I will keep this post brief, but I feel compelled to say a few things about Hurricane Harvey.
- I am in Houston. My family’s homes did not flood and we did not lose electricity. We are grateful. Our neighborhoods were lucky, but only blocks away, others were swamped and had to be evacuated.
- This storm was severe for five days. Some places saw over 30″ of rain. It felt like being under siege with no weapons which could combat the enemy. With all I’ve heard, I estimate 30,000 people are in shelters. There’s just no telling how many homes have been damaged or are a complete loss.
- For the most part, criminal activity has been minimal and any shenanigans are being quickly reported. Neighbors are looking out for each other. Law enforcement has demonstrated they will not tolerate one iota of bad behavior, making arrests and watching out for the residents.
- Thousands of people had to be rescued from flooded homes and apartments. The number of people who answered the calls for assistance was amazing. Even before the call went out, local residents (including my son) were helping those who needed it. People from all over the state, and even out of state, came to help with the evacuations/rescues. Trucks with boats were lining up all over the area, ready to help. And they were needed. We had the National Guard, the Coast Guard, local law enforcement and fire department personnel, and still, they needed help.
- Speaking of all of those agencies … I don’t know what was going on behind the scenes, but what I saw was an unbelievably calm and coordinated effort during an historic, horrific natural disaster. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (not my favorite) was calm, articulate, decisive, and dare I say, eloquent, during every press update. My respect for him shot through the roof every time I heard him talk. Every government official who spoke at each press update deserves a big thank you for being honest, succinct and knowledgeable. Well done.
- People died because of this storm. Every death is tragic. I’m grateful that the number of dead is not over the low double digits. One notable death was Sergeant Steve Perez. Sgt. Perez worked for the Houston Police Department for over 30 years, he was 60 years old. He drowned in flood waters while trying to get to work. He tried for over two hours to find a way to get to a station where he could begin the job of helping people. He just wasn’t going to give up trying to find a way to report to his duty station. I’m truly sorry that he didn’t make it.
- And last on my little list here, hopefully not sounding trite … race, creed, color, national origin, or any other way people like to classify and separate themselves, did not matter when it came to saving lives. Those who needed help and those who were doing the helping, no one cared about anything beyond saving human lives. No questions asked. No politics. No bullshit. No whining. What we saw was overwhelming gratitude and respect. Why, why, why can’t we do better without the near tragedy experience?? Oh well, off my soapbox.
Many shelters are operating and donations are needed, of course. Two things of note about the shelters and the needs. First, those shelters are organized and there are many, many volunteers, they seem to need more volunteers to staff them overnight. FEMA is beginning their processing at the shelters. Second, the donations have been pouring in and some shelters are asking for a halt to donations of clothes. Please check media sites and social media before taking donations to any of them. Just because they are full now, doesn’t mean they will be in two days. There is a way to sign up to volunteer at RedCross.org.
The recovery is going to take months. In some places, it will be years. Today, I was never more thankful to see the sun.