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Sen. Ted Cruz visits Beaumont, touts heroism and generosity in Texas

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will make several stops in Beaumont, Refugio, Victoria, and Port Aransas today to visit volunteers, storm victims, and first responders, and survey storm damage, the senator's office announced in a news release. (Photo by Angel San Juan)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was at the Beaumont water treatment plant on Pine Street earlier Friday surveying the flood damage, which has left the city without drinkable water for more than a week.

Beaumont is still under a boil water notice from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but city officials hope the notice is lifted soon.

Mayor Becky Ames said Friday that the city has "done everything we could do at this point."

Cruz made his second appearance in Southeast Texas in less than a week. He was in Port Arthur on Sunday and is expected to make several stops to Refugio, Victoria, and Port Aransas on Friday to visit volunteers, storm victims, and first responders.

In Beaumont, Ames, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick and Sheriff Zena Stephens stood with Cruz as he spoke with the media.

The following is a lightly edited transcription of Cruz's remarks:

It’s great to be back in Beaumont. The work that is being done by our local leaders to help Beaumont, to help the entire Gulf Coast, to come back from this hurricane is really remarkable.

As you know, we had the water go down here in Beaumont and it was an amazing collaboration between city officials and county officials and private industry that worked together to find a way to get water to the water treatment center, even when the pumping facility was down.

It was really innovative using oilfield equipment and pumps scheduled to go to South America, instead were put here to make sure we got water back.

I know the city is working hard and the county is working hard on getting that water so the boil water notice hopefully is lifted sooner rather than later. And I really want to commend this team that is working around the clock to help rebuild. It is a testament to the can-do spirit that characterizes Texas.

In the face of this devastating storm, we’ve seen that Texas spirit on incredible display.

On Irma and federal resources:

The prayers of Texans across our state are with the people of Florida, with the people in the Caribbean. We’ve already seen a number of lives lost with Irma and we could well see it much, much worse. So just as with Harvey, our first focus was on saving lives. That’s got to be the focus with Irma, too - getting people out of harm’s way and saving their lives.

We’re lifting up in prayer the first responders who are manned and ready in Florida to deal with that storm. I will tell you, Texas having come through this storm, we’re now in the next stage. We’re in the stage of relief and recovery and we’re moving toward rebuilding.

Rebuilding is going to be a long, extended process. But this week was an important step in that process. We saw Congress come together in a bipartisan way and pass a major relief package focused on Texas, focused on Hurricane Harvey.

It started out coming out of the House of Representatives at about $7.5 billion. I was pleased to work with my colleague John Cornyn in the Senate, where we roughly doubled the relief coming to the state of Texas - increased it to about $15.5 billion. And we saw really the Texas delegation come together as one in a bipartisan manner - Republicans, Democrats, everyone standing together.

Now listen, nobody thinks $15.5 billion is going to cover the need we’ve got. Just about every estimate of the damages from Harvey put it as well north of $100 billion. This could end up proving to be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. But it was important to get this initial down payment of emergency funds here on the ground so that our local leaders and law enforcement have those resources.

So I’m very glad to see my colleagues come together in Congress to provide this relief. It was important and a lot more is underway.

The scope of this storm is staggering. It’s 250 miles from Corpus all the way to Louisiana. The damage in terms of human lives, as heartbreaking as it’s been, it could’ve been much worse.

Let me commend law enforcement, our incredible first responders, for risking their lives. The sheriff was telling me a significant number of h

The story of Harvey was in the face of enormous disaster, we saw heroism, we saw generosity, we saw love, we saw unity. That’s who Texas is. That’s how we made it through the storm. That’s how Beaumont got the water back up and flowing. And that’s how we’re going to rebuild. And we’re going to rebuild bigger and stronger than ever with that same spirit of unity, that same courage and bravery we’ve seen displayed over the last two weeks.

From Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames:

We have been, miraculously, able to access the Lawson (water) pump, which is basically still underwater. You can’t even get to it right now without a boat. But they went in through the top and we’re actually pumping out of the Lawson station now.

These nine emergency pumps would’ve lasted 60 days or however long we needed them to last. It just would’ve been much more expensive and required much more manpower because you’re constantly having to chase the river as it recedes and comes back. So it was our desire to see if we could access the Lawson pump, which we were successful in doing yesterday, because that’s the original pump where we were getting the water.

The water closest to us now is the rising of the river. It’s basically a bayou. So we were having to run it through the filtration system more because it was not as clean as when you get out further into the river, which is where the Lawson pump is.

The Loeb area is not going to be operational until we totally revamp it. It’s basically, totally destroyed. But that’s OK. It means nothing to our citizens because the Lawson pump and these backup pumps can supply our entire city.

We’ll be looking at some changes in our infrastructure in the future as far as the Loeb station is concerned.

Everything is being pumped out of Lawson right now and it does supply the entire city.

It’s unclear when the boil water notice will be lifted in Beaumont

Beaumont officials spent six hours Thursday with the EPA and TCEQ.

“We’ve done everything we could do at this point," Ames said. "The water is flowing the pressure is good. So now we’re just waiting on them to give us the go ahead to lift the boil water notice. We hope to know something in the very near future.”

RELATED: Cruz in Port Arthur last weekend helping pass out supplies to storm victims


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