The devastating winter storm and electric grid failure of this past week was a tough and trying experience for not only Odessans, but for millions of Texans across our state who were taken by surprise by the severe weather and accompanying utility failure.
It is difficult for me to admit, being a proud Texan, that at a critical time our state failed to deliver critical energy utilities due to what appears to be years of neglect, poor management and pandering to the green energy agenda.
In the coming days and weeks, as our state lawmakers begin hearings and investigations into what went wrong, let me assure you that I will do everything in my power to make sure Odessans are heard in the process and that our state never fails to deliver on the product we are known for - reliable energy.
But what I want to talk about today isn't what went wrong or what the solutions might be.
Rather, I want to highlight a few of the heroes of our community who stepped up to serve their fellow citizens in their time of need and the leaders who went above and beyond their duties to serve their constituents. During the storm there emerged many stories of determination, charity, selflessness and love for your fellow man.
First and foremost, I want to express my deepest gratitude for the excellent work of our first responders. The brave men and women of the Odessa Police Department, Odessa Fire Rescue, Ector County Sheriff's Office and all our local emergency personnel, who went above and beyond in the bitter cold to make sure our residents were cared for and protected.
Scriptures says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Our emergency personnel truly do the Lord's work and know that Joann and I pray for our officers every day.
Secondly, I want to recognize and thank the utility workers who also toughed it out in the severe elements to do everything they could, often putting themselves in dangerous situations to make sure our life-saving utilities worked. All of our utility staff are greatly appreciated.
Medical Center Hospital and all of our local medical professionals have been through a lot this past year, and this past week was no exception. We are truly fortunate to have such outstanding medical staff and leaders making sure our community has the finest medical care possible.
I also want to take some time to highlight some of the outstanding statesmen and women that I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve alongside in representing our great city.
State Representatives Brooks Landgraf and Tom Craddick are champions not only for the energy industry but for our West Texas community in the State Legislature, and their service and expertise will be essential in the coming weeks in formulating the necessary reforms and fixes to our power grid. Representative Landgraf did an exceptional job keeping our residents informed.
Congressman August Pfluger also did everything in his power to get to the bottom of the problem, to help cut through red tape, and to be a leader and voice for our district.
There are not enough words to describe the excellent work that Judge Sara Billingsley does for our community. A model public servant, Judge Billingsley assembled an army of volunteers cooking and delivering hundreds of meals to those in need - this work being far outside her official job description. This is a standard of leadership that others can aspire to, and I thank Judge Billingsley for her service for our city.
John Herriage is a true asset to our city. John reached out and worked with the city to offer his wonderful Rose Building as a warming shelter for those in need, setting up numerous beds and providing hot meals, John was truly a lifesaver, and on behalf of a grateful city, let me say thank you for what you did for your fellow Odessans.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my beautiful wife Joanna. Even though we just experienced a painful death in the family, Joann was right there alongside me the entire time.
There are so many stories and not enough time to recognize all of the people who got our community through this difficult experience and which proved the strength and resolve of our city to be able to overcome the worst.
Odessans have once again proven that our sense of community and faith in our Lord is strong, and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve such a remarkable city. We are Odessa strong.