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Trump Tweets: "Heart Goes Out" To Harvey Victims; Christie Slams Cruz Over Sandy; Rescues Happening Now in Texas; Governor Abbott Updates Harvey Relief Efforts. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired August 30, 2017 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:55] JOHN KING, HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Welcome back. President Trump's visit to Texas was on his mind today as he took time for this trademark morning's tweets. "After witnessing first-hand the horror and devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas." That was the President's message today.
On the ground in Texas yesterday, the President was briefed on the disaster response efforts and then took time to step outside and address the crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We love you, you are special. We're here to take care. It's going well and I want to thank you for coming out. We're going to get you back and operating immediately.
Thank you everybody. What a crowd, what a turnout. I will tell you this is historic, it's epic, what happened. But you know what? It happened in Texas and Texas can handle anything. Thank you all folks. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So can the President deliver on that promise of immediate help? What else should we learn from his trip down to Texas yesterday?
With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Dana Bash, Carl Hulse of the New York Times, the Weekly Standard's Michael Warren and the Wall Street Journal's Lauren Meckler. It was striking to me that even in the middle of this visit to Texas, to go to a state in the middle of a disaster, if you look at social media and elsewhere, and Trump is in the eye of the beholder.
There was this big political debate and even before they get the graph (ph) as they were live in the White House, whether it's Melania's shoes, the President's hat and then what he said that she's showing up empathy. I guess I'm encouraging it now, but can there not be a -- the President went, it was appropriate for him to go. He stayed out of the way, which is a smart thing to do. He got a briefing. He knows more today than he did yesterday. Why did we get immediately into the marketing mark?
CARL HULSE, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think everything that Donald Trump does is analyzed quite a bit. I think they were trying to make sure they didn't repeat the problems of, you know, hurricane Katrina and Bush and look like their hands on. He got some criticism for not meeting with people and I do think at some point, you know, part of your job is a hugger in chief, right? This is the picture that we all wait for. And he can do that. He can do that later, but I think that they are calculating here a little bit the best way to do it and have some rough spots.
MICHAEL WARREN, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It's kind of a no-win situation, you know. I mean, if he goes into where there's too much flooding, where the disaster is really the worst, of course he gets blamed for drawing away resources and that's Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, that's why he did not go there. But he was, you know, he's not the natural hugger --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
WARREN: -- in chief and it was never going to be that way.
So, you know, even giving a speech which I think was all sort of interpreted as being crass, right, talking about crowd size, I think it was sort of his way of thanking people for being there to help out. But it was just a no-win situation, where he did I think only the best he could.
LAURA MECKLER, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: And I think, you know, Trump is who he is. He's going to be who he is after this comes, there's going to be a moment when people don't like what he says, some people don't like what he said yesterday. What really matters in this is what is the federal -- government response going to be setting free. We're not going to really know how that plays out for a while yet.
And because -- they're just getting past the immediate urgency in Houston. So, you know, there's a lot yet t come and that's when his administration is going to be, I think, rightfully judge and well that goes, so.
KING: Right. And your newspaper, the editorial board which is A.S. (ph), the Republican Editorial Board but they're not shy about thumping this President from time to time. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board today saying, "Yet, it's terrible to tall us, it's impossible to ignore the improved response compared to storms past. The storm isn't over yet, no doubt some will find reasons to point fingers. But at a time when Americans have so little trust in government it's worth noting when it shows it can learn from previous failures."
And I think you see -- we can show you a picture back up at this point. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, two people who you will not see shaking hands, you will not see hugging, you will not see nodding in agreement in Houston and back here in Washington, D.C. Right up -- makeshift city council hearing down there in Houston. So perhaps some bipartisanship that might grow from this?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. No. Well, might grow, yes. That might grow from this? Probably. But let's just start with the here and now. And I stopped in my tracks when I saw that moment this morning when Ted Cruz was speaking, the most conservative of politicians, and Sheila Jackson Lee, the most Democratic of politicians and both of whom are, and most liberal of politicians, both of whom who are aggressively outspoken about their politics, and kind of zinging the opposite party that they were nodding and applauding and agreeing.
[12:35:29] And, you know what? That is the way it should be. That is the way it should be. And, you know, they can go off into their corners and be political when it -- when the situation calls for it. But this situation calls for bipartisanship and thank goodness we're seeing some grown-ups in the room.
KING: We're seeing some grown ups in the room but we're also seeing that some people don't forget. If you're Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, the Republican senators from Texas voted against the super storm Sandy aid package. They said it was lowered up with pork. Most of that money was actually a money for other disasters that did needed more money, or had been set money. But Governor Christie remembers and so when he sees Senator Cruz on TV now saying we need to help Texas, he sees hypocrisy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: If the federal government is not here, Chris, to help people when 50 inches of rainfall on them in an historic way, then what the hell are they there for. That's it. And I had no sympathy for this and I see Senator Cruz and he's disgusting to me, that he stands in a recovery center with victims standing behind him as a backdrop and he is still repeating the same reprehensible lies about what happened in Sandy. It's unacceptable to me, absolutely unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Strong language there from the Republican Governor from New Jersey. Again as people shoving rescue from their homes in Houston, Senator Cruz t the shelter today where he was, yes, Governor Christie is right, that's here he was Senator Cruz responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R) TEXAS (via telephone): I'm sorry that there are politicians who seem really desperate to get their names in the news and are saying whatever they need to do that. We have a crisis on the ground and people who are hurting right now. For folks who are focused on raising political shots and snipes about the Sandy bill. You know, facts matter and a simple fact is the Sandy bill was $50 billion and 70 percent of it was not emergency. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So that blood feud has not taken a break during this.
HULSE: Well, Senator Cruz might want to just let go some of that vast experience and he is going to spend years now asking the Congress and the federal government to deliver billions of dollars to his state. And, you know, his career, honestly has just taken a big change.
KING: And what do we think is going to happen? The President initially said he wanted it done separately, an emergency aid package to Texas, and there'll be many, there'll be many. But the first one done separately, now you hear from people on Capitol Hill who know the best way to do it so that you get it through, is to put the debt ceiling -- Congress has to deal with this, Harvey or no Harvey -- a spending bill to keep the government up and running. Congress has to deal with that, Harvey or no Harvey, and then attach it. Thinking that, you know, these are three vital things, three separate of vital challenges that you put it all together you get the votes. Is that the way they're going to go?
BASH: Probably. But we'll see I think where the votes are. And I think that the fact that the people who are historically the most likely to oppose that kind of, you know, hiding big federal dollars in that kind of bill are the people -- many people are from Texas who opposed it before, but now it's their constituents.
And I don't think just kind of big picture, it's -- I don't think it's just Chris Christie versus Ted Cruz. You said something so important, Carl, which is that Ted Cruz's career is changing. This is a guy who came to Washington on the tea party wave, all about doing away with as a -- as a possible doing away with the federal government, with federal spending and now he is at ground zero of needing federal dollars for his constituents and it just goes to show you how things can change like that.
KING: Well, I want to stop the conversation for a minute to show there's a rescue going on right now, I'm told this is Cypress, Texas. Let's take a peek what we have there live pictures coming in. Again, you can see there are boats in the water.
Is that -- bringing a smaller boat up to a larger vehicle, larger boat as well. It looks like -- there I can't see. You see the backs of these two gentlemen who appear to be on a larger boat, if not (INAUDIBLE) that's a dock. I can't tell because we can't see the pictures there.
But obviously, this is -- scenes like this are playing out all across Texas. This is Cypress Creek. We saw Brian Todd earlier in a suburban neighborhood hear Houston. So the rain has stopped. You can see that in these areas, but that has not stopped the urgency of the search and rescue effort.
[12:40:03] And again, some areas that were not flooded yesterday here in Houston, are flooded today because of issues with the levee and the continued water coming down there. You see here again and these are, by their hats and their uniforms, that some of these people appeared to be first responders. But a lot of the people we've seen doing these are people who are good samaritans.
CNN Miguel Marquez is on the scene of this. Miguel, take us through what you're watching.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What you were looking at are people who were stranded in the Cypress area of Houston just intimate Addicks Reservoir area. This is an area where the water is still rising. A lot of these people were in a hotel and they had to be rescued from there. There were also individuals who had previously refused to leave their home and are now getting out of their home.
So the way that they're doing this, we're in a half ton -- or a 5-ton vehicle here. You can see the people here are getting in the vehicle. And the fire department, the Cy-Fair Fire Department that runs this area, is able to drive out. We're about 300 or 400 feet down state's Highway 6 and then boats, smaller boats are then bringing people to them. And this is basically just a way to get around.
I want to talk to David Padovan if I could. You're with the Cy-Fair volunteer fire department.
DAVID PADOVAN, VOLUNTEER, CY-FAIR FIRE DEPARTMENT: Correct.
MARQUEZ: What's the operation today?
PADOVAN: So we're just making sure that all these areas -- residents who didn't get out before want to get out and we go ahead and get them out right.
MARQUEZ: There's a motel I understand that is now in David that that was not innovated (ph) last night?
PADOVAN: No, it had some water last night. But the problem that we're having is originally when we have been coming through here, we have been asking residents and anybody if they want to leave, some people have wanted to stay not realizing just the magnitude of the flood and how long this floodwater is going to be here. As the news gets out, that's going to be weeks and weeks before this water to subside, are calling us back to come and get them.
MARQUEZ: They're giving in. How many people would you say refused to get on the boat the first couple times you guys were out there?
PADOVAN: There's been so many different calls in so many different areas of our territory it'd be hard to tell, but we received nonstop reports of that. You know, initially they'd call, we'd show up and they would say, no, we decided to stay. And now they're calling us back.
MARQUEZ: All right. You guys -- everybody doing all right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're fine so far so good.
MARQUEZ: How long were you in there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three days.
MARQUEZ: Three days. And you could find (INAUDIBLE) to come out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. The water is not receding, so.
MARQUEZ: You were going to try to stick it out and there was just no way?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way, yes.
MARQUEZ: So these guys are going to be out here for much of the day today, doing this exact same thing. David, do you know how long you're going to be out here at this point or you just going to --
PADOVAN: We're going to be out here as long as we have to be. We have been going 24/7 with multiple crews. We've had assistance from the National Guard, DPS, citizens helping out here, assisting us as well. And until we kind of count for everybody and these floodwaters subside, we're going to be here.
MARQUEZ: And what's the level of organization, obviously, the boats are civilians, do you guys have radios with them? Are they telling you to bring in more people and you wait here until these things fills up or how you work?
PADOVAN: So the assets that we're officially using, we have a base where they have to go in and login. We have to account for each and every one of our personnel and also the civilian assets that we're using. It allows them to go base. We make sure that they're fed. Any leads that they have. And once they come back from being out of here, they're being check up by medical guys.
MARQUEZ: You can see over here a few step onto this side, there's a National Guard vehicle also pulling people out. This is going to be going on for some time. John, back to you.
KING: Miguel Marquez on the scene there in the Cypress area there in Houston, remarkable. And remarkable that makeshift coordination on the fly, between official government employees, people who do this for living and civilians, good samaritans they're helping, it's remarkable what they're doing.
And let's get to more now, CNN's Kaylee Hartung. She's near by in Orange, Texas under a bridge. Tell me what you're seeing there as we other rescues happening throughout the day?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. John, the boats just keep combing and going from here in Orange, Texas. It's been a day for us in which we started in Lake Charles about 30 miles from here, that town bracing for a flood. But when those waters didn't come, we tried to get on the I-10 west and head for Port Arthur. By I-10 west it became impassable when we got to Orange County.
And this is what we saw. A fire department official here telling me he believes this is what the entire county looks like. This place range 25 inches, record breaking rains yesterday. The worst of it in the middle of the night. So rescues began last night. They actually had to suspend the rescue operations around 3:00 a.m.
The fire department taking out by lightening all of their equipment communications were down. The weather is so bad in the middle of the night. They actually suspended those rescue operations but started them up again at 7:00 a.m.
And now we're looking at the scene of a rescue operation that's really two tiered because once you get these people out of these waters, then you try to get them to the only dry ground that we can see. This is underneath this overpass of I-10. So, nobody can quantify how many people have been rescued here.
[12:45:01] But the problem now we're seeing is once you find dry ground, where do you go next? There's one, maybe two of these ramps to I-10 that are still usable. So you've got volunteers not just here with their boats, but also with their large vehicles. You can see a very large pick-up truck right there trying to help some people.
But now the question is, where do you go? Once you get to dry ground, where do you go? There's discussions now of where is the nearest shelters can be found. We were able to inform some people that you shouldn't even try to go west toward Beaumont, the interstate as they said impassable. So Lake Charles likely the best option for a lot of people, Lake Charles, because they have been spared from the worst of the flood to this point, they are now turning their attention on how they can help others. The civic center there open and accepting as many people as they can handle as they try to assess what they can handle.
But you're seeing here cooperation of local officials, the fire department here, but also volunteers. I saw a boat with a plate from South Carolina. John, all hands on deck here as people try to get to safety.
KING: It's remarkable scene and again we salute the remarkable efforts and heroism by people pitching in including a lot of good samaritans. Kaylee Hartung there watching (INAUDIBLE).
Another reminder, the rain may have stopped in the Houston area, but the challenge continues. Look at the weather map there. Harvey still over land. Again, a break for Houston at the moment, but many people still displaced, the shifting waters are still complicating the challenge there.
We take a quick break. When we come we're waiting to hear from the Governor Greg Abbott for his daily update on the challenges of dealing and recovering from Harvey.
KING: Take you straight to Austin, Texas, the Governor Greg Abbott.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Good afternoon. There is a lot to report some new information. First as a recap about yesterday and that is as you know, the President of the United States was here in the state of Texas, first in Corpus Christi, to talk to local officials about challenges they were facing because of damages incurred in their various counties, especially the very hard hit, Aransas County, Port Aransas, Rockport area and the desperate needs they have to get power restored as well as to begin the rebuilding process. And then the President was here at this operations center and got to see what we do.
His commitment was firm, strong and unequivocal, that he was going to do everything he could to ensure that Texas will be restored as swiftly and as effectively as possible. As we all know there's been rapidly changing conditions in the state of Texas. While at the same time, we are beginning the rebuilding process around the coastal bend region.
[12:50:08] And while we are dealing with what is now receding waters in Harris County and the ongoing evacuation as well as safety rescue process in Harris County. We're now also dealing with the catastrophic conditions in southeast Texas. And those conditions are a threat to life and property. And that is required that we take measures to do all we can to help protect them. And I will cover part of that in various different categories as I go through this discussion.
First let me tell you, that since I last announced the status of the National Guard in the state of Texas, I last announced that we had 12,000 National Guard members activated, that number has been increased to 14,000. The reason for that is because some members have come back from deployment overseas, others who were unable to participate because their own homes had been subject to flooding or damage, they are now able to help participate.
Bottom line, we are now up to our highest level of the number of Texas National Guard members who are deployed to help our fellow Texans deal with these challenges.
We are also, as we speak, coordinating with the National Guard bureau to deploy an additional 10,000 national guard who were being deployed here from other states. So that will take us up to a total of approximately 24,000 national guard who will be deployed here in the state of the Texas.
Now some of those will be arrayed across the greater Harris County area. We are immediately deploying far more to southeast Texas to deal with the emergency conditions that people are facing in southeast Texas and we will continue to deploy more west of the Harris County area, all the way through Victoria, to the coastal bend region.
We are also getting immediately, 200 boats and 200 vehicles from the Department of Defense to be assigned where needed. As you might imagine, the most urgent location for that is in the greater Beaumont/Southeast Texas area, as well as ongoing needs in the greater Harris County area.
I have asked for and received an expansion of the number of counties added to the Federal Disaster Declaration. It is gone from -- that's the increases. It's gone -- Now the total is 33 counties are part of the Federal Disaster Declaration. We've added 14 counties, and I want to list these counties so that people in these counties will understand that by being included in this Federal Disaster Declaration, individuals, as well as local governments are going to be eligible to receive aid from FEMA.
First I'm going to list 11 counties that are -- have what I call a complete Federal Disaster Declaration, which includes both individual assistance, as well as public assistance. These new counties include Colorado County, Fayette County, Hardin County, Jasper County, Jefferson County, Montgomery County, Newton County, Orange County, Sabine County, San Jacinto County, and Waller County.
There are four counties added to the Federal Disaster Declaration where public assistance is available, but individual assistance is not. The reason for that is these four counties were not the subject of disasters in the way that these other counties are, but they are aiding in the support of the disaster. And they include Dallas, Tarrant, Travis and Bexar County. These are all counties that are providing a tremendous amount of public assistance in dealing with these challenges, such as sheltering evacuees, providing law enforcement and other assistance to these efforts.
[12:55:12] I want to emphasize something very important, that I will come back to several times during my remarks. For the people in these counties I just listed, especially those 11 counties that are going to be receiving individual assistance, you need to write down this website address. It is disasterassistance.gov, disasterassistance.gov. If you are in one of the counties that's part of the federal disaster declaration, you will be eligible for immediate support from FEMA that you can register to receive at disasterassistance.gov. And I'll talk to you more about that later.
Let me talk to you a little bit about weather, where we are, and where we're going. First, as you know, the rain that was received in the greater Harris County area has set an all-time record. Now that rain has moved to the Beaumont region in Southeast Texas. Approximately 15 inches of rain have already fallen in the area and there's more to come. The worst is not yet over for southeast Texas as far as the rain is concern.
There will be ongoing challenges both during the time that rain continues to fall as well as for approximately four days to a week to come. Let me mention specifically, flooding conditions that will continue to be a challenge for people in the area. And includes the Sabine and Natchez Rivers, there will be record flooding in the lower Natchez and the flooding there may last a week.
Major flooding will continue for a few days in the Beaumont region and the lower Brazos River region where there could be extensive flooding for about a week if not longer. And the lower Colorado region, there should be flooding for the rest of the week. Over in Victoria and Cuero, there should be ongoing flooding for a few days. It's important for people in all of these regions, as well as in every county that's affected by storms that you continue to listen to and heed local warnings about evacuation.
So listen to, heed and follow evacuation notices and then of course on top of that, always please remember, and that is if there is flooding around your area, do not drive into that flooded area. Many of the lives, if not most of the lives that have been lost in this devastating storm so far, are lives that have been lost because of people who were driving vehicle into flooded waters. Do not drive your vehicle into flooded waters.
Some information based upon certain categories, first, the Texas National Guard. They are active in 25 locations across the state. As I mentioned, we now have 14,000 state national guard deployed, with more than 600 vehicles, 500 boats and 100 helicopters.
They have been doing most recently air rescue missions in the Beaumont region. And in the past week, they have made more than 8,500 rescues, more than 26,000 evacuations and more than 1,400 shelter in place and welfare checks. They will continue in a most immediate time period, search and rescue operations and aiding shelter operations across the state.
Some information about the PUC and access to power. There is an urgent need to get power restored in the coastal bend region, in particular in Aransas County, Port Aransas, Aransas pass, locations like that. The power provided there is AEP. And the update for AEP is there are still 107,000 outages, that is an improvement since the last time I reported which I think was around 138,000 level.