BY STATE REP. R.D. ‘BOBBY’ GUERRA
Texans have swiftly banded together, offering their unwavering support and extending helping hands to the many coastal families that were hit the hardest by historic Hurricane Harvey. In response, I found it imperative to reach out to the medical community, including the president of the Texas Medical Association, Dr. Carlos Cardenas of McAllen, to assess what we can do to aid in relief efforts.
As a member of the House Public Health Committee, I understand the impact and future health implications that Harvey left behind in its wake. We must ensure that all residents have access to food and water and be diligent in preventing the spread of diseases, especially the Zika virus, as we start rebuilding the devastated communities. We must also acknowledge the many lives that were lost as a result of the storm and lift their families up in our thoughts and prayers. Now that the rains have stopped and the floodwaters are beginning to recede, the real work begins. While the long-term effects of Hurricane Harvey will likely last for the foreseeable future, Texas has proved that we will stand in solidarity with our coastal neighbors in their time of need.
It has been truly humbling, but not at all surprising, to see the tremendous response by many of our local communities in offering relief to the millions of affected Texans. When it became apparent that our region would not be in the path of destruction, police, fire and EMS departments from across the Rio Grande Valley were deployed to the affected areas. These men and women remain on the frontline of public safety in Texas and approached this disaster with no hesitation. We could not be more grateful for their service to our community and state.
In addition to the vital work of our first responders, the City of McAllen sent a relief convoy to three coastal towns to assist with the massive clean-up. To address the devastating loss of property and displacement of so many, several municipalities, school districts, and UTRGV have coordinated donation drives, collaborating with organizations like the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley and H-E-B. Efforts led by the cities and Hidalgo County were successful in collecting food, clothing, and toiletries for many families who in some cases lost everything. Some of those families who have been evacuated to our region were welcomed with open arms by local school districts which are now accepting these displaced students to enroll and attend their schools, offering them some sense of normalcy in the mix of such chaos.
Search and rescue efforts are always a primary concern in natural disasters, and a local drone unit was able to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Blood donations also are needed and United Blood Services has hosted multiple blood drives across Hidalgo County to ensure this natural disaster does not create a shortage.
Whether it was county or city offices, school districts, or private businesses, the Valley stepped up in this dire situation and went above and beyond for our Texas brothers and sisters along the coast.
In addition, I along with the other seven Valley state representatives and two state senators will collectively be donating $10,000 to the Valley Relief Fund to directly help with Hurricane victims. The Valley Relief Fund, spearheaded by Lone Star National Bank, has committed to evenly match this donation.
As the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey begins to set in, the long road to recovery is becoming more clear. Dozens of Texas counties have been declared by the governor and president as disaster areas, thousands of families have been displaced from their homes, and the estimated cost of damage has reached billions of dollars. In short, our work is far from over.
The RGV must continue to do all it can.
On Thursday, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance will be hosting a Harvey Relief Jam from 6 – 10 p.m. at the Havana Club, 500 E. Nolana Ave., in McAllen. DHR’s very own Renaissance Rockers will headline the event and includes Dr. Carlos Cardenas, president of the Texas Medical Association and chairman of the board of DHR. This live music event will be accepting $10 donations at the door. Proceeds will benefit The Salvation Army and American Red Cross.
I hope you will come out and support these relief efforts.
While it has been hard to witness so many of our fellow Texans lose so much, it has been inspiring to see that in a time of such darkness, the Texas spirit has shown through as we’ve all come together to support those in their time of need.
What: DHR’s Harvey Relief Jam
When: Thursday, Sept. 7 at 6-10 PM
Where: Havana Club – 500 E. Nolana Ave., McAllen, TX 78501
$10 donations at the door. Checks payable to “Valley Relief Fund” account at Lone Star National Bank.
Proceeds will benefit The Salvation Army and American Red Cross.