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Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce Legislative Update and Recovery Luncheon
by John David Suayan
Thursday, September 07, 2017

The Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday hosted its Legislative Update and "Recovery" Luncheon, featuring Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Texas State Senators Larry Taylor and Brandon Creighton, and Texas State Representatives Wayne Faircloth and Greg Bonnen at the Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center in Galveston.

More than a week removed from when Hurricane Harvey inundated the Upper Texas Coast with a record-breaking 51 inches of rain, the event was devoted to the impact of and recovery from the storm.

Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dr. C.B. “Bix” Rathburn served as the master of ceremonies while Douglas W. Matthews led the attendees in prayer and the recitation of the pledges of allegiance to the American and Texas flags. Listen (8:25)

“In a day like today, and events like the last ten days, it’s impossible to say thank you to everybody that has done everything,” said Dr. Rathburn. “One thing we found out through this disaster is Texas is full of heroes. It’s full of people who take care of their own.”

Dr. Rathburn further stated that while he and his wife lost their house to Harvey’s floodwaters, he was “a blessed man." United States Congressman Randy Weber and his wife, Brenda, rescued the Rathburns by boat and took the couple into their own home.

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough praised the GRCC for assisting businesses in the city and on the mainland in the aftermath of the storm, as well as thanked local lawmakers and Lieutenant Governor Patrick for their guidance and leadership.

Moody National Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Victor “Vic” Pierson introduced Taylor, who, in turn, presented the lieutenant governor. Listen (23:01)

A last-minute addition to the roster of speakers, Lieutenant Governor Patrick spoke about the state’s post-Harvey recovery efforts. He said that he and Governor Greg Abbott have been trying to get to the counties impacted the heaviest by the hurricane.

“We want every Texan to know and understand that every Texan is valuable, every city is important, and every county is important,” said the lieutenant governor. “We do know that the media focused on much of Houston for the last ten days. We want to be sure that all the counties who have been hit hard from small to mid-size to the larger counties know that we’re not losing our focus.”

He added that he and the governor are going around to congratulate and thank emergency and volunteer personnel.

Nearly 700,000 residents and approximately 300,000 homes were affected and the death toll was 60 as of Wednesday morning, according to Patrick.

Patrick hailed social media for helping save many lives and credited the Internet for people in other states sending aid in various forms. He mentioned how he has yet to meet “one angry person.”

Acknowledging the gravity of the last ten days, Patrick warned it will be a long time before the state can recover.

“Some will be back maybe in a month in their homes,” he said. “Some will be back in six months or nine months. In some places, it will be a year… two years or more. I know patience will grow thin and people will grow weary and there will be frustration. Things will not go as smoothly as we like all the time.”

The lieutenant governor said that President Donald Trump “is committed” to Texas and Governor Abbott gave the federal government an “A-plus, so far.”

“This is just the first quarter of a very long game,” he said. “Our job is to stay focused moving forward.”

Lieutenant Governor Patrick ultimately expressed his Texan pride, referring to how people put their differences aside to help each other and their communities at the height of the hurricane.

“In Texas today, there are no Republicans, there are no Democrats, there are no moderates, liberals, or conservatives,” he said. “There are no issues between black, white, and brown. Whoever needed help got it… this spirit is going to make us better.”

Texas showed the nation “how you bounce back when you get punched in the face,” affirmed the lieutenant governor.

Patrick stated Texas' need for coastal barriers, such as the proposed Ike Dike project. He concluded his remarks with Psalms 57:1-2.

Taylor, Creighton, Faircloth, and Brenda Weber rounded out the program. Listen (47:25)

Taylor said he was overcome by how Texans stepped in to help those affected by Harvey.

“We hear the question all the time, ‘Can't we all just get along?"’” he said. “Let me tell you, we prove it right here in Texas: yes we can.”

Taylor explained that while Galveston County was the site of a few of the country’s worst disasters including Harvey, “we came back with grit, determination, and God’s blessings.”

“We’ll continue to be Texas strong,” he stated.

Creighton continued on the aforementioned grit, saying that others outside of the state were taking notice.

“They’re reacting off of the determination, the attitude, and the strength of Texans,” he said. “You can talk about that in the days of The Alamo, and you can talk about it today. That grit is the same, yet we’re very different and very diverse and we’re the economic engine of America and we’ll remain that.”

Creighton added that he and a member of his staff assisted in rescue efforts.

Faircloth said just like the lieutenant governor, he did not experience anger or complaining from storm victims. He emphasized that material things can be replaced, but not people.

“I lost a staff member during the storm,” he said. “I’m still having a problem wrapping my mind around it.”

Brenda Weber spoke on behalf of her husband, who is in Washington, D.C. with Congress back in session.

Bonnen had to leave early to tend to a medical procedure, but a staffer with his office said he is ready to help anyone with their Federal Emergency Management Agency claims.

Dr. Rathburn ended the luncheon by challenging people to not ask what they can do to help, but tell others what they are going to do to help.

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