Cornyn and Cruz Op-Ed: Texas, We’ve Got Your Back
by John Cornyn on September 20, 2017 at 9:57 AM
Co-written with Senator Ted Cruz
By now, we all know the numbers: over 50 inches of rainfall; at least 130,000 residences lost; and at least 500,000 vehicles damaged or destroyed. We've seen the images, too. Houstonians floating on air mattresses, the few belongings they could grab in garbage bags. Young children plucked from their rooftops by rescuers as the water rises. Cots lining the floor of the NRG Center, spouses and siblings desperately searching for loved ones. The storm didn't just devastate communities up and down our coast, it tested our resolve as a Texas family. Hurricane Harvey, the single most extreme rain event in American history, could have easily overwhelmed the Gulf Coast.
Instead, Texans responded in kind.
Law enforcement, rescue and medical personnel kept wading into the water. The Harris County Sheriff's Water Rescue Team, Texas National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard saved life after life. These were women and men like the late Sgt. Steve Perez, a 34-year Houston Police Department veteran who insisted on leaving home during the storm because, in his words, there was "work to do." Shelters, official and makeshift, opened. Food, diapers, clothes and medical supplies showed up by the truckload. And everywhere you looked, that uniquely Texas spirit was evident.
There were the bakers trapped inside El Bolillo bakery in southeast Houston who made sheets of Mexican pastries for whoever needed them. Or the Gallery Furniture showrooms that became unofficial shelters, providing a hot shower and bed for weary neighbors forced to abandon their homes.
Our friends to the east, Katrina never far from memory, didn't think twice when they dispatched the "Cajun Navy" to rush to our aid. Even as far as Philadelphia, a 5-year-old boy put on his Houston Texans hat and raised $500 through a lemonade stand for relief efforts.
The nation saw selfless acts of kindness in the aftermath of the hurricane, and we showed the nation over and over how Texans will stop at nothing to help one another. We Texans in Congress are no different. No matter the political party, we are a force to be reckoned with.
We stood together when a terrorist attacked innocent service members stationed at Fort Hood. We came together after a fertilizer plant exploded in West. And we grieved alongside each other when a gunman viciously targeted police officers on the streets of downtown Dallas. Hurricane Harvey has united us once again.
As people began returning to their homes, Congress approved over $15 billion in emergency aid. The two of us were proud to work together to nearly double the funding when the legislation came to the Senate, and to quickly get it to the president's desk.
But we know this is just the beginning. As the damage assessments are done, folks in communities from Corpus Christi to Beaumont will need more help. Working together with the governor and the rest of the Texas congressional delegation, we're going to stand shoulder to shoulder and make sure Texas can recover and rebuild.
The management of the response and recovery effort - from the city of Houston, to Harris County, to the governor's office and FEMA - has been steadfast. Now that the TV cameras are gone and recovery has given way to rebuilding, Congress will need to step up just like in the wake of other hurricanes. To the Texans affected by this once-in-a-lifetime storm along our coast, our message is simple: We've got your back.