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George's statement on Hurricane Harvey

As Hurricane Harvey makes landfall for the third time, the National Weather Service tells us “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced.” Everyone is saddened by the destruction and the loss of life this storm has wrought on the Texas Gulf Coast. As I write this, with levees and flood control reservoirs already overflowing, the forecast calls for even more rain. When the books are finally closed this is likely to be the costliest natural disaster in Texas’ history.

The scenes of destruction on television and the Internet are gut-wrenching. But in the midst of the despair, we see hope and compassion. We see it in the leaders of communities large and small. First responders and public servants have worked tirelessly for a week now, first planning for the worst; then putting their plans into action; providing food and shelter for those driven from their homes; rescuing those trapped by overwhelming flooding. First responders from all over Texas, and as far away as Pennsylvania and New Jersey are on the job. All branches of our armed forces are participating in search and rescue, and relief operations. They are all owed a deep debt of gratitude for their courage, their compassion and their sacrifice.

But, beyond these, we see hope in thousands of ordinary citizens – not all from the Gulf Coast, not all from Texas – launching their fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, and rubber rafts into neighborhoods, down streets that now look more like the canals of Venice, searching for those in need. The Cajun Navy is on the scene, as is a team of doctors from San Diego. Red Cross volunteers from across the country are arriving daily. Thousands more volunteers are manning shelters across the state.

Americans have come from all over the United States, to help their fellow Americans. Individuals have opened their homes to total strangers, who have nowhere else to go. But, this should not surprise us. This is what we always do. That's the thing about disasters in the United States. They bring out what is truly great about America; our compassion for people in need.

As a country, we are as divided as we have been in my lifetime. But, for now, we are united; all committed to one goal – supporting one another to make sure Houston (and all the Gulf Coast) survives this and emerges stronger on the other side. My hope is that when this is over, we don't simply lay aside this concern for and commitment to one another, until the next disaster.

I encourage each of you to join in these efforts by supporting the relief charity of your choice.

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