FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2001
At this holiday time, when we stop and count our blessings, I can single out one of the biggest I have ever received: the opening of the Queen Isabella Causeway. Although scheduled to be completed on December 23, it opened much earlier--the day before Thanksgiving--allowing hundreds of people to travel by car to South Padre Island for fun and relaxation. Most importantly, hundreds can return to their jobs and businesses can again count on enough customers to begin making a profit.
It seems as though it was only yesterday when Cameron County was afflicted with this tragedy. Lives were lost. Those can never be replaced. But the spirit of caring and compassion that ensued for the families and friends of our victims is to be commended. People held fund raisers and set up donor banks. The mother of a woman killed in the collapse forgot her own grief and started a fund to help islanders pay their electricity, water and phone bills.
The day after the collapse, there were those who literally rolled up their sleeves to pitch in, like the captains of charter fishing boats who ferried people back and forth until the additional ferry arrived. Children and teachers patiently rode the ferry for 30 minutes each way to get to and from class. Even our Governor didn't waste any time in requesting federal disaster aid, while our Lieutenant Governor himself vacationed on the island to remind people that it was still a good place to visit. Local officials went without sleep, as did many law enforcement officers, aiding in the rescues. State and local agencies offered support and services promptly.
On September 15, people of this state rose to the occasion, pulled together, put party politics aside and did what was right for their fellow Texans.