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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner defends city's Harvey preparations

Houston mayor's view
Houston mayor's view 02:20

HOUSTON -- Water rescues have created daily drama in a city that has found hell and high water. But Houston's mayor stands by his decision not to evacuate America's fourth-largest city, CBS News' Mark Strassmann reports. 

"You cannot evacuate 6.5 million people within two days. You cannot. That would be chaotic," Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference.

It was chaotic and deadly in September 2005 when 2.5 million Houstonians evacuated from Hurricane Rita. In the gridlock, more than 100 evacuees died, dozens from heat stroke.

With Harvey, Houstonians stayed put, and thousands have had to save themselves and ended up in crowded shelters.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner CBS News

"Have you done enough to take care of the folks who were told to stay put?" Strassmann asked Turner.

"The city of Houston has been impacted by an inordinate amount of rain that fell on the city of Houston," Turner said.

"But what is the plan for those 6 million-plus people?" Strassmann asked.

"We asked people to prepare, and they did," Turner said. "I'm going to allow all the people on social media and the talking heads to talk but they don't have the responsibility of managing and running this city. I do."

Flooding has closed highways and roads all over Houston, and getting supplies into the city has been a logistical nightmare.

Shelter filled 03:56

CBS News followed four Walmart trucks carrying donated food and water to the city's overcrowded convention center. It took the trucks two days to get there, but living space for all the evacuees left no room to unload the supplies.

"Let me assure you that it's going to be improved today," Turner said.

"Can you guarantee that the supply chains of food, water, cots, are going to get through to that center in time for these folks?" Strassmann asked.

"We have made a request of FEMA for an additional 10,000 cots and additional supplies. And we have said that we need them to get here as soon as possible," Turner said.

Red Cross response 04:59

City officials say they're aware of the needs at the convention center, and plan to ease the pressure by sending hundreds of people there to other shelters. City officials told CBS News they plan to open three more shelters, including the Astrodome and the Toyota Center, sometime Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, more than 10,000 people were living in the convention center, reports "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell. The Red Cross had been told to prepare the shelter for 5,000 people.

One supply truck that was supposed to arrive at the convention center on Monday night was caught in flood waters, and the driver had to be rescued. On Tuesday night, twenty truckloads of emergency supplies were on the way.

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