tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC August 31, 2017 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
tonight, bracing for a blast. risk of more explosions at a chemical plant triggered by the floods in texas. also dramatic new rescues and a major pipeline shuttered by the storm. how high will gas prices go? diplomatic war. a surprise move as the u.s. retaliates against russia. what's just been ordered from new york to san francisco. caught on camera. outrage over what an officer is heard saying during a traffic stop. >> remember, we only kill black people. yeah, we only kill black people, right? all the videos you've seen, have you seen black people get killed? you have. >> tonight the department responds. and bogus bank accounts. the growing scandal at wells fargo. customers on the hook for accounts they didn't want and charges they didn't even know they owed. are you one of them? "nightly news" begins right now.
from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening, and thank you for being here tonight. as the remnants of hurricane harvey finally exit the state of texas and rescue crews intensify their search for victims, there is a new pressing danger in the flood zone tonight. a chemical plant burning. it's already been rocked by two explosions early today after critical cooling systems failed in the flood. a large area around that plant in crosby, texas, has been evacuated in anticipation of more explosions amid uncertainty about the safety of the air around it. jacob rascon is leading off our coverage tonight. jacob, good evening. >> reporter: lester, good evening. tonight the sheriffs and fire department, the national guard even the epa are working overtime hoping to avoid another crisis. nobody's allowed to enter the evacon
high stakes waiting game. tonight the flooded arkema chemical plant is still smoldering. neighborhoods within a mile and a half urged to evacuate as officials warn that more explosions are possible. >> these things can burn very quickly and very violently, and it would not be unusual for them to explode. >> reporter: today the whitley family, already dealing with flood damage in their home, headed for grandma's house. >> sounded like a big bomb to me. >> reporter: you got to get out of here. >> yeah, so -- >> reporter: the arkema plant handles organic peroxides used to make plastics, pharmaceuticals and paint. the chemicals have to be refrigerated or they can decompose spontaneously and sometimes explosively. harvey's fury knocked out the facility's power and two backup generators. this morning one of nine large containers storing the chemicals erupted in flames. the others could soon follow. officials scramble to reassure the public
for health danger showed no cause for alarm. but at least one expert who has studied houston's chemical plants extensively says organic peroxides can be unstable and toxic. >> worst case scenario is if the action deteriorates into an explosion. >> reporter: across greater houston, there are 2500 chemical plants and other facilities. so far no serious threats have been reported at any other plant. back in crosby, for families like the whitleys, staying is not worth the risk. >> i don't want to be sitting at the hospital, you know, and his little lungs just can't even handle it, you know? >> reporter: jacob rascon, nbc news, crosby, texas. i'm miguel almaguer. in beaumont, a state of emergency is taking on new urgency. >> the sickest ones will go first. >> reporter: at a hospital, those already in need are being rushed out. surrounded by water, this hospital has no clean water. the place people turn
>> she's a dialysis patient, and they don't have any water here to dialyze her. >> reporter: nursing homes across the area like this one in port arthur, evacuated. nearly 3,000 residents from more than a hundred long-term care facilities have been saved. a prayer for help answered. so many have lost so much, and it's unclear how many are still missing. rescuers continue to go door to door and are on rooftops breaking into homes where people may be trapped. yesterday, we were there when demeka singleton and her family were hoisted to safety. >> please, somebody go get my mama out of there. >> reporter: they did. >> i thought i was going to die. i really thought i was going to drown. everything in my house was floating. >> reporter: 68-year-old ella bradley was brought to this shelter, hours away from her daughter. >> my granddaughter called, and i told her, i said i'm not
i said, i don't think i'm going to make it. she said, grandma, don't say that. >> that's my mama. >> reporter: like so many families, they're waiting to be reunited. >> i want to talk to her. i want to make sure she's okay. >> reporter: back in houston, floodwaters blanket much of the city, but where the water receding the scope of the devastation is now being revealed. >> if you stop, you'll just cry. you know? so you just keep moving forward. >> reporter: the wadlers returned to their home this afternoon. >> we're here and all alive and together. these are just our possessions. >> reporter: across the region an estimated 100,000 homes have been damaged, 32,000 people remain in shelters, and 25,000 have been rescued. and now more trouble for those trying to get out of town. long lines at the pump as supply crunch drives up gas prices in texas. a major pipeline that stretches to new jersey and provides 40% of the east coast's fuel has been cut off. but the real loss is me
a time through stories of heartbreak and survival. with president trump planning to visit houston on saturday, his second visit to texas since this storm, the official death toll stands at 32, but first responders say when they check neighborhoods like this one, that number could definitely rise. lester? >> miguel almaguer tonight, thank you. and meantime, as so many people want to help there's controversy swirling around one of the biggest charities of all, the red cross. there are critics raising questions about transparency and about how the money you give is spent. let's get more on that now from nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: when disaster strikes, americans have come to expect donation campaigns by the american red cross. >> please donate now to help people affected by hurricane harvey. >> reporter: but now there is a campaign against the massive aid organization. hundreds of tweets like, don't give red cross your money. very little if any goes to those that need it. the criticism mounting
executive interviewed on npr couldn't say how much would go to texas. >> you don't know what proportion of the total amount is that relief? >> no, i really don't. >> reporter: in 2014 an npr and propublic ka investigation found the red cross misstated how money is spent. after the devastating earthquake in haiti, a report by iowa senator chuck grassley found one-quarter of red cross donations went to administrative costs. >> the red cross should be responsible to make sure they're very transparent. >> reporter: the red cross disputes the critical reports and today promised 91 cents of every dollar would go to victims. >> we are going to make sure that this money is spent to help people with food, with shelter, with water. >> reporter: the watchdog group charity watch gives the red cross a b-plus overall. >> they can do the heavy lifting at the scale the community organizations and churches and some of the other nonprofits are not going to be able to r.
has already served more than 250,000 meals in texas and opened over 240 shelters. >> you want a blanket while you're sleeping? >> reporter: a charity in the midst of providing disaster relief now fighting a different kind of storm. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york. laepts turn now to the growing fraud scandal at one of the nation's largest banks. wells fargo today admitting that well over a million more fake accounts may have been opened in customers' names than it initially disclosed last year. the total now 3.5 million. so how do you know if you're one of the victims? we get more from nbc's anne thompson. >> reporter: the wrong kinds of numbers keep adding up for wells fargo. another 1.4 million accounts opened without customers' permission bringing the total to 3.5 million. fraud that the bank now says went on for seven years from 2009 to september 2016. to mt
phony accounts, victimizing consumers is and small businesses with fake checking, savings, credit card accounts and unsecured lines of credit, racking up fees for the bank and potentially ruining customers' credit. >> out of state purchases, foreign purchases, vendors who i can't make heads or tails out of. >> reporter: it's been two years of frustration for david mckee who says wells fargo used his information to open three bogus accounts. >> my wife and i have done our best, and we've been responsible. it's drained our savings account. >> reporter: mckee says wells fargo called last night checking back on his claim promising an answer in ten days. >> you probably wouldn't have known if wells fargo opened an account without your permission in your name. you'll probably be informed by wells fargo that that happened and any fees that you incurred will be returned to you. >> reporter: legendary investor, warren buffett, ceo of berkshire hathaway, wells fargo's largest shar
problems but wasn't surprised more fraud was found. >> what you find is there's never just one cockroach in the kitchen. >> reporter: today wells fargo ceo tim sloan apologized saying their first priority is to make things right for customers, a balance sheet that remains very much in the red. anne thompson, nbc news. now to a big show of force as the u.s. and south korea respond to north korea's latest missile launch by issuing a clear message to kim jong-un about the firepower he could face. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has details tonight from south korea. >> reporter: today was america's turn to flex its muscles to kim jong-un. a senior u.s. military official tells nbc news the american and south korean war planes that buzzed over south korea flew close enough to the border that they were visible inside north korea before veering off to drop bombs on a south korean range. the aircraft took off from japan and guam
and are among the most sophisticated in the u.s. arsenal. two b-1b bombers, four f-35 fighter jets. and the u.s. isn't just showing it can fight from the air. today american marines were honing their skills in live fire exercises. u.s. forces in south korea are always on a state of high alert. these marines came from their post in japan to work with south korean forces and familiarize themselves with the very terrain where they might have to fight against north korea. >> i think we're a little more focused just because of current events, but we're always focused. i mean, that's our job, and that's why we're here. >> reporter: here to train day and night. guiding apache attack helicopters as they fire on simulated north korean targets. >> this is building readiness right here. this is ensuring that if we get the call, these guys can put steel on target to protect ground forces. that's the bottom line. >>ep
clear to north korea, it's ready. u.s. military officials tell us they do not expect kim jong-un to back down after this, that it's now a game of one-upsmanship with the next move likely to come from north korea. lester? >> richard engel in seoul. richard, thanks. the u.s. is getting new payback against russia over its meddling in the 2016 election. today russia was ordered to shut down three diplomatic sites within the u.s. a move that prompted one russian official to warn of an escalating diplomatic war. our peter alexander has the latest. >> reporter: tonight the u.s. retaliating against russia, ordering the closure of three diplomatic offices in san francisco, new york and washington within 48 hours. secretary of state rex tillerson informing russian foreign minister sergey lavrov in a phone call today. the decision coming from the president himself. >> we've taken a firm and measured action in response to russia's unfortunate decision earlier this year. >> reporter: that decision from vladimir putin last m
sanctions for moscow's interfering in the election by expelling 755 american diplomats. president trump at the time expressing gratitude. >> i want to thank him because we're trying to cut down on payroll. >> reporter: white house aides later dismissing that as a joke. today's action not kicking out russian diplomats but closing two trade mission annexes and the san francisco consulate general, the oldest russian consulate in the u.s. and a prominent russian lawmaker tonight insisting the u.s. is declaring the hot phase of diplomatic war. >> the trump administration had to respond. this was the right decision. regrettable but necessary. >> reporter: also tonight nbc news has learned former trump campaign chairman paul manafort's notes typed on a phone from that controversial trump tower meeting with russians during the 2016 campaign included a reference to political donations and rnc according to sources briefed on the evidence. investigators are now reviewing those notes, trying to determine if er
the trump campaign or the republican party, contributions that would be illegal. manafort's spokesman telling nbc news the suggestion is 100% false. peter alexander, nbc news, the white house. there's a lot more to tell you about tonight. still ahead, a police officer's shocking words caught on camera. the racial remarks he's heard making during a traffic stop and the action the police force is now taking over it. also, remembering diana. how the people's princess still captivates 20 years after her tragic death.
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a georgia police officer is told today he'll be fired after he was caught on camera telling a woman in a traffic stop that she shouldn't worry because the police only shoot black people. his lawyer says he was just trying to calm a tense situation, but the police chief doesn't see it that way. we get details from our justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: the video shows a cobb county, georgia, police officer talking to a woman in a car he pulled over on a traffic stop. she's unwilling to move her hands, afraid, she says, of getting shot. and he tells her, don't worry. >> but you're not black. remember, we only kill black people. yeah, we only kill black people, right? all the videos you've seen, have you seen black people get killed? >> reporter: though it happened a year ago, the video is just coming to light. the officer, lieutenant greg abbott, has been on the force 30 years. his lawyer says he was, quote, trying to gain compliance
but the county's new police chief said today that what happened was unacceptable. >> i don't know what's in his heart, but i certainly know what came out of his mouth. the recommendation is to terminate his employment from the cobb county police department. >> reporter: the date stamp on the video, july 10th, 2016. just four days after cell phone video went viral showing the moments after a white policeman killed a black driver, philando castile, in minnesota. as shocking as the georgia video is -- >> remember, we only kill black people. >> reporter: leaders of the black community in the county say the chief's decisive action is reassuring. >> we have hope here in cobb that we have a chief and leadership that is serious about bringing this department to be one of the better ones in the nation. >> reporter: the police chief says the community and his own officers expected an appropriate response. pete williams, nbc news, washington. we'll take a break
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it's back-to-school time, and if you've recently headed out to buy supplies, you know they can be a fortune. in fact, there's a new survey that finds they can cost as much as a mortgage payment. for an elementary school student this year, supplies cost about $650. that's up from about $375 in 2006. for a middle school student they could run up to $1,000, up from $525 a decade ago. and for a high school student, how about nearly $1500, up from $800 ten years ago. remember, the fanfare last year when it was announced harriet tubman would replace andrew jackson on the $20 bill? today treasury secretary steve mnuchin may have cast doubt on when or if the switch announced under the obama administration will actually happen. mnuchin said, quote, ultimately we will be looking at this issue, but right now he says he's more focused on making changes to stop
and a lot of excitement from apple fans tonight. word of a big event next month and speculation is high that it will be a dramatically different iphone. the iphone 8 that could include a false phone screen and no home button. we'll all find out september 12th. when we come back here in just a moment, the people's princess. remembering the royal icon the world lost 20 years ago. nbc "nightly news" is brought to you by ancestry. unlock your past. inspire your future. ancestry. unlock your past growing up, we were german. we danced in a german dance group. i wore lederhosen. when i first got on ancestry i was really surprised that i wasn't finding all of these germans in my tree. i decided to have my dna tested through ancestry dna. the big surprise was we're not german at all. 52% of my dna comes from scotland and ireland. so, i traded in my lederhosen for a kilt. ancestry has many paths to discovering your story.
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ask about xeljanz xr. finally tonight, it was exactly 20 years ago the world lost an icon. today the tributes and remembrances came pouring in for princess diana, the beloved british royal who is still, two decades after her death, the very epitome of grace and compassion to so many. nbc's cynthia mcfadden now with a look back at diana's life and legacy. >> reporter: chances are good you remember exactly where you were 20 years ago today, the day princess diana, only 36, died as a result of a car crash in a paris tunnel. her intoxicated driver
following them. people around the world mourned expressing their sorrow with flowers. the day of her funeral britain's famously stiff upper lip quivered. even the queen bowed as diana's coffin passed buckingham palace with her two heartbroken sons behind. what was it about her that has us still remembering? it was something much more than youth and beauty. it was, perhaps, her vulnerability, her big heart, her impulsiveness. plagued by self-doubts, she talked openly about her bulimia. >> you inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb and you don't think you're worthy or valuable. >> reporter: she was bigger than life while still so very much like life. complicated, both joyful and wounded. reflected in her trip to a lover's bench alone. a woman who married a man poised to be king and divorced h.
us in this marriage. >> reporter: a devoted mother who tried to give her sons the pleasures of an ordinary childhood despite the duties that lay ahead of them. who can forget her trips to the mine fields or to comfort those others shunned? aids orphans, the homeless. her loving touch changed the british monarchy. there was something about all of this that her friend elton john captured in the song he played in tribute to her at her funeral. ♪ good-bye england's rose ♪ ♪ may you ever grow in our hearts ♪ >> reporter: tony blair was right to call her the people's princess. 20 years later she still is. ♪ your candle's burned out long before your legend ever will ♪ >> reporter: cynthia mcfadden, nbc news, new york. >> tragic loss still impacting the world 20 years later. we appreciate you