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Monday 11 December 2017

Ex-US presidents spearhead hurricane relief appeal

Flood-damaged debris lines a Houston street in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey (AP)
Flood-damaged debris lines a Houston street in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey (AP)

America's five living former presidents are teaming up to raise money for storm recovery as Texas and Louisiana seek to regroup from Harvey, and Florida and the Atlantic coast brace for Hurricane Irma.

The One America Appeal hurricane recovery effort was announced by former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and his father George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Online donations can be made at OneAmericaAppeal.org.

The hurricanes represent the latest philanthropic collaboration by living ex-US presidents and their first joint effort since Donald Trump's election.

Mr Trump tweeted his support, saying: "We will confront ANY challenge, no matter how strong the winds or high the water. I'm proud to stand with Presidents for #OneAmericaAppeal."

Mr Bush senior and Mr Clinton raised money for victims of the devastating tsunami in Asia in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and after Haiti's massive earthquake in 2010, Mr Obama enlisted Mr Clinton and George W Bush to lead a relief effort.

For the Bush family, Harvey struck close to home. George Bush senior lives part of the year in Houston, while his son, a former Texas governor, lives in Dallas.

Organisers said a special restricted account had been established through the George HW Bush Presidential Library Foundation to collect and quickly distribute donations.

Officials said "100 cents out of every dollar" donated would help hurricane victims and all donations were tax-deductible.

Donations designated to help victims of Harvey will be distributed to the Houston Harvey Relief Fund and the Rebuild Texas Fund.

The appeal is expected to be expanded to help those affected by Irma, which could strike south Florida and the state's Atlantic Coast and then move up into Georgia and South Carolina.

Harvey has caused widespread flooding in Houston and elsewhere and has been blamed for at least 71 deaths, while damaging more than 200,000 homes.

Texas governor Greg Abbott has suggested that Harvey's damages could cost up to 180 billion dollars (£137bn), even more than from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Meanwhile Qatar has said it is giving 30 million dollars (£23m) to help people in Texas recover from Harvey, in what appears to be the largest donation by a foreign government following the hurricane.

It comes as Qatar works to show it is a supportive player on the world stage amid a diplomatic crisis with its neighbours.

Qatar's ambassador to the US, Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, said the Qatar Harvey Fund would work with Texas governor Greg Abbott, the Houston mayor and Texas organisations to rebuild flooded communities.

Mr Abbott says he was humbled by the world's support and thanked Qatar for its generosity.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are feuding with Qatar over claims that the tiny gas-rich country funds extremism and other accusations, which Qatar denies.

AP

Press Association

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