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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  August 29, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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>> long way from the forest to get there. up next, lester holt from houston with more flood coverage. tonight an emergency in houston, as critical infrastructure begins to buckle. and massive reservoirs overflow for the first time in their history. the nation's fourth largest city blowing past a record-shattering 51 inches of rain. ening new mega shelters for thousands with nowhere to go. and tonight, a word of tragedy of the police force. an officer dies in the floods while trying to get to work to help others. >> we couldn't find him. it was too treacherous to go under and look for him. >> president trump and the first lady on the ground in texas.
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the storm now taking aim at louisiana on the 12th anniversary of katrina. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt, reporting tonight from katy, texas. good evening to our viewers in the west once again from southeast texas, where we saw something late today that we haven't seen in days. the sun came out for a while. a much-needed ray of hope in a region suffering from so much misery and despair. the strain of five days of historic rain is pushing the reservoirs, the dams, the bridges, the levees, all of them to the brink. a record-shattering 51 inches of rain. president trump visited the region today meeting with emergency officials as the rescues continue around the clock. at least five people are confirmed dead, including a houston police officer. and tonight they're bracing for the next hit, harvey preparing to make a remarkable third landfall on the texas/louisiana border.
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we have all buof it we have all buof iof ic t oco covered tonight starting with nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: one by one, hundreds more swept up in houston's massive rescue effort, swelling to an epic scale tonight. >> we've been here 25 years, and we've never been close, never even been threatened with high water. >> reporter: u.s. customs and border black hawks helping others stranded in water. the catastrophe taking its toll. and claiming more lives. >> we couldn't find him. once our dive team got there it was too treacherous to go under and look for him. >> reporter: houston's police chief breaking down as he described one of the newly confirmed deaths, one of their own, 34-year veteran drowned when floodwaters overcame his vehicle as he tried to get to work. his wife is devastated. >> she tells me, i told him not to go to work. his response was,
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we've got work to do. >> reporter: today a pair of 70-year-old reservoirs that protect downtown houston started overflowing, even after engineers began releasing water from them on monday to ease pressure on the dams. but the rain kept coming, and now new fears more neighborhoods on one of the city's main bayous will flood. some residents thought the worst had passed, now a frantic rush to get out. >> we heard the floodgates of the dams better released. we knew we would be in for a world of hurt and had to get out of there fast. >> reporter: south of houston brazoria county officials posted on twitter that a levee was breached, urging people to get out now. harvey has shattered the u.s. record for rainfall in a system. a weather station near houston reported nearly 50 inches of rain, topping the previous high of 48 inches set if 1978. in harris county alone, a trillion gallons of rain has fallen over four days, which is more than flows ovin niagra tallfalls
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in two weeks. >> it's amazing how the water has creeped up like this. i'm a houstonian, born and raised here, and i've never seen anything like this. >> reporter: president trump toured corpus christi where hurricane harvey made landfall as a category four hurricane on friday. >> this is historic, epic, what happened. it happened in texas, and texas can handle anything. >> reporter: the red cross said more than 17,000 evacuees are in shelters. how high was the water in your home, ma'am? >> it was about this high. >> reporter: she's lived here for a half century. today she and her husband were trapped. >> we're by ourselves. we live alone. and he's a diabetic. >> reporter: parents being rescued along with their young children, using anything to keep them afloat. how quickly did it rise? >> it was low. but we just -- we were hopeful that it wasn't going to happen. >> reporter: but it
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did happen. and tonight thousands of families like his are grateful help came in time. houston police say they have arrested more than a dozen looters, but so far the aftermath here for the most part has been orderly. there are fears the death toll could climb. but now the focus is on these rescue efforts. authorities say some homes could be under water for up to a month. lester? >> all right, gabe gutierrez tonight, thank you. as gabe just mentioned, there are thousands of evacuees packed in dozens of shelters in and around houston. many have ended up inside houston's convention center which was prepared to take in 5,000 people. but is now packed to nearly double that capacity. we get more on that from nbc's jacob rascon. >> reporter: they arrived by the truck load, and by helicopter. 10,000 people and counting, now living in houston's convention center. sallia castro and her son and other family members among the rescued.
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>> i was like if we can't get out, we have to figure out a way. i wasn't going to give up on my son. >> it is so bad. >> reporter: trapped for hours, water rising, unable to reach authorities. she pleaded for help on facebook. >> there was no hope. i was crying. hysterically. i thought i was going to die. i felt like this was the last day i was going to live. >> reporter: carried to safety by a rescue helicopter, her brothers and boyfriend left behind. finally they reached each other on the phone. they're okay for now. so many here young children and families now receiving food and medical care. a sharp contrast from these images during hurricane katrina. >> let me be clear, this is not the superdome. the convention center, we're sustaining food. they have food. security. >> reporter: houston's stranded finding refuge in shelters across the city, one
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of the newest joel osteen's lakewood church initially criticized online for not doing more. ostein saying lakewood's doors are open. now they fill trucks with donations and take in harvey survivors like the zang family, including 4-month-old sterlingson. >> we're just thankful we're here safe. >> reporter: thousands of houstonians like the johnson family even opened their own homes. they took in two families. >> we're able to help somebody. that is important for us. >> reporter: so many evacuees now with an uncertain future. >> if you don't have homeowners insurance, it's gone. >> reporter: back at the convention center, there are thousands of volunteers. and a sense of hope. >> i believe everything will be fine. i'm scared, but i'm calm. >> reporter: there have been no arrestes reported at the
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convention center. amazingly, one in five people here is a volunteer. with all the evacuees, they're ready to open more mass shelters. lester? >> all right, jacob rascon tonight, thank you. the devastation here is hard to comprehend, and for one family, the grief is simply beyond words. six of their loved ones lost and feared dead in the rushing floodwaters. authorities have yet to recover those victims. but tonight we are learning much more about them and what are believed to be their final moments. nbc's miguel almaguer now with their story. >> reporter: today in hard-hit green's bayou, an ocean of misery and a sea of sadness. this is where search teams could not reach one family. they were escaping rising waters when their van was swept off a bridge. rick saldavarious's brother, sammy, was behind the wheel. >> he said the van was bobbing in the water, that's how deep it was. he kept yelling at the kids. you could hear the kids screaming and crying trying to get out of the van. >> reporter: sammy
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clung to a tree for nearly an hour before help arrived. >> the sheriff came over there with a boat. threw a life line to them. >> reporter: sammy's parents, retirees in their 80s. 16-year-old debbie posted earlier, no sleep and anxiety. please let this pass. but harvey barreled into their neighborhood. brothers dominic, 15, xavier 8, and little sister daisy, just 6, watched as floodwaters kept rising. the drive to safety turned tragic. their aunt said there was nothing her nephew could do. >> they couldn't talk to me about the kids. it's a great loss. i mean, it's very, very devastating. >> reporter: the bodies of the victims and the van are still missing. tonight green's bayou is a sea of floodwaters. search crews clinging to hope as they wade through so much loss.
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miguel almaguer, nbc news, houston. incredibly, harvey which is back out over the gulf as a tropical storm, is set to make landfall for a third time overnight. this time, closing in on louisiana. evoking haunting memories of hurricane katrina, which also made landfall there exactly 12 years ago today. new orleans could see as much as six inches of rain through thursday, and flash flood watches are in effect for most of the state. for more now on the threat, we turn to nbc meteorologist dylan drier. >> we're still dealing with the tropical storm at this time. winds up to about 50 miles per hour right now. the storm is on the move. we have the back edge of rain moving through the houston area. that's why the sun is starting to break out. today most of the rain is falling across beau -- beaumont, texas which reported a foot
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of rainfall whereas houston picked up two to three inches of rain. the storm will make that third landfall along the border of texas and louisiana tomorrow. then will weaken into a tropical depression by wednesday afternoon. and then continue to bring some of that rain into the tennessee river valley, as much as 4 to 6 inches of rain there. we still have flash flood warnings in effect in red there, including beaumont because of the rain we've received. going forward, we're looking at about an additional 6 to 12 inches of rain in the beaumont area, louisiana, not so much new orleans, but louisiana, across westcentral parts of the state could pick up 7 to 10 inches, and through tennessee we're looking at the potential for some of that rain as well. houston is almost in the clear from any more rain. >> dylan, thanks so much. it feels good to be out of gortex tonight, doesn't it. >> it certainly does. >> many of you asked us how to help the people of texas. we've put together a list of charitable organizations, and they're on our facebook page. we'll have more on the storm in a moment. but there's another major story we're following tonight. a new provocation from north korea firing a
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missile over japan. and not showing any signs of backing down in the face of threats from president trump. and as concern spreads throughout the region, our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, is in south korea gaining rare access inside the underground command center where the u.s. is preparing for anything. >> reporter: north korea tonight released images of its leader happily overseeing the regime's latest missile launch. a launch that triggered warnings in japan. alarms and text alerts, telling people to take cover. the ballistic missile traveling 1,500 miles over the japanese island of hokkaido, a 14-minute journey into the pacific ocean. kim jong-un's provocation prompting an emergency meeting of the u.n. security council. >> i think enough is enough. >> reporter: japan's prime minister calling it an unprecedented
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threat. and a rebuke from president trump, who said, all options are on the table. but when pressed how the u.s. would respond -- but the u.s. has been preparing for an even bigger danger than a missile test. we're now heading to a secure bunker. it's carved right into the heart of a mountain outside seoul. if north korea ever were to attack, u.s. and south korean forces could continue to operate from here. a place of last resort. >> we've got to be able to command and control on the peninsula. >> reporter: colonel chad carroll giving us rare access to what is effectively the doom's day bunker commanders would use to survive an assault and launch a counteroffensive. a lot of people work here? >> enough to get the job done. >> reporter: u.s. and south korean war planners expect the north would use chemical weapons, so they may have to stay in here for a long time. and in here today, training on how to repel an all-out
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invasion from north korea's massive army. and north korea may not be done yet. officials here in seoul say they believe preparations are under way for north korea to carry out an even more provocative new nuclear test. perhaps in the coming weeks. lester? >> richard engel tonight in seoul, south korea, thank you. still ahead, the hits just keep coming from the catastrophe here in texas. the financial disaster that's also awaiting so many uninsured homeowners long after the floods. also, the mission to rescue some of the other victims, pets and other animals, still trapped in flooded neighborhoods. we hope you can stay with us.
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back now from the storm zone here in texas, where the water has turned so many homes into a total loss, and only a fraction of the families are covered by flood insurance to repair the damage. it's this area now dealing with the realization, but it's a problem in communities prone to flooding all across the country. as nbc's carey sanders reports. >> reporter: for victims of harvey tonight, heartbreak. >> i lost my home. and i'm thankful my children are safe. it's just -- i have nowhere to go. >> reporter: the painful reality for every six homes in the houston area, only one has flood insurance. ruben escaped as his house went under water. >> all the assets in my house, all gone. no insurance. >> reporter: we met him at a furniture store turned makeshift shelter with his
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brother's family. >> what are we going to do now? i have no idea. >> reporter: even those with flood insurance like the jones and grace families, anxious. why? five years after superstorm sandy, some homeowners in new york and new jersey are still waiting for insurance checks from that storm. >> they're going to have thousands of people to help. there's going to be a wait. >> reporter: even just one inch of water can cost more than $20,000 in damage. tonight many victims are only just learning homeowners insurance does not cover a flood created by mother nature. it's only covered by a federal government flood insurance program. and that program runs out of money at the end of next month, unless congress takes action. >> i feel so sorry for these people. unfortunately, a lot of them are going to have to struggle with getting their full claims paid. they shouldn't have to. fema should step in and help them right now. >> reporter: to make matters worse here in texas, there's a filing deadline this friday. after that, a new state law goes into effect that may make it more difficult to challenge an insurance company estimate of what a homeowner is owed. kerry sanders, nbc
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news, quaro, texas. up next here tonight, we go along on an urgent search-and-rescue mission to save victims still trapped by this storm. we'll be back.
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we're back now from texas, relishing finally a break from the rain and even a little sunshine here. we can look now at a search-and-rescue mission the size and scope which few have seen before in this country, so many banding together to answer the call as trapped residents find a variety of ways to get the message out. by air and by boat, the rescuers continue to come. harris county constable and his deputies are among many answering the urgent pleas of those waiting for aid. we join them today as the fleet of high water rescue trucks rolled out looking for those in need. and while the size of the trucks are impressive, they can only go so far. >> we did have one get
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stuck yesterday in some very high water, seven feet. we had to deploy a boat. >> reporter: rosen is relying on an unlikely source to direct his teams where to go. this is one of the biggest natural disasters of the social media age. how has that affected how you are dispatched? >> social media has helped us message, find out where people need to be rescued. people were on their roofs. it helped us deploy assets. >> reporter: #sos harvey has been trending on twitter since the flooding began. users tweeting out addresses where people need to be evacuated. two adults, two children, water at waist level, 9015 sandpiper, #harvey sos. facebook has a safety check where users can alert family members to their whereabouts. those still in need of help are urged to post their addresses and phone numbers and sit tight. help will come. >> we're going to be okay, i think. >> still in the search-and-rescue
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mode. we'll continue to focus on saving lives until the water recedes and everybody's safe to go home and clean up their lives. >> and as you saw, the constable working right alongside the national guard and their high water vehicles on that rescue. just some of the heroism we've seen in texas. as the terrible situation brings out an incredible showing of humanity. we're going to take a break. when we come back, it's not just people who need rescuing. the incredible effort to save their beloved pets, also stranded in this disaster. we have live coverage from
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houston. ===take vo=== the emotional rescue our cameras caught when we got to the scene. ===raj/vo=== plus -- a mysterious death in san jose has shaken up the chinese community. it involves a 75 year-old woman. ===next close=== next. sot i j finally tonight here in texas, a rescue mission for perhaps the most vulnerable victims of this storm and the floods, the animals, dogs and cats, frightened and confused, but not forgotten, as nbc's joe fryer shows us. >> reporter: these days, bayou animal services truly is a shelter, sanctuary for dogs and cats abandoned by harvey. nadine perez is staying here around the clock to care for frightened pets, including litters of kittens. >> i've already cried. i can't tell you how many times. we all need our five
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minute cry break. then we get back up and get back to work. >> reporter: some are strays, others were dropped off by evacuees who will return when life is in order. >> it's very high stress right now. emotions are high. >> reporter: typically this shelter would have no more than 30 dogs and 60 cats. right now, they have more than 100 dogs and 100 cats that are using the public works garage as an overflow space. and more pets are on the way. today the humane society arrived in dickinson to rescue animals still trapped in flooded neighborhoods. they have a list of homes to visit, and if needed, break in with permission from the owners. here they saved three dogs from a house where floodwaters reached waist high. >> pets are an important part of people's families. right now people have
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lost a lot. if we can get people's pets back into their hands and into their homes, we'll do that. >> reporter: as the stubborn storm drags its feet across the region, the flood-proof love for our loyal friends who need us now more than ever. joe fryer, nbc news, dickinson, texas. we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. i just can't believe t i lived here when katrina was going on. and i thought oh my god, those poor people and now it is happening at us. >> right now at 6:00. the news at 6:00 right now. good evening and thanks for joining us. i am jessica aguirre. >> i am raj mathai. a long-te a long-term impact in houston. people are struggling to keep afloat. what started as a hurricane is now a tropical storm.
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13 people are confirmed dead. more than 17,000 evacuees are in shelters across the state. one of the deaths, a houston police officer drowned in the flood water while trying to get to work. a 34-year veteran of the police force. president trump and first lady arrived. the president spoke briefly to onlookers. damian trujillo is in houston for us. joining us from the houston convention center. what an unsettling situation for all of those poor people there. >> reporter: thousands of people. a lot of blank stares right now. registering here with the american red cross and a big part of the


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