Image: Senator Brandon Creighton (left), Republican of Conroe, met with President of the United States Donald Trump (right) and Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton (center) on Sunday, September 22, 2019, to discuss federal aid after the Imelda storm. The meeting occurred at Ellington Air Force Base. (Photograph courtesy of State Senator Angela Paxton.)
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Houston, September 23 – Senator Brandon Creighton, the Republican of Conroe who represents State Senate District 4, which Tropical Storm Imelda hit hardest over the past few days, met with President of the United States Donald Trump and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sunday, September 22, to provide the President a briefing on the damage the storm caused. Senator Creighton greeted President Trump, as the President arrived on Air Force One, and met for approximately 40 minutes with the President, General Paxton, Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, and leaders from the United States Coast Guard.
When President Trump walked down the stairs from his plane, he told Senator Creighton and the rest of the group assembled to meet with him, “I know there are a lot of families hurting in your Senate District, Senator Creighton. I want to hear directly from you on how I can help. My staff has briefed me on this situation. Let’s go and meet in the hangar, so you can give me an update. You have my full commitment to help Texans in your area and across the entire area of the Imelda storm.”
“I know there are a lot of families hurting in your Senate District, Senator Creighton. I want to hear directly from you on how I can help. My staff has briefed me on this situation. Let’s go and meet in the hangar, so you can give me an update. You have my full commitment to help Texans in your area and across the entire area of the Imelda storm.” – – President Donald Trump, speaking to Senator Brandon Creighton, Ellington Air Force Base, Houston, September 22, 2019.
Senator Creighton explained to this newspaper that the White House had contacted him Saturday, September 21, and told the Senator that the President wished to meet with a small group of people, including Creighton, because, as Creighton said, “Imelda was on my District map where we were hit by the dirty side of the tropical storm.”
Creighton told The Golden Hammer, “I talked with the President about the amount of rainfall this storm caused. I reminded the President of the Governor’s disaster declaration and asked President Trump to consider anything that could be done for southeast Texas, since we suffered two major storms – Harvey and Imelda – so close together.”
After Creighton presented a briefing to President Trump during the meeting, Chief Kidd of the TDEM presented a briefing. Chief Kidd works with and oversees “Texas Task Force One” which is the state entity established to advise all local communities in time of crisis.
Creighton noted that he, Chief Kidd, and General Paxton all requested that the President determine whether there could be a waiver of the requirements for a federal disaster declaration. The problem with obtaining a federal disaster declaration is that there must be $40 million of damage and eight hundred (800) homes damaged, in addition to the homes which damage during the Harvey storm. Additionally, in order to qualify, the homes must not otherwise have insurance coverage.
“That’s a difficult requirement [that the community did not suffer Harvey damage], because so many communities were hit during Harvey. The scale of Harvey was so incredibly devastating that to require 800 additional homes to suffer damage from Imelda seems somewhat ruthless of federal regulators. It’s rare for storms of the magnitude of Harvey and Imelda to happen in such a short time proximity,” Creighton added.
Creighton said he felt very impressed with the President’s knowledge of individual communities within Senatorial District 4. “When I provided President Trump my briefing, he asked questions about specific communities which showed he had received a full briefing from his staff and from the military services about the situation on the ground after Imelda.”
President Trump then engaged in a detailed discussion about FEMA eligibility regulations, which revealed the President had received a full briefing and was well aware of the regulatory problems the victims of Imelda now face.
“I thought he was very focused and I was very impressed. I felt like Texas is a strong priority for him. He was very genuine in his concern and very detailed in his feedback after I spoke,” said Senator Creighton.
Creighton has become a statewide legislative leader on disaster response issues. The Senator was the primary author of Senate Bill 7, which was an omnibus disaster relief bill passed in the 86th Legislative Session earlier this year and which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law on June 13. “Senate Bill 7 fits well with what we’re now trying to accomplish. It will help with flood mitigation projects of a larger scale and also establishes the infrastructure to distribute disaster relief funds efficiently and fairly.”
The flood mitigation study under the management of the Harris County Flood Control District, the San Jacinto River Authority, the Montgomery County government, and the City of Conroe has begun to determine what larger scale flood mitigation projects are necessary for Montgomery and Harris counties.
“The tragic part is that so many families are anxious every time it rains. They’ve just gotten back into their homes after Harvey. I made an appeal to President Trump to figure out how to cut through the bureaucracy and cut the inefficiencies, so that the families of southeast Texas get the relief from the government they need in order to restore their lives,” Senator Creighton said.