning we had a call from them, like there's waters rising on their street.
COOPER: And that hadn't happened until this morning in this area?
AZIZ: Until this morning. And then, I said, let me come and get you. And she was like, no, we're fine, we're just going to ride it. You know, we don't think it's going to be a big deal.
COOPER: How old are your uncle?
AZIZ: My uncle is 90, my aunt is like 83.
AZIZ: And there are other uncle, living in the house.
COOPER: So they saw the water coming but they thought they could ride it out?
AZIZ: Yes. And then all of a sudden about half an hour ago, I get a call from my aunt. She's like, the water is up to the house. We can't -- we need help.
COOPER: So you just drove here? AZIZ: I took off from the house, I live by the (INAUDIBLE) came out here. And I thought, we borrowed one of my friend's higher trucks.
AZIZ: We thought ridge is going to drive into the neighbor with the higher truck.
COOPER: But the water is pretty deep?
AZIZ: Oh, it can. It can, yes.
AZIZ: It's unbelievable.
COOPER: So likely, these guys were still there?
COOPER: And they've agreed to go?
AZIZ: Yes. I just given the information, the address and the location and then they just took off to -- of the coast guard.
COOPER: And are you still in communication with your aunt?
AZIZ: Yes. I'm talking to her.
COOPER: To let her know they're coming?
AZIZ: I just talked to her like about a minute ago.
COOPER: How were they holding up? I mean --
AZIZ: They're just -- they're there. They're scared. It's getting to that point where it's like, you know, it's coming. It's a matter of life or death for them and they're ready to come out.
COOPER: That's the thing. I mean, I think for so many people who woke up today, it wasn't raining, the neighborhood hadn't flooded.
COOPER: But, then a certain reservoirs started to flood and overflow. New neighborhoods start to flood that didn't flood before.
AZIZ: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: And that's what happening?
AZIZ: Yes. It's going like the opposite from where, they were fine until everything calmed down from the storm and the rain, and now this whole entire --
COOPER: You've been here since the early '90s, have you -- AZIZ: '91.
COOPER: Have you seen anything like this? I mean, you live to --
AZIZ: Yes, like all of them and never flooded for a day or two in certain areas. Never seen where we have like a river --
AZIZ: You know, for the whole entire subdivision or the entire area. It's covered up a large amount of area.
COOPER: I appreciate you talking to us. And I know, you will be staying here. I just wish you the best.
AZIZ: Thank you. Thanks for all the help for the coast guard. They're doing an amazing job. Thank you guys.
COOPER: Thank you very much, Frankie Aziz.
CNN's Brian Todd is been all day out in the water, he joins us now. Brian, I mean, you've been out there, I've been watching you throughout the day follow and rescue effort in Houston. Also obviously for days, what exactly are residents facing right now? What have you been seeing today?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, they're devastated and they're actually just trying to process this because they were taken by surprise with this wave of flooding that occurred, because it really just started in this neighborhood in earnest at about 1:00 a.m. in the this morning overnight, after the brunt of the storm had passed.
These people thought they had actually ridden it out without too much flooding, but that controlled release from the Addick's Reservoir, which flooding the Buffalo Bayou, not far from here, is what really brought all of these flood waters on.
I'm in a high water vehicle now. I'm about eight feet above ground. Just huge wheels on this pick up truck that we're riding in the back of here. But you can see behind me here just how deep the water is. We were on an airboat with some private rescuers earlier today, and we're just going around doing door knocks and, you know, watching for people flogging us and several dead. But my estimation, we pulled probably 20 people out of these homes. And Anderson, look at this. This (INAUDIBLE) There are apartments down there, it's a labyrinth of places.
If you want to try to get out, the only way you're going to get out is with a high water vehicle like this one or some kind of an airboat. When we rescued those people earlier, we got a chance to talk to them and this is what they were going through.
TODD (on camera): Some of the people now being rescued have thought they dodged a bullet.
DENNIS KITTLER, HOUSTON FLOOD VICTIM: Yesterday afternoon, the sun came out. It receded a little bit. We put everything back that we had put upstairs. And then we had a little hurricane party last night until about midnight. And at 1:00 we had a foot of water.
TODD (voice-over): Volunteers like air boat pilot, Mark Malfa and his partner Joe Ferchild (ph) are out looking for victims to help, especially any place with a towel or other distress signs. Inspite of the dangers and reports that two rescuers maybe missing.
[20:35:03] TODD (on-camera): Do you think about the danger out here?
MARK MALFA, AIR BOAT PILOT: Not really?
TODD: Why not?
MALFA: You just come and do it. You know, I've run a boat all the time. I do it horrible crap on a consistent basis. I just -- I'm used to help. I don't think twice. People need help, I come and help them.
TODD: And we talked to a lot of these people when they got out and got to safer ground. And I asked them do they want to return to their neighborhoods? And some of them were conflict, some of them said they wanted to stay. But others said they had to make an excruciating decision as to whether to return home to all of this. Anderson?
COOPER: Brian, do you have any sense of exactly, you know, how long these rescue teams plan on staying or how they're planning for days ahead
TODD: You know, a lot of the time, Anderson, they gauge it by how exhausted they are at the end of a given day. The rescue teams that we were with today, again, these were all private boat operators, they said that they planned on staying. But, you know, one of the guys who operated a boat said he was just completely fried by the end of the day. So these guys kind of assess it on a day by day basis. But they wake up the next morning and they seem to want to go out. So I think a lot of them are going to be here until these waters completely recede.
COOPER: Yes. Well, there's a lot of people certainly who appreciate what they're doing. Saving lives. Brian Todd, thank you very much.
When we come back, we'll going to hear from the man who shot this just incredible video on I-10. It looks more like the open ocean. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're waiting to see what happens, we just talked to a guy, Frankie Aziz, who is worried about his aunt and uncle. His aunt thought they could ride out the storm in this neighborhood, but the water started to come up just this morning. They're an elderly couple. She just called him and said that we need some help. So some boats have been launched by state authorities here in Texas to go and get the couple out of their home. So we're waiting for them to come back.
You know, with each passing day, we're seeing more and more images that the people have taken on their own. I want to show you this image that we've looked at several times tonight. But I want you to hear from the person who actually took this image, it's some video that was taken on I-10. You would never know it's I-10, you would never know, this is a highway. I talked to the man who took this a short time ago. Listen.
COOPER: And I think for some people the video is kind of hard to wrap your mind around. What we're seeing is the interstate just completely under water, right?
LOGAN WHEAT, WITNESS TO FLOODED INTERSTATE (via telephone): Yes, sir. Six, seven foot of water.
COOPER: Seven foot? And how -- for who long did that go for, I mean, how far was that?
WHEAT: The street that we drove across with the boat was about two miles.
[20:40:02] COOPER: Wow, two miles with water that deep on the interstate?
WHEAT: Yes, sir. I mean, as you got closer to the interstate, it got shallower and shallower, but where we were out in the pasture and the docks in the canals, it was seven foot or more.
COOPER: That's just incredible. Logan, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thank you so much. Be safe.
WHEAT: Yes, sir, no problem.
COOPER: That's Logan Wheat. The images are just extraordinary. There are 28 people confirmed dead in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. 28 lives ended far too soon, each with family and neighbors and friends who right now are grappling with grieve.
Joining me now are two people in the midst of that pain. I want you to meet Lindsey Jordan Gay and Roger Lee Jordan, they lost their dad, Ruben Jordan, a beloved high school track and football coach. Lindsey, I'm sorry for your loss and I appreciate you're spending some time with us, to tell us -- Can you tell me when was the last time you spoke to your dad?
LINDSEY JORDAN GAY, FATHER DIED IN FLOODING: I actually spoke to my dad Saturday morning. I'm a physician. I had gone into work Saturday morning, checked on my patients and got out around noon and spoke to him. And you know, he was -- we all kind of thought Harvey had come and gone and there wasn't much going on and he was kind of just hanging at the house. He told me to be careful getting home and that was the last time I talked to him.
COOPER: And Roger, did you speak with him at all about the storm?
ROGER LEE JORDAN, FATHER DIED IN FLOODING: Yes, sir, I spoke to him Saturday, Saturday night around 8:00, 8:30. And we were just conversing about the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight, just having casual father-son talk, trying to place a personal bet as to who was going to win. And he had mentioned wanting to out and -- to see those fight at a local sports bar. And that was the last that I had spoken to him, as well.
COOPER: Lindsey, tell me about your dad, what kind of a man was he?
GAY: My dad was an amazing man. He has been a coach in lake city area for 28 years. He's been a pillar of the community. He is now -- well, prior to him retiring, he was teaching the kids of the kids that he taught when he first started --
COOPER: Wow, that's incredible.
GAY: -- anywhere without someone knowing him and talking to him. Yes, yes.
COOPER: What legacy that he's taught the kids of the kids. I understand his grandchildren were the light of his life and then he actually told you that you had done everything in his life that he had done everything in his life that he ever wanted to do after he was able to meet your son.
GAY: Yes. I have an 8-month-old, and my dad, for everyone that knows him, he's a big guy. He's a big guy and he keeps a serious face most of the time. But with my son, he was a teddy bear. I had personally never seen him like that. And he has enjoyed this eight months with my son so much.
COOPER: Roger, I know there's been a huge outpouring of support from your community. As you said, your dad, which is beloved, what do you want people to know about him?
JORDAN: He was a very determined, caring, and nurturing soul. He was adamant on encouraging today's youth to be as great as they could. He's a loving individual. He taught us to carry ourselves with class, with dignity and ensure each and every one that we came across the most respect and that would actually return in our favor.
COOPER: Roger and Lindsey I'm just so sorry for your loss. I know those words sound so hollow in your grief, but we're thinking about you. And I wish you both the best. Thank you so much.
JORDAN: Thank you.
GAY: We appreciate it. COOPER: 12 years ago tonight, all eyes were on the city of New Orleans. It's had to believe it's been 12 years ago. It was the day after hurricane Katrina hit. I'll speak with the mayor of New Orleans next.
[20:48:24] COOPER: Local authorities say they've received as many as 70,000 calls for help over the last several days and they have given so much answering those calls. One veteran police Sergeant Steve Perez has given his life. The work is dangerous and at times, it can seem endless, even for the professionals who are trained for these kind of moments, which makes their effort and that of the volunteers that we've had, worth taking note of again tonight. Randi Kaye reports.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The air national guard if the midst of a dramatic rescue. On the other end of that rope line is a newborn baby. This other child from the same family was also rescued. It went on and on until the whole family was safely inside the chopper. They were let out on dryer land.
Strangers came together to rescue an elderly man trapped in his car. He was being swept away by flood waters when the group quickly formed a human chain, stretching from dry land to the man's car. The car appeared to be sinking fast and rescuers yelled to those closest to the man to bust the window. They finally got the door open and the man out. He was taken to a local hospital and reunited with his son.
A human chain would also help save the life of Annie Smith and her soon-to-be-born baby. She was 9 months pregnant, going into labor, and trapped in her Houston apartment. She and her husband, both doctors, had just moved to Houston last month and had never experienced a hurricane. They began to prepare for a home birth, boiling water and sterilizing equipment. Then, they sent out an alert in their apartment complex, calling for an OB/GYN.
[20:50:17] Strangers, some with medical backgrounds, came running. One quick-thinking neighbor stopped a dump truck outside. Neighbors formed a line, holding hands, so Annie could safely walk to the dump truck, which would take her to the hospital.
One neighbor posted this video on Instagram, writing, my incredible neighbors made a human chain to help the woman and her husband to the truck. Moments like these are incredibly precious and remind me of all the good in the world. The couple's daughter was born hours later, in a real delivery room. There were countless rescues by boat, too. And when a boat wasn't handy, there was a cowboy on horseback.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what we do. We help livestock.
KAYE: This man and his son set out to rescue horses, posting this video on Facebook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can come out now, son. Go ahead and -- careful with him.
KAYE: He later posted, we were able to swim in and save four of these horses today. One of the greatest feelings in the world is having my best partner by my side. My 17-year-old son. In a storm this bad, every rescue counts.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Incredible images. For some people, right now, it might be hard to have hope here in Houston or in Beaumont or in Port Arthur, tonight, which is seeing a lot, a lot of water on the ground. A lot of that city, Port Arthur, submerged.
Twelve years ago yesterday, hurricane Katrina made landfall. And I wanted to talk to the mayor of the great city of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, who joins me now. Mayor Landrieu, you've helped bring New Orleans back from the brink. You've helped make New Orleans the extraordinary city it is now. As you see what's happening here in Houston, as you see what's happening in elsewhere in Louisiana, and in Beaumont and in Port Arthur, what goes through your mind tonight?
MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU, NEW ORLEANS: It's really unbelievable. Those images, they're just hard to watch, actually. You interviewed me 12 years ago, and it was just incredible to watch these individuals go through what we went through. For those of us that were in the water, helping people out, you know, you saw the most unbelievable tragedies that you can imagine. Yet at the same time, miraculous, you saw people who would just walk across the street from other people normally, helping each other out. And it just lifted your spirit about our capacity to help each other in the darkest hours.
And so even though it's hard to watch, you're witnessing this in realtime, how human beings can really rise above all the differences that we have and reach down and lift each other up. And it's just incredible. Painful, but incredible.
COOPER: And it is, I mean, rebuilding is possible. And for New Orleans, it took, I mean, obviously, a lot of help from the federal government. A lot of help from the state. But also, incredible volunteer efforts by churches, by veterans, by school kids, by college students. Just people coming for years and years and years.
LANDRIEU: Well, I would just say a couple of things to the people of Houston and Port Arthur and Beaumont and Lake Charles. I know it's hard right now and I know it's painful. I know you're scared, and I know you're frustrated and then you feel like you lost everything. But there's going to be light out at the end of the tunnel. You can actually see it happening as you speak. And the truth of the matter is, New Orleans could have never come back on our own. We relied on the great help of the federal government, but the fate-based group, not for profits. Kids from all over America came and helped lift us back up. And essentially, that's where you get the great hope for our country. You know we're going to survive because of what we're actually seeing on the ground right now, as tragic as it is. And it's going to be OK. And the one lesson that we learned that really transcended everything else is that in our darkest hour, we're all in the same boat. We're all the same, and it's an amazing thing to be a part of. It hurts, but at the end of it, there's a rainbow and it's going to get better.
COOPER: What is -- I mean, as you see the rescue efforts that have been underway here, what is the key? What is the next step for Houston, for Port Arthur, for Beaumont, for all the communities that are so badly affected?
LANDRIEU: There are couple of things going on right now that are unbelievable. 28 USAR teams have been dispatched by FEMA. That's the largest in the history of the country. The governor actually created a dual commandership, so that north com now, military assets are helping, so there's a rescue effort going on, that you can see.
There's also a lot of folks that are in shelters. I think there are 146 shelters that are open, upwards of 22,000 people. The last statistic I heard was that 100,000 homes were hurt. So what's got to happen is people have got the get back to normal as quickly as possible, but they may not be able to go as quickly as they want. And so those shelters have to stay in front of, if you will, the storm.
[20:55:11] Unfortunately, there are a lot of electrical outages. But if they can get electricity back, get that water down and start to pick up that debris, then everybody will start to lift everybody else up.
One of the keys for us was getting the schools back open as quickly as possible and then trying to help people clean out their homes. And then what happens is, you create a virtuous cycle. But here's the thing, the cameras are going to leave and the hard work is going to just be starting. And you just have to remember, put one foot in front of the next, love your neighbor and help each other up. At the end of the day, it's going to get better, but it's is not going to be easy. And I think everybody understand that, knows that. But Houston is strong, Texas is strong, and the rest of the country is going to be there for them, like they were for us. No doubt about it.
COOPER: Well, that's -- I mean, that's the thing. Houston was a city which opened its arms to a lot of folks from New Orleans, you know, who got on buses and ended up here.
LANDRIEU: I tell you, Anderson, it was unbelievable. I saw a story today about Mayor Bill White who had to get evacuated. He was the mayor of Houston at the time that opened up the entire city for us with the county judges and then he had to get rescued this week. It was heartbreaking for me to watch him walking out of that water. He was a giant when the recovery happened. And all of the people of Houston, where they received the people from New Orleans, opened up their schools to us, they opened up their homes. We want to do the same thing for Houston if the need arises. We're hosting the LSBYU game this weekend and we'll do anything we can to help.
I just think right now it's hard. You've got to let the USAR teams do their work. You have to let all the experts and the shelters work with the individuals that are there, help them work through their pain. But you can imagine how scared everybody is who think they lost everything, and they can't see tomorrow. But at the end of the day, though, they'll be able to stand back up. And I know that the whole world and the country is going to help.
COOPER: Well, I know you just marked, obviously, the 12th anniversary, more than 1,800 people lost their lives in Katrina. There's a beautiful memorial to them in New Orleans. My thoughts were with the great people of New Orleans yesterday on that terrible anniversary. I appreciate, Mayor, you're being with us tonight.
LANDRIEU: Well, thank you so much, Anderson. Thank you for all the work you all are doing.
COOPER: Take care. We'll see you soon. We're going to take a short break. We'll have more from Houston. Oh, actually, sorry, we're actually going to go to Chris Cuomo, who -- oh, sorry, Ryan Nobles is standing by in Orange, Texas. Let's check with Ryan. Ryan?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's OK, you can call me Chris Cuomo. That's an honor to be called Chris Cuomo, Anderson. And we are here in Orange, Texas, which is right on the Texas/Louisiana border. And the rescue effort here is ongoing. In many of these communities, water is as much as four feet up in some of these houses. And they really weren't expecting it. This is not a town that traditionally sees a lot of flooding.
So we were in one neighborhood that's about a mile down the road from where we are right now. And I talked to a grandfather who said that the water started seeping in, at around 1:00 this morning, and he just did not expect it. He got his family up, he had several of his grand kids that were staying with him in the house. And they started the process of trying to evacuate. He had a jet ski, but that wasn't enough to get everybody out. But that wasn't much longer into the day that the Cajun Navy came through and there were boat after boat, going through these neighborhoods and getting people to safe. That continues tonight.
There is a shopping center that's here behind me, that the market itself is actually closed right now, but they've been getting in supplies of provisions, water, and food. They've actually been giving it out free to people that can get here. And there's been a steady stream of trucks, trucks pulling boats. We've seen national guard come through, with the high-water trucks, trying to get people into safe areas.
The one concern that we've found is that they can get people out of their homes, they can get them to dry land, but getting them to shelters has been a bit of a problem, because they haven't had enough buses and cars to get these folks to. So this is just the beginning of what is going to be a long recovery for the folks here in Orange, Texas. Anderson, back to you.
COOPER: Ryan Nobles, you stay safe out there. I just want to show you, one boat has come back, but we're still waiting for that boat. A young man named Frankie Aziz came earlier, told some of the rescuers who had actually stopped for the night that his aunt had just called him, she's elderly, she's with his uncle in his 90s as well, saying that the water has risen faster and much higher than they anticipated in their home just today and they need help.
So a group of rescuers went out. We're still waiting for them to come back in. We'll bring you the results of that when they do come back.
Chris Cuomo is going to take over our coverage now. I'm going to be back also at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time live from here to bring you all of the latest. Right now, let's go to Chris Cuomo Prime-Time.
All right. Thanks, Anderson. And thank you for helping us, coming up, as well.
[21:00:05] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks Anderson and thank you for helping us coming up as well. I am Chris Cuomo and this is Prime Time.