Five ex-US presidents join forces to support Hurricane Harvey victims

Former presidents (clockwise from top left) Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter will launch "One America Appeal" to start collecting funds for victims of Hurricane Harvey. PHOTOS: NYTIMES, AFP, REUTERS

HOUSTON (REUTERS) - Five former US presidents joined forces on Thursday (Sept 7) to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Harvey, aiming to help rebuild some of the thousands of homes and businesses destroyed from Texas to Louisiana.

The presidents will launch "One America Appeal," to start collecting funds with a plea broadcast during Thursday night's National Football League season opener, the group said in a statement. Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter are behind the effort.

Funds raised by the appeal will be distributed to the Houston Harvey Relief Fund, which focuses on the greater Houston region, and the Rebuild Texas Fund, which will assist communities across the state. Rebuild Texas had pledges of nearly US$44 million (S$59 million) on Thursday, according to its website.

Harvey, which came ashore on Aug 25 and became the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, has killed more than 60 people, displaced more than one million others and damaged some 203,000 homes in a path of destruction stretching for more than 480 km. It has caused damaged estimated as high as US$180 billion.

Hurricane Harvey has stirred celebrities, including singer Beyonce, Houston Texans football player J.J. Watt and actor Sandra Bullock to raise money to help the victims.

The five former presidents said they are ready to expand their effort to help people facing Hurricane Irma, now heading for Florida after smashing a string of Caribbean islands.

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