WASHINGTON (AP) – The five living former U.S. presidents said Thursday they would team up to create the “One America Appeal” 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 hurricane recovery effort was announced by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.
Online donations can be made at OneAmericaAppeal.org .
The current president, Donald Trump, tweeted his support: “We will confront ANY challenge, no matter how strong the winds or high the water. I’m proud to stand with Presidents for #OneAmericaAppeal.”
The hurricanes represent the latest philanthropic collaboration by living ex-U.S. presidents and their first joint effort since Trump’s election. The elder Bush and Clinton raised money for victims of the devastating tsunami in Asia in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After Haiti’s massive earthquake in 2010, Obama tapped Clinton and the younger Bush to lead a relief effort.
For the Bush family, Harvey struck close to home. George H.W. Bush lives part of the year in Houston while George W. Bush, a former Texas governor, lives in Dallas.
Organizers said a special restricted account had been established through the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation to collect and quickly distribute donations. Officials said “100 cents out of every dollar” donated will help hurricane victims. All donations are tax-deductible.
The effort was being launched with a public service announcement broadcast on NBC during the Thursday night kickoff of the NFL season.
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 Gov. Greg Abbott has suggested that Harvey’s damages could cost up to $180 billion, even more than from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.