Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

The pictures coming out of Texas beginning last weekend, and over the past few days have been heartbreaking. To see some small towns practically demolished, and the streets of Houston with waist to chest deep water—and rising—is beyond shocking. Entire neighborhoods will have to be leveled, I think. You can’t have homes submerged for so long a period in so much contaminated water, and hope they’ll dry out and be fine. You just can’t.

The disaster that was Hurricane, and now Tropical Storm Harvey truly is unlike any storm we’ve ever seen. Usually a hurricane comes, rages for a day or so, and then goes away. The cost in human lives can be counted almost immediately. When I awoke this morning, it was to news that the death toll had reached 18, doubling overnight. The authorities fear that number will climb, once the water drains away. Hurricane Katrina stole 1,836 lives. We can only pray that is a number never to be matched or exceeded.

In addition to the deaths, thousands of people have and are going through hell. Thousands have escaped with their lives, but have lost everything they possess, save the clothes on their backs. Some arrived at the shelters, shoeless. For the person experiencing it, losing everything is more than a shock, it’s a violation—very similar to the kind of violation one would feel after a physical attack. It’s happened to us twice, through fire, so I know a little of what these people are feeling.

The Houston police chief, Art Acevedo said during the telephone interview that I listened to Monday morning, that he feared the worst was yet to come, and his words have proven true. All of the water brought by the rainfall and flooding in south east Texas will head to the Gulf via Houston. There are over 6 million people in the metropolitan Houston area, a number far too high to have tried to evacuate, given the propensity for flash flooding on many of the roadways leading out of the area. A family of 6 was lost, having perished attempting to evacuate their flooded home.

The Army Corps of Engineers had to release water from two Houston dams into the Buffalo Bayou on Monday morning. This was done to prevent uncontrollable flooding of the Houston Metropolitan area, and to keep the dams from failing. It was a measure taken much sooner than originally planned, because the water in the reservoirs rose so quickly. Some people were not yet flooded until the gates of the reservoirs were opened. And even so, one of those dams, built in the 1930s, still breached it’s banks, spilling water into areas that had previously escaped flooding.

A category 4 Hurricane with no “steering currents” gathering last minute strength from the unusually warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, coming ashore and lingering, wreaking havoc and with the potential for unprecedented rainfall—well, there was simply no real play book to follow for this crisis. They are writing the book for this one as they go along. Another blessing? There was no storm surge in the Houston area.

This is going to be a very long recovery for the people of south east Texas, and especially, it would seem, for the people of Houston. The storm has moved on but the water will continue to bring heartache until it eventually drains away. What the water hid will then be revealed and the true recovery can begin. Only six days of Harvey, but the rebuilding, the mending of lives, and of spirits, the reconstruction of neighborhoods—that is going to take years.

The one bright light throughout this disaster has been watching neighbors helping neighbors, and strangers helping strangers. People came from far and wide, brought their own boats, and just got to work. Much has been written about the great divide within the United States these days; and yet I am certain no one offering help inquired if the person in need of that help was a democrat or a republican. They didn’t care what color their skin was, or if they might be an immigrant or native born. In the midst of the chaos named Harvey, all those people were Texans, and they were Americans—they were brothers and sisters. And while this tragedy has been hard to watch, and clearly even harder to endure, the affirmation of the greatest of the values for which America stands, has been something we all needed to see—and more, something we all need to emulate.

There are ways we all can help the people devastated by Harvey. Canadians can donate money through the Canadian Red Cross. Here is a link to the designated page on their website: http://www.redcross.ca/about-us/red-cross-stories/2017/red-cross-responds-to-devastation-caused-by-hurricane-harvey

The American Red Cross is, of course, involved in providing assistance. In addition, here is a list I found of resources in need of various donations, for my American friends who want to help: https://www.yahoo.com/news/help-victims-tropical-storm-harvey-212340221.html

You don’t have to give a lot; you might think your five dollars won’t help, but it will. Your five dollars added to the five dollars of thousands of other people means thousands of dollars times five will flow and be used to help put people’s lives back together again.

In the meantime, let’s all send positive thoughts and prayers for the people affected by this disaster. The people of Texas are resilient. They will get through this, and come out stronger. I truly believe this to be so.

Love,
Morgan

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