Here we are in the middle of January, approaching five months after Hurricane Harvey came ashore — flooding tens of thousands of homes and businesses — and the federal government has yet to approve the $81 billion disaster aid package to help Texas and other places in the United States hit by natural disasters in 2017.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz visited Galveston County on Saturday and praised local leaders for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. He also hopes to pass a third disaster relief bill before the money gets entangled in Washington policy battles.
“In December, I gave a speech urging senators to take action,” Cruz said. “But the decision was made to hold it until January and there are ongoing negotiations.”
“My hope is that disaster relief is not caught up in the mess and we can pass it with bipartisan support,” Cruz said.
Excuse us if sound bites like that only infuriate us more. Those flooded were voters from all walks of life — Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Party affiliations be damned, we need you to take action.
While we appreciate Sen. Cruz’s visit, what he is not seeing is how county residents came together in a time of need to help each other. No one was required to present a party affiliation card, asked what house of religion you attended or even if you had water damage. No, people from all walks of life stopped what they were doing to either dig out or go find a way to help someone in need. With floodwaters rising, party colors bled into one — the faces of people in need and they didn’t care who came to help them.
In the past weeks, we’ve talked to people with trailers parked in their yard, which they can’t use because the basic utilities are yet to be in place. We’ve heard from frustrated homeowners dealing with FEMA and instead chose to go it alone and at their expense. And, as of this past week, only a handful of homes are approaching completion.
Businesses, while slowly reopening, are facing a slow thaw as residents continue to understand the new normal in the wake of Harvey. Post-Harvey, many are saying, could take a decade to fully recover.
To our friends in Washington, D.C., it is not business as usual here in Galveston County. Not even close. Get to work and put your party politics aside. Help us move forward. What we can promise you is, come election time, we will remember how you responded in our time of great need.
• Leonard Woolsey