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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Attacks San Juan Mayor After She Begs For Help; The Bronx Turns Out to Support Maria Donation Drive; Doctors Plead for Medicine in Puerto Rico; Mother's Mission to Find Missing Son Following Maria. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 30, 2017 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:01:20] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here. President Trump today taking to Twitter more than usual. All of these messages related to the hurricane disaster. Not all of them positive. Now in the most startling tweet, he called the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a poor leader.

He wrote this this morning. "Poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan and others." Also this referring to Puerto Ricans in general. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. That's poor leadership comment he was aiming at San Juan's Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto. She had been pleading with the U.S. federal government to move faster and more efficiently and with less red tape, to get food and water and medical help to desperately needy people in her city. Here is an update on where the recovery stands right now in Puerto Rico. And most officials say, just five percent of electricity has been restored.

Also, about half of the island's water service is back. Just 11 percent of Puerto Rico's cellphone towers are working. Electricity has team covering this recovery work from Puerto Rico to the White House and we want to start with our Ryan Nobles who is just getting right now more reaction from the President who is continued to tweet this out this afternoon. Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right Ana, it is been a busy day on Twitter for the President of the United States. He's tweeted 15 different times about what's happening in Puerto Rico. Most of those tweets about him defending himself and defending his administration from the criticism of their response to exactly what's happening in Puerto Rico. Much of his criticism aimed at the mayor of San Juan who has been very critical of the administration in general but is actually never specifically criticized President Trump himself but has pleaded for his help in the administration to help the people of Puerto Rico.

But I want to talk a little bit about the time line of the President's tweets today. We do know that he's at his golf course in New Jersey. This is the second weekend in a row that he is been here and his tweets started early this morning at around 8:07 a.m. And then there was a gap of about six hours before the President started tweeting again at around 2:04 p.m. The President then took a series of calls for about 45 minutes with various leaders from the region in Puerto Rico, including the governor of Puerto Rico, the former governor of Puerto Rico, the congresswoman there and as well as the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Then at around 3:19, after those calls wrapped up, the President begin tweeting again, basically giving a read out of these calls and saying complementary things about these leaders that he spoke to. Now, we don't know what happened between those six hours between when the President started those tweets and stopped the tweets and then began again. But we did specifically ask the White House if the President golfed at all today.

And they did not respond one way or the other. And they generally do not comment on whether or not the President has been golfing. But Ana, it's important to point out that he is again at this golf course, he was at the golf course last week as well. Just a few days after hurricane Maria had hit land fall in Puerto Rico. And the devastation there was already apparent. Now he did hold a series of briefings and tele-conversations with leaders in Puerto Rico a little bit before this storm and after.

But that following weekend as the devastation was really starting to set in, there were no phone calls or conversations that we know of that took place. Now, he was a little busier this weekend, obviously pushing back on this criticism that he's received for the response to the situation and there are now tens of thousands of troops and FEMA personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico with a specific goal of trying to help the citizens there.

And of course, the President will travel to Puerto Rico on Tuesday. First Lady Melania Trump will be joining him. The question is Ana, what type of reception will he receive after he was so critical of the mayor of San Juan and truly was critical of the people on the ground there saying that they need to do more to help themselves in his tweets this morning. We certainly saw a very welcome reception when he visited other parts of the United States. Now, he's heading to an American territory filled with American citizens who are in desperate need of the federal government's help -- Ana.

CABRERA: Ryan, talking more about the President's upcoming trip to Puerto Rico. Do we know what the agenda looks like? Does he plan to meet with the mayor of San Juan, perhaps?

NOBLES: That's a great question, Ana. And at this point, there are no plans for him to meet with the mayor of San Juan. And the two of them have had no communications throughout this entire situation. Now we should point out that they are of different political parties and in the past before hurricane Maria blew in, Mayor Cruz was very critical of Donald Trump on a variety of other issues that have nothing to do with the hurricane response.

[17:06:07] But since the hurricane blew through, she's made a number of desperate pleas to try and get more help for her people. And she was critical of the acting director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke who said that the response was going very well. And that's when she made an emotional response to that on CNN where she said that that just wasn't the case. But in terms of her interaction with Donald Trump, they have all been through television screens and through the internet, they have not had any formal conversations one on one or even in a group setting.

We'll have to see if that changes when he travels to the region on Tuesday. As we said, today he had five different phone calls today and she was not among the leaders that he spoke with.

CABRERA: Ryan Nobles travelling with the President in New Jersey. Thank you. Let me take us now to San Juan and CNN's Leyla Santiago. And Leyla, I know the President as we discuss is planning to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday given what he has been twitting today. What kind of reception will he get there?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is actually been pretty mix. A lot of people are not happy with what the President had to say. Because they believe Puerto Ricans are doing everything they can to help each other out right now. And one example of that, you know, I was today with super star Daddy Yankee, the musician who is here and he's working with the food bank to do everything he can to get food, to get aid out to the people of Puerto Rico.

We rode along with him as he distributed a week's worth of food to more than 4,000 families. And when that help arrived, Ana. I saw elderly with medical needs. I saw young children with their mothers waiting in line because help had not arrived. They told me that FEMA has been in that area which is -- somewhat close to San Juan. And they told me that FEMA had been in the area to distribute water. But beyond that, many of them are still without power.

So, let's actually go over some of those numbers. Right now 33 percent of the communication infrastructure has been restored. Fifty percent of the water services has been restored. But when it comes to power, only five percent of this island has power right now. Everybody else is running on generators and those generators are running out of diesel. So, that means people are getting desperate because FEMA maybe here and FEMA maybe doing damaging assessment but when it comes to those remote areas, those areas of the most vulnerable people, that help is still not arriving -- Ana.

CABRERA: What is your sense of what they need most right now, Leyla? SANTIAGO: Medical aid. A lot of people are getting desperate because

hospitals are down. Diesel, the lines for gas. The lines for diesel because the diesel powers the generators. And when you have an island of only five percent of power, those generators are crucial. Crucial in the hospitals, crucial in the homes, crucial in the homes of elderly. And so, right now there are long lines and people are waiting in line for hours at gas stations and trying to get their hands on gas.

The water seems to be a better situation today especially given that we heard that FEMA is already distributing that in areas that were really hitting hard by Hurricane Maria. And 50 percent of water services have been restored. That is according to FEMA and the governor's office backing them up on those numbers. But communication is still a major problem. People who have not been able to reach families, to let them know they are okay. People who can't get news. We have no idea how to reach FEMA because there is no communication.

CABRERA: That must be so weird for so many people to feel in this information, black hole. Leyla Santiago, thank you for your wonderful reporting.

And our best to your family. I know you are from Puerto Rico and you have family there and had an emotional reunion with them in the last 24 hours or so.

Our Ivan Watson is also there, has been surveying the damage, has been speaking with the Americans there. And Puerto Rico who need the help.

And Ivan, based on what we are hearing, it sounds like electricity is a big thing. But these basic necessities, food, water, gas, medicine are also hard to come by for a lot of people, given there are still areas that are more disconnected than the main city like San Juan, how is all of that getting to those people?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question here. You know the roads, the highways that I have traveled on out of the capitol here in San Juan have been opened and inside roads as well through smaller towns and that's one remarkable achievement of these ten days since the hurricane. You can drive to places.

[17:11:11] Then when you get to those places, you are struck that only 45 minutes out of San Juan and an hour out of San Juan, there is no electricity and people say not only there is running water and there are gas lines and people are spending the night in to get these diesels and gas for their vehicles that you've already heard about from Leyla that also the cell phones signal is -- to non-existence, so there is no information of where to go.

I mean, I saw a line yesterday in a town and people had spent the night in line waiting for fuel. They did not know whether or not a fuel truck would come. But they had heard rumors that perhaps one would come and so they were spending the day there when we passed that fuel line again in the afternoon for morning to afternoon. The fuel trucks still have not come. So, people have been there for more than 24 hours.

There are incremental improvements particularly here in the capitol when we were driving back from the countryside on Friday evening. Puerto Rican guy, Michael, who was driving us, got a text message when we got back into cellphone range at the edge of the city from his wife, saying, hey, the water has been turned back off. And another man I spoke with about an hour ago, he said, you know, the water is on in my house.

I have a one year old and a three year old, the water is running. I don't have electricity, we are running by flashlights and candles but at least for the water to be on, that's what I need right now. And he went onto say, he probably won't get electricity by his estimates until Christmas. So, that gives you a sense of some of the conditions people are living in both here in the capitol where things are starting to pick up a bit, shops and businesses and restaurants on the streets are opening up after they have been closed for eight or nine days. And in the countryside where the situation is much, much dire -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Thank you so much, Ivan Watson, Leyla Santiago, thank you both. And thank you for your reporting on a tough situation there.

I want to talk more about President Trump's comment of attacking San Juan's mayor and the people of Puerto Rico. Let's talk it over with Brian Stelter.

CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." Juana Summers, CNN politics senior writer and John Phillips, CNN political commentator and KABC talk show host. Brian, I know you had been monitoring the reaction on this President's favorite platform, media platform Twitter and other source of media sites today. What are you seeing?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I am struck by how many conservative commentators as well as liberals or moderates have chime in and said, what the President is saying was inappropriate. His tweets about the San Juan mayor this morning. And then there is been many, many more as you know this afternoon. At one point, the President is saying, we are all united. And then the next -- says, don't believe the fake news.

It's a confusing sometimes contradictory messages coming from the President. But I want to put his tweets into perspective. The most popular tweet from the President today. About 15,000 re-tweets meaning 15,000 people who shared it on their own twitter feed. Lin- Manuel Miranda, the star of the creator of "Hamilton," he tweeted this morning saying, Mr. President, you are going to hell.

And that's how four times as many re-tweets. There are a lot of messages out there critical of the President. And in some cases gaining a lot more attention. For example, former President Obama's tweet from a few days ago, encouraging Puerto Rico relief efforts. That's way more popular than the post from the current president about what's going on in Puerto Rico. So, that signals to me that his words are newsworthy, his words are shocking. I would argue that some of his words today are beyond the pale. But a lot of the reactions to him, in some cases even more popular and getting even more attention online.

John, what strikes me about some of the comments on Twitter, from the President himself is he seems to be patting himself on the back for his administration's response. But when you look at the reality on the ground, five percent have electricity, less than half of the people have water restored about ten days after this. He's calling this great.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what's the saying in politics where you stand depends on where you sit. And so, the mayor of San Juan is critical of the federal government, she's asking for more resources as any mayor would do if their city was hit by two huge storms like she was. That is why she was on TV so much and she's probably getting bigger after pension than me. And if you are the President, you have a finite amount of resources and you have a country that's been hit by three hurricanes in a neighbor that was hit by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. So, you do as much as you can.

He sent 10,000 people down there. He sent a general down there to coordinate the efforts. He relaxed the Jones act. This is not a president that's sitting by and watching as islands is destroyed doing nothing. He's acting. I've lived during the '94 Northridge earthquake. When 57 people were killed, 8,700 people were injured. And 44 billion with the B dollars' worth of damage was done to my city and my region which was bigger at the time than most state budgets. And Mayor Dick Weirden (ph) and Governor Pete Wilson worked like Trojans to get this region back-up and running and people were still critical. When you are suffering, it cannot come fast enough.

[17:16:20] CABRERA: A short time ago, I spoke with Texas Democrat, Congressman Al Green who represents parts of Houston that was devastated by hurricane Harvey. Here is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: If they were all Anglos, I don't believe the President will have the attitude that he has because you don't hear that kind of dog whistle of people not wanting to pull themselves by their bootstraps when the people are Anglos. That's something reserved for people of color. And it sends a signal to others as to what the defense would be for the President. So now they all know. When they get on these programs, they are supposed to talk about the budget and what is going to cost.

We don't worry about cost when people have their lives at stake. A lifeguard doesn't ask about the death of the person that is about to drown, the lifeguard has a duty to die and save the life. The President is the lifeguard for the United States of America. He's the guy in charge, and he ought to act like every American life has equal value. All of us are the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: John, what was your reaction to those remarks?

PHILLIPS: I think he's race baiting and I think he has no basis in fact. Is Houston not a diverse city? Is South Florida not a diverse place?

CABRERA: The President did not say this about those places. The President did not say, they want everything done for them.

PHILLIPS: He did the same thing for Houston and the same thing for South Florida that he's doing right now for Puerto Rico which is getting them as much as possible, as fast as possible.

CABRERA: He did not criticize the victims of the natural disaster. I'm sorry, he did not do the same.

PHILLIPS: Puerto Rico is bankrupt. They are in sovereign. When you are dealing with FEMA, you are aiding local authorities, you're aiding local first responders, if you are dealing with the state or territory that is financially insolvent, you have less to deal with. The guy is doing as much as he can. He's the President, not a miracle worker.

STELTER: There is not a lot of evidence that he is doing as much as he can. He was not in front of the cameras and the days after the storm, promising to do everything that was possible. He went to a rally in Alabama and then he took the weekend off at his resort in New Jersey. That was last weekend. Now we're seven days later and he's back at the golf resort. But I think the reason why this racial conversation happens, in this case, it is the female, it is a woman of color criticizing the President. This day last year, it was Alicia Machado, woman of color who was criticizing the President, this is during the campaign of course. And the President was tweeting to her calling her "disgusting." So, there is a pattern of who he chooses to attack and who he chooses not to. And I think --

PHILLIPS: Okay. Rosie O'Donnell is as white as red.

STELTER: It's easy to pull one and I can name, Mika Brzezinski as well. That is absolutely true. Those are both women by the way.

PHILLIPS: Joe Scarborough.

STELTER: But they said there is a history here from Charlottesville --

PHILLIPS: Chuck Schumer, Jeb Bush.

STELTER: -- to Puerto Rico this weekend that is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. And I am surprised the President given that he knows that continues to tweet. So, you know -- un-presidentially.

CABRERA: Juana, I want to bring you into the conversation. You cover a lot of diversity about race and politics. And is there a racial component and arguments to be made regarding the President's response to Puerto Rico and the disaster facing the citizens there.

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: When I was reading these comments, I want to look really carefully at the words the President used. I think there is a lot of questions that he talks about they, who should be doing more for themselves not expecting other people to give more for them. The fact of the matter is, we don't know what "they" the President is talking about. And as of right now, I reached out to the White House several hours ago to ask them exactly what the President is getting this back and forth about who he is talking about. And they have not responded.

So, based on that evidence, I kind of look at it and see that he is seeking about these disaster victims where as Americans as those in taxes as Americans and those in Florida. For some reason he's chosen to single them out for criticisms for what they are not doing. And I think that we, these comments as Brian said are really kind of beyond the pale. It's not that they were used of hearing, I can't imagine what the response would be.

Making a different American city. A different mayor. The President of the United States is at a golf course right now disparaging a mayor who is cutting out and regardless of whether or not you like how much is on TV, she is pleading for help for people that are dying. That is just seems really striking to me and I think something we cannot ignore.

CABRERA: Go ahead, John, if you have a response to that.

PHILLIPS: He was referring to the bankruptcy of Puerto Rico because as the governor of New York said earlier in this program, the role of FEMA in the situation like this is to aid the state local authorities. When they're bankrupt and they don't have an infrastructure, more of the burden has to be taken on by the Feds. And when you are geographically in a place that's difficult to get to, sometimes it takes longer. It is unfortunate but they are trying as hard as they can.

CABRERA: All right. John Phillips, Juana Summers and Brian Stelter, thank you all for that.

[17:21:01] See how people more than a thousand miles from the Caribbean are coming together to support the people at Puerto Rico. We'll have a live report from our Polo Sandoval, next. This is CNN, you are in the newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:17] CABRERA: New York has the largest population of Puerto Ricans in the mainland United States. And that community is turning out in droves to support victims of the crisis affecting Puerto Rico.

Our Polo Sandoval is joining us now from the Bronx where lawmakers are holding a donation drive for the U.S. commonwealth. And Polo, I understand the response there has been so overwhelming. They had to call for more trucks to transport all the donations people are making.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Overwhelming and incredible too, Ana. Just look at this. You have almost an entire city blocked just palettes of water. This is all stuff that is been coming in throughout the day. You have water, you have food, you have clothing as well and it's all being real by volunteers. It was staging area and then eventually in this trucks Ana, we have seen at least six big tractor trailers already filled up and many of these people have relatives in Puerto Rico and many of these people have been hoping that some of these assistance will end up with their families. In fact, we'll catch up with some of the volunteers right now.

You are live on CNN. Just very quickly, tell me where you hope, you have family in Puerto Rico, you hope some of these help make its way to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I just want to say to the -- we are doing the best we can, we are loading the trucks as fast as we can. We are short on trucks as you could see all of this applies here. This is not about politics or anything, it's not about football game or about nothing. It is not about race -- there is only one race is human racism and you can see there is black and Puerto Ricans and Jews, even on the totality, the Jews came out.

So, we all stick together and help Puerto Rico because we have to get this non-sense of political theocracy out of the way, and start helping the people that's needed. And as the catastrophe as it was in Puerto Rico, this is in the Bronx, I am from Queens and Queens came here, the Bronx came here.

SANDOVAL: With President Trump tweeted earlier today, one of his many tweets about Puerto Rico saying, it takes a community to eventually recover from this. Is this the community that you hope to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump does not have to tell you, this is a family. Puerto Rico is an American country whether we recognize or we don't recognize it. It should have been recognized as a state but it takes so long because of the bureaucracy. But as they concede, Puerto Rican people can see that the Bronx, Queens and all five bureaus, we are all one nation and this is what we are standing by.

SANDOVAL: Thank you, sir. We'll let you get back to work. Again, Ana, just one of many volunteers who have just been stacking stuff into the tracks here. These are important things that they need, these are importing things that family members here in the Bronx hope it will make it to their family members in Puerto Rico. They maybe 1600 miles away but they certainly are sending their vibes to that island. Just so you have a better idea too, Ana.

You are looking at about 400,000 Puerto Ricans who call the Bronx home. So many of them are hoping. All of this makes it way to Puerto Rico. It should be happening very soon as they are going to be leaving mainly on some of the private entities and some of the churches in Puerto Rico that is trying to get this help out as soon as possible.

CABRERA: That is so heartwarming to see that effort there. Polo Sandoval, thank you for bringing that to us. Now, one of the many problems people in Puerto Rico are facing is getting medical supplies. Our doctor Sanjay Gupta shows you firsthand that situation. Next on the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:32:54] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The people who care the least about presidential tweeting and name calling today are the people of Puerto Rico, Americans struggling to survive in the hellish conditions left by the hurricane. The devastation for fuel and water, great. So is the demand for medicine.

Our own chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is hearing directly from doctors on the ground that this is one of their biggest impediments right now, and this is treating people, and they are pleading for help.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: We are tied up here because we don't have antibiotics to give to patients and we have no place to get them.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I kept on thinking to myself, how difficult this could be. If these life-saving supplies are on the island of Puerto Rico, why aren't they getting to the people who need it? What's standing in the way of that happening? Can I make it happen myself?

First, I am going to try these DMAT tents, the Disaster Management Assistance Team, HHS. This is the federal government. See what they have to offer.

I was with the doctors yesterday who were volunteering. And this is what they are asking for.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: OK.

GUPTA: OK, we have been waiting for 45 minutes now outside the HHS tent. We know that they have medications. What we heard is they've got to run up it two lines of command, two chains of command, and then they get back to us. But it's been 45 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?

GUPTA: We're going to try somewhere else.

We are trying to get to some of these medications because we went to some shelters.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: Is there medications?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We have medications at the right.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: OK. OK, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: Because the hospitals have been slow to start back up, these are all volunteer doctors over here, who basically come, trying to gather supplies and taking it out to the people that need it. They're trying their best. It's a slow process.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). OK?

GUPTA: OK. Yes, OK. If we can get a few doses, we'll take it there.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: We have only some of the antibiotics on palettes.

[17:35:04] GUPTA: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICAN: You need it also?

GUPTA: Yes, that'll be great.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Some azithromycin.

GUPTA: Perfect. Doctor, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: The only one I can give you.

GUPTA: Appreciate it. Thank you.

It is all about getting supplies and getting them to the people who need it. These come from an organization called Direct Relief. You can see their setup right beneath this parking structure with all these medications. We got them. Now we are going to take them.

What Doctor Morales asked was that we get these medications and see if we can bring it to this clinic and hospital. This is one of those places that's up and running. Without this medication, they have not been able to take care of patients.

Dr. Rodriquez?

I was told to bring you this.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Thank you.

GUPTA: These are

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Thank you.

GUPTA: Let me tell you what we have, is all sorts of antibiotics primarily. Dr. Morales said you were needing a lot of this.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Yes.

GUPTA: Azithro.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Yes.

GUPTA: You can go through it. There is also pediatrics.

I hope this helps.

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Yes, a lot. Thank you.

GUPTA: You're doing great work here. Just keep doing what you're doing.

It is like a little baby.

(LAUGHTER)

(voice-over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: A sliver of life there in the dark situation in Puerto Rico right now.

Sanjay, thank you for that story.

A mother's mission to find her son, missing since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. She will join us live, next on the CNN NEWSROOM.

Anthony Bourdain, meantime, says "PARTS UNKNOWN" is more than a food show. On the next episode, he dived deeper into Singapore's political system, cultures and, of course, food.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: It is a food show, right?

Well, not really.

It is a concept in a lot of way. If you look at the mix of people, ethnicity and religions, all in relatively close quarters here, it is rather an extraordinary success story. A place where everything works this well, and a system is so seemingly different than the one, that's generally confusing.

One of the things that's always frightening to me was how awesome the food is and how enthusiastic and knowledgeable people are about food here.

If you're looking for pound for pound, most foot, best food, most diverse selection of food maybe anywhere in the planet, you are most definitely talking about Singapore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Catch Anthony Bourdain in Singapore this Sunday, at 9:00 p.m. eastern, on CNN, "PARTS UNKNOWN." (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:17] CABRERA: Earlier this week, a worried mother in New Jersey told my colleague, Brooke Baldwin, about her desperate search to find her son in Puerto Rico. As we have been telling you, the communication system is totally destroyed there. So it is a challenge for people to communicate with each other and with family members. She told us on Thursday she had not heard from her son since Hurricane Maria made landfall. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACQUE GORMLEY, SON MISSING IN PUERTO RICO: It feels horrible. You don't know where to go and you pace back and forth and you wake up in the middle of the night thinking you miss a call or get back on the computer. I called every police station I can find on the Internet. I posted it on Facebook. I joined every Facebook and SnapChat and Instagram, Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico, that is out there just to try to get some information --

(CROSSTALK)

GORMLEY: -- or just some word that you know that your son is fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That mother, Jacque Gormley, is joining us now.

Jacque, I am a mom, too. I cannot imagine that feeling and that heart-wrenching feeling of not knowing all these days. And now you have a slight smile. You have good news to share with us?

GORMLEY: I do. I do. It started yesterday from a text of my cousin, Evelyn. She sent me a copy of a letter that my son's grandmother wrote telling us she was fine. The only thing that they did not have is water and electricity but they are both fine and confirm his airline reservations that we have made to both storms. This morning, we were in the town and we got a call and they said, we found our son, would you like to speak to him. Of course, it was just amazing. And like I said, the first time I spoke to everyone, the first thing my son is going to say is, I am sorry for not being able to reach you.

(CROSSTALK)

GORMLEY: So it was amazing.

CABRERA: Yes, what was that phone call with him like?

GORMLEY: My goodness, gracious, I was filled with so much joy. And of course, first and for most, thanking God that my son is safe and he kept them safe and his grandmother. And, it made me think of all the mothers and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts that have not been as lucky as I am. It just -- this rush of emotions and I was crying because I was happy. I was crying because I was sad. It was just -- I cannot bring the words out to explain how I actually felt. It was great to hear my son and his grandmother and great to hear him say, mom, I love you and for me to let him know how much I love him.

[17:45:20] CABRERA: Explain to our viewers why he was there and what was his experience and what did you learn of the past few days had been like for him after the hurricanes?

GORMLEY: Well, he was there vacationing and visiting his grandmother and had not seen him a little bit and she lives in Puerto Rico. He went to spend some time with her and was going to be two weeks turned into several months. It is a great experience. I was hoping that he will learn to speak Spanish, it did not happen. The experience had been scary. I don't wish this on anyone and not just the mother and on anyone. I do not wish them to go through this. It was an experience for him and for myself and speaking to him, I can hear in his voice when he said, mom, I cannot wait to come home.

(CROSSTALK)

GORMLEY: God willing, he's coming home on Saturday. He's had reservations for October 7. So hopefully, Saturday afternoon, my son will be home.

(CROSSTALK)

GORMLEY: He flies into Philadelphia airport.

CABRERA: OK, great.

Sorry, I think I accidentally stepped on you a couple of times, but there was a little delay with our satellite feed here.

I wanted to ask if you have a message for the president. He's been vocal on Twitter today. I know you had a message for him earlier this week about his response to the crisis there in Puerto Rico. What's your message to the president now?

GORMLEY: Out of respect in his position, I am going to keep it nice and just -- say his messages and tweets today on Twitter, against the first lady of San Juan, were uncalled for. He should not be talking about a state that's in such crisis the way he is, or any state for that matter. I heard earlier he's trying to -- they're trying to cover up for him to say he meant that with any other countries or states in the same crisis. They all need to help each other. He's not there day in and day out. If he wants to see what's going on, join one of these live feeds that have these American Puerto Rican people there helping each other, helping clean the rubble on the streets, helping them feeding each other and giving water to each other. I just -- his tweets are ignorance, I'm sorry to say. They were ignorant and they were uncalled for. He should just do what he's supposed to do, and do right by it.

I heard earlier today that his five-star general was saying that they don't have soldiers to help, you know, to get those boots on the ground like our first lady of San Juan was saying. So he needs to get on that phone and make sure he can make it happen.

Like I said the other day, if it was any one of his family members or his child that was out there, I guarantee you, this man would not be out golfing right now. He would be doing something about it. So do something about it.

CABRERA: Jacque Gromley, thank you very much for your time. I am so happy that you connected with your son.

GORMLEY: Thank you. I appreciate the time. And God bless you guys.

CABRERA: You, too.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:53:08] CABRERA: CNN's "CROSSROADS JAPAN" explores the best the country has to offer. One thing in particular? Denim. CNN went to Jean Street for a look at this remarkable 50-year-old district. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): You could say this city is deeply devoted to denim. But that might be an understatement.

Kojima, Japan, started making jeans about 50 years ago and today, high-end local brands help attract visitors from around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): At first, Motaro was the only jeans shop running on the street. There was a small number of people, about 15,000 visited in 2010. Now it has become more than 300,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blue jeans may have been born in the United States, but they brought new life to this part of Japan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Who knew?

Amid the coverage of devastating storms that have ravaged the U.S. and the Caribbean, we have heard inspiring stories about everyday people pitching in to help. This week's "CNN Hero" found a unique way to do that. Stan Hayes is a champion pit master. For the last six years, he and his buddies have barbequed. And they've been able to respond to disasters the best way they know how.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAN HAYES, CNN HERO: After a disaster, there is two basic needs that a person has. The first one is shelter. And the other one is nourishing. And so barbecue, besides being a nourishing meal, is comfort food. Being able to give somebody a hot barbecue meal in one of their worst times, we are not only giving them something nutritious, but we are giving them a little bit of normalcy for just a short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:55:21] CABRERA: Stan and his team responded to Harvey and Irma. And they soon hope to send meals to Puerto Rico. You can Operation Barbecue Relief in action at CNNheroes.com.

I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Thank you for being here. I'll see you two hours live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

"Smerconish" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:00:10] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish, in New York City. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.