Weekly Columns

Hurricane Harvey

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Washington, September 6, 2017 | Lani Short (202-225-6356) | comments

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected by Hurricane Harvey’s devastation as they work to rebuild. While my heart is heavy for the families who lost homes and, as of Tuesday afternoon, the 60 families who lost loved ones, I am encouraged by the unity our country displayed through this devastating natural disaster. President Trump, federal, state and local officials have worked tirelessly to ensure those impacted have the resources they need, and I’m proud Congress is acting quickly to ensure Americans suffering in the aftermath of this tragedy are taken care of.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Corpus Christi, Texas and southwest Louisiana last week as a Category 4 storm, leaving behind between 40-52 inches of rainfall with sustained winds nearing 130 mph, triggering flash flooding as far away as Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. The devastation has been catastrophic as many Texans were evacuated and their homes and businesses were wrecked by these heavy rainfalls and winds. 

On September 6, the House approved an initial $7.85 billion in emergency relief funding to assist Texas and Louisiana as they rebuild. This package, which is expected to gain Senate approval this week, grants the president’s request for funding. 

I’m so proud of the East Tennesseans who responded to the call for help by doing what they could to aid in relief efforts. Many of our first responders headed to Texas to assist with rescue and recovery, and even more Tennesseans came together to provide supplies through drives at their schools, churches and places of employment. 

Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Johnson City created kits which will provide assistance to those in need across the greater Houston area. These kits consist of cleaning supplies, hygienic materials and school supplies for people who need them. Elizabethton High and Happy Valley High school students are encouraging the community to get involved in relief efforts through a social media campaign that supports residents of Texas by motivating people to donate supplies through the Houston Independent School District.

Every person can play a part in disaster relief. I was heartened by a story I read of 5-year-old Ella, who, according to her mother, was moved to tears by the devastation of the hurricane coverage on the television, gave $10 from her piggy bank to buy bottled water to send to Houston. Acts of kindness like Ella’s remind us of our nation’s inherent goodness, and allow us to see light through the dark clouds.

Unfortunately, it seems another hurricane will strike the United States in the coming days, this time in the Southeast. I am continuing to monitor Hurricane Irma as it barrels toward the state of Florida and am keeping those who are in its path in my prayers. No one is immune to these natural disasters, and I am thankful for the courageous first responders and volunteers who work tirelessly to help.

If you would like to learn more about how you can prepare for weather emergencies, or if you are interested in more information about the government’s response to Hurricane Harvey, you can read more at www.ready.gov.

As always, feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family.
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