Heard on the Hill

Texas Members Respond to Hurricane Harvey

Others send best wishes and prayers to those in the path of the storm

Water churns from approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Friday. The storm has the potential to drop up to 3 feet of rain with 125 mph winds. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

While Texans stocked up on food and water, filled their gas tanks, boarded up their homes, and left the area ahead of Hurricane Harvey, their members of Congress were passing along the latest news and advice.

Some said they would ride out the storm in their districts.

Harvey, a Category 3 hurricane, is expected to make landfall on the Texas coast around midnight Saturday with 125 mph winds and a storm surge up to 12 feet. The storm could dump as much as three feet of rain in the region.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, said she’s staying in Houston “throughout the duration of the storm,” her office told HOH. “During that time, she will remain in close contact with the Red Cross, FEMA and other local emergency centers to monitor the storm’s progress and address constituents’ needs and concerns.” 

She is leaving her district office open and extending the hours of operation so constituents can get information through it.

Rep. Blake Farenthold, who represents Corpus Christi and Victoria, shut down his district office, where a mandatory evacuation has been ordered. He was still in his district as of Friday afternoon and plans on staying in Corpus Christi throughout the storm.

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he spoke to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and was briefed by Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Lee urged the president to declare a state of disaster ahead of the storm.

“It’s too early to draw conclusions on the President’s response,” Lee’s office said on her behalf Friday afternoon. “The Congresswoman is urging Mr. Trump to closely monitor the storm and if needed, move swiftly to declare certain areas of Texas as disaster areas.”

Rep. Pete Olson, who represents the south Houston suburbs, is staying in his district to stay in contact with emergency responders during the storm.

His office added, “Once his family is safe, he will get in his 4-wheel drive pickup truck to visit emergency response centers and see flood damage firsthand. He and his staff will provide assistance wherever and whenever needed.”

Rep. Randy Weber, who represents a northern Texas coast district, is staying at his home in Friendswood. He said he and his staff are in “constant contact” with federal and local and state emergency services.

“We are doing our best to get that information to constituents, and answer any questions they may have,” Weber said.

Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat who represents south central Texas, was in a command center in Brownsville “with multi agencies on conference call with all federal partners” on Friday afternoon.

“We are now are making backup plans to begin community efforts to help those who are impacted further up north as it seems that's where it's headed,” he said.

Olson and Weber said they are pleased with the president’s efforts so far.

“We are still in the early stages, but the outreach from Administration officials has been positive and proactive,” Olson said.

“I am pleased with the rapid response from various agencies, organizations, and officials in advance of Hurricane Harvey making landfall,” Weber said. “Those of us in the path are doing our best to prepare and batten down the hatches. We are all focused on the recovery efforts which will be needed following this disaster.”

Vela said he is “satisfied with the administration's response” as of Friday afternoon.

Other members were keeping their constituents informed, offering advice, and telling them to heed authorities’ warnings about preparations and evacuations.

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