Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Aerial Tour of Area Devastated by Hurricane Ike

Today I traveled to Southeast Texas to meet with the men and women on the ground who are working tirelessly assisting in the massive hurricane recovery effort. After sitting down and hearing the needs of officials in Beaumont and Jefferson County, I was able to survey Jefferson and Chambers counties by air.

Don Gohmert from the Natural Resources Conservation Service joined me on the helicopter flight. We saw an extremely broad path of massive destruction – from entire communities wiped away to highways and bridges either destroyed or covered with massive barges. We also saw acres and acres of cropland and pastures that had been swallowed by the salty surge, estimated at up to ten miles inland.

From the air we witnessed live cattle wading through belly deep-water miles from high ground. Some cattle we found huddled together on top of levies searching for a path back home but finding no safe place to turn.

The fences, barns and corrals that used to dot this region are now gone, cleared away by the massive wall of water and wind.

However, the most moving thing I witnessed was the unconquerable spirit of our fellow Texans facing adversity as we speak. Sergeant Pipkin from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is a living tribute to public service. Hurricane Ike destroyed his family’s home, yet he remains on the job working 18 hours a day meeting the needs of his neighbors. Sergeant Pipkin is representative of the many Texas heroes who are working to rebuild our state.

We have a long road ahead of us, but with our independent spirit, our determined work ethic and our faith in God, we will survive this horrible disaster and become stronger.

You can see more of the full-sized photos we took on our tour in a slideshow HERE.
Or you can click on the photo below to start an embedded slideshow.

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