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Government support engenders confidence in Harvey recovery

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Washington, February 8, 2018 | comments
Originally Published on Jewish Herald-Voice | READ ONLINE

Texas’ congressional delegation has played a key role in helping Houston’s Jewish community recover from Hurricane Harvey.

That assistance is acutely felt among members of United Orthodox Synagogues, who were forced to bid farewell to their synagogue’s flood-damaged building on Feb. 4.

That building – one of the original synagogues that was built in Southwest Houston – has flooded three times in as many years. Harvey caused damages that are beyond repair. UOS’ sanctuary, chapel, school wing, administrative offices and dairy kitchen have to be demolished.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and U.S. Rep. John Culberson, each wrote moving letters of support and solidarity that were presented at UOS’ building farewell. These elected officials, and their local staffers, have made multiple site visits to UOS and to Jewish community members’ homes that flooded. They have fought hard for federal assistance for flood recovery and have helped enable houses of worship, like UOS, to receive FEMA assistance, as well.

In the immediate aftermath of Harvey, UOS and residents in the surrounding Willow Meadows subdivision were fearful that their property would be subject to a massive FEMA buyout. This move would have caused far worse damage to Houston’s largest Orthodox congregation, many of whose members must live within walking distance of their shul. This is not a choice for these members. It is a religious obligation.

Thankfully, Texas’ congressional delegation, along with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and county officials, acknowledge this point. In doing so, fears of a massive buyout in Willow Meadows have dissipated.

Houstonians who flooded can feel more confident in their rebuild, knowing that they have support from their elected officials. Houston’s Jewish community, in particular, can and will recover from Harvey, thanks in no small part to having representatives in government who appreciate community concerns.
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