Not again. 12 years ago to the day we watched in horror as poor and Black communities in Louisiana were devastated by a natural disaster and left homeless and hungry while Congress debated whether or not to give them relief funds.1 We saw the same thing happen as low-income communities- many of color- were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and left displaced over a year later.2 Now, Houston is being hit with one of the worst natural disasters in American history–with fourteen precious lives being lost and thousands having lost everything.3 And leadership on both sides of the political spectrum is worried that Houstonians won’t be able to get the relief they need thanks to extreme right-wing Congresspeople who have a long history of trying to deny aid to Americans devastated by natural disasters in the name of fiscal responsibility.
Republicans are notorious for using natural disasters as an excuse to prune the budget. After Hurricane Katrina, Now-Vice President, Mike Pence, infamously tried to hold up aid by proposing massive Medicare cuts. And every Texas Republican except one, voted against the federal aid package that would help Hurricane Sandy victims. Even Republican mainstays like New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie are calling out Congress for their past reluctance to pass aid; calling Texas Republicans “hypocrites” and noting that he hopes that Houston doesn’t have to suffer like New Jersey did in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.4
While Hurricane Harvey was always going to be a major disaster, Houston has already been failed multiple times by the federal government. Weeks before the storm hit, Trump rescinded Obama’s flood-risk rules which would make infrastructure more resilient against climate change.5 And earlier this year, he tried to cut FEMA funding by $667 million and the National Flood Mapping program by $190 million; while seeking billions for his border wall. Now Trump is traipsing around Texas, praising crowd size for his speeches and promising to give hurricane victims the money they need–even though he hasn’t even submitted a formal budget proposal. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And It’s clear that Trump and his Republican cronies in Congress are content to send thoughts and prayers out over social media without doing what’s necessary to make sure that Houstonians have the food, shelter, and water they need.
That’s why we’re telling Congress to pass Hurricane Harvey relief now. We cannot afford to let Republicans in Congress use this disaster as a political opportunity when the aftermath could determine life or death for thousands of people. More than 30,000 Houstonians are currently homeless and stranded indeterminately with just the clothes on their backs. We can’t let this happen.
When the rain stops, the water recedes, and people begin to rebuild their lives in Texas, the impact of a major flood like this can last a lifetime for communities that do not receive the disaster relief they need.
Until justice is real,
— Brandi, Arisha, Rashad, Anika, Jade, Evan, Corina, the rest of the Color Of Change team
- “$120 billion in Katrina federal relief wasn’t always assured.” The Times-Piscayne, 21 August 2015. http://act.
- “Displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and living in limbo.” New York Times, 6 December 2013. http://act.
colorofchange.org/go/8630?t= 11&akid=7844%2E1603708%2EdI60_ a
- “FEMA director says Harvey is probably the worst disaster in Texas history.” The Washington Post, 27 August 2017. https://act.colorofchange.org/
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- “Chris Christie urges federal aid for Hurricane Harvey, calls Texas Republicans ‘hypocrites.’ Gothamist, 29 August 2017. http://act.
colorofchange.org/go/8632?t= 14&akid=7844%2E1603708%2EdI60_ a
- “Trump rescinded Obama’s flood-risk rule weeks before Hurricane Harvey hit.” Newsweek, 27 August 2017. http://act.
colorofchange.org/go/8633?t= 16&akid=7844%2E1603708%2EdI60_ a
- “Grace notes: FEMA on the ground in Texas, but Trump administration pitches budget cuts.” The Advocate, 28 Augsut 2017. http://act.
colorofchange.org/go/8634?t= 18&akid=7844%2E1603708%2EdI60_ a
- “Hurricane Harvey: ‘Unprecedented’ Houston flooding to leave 30,000 people homeless.” The Independent, 28 August 2017. http://act.
colorofchange.org/go/8635?t= 20&akid=7844%2E1603708%2EdI60_ a