Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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 I want to thank the gentleman from Utah for yielding.

   Across the Sabine River from southwest Louisiana is southeast Texas, and the citizens of southeast Texas are still reeling from the beating that they got from Hurricane Rita in 2005. The hurricane devastated rice farmers who were struggling even before the wind and rain destroyed most of their crops.

   It hit the oil refineries in my congressional district and across the gulf coast, which account for one-third of the Nation's domestic oil production, and it brought our fuel supply to a screeching halt. Gasoline prices soared, and citizens can no longer afford to heat and even cool their homes.

   Amidst the chaos of Hurricane Rita and its aftermath, lawlessness preyed upon the real victims. Some of those who weathered the storm took advantage of FEMA's incompetence in its attempt to distribute money to those in need. The cheaters took FEMA debit cards and spent them on gentlemen's clubs and brand-new cars. The real victims languished homeless and helpless, waiting for the Federal Government to do something.

   The folks in my congressional district can still feel the impact of the hurricane 2 years later. People are still trying to just survive; and, as Mr. Boustany has said, another hurricane season is now upon us. We cannot forget how a few short hours in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas caused so much destruction. We cannot forget in historical terms Hurricane Katrina or Rita, and we must remember they are not rare events for the gulf coast.

   In 1900, an unnamed hurricane was the deadliest natural disaster in our Nation's history. It killed between 10- and 12,000 people in Galveston, Texas. It destroyed most of the buildings on the island, some 3,600. With remarkable determination, the survivors of the great storm of 1900 raised the whole City of Galveston, Texas, 12 feet to protect it from future disasters.

   We cannot forget the victims of the past, and we must remember how the victims of Katrina and Rita are still fighting to recover their homes, their towns and their livelihoods, and we must be better prepared in the future.

   That's why, Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to rise in support of this resolution offered by my friend and colleague, the gentleman from Louisiana.

   The National Hurricane Museum and Science Center in Southwest Louisiana will honor these victims and those of previous hurricanes, preserve their history. It will tell the stories of all the hurricanes of the past, but also encourage new solutions for natural disasters of the future. So I'd like to commend Dr. Boustany for offering this important resolution. It's a long time in coming.

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