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First Baptist Church of Rockport

Rockport, Texas

1:12 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Governor Abbott.  Thank you all for that very warm welcome.  It is one year, almost to the day, since Hurricane Harvey made landfall.  And I have to tell you, it is good to be back and it is great to see Rockport and Texas coming all the way back.  (Applause.)

As the Governor said, we have more work to do, but I came here today on President Trump’s behalf to reaffirm to all of the people — not just to Rockport but to all across this region — is that this administration is going to work with this Governor, with all of the wonderful, outstanding volunteers and faith communities across this region until we rebuild Rockport and all of Texas bigger and better than ever before.  (Applause.)

So thank you all for coming out.  And more importantly, and I’ll say more of this along the way, just, thank you.  Thank you for your inspiring example.  You’ve truly inspired the nation.  To think of the devastating hurricane that came ashore and the way that this community responded — people across Texas responded.  Volunteers from all across America, and in some cases all across the world, came alongside to help this community rebuild.  And I have to tell you, it wouldn’t be possible without leadership.

So let me begin by bringing greetings from a man who loves Texas and who is going to be so excited to hear my firsthand account of the extraordinary progress that Rockport has made.  I bring greetings from President Trump.  And I know you have his admiration — (applause) — (inaudible.)

I talked to him on the phone on the way here, and he said, “I want to hear all about it.  Tell me how they’re doing.”  Because from the first hours of that hurricane, this President mobilized our whole team at FEMA, mobilized agencies across the government, and made sure that this community, this state — just as in the case of Florida and the case of other areas impacted by the wave of hurricanes that came ashore — had what you needed.

But it wouldn’t have been possible without a strong partnership at the state level.  And let me just invite you to thank one more time, Governor Greg Abbott, for doing an extraordinary job for the people of this community and the people of Texas.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Governor.

Governor Abbott and your President literally were in contact, I believe, on a daily basis, and usually more than once a day, as your Governor advocated for the people of this state.  And we were able to work in a seamless way to make the progress that we made in the early days after Hurricane Harvey and all the days since.  And I want to assure you, as I’ve assured the Governor privately: We are going to continue to work with this Governor and work with this state to rebuild until the job is done.  (Applause.)  I promise you.

You heard the Governor talk about the extraordinary amount of resources that have been provided.  But before I get to that, I have to tell you, I had the opportunity to meet with a few of your local officials, including — I found out he’s a — Mayor Rios is a member of this church.  Mayor, thank you for your determination and your leadership.  But let me — well, I just nominated him to be a member of the church, I guess.  (Laughter and applause.)

Give both these mayors a big round of applause, will you?  They’re just outstanding people.  (Applause.)  Forgive me.

But I know they’d be the first ones to say that the people that really deserve the credit are the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way on that very day.  We have in our presence today some of the first responders — people representing local and state first responders — police, and fire, and public safety.  And why don’t we just show all these people just how much we appreciate how our first responders stepped up in Hurricane Harvey for the people of this community and the people of this state.  (Applause.)

And as the Governor said, I’m pleased to report to you that the partnership with the federal government and the state government has directed untold resources into this community.  As the Governor said, over the past 12 months, with the strong support of your leadership in the Congress, from Texas, Congress approved over $35 billion for disaster relief and recovery for the state of Texas alone.  (Applause.)  More than $13 billion in critical funding has made its way to the people of Texas.

Much more work needs to be done, and our administrations will continue to work very closely with your representatives in the Congress of the United States, including a new congressman — Congressman Cloud is with us today.  Let’s give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  He’s been a — stepped into the gap.  Stand up, Congressman.  Well done.  (Applause.)

Congressman Cloud stepped into this role and didn’t miss a beat, and has been a champion for this region every day since he arrived on Capitol Hill.  But I also — I want to single out Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz.  They fought for Texas and did an outstanding job.  (Applause.)

But resources don’t really tell the whole tale, and you all know that.  It’s about people.  It’s about the people that were able to be in place.  Thirty-one thousand federal personnel were deployed all across the state of Texas, we’re proud to say.

It was — in addition to your local first responders and state first responders, it was really all hands on deck for the federal government.  And we couldn’t be more proud.  And I know you feel the same, of the job that 2,000 brave men and women of the Coast Guard did during Hurricane Harvey to save lives, often at the risk of their own.  (Applause.)

Within the first 30 days, and in the wake of a National Guard presence here, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and FEMA, we’ve managed to deliver almost $2 billion in aid, and the resources have been flowing ever since.

And as I said at the outset, I just want to assure all the neighbors and friends here that we’re going to keep doing our part.  And I know I don’t have to doubt that you’re going to keep doing yours.

Because I have to tell you, as proud as I am of the leadership President Trump has provided and the federal government provided in this difficult moment, as proud as we are of the extraordinary leadership of Governor Abbott and all the first responders and the entire team here in Texas, I know I speak for the President, and I know I speak for your Governor, when I say: We are more proud than any other aspect this by the volunteer effort of the good, and caring, and faith-filled people of Texas that answered this challenge from their hearts.  (Applause.)  It’s really incredible.

And this church, frankly, is emblematic of that.  And it’s worth talking about.  You know, because the truth of the matter is that in times like this, we want to be able to count on our government at every level.  And I’m proud of the job that our government has done.  But we also know that to persevere through a challenge of this nature, it takes neighbors-to-neighbors working hand-in-hand.  It’s meals to be prepared.  It’s nails to hammered in homes that are being rebuilt.

And I would be remiss today if I didn’t single out a few organizations that have just done an extraordinary job: Samaritan’s Purse, Arkansas [Aransas] Children’s Coalition, and Hands of Hope.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you for all you’ve done in each of these ministries for the families of this community.  Stand up.  (Applause.)

This church alone is emblematic of it as well.  It’s amazing to think of the work that was done here at the First Baptist Church of Rockport.  I checked the numbers.  Pastor, you’ve hosted 5,100 volunteers from all across the United States who devoted a total of 105,000 volunteer hours to help 880 different families in Aransas County.  And you collected more than $310,000 in donations to help people rebuild their homes.  (Applause.)  Pastor, would you mind standing up?  Can we thank the leadership of this church?  (Applause.)  It truly is inspiring.

And we know our work is far from over.  And so I just — I do want to encourage you.  I want to encourage you for the works — we’re here until the work is done.  We’re here, as President Trump said, until Texas comes back “bigger and better than ever before.”

And we’re helping families.  We’re providing additional support.  We’re doing infrastructure projects that are going to continue to rebuild this community.

I know Texas is going to continue to do its part, but I just want to encourage each of you to, as the Bible says, do “not grow weary in doing well.”

A year on in, I think as the pastor just reflected, it might be easy for some to lose focus, but you all know the work is still real here; the opportunity for service is real.  So I want to encourage you in that effort.  The truth of the matter is, I can’t help but think of that scripture verse that says that the “winds blew and beat against the house, the rain fell, the floodwaters rose, and yet it did not fall because it was built upon the rock.”  (Applause.)

You’ve been that rock by putting hands and feet on your faith over the last year, literally being the hands and feet of Christ for this community.  You’ve made an extraordinary difference.  And I want to tell you, your nation is proud — proud of all of you for what you’ve done.  And I want to encourage you to continue on — continue on and know that we’ll continue to partner with you every step of the way.

So I want to thank you for the hospitality today.  I want to thank — I want to thank this great pastor for his leadership.  And I’m going to call up a pastor — Pastor Lanningham — to offer a closing prayer.

But as I do, I leave here today more encouraged than ever before.  And I leave here with faith.  I mean, faith that’s inspired by the generosity and the compassion and the care of the people of this community.  Faith that literally has touched hearts here in Texas.  But I want to tell you, it’s touched hearts all over the country.  I have faith in our leaders.  I know the determination of this President to see this job through.

And even as I speak to you today, we’re already preparing for Hurricane Lane making landfall in Hawaii.  We’ve stood up FEMA.  And those of you that have been through a hurricane of that magnitude, you knew what to do.  And prayer was part of it.  So I encourage you to pray for our fellow Americans in Hawaii as this hurricane approaches.

But I’m confident and have faith in the leadership in Washington and the leadership in your great statehouse and this great Governor.

And I have faith, as the Governor said, in Him who is always with us in the storm, who is our refuge and our strength.  That even as He saw this community through Hurricane Harvey, He will continue to see her all the way back.  And the best days for Rockport, and Texas, and America are yet to come.

So thank you.  (Applause.)  God Bless you for all you’ve done.  God bless Texas.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)


1:27 P.M. CDT