In an essay published by the Houston Chronicle on Thanksgiving 2017 (today, Nov. 23), Mayor Sylvester Turner gives thanks and gratitude for a city that pulls together in tragedy and triumph:"No one is thankful for a devastating flood.
"But at this special time of year, almost three months after Hurricane Harvey brought its historic rains to Houston, I am deeply grateful for how our city responded.
"This year goes down in the record books as a championship year for Houston. We hosted the Super Bowl, which featured an epic comeback. We hosted the NCAA men's basketball Final Four tournament. And of course, the Houston Astros won their first World Series while wearing "Houston Strong" patches that showed how the people of Houston came through the flood as champions.
"As a life-long Houstonian with the honor of being mayor since January 2016, I already knew about Houstonians' openness to each other, our can-do spirit, our eagerness to support each other, our ability to stage a comeback and our resilience and compassion. These qualities are why our city has grown and flourished for nearly 200 years; they're why we've become the nation's most diverse city, one to which people continue to flock to enrich their lives. Harvey was a chance to show all of our United States, and even the world, what Houston's all about, and I am thankful for the way we did that.
"I am grateful for our first responders, who courageously worked to rescue their fellow Houstonians during the flood. I am thankful to our municipal employees who answered the call to public service during the storm, from those who answered 3-1-1 through the rains to our Solid Waste Department team members who cleared hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of storm debris (and to other cities that so generously sent help. From police and fire to parks and public works, your city employees kept working even when many had suffered their own losses. And they continue to work tirelessly to help Houstonians who are still feeling Harvey's effects weeks after the rains left us. I am grateful to veterans who served our country and again stepped up to assist Houstonians during and after Harvey.
"I am grateful for the local volunteers and philanthropists who stepped forward to donate their time and money to the rescue and recovery cause. I am thankful for all of the people from other cities, states and countries who sent money and goods.
"I am thankful for the elected officials and agencies working together to ensure that Houston will receive the necessary financial resources to repair, rebuild and become even smarter, savvier and flood-resistant for decades to come. And even though the Trump administration has yet to adequately fund our recovery efforts, I am thankful that our congressional delegation will not stop until we receive federal funding to make our region more resilient.
"After the storm, our city quickly re-opened for business thanks in great part to small business owners, chambers of commerce, financial institutions and companies that came together to make sure local commerce remained strong. I am thankful to organizations and star performers who kept their commitments to host conventions and concerts in Houston in the flood aftermath.
"I am grateful for the voters who came to the polls and approved the bonds that now become the finishing touch on historic pension reforms that will put the city government on the path to financial health.
"I am thankful that we are a blessed city, where if we can dream it, we can do it. Harvey didn't change that. In fact, we may be even stronger now. Like hard times always do, Hurricane Harvey reminded all of us that we need each other, that we're better when we step up to help a neighbor or a stranger.
"Day in and day out, I wake up knowing that I have the unique opportunity to bring about positive change in my hometown. I am grateful for that humbling honor and responsibility you granted me. And I am so extremely proud to know that, working together, we will accelerate Houston's recovery, strengthen our resiliency, and ensure a better quality of life and economic vitality for all Houstonians. This Thanksgiving, we're still Houston Strong, and that's something for which we can all be thankful."