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Public-private partnerships respond to Harvey

HOUSTON/BATON ROUGE: August 30, 2017. As UPS and FedEx join other US$1 million-donors in responding to what is described as the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history, the American Red Cross (ARC) said at least 32,000 people have sought refuge in over 230 shelters across Texas and Louisiana.

ARC said more than 1,500 disaster workers have been deployed including a group of "highly skilled" volunteers from the Mexican Red Cross to help support shelters, distribute aid and connect with Spanish-speaking survivors.

RED Cross HoustonThe relief organization has activated 200 response vehicles, more than half its total fleet, and 80 tractor-trailers have delivered cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, kitchen and cleaning supplies.

As of September 01, ARC has served more than 180,000 meals from six mobile trailer kitchens, with four more on the way; provided 116,000 ready-to-eat meals with another 39,000 delivered soon; and stockpiled enough shelter supplies to support 50,000 people.

FedEx is providing transportation to deliver medical aid and supplies: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the millions of people affected by this unprecedented storm," said David Bronczek, company president and chief operating officer.

In addition to cash and in-kind donation, UPS said it was delivering a Hewlett Packard 'Connection Spot Trailer' to provide Wi-Fi internet access, printers and charging stations to help expedite flood claims.

Texas governor Greg Abbott said the cost of restoration would be US$120 billion with an estimated 185,000 homes destroyed and many Houston residents reportedly not covered by flood insurance.

As part of his latest budget proposals Donald Trump wants to eliminate the US$190 million National Flood Insurance Program that provides Americans with affordable flood insurance. He's also proposing to cut the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) budget for state and local grants by US$667 million in order to help fund his wall with Mexico.

With more than 12,400 employees from 17 federal departments and agencies working together across Texas and Louisiana, FEMA said it will have to work for several years to help Houston recover.

"In this time of enormous need, it is critical to establish and support extensive networks of public-private partnerships to get aid to those who need it, as quickly as possible," declared Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer. "At the same time, setting aside funding and other resources for long-term recovery efforts is also important, and we are laying that groundwork as well."

Other annual US$1million donors to the American Red Cross include American Airlines and Delta Air Lines while Southwest Airlines and United Airlines are donors at the US$500,000 level.

Three years ago ex-U.S. Treasury secretary Henry Paulson, former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management published 'Risky Business' - a warning that time was running out for the U.S. due to climate change. View the video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRfaZKuj2Vw

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