Witness the aftermath of Storm Harvey's devastation in Houston, Texas.
This morning left giddiness in my heart. Soon after waking, there was a clear view across the street. The water receded enough that the neighborhood streets are passable. Friends are calling and texting with reports of good news as they are finally able to drive to the few stores that are open. Though groceries have been largely cleaned out at the local stores, people are at last able to venture out for the necessities that they desperately need.
There are beautiful stories circulating about all of the good that has come from this storm. For despite the devastation and heartache, there are also stories of great love.
There is no limit to the goodness and decency of those willing to help out of sheer love in their hearts. Nobody gives two hoots what religion, race, political views, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, or other petty label has marked those affected. We are all just here to help one another survive during a tragic event that has devastated this vast area. We are Texans and Americans and we are together in this fight. This fact is what truly matters.
When times get tough, people say that you find out who you really are. Well, Texans are a good people that help each other and come to the aid of complete strangers. We are a tight community that loves one another despite little differences, because in the end the differences are what make us unique individuals. Nobody is a complete copy of another human being. In this, we are all the same and that is what shows.
We are alike in so many things like love that swells from our spirits as we work to help one another and see the beauty in humble selflessness that touches us to the core. We are alike in having hope for the future that we share together. We are alike in the faith that we have, not only in God, but also in the people that show the truth of what humanity is.
So in this difficult time, please choose to focus on the good that surrounds us. Do not be bothered by the few stories that trickle in telling of scams, looters, false news, and other negative perspectives and opinions. Instead, let your eyes fill with the pictures of successful rescues, tales of bravery and selflessness, and reports of safety. Let your heart be overwhelmed not just with sorrow but rather the beauty of what we have been honored to witness.
In such a time of turmoil in our nation, and throughout the world, we have been able to witness a great outpouring of love here in Texas. Neighbors have come to help neighbors. Strangers have come to help strangers. People that live in other states have come to offer assistance, including the Cajun Navy and many others. Plus, unofficial shelters have opened up everywhere and volunteers continually arrive with countless donations as they are able to find clear paths in.
I am not trying to discount what we have been through here. There is massive heartache and widespread devastation. Their are thousands left without homes and so many displaced and separated from loved ones… but we still have each other. We have fellow Texans and even out of state travelers to lean on. We are blessed in so many ways.
There is light in the midst of the storm and the sun is finally shining, so let us enjoy the kindness of strangers, the comfort of loved ones, and the beauty of love that prevails through the toughest of times!
Friday: Day of Rest
I felt terribly guilty for taking a day of rest on Friday, but my health did not let me continue the onslaught that I tried to deliver. However, after resting Friday, I ventured out to see the neighborhood progress. What I found shocked me with waves of both relief and great sadness.
While I was overjoyed to see that neighbors could now return to their beloved homes, it was truly devastating to witness the destruction. Cars lined both sides of the street as people parked wherever they could so that they could then walk to their houses. Loaded with tools and other supplies, they then began demolition on the damaged areas.
Traffic control became necessary as countless volunteers arrived to help gather ruined sheet rock, soaked flooring, and drowned furniture. Garbage piles grew in the front yards of the home owners until it was difficult to see over them. The complete and total wreckage can hardly be described.
I spent most of the day baking. I do not hold up well under the extensive heat, and I do not possess much physical strength, so working demolition outside was not a good option for me; however, I felt that I had to help in some way. This led me to the kitchen, where I worked nearly all day to bake whatever treats we had available.
These muffins and brownies, along with sandwiches put together by other food-conscious neighbors, were then distributed. I cannot properly convey the beautiful appreciation that presented itself in reception. Even something as small as a baked good or a PBJ sandwich put smiles on tearful faces and seemed to brighten a difficult day.
On Monday, we packed up more food in a make-shift wagon and hit the streets to check on neighbors. The short walk flabbergasted me.
Some heartbroken neighbors perused their trash piles in hopes of salvaging remaining possessions. Others simply welcomed the opportunity to share their individual stories. Grown men expressed tears as the weight of the situation hit them.
All around us, sad stories were marked by the piles of garbage that continued to grow. One pile even leveled up to the ceiling of a first story, and I marveled at the teamwork that had placed a mattress on the top of that stack. The evidence of Harvey’s horrific assault left both feelings of utter devastation as well as that of community.
In fact, some neighbors found humor in the wake of the situation. In the photo above, we witness the undying beauty of how a positive attitude helps not only ourselves but others feel cheer in the midst of distress. This allows us to see just how resilient humanity really is.
We will prevail and we will get through this together. We will recover and we will see a better tomorrow. We are humanity and we will persevere.