The line outside of the west side Salsa Limon one afternoon in late August consisted young men and women anxiously awaiting the call — not to their schools, but to Texas’ southern coast.
They were members of the Texas National Guard and on August 28, Gov. Greg Abbott mobilized all 12,000 of them to help with rescue, security and clean-up efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Activating the state’s full National Guard was one in a laundry list of decisions Abbott has made in preparation of and response to Harvey. For the most part, his decisions have served the people of Texas well.
It’s been just over two weeks since the hurricane ravaged Texas’ southern coast and he’s already helped secure a massive federal relief package — some $15 billion of aid to those affected. More aid is expected to come in more comprehensive legislation in the coming months.
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Abbott has also offered nearly daily briefings, has been praised for his accessibility to local officials and has overseen an effective communication strategy regarding his office’s response to Harvey.
Last week, the governor announced that John Sharp, the chancellor of Texas A&M University, will lead the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas.
Abbott’s choice was shrewd. Sharp, a Democrat with a bounty of experience in managing state bureaucracy, will play a critical role in ensuring that federal and state monies are wisely spent.
The governor’s performance hasn’t been flawless. Abbott has been noncommittal about using the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help with Harvey efforts. With only an estimated $10 billion in its coiffeurs, it could only help supplement other efforts, but still should be considered. And the split between Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over whether city residents should evacuate or hunker down caused an uncomfortable rift early on.
But being governor during a disaster is often tricky. City and county officials tend to have jurisdiction over emergency events and they are none too pleased to see them usurped by Austin.
It’s a fine line to tread. But all in all, Abbott has also proven adept at crisis management.
Now back to those National Guardsmen, who answered Abbott’s call and still don’t get the praise they are due.
Like so many of the people who rushed to serve in Harvey’s wake, our National Guardsmen and women left jobs and families all across the state, eager to serve wherever they were needed.
They conducted day and night wide-area search-and-rescue missions along the Texas coast from Corpus Christi to Houston, created supply lines and kept generators running as power outages plagued the region. They will continue to play in effort in the clean-up and rebuilding of Houston and other coastal towns deserved continued support and thanks.
We are grateful for their service and sacrifice.