Opinion Pieces

Together, We Will Rebuild and Come Back Stronger

f t # e
Washington, October 8, 2017 | comments

Babin: Together, We Will Rebuild and Come Back Stronger
Beaumont Enterprise | Oct. 8, 2017
By Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36)

A month has now passed since Hurricane Harvey began wreaking havoc on Southeast Texas.  For six days, the storm dumped record amounts of rainfall across our region. Thousands of homes were swallowed up by floodwaters – upending the lives of families, businesses, and communities. 

The impact was devastating and widespread, but in the midst of this devastation, we have seen incredible stories of bravery, compassion and resiliency.  One man, with his own home flooding, took his boat and rescued everyone in his entire community. The people there call him the savior of Rose City.

While visiting a shelter, I spoke with a little girl who told me, "During the hurricane, we were standing on my grandmother’s staircase, watching the water rise when my uncle came busting through the front doors, driving his boat! Normally, my grandmother would have been mad at him for busting in her pretty double doors, but we were so happy to see him! He loaded all of us into the boat and drove us to safety!"

There were also countless stories of bravery from law enforcement, first responders and volunteer firemen.  These heroes still reported for duty despite many of their own homes being flooded – working long hours to help rescue their fellow neighbors. 

This happened all across the Texas Gulf Coast, and the stories go on and on: neighbors helping neighbors, communities helping communities, strangers helping strangers. But that is what we do in East Texas.

No one waits around to be told what to do. We are people of action, and we act when we see a need. Our communities are strong and through our faith in God, we take care of one another in times of need regardless of our own means. It is our shared value for our fellow man that makes the difference.

In that same Texas spirit, our office has been working tirelessly to help people get back on their feet. We have been spreading staff out across our nine counties, setting up mobile offices to provide constituents with one-on-one assistance in applying for help and ensuring they have access to a computer.

But many are still in very much need of assistance.  This was made clear when over 800 residents recently showed up for our disaster recovery town hall meetings to get their questions answered directly from FEMA, SBA, USDA and other state and federal agencies.

Here are three things that everyone needs to know:

  1. The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is October 24, 2017.  Visit www.disasterassistance.gov to file a claim.  This is the first step in receiving assistance.
  2. If you are initially denied by FEMA, be sure to file an appeal. Every applicant has the right to appeal. Many people do get an initial denial from FEMA for a variety of reasons. We highly recommend that you appeal the denial. Our staff is here to assist you in that process. While we can’t guarantee a reversal, we can make sure FEMA gives you full and fair treatment.
  3. You do not have to wait for an inspector to remove debris. But be absolutely sure to document all damage extensively for future reference.

We encourage all flood victims to visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4332 to find other important information on filing an insurance claim, mucking your home and general guidance on the recovery process. If you run into any problems, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We are ready and eager to help.  It is an honor to serve the good people of Southeast Texas.  Together, we will recover and rebuild and come back stronger.

f t # e