Transcript: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on "Face the Nation," August 27, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday as a Category 4 hurricane. With blustering 130 mph winds, it left hundreds of thousands of residents without power and houses with roofs blown off. 

The National Hurricane Center said early Sunday that Harvey, which became a tropical storm by Saturday afternoon, continued to cause "catastrophic flooding in southeastern Texas." 

On Sunday, "Face the Nation" sat down with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to get the latest on the damage and what to expect in the coming days.

What follows is a transcript of the interview with Abbott, which aired August 27, 2017, on "Face the Nation."


MAJOR GARRETT:  We want to go now to Austin, Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott is overseeing the evolving and ongoing state response to the storm. Governor, thanks very much for joining us. Tell us if you can what the situation is in Houston and what you fear in the next few hours with the continued rain and rising flood waters.

GREG ABBOTT: Well, this appears to be either the worst or one of the worst floods Houston has ever had. We are measuring it not in inches but in feet. As you probably have seen, there are countless water rescues. Our first and foremost focus at this particular time is saving lives. And so we are working on as many water rescues as we possibly can and trying to find ways to get people out of harm's way.

GARRETT: Do you have a sense, governor, of the population that is in distress and how many boats, how many helicopters, how many resources you're going to need to move how many people to higher ground and safer terrain?

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

CBS News

ABBOTT: Well, I saw one report that I cannot confirm that there may be as many as 10 million people under flash flood warnings who could be in harm's way. What I do know as far as the rescue's concerned is that both Harris County and the city of Houston have multiple assets that are being used. The state of Texas overnight has provided high-profile military vehicles that will be manned by the National Guard. We are also providing water rescue boats as well as helicopters. Both the state and local agencies are providing every resource possible to make sure that we can rescue everybody in need.

GARRETT: Will this be an all-of-Texas effort, governor? Meaning resources from all over the state and other states brought to bear.

ABBOTT: Yes. This is an all in, all resources across the state of Texas. Moments ago, I spoke with the Harris County judge, who is the chief administrator for Harris County. Talking about more assets that the state of Texas can be providing. I'm proud to say that we've been receiving so many offers of help from all of our neighboring states: New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, even as far as away as Governor Cuomo in New York is providing resources for us. And so we're very appreciative of our fellow states as well as what the federal government has done. I gotta tell you the Trump administration has provided us everything that we need.

GARRETT: I used to live in Houston. And I know that the bayous, once they are filled with water there is nowhere for the water to go. That's the situation Houston finds itself in right now. You have a rescue operation that is mandatory and crucial, but you are going to have a sheltering operation soon. Do you have the capacity to shelter all the people you fear you might need to take to higher ground, governor?

ABBOTT: Right. It's those bayous that rise up. And because of the ongoing rain in the coming days that may be a challenge that will go unabated for a while. You are correct. There will be enormous needs for sheltering of people. And so we appreciate all the help that is coming in. People want to help out by doing things like donating, the best thing they can do is call 1-800-RED-CROSS or go to RedCross.org. But we are working as we speak in assembling all the shelters for people who can go to them who need them.

GARRETT: Do you foresee a need possibly to bring in stadium-like settings for those or arena-like settings for those who may need shelter for a prolonged period of time, governor?

ABBOTT: I missed what you said. Did you say arena or stadium type?

GARRETT:  Yes. For shelter.

ABBOTT: Yeah, sure. Sure. We have multiple shelter locations. And in fact we've had shelter locations pre-prepared in advance of this arrayed in multiple regions across the state of Texas. I've visited some in San Antonio, and Austin, and other places. And so we believe that because of our preparedness for this a week in advance, that we will have adequate sheltering.

And we are just asking for as many resources as we can get. We're very appreciative to HEB, to Walmart for what they have been providing to people here in the state of Texas. But this is typical Texas. And that is we're challenged all the time. And Texans come together to support our fellow Texans. And we are resilient. And we will overcome this. It's just going to take us a few days to overcome it.

GARRETT: After Katrina the U.S. military came in and brought substantial logistics, supply movement and order. Do you foresee any circumstance, governor, where you might request that kind of effort to assist you?

ABBOTT: We'll have to wait and see. The collaboration of the professionals in Houston and Harris County combined with the assets the state is providing have it covered for now. We'll have to see where it goes from here. There are different weather predictions. One is that this storm could hover over the Houston area for a couple of days.

If so, this could get even worse. But we will take it step by step. But also remember this. Let's not forget what we are doing at the same time. And let's not forget the people who were in harm's way just a couple of days ago where the hurricane hit. And we are involved in search and rescue missions along the coastline. Places like Rockport, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, and Corpus Christi. And so we're doing two things at once. But right now we are capable of achieving all of that.

GARRETT: And before I let you go, governor, real quickly what are the casualty totals that you've been made aware of? And how are those first hit areas on the coast doing?

ABBOTT: Right. I've seen reports of some casualties. Only one report that I've heard of in the Gulf Coast region where the hurricane hit. And I've seen some reports out of Harris County. But I am not capable at this time of confirming those reports and that those casualties were as a result of the storms. We will just need to wait and see. All we're focused on right now is not reports like that. But we're doing everything we can to save every life we can.

GARRETT: Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, thank you very much for your time.

ABBOTT: Thank you.

GARRETT: And we'll be back in one minute to hear from a top White House official about what the Trump administration is doing at the federal level.