We live on this earth and our planet likes to remind us that it is alive. It shakes, it sweats and dances to make sure we acknowledge its presence. Every day things happen that throw off our plans. Weddings get rained on, events get cancelled and places get snowed in. We accept and expect Mother Nature to be unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean we are always prepared. We are not always kind to her nor each other. At times I question our humanity and where it has gone, especially with everything going on, but recently my hope in humanity has been restored.
Imagine going to work on Friday and everyone is preparing for a storm that has chosen our state like an uninvited visitor. On one hand, gas stations and grocery stores are chaotic; on the other hand, people are throwing hurricane parties. Friday night was spent with half of the city in fear of the hurricane that was making its way to us and the other half taking advantage of all the hurricane drink specials. As Saturday morning rolled around, the hurricane touched the coast but the city was not heavily impacted as predicted, so we continued on with our lives and planned watch parties for the Mayweather and McGregor fight. Jokes and laughter rang in every household and business as we laughed in the face of Harvey. As the hours passed by, the wind began howling louder for the entire city to hear, and Harvey began laughing at us for underestimating him. One night of rain and our lives have changed forever.
Saturday night we saw the first brutal swing Tropical Storm Harvey took on our city. It hit us right in the face so hard that we fell over, but he wasn’t done yet. An underestimated fight in which we were unaware of the strength our opponent held. The clouds were furious as they threw gallons and gallons of water onto our city. Wind thrashed the neighbor’s fencing, punching it to the ground. You could hear the roar of the eerie, crazy wind making the rain dance to its tune and crushing everything in its path. My entire city was torn apart in every corner and at every edge.
It took Harvey one night to strip homes and businesses and to throw our lives into chaos. Just writing this is tugging at every one of my heartstrings, as I’m in disbelief of how quickly everything can change. I woke up Sunday morning to find that most of our city was underwater. All I could hear on the news was “flooding”, “historic”, “devastating”, and that’s when the real fear kicked in. As I looked around at my family’s faces, I wasn’t sure if I should cry or smile. I was lucky to be surrounded by my loved ones in our safe, dry home, but I had no clue in what conditions my friends were in.
To make matters worse, Harvey was continuing to bash us as the rain gave us no mercy for the next few days. A total of 14.5 trillion gallons of water consumed Houston. Imagine the Empire State Building standing more than a hundred stories tall. Now fill that up with water 33,000 times and imagine dumping it along the Texas coast. Now do you understand the extent of the flooding and storm?
I am so thankful for the safety of the people I love and never have I appreciated them so much in my life. There are so many things we take for granted that this storm has made me realize. I don’t think I’ve missed my normal schedule this much. I missed the hot Texas sun kissing my skin. I missed complaining about traffic or plans being ruined. I missed grocery stores that were fully stocked and lines that took no longer than 5 minutes. I missed my city and the normalcy we lost. There were updates on every social media outlet and families crying for help everywhere. Imagine getting on your Facebook and seeing families post statuses asking to send help and tagging local stations in order to be saved from the flood waters. More than anything it makes you truly realize how material belongings can be taken away from you in a blink of an eye. At the end of the day, it’s those who hold a place in our hearts that you will feel the most thankful for.
Through all this devastation around us, the only thing that has warmed our hearts is each other. I can’t express how proud I am to live in this beautiful city and state. A state where people assume we are racists, shotgun carryin’, horse-ridin’ crazy folks. We as Texans have stepped up to help our neighbors regardless of background, race or religion. People grabbing their boats and big cars as they run to every person yelling for help. This is my Texas that I am so proud of. We have shown not only this country but the world what a combined effort can do. People risked their lives to help others before the government even stepped in. No one asked you any questions but simply came to aid those in need. Shelters overflowed with donations and so many volunteers that they have actually had to turn people away. It just fills my heart up with warmth and love to see everyone helping in any way they can. Those who couldn’t leave the house still found ways to donate and help others.
We as Texans have been assigned this mountain to show the world how it can be moved. We have taken our burdens and struggles to create strength, kindness and love. We have embraced the uncertainty, rafted through the waters and enjoyed the beauty of humanity. The sun has come out for the first time in days and has greeted everyone as the beam of hope we were all holding on to. As it kisses my skin, I have never been so thankful and wishful for the colorful Texas sun to return
We will not only tell our children and grandchildren of this storm but how our neighbors lent their hands to pick us up from drowning. When you turn on the news or go on social media, it’s hard to escape the devastation and horror that has swept our beautiful city and state. However, even today people are scrambling over themselves trying to find places to volunteer. Please do not email me or flood my page with any negativity about our state questioning our Mayor, Sylvester Turner. Please do your research before you spread your negativity! Imagine 6.5 million people trying to evacuate with a two day notice. Now imagine the population of LA, Manhattan, Miami, Chicago and heck, we could probably throw in an entire state too, getting on the roads to leave all at once. Harvey couldn’t break our spirits and neither will people who have never weathered a storm together.
Thank you, Texas, especially Houston, for showing the world how beautiful our souls are. I’ve always been thankful and proud to be from the Lone Star State, but our pride will be even stronger once our boots are dry. The stars at night have and will always shine big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.
If you would like to help or donate please check out the links below.
Find shelters and services with needs here: https://goo.gl/TYxV3J
Also check the Houston Food Bank calendar for volunteer shifts you can sign up for.