Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Disaster relief in our area

November 8, 2018
South Belt-Ellington Leader

Disaster relief in our area
Rep. Pete Olson

Houstonians are no stranger to flooding. In 2008, Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on our region. The last three years in a row, our region experienced record settings floods. The worst of course was Hurricane Harvey, which dumped over 50 inches of rain over two days resulting in floods that inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displacing more than 30,000 people and prompting more than 17,000 rescues.

The amazing heart of Texas was on full display before, during and after Harvey. Harvey took out our schools, shops, homes, pets, and the lives of over 80 Texans. But it also brought out the best in our communities because we are ‘Houston Strong.’

Houston Strong is our first responders, police, firemen, EMS and the Texas National Guard. It’s also thousands of everyday Texans who worked in shelters, churches and schools throughout South East Texas. None of whom sought credit. They only wanted to help their fellow man - but when help was needed – they delivered. Our incredible humanity is what got Houston through that storm.

Once recovery efforts began, it was time to make “Houston Stronger.” Local, state and federal government officials worked together to determine what aid and resources were needed to help communities recover and rebuild. We also reviewed how our current infrastructure failed us and needed changes to ensure our communities are protected in the future.

Our first priority was securing needed federal aid for the region to ensure that response agencies were equipped to properly respond. I worked with my House and Senate colleagues to secure over $120 billion in federal funding for disaster recovering including over $512 million for Army Corps of Engineers projects for our Houston region.

This critical funding will support critical projects like Clear Creek, Brays Bayou, Hunting Bayou and White Oak Bayou. These investments will help protect our communities when the next storm hits.

Another priority for me was to speak with federal agency officials about their disaster response efforts in our region. I also provided direct feedback from constituents when we brought officials to testify before the Energy and Commerce Committee. This direct knowledge makes federal officials understand what Texans faced and can be used to make sure federal agencies are better equipped to serve the American people in future disasters.

I introduced a bill to help communities rebound after disaster strikes. The Connecting Communities Post Disasters Act, helps local communities repair wireless communications systems more rapidly in federally declared disaster areas. After a disaster like Harvey, communication access is critical so folks can contact emergency responders for help or let their loved ones know they are safe.

I successfully added an amendment to this year’s Water Resource Development Act to help expedite local Army Corps projects within our region. These projects are vital to making the Houston region more resilient and better prepared for any future storm or natural disaster. The sooner this work can be accomplished, the sooner our communities can rest easier knowing that they are protected.

Progress doesn’t happen overnight. It happens through continued communication among federal, state and local officials, working to make sure federal agencies understand local needs and providing necessary resources.

Every day since Harvey, we’ve worked together to rebuild our community. While we’ve come a long way, there is still much work to be done. I remain committed to finish the work that we’ve started together so the Houston region is better prepared for future storms.

Hurricane Harvey showed the world the true meaning of Houston Strong. Now, let’s work together to make Houston Stronger.