We’ve seen plenty of incidents in recent weeks that illustrate the toxic environment that has developed in communities across the country. People are protesting, and counter protesting, violence is erupting, and people on opposite sides of just about any issue can’t talk calmly to someone who opposes them anymore. In times of tragedy, though, Americans can still put aside our differences and band together to help one another.
Dear God some people give me such hope:
REPORTER: What are you going to do?
HERO: I'm gonna save some lives.pic.twitter.com/Qj2nmvCD97
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) August 27, 2017
When Hurricane Harvey came crashing ashore in southeast Texas, as a monstrous category-four storm, it leveled the town of Rockport with 130 mph winds tearing homes from their foundations, ripping old-growth trees right out of the ground, and downing power poles.
Even now as it has moved onshore, the devastation is just beginning. Some areas in and around Houston have received more than two feet of rain and may yet get another 12-24 inches before this is all over. With Harvey stalled over southeast Texas for the next week, America’s fourth-largest city and its suburbs, home to more than 6 million people, will be buried under an epic flood the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes.
People Are Getting Stuck on Their Roofs
Even in Austin, where I live, we have seen inches upon inches of wind-driven rain causing flooding in creeks, streams, and rivers, plus damage to homes and businesses. More than 10 million Texans live in areas that are or will be affected by this storm.
With the national media, and every local and regional network, newspaper, magazine, and news site covering the storm, there’s no way you can miss the tragedy in Houston, where it is the worst. Thankfully for those affected, Americans are stepping up to help. Thousands of water rescues have saved thousands of lives. People with small boats, kayaks, canoes, and even inflatable mattresses are helping get residents out of flooded neighborhoods.
In activity eerily reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago, people in and around Houston are being trapped on their roofs, with water so high they have nowhere else to go. City and state officials are begging people not to get stuck in their attics as they seek higher ground within their homes. Rescuers from the military, local first responders, state agencies, and even police and fire rescue units from across the country are helping those stranded by the flood waters.
It Shouldn’t Take a Disaster to Come Together
People from all walks of life, all socioeconomic levels, all races, religions, and political parties are putting aside their differences and lending a hand to those in need. Whether through brave rescue efforts, volunteering time, or donations of money and needed goods, Americans from Texas and far beyond are helping their fellow man. It’s heartening to see, and makes you wonder why we can’t do it more often.
It shouldn’t take a disaster for countrymen to work peacefully together. I remember when it was okay to disagree with a co-worker, neighbor, friend, classmate, or mere acquaintance. Now many silo themselves into groups only made up of people who agree with them, bitterly fighting all those who don’t share their exact views. Friendships and even families have been torn apart by political differences.
We see in times of need that we all share common bonds. No matter whether you supported Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, whether you want monuments to come down or stay up, Mother Nature can still lay waste to you and your community. Remember that next time you want to get in a Twitter war with someone on the opposite side of the aisle, or go to protest against another group of people.
Yes, you have the freedom to do that, and by God we should all be thankful we live in a country where freedom of speech is still alive and well, but we should all take a breath now and then to consider just what we do and say. Many times we are more hurtful than we need to be, more sensitive than may be sensible, and disrespectful of others.
How You Can Help Right Now
If you want to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, you can donate or volunteer for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, or many other organizations. If you have diapers or other supplies young children may need, diaper banks and family aid organizations would be grateful for your donations.
Extra clothes, toiletries, and other basic necessities can be donated to aid groups or shelters. Hospitals, and blood banks also need donations and volunteers. Finally, don’t forget the many displaced pets this storm is affecting. Animal shelters and local Humane Societies would welcome pet food, supplies, and financial contributions.
On days like these, where innocent people lose their lives and property to unavoidable catastrophe, remember that we share more with each other than many may think, and any help you can give to those hurt by this terrible storm will be welcome.