By ROGER CALDWELL
“We see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend, and stranger helping stranger. We are one American family. We hurt together, we struggle together and believe me we endure together,” said President Trump.
The nonsense in America is being swept away by a natural disaster, which is forcing people to see no race, no color, and just human beings. The flood has revealed the decency in American people and everyone feels a need to help.
On Aug. 23, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas declared a state of emergency in 30 counties. Late on Aug. 25, Harvey a category 4 hurricane made landfall near Rockport, Texas, at peak intensity. On Aug. 26, Governor Abbott declared a state of emergency in 20 additional counties, and the Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for his entire state.
Once this hurricane made landfall, it became a tropical storm, but it continued to rain, and over 50 inches of rain inundated the gulf area and Texas for four days. This is the worst disaster in Texas’s history and it will take years to recover. The cost could be over $160 billon.
As the waters began to recede, it is way too early to determine the cost and extent of the damage. The majority of the residents in these hurricane areas did not have flood insurance, and the ones who had it, will not have enough.
The people of the flooded areas and the federal government have done a phenomenal job, and there have been very few reported deaths and the number stands around 60. But now the recovery phase begins, and everything moves into a new arena, and our legislators will have to find funds to rebuild the affected areas.
Again, it is too early to establish accurate numbers, but there are probably 50,000 residents in the affected hurricane areas, which are homeless, with just the clothes on their backs.
Republicans are notorious for debating where relief funds should go, and how much should be distributed. These rightwing conservatives have a record of denying aid to Americans devastated by natural disasters in the name of fiscal responsibility.
Earlier this year, Trump tried to cut FEMA funding by $667 million and the National Flood Mapping program by $190 million. Now Trump has made a request for $7.9 billion for FEMA, and that is just the start of the funds needed to help the affected areas.
Texas and the gulf coast is a hub for oil refineries and chemical plants and produce 25% of the consumption of gasoline in America. The gasoline prices have begun to increase around the country, with spot shortages in the Southeast. Some economists are estimating that prices could increase $1.00 per gallon, because the refineries are off line.
In Crosby, Texas containers of organic peroxides have exploded twice, and caught fire, and other chemical plants in the area could have a similar reaction to the hurricane. As the water recedes, and 500,000 or more Americans try to make sense of their lives after the hurricane/storm, how soon do we forget?
It is easy the first two months to be engaged, because this is a lead story in the daily news, but what happens to the people who have lost everything that they have worked their entire lives to achieve. On last Sunday, the president asked for a day of prayer, and next week everyone is worrying about paying their bills.
Maybe Hurricane Harvey did bring Americans together for a month, but this disaster will impact many communities for a lifetime.
For two weeks or maybe a month, there was no race or no color, and all Americans were one. But American politics is a blood sport, and the goal is to win. In a week or two, the ugly tribal warfare will start up again, and the different groups will begin shooting real bullets again.