Imagine turning the key in your door, and the bayou is flowing through your house. This event occurred on August 29, 2017, in the state of Texas. Twelve years on the other side of Katrina, America found itself facing another unprecedented and record-breaking catastrophe.
How could it be? The beginning of the week Americans had wildly celebrated the solar eclipse. How could we know by the end of the week, we would weep as a paralyzed nation? Harvey was different from previous hurricanes. It was unpredictable and relentless. Harvey defied all logic by making three tormenting landfalls. During it assault, Harvey would drop 15 trillion gallons of water on one-quarter of Texas. In its path, it would leave thousands of lives shattered, cities devastated and infrastructures compromised. Could we ever know the loss of life, pets, and property?
Social media flooded with concern, prayers, desperation, and support. We often view these national disasters as somewhere else or over there. Allow me to hit the reset button for you. A disaster like Harvey is only an event away from our street.
Among the destruction of Harvey, I was able to glimpse beauty among ashes. Texas ran a clinic and displayed humanity at its best. Citizens stopped what they were doing and came to help those impacted by Harvey. Texans were in the midst of going under, and the Calvary arrived. Everyday people used their personal boats, tractor trailers, arms and legs to rescue those in harm’s way. I marveled at the effort and diligence of those waiting to be rescued. Everyday people turned heroes.
Through tears, I watched a father consoling his baby wrapped in a garbage bag. How do we forget the family of six swept away in relentless flood waters? A police officer drowned on his way to rescue others. Our country watched as his police chief broke down during a press conference. Who can forget the chain of people who locked arms to rescue a stranded motorist? My mind is flooded with images of senior citizens who were trapped in a nursing facility. Waist deep in water, they patiently waited for rescue. News broke about a three-year-old baby clinging to her dead mother. Joy filled my heart as I watched people giving thanks to God for their lives. With only the clothes on their backs, they lost everything but their lives.
Harvey did for us what our government, a speech writer and Fema could not do. As a nation, Harvey brought us together. Finally, a unifying moment arrived for a much-divided country. At that moment we realized politics was not in the water but humanity. It did not matter what color, race or political party you belonged; my brother needed help. The power of volunteerism is alive, and that’s America at its best.
We pause to extend our deepest thanks to those everyday heroes. In the wake of a national disaster, Harvey left a long trail of gratitude. I am confident God will heal the wounds of Texas. Let us continue to be the difference we want to see in this world. Let us remember we are our brother’s keeper. Let us not forget to give thanks in sunshine and in storms. It is not too late to open our hearts and pockets to give. With all that we are blessed with; our reality is we are only one event away.