By now, many of you have seen images of water ripping through Texas communities. Washing out roads, sweeping away cars and shifting the foundations of homes, Hurricane Harvey left a path of destruction and an opportunity for reconciliation. With a nation gripped by partisan bickering, fights for transgender equality, ill-thought immigration policies, white nationalists’ uprisings, and international missile threats, we have been in an extended nightmare of man pitted against man, faith against faith, and American values tested in the face of conflicting ideologies.
And then Harvey showed up to douse the flames of division and disarray. In his demand to be recognized, Harvey reminded us of who we are as a nation and a people. Some brought boats. Others bore food, dry clothes, and supplies. Many held hands and made human chains to pull strangers from rising waters. Others drove those stranded to shelters or simply a parking lot to get them out of harm’s way. Image after image, face after face, all races, ethnicities, and religions, they came.
From neighboring cities and across the country, people showed up for fellow Americans when it counted. Harvey, like Hurricane’s Katrina, Sandy and Andrew humbly reminded us, that in the end, we are treading water together. We sink or sail contingent upon our ability to do what is right, fair and just by one another.
However, this storm, too shall pass. It will be then that we truly measure what we are made of as a country. Hard questions will be asked of our local leaders, legislators and President. We will be forced to face how we have treated others on “principle” to delay resources and funding packages to neighbors in New Orleans, New York and New Jersey when they needed it most. While President Trump assures Texans that the administration is there for them, sadly some will remember all too well that Mike Pence, while still an Indiana Congressman, infamously said we can’t allow a natural disaster to bankrupt our next generation. So, we will wait to see what financial cost legislators are willing to bare to help an American city, that is not their own. After all, Katrina and Sandy’s damages were $160 billion and $70 billion, respectively. It’s ironic that nearly all of Texas’s congressional delegation opposed the relief package for New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy. I guess they are asking others not to do unto them, what they did unto others.
We will wait to see which scammers show up, to bilk thousands of Texans out of their money. We have a good chance of seeing them all, from the fake home repair companies to the legislators that pad relief packages with pet projects unrelated to the disaster. We will debate the role of climate change in the severity of Harvey. We will lament infrastructure and city planning. But nationally and locally, we should be reminded of the example set by the survivors and volunteers of this Hurricane. We can weather any storm, when we work together.