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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  August 26, 2017 11:00am-11:30am PDT

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threatening in parts of texas. and the mayor of rockport telling me there is already widespread devastation. we'll have full team coverage throughout the state as harvey continues to whip texas. so one of the hardest hit areas is victoria, texas, cnn's polo sandoval is live there. polo, you're still experiencing all the elements there. tell us what's happening. >> reporter: yeah. yeah, it's amazing, fred. almost on cue it's as if somebody was listening when you mentioned that tropical storm, the 70-mile-an-hour winds, they certainly did kick up. but just like that they stop. it is incredible. i've covered many hurricanes and always surprised by just how fast these things can change because cyclones have the bands sweeping across the region. that's something we continue to see here in victoria. yes, it's been downgraded to tropical storm category or status, but yet we continue to see the howling winds that are keeping many people still indoors. authorities, however, have been able to get on the road, begin damage assessment. we've driven around a little bit
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and have seen some damage, however much of what we've seen so far has been really superficial structural damage. let's say a couple of tiles or siding that's been ripped off buildings, maybe some windows that have been broken. but nothing compared to what perhaps some of our friends south of here have seen. and of course plenty of debris. there's plenty of branches, plenty of tree limbs and street signs all over the place. because earlier today if it was not grounded or bolted to the ground like this garbage can, it certainly was swept away. as for other neighboring cities i could tell you that we have seen very similar damage there. we've seen some flooding on the side of the roads in getting here when we left san antonio earlier this morning. and that's been somewhat of a concern for us. we've heard officials call it devastating flooding. there's the wind. and we did see some of that on the roads, the water level slowly rising the closer we got to the coast. and that is a concern that perhaps some of these roads
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could be impassable later on. but at this point we did not have any problem getting in. authorityi authorities still recommending shelter in place if you're finding yourself in these weather conditions. >> all right. polo sandoval, thanks so much for that perspective from victoria, texas. let's move onto houston, texas, now, north of there and rosa flores is live there. we had rising bayou waters. what are the conditions now? >> reporter: you know, we're getting a little break from the rain, fred, right now. every now and then we are getting some gusts of wind. you can see that this bayou still very swollen. it's still gushing out towards the gulf of mexico. but weather and flooding is bizarre. and i want to show you exactly what i'm talking about. last hour this step was under water. you can see some of the debris here. now, in an hour or so it went down about 17 or 18 inches. that quickly. it's bizarre. it's bizarre.
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again, we're still bracing for hurricane harvey here. and the ebbs and flows of this water, i mean, it's just moving. it's been moving a lot. and you can see to my right here on that grassy knoll where the ducks are, you can see the line of debris, where it was probably about an hour ago and where it is now. now, we're not saying that by any means that this is good news or bad news. we're just kind of showing you the ebbs and flows of this water. and as it's gushing because, again, one of the most dangerous things about water like this is it's very unpredictable. you never know what's going to happen. that's why city leaders here and first responders are prepared with resources all over the city. because even though they do know historically that some areas do flood and some areas are more prone to flooding than others, they're prepared for everything because you just don't know what this water's going to do. so as you can see, where these two bayous converge it's turned
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into a gushing river in houston expecting between 15 to 25 inches. and in some isolated areas they're expecting up to 35 inches of rain, fred. so, again, city leaders asking people to shelter in place, to be patient, to be vigilant, to stay in their homes as they brace for hurricane harvey. >> and are you getting a sense -- oh, okay, well, rosa flores, thank you so much. we're going to go to austin, texas, now because the governor, greg abbott, is about to hold this press conference we've been awaiting. here we go. >> well, thank you all for being with us here today. a lot has happened in the past 24 hours since the last briefing. i'd like to bring you up to speed on what i know and then take a few questions. let me first start with some generalities and then get down to some more granular details.
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first, now that the hurricane has come onshore, our primary concern remains dramatic flooding. according to information that i was provided, there's been about 20 inches of rain in the corpus christi area, about 16 inches of rain in the houston area and our biggest concern is the possibility of between 20 and 30 more inches of rain in areas ranging from corpus christi over to houston. because of the flooding, one of the top focal points that we are concerned about is ongoing rescue and recovery. we want to do everything we possibly can to keep people out of rising water. part of that is by constant warnings to the public about being vigilant, about observing
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rising water around you. as you're traveling, if you are traveling out on the road, always watch for water on the road, remembering that when you come across water it could be far deeper than what your eye observes. or the swiftness of the current can be far stronger than what you perceive. you all know the well-known phrase, and that is turn around, don't drown. don't risk your life. still the most important thing that all texans can do who are affected by this storm is to put your life and the protection of your life first and foremost. in addition to that, the state and various agencies remain very active in the search and rescue process. and that will be one of the foremost tasks that we undertake in the coming days. we have focused on working with and supporting evacuees, especially from around the
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corpus christi area, now expanding to some larger areas. i had the opportunity yesterday afternoon to go to san antonio to visit with evacuees as they were getting off of buses that had come in from the corpus christi area. you could sense a sense of relief on their part that they were out of the way of what was an increasingly threatening storm. they were happy to be alive. and they were at peace in that regard. but obviously also concerned about what they had left behind, about the possibility that they had lost or would be losing the place they lived as well as some of their property. but most importantly they were just happy to be alive. i have issued a disaster declaration that originally included 30 counties. and this is a state disaster
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declaration. and we have now added 20 more counties for a total of six counties. as you probably know i requested a federal disaster declaration that the president granted last night. this is incredibly important and extremely fast. what the presidential proclamation about our disaster declaration does is it immediately triggers the implementation of fema. and fema's assistance for individuals as well as cities and counties for all of us to begin the rebuilding process as quickly as possible. something else that i did yesterday is i issued a proclamation waiving hotel occupancy taxes for all evacuees and first responders.
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so any place in the state of texas where there's an evacuee or first responder who is affected by this storm, they will be able to have the hotel taxes waived. i just got word from the ft. bin county judge who has issued a voluntary evacuation for the brasses river area in ft. bend county and a mandatory evacuation along the san bernard. this is one of the foremost regions in the state of texas that already has flooding and we anticipate the flooding to grow worse in that area. this morning i had the opportunity to make phone calls to several of the mayors who were affected by the hurricane last night. i spoke with the mayor of victoria and spoke with the
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mayor of port lavaca. i made phone calls to the mayors of corpus christi as well as rockport, and with the latter two i did not have the ability to connect with them but left messages for them. for the mayors they seem to be in strong spirits. they obviously preside over cities that have suffered some very meaningful damage, but they are working very aggressively to try to help their citizens respond to their challenges and i offer them as well as the mayors of corpus christi and rockport any and all help that the state of texas can provide. now, for some more granular detail as a result of the briefing that i just had, looking at the texas military division there are more than 1,300 service members who are currently activated. and we anticipate increasing
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that amount by 500 more giving up above 1,800 service members who will be activated to assist in responding to the hurricane and its aftermath. as far as the texas department of transportation, they are already undertaking cleanup operations around the corpus christi and yokum areas, looking to clear pathways along roadways there, which is impressive that they were able to get in that quickly and begin that process. with the p.u.c., they say that there are more than 338,000 outages. and it will still be several days perhaps before those outages will be able to be addressed. the reason for that is because the wind speed in the area of where they're going to be able to take care of those outages has to decrease below a certain
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level before they are able to respond. as far as emergency services are concerned, which includes the texas military, includes texas parks and wildlife, it includes texas task force one and texas task force two, one of their primary focal points is search and rescue. they've already made several search and rescue operations, primarily hoisting through the helicopter process. and we have about 1,000 personnel in the state of texas who were assigned to search and rescue. the texas parks and wildlife has about 1,500 evacuees at state parks. and, again, any cost that would
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normally be in cured at a state park has been waived. texas department of security they have assigned about 80 troopers to the corpus christi area to assist in law enforcement needs in that region. for the red cross, they have 21 shelters open already with the population of about 1,450. and they have 42 more shelters on standby to be ready. importantly, those are red cross shelters. there are so many other shelters across the state of texas, whether they be local churches or other local facilities. and we are very, very appreciative of emp in the state of texas who is providing shelter, food and other supplies. along those lines i do want to express my gratitude at the shelter i was at yesterday there was a need for towels and for blanketing and bedding for the
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people who were there. we made a public plea and that plea was answered very swiftly. so thank you to the people of san antonio for responding to the needs of the people from corpus christi who have shelter in san antonio. on transportation, we have 228 buses that are available to continue to move evacuees and more than 100 bus trips for evacuees have already been undertaken. we have across multiple agencies we are in the process of getting water, ice, food and supplies to needed areas. we're in the process of working to set up staging areas where those supplies will soon be able to be delivered to those who need them. with that, why don't i take a few questions. >> sir, can you confirm -- >> yes. >> governor, what guidance have you been given about how bad the
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flooding and flash flooding can be? are we expecting homes to be swept away off river banks like we saw in previous years flooding events. and as that pertains to search and rescue crews ready to mobilize, what would you say to those people who are in their homes being advised to evacuate? >> the best information we have are predictions about the rainfall that will come on top of the rainfall that's already occurred. and that is that in various key regions ranging from corpus christi to the houston area perhaps as much as between 20 and 30 more inches of rain could be coming down. that is coming down on already saturated ground and already filled up waterways, whether they be creeks, bayous or rivers. and so there is the potential of very dramatic flooding. it's essential for people near those flood zones to do several things.
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one is to obviously be aware of your surroundings. two is to listen to warnings given out by local officials and heed those warnings. and three, whenever you do venture out by car or any other way, be very cautious knowing that not only is it rising water, but oftentimes it will be swift moving water that can carry you away. for everybody in the state of texas your top responsibility is to protect your life. so whenever you're near water, be sure you're doing everything to stay safe. >> sir, any confirmed fatalities from the storm? >> we don't have any information right now that we can confirm any fatalities. that's information that we will be working with local officials seeking confirmation that we can report later. >> do you expect to report that later? >> well, whenever we receive confirmation of fatalities and
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confirmation that it was a result of the storm as opposed to some other cause, we will confirm it. but we cannot confirm it at this time. >> have you received any unconfirmed reports that you're looking into? >> no. >> do you know about how many rescues have been performed? >> so what's happening right now is our first responders are absolutely putting their lives on the line to get out there and do search and rescue for any of those that are still in need. i think what you're going to see over these next few hours and probably into days is that is the wind conditions and the weather conditions allow they are going to get out there and do as many rescues as they possibly can. the message to those that may need help or rescue, make sure you put that signal out there that you are still there and you still need help. if you still have electricity or phone service at all and battery, send those messages out, make sure we can see them. but i need you to keep our first responders in your thoughts and prayers because they are absolutely risking their lives
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to get out there in these dangerous conditions to look for those that are in need. >> can you share with us some of the human contact you've had talking with the evacuees? >> right. it was so heartening to shake the hands of these evacuees as they got off of these buses. and i walked around the school that they were being housed in and got to visit with them. and they are what i call typical texans. they were resilient. they were strong. they were strong spirited. they were happy. they were just happy to be there and be alive. but obviously they were in need. there was a part of them that were facing a sense of -- >> we just lost the signal from
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texas, governor greg abbott. but you get the gist of it. he says, you know, while hurricane harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm there are conditions they do expect to worsen. let's continue to listen in on the texas governor. >>. [ inaudible question ] >> it's way too early to make any estimates about that. what i can say is we are so pleased that the federal government and the white house have stepped up in the strong way they have by granting our disaster declaration that will enable texas and texans to be able to better deal with the financial consequences of the storm. >> we heard -- in the field of undocumented immigrants being turned away at shelters. can you address that? >> i have no information about that. >> sir, you suggested earlier in the week that there were people
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not heeding the evacuation calls maybe more than expected. is that still the case? >> well, i'll correct that. i didn't suggest that they were not heeding it. what i was suggesting is that if a local official has warned people to evacuate, it is very important that citizens heed those warnings by their local officials. great. thank you. >> all right. you've been listening to texas governor greg abbott there. and he says there are conditions during in parts of the state that are expected to worsen because still upwards of 20 inches of rain is expected. there are ongoing rescue and recovery efforts underway including helicopters and the use of some 1,800 military service personnel. they are indeed focusing on evacuees right now. the city of galveston is also an
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area that's expected to experience two to four foot storm surges. our ed lavandera is there. ed, any indications as to whether any rescue or recovery efforts that the governor spoke about are under way there in galveston. >> reporter: not on galveston island, but some of the areas they were talking about is just a little bit further north from where we are. you got to cross the bridge, get back on to the mainland to get sfw into those areas we're talking about. we've been checking in with authorities here on galveston island throughout the morning. and we had several hours of a really strong heavy rain ban that had been moving through here. and it is finally died off. and you can see here just how much the storm -- we're here standing on the edge of the seawall and the storm surge was getting here just to the banks of it throughout most of probably the last 15 hours or so. and you can see how much all of that has receded back into the
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gulf of mexico. so that's kind of a good sign. and since that has happened you actually start seeing people coming out here rushing out to walk along the beach and see what's been left behind. traffic and power pretty well intact here on the island, but this is one of the areas that, you know, just because this particular band is over, that precaution and that anticipation that more rain could come at any moment or might start moving this way don't want to give people a false sense of security through all of this especially since the tropical storm is still hovering over the area. some of the computer models as we watch forecasters talk about had even talked about at some point this storm making its way west, perhaps even going back out into the gulf, restrengthening and then coming back toward this way. so there's always that concern. that is in the back of the mind of a lot of the emergency management officials here in this part of southeast texas. but for the most part, fredricka, everything holding up rather well. now that the rain has stopped, there had been some minor
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flooding in various streets that we came across this morning, but the kind of flooding would recede rather quickly. for the most part every indication here on galveston island is everything is working smoothly and we'll continue to monitor that as well. that can change at any time. >> all right. ed lavandera in galveston, texas, thank you so much. so as this storm kind of continues to move toward the inland portions of texas they're not out of the woods yet. meteorologist chad myers is here. you heard the governor particularly very concerned about floods, standing water. he was reminding people, you know, turn around, don't drown. what could the rest of texas be bracing for? >> well, i think the models said it best even a couple days ago, fredricka, when they said 30 to 40 inches in any one spot is not out of the question. and a widespread, a swath of 20-inch rainfalls everywhere, almost the size of the state of south carolina right there over parts of texas.
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think about that. think of 20 inches of rain on any state or for that matter any country, you're going to get flooding because it can't all get off at one time. here's houston proper. talk about three to four inches around houston so far. but just west of there especially here the river you've already got some spots between 12 and 14. that water's going to get into the river and head down towards sugarland and the lake. corpus christi, he talked about that, somewhere between 10 and 12 inches already on the ground, already has fallen. and guess what, this thing only made landfall 14 or 16 hours ago. so we have a long way to go. and we've had this much rain already as the storm came onshore in the overnight hours making all that wind damage and then now i think the real threat has changed from a wind damage maker to a flood maker where there's the latest number 14 inches of rainfall in one city. not every city. it just depends on if you're
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getting lucky or unlucky under one of these bands. right here was our ed lavandera. if you would have went to ed lavandera 20 minutes ago, he was getting pounded with thunderstorms. but right now that storm has moved just far enough to the east and now ed's in the clear. every time one of these bans comes onshore, that's when you're going to see the wind pick up and the heavy rainfall pick up. in between the bans we're going to see basically nothing. sky's clear, winds die and all of a sudden you wait for the next one. but something else coming onshore are spinning thunderstorms. and some of them do have tornadoes with them. not large tornadoes, but you can go on twitter and look at the pictures from katy, texas, overnight, and see what happened there with a small tornado. doesn't take a big tornado at 110 or 120 miles per hour to do damage. that's what we saw last night. even already houston, texas, has issued 50 tornado warnings just since the storm started. and here's what we're expecting for the next few hours all the way into about what's that say 6:00 tomorrow morning. heavy, heavy rainfall on the eastern part.
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here's what i would call the eye, although it's in the truly an eye. it's just the center of circulation now because it isn't a hurricane anymore. but look at all of this rain. very close or just to the north of houston. and now all of that has to go right back into the gulf of mexico somehow. and if it goes through the city of houston, that's where the catastrophic flooding will be occurring later on this week. >> wow, still a long way to go. all right, thank you so much, chad myers, appreciate that in the cnn weather center. >> you're welcome. >> we'll be right back. electric light orchestra ] ♪ sailin' away on the crest of a wave, it's like magic ♪ ♪ rollin' and ridin' and slippin' and slidin' ♪ ♪ it's magic introducing the all new volkswagen tiguan. ♪ higher and higher, baby the new king of the concrete jungle.
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welcome back. tropical storm harvey is pummelling southern texas, 70-mile-per-hour winds and torrential rain are giving officials reason to believe the worst is yet to come. despite harvey being downgraded from a hurricane, life threatening floods are still expected in the coming days. i want to bring in robert rocha, he's the fire chief of corpus christi, a city which is also seen and experienced some damage. so, chief, what are you seeing right now? >> good afternoon, everybody. the city of corpus christi was hit last night by hurricane harvey. we had a lot of downed power lines. we had some water, we had some high winds. we do have debris in the streets. and some lights are out. what we are seeing is wide areas of the community are without electrical


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