US

Former Presidents Fundraising Campaign Raises $31 Million For Hurricane Victims

All five living, former U.S. presidents helped raise millions in donations to help victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma rebuild their lives.

The One America Appeal campaign announced Saturday it had raised $31 million to help people in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean islands recover from a particularly devastating hurricane season, according to a press statement from campaign organizers. They received private donations from 80,000 donors during a fundraising event Saturday, that included a country music concert.

“With damage estimates from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria topping $300 billion and requiring months and years of rebuilding ahead, we hope this strong start to the One America Appeal is just that — a start,” David Jones, CEO of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, said in a similar statement.

This is a rare bipartisan event in an otherwise partisan, political environment.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm stalled and dumped record-setting amounts of rain during a period of four days, most noticeably on the city of Houston. The hurricane then backed off into the Gulf of Mexico before making its second and final landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 30.

Hurricane Irma, meanwhile, battered the Caribbean before careening into the Florida Keys’ Cudjoe Key last month as a Category 4 hurricane. Irma moved to mainland Florida later in the day, moving up the state’s west coast before moving into Georgia and South Carolina.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires have been particularly destructive this year.

Weather disasters have totaled nearly $12 billion in damage during the first half of 2017, according to a report Friday from the National Weather Service. Harvey, Irma and Maria were all expected to be billion-dollar weather disasters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter are leading the effort to raise funds for the 501(c)(3) organizations United for Puerto Rico and The Fund for the Virgin Islands.

President Donald Trump also made an appearance at the fundraising event. He released a video message ahead of the concert and said the country will “come back stronger than ever before.”

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