This is a rush transcript from "The Story," August 29, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: It is 7:00 p.m. in New York City and 6:00 p.m. in Houston, Texas. I'm Martha MacCallum tonight on "The Story." The Houston Convention Center now has twice as many people as it planned for, over 9,000 people. Red Cross was ready for 5,000. Some of them getting ready to sleep again tonight on cardboard. There are a few reports of women going into labor under, obviously, difficult circumstances here, but everybody is doing the best that they can under these circumstances. And we will hear from the mayor of Houston live in a moment. He's going to do a news conference, and we are ready to take you there as soon as that gets underway.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon standing by with 30,000 National Guard troops to help Texas tonight. This, as the U.S. record is shattered as one Texas town, gets more rain than any place in the country has ever gotten before as long as we've recorded such things. 52 inches of rain and it is still coming. So, this good news comes as ordinary people become heroes every hour as they reach out and they help their neighbors in need. You will see some of them and meet some of them in a moment.
Still, the Houston police chief says that these acts need to continue, and he is bracing his community for more heart break, and the expectation that as the water starts to recede, he is worried about how many bodies they may find out there. A chilling reminder that yesterday was not nearly as bad as today, folks. And that hours from now, the storm is coming back around for more. This time it is headed towards Louisiana. The president and the first lady touching down in Corpus Christi earlier today to see all of this firsthand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to say, we love you. You are special. We're here to take care and going well. And I want to thank you for coming out. We're going to get you back on operating immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: And then, the story of a hero, Police Officer Steve Perez, who has just shy of his 61st birthday. He insisted that morning on getting to work in his patrol car to save lives before Hurricane Harvey claimed him as one its first victims. His chief remembered his bravery today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ART ACEVEDO, POLICE CHIEF OF HOUSTON, TEXAS: Sergeant Steve Perez who had been on, again, like the mayor said for 34 years, assigned to the traffic enforcement division. Left his home at 4:00 a.m. Left his home in heavy rain. He spent about two and a half hours driving around trying to get to his duty station.
We couldn't find him. And once our dive team got there it was too treacherous to go under and look for him. So, we made a decision to leave officers there waiting until the morning because as much as we wanted to recover him last night, we could not put more officers at risk. For we knew in our hearts, it was going to be a recovery mission. We had the privilege of notifying his wife and his son, and extended family at their home that he died, that he laid down his life.
I'm heartened by two things. Number one, I got to learn that he's a familiar of faith, that has faith in God, and when you have faith, there's hope. My wife told me she had asked him not to go in. We told him not to go because the conditions were so bad. And his response was: we've got work to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: These police officers and all of those involved in this rescue effort are such heroes and their stories are so inspiring to all of us, and our hearts with his family tonight, Officer Perez. And Trace Gallagher is watching all this in King Wood, Texas tonight, northeast of Houston, and he is on one the rescue boats looking at the latest efforts there. Hi, Trace.
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. One of the last rescue boats of the night; we just came through the front gates of a house in a complex called the Barrington. And I mean, just look around -- Ben, just look around and show people what this is. I mean, this is absolutely stunning. For context, you can see the water is as high as the street signs as we go through here. There's a golf course on the right-hand side totally under water. As you go through this thing, you see the devastation and these are exquisite homes. This is an area today in Lake Houston where they have rescued some 400 plus people today, Martha, and there are still some people in here that are refusing to go.
They've got water up to the second level as we kind of pull into a cul-de-sac. You can see people have tried to row their way outs. You can see a lot of these people have said they're just not going to leave. And the authorities have told them, quite frankly, look, it's getting dark and the water is still rising. And if you see a boat come by, you need to get on board because the bottom line is: there may not be another boat for you to get on as the water continues going up. I just want, if I can pan back here. Adam has been out here, he's been -- he and his partner Trey have been kind of helping people in doing this rescue for quite some time. Adam, why is it so important that you come out here tonight and do this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just looking for people to be rescued. That's about it.
GALLAGHER: And there are a lot of people that need to be rescued. We saw people walking out, Martha, with unbelievable amounts of grief and shock on their face carrying -- you know, carrying all kinds of their valuables. As we just lit some bottom here, we're trying to get some guidance. See this gentleman right here? The gentleman right here lives in this house. He didn't want to talk to us. Because, quite frankly, he's heart broken, but he wants to go in, he wants to retrieve a few belongings, and then he wants to come back out. And it is just a stunning thing to see that you're bringing somebody back into their house on the golf course, and then waiting for him to come back out so that he can try to move on with his life.
I want to show you while we're here, Martha, we were kind of tracking earlier, and I lost IFB, so I can't hear you if you're interrupting. But we were tracking a group of horses, a dozen of horses who were trying to get out of the water. And they had cowboys riding them, and they were holding on to the others. They had jet skiers who are trying to herd these horses out of the water, and they went a good quarter of the mile. They had the horses together, and they finally had to turn back because the horses started getting spooked and they were figuring it was too dangerous for one, the horses; and two, the people trying to get them out. And here's one of the men who is actually trying to cowboy them on the jet skis. Listen to him.
MACCALLUM: We don't have the sound that Trace is referring to. And as you probably heard Trace say a moment ago, he doesn't have IFB, which I'm sure all of you can understand; we're in some pretty extreme circumstances here. But these are the images that you just saw them trying to corral those horses and get them to safer ground. And when you think about all of the people who are out there in the water, as was pointed out earlier today. When you're walking in that water through your neighborhood, you don't know where the curbs are, you don't know where the potholes are, you don't know where the rocks are.
And so, people are just getting -- their legs getting cut and bruise as they go through the water because they don't know what's under there. I mean, you know, just put yourself in their shoes for a moment. It is just extraordinary. And look at this kid waving to the cameras. Trace, I think I have you back. And if I do, go ahead and jump on in here. We're just looking at some amazing rescues that happened a little while ago.
GALLAGHER: I missed that. She did what?
MACCALLUM: Trace, can you hear me?
GALLAGHER: I hear you fine, Martha. I was just kind of listening.
MACCALLUM: Yes, go ahead.
MACCALLUM: We just got IFB back. Yes, we were just kind of saying that we were dropping this gentleman off at his house, and he literally, he rode out here with us, and he's trying to grab some of his belongings, and then he's going to come back in. And he was kind of giving us the idea of, you know. A day ago, Martha, a little over a day ago, this was dry. They were watching the damage and the devastation down in Houston. And you know, quite frankly, they didn't know what was next. And then, all of a sudden, they're linked to the San Jacinto River, which is one of the major rivers that come in this area. It is over flowing its banks. And the next thing you know, you add 25 inches of rain on to that and you have this.
I mean, we're talking about hundreds of houses in this Barrington Complex and others on Lake Houston that look just like this. And I'm not sure if you heard me earlier, but some people are refusing to leave. They don't want to leave. They want to stay on the second floor. They want to stand by. They don't think the water is going to get any higher, and the authorities really can't tell them one way or the other because they don't know. But, I can tell you that we were standing doing live shots in a corner today, and that corner, we went over and we did another live shot for a previous show, and when we came back that corner was 40 feet down. So, the water had come up, crawled up that high.
MACCALLUM: Trace, let me just ask you a question. What's the response of people in terms of how they feel the city and state are responding to them? For instance, the man that you spoke to who has just, you know, has walked into his house a little while ago, does he feel like he was given proper warning? And is he OK with the fact that he decided to stay?
GALLAGHER: We haven't talked to anybody. In the three days that we have been here, we have not talked to anybody, Martha, who is pointing fingers at the government in any way or the authorities. We've heard nothing but accolades for the people who have handled this. I mean even the people who lost everything. You know, we talked to a guy yesterday who lost everything. He was heartbroken but he certainly wasn't bitter about it, and he wasn't pointing fingers.
Look, there was nothing they could do. This was the unknown. Like Katrina, this was the unknown. They had no idea if this storm was going to drop 50-plus inches of rain. So, the bottom line is, you know, they thought they got fair warning. They did what they were told. And the ramifications are what they are. And as far as we know, you know, people are heart broken. They're banding together, but nobody's pointing fingers at this point, Martha.
MACCALLUM: And certainly, it doesn't discriminate in terms of economic background. You're in a very, obviously, upscale neighborhood right now. We've seen other areas that were hit where people are seeking shelter and they are also, you know, pouring into the convention center as we mentioned a little while ago. So, you know, this kind of disaster -- he can't hear me but that's OK. So, this kind of disaster, as you folks know at home, you know, it doesn't pick and choose. It has obviously washed over so many areas of Texas and it's truly inspiring to see the efforts that are going on in the course of all this. So, thank you to Trace Gallagher. We'll keep an eye on his live shot there as he travels through and goes back as they continue to try to do one last round before night fall comes to see if they can get anybody out at this point.
So, we all remember when the levees broke Katrina. And now, you know, it is 12 years later to the day that Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. So, you're looking at some of these reservoirs and the levees, and they are hoping that they're going to hold, but one of the phrases that were used today was that there's one reservoir, which is just -- there it is. Addicks Reservoir has basically reached an uncontrolled release level. Their words: "an uncontrolled release" is happening with regard to that reservoir of the floodwaters in nearby engineers by neighborhoods.
So, a separate levee breach also prompted the officials to send out a very scary text message this morning -- Twitter message, rather, that said: get out now -- and it was all in red. We'll show it to you in a moment. So, we're looking at, potentially, more disaster that reminds us of what happened when the levees broke in Katrina. Col. Paul Owen is Commander of the Army Corps of Engineer Southwest Division, which includes the state of Texas. Colonel, good to have you with us tonight. Your thoughts on that comparison? Is that an apt comparison or is the geography so different that this, hopefully, will never be a Katrina like situation?
COL. PAUL OWEN, COMMANDER, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER SOUTHWEST DIVISION: Well, certainly. Thank you, first of all, for having me on your program tonight, Martha. It's a pleasure to be here. First, I want to say that our heart, our thoughts, and prayers go out to the people in Texas. And you know, soldiers feel kinship with first responders, and that's pretty incredible what the first responders of the state of Texas are doing right now save people's lives. So, as part of that effort to prevent further damage and prevent further risk, I would -- you know, we're managing the waters around Addicks and Barker reservoirs.
And as you mentioned, we have an uncontrolled release that is not -- we refer to a controlled release and uncontrolled release. I know they sound dramatic but it's not intended to. The controlled release is water that comes through a prescribed outlet structure that's designed part of the dam, and that's what we're doing as quickly as we can from Addicks reservoir. And then, the uncontrolled portion is the part that's going around the back side of the dam. And this is a unique structure in Addicks. But it's -- it's like a bathtub, it's holding water, you have a drain in the bathtub, our drain for the water is coming through the outlet.
But some of the water is not drained -- the water that's coming into the bathtub is coming in faster than the water that we're able to release from the drain. So, some of that water is going around the back side of the dam in small amounts. You know, the back side of the dam, the elevation is about 108 feet. The water elevation right now is about 109 feet. So, there's not a dramatic flow of water on the outside of the dam, on the outside structure part of the dam. And we expect the water to rise a couple more feet. So, it will rise just a little bit more than the current height of the dam. But we don't expect it to have real dramatic flows around the edge of the dam on --
MACCALLUM: Yes. That's a great explanation that you gave us. So, nothing has broken is what you're saying. It's overflowing but there's no break that -- so, kind of have a sense of where that water is going. But when you're -- if you're living in that area, and live near that dam and you hear a couple more feet of rising, what would you advise to people who are there?
OWEN: This is a great opportunity for me just to reassure people that the structure and the dam are operating. As we expected it during these kinds of conditions, there's a very low probability for any kind of catastrophic failure at this point. And we are certainly communicating with the Harris County officials to make sure if we do have more of a release than we currently expected for uncontrolled waters that they understand how that's going to impact the local population.
MACCALLUM: What about the levee that we heard about?
OWEN: But for now, we want to reassure people -- so, the levee, I understand that was in the Columbia Lakes area. So, that's not a Corps of Engineers controlled levees. There are many types of levees, there are local levees, and there's a corps-controlled levees. So, unfortunately, we don't have a lot of oversight of that particular levee. But we're certainly willing to help with the county --
MACCALLUM: I just want to interrupt you for one second, and I apologize for that. But we're looking at a live rescue on the right-hand side of your screen, and I know people have seen pictures and videos throughout the day, but this is what we're monitoring that's happening right now. And we just saw someone pulled out of the water into one of those rescue boats and it's 6:15 in the evening, so not too much daylight left in Houston. And you just have to give these people so much credit who are just out there looking for that one person who may have made their way towards one of these boats, and they want to be there when that person needs them.
OWEN: Yes. I'm not sure exactly what you are seeing but if, you know, we can give as much credit to the people that are doing first responders and rescue action and thinking about the people of Texas right now. That's pretty important.
MACCALLUM: Yes. We're trying to figure out what happened here. You can see this shot; flooded waters at the bottom of an overpass. I'm told that this woman jumped back into the water. It's obviously unclear exactly what's going on. I don't know if she's trying to get back to something. Her car, perhaps. I mean, these are desperate situations, and you know, you see the people standing with car lights on up towards the area that goes back on to this ramp. I mean, these are just life and death situations that we're watching here. Colonel, what's your advice to people who are still out there?
OWEN: Well, you know, I think the advice that's being provided by the state of Texas and the Harris County officials are pretty important right now. Do not drive in water, and don't try to take your car through water where you can see it that's dangerous. You don't know what the current is, and it could definitely sweep you away, and you have no idea how deep it is. So, seek safety, seek help from the first responders that are there. And just stay in contact with those that can help you.
MACCALLUM: Colonel, we're just watching this as it plays out. I read an unbelievable statistic today that said if the amount of rainfall that Houston has received had landed in New Orleans, it would be 128 feet high because of the way New Orleans is constructed, because of the geography there. You know, as you look at these comparisons, Houston obviously is much more sprawling, although it's low lying, it's not as low as New Orleans was, right?
OWEN: Right. That's correct. And New Orleans has this unique geography where it's actually a bowl. So, you know, if you remember the unwatering efforts we had to do after Hurricane Katrina, that's because the water settled in the low-lying areas and the only way to get it out was to pump it out. Houston has a very different geography. It's more generally sloped, and the water all kind of drains into the Houston shipping channel in Galveston Bay.
So, this water will likely be there for several weeks before it's able to find its way to the Houston shipping channel. So, the Addicks are Barker reservoirs are certainly a part of trying to control the water around Houston, but it controls a small percentage -- about 10 percent of the water that actually flows into the Galveston Bay, that structure designed to do. It has provided a lot of protection for the city of Houston.
MACCALLUM: We're going to go now to the mayor. Colonel, thank you so much for being with us this evening. And Mayor Turner is about to speak, and we want to take everybody there. Our thanks again to the colonel for his insight as we watch. This is the second news conference that we've seen for Mayor Turner today. He's going to be speaking to us live from Houston in just a moment. The police chief is with him. You saw this afternoon a very emotional news conference that these two gentlemen were speaking at when they talked about the lost officer. So, let's listen in as he gets started here and see what the mayor has to say.
SYLVESTER TURNER, MAYOR OF HOUSTON, TEXAS: Based on what we're getting from the National Weather Service and the news reports, the end of the rain may be in sight. The east side of I-45, that's only about two to three inches of rain over the next 24 hours. That's good news. On the west side of I-45, one to two inches. That's good news. Storms are moving to the -- starts moving to the east. Some winds gust about 35 mile-per-hour range here. Storm center passes by.
And by Thursday, we are clear for two to three days assuming things remain on track. So, that is good news. But the one trillion gallons of rain still have to go somewhere and the reservoirs and the lakes across the region will cause flooding. We know that; they've already caused flooding. So, we're not done with the flooding even if the skies are clear. With regards to the reservoirs, Barker Cyprus, they have increased the release from Barker Cypress, but I'm going to let Steve speak to that issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. As we discussed earlier this morning, the corps had advised that they were going to increase its discharge rate up to 8,000 CFS. We've had additional conversations with the corps. They've actually increased their discharge up to 14,000 CFS. And they're anticipating that they're going to peak around 16,000 CFS. The reason for this additional discharge is to prevent as much overflow that's going from around the dam, that's currently going around the dam in Addicks.
What impact that's having? It's having a direct impact right in the vicinity between Eldridge, and Dairy Ashford, along with Buffalo Bayou. That's where the discharges from both Addicks and Barker combine. It's currently read around the next seven-tenths of a foot the flood level has risen. And we anticipate it's going to rise a little bit higher as it reaches up to 16,000 CFS. A little further downstream it's actually below what it was. So, it has an immediate impact right in the vicinity of the both discharges.
TURNER: Thank you. So, this is a situation that we'll be closely monitoring. Certainly, it's going to increase the flow of water coming down the stream and certainly, there will be some impact how we will be watching carefully to kind of monitor that impact and the flooding condition. So certainly, we're asking everyone to be alert, to be attentive as we move forward. On the rescues, which continues to be a high priority for all of us, let me call on Chief Officer Bader.
ACEVEDO: Good afternoon -- good evening, everybody. Thanks for being here. As of approximately 1700 hours since the last time we spoke, the Houston Police Department has rescued an additional 600 individuals. We've created several multi age staging areas throughout the city involving HFT, federal agencies, and state agencies, and a multitude of other local agencies. The mayor addressed the flooding in the King Wood area. We have approximately 529 calls holding. And we've responded to almost 2,000 calls for service during this operational period.
Just on a side note, we have nearly 200 officers now whose homes have been damaged to some extent and 47 facilities. We're tracking 200-plus high-water locations and trans-star is helping us track 440 high-water locations throughout the region. The last is really important for our fellow agencies to know and the convoys to know that we're working diligently to start, actually, escorting convoys in there with the supplies, and people, and goods, which will help the operation as we move forward, the relief operations in the greater Houston area.
TURNER: Thank you, chief. The chief will be back in a little bit just to speak on another issue as well. Chief Pena with the Fire Department.
SAMUEL PENA, FIRE DEPARTMENT CHIEF, HOUSTON, TEXAS: Thank you, Mayor. Good evening, everybody. It's been an active 18 hours for this operational period. The Houston Fire Department has responded to over 2100 incidents to date. Over 763 have been water rescue related incidents. So, the number of water rescue operations continues. As a result, and in response, we've established seven area commands. It's been a long day. I'm sorry, I thought he was mocking me.
ACEVEDO: He doesn't look as young as he once did.
PENA: Now, he's not going to say what I say, right? We've established seven area commands throughout the city, and we're resourcing those appropriately. The area of high demand continues to the King Wood area, especially the enclave Barrington, Royal Shores neighborhoods, as well as the Memorial City Mall area, and the Maxy Road area, along with Greens Bayou. The Houston Fire Department responded and evacuated 124 seniors from the Maxy Road in the I-10 nursing home. And they've been safely transported to an appropriate facility. Shelters -- in support of the shelters, the Houston Fire Department has assigned some medic resources to those centers. We have six units assigned to Toyota center, five units assigned to Dobie, and seven units assigned to the GRB.
At this time, we have six USAR teams actively engaged and incorporated into our rescue resources. And with a 350 additional personnel from those resources, we're able to rotate some crews that had been working long hours, and I continue to be incredibly impressed by the men and women of the Houston Fire Department. Most of them have been on duty for almost two and a half days. So, we're doing some things operationally to try to get those resources rested, and back in the game so to speak efficiently. So, the operation continues and we'll continue to serve the demand as expected. Thank you, Mayor.
TURNER: Thank you very much. And, of course, it's not just police and fire on the rescue. There's also the Coast Guard that's been a valuable -- invaluable partner with us. Lt. Hart.
LT. MIKE HART, COMMAND DUTY OFFICER, COAST GUARD SECTOR HOUSTON-GALVESTON: Good evening. Search and rescue continue to be the highest priority of the Coast Guard right now. The Coast Guard is continuing to run 24-hour operations using 22 Coast Guard helicopters, three airplanes, and 28 Coast Guard boats. I just want to stress, again, that if anybody is in distress, local EOCs, 911, and contact the Coast Guard, you know, as soon as you possibly can. Thank you.
TURNER: Thank you. And, of course, when individuals are rescued they are having to go to somewhere. To come out of the elements and, therefore, a number of shelters have been set up. At the Georgia Brown, which has been the, I guess, the primary of the mega shelter for the city of Houston, Georgia Brown is now at about 10,000. That number has increased. And we are working, of course, to ensure enough cots are provided. We're also going to be using just because it has gotten so large, and because the Police Department and officers are spread all over the place doing a lot of different things at the same time.
We're going to be using 50 Texas National Guard members just to provide added safety within the parameters of the Georgia Brown. But that number continues to grow. What I have decided to do in conversation with the Toyota Center is that we are going to use the Toyota Center to reduce the population at the Georgia Brown. So, it will become another shelter, but not for direct -- what's the word I'm looking for -- entry. You know, you still have to go through the Georgia R. Brown. But because the number is at 10,000 and I want to reduce that population because it's -- I don't want it to become so large that it becomes difficult, so I want to reduce that population.
I want to thank the Toyota Center, the organization, for granting permission to use it, and that will take effect right now. So, we're going to reduce the population at the Georgia R. Brown by using the Toyota Center as a shelter. In addition, later on, this evening, the county judge will announce another shelter that will be opening between the county and the city. So that will take place. But, you know, so many people are needing transportation to the shelters. We can't -- we certainly would not have been able to do what we have done without the strong collaboration and partnership with metro. They have simply been invaluable. So, Carrin Patman, Chairperson of the metro board.
CARRIN PATMAN, CHAIRPERSON, METRO BOARD: Thank you so much, Mayor. We've never been prouder to be a community partner with this extraordinary team. Metro's primary focus has been and is in support of the continuing police and fire operations. We've transported over 6,000 people to shelter during the duration of this awful tragedy. And to shelters today, 3,000. So, we've also, the humble Civic Center has opened and we'll transporting 2,000 people.
MACCALLUM: All right. We're going to continue to listen to this. We got a lot of news out of the mayor there just moments ago. He said that since they spoke this afternoon, and also the Police Chief Acevedo, who's just been fantastic through all of this, they've done 600 more rescues since their news conference. And they said a lot of them -- the calls were coming from the King Wood area, which is where you saw Trace Gallagher on that boat, just a few moments ago. So, that's clearly an area of focus for them right now.
At least 200 police officers from Houston and emergency responders have their own homes damaged, and they are out there helping others. So, imagine having the burden of what's going on for you personally on your back while you are carrying other people on your back, literally. So, this is an extraordinary effort that they are putting forth here. They've also been great, I would say, about coming forward with these, you know, every few hours of news conferences.
Also, the mayor mentioned that they're opening the Toyota Center which is the home of the Houston Rockets. So, that's going to be an overflow zone for the Georgia R. Brown Convention Center, which is now maxed out at 10,000 people. They had planned for 5,000 people. They want to figure out a way to sort of bring the overflow over. But he said the entry point is still going to be the Brown Center. So, people have to go there first and sort of be processed and then overflow will go to the Toyota Center. He was grateful for that option, and he said there probably going to have another center opening throughout. Of course, the next question is going to be where to go from there. These people can't stay there obviously, indefinitely, and many of them won't have homes for a very long time. So that's a question that we'll get to in the days to come here. So, throughout the day, today, President Trump was there surveying the damage. There he's next to Governor Abbott this afternoon at the table with all of those who are handling this crisis. In Corpus Christi, he rallied the crowds that turned out to see him. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is historic. It's epic what happened but, you know what? It happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So joining us now two lawmakers who traveled with the president today, Texas congressman Roger Williams is in Austin, and Texas state representative Todd Hunter is in Corpus Christi. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Roger Williams, let me start with you. What was the response to the president today in Texas?
REP. ROGER WILLIAMS, R-TEXAS: Well, the response was great. I mean, he really showed leadership. He and Governor Abbott have really been positive on the things we're going to do. And so the response is great. And I must tell you that we've been able to show the president a little bit about Texas spirit. About people helping each other whether they be neighbors, whether they be friends or not knowing each other. We've showed him the Texas spirit. But he's given everybody a lot of positive thoughts, a lot of hope. And we frankly talked about working quickly in congress to get funding so we can begin to rebuild this area.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. Obviously, that's something that you want to seize the moment on while everybody is focused on this issue to try to get the funding that's needed. We also saw what happened with Hurricane Sandy up in the northeast. Representative Todd Hunter, what would you say about the president's message and, you know, sort of what was he talking about when he walked around and he worked with everybody? What were those conversations like today?
TODD HUNTER, STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, it was very good. It's good to have straight talk and a positive constructive message. You know what Houston is going through is what we in Corpus Christi and the coastal just went through. You have a crisis. Now we're in the rebuilding, restoring phase. People are now getting -- realized what really happened. We had two instances of people crying today. So it was great that the president came in, gave a positive, constructive, but straight talk message because that's what we want to hear in the coastal bend of Texas.
MACCALLUM: Roger Williams, there were some reports, you know, there is always going to be criticism. And some people said the president came too soon. He didn't show enough empathy. You were right there. What was your impression?
WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, those are just people that don't want this man to succeed at all. I mean, he showed deep empathy, deep concern. He's had a lot of passion for rebuilding this situation we're in. So, look, I think he's leading. He's certainly the commander-in-chief. And you know, I thought about this, Martha. He's a builder. That's his background. So what better person to have in the White House right now than maybe the builder-in-chief that can help us rebuild this and understand what the needs are. So, he's leading. He's doing wonderful things. It's not political. His interest comes from the heart. And I was very proud of him today.
MACCALLUM: Gentlemen, thank you so much. Good to have both of you with us this evening.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: I know it's a tough time for all of you. And we appreciate your time.
HUNTER: Thanks a lot.
MACCALLUM: Thanks to you. So here now with an insider perspective on what's it's like at the White House during times of national crisis, Ari Fleischer, Fox News contributor and former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. Excuse me. Ari, good to see you tonight.
ARI FLEISCHER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: So you heard that and you watched the president in action today. Obviously, he's been under a lot of pressure before this happened and he will be after. But this is a moment where everybody looks to him for leadership. How he's doing?
FLEISCHER: Well, frankly, I think first you have to rewind the tape. He's doing very well because things are going well, and that begins with the planning that the government made under his leadership. That began at Camp David if you remember that, or culminated at Camp David with the president clearly sending tweets and messages and picture that he's on top of it. He's in charge. And he wanted to get to Texas. He went to Texas today, and that scene with the flag is a very powerful and important one because it connects him to the people who are suffering. And that is a very important boost for the morale of people who are going through this, and especially Texans.
Texans love that message about Texas pride. Texas can do it. Texans are special. And they're self-sufficient. And so, he did well with that message. One thing I noticed about the president's style, he is brusky. He's business like. He's to the point. He's not very emotional in the sense that he'll give you that empathy. He's going to put his arm around the victim. That's not his approach. But I think if you're in Texas right now what he did today and the full day is what you wanted to hear.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. And you know, just watching some of the networks today and the coverage of the president's visit as we heard from the congressman moments ago, I mean, there are some people out who just don't want to ever say anything positive about the president. Jen Saki was one of them today. And CNN basically saying, you know, she felt that he didn't showed the right empathy, and that he went too soon. That any helicopter that was used she said to support the president today was taking away from the rescue effort.
FLEISCHER: Well, that's factually wrong. The helicopters had nothing to do with that rescue effort. Marine One doesn't do natural disasters. So that's just factually wrong, and it's a boost to the people of Texas. The empathy issue, I just think -- I made a similar remark earlier today about the very first meeting he had. But when you compare it to what happened throughout the whole day, you see the president did do that at events subsequent throughout the day. But it's his style. His style is a business style. It is not the moment I'm going to cry with you style. And he's entitled to that. Anf different leaders have different styles.
MACCALLUM: All right. Thank you very much, Ari Fleischer, joining us here in New York tonight, as we watch all of it live still happening in Houston this evening. And still ahead tonight, 12 years after Hurricane Katrina, a Bush administration official credited with developing a plan to respond to catastrophes, speaks to us about the lessons learned, and the federal government's response to Harvey. Also tonight, Reverend Franklin Graham joins us on how his Christian relief organization is gearing up and already in action to help Texas rebuild.
MACCALLUM: Breaking tonight, the National Guard announcing plans to prepare 20 to 30,000 more troops to assist in the recovery efforts as tropical storm Harvey continues to produce catastrophic flooding in parts of Texas, and it is getting ready to wallop Louisiana at this hour as well. An additional 6 to 12 inches is expected on top of the already biblical proportions, 20, 30 inches in some areas that we've already seen. Fox meteorologist Adam Klotz is tracking the storm. So Adam, where is it moving now and who needs to be ready?
ADAM KLOTZ, FOX NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's beginning to move a little bit further off to the east, off to the north. You can tell when you take a look at our satellite and radar stretching all the way from Panama City Beach, Florida, so getting on to Panhandle, over back towards the Houston area. Some of the heavier rain right now on the Houston Texas or, excuse me, the Texas-Louisiana border line, that's where some of the heavier rain is currently sitting. Let's put this in motion for you. This is our future radar. There is your circulation, it's going to be making landfall tomorrow. Watch it as it moves, the heaviest rain stays right up there through Lake Charles, stretching farther north to Shreveport. We're going to continue to see this rain off to the right-hand side of this storm. But you dry off in Houston. Flooding still going to be an issue because it's just going to be days and days and, unfortunately, probably, weeks until all that water is able to drain out. But you see that tracking this direction. Here's your track. Good news is this clears on out of the area here in the next couple of days, at least the coastal areas before heading up to the Midwest.
MACCALLUM: Adam, thank you very much.
MACCALLUM: So you all know Samaritan's Purse, it's one of the aide organizations that is helping Texans rebuild in the wake of this disaster. They've got five tractor trailers full of emergency relief supplies that are currently in the state or on their way. And that is thanks to the leadership of Reverend Franklin Graham who joins me now on the phone. He's the president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse. Reverend, always good to have you with us, thanks for being here tonight.
FRANKLIN GRAHAM, THE SAMARITAN'S PURSE PRESIDENT AND CEO: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: When you look at this, 52 inches of rain. This is the biggest rain dump that any part of this country has ever seen. Put this disaster in perspective for us.
GRAHAM: Well, Martha, it's hard to put it in perspective. We've never seen anything like this. But, what's happened is thousands and thousands and thousands of people have lost everything they've worked for. They've lost their businesses, their homes. Many of them don't have insurance. And what we try to do, Martha, is we -- our teams will have five different areas that we work in. And right now we are working today in Rockport. We're working in Victoria. And then we'll set up three more locations in the Houston area as soon as the floodwaters recede. We can't do anything until that happens. But, what we'll have volunteers. We can take about 1,000 a day. And they will be assigned to an area or to a home and with that homeowner, if there is a tree fallen on their house, we'll cut it off. If the house needs to be re-tarped, the roof, we'll do that for them. If they want us to clean the house out and take all the wet furniture, the carpets, and all that out to the road, we'll do that. We'll cut the drywall off the wall so the studs are exposed so the house can dry out. And then when we finish that, Martha, we have prayer with the homeowner. And then we'll go onto the next house. But we can only do this with volunteers. And we need a steady stream of volunteers, about 1,000 a day. And we're going to need them well into next year.
MACCALLUM: Reverend Graham, I don't know how to thank you for the work that you do in all these situations. And as you say, everybody can help. And we have it at the bottom of our screen, if you are wanting to donate, or you want to volunteer, you want to be one of those thousand people strong army, go to samaritanspurse.org and you'll get all the information that you need to become part of what Reverend Graham is putting together. Our great thanks to him tonight. We wanted him to be able to speak to you and inspire you in a way that you can help as well.
Also joining us tonight, Pastor Joel Osteen, as you know, came under some fire for initially not taking flood victims at the huge Lakewood Church in the Houston area. It's a 16,000 seat arena in the heart of Houston, but Osteen insists that the doors were never closed and that they were there and ready for people. Joining me now is Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins, who just one year ago today his family was forced to evacuate their Louisiana home by canoe as a result of severe flooding. So he knows what this is all about. Good to see you tonight.
TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Thank you, Martha. Good to be with you.
MACCALLUM: All over twitter and that's the way social media works now. And all these pictures. People criticizing Joel Osteen saying he should have thrown those doors open immediately and welcomed people in. They're saying that they had some concerns about flooding. You know, what do you say to people who believe that he didn't do enough?
PERKINS: Well, I have not spoken to Joel. I've spoken to a number of other pastors in Houston whose churches have flooded. And, look, I get -- we've gone through this, as you said, one year ago our church was a relief center. In fact, I worked very closely with Franklin. We're still housing Samaritan's Purse relief workers here in our community. We're rebuilding or we're staging equipment that's going to go into Houston gathering supplies. Look, it's chaotic in the first 72 hours. And who knows what happened. But I can tell you the heart of Joel Osteen is to help people. So I can't believe that that would be true.
I have found that in the last 15 years going back to Katrina where I went in and rescued people. Both the government, the federal government, the state government, local governments, nonprofits, including churches have become unfortunately more proficient in these situations, and already there's pastors in the churches in Louisiana that have gone through this before that are gathering supplies as soon as the roads are clear. They're going to be moving in to Houston to help pastors and churches that they're familiar with and friends with.
So, look, in the worst of times, Martha, we see some of the best things come out of America. And we see what really makes America great and it's the people that are willing to risk their lives to pluck people off of roofs to house them in their homes and feed them. You know, they don't ask what their racial background is, their political orientation. They just help them because they're another human being. And I believe that's what makes America great and we're seeing that right now.
MACCALLUM: We've seen so much division. So we can just hope that some good will come out of these times when everybody pulls together. Tony Perkins, thank you for your message tonight. Good to see you.
PERKINS: Thanks, Martha.
MACCALLUM: I just want to mention that the Houston mayor, Sylvester Turner, who you just saw speaking has now imposed a curfew 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM. He's definitely cracking down. He's got National Guard at the convention center. He just wants to prevent tempers from boiling over. We've seen how heated these situations can get, so curfew tonight. And some National Guard in place to protect everybody, to keep everybody safe at the convention center overnight. More news from that front as we get it this evening. And in the meantime, as we were just talking about, the shelters swelling with evacuees. We're going to hear from the man who played a key role in developing how our nation responds to catastrophes, including hurricanes. Admiral James Loy is here. And he says the scope of Harvey is beyond that of Katrina. And we haven't even seen the end. Not even close.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the superdome. The convention center, we are sustaining food. They have food, security. I have an incident management team inside the city of Houston as we speak. And more and more people are being moved to shelters to stabilize the situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So the president and the first lady and the FEMA administrator Brock Long who was speaking there today. Harvey has been invoking some painful memories and some comparisons to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And just moments ago, Mayor Sylvester Brown announced that he's opening the Toyota Center, home of the NBA Houston Rockets, to handle some of the overflow from the main convention center there. So they had an initial capacity of 5,000 people. And they were already holding double that amount this morning. He told us tonight that's up to 10,000 now. So, Admiral James Loy is former deputy secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush, and he played a key role developing the way that we respond to these catastrophes. Admiral Loy, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being with us.
JAMES LOY, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Thank you, Martha. Good to be here.
MACCALLUM: So, you know, I just want to bring up some of these images that nobody wants to revisit, but this certainly prompts it of the superdome and what a mess it was. Right now you're looking at the Houston convention center. But let's look at some of these old images and ask Admiral Loy what happened then that was so disastrous and what is different now.
LOY: Well, I think the reason things are so apparently going so well now is that lessons were learned in the aftermath of Katrina. There were five major investigations done in the executive branch and in the congress back then. And those lessons have been truly incorporated in to the planning process, and the exercises that are done not while we're in the middle of a tragedy, which is the worst time to exchange business cards, but, rather, in the planning process in the time lines when things are quiet, and you can substantively learn what you need to learn, put things in order, and then as is now in a document now called the national response framework. You can pull that off the shelf and its annexes tell you precisely what it is you need to do and you go do it. And that's what I see playing out in Texas over the course of last week and will continue to play out, I'm sure, over the near term future.
Second thing that I think is really important -- one other thing I think is really important is to have really skilled people in the key positions that you're asking to run these kinds of operations. Brock Long, for example, the administrator now at FEMA, came from a lifetime of emergency management expertise in the state of Alabama. His predecessor at the FEMA, the administrator before him, Craig Fugate, was a lifelong emergency manager from the state of Florida. Those are the kind of people that we need in those critical positions in government to run these kinds of operations when the tragedy hits.
MACCALLUM: I have just about a half a minute, but, you know, what would you tell them to be concerned about at this point? They're only a couple days in here. What do they need to watch for?
LOY: Well, I think one of the things to be concerned about is that this is by scope the largest catastrophe like this that I think we've faced as a nation. And I worry a bit about just the pace of demands on people, so fatigue is something that I'd watch for very carefully, and make certain that in the rotation of people and the access to resources are provided such that the people you're counting on to get this work done are not being worn out once their adrenaline rush after 24 or 36 hours runs by.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. Admiral Loy, thank you very much. Good to talk to you tonight.
LOY: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: We're going to take a quick break here, and we'll be right back with more on "The Story."
MACCALLUM: So we are back. This is the live shot from Kingwood, Texas, where they just rescued a deer. Animals among those being helped tonight, as you would expect. So we're going to take a look at that as we leave you with all of the live coverage tonight, more straight ahead as Tucker gets underway.
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