Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast line a month ago. It hit Rockport, Texas as a category 4 storm, stalled near the coast dumping several feet of water, headed back out to the Gulf and made landfall again bringing more rain. It left a path of devastation in its wake.
For days, all we did was watch the news, check Facebook, contact friends, and watch the water rise. When the rain finally stopped and we were able to get out of our neighborhood, the breadth of the damage was more than we could have ever imagined.
We were fortunate not to have flooded so we banded together with others to start helping where we could. And like most Houstonians, we lost track of days, somehow losing the end of August and beginning of September. It was easy to do, all sense of normalcy was gone.
In the weeks that have passed, there’s been so much to do and process. But there have been two major themes that keep rolling around in my head.
1. Storms do not discriminate.
Harvey didn’t care where you lived, how much money you made, about your skin color, about your nationality, what language you spoke, what political party you registered with, what your marital status was, or anything else. It’s sole purpose was to cause fear and destruction. And it did, for hundreds of thousands of people.
I saw people from all different areas and different backgrounds grieve as precious pictures, momentos, heirlooms, and evidence of normal life were dragged to the curb as trash. They worried as tow truck after tow truck carried off water logged vehicles, wondering how they were going to get to work and if they would be able to find replacements. They were frustrated as they tried to cut through all the red tape of insurance companies and FEMA while trying to find alternate housing. They felt anxious about the start of school for their kids, especially when so many of them were going to alternative campuses because of flood damage. They all were longing for normal life again.
We are so much more alike than we remember.
2. The stresses of Life do not take a break when a storm hits.
Before the storm hit, life and its stresses were happening. And they didn’t stop just because Harvey came to town, no matter how much we wished for them take a week or two off. It seemed too much to deal with losing all your belongings and still getting the cancer diagnosis, having to start or continue treatments, experiencing the death of a loved one, dealing with accidents and injuries, working through a divorce, managing depression, losing a job,…. It’s so much at one time.
Yet, life does not pause for the storm. It continues in it’s relentless manner, demanding attention. How are we supposed to handle it all?
We were not meant to walk this earth alone. God created us for community, to encourage and help one another.
Harvey brought that out in a powerful way. People from all over the country descended on the coast to rescue people from houses and vehicles; many of them ordinary citizens with boats joining the first responders. They brought clothing, food, and water for those who were displaced or in need. They helped at shelters in anyway necessary to care for those without a home. They went to neighborhoods to help muck out houses, bringing much needed supplies. They took lunches and water into areas where clean up was happening without wanting anything in return.
Neighbors helping neighbors. Strangers helping strangers. People loving and caring for one another. All done without regard to anyone’s background, heritage, skin color, political stance, or any other criteria we use to separate ourselves.
Author Brené Brown was right when she said, ‘people are hard to hate close up, move in’. We did and were reminded how inextricably connected we are.
I pray I never forget.