The Soul of a City

In a moment of crisis, you see the soul of a city.

This week, I am releasing my first television ad of the 2019 campaign. It focuses on one of the most significant events in the City of Houston’s history and that is Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area on August 25, 2017, and, before it was all over, deluged the region with over 50 inches of rain — enough to fill the Astrodome 3,200 times. Over 200,000 homes were impacted with nearly $16 billion in damages to residences in the city alone. Sixty thousand people had to be rescued from flood waters. And sadly 88 people across the whole affected area died.

But the story of Hurricane Harvey is not about the rain that fell. The story is about how Houstonians of all walks of life, from all faiths, languages and cultures, came together as a family. It didn’t matter if you were a Democrat or a Republican. It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor. We came together as a family — and we are bouncing back because we have remained together.

Hurricane Harvey may have knocked us down but it didn’t defeat us. The city came together in a spirit of unity.

An army of Houstonians and people from all over the country came together in a time of great need.

Our brave first responders and just regular folks with boats spent days rescuing those trapped by the flooding. City employees picked up debris. Volunteers lined up to help at shelters. People showed up to help flood victims clean out their homes. Wherever there was a need — food, clothing, furniture — Houstonians stepped up. Non-profit organizations, churches, governmental agencies, local, state and national elected officials all rose to the occasion to help our community.

The recovery continues, as well as efforts to prevent such devastation in the future. The city has been the recipient of tremendous generosity from individuals and organizations. The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund created by then-County Judge Ed Emmett and myself raised over $100 million, which was given to non-profits working to help flood victims.

Our city has experienced historic devastation with Hurricane Harvey, but it has also shown us the best in humanity. The lesson we have learned from Harvey is that when we work together and when we don’t allow our differences to separate us, we win.

I have never been more proud of my city — and never been as grateful to be a Houstonian — as I was during Hurricane Harvey. A flood of near biblical proportions was no match for the grit, grace and indomitable spirit of our people. We have a lot of work to do, but don’t let the complainers and the naysayers get you down. This is our city. This is our future. And together, we can show the world how it’s done.