They came from cities all over Texas and all across the United States. They came in cars, trucks, buses and any other transportation that would get them close enough to the suffering masses of South Texas that had been hit by one of the most damaging natural disasters in the history of the country. When Hurricane Harvey moved in from the Gulf Coast on August 25th and made landfall in Rockport, Texas, it was a category 4, with sustained winds of about 130 mph. The National Hurricane Center had begun tracking Harvey several days before it reached the US mainland. However, many tropical storms don’t have the intensity to last long enough to hit land, often dissipating over the ocean.
But, as soon as it seemed evident that this was a monster of a storm and it was headed for Texas, the frightening warnings dominated every news broadcast, at times moving the announcers to emotional outbursts. “Folks, you really better take this seriously,” said one weather forecaster, with genuine concern in her eyes. “If you live anywhere near the Houston area, get out of there before this massive flood makes your exit impossible,” said another, while pointing out that the rainfall might amount to several feet of water. Texas Governor Greg Abbot had already declared a state of emergency for 30 counties, while mandatory evacuations were issued for about 7 nearest the coastline. By August 26, Abbot added another 20 counties to the emergency declaration.
Thousands took the very prudent advice and headed northward toward San Antonio, Austin and other dry ground areas. Yet, thousands of others decided to tough it out or, perhaps felt they didn’t have any place to go. The resulting deluge was almost biblical in proportions, dumping as much as 50 inches of rain during a 4 day period. It resulted in the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the contiguous United States. Hundreds of thousands of homes were inundated, displacing over 30,000 people and requiring more than 17,000 rescues. Ultimately, about 50 people died during the devastating cascade. Televised coverage of the nightmarish disaster was continuous as video clips brought the tragedy into the homes of millions of horrified, compassionate Americans.
The sights and sounds of desperate people, their eyes filled with panic, wading through waist-high water, holding their children and wandering aimlessly in a sea of brownish liquid, became a siren call that echoed in every corner of our country. Leaders throughout the Lone Star State took to the airwaves, providing guidance and hope for their besieged constituents. Governor Abbot and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick were ubiquitous figures on every major broadcast station throughout the ordeal. President Trump visited the area twice, amid the usual criticism from those picayune entities in the Fake News media who are too spiteful to report anything favorable this president does, even during a calamity.
Instead of accurately stating the value of the Chief Executive’s mission, they resorted to snide comments about the shoes worn by the First Lady, while they insinuated that Trump didn’t seem “compassionate enough.” Moreover, the President’s one million dollar personal donation to the relief efforts didn’t merit more than a brief, albeit begrudging mention on CNN, MSNBC and other members of the hate-Trump media. Nevertheless, one thing was abundantly clear throughout the dreadful test of human endurance; Texans were united with their brothers and sisters across the state and the country. Bottled water, food and additional necessities were stacked into trucks, vans and every conceivable conveyance as volunteers traveled southward, arriving like a tidal wave of humanity, fighting for their countrymen against the inimical forces of nature.
Lt. Governor Patrick provided a shining example of Texas tough! His comments during an interview with Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle were a mixture of statesmanship and leadership at a time when America’s best came shining through. Referring to the worst of times his fellow Texans were dealing with, he turned toward positive lessons learned. “The best of times was seeing the quality of the American volunteer, coming from other states and the quality of the volunteerism of Texans,” he said proudly. “In Texas there are no Republicans tonight and no Democrats and no black, white or brown or moderates or conservatives. We are one Texas, helping each other. Texas tough will survive; will prevail and will lead to show others how to take on these type disasters as we learn from this, as we have learned from disasters in the past.”
Louisiana was also heavily impacted by the magnitude of destruction that pummeled the Gulf coastline. The survivors of Harvey will continue to need assistance as they attempt to put their ravaged lives back together. Estimates of up to a hundred billion dollars may be needed to restore entire communities which have lost everything that people commonly take for granted in their daily routines. Ask yourself how you’d recover if your neighborhood and surrounding town was suddenly, for all intents and purposes, obliterated. Imagine if that warm, cozy atmosphere, which you thought was a guarantee yesterday, became a long lost memory today. As you read this, if you are enjoying a comfortable life, please do what you can for those who have lost theirs. For a little while, we were a country of brothers and sisters, reaching out with helping hands to family members in need. Wouldn’t our lives be happier and more secure if we were able to do that more often? You can Google “Hurricane Harvey donations” to find out how you can pitch in for a family member.
Bob Weir is a veteran of 20 years with the New York Police Dept. (NYPD), ten of which were performed in plainclothes undercover assignments. Bob began a writing career about 16 years ago and had his first book published in 1999. He also became a syndicated columnist under the title “Weir Only Human.”