Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Introduces Bill to Improve Local Flood Rescues

December 12, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC — Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today acted to assist first responders with high water rescues during high flood events in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Olson introduced H.R. 5407, the Lifting Up Our First Responders Act, a bill that would allow the military to prioritize distribution of surplus high water rescue vehicles to communities that face a higher threat of flooding to help emergency responders rescue individuals trapped by floods. Original co-sponsors include: Reps. Phil Roe (R-TN), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Randy Weber (R-TX).

“‘Houston Strong’ wasn’t just a slogan people used in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey; it was a promise to make our region more prepared, more resilient and better equipped to handle any future storms that may come,” Olson stated. “My bill the Lifting Up Our First Responders Act delivers on that promise. In 2015, 2016 and 2017 the Houston region faced record flooding, including Hurricane Harvey. While we were deeply grateful the ‘Cajun Navy’ came through in our time of need, the military surplus vehicle program will help equip small communities with needed tools to save lives. I’m proud to develop a cost-effective solution and urge my colleagues to support this bill.”

“Having access to the right equipment can make a life-saving difference, which is why I am proud to join Reps. Olson, Weber and Crenshaw in co-sponsoring commonsense legislation to make additional surplus equipment available for our local first responders when they face natural disasters.”—Congressman Phil Roe (TN-01)

“Living in the Bayou City, Houston residents know the importance of getting flood victims the help they need as fast as possible. It’s why with every flood, our community comes together and demonstrates boundless kindness, generosity and Texas grit. But citizens can’t do it on their own, so we must ensure our first responders have access to as many resources as possible. That’s why I’m proud to join this group in sponsoring legislation that prioritizes the distribution of military surplus vehicles to communities performing life-saving flood rescues.”—Congressman Dan Crenshaw (TX-02)

“When disaster strikes, we need all available resources to respond as quickly and as safely as possible. The goal is to keep our first responders safe while saving as many lives as we can. H.R. 5407 affords our local first responders much-needed access to the military surplus vehicles for high-water rescue. Recovery efforts and flood preparedness have improved since Harvey, but there is more work to be done, and this bill is a step in the right direction.”—Congressman Randy Weber (TX-14)

In addition, a growing list of local officials support the Olson bill:

“As the Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Fort Bend County, when I enact a declaration of disaster during emergencies, we need vehicles that can handle high-water rescues. Congressman Olson’s Lifting Up Our First Responders Act amends current law to give preference to imminently life-saving purposes, namely high-water rescues. His introduction of this bill is not only welcome, but necessary news for our community.”—Hon. KP George (County Judge, Fort Bend County)

“When next year’s hurricane season comes, Texas will be more prepared than ever thanks to Congressman Olson and his Lifting Up Our First Responders Act.”—Tim Sabrsula (Fire Chief, Beasley Fire Department)

“A bill that would streamline and expedite requests and acquisitions of government resources such as vehicles and equipment is great news for emergency response agencies that lack funding to enhance capabilities such as performing high water rescues or evacuating those in need. It also says something for repurposing and utilizing equipment that may no longer serve a military purpose. Being able to use this equipment to continue to serve citizens is a responsible move. Many fire departments and communities would certainly benefit from such an effort.”—Michael Youngblood (Fire Chief, Richmond Fire Department)

“Congressman Olson’s legislation is welcome news to any first responders who know firsthand the challenges involved in keeping people safe in the wake of a natural disaster. The high-water vehicles this bill makes available will allow us to do our jobs better and quicker as well as provide for the safety of all residents in flood-stricken areas. We can’t save their property but we can save their lives and help keep families together in critical and dangerous conditions. It will also keep the first responders safer and give them the ability to help more people in a shorter time frame.”—Chuck Tylka (Chief, Southeast Volunteer Fire Department)