The shelters in Houston are turning people away. Not storm victims — volunteers.
KERA News in Dallas reported that a surge of people showed up to support evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center, and some have been sent home. There are simply too many people who want to help.
It’s a good problem to have, and it’s illustrative of the kind of place Texas truly is — even if it takes a tragedy to reveal the state’s true character.
The overwhelming response of Texans — and all Americans — has been well-documented, but it bears repeating: The people of our state have ponied up in a big way.
This also bears repeating: The recovery will take years and cost billions of dollars. All of Texas will bear Harvey’s cost in one way or another, and we all have to be committed to rebuilding our state for the long haul.
Early estimates of property damage by Moody’s Analytics are around $65 billion. Coupled with an expected $7 billion to $10 billion in lost economic output, the impact on the state’s economy will be significant.
The impact on the U.S. won’t be unnoticeable, either. Houston accounts for about 3 percent of the nation’s GDP, and is home to about one-third of the nation’s oil refineries, is a major center for chemical production and has the second-largest shipping port — all of which have sustained varying degrees of damage and loss.
If the Legislature acted to use some of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help rebuild Houston and the coast — and it should consider doing so — with a projected balance of $10.3 billion, it would barely make a dent.
The economic future of Houston and other coastal cities will rely, at least in part, on how many people stay and how many decide to settle elsewhere. Houston’s unemployment rate was above the national average before Harvey happened, but thanks to its diverse economy, the city was growing. If Houston’s population dwindles, its economy will also drag, and that’s bad for Texas.
It’s hard to know exactly what the future holds for the areas of Texas damaged by Harvey. We do know it will require years of assistance, lots of money and plenty of goodwill.
In the near-term, that means continue donating items and dollars to reputable organizations. The need will be great for some time and the collection drives are helping.
The Star-Telegram is teaming up with the Kimbell Art Museum for one such drive on Monday.
Texans, all of us, are in for a long, hard road to recovery. But we’ve already proved we’re up to the task. Let’s keep it up. Better to turn away volunteers and donations than the other way around.