Friday, September 08, 2017

All US Presidents Launch Appeal for Harvey Relief Funds

The five living former United States presidents joined forces on Thursday to start a hurricane recovery effort to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

The campaign, One America Appeal, began with a public service announcement featuring the presidents during the first N.F.L. game of the season on Thursday night. “People are hurting down here,” former President George W. Bush, who lives in Dallas, said in the video, “but as one Texan put it, ‘We’ve got more love in Texas than water.’”

The appeal was a rare showing of unity in American politics, and President Trump, who has disregarded traditional presidential decorum and has criticized some of his predecessors, endorsed their effort. “We will confront ANY challenge, no matter how strong the winds or high the water,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter on Thursday night. “I’m proud to stand with Presidents for #OneAmericaAppeal.”

The fund-raising effort is focused on people affected by Hurricane Harvey, the destructive storm that dumped more than 50 inches in parts of southeast Texas and caused billions of dollars in damages and lost economic activity. The state is of particular importance for President Bush, who was governor there in the 1990s, and his father, President George Bush, who lives part of the year in Houston.

The campaign is expected to expand to help those hurt by Irma. That storm, an enormous Category 5 hurricane churning through the Caribbean, is forecast to turn toward South Florida over the next day and then strike Georgia, where former President Jimmy Carter lives.

The presidents have a history of coming together to help victims of natural disasters. President Bill Clinton teamed up with the man he defeated in the 1992 presidential election, George Bush, to raise money after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. President Barack Obama asked Mr. Clinton and George W. Bush to lead an effort to help Haiti after an earthquake in 2010. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund raised $54.4 million.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has suggested that Harvey’s damages could cost up to $180 billion, even more than from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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