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Sen. Moran Shares Clark County Family Story from Kansas Fires on Senate Floor

“It’s like that with ranching. It’s like that with Kansas. We’re all a family.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the fires burning across Kansas this week. He shared experiences of the Gardiner family, ranchers in Clark County, Kan., from a Wichita Eagle article authored by Michael Pearce about the impact the fires have had on the family and their livestock.

“Although it’s not a big national news story, Kansas is ablaze,” said Sen. Moran. “There is no doubt the impact of the fires and tornadoes that swept across the plains earlier this week has been devastating. But I am not surprised that Kansans are working together as friends and neighbors to overcome the challenges we face. I’m thankful for the willingness of so many living nearby – and across the country – who have volunteered to help us rebuild fences, bring in much-needed hay, and offer any assistance we need. And I’m thankful to represent Kansans who care for one another and treat each other as family.”

A transcript of Sen. Moran’s remarks can be found below:

(0:01) “Mr. President, there’s a lot to be proud about, from my view, of being a Kansan. We have lots of challenges in our state. We’re undergoing serious ones at the moment. For those of you who’ve noticed on the news, although it’s not particularly a story here in the nation’s capital, but Kansas is ablaze. Fires are devastating acres and acres… nearly 700,000 acres in our state of grassland have been burned. Fires have started. We’ve had winds for the last three days 50 to 60 miles an hour and we’ve had dozens of communities and counties that have been evacuated. Lots of places that have been hard hit. My home county of Rooks has experienced those fires. Hutchinson, a community of 50,000 people, had to evacuate 10,000 people in what we could consider in our state a pretty big place. They’ve been rampant and real and had significant consequences to many, many lives in our state.

(1:26) “On my way over here, I was reading a couple of articles that appeared in Kansas press that… I wanted to bring to my colleagues’ attention. There’s nothing here that necessarily asks for any kind of government help, but it does highlight the kind of people I represent.

(2:23) “There’s lots of great ranch families in our state. One of those is the Gardiners… Their story is told a bit in the Wichita Eagle, in today’s edition. They are known as some of the best ranchers in the country. For more than 50 years they provided the best Angus cattle. They have customers across the country, but it’s a family ranch. This is multi-generational and three brothers now ranch together.

(3:03) “One of the reasons I appreciate the opportunity to advocate on behalf of farmers and ranchers, it’s one of the last few places in which sons and daughters work side by side with moms and dads, in which grandparents are involved in the operation. Our grandkids grow up knowing their grandparents. There’s a way of life here that’s important to the country. Our values, our integrity, our character is often transmitted from one generation to a next… because we’re still able to keep the family together working generation to generation.

(4:14) “Like others, the Gardiners have endured plenty of bumps… over five generations of ranching. The drought and dust of the 1930s was tough, he said, and even drier times in the 1950s… Five years ago we had another drought in our state that was so devastating. He said his family lost 2,000 acres when they couldn't make a payment to the bank. Blizzards in 1992 killed a lot of cattle. 

(4:45) “My point is that nothing is easy about this life, but there’s something so special about it… people are responding to help and I want to thank Kansans and others from across the country who are responding to the disasters occurring across our state throughout this week and into the future.

(6:07) “The reporter says that while he was talking to Mr. Gardiner for this interview, Gardiner answered his cell phone as his pickup slowly rolled down the landscape that now looks so barren… many of the calls were from clients who just called to send their best, to be brought up to date, to ask the Gardiners how could they help, how were the Gardiners holding up. Mr. Gardiner says it’s really something special when you hear a pause on the other end of the line and you know it’s a pause because the person who’s called is crying because they care that much. It’s like that with ranching, Mr. Gardiner says, we’re all a family. It’s a great thing about our state. It’s like that with Kansas. We're all a family. 

(8:19) “Today I come to the Senate floor to express my gratitude for the opportunity to represent Kansans like the Gardiners – farmers and ranchers across our state, but city folks as well – who know the importance of family. Who know that living or dying is an important aspect of life, but… how they live is more important… And to thank those people not just from Kansas but across the country who’ve rallied to the cause to make sure there is a future for these families and for the farming and ranching operations. It’s a great country in which we care so much for each other and it is exemplified in this time of disaster that occurs across my state. I am grateful to see the example and I would encourage my colleagues in Kansas that we behave the way that Kansas farmers and ranchers do, live life for the things that are really meaningful and make sure we take care of each other.”

Click here to watch the tribute on YouTube, or here to download the video file.