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This Week in Washington

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Date:
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It has been said that faith untested cannot be trusted. As you all certainly know, deadly tornadoes ravaged much of our state this last week, accounting for loss of lives and causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. While the harsh effects and uncertainty of Mother Nature are nothing new for our great state, this tragedy has helped to highlight one thing that rings true for the people of our community: our distinct ability to come together in the face of tragedy.

It can take the worst of circumstances to bring out the best in people. As the storms passed and we began to make sense of what had occurred, folks in our area immediately stepped up to do all they can to help others. From first responders to friends and neighbors, those heroes among us sprang into action to provide aid and shelter to those in need. I've often said that our government works best when officials at local, state and federal levels work together--and in a situation like this, the ability to do that is absolutely essential. A unified response helps to streamline rescue, recovery and the rebuilding process as a whole.

Sunday morning, I joined Governor Perdue, Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne, Cumberland County Commission Chairman Kenneth Edge and numerous local emergency response officials in surveying damage throughout affected areas of Cumberland County. Together, we spoke directly with displaced families and business owners, hearing both the tales of their survival and the harsh realizations of the many problems they now face. I also visited with those affected in Hoke County, where one of Saturday's largest tornadoes began its path of destruction.

Our government and community are functioning as one, united in the belief that we can, and will, overcome this tragic setback. I'm glad to see that President Obama has honored Governor Bev Perdue's request for disaster declaration, and I was proud to join my colleagues in Congress in authoring additional letters of support, calling on the President to do just that. Federal assistance is now here, and my office will remain open to assist anyone that may need it. I have also shifted additional members of my staff into the affected eastern end of our district. I will not let bureaucracy and red tape slow down the aid and relief that the people of our area deserve.

The outpouring of support from everyday people across our state has been remarkable. As we've seen time and time again, folks in our community refuse to leave the voids of loss unfilled, eager to provide anything they can to comfort and protect those in need. Even from parts of our district left almost unfazed by the storm, my office continues to receive an outpouring of offers of support in various forms from concerned citizens.

Just a few short hours after the deadly storm passed, we were already receiving calls from every corner of the district, offering shelter, clothing and food; anything to help those in need. A church in Cabarrus County even offered to "adopt" a church in an affected county, uniting in faith over miles to take care of those among them in need.

This distinct fellowship has also been seen among local area businesses. Whether offering up goods or services to those affected or displaced, or joining together to donate money to the Red Cross and other area relief funds, the presence of our community leaders is so graciously obvious. I'm so proud of the altruism and selflessness of our area families and businesses. This type of display of unity and compassion is rarely found throughout many parts of the world, but rest assured it exists in its truest form right here in our backyard.

As our local recovery moves forward, it is clear that we still have a long road ahead of us. While we can rebuild lost homes, businesses or local churches, we can never fill the void of the lives lost in this tragedy. Sadly, the effects of tragic storms like these could never be resolved as quickly as the storms themselves pass--leaving behind irreplaceable loss and heartache for so many of our families. But as we come together and take care of our friends and neighbors, we move one step closer to getting our area back on its feet.

I share in the belief that a faith that has not been tested cannot be trusted. As we work throughout the coming weeks, and even months, to attempt to return to normalcy, one thing remains certain: We will repair and rebuild, and our communities will continue to grow stronger, sticking together each and every step of the way. We can forever count on one another--our faith can be trusted.


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